Smith loses his Nationwide Series points lead to Elliott Sadler
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Veteran holds off Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch for victory
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Gaughan earns first win in 98 Nationwide Series starts
Will the 2014 champ's momentum continue into 2015? RELATED: Complete schedule for driver previews Team: JR Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet Rank in final 2014 standings: First Wins: Three (Texas in April; Darlington in April; Chicago in July) Strides: Won a pole ( or two)? Check. Won a race ( or three)? Check. Sunoco Rookie of the Year? Check. Series champion? Absolutely. Elliott , 19, was the surprise story of the year for the Nationwide (now XFINITY ) Series, becoming the first driver to win the championship in his rookie season. The son of 1988 premier series champion Bill Elliott , the youngster drove more like an experienced veteran than a fresh-faced kid with no prior starts in the series. "There were a lot of points in the season when people said 'he's a rookie, he's going to make a mistake here or there' and he didn't," teammate Regan Smith said. "He drove like a veteran and it was great for him and great for JR Motorsports to see that." As surprising as his first career win was at Texas, perhaps more impressive was following up that victory just a week later at Darlington, one of the series' most difficult tracks, with a second consecutive win. In addition to his three victories, Elliott ended the season with 16 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes. His average finishing position of 8.0 was No. 1 among those running full-time in the series. Elliott was always quick to point to the efforts of others. "I feel like all these people along the way have made me look a heck of a lot better than I really am," he said. "It's been an honor to work with these guys ... not just this year, but all along the way. It's been fun." Setbacks: Elliott didn't always shine -- his best finish on the superspeedways of Daytona and Talladega was 15th. But for the most part, he ran with and often outran Sprint Cup drivers making the occasional stop in the series. Quoteworthy: "He's so much better than I ever through about being." -- Bill Elliott What's next: With JRM's ties to Hendrick Motorsports , the road to a ride at the Sprint Cup level seemed to clear a bit with the recent announcement of Jeff Gordon 's pending retirement. Before that either does or doesn't take place however, Elliott will spend another year in the XFINITY Series. Greg Ives, who served as crew chief, has moved up to Sprint Cup to be paired with Dale Earnhardt Jr ., a co-owner of JRM. Veteran crew chief Ernie Cope will now be paired with Elliott . "Winning more races and not letting the same people beat you every week ... is the biggest thing," Elliott said of the '15 season. "Keeping it about as simple as possible. ... I see things I can improve on personally and stepping up and not letting people out‑ drive you every week because I feel like that's happened a lot this year. "I'd like to minimize those weekends, and I feel like we have the cars, the teams, the motors, the group of people to go and contend with the best. We've just got to put it all together ... not talk about it anymore and go do it." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Six drivers will compete in diverse driver development program DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D), the leading developmental platform for female and multicultural drivers and pit crew members, announced its 2015 class today. The program welcomes four talented program newcomers to the roster of six drivers striving to transition into the sport’s national series spotlight. Rev Racing, the program’s competition arm, has played a key role in the development of 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson and NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers Darrell Wallace Jr . and Daniel Suarez. "Taking steps to find and develop young female and multicultural athletes who could represent the future of NASCAR is at the core of our organization’s mission," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "We were impressed by the talent displayed at the Combine [in October of 2014], and are eager to help this group develop their strengths on and off the track." Rev Racing will field four teams in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and two in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The 2015 class is led by returning K&N Pro Series East driver Jay Beasley and Devon Amos, who after an impressive 2014 performance in the Whelen All-American Series earned a spot in the K&N Pro Series East. The 2015 NASCAR D4D roster includes: Devon Amos : Returning to the team, the 23-year-old Rio Rancho, New Mexico, native will make the jump to the K&N Pro Series East after two full seasons in the Whelen All-American Series. Jay Beasley: Finishing 13th overall and sixth in a loaded Sunoco Rookie of the Year field in the K&N Pro Series East last season, the 23-year-old from Las Vegas, Nevada will return for a second season, aiming to best his rookie campaign . Collin Cabre: After an impressive NASCAR D4D Combine performance, the 21-year-old Thonotosassa, Florida, native will compete in the K&N Pro Series East in his first year with Rev Racing. Cabre has spent the past five years racing asphalt and dirt sprint cars. Natalie Decker: A 17-year-old newcomer to the Rev Racing roster from Eagle River, Wisconsin, Decker collected feature wins in a limited late model and super late model, as well as earning Rookie and Sportsman of the Year honors in ARCA SCAG Midwest Truck Tour. She will compete in the Whelen All-American Series in 2015. Kenzie Ruston: Entering her third season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and first with Rev Racing, the 22-year-old El Reno, Oklahoma, native is also a member of NASCAR Next, an industry initiative to identify tomorrow’s stars. Ruston broke her own record in 2014 as the highest finishing female driver in the K&N Pro Series East with a runner-up finish at Iowa Speedway on her way to finishing ninth in points. Dylan Smith: The 22-year-old from Randolph, Vermont earned a spot with Rev Racing in the Whelen All-American Series after competing in his own Late Model last year. The Stewart-Haas Racing employee ran 15 races and finished 38th in the Whelen All-American Series Division I national standings. Under Rev Racing owner and CEO Max Siegel’s leadership, the development program aligns drivers with a team of executives, athletic directors, crew chiefs and mentors tasked with helping NASCAR D4D drivers achieve career successes; thus, improving their goal of reaching one of NASCAR's three national series. "NASCAR Drive for Diversity goes much deeper than putting drivers behind the wheel of race cars," said Siegel. "The program is all encompassing, providing competition, athletic training and professional development opportunities for drivers who have the determination and talent to reach NASCAR's top levels. We've seen this with Larson, Suarez and Wallace Jr. and are excited about the potential of this talented group of drivers." Growth of the program extends to pit crew members under the NASCAR D4D Crew Member Development Program, also managed by Siegel. In 2014, over 30 multicultural athletes pitted fulltime for teams across all three national series.
Get the latest Elliott Sadler news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Get the latest Elliott Sadler news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.