May 18, 2014, 7:27 PM EDT
So says Elliott’s boss, JR Motorsports team president and Sprint Cup star Dale Earnhardt Jr.
When asked if the 18-year-old Elliott, who just graduated from high school on Saturday, is on a fast track to jump to the Sprint Cup Series, or whether perhaps the development of the progeny of former NASCAR star Bill Elliott should be slowed down, Earnhardt demurred.
“I don’t think you do either one,” Earnhardt said in a Chevrolet media release. “I think you just set a plan from the start, and you stick with it.
“We have like a two-year plan I suppose, that he runs in the Nationwide Series and I think you just stick with the plan regardless of the success he is having. You have the commitments in line with sponsors and what have you, so I think it will suit him well to relax and not have to worry about that and just follow the plan that he has had in front of him from the start.”
Elliott, who already has two wins this season, finished fourth in Sunday’s Nationwide race at Iowa and continues to lead the NNS points: a two-point margin over Elliott Sadler and Regan Smith, who are tied for second place.
Larson, who is 21, spent just one full-time season in the NNS last season before making the jump this season to Sprint Cup. But Larson’s case is a bit different than Elliott’s in the sense team owner Chip Ganassi needed an immediate replacement for Juan Pablo Montoya, who returned to the IndyCar series after his seventh NASCAR season last year.
Elliott, on the other hand, can – and should – take his time developing,” Earnhardt said.
Plus, even though he is racing full-time for JR Motorsports, Elliott is considered a developmental driver for Hendrick Motorsports, which does not have any openings on its Cup roster heading into 2015.
“He is really young too, so he has a lot of time on his hands and time to get to Cup level to realize that potential one day,” Earnhardt said of Elliott. “But yes, I think he can just sit there and relax knowing what we tried to set out to do from the start and not really adjust.”
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