When long time Hendricks Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon retired from racing, car owner Rick Hendrick hired a very young Chase Elliott – the son of NASCAR champion Bill Elliott.
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Just last month Hendrick again tapped into the young talent pool when he was looking for a driver of the number five car driven by Kasey Kahne. Currently driving the number nine car for Junior Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, William Byron will join veteran driver Jimmie Johnson and young drivers Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott as a Hendrick Motorsports driver.
But driver changes aren’t the only change on hand for the Hendrick Motorsports teams.
Rick Hendrick has announced car number changes for William Byron and Chase Elliott.
Next season Elliott will be in the number nine car – the same car number used by his father; while William Byron will be driving the number 24 car. Seven time Monster Energy Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson will continue driving the number 48 car and Alex Bowman will take over the driving duties of the number 88 car driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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Taking advantage of the week off, Elliott was on holiday when Hendrick made the announcement. Speaking on the change Elliott said, “it was a big surprise actually. To be honest, I really didn’t know anything about it until last week.” Elliott continued, “I owe a lot of it to Dale Jr. He was a big advocate of this happening and honestly, I’ve had more conversation with him about it than I had anybody else. It’s something he and I had been talking about for a good while. I think he might have swayed Mr. Hendrick a little bit to it all working out. I got to thank him for that’s for sure.’’
Hall of Fame driver and father Bill Elliott also spoke on the change saying, “It means a lot. The thing is, I grew up racing and Chase grew up racing the number nine. It was an honor for Chase to drive for Mr. Hendrick in the 24 and it’s such an iconic number, but all my legacy has been in the nine and basically all of Chase’s legacy has been in the nine.”
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Elliott continued, “he won the 2014 (XFINITY) championship in the nine car and ran two years in that series in the nine car for Dale Jr. That being said, I know it was a really big thing for him and I know he wants to carry that on. It’s changing again at HMS so it kind of made it easy for this to evolve into the next chapter. It’s very special for our family and I believe it’s very special for Chase. This is what he really wanted and this is a special part of his career.”
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