By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Chase Elliott skipped the free agency process and agreed to a five-year contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports announced mere hours before the season-opening Daytona 500. This season was the final year in Elliott’s current contract. Elliott is the 2020 Cup champion and four-time reigning winner of the fan-voted most popular driver award. He will drive the No. 9 Chevrolet through 2027 with the new extension.