Chasing the future: Chase Elliott steps up in 2014

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Jr. Motorsports Chevrolet, stands to become a second generation NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver if he does well in Nationwide competition.

Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images

Some of the news that came out this week concerns a second-generation driver who will drive for a third-generation driver.

Chase Elliott, son of NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, will drive the full Nationwide season for Jr. Motorsports. It was also announced that NAPA will be his sponsor. Obviously, Jr. Motorsports is tied with Hendrick Motorsports, so that’s a first step for Chase’s future with Hendrick Motorsports.

I have a lot of friends that work over at Hendrick Motorsports and I have been in awe of how they have brought Chase along in his young career. The young man seems like he has a ton of talent and is very likable. They are bringing him along in such a methodical way instead of simply throwing him into the deep end of the pool.

So the Nationwide series is the next step in Chase’s progression. In talking to Bill, his dad, he is really impressed with what he’s seen on and off the track from his son so far. That’s another positive for our sport because we have a ton of young talent this year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie class, plus a bright future with young men like Chase on the horizon.

If he progresses like everyone is hoping, it’s conceivable we’ll have another Elliott back in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in just a couple of years. I think this young man is going to do really well. I know the people they are putting around him and it’s a really experienced group, so I look for that Jr. Motorsports team to make a lot of noise this season even though their driver is a rookie.

I am also thrilled that Sam Hornish will be back in the Nationwide series racing seven or eight times for Joe Gibbs Racing this season. He is such a great talent that I just wish he could race more for them. Sam has a burning desire to show people that he can get the job done. Joining Joe Gibbs Racing with their winning program and enormous resources is a perfect fit for Sam. I think he is going to seize this golden opportunity to show folks that he deserves to run more races and run for a championship.