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CONCORD, N.C. -- The No. 24 team started 2016 with a Daytona 500 pole position and went on to earn 10 top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and another pole, leading 358 laps throughout the year.

With Chase Elliott behind the wheel, the team advanced all the way to the Round of 12 in the postseason, and the season was capped with a Rookie of the Year award for Elliott.

"We built a pretty decent foundation in 2016," No. 24 team crew chief Alan Gustafson said.

One of the keys to the team's optimism moving forward, he said, was how well Hendrick Motorsports closed out the year. Jimmie Johnson's seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship ended a Chase that saw all four teams perform well.

"As a company, I feel like we’ve kind of turned the corner and made a lot of progress and performance was pretty good at the end of the year," Gustafson said.

Now, with the calendar turning to 2017, the crew chief and his team have their sights set on even more in the upcoming campaign.

“We’re really optimistic and we’ve got a really good team," he said. "We just have to keep working hard and pushing forward, but I don’t see any reason why we can’t have a very successful 2017 and win races and get to the Chase and contend to win the championship.

"That would be the goal: to make it to Homestead and compete for it, and I think we’ve got a good shot at doing that if we can stay on track.”