Following the ARCA race Saturday in which Chase Elliott and Dylan Kwasniewski were given the opportunity to prove themselves, the two 18-year-old drivers have been approved by NASCAR to compete in speedway racing. Kwasniewski started in pole position at Daytona International Speedway and finished the race in fourteenth position, while Elliott crossed the finish line in ninth place. Grant Enfinger took the checkered flag, being his first victory at Daytona, and the third of his career. Frank Kimmel and Clay Campbell took second and third places respectively.
Born on November 28, 1995, Chase Elliott is the son of 1988 Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott. He has been a development driver for Hendrick Motorsports and will reportedly be driving the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In 2010, Elliott 12 of the 40 races he competed in, and finished in the top ten no less than 38 times. He was selected as the Georgia Asphalt Pro Late Model Series Rookie of the Year in 2010, finishing the season with a victory at the Winchester 400.
In February 2011, Elliott entered into a driver development contract with Hendrick Motorsports. Highlights in 2011 included finishing ninth in series points in the K&N Pro Series East and competing in the CRA where he won the National Super Late Model Championship. Elliott became the Snowball Derby’s youngest winner just after his sixteenth birthday in 2011.
In 2012 Elliott returned to the K&N Pro Series East claiming his first career victory at Iowa Speedway in May of that year and finished fourth in series points. Driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Elliott became the youngest winner at Pocono Raceway in ARCA history in June 2013. Also in 2013, he became the youngest driver to earn pole-position in the NASCAR Truck Series, and at the age of 17 years, 9 months and 4 days, became the youngest winner in Truck Series history. With his victory at the All American 400 in November 2013, Elliot became the first driver to win the largest four short-track races, being the Snowball Derby, the Winchester 400, the World Crown 300 and the All American 400.
With the jury still out on the role Elliott played in the multiple car crash during the ARCA race, it is unclear as to whether he will compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year. The NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at Daytona International Speedway on February 22 with the DRIVE4COPD 300.
The official announcement by NASCAR regarding the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup’s new format put an end to weeks of speculation and sparked debates among NASCAR fans on the pros and cons of the upcoming changes, which are reportedly designed to put the emphasis on winning races, rather than accumulating points. It is anticipated that the new format will generate a lot more excitement among fans, which may result in grandstands packed to capacity with spectators, a scenario which should make sponsors happy and motivate them to keep teams running.
The new NASCAR Sprint Cup scoring format increases the number of Chase competitors from 12 to 16 and drivers must win at least one of the first 26 races of the season to earn one of 15 spots in the championship. The 16th position will go to the season’s points leader, irrespective of a win. Also, in order to qualify for the Chase, drivers must be in the Top 30 in points at the end of the 26 races and tried to qualify in these races.
A series of qualifier races after the 29th, 32nd and 35th races will eliminate drivers each time, until four drivers remain for the final race to be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Starting from a leveled playing field, the four drivers will compete for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship title.
While there are obviously pros and cons for both the old and new format of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, it’s generally agreed that the 2014 season is likely to see an uptick in competitiveness as drivers go all out for a win, knowing that collecting points may just not be good enough. Strategies for on the track and in the pits may have to be revised, and team-work will take on a whole new dimension – all of which should add up to a whole lot of action for 2014.