The NASCAR Nationwide Series is heating up in preparation for testing at Daytona International Speedway later this week, with two announcements highlighting Monday’s happenings.
JR Motorsports revealed that Chase Elliott will be running the No. 9 car full-time this coming season. The car will be sponsored by NAPA Auto Parts, a company that threatened to leave NASCAR following the scandal at Richmond International Raceway last fall. Greg Ives will be the crew chief on the No. 9.
“[Chase Elliott] has been extremely successful, and I think the Nationwide Series is only a short step for him,” said Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the owner of JR Motorsports. “. . . we have every opportunity to continue [Elliott’s] development as a driver while contending for a championship. He’s that good.”
Elliott turned 18 in November, making him eligible to run in the second-tier series.
The team has also acquired Elliott’s father, NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, to test later this week at Daytona. He will join his son and returning JRM driver Regan Smith later this week in Florida.
This news follows reports that Sam Hornish, Jr. has found a part-time home at Joe Gibbs Racing. The gig sets Hornish to share the No. 54 with Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch, running seven races this coming season. Those races are as follows: the May race at Talladega Superspeedway, both Iowa Speedway dates, Road America, Chicagoland Speedway, Mid-Ohio, and Kentucky Speedway.
“It’s the best possible situation for me to jump into great equipment and have the opportunity to go right out and win . . . To partner with [Kyle Busch], and all the teams provides, with the support of Joe and J.D. [Gibbs], it provides me with everything I need to succeed.”
The former Penske Racing driver was a championship threat at the end of last season.
Both Elliott and Hornish will compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year, bringing even more talent to the pool. The exciting news begs the question: Is there really an off-season?