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What was anticipated since Jeff Gordon announced he will retire after 2015 was officially announced. Chase Elliott, son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, will take over the number 24 car in 2016 full time. Elliott is the defending NASCAR Xfinity Champion, formerly Nationwide. He had only been in NASCAR overall for four years. He had runs in the NASCAR K&N Pro East and West Series. Elliott raced there in 2011 and 2012 beginning at the age of 15. He combined for one win, 11 Top 5 and 17 Top 10 finishes, mostly in the East series. His best finish in the East series is fourth in 2012.
There was also a 3-year run in the ARCA series for 12 years. Winning one race, six Top 5, 11 Top 10 finishes and one pole throughout his teenage years of racing helped raise some eyebrows in the racing community. Being the son of a Hall of Famer really has opened some opportunities for him. Spending 2013 in the Camping World Truck Series, Elliott had one win with one pole, including five Top 5 and seven Top 10 finishes with an overall rank of 22nd in the series. He moved to Xfinity the following year, winning three races and two poles. Elliott also had a strong 16 Top 5 and 26 Top 10 finishes in 33 races winning the title. Elliott has raced for Hendrick for the first three years of his young NASCAR career. He raced for Jr. Motorsports the entire Xfinity season which is owned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. through Rick Hendrick.
Here are a couple of stories I heard about Chase when he moved up to Xfinity. When the night of his senior prom came up, he went racing. Yes, he had a date with a race car. This is something I admire from this young man. If I had a full time job to go to while I was still in high school, and I loved my job, that’s being happy. When his high school graduation ended, he immediately headed to the track. Knowing you already have a full time job when you get out of high school has to be mind blowing. This makes me wish I had the connections that Chase did when he was in school.
He will run the Xfinity Series for one more full season to defend his title. He will run five Sprint Car races to get a feel of what to look for next year. I’m sure the one reason he’s replacing Gordon is his zealous dedication and determination, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I know Bill must be proud right now that his son will carry on the racing tradition. If he continues his success in Xfinity this year, he will be a sure bet to win Rookie of the Year the next coming year in Sprint Cup.
He will succeed Jeff Gordon by learning from his father. By having the heart and dedication that very few ever have these days in racing. It’s just a shame that he actually won’t get to race against Gordon, but he will against the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. It could well be time for new blood to enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup arena. It’s like graduating high school. Once the senior gets his diploma, the junior behind him takes his place if he passes. So far Hendrick feels Chase has passed his test to advance. Is he ready to take on the top level? A part of me says yes. Though I’m always skittish on how long a driver should wait to move up, it’s experience, not years that show that you’re ready. Let’s hope we, the NASCAR Nation is ready for Chase Elliott.