Chase Elliott to move to No. 9, William Byron to No. 24 in 2018

Russell LaBounty/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Brace yourself, long-time NASCAR fans – an Elliott is set to pilot the No. 9 car in NASCAR’s premier series once more.

Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) announced in a video Tuesday that Chase Elliott will change car numbers from the No. 24 to the No. 9 Chevrolet in 2018, running the number made iconic by his father Bill Elliott.

The elder Elliott piloted machines with the number to 38 Cup Series wins throughout his 37-year career, including the 2002 Brickyard 400 with his son in attendance at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 16-time Most Popular Driver winner also won the 1988 Cup Series championship under the number.

Chase Elliott last piloted the No. 9 Chevrolet in the XFINITY Series, where he tallied four wins and the 2014 championship in a two-year stint with JR Motorsports.

“I wasn’t sure I’d ever drive the ‘9’ again,” Elliott said in a release. “It’s a huge deal to my family and everyone back home (in Georgia), and I hope all of our fans will be pumped to see it back on the racetrack. There’s a legacy attached to that number, and I want to carry it on. I think it’s awesome that Hendrick Motorsports and NAPA wanted to do this. It’s impossible not to be excited.”

Iconic Number for Hendrick’s Newest Phenom

With Elliott moving to the No. 9, incoming rookie William Byron will take over the No. 24 Chevrolet made famous by four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon.

Now in the midst of his first full-time XFINITY Series run at 19-years-old, Byron will have reached 20 years of age when he takes over the No. 24 – the same age as Gordon when he made his debut in the machine in the 1992 season finale.

“Jeff and Jimmie (Johnson) are the drivers I’ve always watched most closely and tried to learn from,” Byron said. “I didn’t think I could be more motivated, but when Mr. (Rick) Hendrick called to tell me (about driving the No. 24), it took things to another level. I have so much respect for all the people who have contributed to the success of the ‘24.’ I know it’s rare to have the chance to be part of something like this. I’m going to make the most of it.”

HMS owner Rick Hendrick chimed in on both decisions in the release.

“I know what the ‘9’ means to Chase and his whole family,” Hendrick said. “They’ve contributed so much to our sport, and I’m happy we can honor that history by bringing the number back. I think fans will really love seeing it out there. I told Chase we’d only do it if he promised to win a bunch of races, so I’m going to hold him to that.

“The ‘fit factor’ is something I’ve always believed in, and that’s what I see with William and our organization. He reminds me a lot of Jeff at that age with regard to being a special talent and having a great head on his shoulders. But William is also his own person with his own career ahead of him. It’s going to be fun to watch him jump in the ‘24’ and show what he’s capable of.”

As part of the move, HMS will remove the No. 5 Chevrolet from its current stable after Kasey Kahne’s final race with the team at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. The number has been a staple of HMS from the beginning, serving as the number of their first entry, riding to the organization’s first victory with Geoffrey Bodine at Martinsville Speedway in 1984 and even being associated with a championship when Terry Labonte prevailed in 1996.

“That was by far the hardest part (of the car number decisions),” Hendrick said of the No. 5’s removal. “The ‘5’ means so much to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and to a lot of our fans. The memories and the history will always be there, and I won’t rule out bringing it back some day. Never say never.”

Byron and Elliott will join the duo of seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48) and sub-turned-full-timer Alex Bowman (No. 88) to complete HMS’ 2018 stable.

One Comment

  1. frank

    August 30, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Best deal to come out in may years, 25 [5] were Ricky’s nos. Let them rest in peace. Great job Mr. H

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