The No. 24 during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2016 Photo – Getty Images
Today, every professional sport has their star players – those élite few standing above the rest. And NASCAR is no different, with many drivers competing week in and week out showing their fellow competitors, they are the fastest on that given day.
But since the early days of the sport’s creation, there are a select few NASCAR stars recognized by their car number because of their stellar performance on the track.
The Sprint Cup Series’ Nos. 3 11 17 24 88 represent just a few of our sport’s best drivers. Back in the early 80’s the No. 9 of Bill Elliott was very popular and worn on the shirts and hats of many fans on race day.
Awesome Bill from Dawsonville was his nick name. A name derived from his birthplace of Dawsonville Georgia. He is mild-mannered and soft-spoken, but once strapped in his No. 9 Ford, he was one of the quickest drivers on the track.
As his career was coming to an end, a young well versed kid with star quality came on the scene wearing his rainbow colors and representing the No. 24.
Jeff Gordon brought in a new era for drivers in the sport. He was well-mannered, very skilled and extremely fast. With 93 wins, three Daytona 500 victories and four championships, it’s safe to say, he made the No. 24 one of the most iconic numbers in the sport’s history
Since 1993, when he won Rookie of the Year honors and with 23 seasons competing at the highest level of the sport, the time came for Gordon to retire at the end of the 2015 season. This left car owner Rick Hendrick with the tough task of putting someone else in the seat of that famous car.
This is where Bill Elliott comes back into our sport once again. His son Chase Elliott is that lucky driver hand-picked to take over the seat, driving the No. 24.
As one of those fans with the No. 24 on my back in the grandstands, it has been a pleasure watching all those victories and championships with Jeff Gordon. So when this young kid named Chase Elliott was testing behind the wheel for the first time, I wondered if that number would still shine and rank among the best in the sport. Fast forward to the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 Sprint Cup race in Atlanta, where the young new driver of the No. 24 erased all my doubts.
Atlanta Motor Speedway is known as one of the fastest on the circuit. And with the newly adopted downforce rules package, even the best drivers found the track difficult to navigate. And while Elliott admitted after the race that he ‘was worn out,’ he performed flawlessly, running in the top-ten all race long and finishing eighth.
Much like his father with his soft-spoken ways, Chase Elliott has already shown everyone that he is capable of winning and keeping that famous No. 24 on the backs of new fans for years to come.