9 CHASE ELLIOTT
Age: 25 (Nov. 28, 1995)
Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia
Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia
Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
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No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
PAPERCLIP PERFORMANCE: Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, is set to make his 12th Martinsville Speedway start in the NASCAR Cup Series on Saturday night. The 25-year-old driver made his Cup Series debut at the track for Hendrick Motorsports on March 29, 2015, and has since led a total of 429 laps there – his most laps led at any track.
LAST TIME AROUND: In November at Martinsville Speedway, Elliott turned in a stellar performance by leading a career-high 236 laps en route to his first NASCAR Cup Series win at the track. The victory secured his first-ever berth in the Championship 4 and put him in elite company by joining champions Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon as Hendrick Motorsports drivers who secured a spot in the title-deciding race by winning at Martinsville.
MARTINSVILLE MANIA: In the last eight races at Martinsville, Elliott has finished inside the top 10 in five of the events – tied for the second-most top-10 results of all active drivers. The driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet is also one of only four Cup Series drivers to collect top-five finishes in both 2020 races at the .526-mile oval (fifth in June and first in November).
SHORT-TRACK STATS: On Saturday, Elliott will make his 33rd short-track start in the Cup Series. In those races, he has garnered nine top-five finishes, 16 top-10s and led 775 laps. Elliott currently has five consecutive top-10 finishes on short tracks – the longest active streak of all Cup Series drivers.
GUSTAFSON’S MARTINSVILLE HISTORY: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson is set to call his 33rd Martinsville Speedway race from atop the pit box on Saturday evening. In his previous 32 Cup Series starts at the track, he has three wins – most recently with Elliott in November 2020 to solidify the No. 9 team’s spot in the Championship 4. Gustafson also has 14 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s. His other two wins at the paperclip-shaped track came with NASCAR Hall of Famer Gordon in 2013 and 2015.
SEVEN RACES IN: Coming off the first NASCAR Cup Series off weekend, Elliott has collected two top-five finishes – tied for the third-most among all drivers – and led a total of 73 laps in the first seven events. He has spent 275 laps inside the top five and 861 laps running in the top 10.
NAPA AUTO PARTS: This weekend at Martinsville, the No. 9 Chevrolet will don the familiar blue, white and yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme. The Atlanta-based company is serving as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 9 team for 25 NASCAR Cup Series races this season.
HONORING A CHAMPION: Last week, Elliott revealed the No. 9 Hooters Throwback paint scheme he will pilot at Darlington Raceway in May. The design honors Alan Kulwicki, who drove the Hooters look in 1992 when he won the NASCAR Cup Series title. Click here to check out the scheme.
VICTORY-VILLE: In 74 appearances, Hendrick Motorsports has posted 25 points-paying victories at Martinsville Speedway, which is the all-time record for total team wins at any active or inactive NASCAR Cup Series racetrack. Junior Johnson and Associates posted 21 wins at Bristol Motor Speedway, followed by Hendrick Motorsports with 20 at both Charlotte Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway.
PAPERCLIP PERSPECTIVE: Hendrick Motorsports has posted 265 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victories, just three from tying the team record of 268 held by the legendary Petty Enterprises. The organization’s 25 Martinsville wins alone would rank Hendrick Motorsports 21st on the all-time list. Rex White Racing is 20th with 26 Cup Series wins between 1958 and 1964, two ahead of Dale Earnhardt Inc., which raced from 1996 until 2008 and posted 24 total victories.
CLOCKING WINS: Six drivers have posted at least one Martinsville victory for car owner Rick Hendrick, who grew up two hours from the track in Palmer Springs, Virginia. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson each logged nine wins there during their legendary careers. Darrell Waltrip won four times at Martinsville for Hendrick Motorsports, with Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Geoff Bodine each posting a victory.
FIRST THING’S FIRST: On April 29, 1984, Hendrick Motorsports posted its first of 265 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series wins in the team’s first appearance at Martinsville Speedway. The organization also led its first-ever laps (55) that day when Bodine drove the No. 5 Chevrolet to victory lane.
THE BIG SHORT: No active NASCAR Cup Series team has more short-track victories than Hendrick Motorsports. Going into Saturday night’s race at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway, the organization has 51 short-track wins – 10 more than next-best Joe Gibbs Racing.
FOLLOW THE LEADER: In the seven races prior to the NASCAR Cup Series’ annual Easter break, Hendrick Motorsports led nearly 100 laps more than any other team. The organization has led 582 laps in 2021, which is 94 more than second-place JGR.
THE NEXT SIX: Including its 25 victories at Martinsville, Hendrick Motorsports has won a combined 89 races at the next six tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Following Saturday night’s event, the tour visits Richmond (10 Hendrick Motorsports wins), Talladega (13), Kansas (seven), Darlington (14) and Dover (20).
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE on returning to Martinsville: “Last year’s win at Martinsville was huge for us. It’s great to know that we’ve had some good runs there, but you always have to keep in mind that your past success doesn’t equal success in the future. It never has and I don’t think it ever will – that’s just racing. So, I think for us, we will have some good information from last year and I look forward to getting to Martinsville this weekend and seeing what we can do.”
Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the challenges at Martinsville: “Rubber is the biggest challenge. The rubber lays down, the grip moves around and can change the line you need to run. Your car needs to do different things to run different lines. As the rubber lays down, you could be really good on a clean track and as the rubber moves then you have to move around and then your car doesn’t handle as well in those situations. I think that’s the toughest thing about Martinsville. Then under caution a lot of times you’ll pick it up so the cycle will kind of repeat itself. You want to make sure you can stay on top of it as much as you can.”
Gustafson on racing at Martinsville at night: “I don’t think there will be any huge differences to racing Martinsville at night. The track is typically less apt to lay rubber when it is cooler so that would be a change. You could get the same result on a cold day or an overcast day, but I think night will have the track a little less apt to lay rubber than it does in the daylight.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNEK!