Chase Elliott will race the full 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series season for JR Motorsports the team announced in an emailed press release Monday. Elliott is the son of NASCAR Cup champion Bill Elliott. Sponsorship will come from NAPA Auto Parts whose headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., is just a short distance from Elliott’s hometown of Dawsonville, Ga.
The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame named Elliott its 2013 Driver of the Year after winning the All-American 400 at historic Nashville Fairgrounds and becoming the first driver to win all four super late model majors. Elliott was signed by Hendrick Motorsports owner and JR Motorsports partner Rick Hendrick in 2011. He scored his first NASCAR K&N Series win at Iowa Speedway on May 19, 2012, and became the youngest superspeedway winner in ARCA history at Pocono Raceway on June 8, 2013. His splash into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series reset the record books. He became, at the time, the youngest winner in series history in only his sixth start – Sept. 1, 2013, at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Chase Elliott said. “My family and I are still trying to believe it all. I couldn’t ask to be partnered with anyone better than Dale Jr., Kelley and Mr. Hendrick, along with all of the people at their organizations who have put in countless hours to pull this together.”
Elliott will carry the No. 9 on his NAPA Chevrolet – the same number his father, legendary racer Bill Elliott, carried for much of his storied career that included the 1988 Sprint Cup Series championship. The 2014 season will mark the younger Elliott’s Nationwide Series debut. He turned 18 on Nov. 28, becoming eligible for competition.
“Chase has been extremely successful, and I think the Nationwide Series is only a short step for him,” said JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. “With the infrastructure we have at JR Motorsports and our close-working partnership with Hendrick Motorsports, we have every opportunity to continue Chase’s development as a driver while contending for a championship. He’s that good.
The addition of Elliott gives JR Motorsports two full-time teams that will compete for a Nationwide championship in 2014. Regan Smith and the No. 7 team will return after a 2013 run of two wins. JR Motorsports will also field two partial-schedule teams – the No. 5 with Kevin Harvick and the No. 88 with Earnhardt Jr. Greg Ives will serve as Elliott’s crew chief on the No. 9, with Ryan Pemberton taking over the No. 7 and Ernie Cope the No. 5.
“This will be the strongest line-up we’ve put on the track since we started racing full time in 2006,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports. “We experienced very big gains this past year by all our teams and drivers. Regan tied our best-ever finish in points, and we won two races. We pride ourselves on competing for wins, and all four of our drivers are capable of doing that any given week.”
Bill Elliott’s 1988 Cup title came during a season in which he recorded six of his 44 career wins. Known affectionately as “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville,” Bill Elliott is a two-time winner of the Daytona 500, a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, and a 16-time winner of NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Award.
“No doubt the historical element of this is pretty cool,” said Earnhardt Jr. “Bill Elliott is one of the greats. I’ve always looked up to him. He had some great battles with my dad. Certainly The Winston in 1987 is an all-time favorite. It was probably some of the hardest racing you’ll see, and it’s fun to watch even to this day. I think there are a lot of Elliott fans and Earnhardt fans that will take interest in Chase’s career and support him 100 percent.”