Chase Elliott will switch vehicle numbers from the No. 24 he’s used for the first two full seasons of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career and by Jeff Gordon to win four championships to the No. 9 employed by his father, Bill, to win 38 races and the 1988 series title. It was originally thought Byron would drive the No. 5 now piloted by Kasey Kahne, who is parting ways with the team at the end of the current season.
Kasey Kahne won’t return to Hendrick Motorsports for the 2018 season and neither will his vehicle number.
9 to the 2014 Xfinity Series title, and his Hall of Fame father Bill Elliott drove it to 38 Cup wins and the 1988 series championship. The No. 24 is one of the most iconic cars in NASCAR and ironically, Byron begins his rookie Cup Series season at the same age Gordon was in his 1992 debut – 20.
“There’s a legacy attached to that number, and I want to carry it on”. For the 19-year-old Byron, it’s a chance to make a name for himself in a vehicle made most famous by NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon. Instead, Elliott will be driving the #9 vehicle next year after two full seasons as the replacement for Jeff Gordon in the #24 auto.
“I know what the 9 means to Chase and his whole family”, team owner Rick Hendrick said.
“I wasn’t sure I’d ever drive the “9” again”, said Elliott, who drove the No. 9 in the Xfinity Series.
Two of the organization’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers will sport new vehicle numbers next season, both iconic numbers in the sport’s history. “It’s impossible not to be excited”.
It’s a family legacy as much as one of excellence, and it dates back to 1976, the first year the elder Elliott raced it in the Cup series.
Hendrick is only switching the vehicle numbers for Elliott and Byron, with their respective team personnel remaining as is.
The debut of the No. 9 will mark the first time in almost a decade that Hendrick Motorsports will field a new vehicle number for one of its full-time teams. “The “5” means so much to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and to a lot of our fans”.
Jimmie Johnson will remain in the No. 48 Chevrolet next year.
“I think fans will really love seeing it out there”.
Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and future No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman all expressed their thoughts on Twitter immediately after the announcement was made. The memories and the history will always be there, and I won’t rule out bringing it back some day.
“The “fit factor” is something I’ve always believed in, and that’s what I see with William and our organization”. But William is also his own person with his own career ahead of him.
While Elliott’s NAPA sponsorship will go to the 9 with him, Byron will be sponsored by Axalta and Liberty University in the No. 24.