By Kraig Doremus, @Kraig_Doremus
CONCORD, North Carolina – Twenty-five years after winning a championship in NASCAR’s top series, Hooters has announced a deal with 2016 Rookie of the Year Chase Elliott and the #24 Hendrick Motorsports team.
The restaurant chain has spent multiple seasons in NASCAR, appearing as a sponsor in over 150 races on the top circuit. Most notably, Hooters was the primary sponsor on Alan Kulwicki’s car during his 1992 championship season, but it was also featured last year when Greg Biffle’s #16 Ford featured a Hooters scheme similar to Kulwicki’s.
Hooters will transition to Chase Elliott, the son of 1988 Champion and 2015 Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Elliott. The company will be on Elliott’s car for two races, first for the May 7 race at Talladega Superspeedway and again on November 12 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Hooters will also be the primary sponsor for two events in 2018, the final year of its deal.
In a release featured on NASCAR.com, Elliott stated, “Hooters has a historic place in this sport, and I’m glad they’re back. Our entire team is looking forward to making the program a success.”
During the announcement of the new partnership, team owner Rick Hendrick echoed the thoughts of his second-year driver, noting how Hooters has grown from its humble beginnings in 1983.
“They've grown by focusing on the experience, earning the business of their customers and supporting terrific causes like cancer research and our men and women in uniform. NASCAR fans appreciate those things, and we have an opportunity to do some great work together,” Hendrick noted.
In preparation for its sponsorship of the reigning Rookie of the Year, Hooters has announced several promotions. Fans who join the Hooters eClub will receive a coupon for $5 off coupon for a purchase of $25 or more during the week of February 26, which is the date of the 2017 Daytona 500.
The company is also offering limited edition gift cards featuring Elliott’s likeness, as well as a link to purchase Hooters racing gear.
NASCAR fans can also enter for a chance to win a trip to meet Elliott and watch the #24 team at Phoenix International Raceway from pit road. All entrants will receive $5 off of their next purchase of $25 or greater coupon.
Hooters joins NAPA Auto Parts, SunEnergy1 and Kelley Blue Book as Elliott’s sponsors. 3M and Mountain Dew made appearances on the #24 Chevrolet in 2016, but no announcement has been made about their 2017 plans.
NAPA will be Elliott’s primary sponsor for 24 races in 2017, which is no change from the previous season. As a rookie, both of his runner-up finishes came with NAPA colors on the car, with his average finish being 13.5.
Elliott quickly became a fan favorite while driving for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, before replacing Jeff Gordon in the #24 Chevrolet at HMS. His father won NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Award a record 16 times.
It remains to be seen whether the younger Elliott can unseat teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the reigning award winner. Earnhardt Jr. has won the award every year since 2003.
In February 2016, Elliott began his first full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with a bang when he captured the poll for the Daytona 500, the season’s premier event.
His first season saw him race his way into the Chase, but the 2014 Xfinity Series Champion hopes to win his first race in the Cup Series this upcoming season. His chances look promising, thanks to two second-place finishes at Michigan and 10 other top-five finishes. Among 2016 drivers, Elliott tied with Kyle Larson for the seventh most top-five finishes.
With a new sponsor aboard for two races and positive momentum to carry into the new season, the Dawsonville, Georgia native and his #24 team have less than five weeks to prepare for the grueling 36-race schedule. The 2017 season kicks off with the Daytona 500 taking place on February 26, 2017.