Series leader Chase Elliott could give Earnhardt greatest opportunity at NASCAR championship
By: Al Pearce on April 7, 2014
LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC – Dale Earnhardt Jr. is hoping that NASCAR’;s newest star, Chase Elliott, can carry JR Motorsports a Nationwide Series championship. Here’;s Chase, flanked by mom Cindy and dad Bill. Bill Elliott is a former Cup champion.
At age 39, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has carried out sufficient to presently be regarded a lock for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He won the 1998 and 1999 Nationwide Series titles, has 20 Sprint Cup victories (among them, 2 Daytona 500s), has been top 10 in factors 6 times, is an eleven-time Most Common Driver and has been aggressive from the moment he sat in a race auto as a teenager.
The only blemish on his resume is the absence of a Sprint Cup title, which many NASCAR-watchers come to feel will come sooner rather than later on. In truth, although, Junior may possibly be a championship-winning owner prior to he is a championship-winning driver.
His JR Motorsports, which characteristics rookie Chase Elliott and veteran Regan Smith, is 1-2 in Nationwide Series points soon after of 6 of 32 races. Combined, they have 2 victories, 3 leading-5 finishes and eleven top-10 finishes in 12 team begins. Smith won the season-opener at Daytona Seashore in February and Elliott got his breakthrough victory last weekend at Fort Well worth.
Earnhardt and his sister, Kelly, designed JR Motorsports in 2005. (Later, Rick Hendrick came in as a companion.) All told, the Chevrolet-primarily based team has utilised 35 drivers, such as some of the sport’;s ideal- and least-recognized. They’;ve mixed for 8 poles and 14 victories, the victories coming from Brad Keselowski (6), Smith (4) and Elliott, Ron Fellow, Mark Martin and Jamie McMurray (a single each and every). Keselowski was third in Nationwide factors in 2008 and 2009, Aric Almirola was 4th in 2011, Danica Patrick and Cole Whitt were 10th and third in 2012, and Smith was third last season.
This 12 months, then, might be the 12 months JR Motorsports requires residence the big hardware. “We want to win a championship so undesirable this 12 months,” Earnhardt mentioned on Friday night following Elliott won at Texas Motor Speedway. “We truly feel we discovered a good deal final yr going through that process with Regan, and now we have 2 teams capable of acquiring the work carried out. If everybody keeps their head on straight we need to be in a good predicament when we get to [the Nov. 15 season finale] Homestead.
“I could not be prouder of how we’;ve came along in the final 2 or 3 years. The people we’;ve been capable to get to support enhance our company the bridge we’;ve built with Hendrick Motorsports to flow details on the engineering side and motors. Everything is clicking along proper now, so we have a fantastic possibility this 12 months to seize the moment.”
As for the clear question about the future of JR Motorsports: “We will not have any curiosity in going to the Cup level as a group,” Earnhardt explained. “I’;d have to make a whole lot of adjustments to do that as an proprietor/driver. NASCAR has parameters that would make it very hard for me to do that. I get pleasure from the Nationwide Series and I appreciate seeing guys like Chase come by way of and locate their way. I take pleasure in seeing a guy like Regan come down and kind of get his bearing and get back going in the proper course.
“I cannot consider credit for selecting the talent. Chase was brought to us by Mr. Hendrick and I think everybody saw Brad run that  Truck Series race in Memphis that got him so much exposure. Someone was going to turn to Brad one day and put him in a car and we just occurred to be the crew that grabbed him initial. It truly is enjoyable to see very good people do good items and to help good people. We’;ve been generating alterations to our organization to get where we are these days and these changes are operating, so we’;re fairly pleased.”
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