Unsurprisingly, Hendrick Motorsports does not want Chase Elliott to leave via free agency after the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. On Sunday, hours before the Daytona 500, the team announced Elliott has signed a five-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2027.
Elliott has been employed by Hendrick since he was fifteen years old and a first-year high school student in 2011. After racing at the regional level with a limited Camping World Truck Series schedule in 2013 (during which he won his first NASCAR national series race), he moved up to the now-Xfinity Series a year later. Driving for Hendrick farm team JR Motorsports, he became the first rookie in series history to win the championship.
In 2015, he began a limited Cup slate before being promoted to a full-time run in 2016 as the heir to the legendary #24 vacated by the retiring Jeff Gordon. He switched to #9 in 2018, and since has become one of the sport’s biggest names as a thirteen-time race winner and 2020 series champion. He assumed the de facto mantle of Cup Series fan favourite after Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s retirement as he has won the Most Popular Driver Award every year since 2018.
“I feel so fortunate to be in this position,” commented Elliott. “I have a great team with leadership from Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and the support of the best car owner and racing organisation in the world. For me, there’s a lot of pride in driving for Hendrick Motorsports and having the opportunity to win races and compete for championships. We are capable of accomplishing a lot more and it starts today.”
He will start the Daytona 500 in eleventh. Elliott won the pole for the race in his first two tries in 2016 and 2017, though victory in the prestigious event has eluded him as his best finish is second in 2021, which he could have won if the caution flag had not frozen his momentum. His lone Cup win at Daytona came on the infield road course in 2020, while he has an Xfinity victory there in 2016.
“Chase is a champion on and off the track,” said team owner Rick Hendrick, whose drivers have won the Daytona 500 pole in seven of the last eight editions including a front row sweep of the last two. “His talent inside the race car is undeniable, and he’s just scratching the surface of what he can do.
“This is a young man who is mature beyond his years, comes from an incredible family, and is humble, hardworking and never takes anything for granted. As long as Chase is driving, we want him right here with Hendrick Motorsports. This is an exciting way to start the season, and we look forward to many, many more together.”
2021 was Elliott’s sixth full Cup season. He won two races at Circuit of the Americas and Road America (both road courses; he leads all active drivers in road course wins with seven) en route to a Championship Round appearance and fourth-place points finish. The year also saw Elliott begin expanding his racing portfolio by competing in disciplines like the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, Nitro Rallycross, Superstar Racing Experience, and the Chili Bowl Nationals.