NASCAR: Iconic group adds first new driver in 5 years

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The Coca-Cola Racing Family hadn’t added a new NASCAR Cup Series driver in several years, but that changed with the addition of Chase Elliott.

The last time the Coca-Cola Racing Family added a new NASCAR Cup Series driver was in 2018, when they added a driver who is no longer a part of that group.

In 2017, the group consisted of Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Danica Patrick, Daniel Suarez, and Bubba Wallace. Kyle Larson replaced Patrick when she stepped away from full-time racing after the 2017 season.

Larson, who cut ties with Coca-Cola following the 2019 season in what was described as a “previously unreported” move when the beverage corporation provided no statement on his racial slur in April 2020, wasn’t replaced, and for the last five years, he had remained the brand’s most recent addition.

The Coca-Cola Racing Family had dwindled to four NASCAR Cup Series drivers since then.

Wallace left after the 2020 season when he left Richard Petty Motorsports to sign with 23XI Racing, which had signed Coca-Cola rival Dr. Pepper as one of their five founding partners. He too was not replaced. As for Newman, he hasn’t competed in the Cup Series since 2021.

That left Dillon, Hamlin, Logano, and Suarez. Now Chase Elliott is set to join that group, meaning that he too will probably be taking a drink out of a Coca-Cola can or bottle before and/or after doing an on-screen interview with Fox or NBC throughout the 2023 season.

Coca-Cola is set to appear as an associate sponsor of Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet throughout the year, beginning with Sunday afternoon’s season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Elliott is set to start that race in eighth place after finishing in third in the second of Thursday night’s two Bluegreen Vacations Duels qualifying races (full lineup here).

The move makes sense on many levels. Making the sport’s most popular driver the first new addition to the Coca-Cola Racing Family in five years is a smart decision by the drinks company, and Elliott was lacking sponsorship from a drink brand following Adrenaline Shoc (A Shoc) energy drink’s departure from Hendrick Motorsports after two seasons.

Bill Elliott, Chase’s father, was also a member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family driver. In fact, he was a founding member of the group back in 1998, along with Todd Bodine, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt, Kenny Irwin, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Steve Park, Kyle Petty, and Ricky Rudd.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

Despite the recent decrease in size of the group, Coca-Cola has remained active in the Cup Series, sponsoring the annual 600-mile Memorial Day Sunday race, formerly known as the World 600, at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Coca-Cola 600), as well as the annual 400-mile summer race, formerly known as the Firecracker 400, at Daytona International Speedway (Coke Zero Sugar 400).