JR Motorsports announced today that Chase Elliott will run the full schedule next season, competiting for Rookie of he Year.
The second generation driver will carry the famous No. 9 on his racecar – the same number his father 1988 Sprint Cup Series Champion Bill Elliott ran throughout his career.
The first race of the season at Daytona will mark his debut in the Nationwide Series as he became eligible for competition when he turned 18 on November 18th. Elliott already has NASCAR experience to date, though, making a handful of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts last season, including a win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Beyond that the Dawsonville, Georgia native has already had a decorated career, including being named 2013 Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Driver of the Year after winning the All-American 400 at the Nashville Fairgrounds, becoming the first driver to win all four super late model majors. The grand slam consists of the World Crown 300, Winchester 400, All-American 400 and the Snowball Derby.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Chase Elliott said. “My family and I are still trying to believe it all. I couldn’t ask to be partnered with anyone better than Dale Jr., Kelley and Mr. Hendrick, along with all of the people at their organizations who have put in countless hours to pull this together.”
The young driver will have Greg Ives as his crew chief for the season.
“Chase has been extremely successful, and I think the Nationwide Series is only a short step for him,” JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “With the infrastructure we have at JR Motorsports and our close-working partnership with Hendrick Motorsports, we have every opportunity to continue Chase’s development as a driver while contending for a championship. He’s that good.
Elliott is under a development driver contract with Hendrick Motorsports, signed in 2011.
“Chase is the genuine article,” Hendrick said. “It’s been fun to see him grow, and all the credit goes to Bill and Cindy for how they’ve guided him. He’s a real talent, and his next steps will be exciting to watch.
“The commitment from NAPA speaks volumes, and bringing together the Elliotts and Earnhardts – two incredible racing families – will energize our fans. I can’t wait to see that No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet with another talented Elliott behind the wheel. This is a great announcement for our sport.”
Elliott will be behind the wheel of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro as NAPA enters their 19th year sponsoring a team in NASCAR.
“Working with NAPA will be an honor,” Elliott continued. “They’ve had a tremendous impact in NASCAR, and I’m proud to represent their brand, on and off the track, to race fans. I’m extremely pumped to get to work in 2014 with that first trip to Daytona and make the most of this opportunity.”
NAPA sponsored Martin Truex Jr. last year at Michael Waltrip Racing in the Sprint Cup Series, though left the team after the MWR Chase scandal.
“NAPA is pleased to continue its long standing involvement in NASCAR, the most popular form of motorsports in the United States supported by its many loyal and passionate fans,” Dan Askey, President of NAPA, commented. “Equally, we are proud to form this new partnership with JR Motorsports. Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Rick Hendrick and its many employees have developed one of the premier teams in the Nationwide Series. Chase Elliott is a young and talented, future star in the sport and will represent NAPA well both on and off the track. We welcome Chase and the entire JR Motorsports organization to the NAPA Family.”
“The key in this is NAPA, and I feel privileged to welcome them to my race team after working with them so extensively earlier in my career,” Earnhardt Jr. added. “I recognize – and I think Chase does, too – the responsibility that comes with representing a company so significant in the lives of NASCAR fans. We welcome the opportunity and appreciate what NAPA means to this sport.”
JR Motorsports also confirmed that Regan Smith will be back behind the wheel of the No. 7 TaxSlayer.com after winning a pair of races last year. They also field two-partial schedule teams – No. 5 with Kevin Havick and the No. 88 with Earnhardt Jr. As previously announced, Cope came over from Richard Childress Racing to work with Harvick while Ryan Pemberton takes over crew chiefing duties for Smith.
“This will be the strongest line-up we’ve put on the track since we started racing full time in 2006,” Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports, said. “We experienced very big gains this past year by all our teams and drivers. Regan tied our best-ever finish in points, and we won two races. We pride ourselves on competing for wins, and all four of our drivers are capable of doing that any given week.”