Smith loses his Nationwide Series points lead to Elliott Sadler
At home or on the go, keep tabs on Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series races this weekend
Veteran holds off Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch for victory
Plan your NASCAR weekend with these on-track, live interview times
Follow what's happening at the track with live updates from teams, drivers and NASCAR.com writers
Gaughan earns first win in 98 Nationwide Series starts
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
See what drivers have to say about keeping friendships on the track RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated Photo credit: Jim Fluharty/NASCAR Illustrated Is it hard for drivers to maintain friendships with one another? Austin Dillon, Sprint Cup Driver, ( @austindillon3 ) "It's harder for some drivers than it is for others. You just have to learn how to have friendships with those guys because you see them so often. There's a balance between being a friend or just a guy that you know. It can be tough to hit that balance." Brian Vickers, Sprint Cup Driver, ( @BrianLVickers ) "It goes both ways. You have this common interest and respect for each other because of what you do. They are also your competitors. You race with them each week and things happen. You get in accidents, you get mad at each other, so friendships come and go. The respect is probably what keeps friendships together." Kevin Swindell, Nationwide driver, ( @KevinSwindell ) "It can be. A lot of guys go off the old adage, 'If you want friends at the race track, bring them with you.' As you get older, your mindset tends to change. You forgive a little quicker and get to thinking that not everyone is out to get you." Elliott Sadler, Nationwide driver, ( @Elliott_Sadler ) "No, not at all. I've got a lot of friends in this sport. It's almost like a traveling family. You're with drivers more than you're with your own family. You might have an issue with somebody, but you're such close friends, you talk it out and work through it." Have you ever been surprised by how a driver you thought was a friend talked about you or raced you on the track? DILLON: "Yes, at certain times, I've gone, 'Wow, I didn't think he'd say something like that.' Or other drivers have done things after the race that left me saying, 'I don't know that guy.' But you always get over it because there are times when all of us act out of character." VICKERS: "For me, what happens on the track is on the track. I may be mad or disappointed about how someone handled a situation, but that's purely for how they handled things on the track. I wouldn't let it change how I felt about them as a friend." SWINDELL: "There's always something, but you've got to stop and ask yourself, 'Would I have done the same thing to them?' If that's the case, you've got to calm down and let it slide." SADLER: "You run into that all the time, but it’s in the heat of the moment. I'd say 75 to 80 percent of the guys out here are great guys who would do anything in the world for you. But you've got to go out there and race hard and know where to draw the line." Have you ever gotten to know a driver for the first time and come away thinking, "That guy is cooler than I thought?" DILLON: "First impressions are big with me. I feel like I know where someone stands pretty early on when I meet them. I have talked to some guys and come away thinking, 'Man, that's a good guy.' I have also thought, 'Man, that guy is a loser,' and then spent 30 minutes with them and come away thinking totally different of them. I've learned that you've got to be open-minded with everybody. You've got to give everyone a chance." VICKERS: "You have perceptions of people and sometimes that changes when you get to know them. With people in the public eye, you're almost forced to make a judgment of them before you really know them based on what you’ve seen of them. Then you meet them and maybe get a different impression." SWINDELL: "Sure. There are always people that have a reputation one way or the other, and you come away surprised that they are different than you thought." SADLER: "I've had that happen a couple of times, and I've talked to drivers I didn't really know and felt like, 'That guy is going to have a tough time.' " SUBSCRIBE NOW!
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
Get the latest Elliott Sadler news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.