Bill Elliott talks about his son Chase Elliott winning the 2014 Nationwide Series championship.
Best of Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series honored MORE: Best photos from NNS, NCWTS banquet DORAL, Fla. -- NASCAR's first year celebrating its Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series awards banquet at the Trump National Doral Miami feted one of the sport's newest champions and a repeat victor Monday night. But before the festivities came into full swing, it included a warm-up by the resort's namesake. The day after the thrilling conclusion to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Chase Elliott and Matt Crafton -- stock-car racing's other national series champions -- took center stage Monday as the toast of the glitzy Donald J. Trump Ballroom. But before their speeches and moments of remembrance, "The Donald" himself gave the industry a warm welcome. "I didn't watch a minute of the NFL yesterday," Trump said about Sunday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "I watched NASCAR. You're much more brave." Participants in both series donned their formal best Monday evening, celebrating the accolades of two seasons of racing that began in February at Daytona. Those assembled at the 62 tables cheered the contributions of departing entitlement sponsor Nationwide and longtime broadcast partner ESPN, but also paid tribute to two deserving champions. Elliott's first full season in a NASCAR national series was welcomed with a championship in what will become the NASCAR XFINITY Series next year. But it also came with a surprise honor in the form of the series' most popular driver award. His father, NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bill Elliott , was a 16-time winner of the NMPA Most Popular Driver Award in NASCAR's premier series. "This is really cool," Elliott said after accepting the award. "I got to do this in the K&N Series. To know you have the support of a lot of great fans across the United States when you do as much racing as we have this season, it's been really, really cool to see that at home and on the road, as far away as California. Just thanks to everybody who made it possible." Crafton's return to the head table came by virtue of his second straight title, a historic first for the Camping World Truck Series. Last season his heart-tugging acceptance speech took several emotional turns; this year, a quip beforehand about his 1 1/2-year-old daughter, Elladee, helped him channel his inner comic. "She's been around two years and I've won two truck series championships," Crafton said. "Why'd I wait so long to have kids?" Ryan Blaney , the truck series' runner-up this year, brought home the most popular driver award in the Camping World Truck Series but waved off making an acceptance speech. "That was cool. Maybe they were all Canadians," Blaney said, making reference to winning over the crowd with his stirring victory Labor Day weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park . "So I've got that going for me." The Team Penske No. 22 Ford (Nationwide) and Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Toyota (trucks) were honored for their team owner championships in their respective series. Sprint Cup regular Kyle Busch (Nationwide) also claimed top honors in the year-end Keystone Light and Coors Light Pole Awards, leading both series in the number of poles this season. Busch was also lauded with the Mobil 1 Driver of the Year in the truck series. Kyle Larson won the award in the Nationwide Series. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Bill Elliott reflects on his son's season and becoming the 2014 Nationwide Series Champion.
NASCAR Next graduate sets new standards in 2014 MORE: Full race results " Look back at Chase's Sunoco Rookie Report " JR Motorsports championship fast facts AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Proving that stock-car racing talent hasn't skipped a generation, 18-year-old Chase Elliott continued a family tradition Saturday afternoon at Phoenix International Raceway , becoming the youngest champion in NASCAR national series history. Elliott , son of 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bill Elliott , entered Saturday's DAV 200 - Honoring America's Veterans needing only to lose none of his 48-point lead over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith . He did, finishing fifth to sew up his Nationwide Series title pursuit with one race remaining. "Are you kidding me?! Yes!" Elliott said over his in-car radio at the checkered flag before running through a list of thank-yous. "You know what they say," his radio crackled back, "you can chase Elliott , but you can't catch him." The siren at the Dawsonville Pool Room -- nearly 2,000 miles east in the Elliotts' Georgia hometown -- sounded loud and proud after the teenager's latest accomplishment, just as it frequently did in his father's heyday. Saturday, the shrill signal celebrated the teenager's impressive body of work throughout 2014, with the Dawsonville institution tweeting, "Call the fire department we might let the "Si-REEN" blare until she catches on fire!!!" and then providing proof. Sorry for the video delay, we are so happy here in Dawsonville we almost forgot to upload it! #di9 http://t.co/LBjiWPlhXK — Dawsonville PoolRoom (@DawsonPoolRoom) November 8, 2014 — Dawsonville PoolRoom (@DawsonPoolRoom) November 8, 2014 Elliott became the first rookie to wear the Nationwide Series crown since the circuit's infancy, landing the first championship for his JRM team -- co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- in the process. He also became the first product of the NASCAR Next youth initiative to claim a season-long title at the national series level. And he also followed his father's footsteps to become part of just the fifth father-son duo to claim a NASCAR national series title. "This certainly has not set in for me, and I don't know when it's going to," Elliott said. "I want to enjoy every bit of it. I'm going to enjoy it all the way till the green flag at Daytona because this is just such a cool honor to have. To be able to come and drive the race cars I've been able to this season, and to be able to do this every week, this is a dream come true. I get to go race cars on the weekend; it doesn't get much better than that." The elder Elliott's list of stock-car achievements has few peers with multiple Daytona 500 victories and the Cup championship in 1988. Saturday, though, was a special moment of a different sort for the proud pop. "I think this is above everything. I'm serious," Bill Elliott said. "I think this is above everything that I've accomplished because that's kind of in the past, and this is him living for his future. He's a good kid, he's done a great job and he's kind of got the world by the tail. He's got to keep his head screwed on straight and headed in the right direction, but I feel like he can do that." Elliott broke through for his first NASCAR national series victory last season at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park during his partial schedule in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. His progress in trucks and other forms of stock-car racing was enough to attract the attention of Earnhardt, who tapped Elliott in January for a full-time ride with his Nationwide Series team. In making the jump, Elliott's car bore the No. 9 that his father made famous, scoring 38 of his 44 career victories in NASCAR's premier series with the car number. NAPA, making its return to NASCAR after departing the Michael Waltrip Racing team weeks earlier, signed on as a full-time sponsor. Though he currently drives for JRM, he remains under contract through the team's association with Rick Hendrick and his Hendrick Motorsports operation -- Earnhardt's team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The 65-year-old car owner, whose eye for budding young racers is credited with developing the championship-caliber careers of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson , said he noticed Elliott's poise and maturity early on. "He is so mature beyond his years, how he can be fast but not wreck the car," said team partner Rick Hendrick. "It's just unbelievable how talented he is, but how smart he is. I think he's got the whole package and that's what impressed me from the very beginning." While Bill Elliott 's career began as a Ford loyalist, Chase Elliott 's big break came in Chevrolets. Success came early, in just his sixth Nationwide race at Texas Motor Speedway in April. Elliott passed Kevin Harvick with 16 laps to go and led five Sprint Cup regulars -- including Earnhardt -- to take the checkered flag. The following week, he was back in Victory Lane at Darlington Raceway , the treacherous South Carolina track where his father captured the Winston Million triple crown bonus in 1985. Though a crash at Charlotte Motor Speedway at May knocked him out of the lead in standings, he snatched the top spot back with a win in July at Chicagoland Speedway and never relinquished his perch. The Nationwide Series season wraps up next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway with Saturday's Ford EcoBoost 300 (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2). After a historic Saturday in the desert, Elliott's race will serve as a 300-mile victory lap. Elliott's coronation had just one moment of uncertainty. The rookie-turned-champ had been fast all day, but when it came to doing a post-race burnout, he paused. "Do I go burn 'em down right now?" Elliott said. "Is that acceptable?" Spotter Earl Barban passed the buck over the radio: "You'll have to ask your crew chief." The affirmative reply came from Greg Ives, "Do what you need to do." Elliott complied like a kid at heart, but one accomplished beyond his years. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
From his first national series start to becoming the youngest national series champion Nov. 8: Elliott youngest to win national series title After three wins and numerous top-five and top-10 finishes in his rookie season, Chase Elliott earned the distinction of being the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion by clinching the title at Phoenix International Raceway . " Read more Nov. 1: Championship gets closer to Elliott's grasp Just one race before clinching the NASCAR Nationwide Series title at Phoenix, Elliott increased his points lead over Regan Smith to 48. Although it wasn't a win, it put the opportunity of earning a championship within reach. " Read more Sept. 27: Elliott keeps cool, overcomes Dover adversity Despite struggling at Dover after making contact with the wall and running into the back of another driver, Elliott rallied and emerged from the race with an expanded lead in the standings. " Read more Sept. 4: Breakout was rooted in Richmond Without NAPA pulling sponsorship from Michael Waltrip Racing in 2013, Elliott might not have raced in 2014. NASCAR.com's Brad Norman tells the story of how Elliott landed a spot in the No. 9. " Read more Aug. 18: Ernie Cope to be Elliott's crew chief in 2015 With Elliott's current crew chief Greg Ives moving to Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s pit box in 2015, JR Motorsports announced who will take over the championship team. " Read more July 31: Earnhardt: Hendrick has 'great plan' for Elliott JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr . discussed long-term goals for Chase Elliott and his NASCAR career. " Read more July 30: Greg Ives named Junior's 2015 crew chief Hendrick Motorsports announced that Elliott's crew chief will take over Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s pit box in 2015 -- leaving many to wonder who would fill the shoes of the No. 9 team's pit boss. " Read more July 19: Elliott wins at Chicagoland, moves in points lead Elliott's third win of 2014 vaulted him from third to the top of the Nationwide Series points standings, holding just a seven-point lead over teammate Regan Smith . " Read more May 17: Elliott : From graduation to his full-time job Graduation cap and gown by day, NAPA fire suit by night. Elliott graduated high school and made it to the track just in time for qualifying at Iowa Speedway . " Read more April 11: Elliott wins Nationwide Series race at Darlington Elliott spent his prom night just like he always imagined -- in Victory Lane at Darlington. Recap the rookie's memorable second win of 2014. " Read more April 4: First Nationwide win a coming-of-age moment With Elliott's first win of his Nationwide Series career, he claimed the points lead. Read what JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr . said about his rookie's first victory. " Read more Jan. 6: Dale Jr. tabs Elliott for No. 9 JRM ride With just one victory in the Truck Series, Elliott caught the eye of Dale Earnhardt Jr . like he had with Rick Hendrick, and his full-time deal with JR Motorsports and NAPA was announced. " Read more Sept. 1, 2013: Elliott spins Ty Dillon , gets first Truck win It wasn't pretty, but it got the job done. Elliott's first and only Truck Series victory came at the cost of Ty Dillon 's run. Recap how the now Nationwide Series champ dared to get to Victory Lane. " Read more March 11, 2013: Sun rising over bright future The son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott was determined to make a name for himself in NASCAR -- and he started that journey when he made his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Martinsville in 2013 " Read more MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Rookie increases his points lead to 48 with two races left RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today FORT WORTH, Texas – It wasn't a win, but Chase Elliott called it "one of the best efforts we've given from start to finish." The JR Motorsports driver finished fourth in Saturday’s O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway , extending his NASCAR Nationwide Series points lead to 48 on teammate Regan Smith (11th). "To qualify 11th, to run around back 10th, 12th, 13th, and be able to drive up to the top five – that is so, so hard to do in the Nationwide Series," Elliott , 18, said. "Phenomenal pit stops gained us spots on pit road; Greg (Ives, crew chief) made the perfect adjustments and we were right there with them at the end. (We were) just a couple of steps short; we were gaining." Should he maintain his points advantage next week when the series moves to Phoenix International Raceway, Elliott would wrap up the series title with one race remaining. Elliott found himself battling an ill-handling car early as eventual race winner Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) and runner-up Joey Logano ( Team Penske ) were dominating Saturday's 200-lap event. Adjustments brought the No. 9 car to life and solid pit stops kept him from losing spots on pit road. "The back of the car wasn’t in the track," Elliott said. "As we ran, we fixed that and then we were too tight with the nose; Greg made some good adjustments to try and get the balance right, front to rear, and we finally got that. Then we tweaked the air pressure a little bit and we got the car where it was pretty quick. We were right there; we gained on the leaders a good bit that second to last run. They yarded me getting on and off pit road, just my mistake we need to do better there." The championship might be within his grasp, but Elliott , son of 1988 premier series champion Bill Elliott , says increasing his win total (he's a three-time winner this season) is the objective for his No. 9 team. "Just (running) one race at a time and trying to get some more wins before the year is over," he said. "That's our goal. I said before … the past couple of weeks we really haven't been where we wanted to be from the performance side, not getting the results that I feel like we can get as a team. "I don't think we've sat in the truck and discussed the points situation one time the whole season and I don’t think there's any need in starting now. We're just trying to step up and battle for the win. We're capable of doing it." Brian Scott ( Richard Childress Racing ) sits third in points, 63 behind Elliott while Elliott Sadler (JGR) sits 68 back and RCR's Ty Dillon (-75) round out the top five. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Organization's first championship completes trek to top RELATED: How Elliott's dream season almost never happened AVONDALE, Ariz. -- It was a deal that came together late, but Dale Earnhardt Jr . believed in its potential from the start. Now, less than 12 months after signing 18-year-old Chase Elliott as a driver for his No. 9 JR Motorsports NASCAR Nationwide Series team, Earnhardt Jr. is reaping the rewards. Elliott , competing full time in the series for the first time, wrapped up the series championship Saturday with a fifth-place finish in the DAV 200 at Phoenix International Raceway . With only one race remaining, next week's Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway , Elliott holds an insurmountable 52-point lead on teammate Regan Smith . Earnhardt is listed as the owner for the organization, along with sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner Rick Hendrick. While it's the first title for JRM, now in its ninth season, it's not the first for Earnhardt, the sport's most popular driver. Officially, he won Nationwide Series titles with driver Martin Truex Jr . (2004-05) with Chance 2, in a collaborative effort with Dale Earnhardt Inc. "It's very overwhelming, but at the same time we're very proud and looking forward to more success," Earnhardt said as Saturday's celebration began to break up. "Hopefully this is a sign of more things to come for us." While he can't catch his teammate, Smith, who leads third-place Brian Scott by 13 points, can secure second next week, which would give JRM a 1-2 finish in the points battle. Earnhardt said he isn't surprised at the success of the organization, or his drivers, who have won four of this year's 32 races. "Right out of the gate I felt (Chase) and Regan would be very difficult for the competition," he said. That was indeed the case, as Elliott notched three wins and has been a model of consistency, finishing in the top five 16 times and in the top 10 26 times. Saturday's 10-place finish by Smith, the winner of the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway , was his 25th top-10 this year. "It's obviously huge for the organization," Smith said. "It's been a long time coming for the company, I'd say before either one of us were here, and a lot of people have really worked hard for it and certainly Chase deserves it." Hendrick, who fields Earnhardt Jr.'s Sprint Cup car along with entries for Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne , said combining what was his former Hendrick Nationwide Series (then Busch Series) program with that of JRM, has "really worked out well." "It was a great move," he said, "and I'm just really proud of Kelley and Dale because they've worked hard. It's a good building block for our organization, so we've put some young guys in there and they get to be crew chiefs, like Greg Ives, so it's a good Triple-A team for us." Ives, crew chief for Elliott , will move up to Sprint Cup next season to replace Steve Letarte as Earnhardt's crew chief. Earnhardt also noted the talent pipeline created by the union of the organizations. Drivers, crew chiefs and crewmen have been able to advance their careers. And along the way, it's made the JRM organization stronger. "We really like where we are," he said. "We've learned how to successfully run this program financially and I think we need to stick around for a little while and try to enjoy being a fellow competitor in this series." Winning the title with Elliott , son of 1988 NASCAR premier series champion Bill Elliott , means much to Earnhardt. The elder Elliott sauntered over after Saturday's crowd had dispersed to congratulate the owner and share the moment. "That’s pretty damn cool," Earnhardt said afterward. "I think Bill adds a lot to it, he's such a genuine person. You see the kind of support system (Chase) has with his mother and family and it makes you just wish so much for him, knowing that he's got his head on straight and he's such a good boy. You love to see people like that do good things, because you know he appreciates what he's doing, where he's at." How much does he think of the youngster? "He'll be such an easy guy to pull for going down the road," Earnhardt said. "When I retire, he's going to be my guy. I'm going to be a Chase Elliott fan all the damn way. I want him to do well because I want to pull for Chase Elliott when I'm sitting there watching the races when I'm 65 years old." The son of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr. said he imagines "what my dad would think about me and Bill working together, just (stuff) like that. It really blows my mind that we're getting to work with Bill ." A simple gesture nearly a year ago has resulted in the celebration of a championship. When sponsor NAPA pulled out of Sprint Cup on the heels of penalties levied against Michael Waltrip Racing in September of 2013, the auto parts company wasn't expected to return. Even Earnhardt said he didn't know if the group would be back. But because of their longstanding support of the sport, he said, he decided to give officials a call and suggest they reconsider. "I wasn't trying to pitch them anything on my end but I felt like if the sport lost them as a whole, it would create a big void," he said. "They had been a big part of the sport for a really long time and I thought they should reconsider their involvement, whether with us or someone else. I thought they should be in the sport and not to let what happened to them really make that decision for them. I thought they should be around and could enjoy a lot of success if they stuck it out." As it turns out, he was correct about both NAPA and Elliott , although he takes no credit for the latter. "I get a lot of credit for finding the talent but Rick picked this guy right out of the mix," he said of Elliott . "He's been behind him through the K&N deal and the truck deal. Rick has invested a ton in Chase and this was Rick's opportunity to bring Chase into the Nationwide Series and NAPA thought it was a good deal." In the end, it was more than a just a good deal; it was a championship-winning deal. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Rookie tries to be youngest title winner in NASCAR national series history RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Plenty of history remains up for grabs for Chase Elliott as the NASCAR Nationwide Series season winds down. That doesn't mean he's overthinking matters. The 18-year-old phenom enters the year's penultimate race with a 48-point edge over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith . If Elliott loses no ground in the standings after Saturday's DAV 200 Honoring America's Heroes (4 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Phoenix International Raceway , he'll be crowned champion with one race remaining. If Elliott can cash in on his commanding lead -- either in the desert or at the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale the following weekend -- he'll become the youngest title winner in any of NASCAR's three national series and the first rookie champ since the series' formative years. He'd also be the first to win the title and Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the same season. A championship would also put the Elliotts as the fourth father/son combo to win NASCAR national series championships as Bill Elliott , 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee and Chase's father, won NASCAR's premier series championship in 1988. While the scenarios for clinching the crown are fairly straightforward, Elliott isn't making the task ahead more complex that it needs to be. At the same time, the teenager said he grasps the importance of the potential accomplishment. "It would be phenomenal. It would mean the world to me, and not just me, but our team and our sponsors, NAPA and everybody that makes it happen," Elliott said last weekend after adding six points to his lead at Texas Motor Speedway . "We'll give it our best shot to do so. We'd still like to have another win or two before the year is out, so that's our main goal. The biggest thing about the points, I think, is keeping it as simple as knowing you get the most points for finishing highest up at the end of the day. I think that's about as simple and as much as you need to worry about it. "So we'll give it our best shot each week and hope for the best and wherever it unfolds, it unfolds." While an Elliott championship isn't a lock, a first Nationwide title for the JRM operation virtually is. Richard Childress Racing 's Brian Scott ranks third, a distant 63 points off the top, meaning he'd need a monumental collapse from both Elliott and Smith in the next two races to overtake them for the crown. Elliott Sadler , 68 points behind in his last year with Joe Gibbs Racing , and RCR's Ty Dillon , 75 points off the lead, are the only other drivers with a mathematical chance at the championship. On the team owners' side of the Nationwide standings, the battle at the top tightened up after Kyle Busch 's victory last weekend at Texas. The triumph helped the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Toyota team move closer to Team Penske 's No. 22 Ford, driven to a second-place finish in Fort Worth by Joey Logano . With two races left, the Penske No. 22 leads by 26 points. Busch will again be behind the wheel at Phoenix, where he's won three consecutive Nationwide races and seven times overall in the series. Brad Keselowski -- a four-time winner in Nationwide competition this year but winless at Phoenix -- will pilot the Penske No. 22 this weekend. Last season, Penske's No. 22 prevailed in the season-long team owner championship hunt by just one point over the Gibbs No. 54. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Alan Cavanna talks with the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion Chase Elliott and his father Bill Elliott following the Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.