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Hendrick coy on Elliott's future
Rick Hendrick has big plans for Chase Elliott.
But like any good car dealer, he’s holding back on the fine print.
Elliott, 17, won his first ARCA race on June 8 at Pocono Raceway – in just his seventh start. And he’s competed in three NASCAR Camping World Truck races this season, posting two top-five finishes. He finished sixth in his debut at Martinsville Speedway.
So it’s not surprising that Hendrick – who molded young racers such as Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson into champions – is high on Elliott. So what are his future plans for the driver?
“Hopefully, the Nationwide Series next year,” Hendrick said.
When asked if Aaron’s, which currently sponsors Elliott in the Truck series, will move up with the youngster, Hendrick simply replied, “We’ll see. They like him a lot. They’ve been with him since he started. They have a lot of interest in him, a lot of interest.”
Since Hendrick doesn’t have a Nationwide Series program in-house, but is a partner at JR Motorsports, Elliott would likely run out of that shop. Aaron’s marketing team met with principals from JRM two weeks ago. The rental company is based in Atlanta, an hour south of Dawsonville, where Chase grew up and father Bill Elliott, the former NASCAR champion, brought national attention during his glory days in racing.
“With his record in the trucks and that (ARCA) race, it’s pretty awesome to see such a good young man – with his name and looks and everything else, he’s going to have a terrific career in the sport,” Hendrick said. “He is so buttoned up. His mom and dad have done such a good job with him. He is just one of the neatest little guys, thanking the crew, working on the car. He’ll be really good for our sport.
“We have to see what happens the rest of the year ... but we’ll just see.”
Elliott doesn’t turn 18 until the end of November and, therefore, would not be eligible to drive a Nationwide car until next season. However, Hendrick has surrounded him with the best possible resources to aid his Truck effort, including having him work with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s former crew chief Lance McGrew.
NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver and JRM co-owner Earnhardt is very high on Elliott.
“Happy for Chase Elliott getting the (Pocono) win,” Earnhardt Jr. said of the driver. “That was exciting for him. I know he's got a great future with HMS.”
Elliott next competes in Saturday's ARCA race at Road America.