It was announced today that Chase Elliott would be joining JR Motorsports (JRM) in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driving the number 9 Chevrolet. NAPA Auto Parts will be the primary sponsor for the 9 in the coming 2014 season. Chase saw success last year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series, and will look to continue his success in the Nationwide series now that he has turned 18. He became the youngest driver ever to win a Truck series race last year in September when he won at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. His driving talent has spoken for itself, and now that he is moving into the Nationwide series, he has taken a huge step toward a unique reputation for himself apart from the legend of his champion father, Bill Elliott.
His choice of number is a nod to his father, as it was the same one that Bill drove for most of his career. There is nothing but love and respect there. Chase will be building his own legacy going forward, however, and he looks to be a force to be reckoned with. Chase was honored as the 2013 Driver of the Year by the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame for his success at other levels of NASCAR competition. Joining JRM teammate Regan Smith in the number 7 Chevrolet, he will be a part of the strongest team they have put forth to date. Having a partner like NAPA, who has a long and proud reputation in NASCAR, his bid for Nationwide series glory is starting on solid ground. The NAPA brand has been sponsoring NASCAR teams for 18 seasons, 2014 will mark their 19th as a sponsor. Their almost-insipid, but immediately recognizable commercials have become ingrained into the subconscious of racing fans watching on television. Most people will tell you that the tune drives them crazy, even as they are singing along with the commercial and firmly planting it into their brains. Subversive and effective, it is genius marketing.
That marketing expertise, combined with their experience in the professional motor sports arena, looks to be a winning combination for Elliott. Having Dale Earnhardt Junior, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, and Rick Hendrick behind him won’t hurt either. There is a nostalgic undercurrent to the partnership which hearkens back to the days of Chase’s father and Dale Earnhardt Sr battling it out in years past which Dale Jr. made mention of in his comments after the announcement on Monday. The connection to two greats from the past will put him in good stead with the NASCAR faithful, and ought to garner him a decent fan base for the Nationwide series to start off with. His obvious talent behind the wheel ought to do the rest.
Chase Elliott is the next in a series of drivers getting a very early start in racing and flying through the levels of competition to land them in the national spotlight at young age. Kyle Larson, who will be taking over in Juan Pablo Montoya’s number 42 car in the 2014 Sprint Cup series is another such youngster to demonstrate that high level of winning momentum. Elliott looks to have the potential to launch himself into similar success with a strong showing this year in the Nationwide. It is shaping up to be a good year for the youth of the NASCAR racing family, and a good sign that the sport is alive and going strong. Elliott, by joining with NAPA and JR Motorsports, has positioned himself to take the NASCAR Nationwide series by storm and continue to build a promising career for himself.
By Jim Malone