12-year-old Karsyn Elledge is set to race with the number that her grandfather – the late NASCAR legend, Dale Earnhardt – made famous. The eighth-grader will drive a Nickelodeon-backed No. 3 Mini Outlaw sprint car at tracks across the West Coast this summer.
Car-wise, it may be the most unique setting that the No. 3 has had in some time, as it sits on a primarily pink machine that features multiple images of Spongebob Squarepants character Sandy Cheeks. But it should also be noted that her grandfather, who became a simultaneously beloved and feared sight in his black No. 3 Chevrolet, drove a pink car in the early stages of his own career as well.
The move to race on the West Coast comes after she became the driver to beat at her local short track in North Carolina, which led to her father, former Cup crew chief Jimmy Elledge, deciding to give Karsyn a different challenge.
”I figured out here, the competition level is so much higher,” Jimmy Elledge told the Associated Press. ”I figured if we could get her out here to compete in this class at the race tracks where [Nationwide Series drivers] Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet and a lot of those boys have competed, we can expose her to higher levels.”
Now Karsyn – who considers Danica Patrick as her favorite driver – is preparing to continue the No. 3’s considerable legacy in racing.
“I definitely am proud of the No. 3,” she told NASCAR.com. “I didn’t get to witness what went on with this number, but I’ve only heard how great it was and I’m excited to carry on.”
Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.
The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).
It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).
Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.
The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.
“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”
“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”