It’s just a peachy situation for the entire Elliott family, right?
On Saturday afternoon at Phoenix International Raceway, Chase Elliott started 10th and kept himself solidly in the top-10 throughout the day. He would fall back just outside of the top-10 when he took two left side tires, but would make his way back up through the field after a four-tire change. When the checkered flags were flown, he would be in the fifth spot, but more importantly, ahead of his teammate Regan Smith.
As a result of holding a 52 point lead heading into next weekend’s final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Elliott clinched the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship.
“Just honestly disbelief,” Elliott commented. “I’ve never been apart of anything like this, and just to have the opportunity to work these guys has been a blessing to just be here. I don’t know what to think. I don’t even know how to feel right now. I didn’t know if I was allowed to do a burnout, but I did one anyone. This is pretty cool. I really appreciate Regan and the way he raced me all year.”
Elliott becomes the first rookie to a win championship, as well as the youngest champion at the age of 18 years, 11 months and 18 days. His season has featured three victories, 16 top-fives and 26 top-10s in the 32 races.
“I’m so in disbelief right now that I don’t know what to feel,” Elliott continued. “It’s a true blessing to be here. I really can’t believe it. This is really a testament to everybody that works on this car every week. They always make me a look a heck of a lot better than I am.”
With his father Bill already having won a championship, the Elliott family becomes the fifth father-son duo to be champions.
“A year ago at this time, we had nothing. Everything just came together with NAPA and JRM,” Bill Elliott said. “To have anything, it was a miracle. Then to come into this year and have the year that he has had, it is just unbelievable. I just hope that he keeps his head on straight. He is really good behind the wheel, and knows what he needs from the car. That’s 90 percent of the battle. If he keeps that, he’s going to be great.”
“Unbelievable. I don’t know what to say,” Chase’s mom Cindy commented. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts –everyone out there. I asked Bill this morning when we got up, I asked him if he imagined that we’d be going to the race track and see our son with a NASCAR championship. Its so great to see his dreams come true.”
The young man is already signed to a developmental contract with Hendrick Motorsports that will see him one day drive in the Sprint Cup Series for Rick Hendrick.
“At this time a year ago, we were trying to figure out what to do – thankfully NAPA came along,” Hendrick said. “Man, what a great young man and a racer that he is.”
Hendrick was asked whether the championship would change plans for Elliott in staying in Nationwide for another year or moving up to Sprint Cup next year. “I think we got another year here so we’ll see,” Hendrick commented.