Chase Elliott moving to father’s No. 9 in number swap

Chase Elliott (9) drives into Turn 1 during the Xfinity series NASCAR auto race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va., Friday, April 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Chase Elliott will drive his father’s iconic No. 9 next season in a number swap at Hendrick Motorsports.

William Byron will take the No. 24, made famous by Jeff Gordon. The No. 5 will not be fielded for the first time since 1984. It was Hendrick’s original car number and Terry Labonte drove that number in his 1996 championship season.

Elliott raced the No. 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.

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

Owner Rick Hendrick said he understood the ties the Elliott family has to the No. 9.

“They’ve contributed so much to our sport, and I’m happy we can honor that history by bringing the number back,” Hendrick said. “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.”

Byron will take over the No. 24 as a rookie next season in the Daytona 500. Gordon drove the number his entire Cup career and Elliott has driven it the last two seasons.

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