Elliott excited to run No. 9 in 2018

Rusty Jarrett/NKPPhoto

by Caleb Whisler, Staff Writer

The biggest news of the week was not a driver change, but a number change for Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. This week, HMS announced that Chase Elliott will be driving the No. 9 and William Byron will drive the No. 24 for the organization in 2018.

What does that mean? This means that the organization will change the current No. 24 Chevrolet to the No. 9, while the No. 5 Chevrolet will change to the No. 24 in 2018.

For Elliott, this is the number that his father, Bill Elliott, made famous throughout his hall of fame career. C. Elliott raced the No. 9 through majority of his racing career before moving to the No. 24 to fill the void of the then retiring Jeff Gordon.

“It’s something I’m really excited about.  It’s an opportunity I couldn’t turn down, something that I guess with just the way the changes and all the things that are happening at Hendrick next year it was a good time to do it,” said C. Elliott.

Running the No. 9 has always been a “joking matter” between team owner Rick Hendrick and C. Elliott. The joking turned into a reality this week.

“I had always kind of lightheartedly joked about it over time and somewhere along the line he has been really listening to that.  I appreciated it for sure. Excited for the rest of this season,” said C. Elliott. “Definitely as I have said throughout the week too, you know I have an opportunity to add-on to the success Jeff (Gordon) has had in this car and I would like to do that before I don’t have that opportunity anymore.”

When the opportunity came, C. Elliott believes he was more ecstatic than his father when he announced that he would be returning to a car enshrined with No. 9 on the side.

“I definitely think I’m probably more excited than he is, I think, about it.  Like I said, it’s going to be really cool.  The No. 9, I’m biased for sure, but it’s too good of a number to not be running currently,” said C. Elliott. :It is just a good-looking number if you ask me, so I’m excited.”

C. Elliott’s passion for the No. 9 was formed when his father raced that number with Ray Evernham in the early 2000s. During that time period, Elliott was able to start to understand and watch his father race.

“I grew to love that number because of my Dad and because of the years he raced and I wasn’t going to say not to something that I always kind of joked about and wanted too… would definitely do if I ever had the chance and the chance has rolled around and luckily all of our partners and people that make the whole deal work were on board with it to get it approved and it did and we are going to race the Daytona 500 next year in the No. 9,” said Elliott.

With the approval to run the No. 9, C. Elliott has some more ideas up his sleeve when it comes to the throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway in 2018.

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