CONCORD, N.C. – Chase Elliott’s desire for more laps at Pocono Raceway was a key driver in getting behind the wheel of the No. 17 Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. 

"Hendrick Motorsports has been fielding this car a handful of races and they asked at the beginning of the year where our interest lied and at what tracks," Elliott said. "Pocono (Raceway) was one of the tracks I was interested in and it just kind of worked out."

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This weekend’s Pocono start will mark his first in the Xfinity Series since 2021. Greg Ives will be the crew chief at Pocono, which marks a reunion with Elliott as the two won the 2014 Xfinity Series championship together with Hendrick Motorsports affiliate JR Motorsports. In 82 series starts, Elliott also has accumulated five victories, 34 top-five finishes, 66 top-10s, two poles and 689 laps led.  At Pocono, Elliott is the defending race winner in the NASCAR Cup Series, with four top-five finishes and eight top-10s in 13 starts. In his one Xfinity start there, he finished second in 2018.  

Pocono is not a traditional oval track. Known as "The Tricky Triangle," the 2.5-mile venue in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, features three turns (as opposed to four at oval layouts), with each modeled after a different track. Turn one draws inspiration from Trenton Speedway, turn two (the "Tunnel Turn") emulates Indianapolis Motor Speedway and turn three resembles that of the Milwaukee Mile. Of the three turns, Elliott finds turn three to be the most challenging. 

"Usually, (turn) three for me is the one that goes away the quickest," Elliott said. "It’s the flattest turn of the three of them and I feel like you really have to have your balance good to be good there."

PHOTOS: See the Pocono race winners for Hendrick Motorsports

Elliott’s Pocono start will mark the third of five races that the No. 17 entry in 2023. In the No. 17 team’s first start in 2023, William Byron finished second at Circuit of The Americas. In June. Kyle Larson earned the pole position, won both stages and finished third at Sonoma Raceway. As previously announced in March, Alex Bowman will drive the car at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 19 and Larson will be back for the Sept. 2 race at Darlington Raceway. 

The No. 17 car number carries a rich history and special significance to organization. NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip drove it to nine Cup Series wins for the team from 1987 to 1990, including in the 1989 DAYTONA 500. The car number was also driven by Ricky Hendrick in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series in 2000 and 2001. This year, the paint scheme is again based on the No. 17 truck driven by Hendrick during his 2001 rookie season.

"It is special to the Hendrick family. Driving for them and knowing how much it means to them to have that car on track would be great," Elliott said of the opportunity to win in the No. 17. "I know they have been super close and probably should have a couple by now. Hopefully, we can start racking ‘em up for them."

Throughout its history, Hendrick Motorsports has won one Xfinity Series championship and earned 26 wins in the series. The organization's four races in 2022 marked its first action in the series since 2009, when Tony Stewart took home the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway. In its six combined races in the series in 2022 and 2023, the No. 17 team has achieved three poles, three runner-up finishes, five top-fives and 125 laps led.

Tune in to watch Elliott compete in the No. 17 Xfinity Series Chevy at Pocono on Saturday, July 22, at 5:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

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