Chase Elliott will not concern himself with following the NASCAR Cup Series points standings through the rest of the regular season because he understands a win is what will put him in the playoffs.

But that doesn’t mean he is putting additional pressure on himself to win because he feels like he owes his Hendrick Motorsports team something after being sidelined for six weeks with an injury. Elliott returned Sunday with a 10th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway, and there are 17 races – 17 chances to win – left in the regular season.

“I don’t think that’s my motivation,” Elliott said. “I’m motivated to (win) just because I think we’re a deserving team to be a part of the playoffs, and I think we’re a strong enough team to make a run and race for a championship. Yes, I hate that I put them in the position that I have, but at the same time, I don’t think that’s my main motivational factor in wanting to win.”

Elliott is 32nd in the point standings after his return. NASCAR no longer requires that a driver has to be in the top 30 to use the playoff waiver if they win a race. It’s win and in for the 2020 series champion.

“We all want to win as a group,” Elliott continued. “It’s not because of my absence that we want to win any more than we already did before. But we certainly recognize, ‘Hey, points probably aren’t going to work from the driver’s side.’ Certainly, can point in on the owner side. But from the driver’s side, it’s going to be tough to do without a win.

“So, I think it’s more just recognizing the job at hand, what we’re going to have to do to be a part of the show, and just having that goal set in front of you. I think it’s kind of fun, and it’s very simple, and it’s pretty straightforward in what we need to go do.

“It’s a different feeling than what it’s been, but we’re really embracing it as a group, and I’ve embraced it on my end. I’m kind of excited about the challenge, really. It’s kind of unique and kind of fun – either win, and you’re in, or don’t, and you fail. I kind of like it.”

The recovery is still ongoing for Elliott. After running 400 laps at Martinsville, Elliott said he was stiff, but not in pain. It’ll take some time for Elliott to get back in race shape – and regain the strength in his left leg – after being on the couch for six weeks.

“The strength of my leg and just being able to walk around and it’d be normal and not be a nuisance probably is just annoying more than anything,” said Elliott. “It makes it just a little tough to get around.”

The stiffness after the race caused a noticeable limp. Elliott does have a crunch for when needed when getting around the racetrack.

“In the car, I felt fine,” he said. “I think probably more than anything, I guess I w as just referring to just the environment that you’re sitting in for three or four hours. It’s warm, and I’ve told a lot of people this, you have a high heart rate, you’re in a really hot environment, but you don’t have a lot of physical movement, and that’s kind of odd. Those three things don’t come together a lot in other sports or activities that you do. So, it is just unique, and when you’re out of that environment for a period of time, I certainly think it hurts you – it hurt me.

“I kind of skipped those few spring weeks and jumped into a warmer environment than it’s been. At least what it was in Daytona. It was cold in Fontana. So (Martinsville) was kind of my first warm day of the year, and as I said, I’ve been sitting around because I can’t do anything much for a month and a half. So, it was good for me. It was good. I enjoyed it. It was warm, and I was definitely tired, but I do think it’s good for you, and you got to jump back in there sometime.”

Elliott has 11 wins across eight of the next 17 racetracks. He’s had multi-win seasons the five consecutive years.