In a surprise announcement on Saturday, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott will make his return to competition in the Xfinity Series‘ upcoming race at Road America. He will drive the #23 Chevrolet Camaro for GMS Racing.
The 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) champion, Elliott last ran a national series event in 2012, when he drove the #50 in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway for Turner Motorsports. He finished thirty-seventh after a crash. In a Cup career that spanned 37 years, he won 44 races, along with recording 320 top-ten finishes and 55 poles.
In the six years since, he has worked in guiding son and 2014 Xfinity (then Nationwide) champ Chase Elliott up the NASCAR ladder. In 2014, the father and son duo participated in preseason testing at Daytona together, with Chase in the full-time #9 and Bill in the #5, both for JR Motorsports; the two finished in the top two positions.
For much of his career, “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” was a popular face on the NASCAR circuit. He was named NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver a record-sixteen times (1984 to 1988, 1991 to 2000, 2002). He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015.
Elliott last ran an Xfinity race in 2005, when the series was known as the Busch Series, finishing sixteenth at Memphis Motorsports Park. He failed to qualify for the 2007 spring race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In 43 career Xfinity races, he has one win (Watkins Glen International in 1993), 16 top tens, and two poles.
The 62-year-old’s latest start at a road course came in 2007 at Sonoma Raceway, where he finished nineteenth.
GMS’ #23 car is usually driven by Spencer Gallagher, but his May suspension for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy resulted in multiple drivers, including Chase Elliott, to take over the car in the meantime. Although Gallagher was eventually cleared to return to racing, GMS elected to honor their already-hired drivers’ contracts. A.J. Allmendinger piloted the car at the Xfinity Series’ first road course race at Watkins Glen to a second-place finish. The #23 team is currently eleventh in the owner’s standings.
Elliott is not the only unique face entered for the Road America event. IMSA regular Katherine Legge will make her NASCAR debut in the race, while other road course ringers are expected to be entered.
The 2018 Johnsonville 180 at Road America will take place on 25 August.