CONCORD, N.C.—Those who are eager to promote Chase Elliott to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have to get past Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Yes, Elliott has already won two NASCAR Nationwide Series races this season. Yes, he has a realistic chance to win the Sunoco rookie-of-the-year award and the series championship in the same season.
But no matter what Elliott achieves this year, car-owner Earnhardt insists the driver of the No. 9 is on a two-year plan in the Nationwide Series. That’s his timetable, and he’s sticking to 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,” Earnhardt said Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, quashing talk of an early promotion. “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.
“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. 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.”
Besides, the 18-year-old driver has plenty to keep him occupied. This weekend Elliott is commuting between his high school graduation in Georgia and the NNS race in Iowa.