Nationwide honors No. 9 JR Motorsports team on Champ's Day COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nationwide Insurance officials rolled out the red carpet -- OK, make that the blue carpet -- Tuesday as the departing series sponsor welcomed 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Chase Elliott and the No. 9 JR Motorsports team to its headquarters. Elliott , 18, became the youngest series champion while also earning Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors this past season. He and members of his team spent the day in Columbus visiting the Nationwide Children's Hospital, participating in a Nationwide Insurance "Marketing U" panel discussion and signing autographs, with tours of Nationwide Arena (home of the Columbus Blue Jackets NHL franchise) and Woody Hayes Athletic Complex (at The Ohio State University) taking place as well. The team capped off the day with a return trip to the arena to take in the Blue Jackets' game against the Philadelphia Flyers -- which the Blue Jackets won in a shootout. That the celebration honored his entire team, Elliott said, was important. "I really think, at least as far as my guys -- I don't know about anybody else's -- I know my guys have made me look a lot better than I really am this season," he said. "Take it or leave it, that's the truth. I respect them and all that they do. "I know how much work and effort goes into these cars in trying to improve and make them better each week. All that … plays a role, every little bit counts and those guys know that. Especially the guys that travel on the road and work during the week. They don't get a day off from February through November. People don't realize that. I have all the respect in the world for them." Nationwide Insurance has supported the Children's Hospital for more than 50 years. According to officials, it is the third largest ("and second busiest," Elliott is told) pediatric hospital in the country. The hospital treats approximately 1.1 million patients annually, and its patients come from all 50 states as well as 33 countries. This past season, the NASCAR Nationwide Series returned to Mid-Ohio for the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200. Proceeds from the event benefited the hospital, and 10 "Patient Champions" were featured on various cars in the event. Tuesday, those Patient Champions were treated to a visit from Elliott and the team, posed for photographs and were presented gifts, which included sheet metal from the cars representing each child. The panel discussion at Nationwide Insurance's corporate headquarters, which took place inside the Jeffers Auditorium, touched on a number of subjects, from Elliott's success at such a young age to the value of teamwork. Jim McCoy, director of strategic sponsorships for Nationwide Insurance, noted the company's impending departure, but also stressed that it would remain involved in the NASCAR realm -- as a primary sponsor for Dale Earnhardt Jr . in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as well as title sponsor of the Mid-Ohio event. "We've made a lot of incredible relationships," McCoy told the group. "First and foremost with JR Motorsports, we've worked with them the last six years and they've been such a big part of the Nationwide Series. "To have them finish with the championship was a great way to cap that relationship. It was … important for us to finish strong, go out with class and style the way that we approached all seven years (of our association). "We couldn't be happier with the way things turned out, not only with Mid-Ohio, but having a young champion represent our last year." During the Blue Jackets' game, Elliott was interviewed between periods by the team's radio host while co-owner Kelley Earnhardt Miller and husband L.W. Miller (director of motorsports at JRM) participated in a game of "Name That Tune" shown on the arena's video screens. And team members were on the ice during a break to help with an ice go-kart challenge race. Elliott , who will return to defend his series title with the team in 2015, said afterward that being able to spend time with his team and take part in the Nationwide visit was special. "I've had fun with it," he said. "You know I spent a lot of time watching these races on TV, sitting home on the couch, more than I have being a part of them. From watching it on TV to being a part of it firsthand, I can really tell you how much Nationwide puts into this. I hate to see them go. I think the sponsor that follows definitely has big shoes to fill. "Just to see their involvement and how much they care this season and the effort they put into everything is far more than I've ever seen before from a sponsor for a series. It's been very cool to see." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Nationwide Series champion, team to spend Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Chase Elliott and members of the No. 9 JR Motorsports team will be on the road Tuesday as they travel to Columbus, Ohio, home of the series sponsor, to be honored for their 2014 efforts. The day-long schedule will include a visit to the Nationwide Children's Hospital, a Marketing University panel discussion, autograph session, broom ball at Nationwide Arena, team dinner and taking in the Columbus Blue Jackets-Philadelphia Flyers NHL contest. Elliott , who turned 19 on Nov. 28, became the youngest driver to win the series title this season. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year winner, Elliott scored his first series win at Texas Motor Speedway , and came back a week later to win his second race, at Darlington Raceway . He added a third victory later in the season at Chicagoland Speedway . With crew chief Greg Ives leading the team, Elliott ended the year with 16 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes. He and teammate Regan Smith placed 1-2 in the series’ points standings. JRM, which fields three teams in the series, is co-owned by Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr ., sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Sprint Cup team owner Rick Hendrick. Elliott wrapped up the title with one race remaining, thanks to a fifth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway . "It's just been a very, very fun road," Elliott said. "I feel very fortunate to have not just this year with Greg and with Dale and Kelley and Mr. Hendrick, and just honestly, the best group of people that you could possibly have surrounding you in racing in the past five years that I've been short track racing and whatnot. "I feel like I've had the absolute best possible people there, too, and I feel like all these people along the way have made me look a heck of a lot better than I really am. It's been an honor to work with these guys, and not just this year, but all along the way." Nationwide Insurance, which has served as series sponsor since 2008, will be replaced by XFINITY beginning in 2015. However, the company will remain involved in the sport through team sponsorship with Earnhardt Jr. as well as sponsor of the series’ race at Mid-Ohio. "What they've done with this series … (it’s) in a whole lot better place than it was when they started," Earnhardt Jr. said of Nationwide’' involvement. "They've done a wonderful job being a part of our sport and representing our sport. They really love this series, and this series fit them very well." Ives, who will move over to become crew chief for Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Sprint Cup team, and Earnhardt Jr. will be unable to join the team on the trip to Columbus due to their participation in a Goodyear tire test at Charlotte Motor Speedway scheduled for the same day. 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
Chase Elliott and the No. 9 team head to Columbus, Ohio to celebrate their 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship with visits to several local landmarks.
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
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.
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
Kenny Francis expected to crew chief Nationwide champ's Cup starts in '15 RELATED: Elliott's path to a championship MORE: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today While the date of Chase Elliott 's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut has not yet been set, Hendrick Motorsports revealed his expected crew chief Thursday. Appearing on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Hendrick Motorsports General Manager Doug Duchardt said Kenny Francis is expected to be atop the pit box for those efforts. Francis was previously Kasey Kahne 's crew chief at Hendrick and is now in the newly created position of vehicle technical director. "I went to the NASCAR Nationwide banquet and was reminded that Chase is 18 years old," Duchardt said. "He's going to run Nationwide again next year and we've announced that we're going to run some Cup races with him in 2015. I would expect that Kenny (Francis) is going to crew chief those races for him. I think that's going to be a fun aspect of next year to see how Chase does in that. We'll see how things are going in '15 and see what the right steps are in the future. Right now, we're just going to take 2015 and take a look at how things are progressing. " ... It's like having this prospect in Triple-A that's batting .380 and when is he coming up to big club and run? We'll work on that, we'll see where that all heads." As far back as August, team owner Rick Hendrick was open about trying to get Elliott into a Cup car for a handful of races in 2015. "I think you'll probably see him run a few races next year," Hendrick told the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio in August. "Before he ever won a Nationwide race, I watched him test Jimmie's car and Jeff's car at Nashville, and Jimmie and Jeff both commented to me, 'This kid is super smooth and super fast. He takes care of his equipment, and he doesn't get in a jam.' "I said before he ever ran a race, I would put him in a 600-mile race at Charlotte and think he'd finish in the top 15, top 10, because he's so smart," Hendrick added. "He just understands the car and takes care of it. I think he's going to do a super job whenever the time comes. I think we'll surely, probably the second half of next year, we'll probably see him in some races." Dale Earnhardt Jr. , the co-owner of JR Motorsports and owner of the No. 9 car, has repeatedly said that Hendrick has "a great plan" for Elliott . Elliott broke out in 2014, winning three races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series en route to becoming the youngest NASCAR national series champion. He is set to drive the No. 9 car for a second straight season with JR Motorsports in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Elliott will have a new crew chief in Ernie Cope, with Greg Ives joining Earnhardt Jr. in the Sprint Cup Series ranks. 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