Bill Elliott: Ford passed on son Chase, but Hendrick and Chevy rode to the rescue

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If you see a bunch of Ford executives with bruised shins, it’s because they’re probably still kicking themselves for letting Chase Elliott get away.

Bob Pockrass of SportingNews.com has an excellent story about a talk he had with Bill Elliott, who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame this Friday.

Elliott, who spent most of his NASCAR career driving a Ford, related how he went to the company to try to build a deal that would back his young son’s racing career.

“I tried to make the Ford thing happen,” Elliott said. “It didn’t. I saw it one way and they saw it another way and it didn’t work out.”

Elliott and team owner Rick Hendrick then worked out a deal to put Elliott in a Hendrick-supplied car for the K&N Pro Series East beginning in 2011.

That led to last year’s deal that landed Elliott in an Xfinity ride with JR Motorsports (which is owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and has strong ties to Hendrick) and backing from NAPA, which had just ended a longtime sponsorship affiliation with Michael Waltrip Racing.

“Mr. Hendrick came to us with an opportunity that at the point in time, it wasn’t much of an opportunity but he was the only one that would talk to us,” Elliott told Pockrass.

And the rest is history.

Chase Elliott went on to win the 2014 Nationwide Series championship at the age of 19, the youngest series champion in NASCAR history.

And if a flurry of rumors are to be believed, Chase will likely be the heir apparent to replace Jeff Gordon, who will walk away from Sprint Cup racing at the end of the upcoming 2015 season.

“My gratitude to (Hendrick), I just can’t say enough about the man about what his character is in the sport and what he’s done for us,” Bill Elliott said.

“That kind of went against my roots as far as the Ford goes, but that’s the path we ended up having to take at the point in time and I can’t do anything about it. Right now, it’s set and that’s the way it is.”

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IndyCar entry lists for Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

IndyCar entry lists Indianapolis
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There are 25 drivers on the NTT IndyCar Series entry lists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a few new yet familiar faces for the Oct. 2-3 race weekend.

Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais will make his season debut in the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet (shifting Dalton Kellett to the No. 41) with AJ Foyt Racing, which he is joining full time next season. James Hinchcliffe, who had run three races with Andretti Autosport, will return in place of Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Helio Castroneves will drive Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Dallara-Chevy for Oliver Askew, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.

Sage Karam, who has two IndyCar starts this year at IMS (the road course on July 4 and the Indy 500 on Aug. 23), also will return to the series in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet.

HARVEST GP ENTRY LISTS: Friday l Saturday

Friday and Saturday of the Harvest GP presented by GMR will mark the second and third races this season on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. While the July 4 race on the circuit was 80 laps, Friday’s distance is 85 laps, and Saturday will be a 75-lap event.

Championship leader Scott Dixon led 26 of 80 laps to win the July 4 race at the IMS road course. With three races remaining in the series, the five-time series champion enters with a 72-point lead on Josef Newgarden.

Click here to see who’s on the IndyCar entry lists in Race 1 and in Race 2 for the Harvest GP presented by GMR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.


START TIMES AND TV INFO FOR INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE (all times ET):

Thursday

IndyCar NTT Series practice: 2:25-3:40 p.m., NBC Sports Gold

IndyCar qualifying, Race 1: 6:20 p.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

Friday

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 1: 3:30 p.m. (green flag, 5 p.m.), USA Network, NBC Sports Gold

Saturday

—IndyCar qualifying: 10:20 a.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 2: 2:30 p.m (green flag, 2:31 p.m.)., NBC, NBC Sports Gold