Chase Elliott to race father's iconic No. 9 car for 2018 season
The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team will become the No. 9 team and the No. 5 team will become the No. 24 team.
Kasey Kahne won't return to Hendrick Motorsports for the 2018 season and neither will his car number.
Hendrick Motorsports announced Tuesday that Kahne's replacement, William Byron, will drive the No. 24 next season with Chase Elliott's team moving to car No. 9, a number his Hall of Fame father Bill drove to 38 Cup Series wins and the 1988 series championship.
“I wasn’t sure I’d ever drive the ‘9’ again,” Chase Elliott, who is currently in his second season driving the No. 24 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, said in a statement. “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.”
Jimmie Johnson will retain his No. 48, while Alex Bowman will inherit the No. 88 from Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is retiring at the end of the season.
Byron, will take over the iconic No. 24 Chevrolet made famous by four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, who was the same age as Byron when he made his Cup debut in 1992.
“Jeff and Jimmie (Johnson) are the drivers I’ve always watched most closely and tried to learn from,” Byron said in a statement. “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.”
The debut of the No. 9 will mark the first time in nearly a decade that Hendrick Motorsports will field a new car number for one of its full-time teams.
"I know what the ‘9’ means to Chase and his whole family,” team owner of Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “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."
Kahne's No. 5 team will move with Byron to the No. 24. Hendrick did not rule out the No. 5 from returning in the future.