NASCAR Nationwide Series championship leader Chase Elliott currently leads JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith by 42 points. The second-generation star won in his first trip at Texas Motor Speedway back in April and will be looking for a repeat performance as the series returns Saturday night at the 1.5-mile oval.For Elliott, there are three races to go until the checkered flag waves on the 2014 season. If the Dawsonville, Georgia native can capture the championship, he will become the first rookie in NASCAR Nationwide Series history to do so.Many would consider three wins and 24 top-10 finishes in 30 starts a successful season, but a late season collapse by the driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro would render the season disastrous, after being so close to something so historic.
While many look for the magical ingredient to a perfect season, the son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott and his crew chief Greg Ives have been able to do something that not even their closest competition has been able to accomplish.
See the checkered flag in every race they’ve started.
Indeed, the key stat for Elliott during the 2014 campaign is the fact that he has zero did not finishes (DNFs). In all, every driver with the exception of teammate Smith have at least one.However, everything can change in the blink of an eye in racing An ill-timed pit stop, a penalty, part failure, or just getting caught up in someone else’s mess could alter the sizable lead and make this once again a four-horse race entering the season finale at Homestead-Miami on November 15.
There’s so much that’s out of your hands,” offered Elliott on the prospect of achieving a championship in a remarkable rookie season. “There’s so little that is in your control, you want to make sure you do your part on the stuff that is in your control before you leave the shop and try to make the right decisions throughout practice and so on and so forth, the majority of it’s not unfortunately.You just got to make the most with whatever is thrown at you.”
Usually it is the second full time season that a driver is molded and primed for a championship run.
To put that in more perspective, currently five rookies makeup the top-11 positions in the Nationwide Series points standings, Elliott (first) Ty Dillon (fifth), Chris Buescher (seventh), Ryan Reed (ninth) and Dylan Kwasniewski (11th).
If the trend continues, this class is sure to give veterans like Smith, Elliott Sadler, Brian Scott and Brendan Gaughan trouble come 2015. Not to mention, when the No. 9 returns to Daytona with Elliott and new crew chief Ernie Cope at the controls, it’s a proven fact that the 18-year old will be determined to give JR Motorsports, back-to-back championships on sheer determination.
For now, the teenager from the ole’ historic town of Dawsonville, Georgia just needs to do what he has done all season: Finish strong.
Image: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images