Hendrick swap: Byron to drive No. 24 in 2018 while Elliott drives No. 9


Chase Elliott’s tenure driving a No. 24 car for Hendrick Motorsports will have lasted all of two years.

Hendrick Motorsports said Tuesday night that Elliott’s team will be rebranded as the No. 9 in 2018 while William Byron — announced as the replacement for Kasey Kahne next season — will drive the No. 24 car.

The current No. 24 team that works with Elliott will stay with him and become the No. 9 team. The No. 5 team that Kahne drives for will become the No. 24.

Elliott took over the No. 24 in 2016 after four-time Cup Series Jeff Gordon’s retirement from the sport. He drove the No. 9 in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports and it’s a number his father Bill drove in the Cup Series. Bill Elliott won the 1988 Cup Series title driving the No. 9 for Harry Melling.

“I wasn’t sure I’d ever drive the ‘9’ again,” Chase Elliott 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.”

Coincidentally, Kahne drove the No. 9 for Ray Evernham after Bill Elliott retired from driving full-time in the Cup Series.

Byron, whose first full season in the Truck Series came in 2016, signed with Hendrick Motorsports over that summer. He spent his Truck Series season driving the No. 9 truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports and is currently piloting the No. 9 for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series.

“I didn’t think I could be more motivated, but when Mr.  Hendrick called to tell me, it took things to another level,” Byron said in the same statement. 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.”

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. Liberty University, a proudly Christian school, employs former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw, who resigned from Baylor after the school and athletic department’s disgraceful inaction towards sexual assault allegations was uncovered.

Through 2014, the school fined students discipline points and money for “personal contact beyond hand-holding.” Four years later, it’s a sponsor of one of the most iconic numbers in NASCAR history.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!