Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday morning that Chase Elliott will run full-time for the organization in 2016.
On the matter, team owner Rick Hendrick said, “[Elliott] brings the kind of intangibles that make him the total package as a driver. Not only is he a special talent inside the car, but there’s a natural combination of competitiveness, work ethic and smarts that you rarely see.”
The 19-year-old joins HMS this season, competing in five races in the No. 25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. Kenny Francis, former crew chief of fellow HMS driver Kasey Kahne, will crew chief Elliott during his limited schedule.
Elliott plans to race at Martinsville Speedway in March and the spring race at Richmond International Raceway. His roster also includes historic events such as Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Coca Cola 600, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
NAPA Auto Parts is also the primary sponsor for Elliott in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The reigning champion, he will also run full-time for JR Motorsports in 2015. He is the youngest champion in any NASCAR touring series. His father, former NASCAR champion and fan favorite Bill Elliott, will join the NASCAR Hall of Fame Friday evening.
“My parents especially have believed in me every step of the way, and I know this wouldn’t be possible without all the sacrifices they’ve made to focus on my racing career. This is such a big weekend for our family,” Elliott stated after the announcement was made.
The news comes one week after HMS driver and four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon confirmed that he was retiring after this season. With many commenting that Elliott was his replacement, the young driver took to Twitter and voiced his thoughts.
In a picture posted on his verified @chaseelliott account, the driver wrote: “Jeff Gordon will never be replaced. And it will be a true honor to drive the 24 next year. This is one of the biggest days of my life, and a childhood dream come true. I simply hope to do my job for my team.”