Chase Elliott, the 17-year-old son of former NASCAR driver Bill Elliott and developmental driver for Hendrick Motorsports, previously announced that he'd be making his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on April 6. He won't be the only driver under the age of 18 trying to make his way into the Martinsville race. Kyle Busch Motorsports recently announced that 16-year-old Erik Jones will drive a No. 51 Toyota for KBM.
"I've been around Erik a few times running late models," team owner Kyle Busch said. "He's a good kid and a good driver, so we're excited to be adding him to the crop of young talent we've assembled at KBM this season. He did a nice job practicing my late model at Nashville last year for the All-American 400 and then he raced me hard and clean in the closing laps of the Snowball Derby to win that race. Doing those types of things is how you get recognized in this sport."
During the recent off-season, NASCAR lowered its minimum age requirement from 18 to 16 for Camping World Truck Series races on short tracks (tracks less than a mile in length). The Martinsville race will be the first short track race of the season for the series.
The race at Martinsville is part of a five-race deal Jones has with KBM for Truck Series competition this year. He'll also race the No. 51 the following weekend at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway, at Iowa Speedway July 13 and Sept. 8 and another yet-to-be-determined race.
"Kyle is a driver that I have always looked up to and have a lot of respect for, so to be able to make my Truck Series debut in one of his Tundras is something I would have never imagined," Jones said. "This is definitely the biggest opportunity of my career. I've always wanted to drive in NASCAR, so I am really looking forward to getting on the track in Martinsville in a few weeks and being able to evaluate where I stand against the great mix of veterans and young talent that the Truck Series offers."
Jones competed against Busch in the Snowball Derby late model race last December. Other NASCAR drivers including Sprint Cup regular David Ragan and Nationwide Series driver Johanna Long also competed in the race that was won by Jones.
In 2012, Jones became the youngest driver to compete in the ARCA Racing Series at the age of 15. He competed in 10 ARCA races last year, posting four top-fives and five top-10 finishes.