Jan 6, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Chase Elliott will advance from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series into the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2014, and will drive the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet full-time for JR Motorsports.
Elliott, 18, just became eligible for Nationwide competition. He’ll compete with crew chief Greg Ives as one of four JRM Nationwide entries in 2014. Regan Smith will run a full-time second car, the No. 7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet, with new crew chief Ryan Pemberton; meanwhile Kevin Harvick (No. 5) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88) will run part-time schedules.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Elliott said in a team release. “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.”
Perhaps as big if not a bigger of a story as Elliott moving up is NAPA coming back, considering the company left Michael Waltrip Racing following the aftermath of the Richmond regular season Sprint Cup season finale. Earnhardt Jr. explained how NAPA came on board.
“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 said in the release.. 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.”
Added NAPA president Dan Askey, “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. 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.”
NAPA will be the full-season primary sponsor while Great Clips is expected to continue in at least an associate role.