Chase Elliott to run full NASCAR Nationwide season with NAPA, JRM

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Chase Elliott will advance from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series into the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2014, and will drive the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet full-time for JR Motorsports.

Elliott, 18, just became eligible for Nationwide competition. He’ll compete with crew chief Greg Ives as one of four JRM Nationwide entries in 2014. Regan Smith will run a full-time second car, the No. 7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet, with new crew chief Ryan Pemberton; meanwhile Kevin Harvick (No. 5) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88) will run part-time schedules.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Elliott said in a team release. “My family and I are still trying to believe it all. I couldn’t ask to be partnered with anyone better than Dale Jr., Kelley and Mr. Hendrick, along with all of the people at their organizations who have put in countless hours to pull this together.”

Perhaps as big if not a bigger of a story as Elliott moving up is NAPA coming back, considering the company left Michael Waltrip Racing following the aftermath of the Richmond regular season Sprint Cup season finale. Earnhardt Jr. explained how NAPA came on board.

“The key in this is NAPA, and I feel privileged to welcome them to my race team after working with them so extensively earlier in my career,” Earnhardt said in the release.. I recognize – and I think Chase does, too – the responsibility that comes with representing a company so significant in the lives of NASCAR fans. We welcome the opportunity and appreciate what NAPA means to this sport.”

Added NAPA president Dan Askey, “NAPA is pleased to continue its long standing involvement in NASCAR, the most popular form of motorsports in the United States supported by its many loyal and passionate fans. Equally, we are proud to form this new partnership with JR Motorsports. Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Rick Hendrick and its many employees have developed one of the premier teams in the Nationwide Series. Chase Elliott is a young and talented, future star in the sport and will represent NAPA well both on and off the track. We welcome Chase and the entire JR Motorsports organization to the NAPA Family.”

NAPA will be the full-season primary sponsor while Great Clips is expected to continue in at least an associate role.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”