NASCAR AMERICA: One-on-one with Chase Elliott (VIDEO)

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Chase Elliott’s future path is set. In 2016, the 19-year-old phenom moves up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full-time and replaces Jeff Gordon as driver of the famous No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

But that’s still a year away. 2015 will be big for Elliott. There are the five Cup races he’ll run in the No. 25 HMS Chevy but there’s also the matter of defending his Xfinity Series championship, which he earned last year with one race remaining.

Elliott knows he can’t be complacent. And in a one-on-one interview with NASCAR AMERICA’s Nate Ryan, he vowed that he won’t be.

“I’m excited about this season and I’m not gonna let 2016 take my mind off of what’s going on this year,” Elliott said. “This season is still a very important year to me. It’s an important year to [sponsor] NAPA, [team owner Rick] Hendrick, JR Motorsports, [crew chief] Ernie Cope, all the people that are involved.

“For me to show up with my mind not being where it needs to be would be very unfair to all of them, and I don’t want that to be the case. I want to make sure I do my part for them, give my best shot this year, and hopefully, we can be more consistent and try to compete for some more wins.”

For more of Elliott’s thoughts on the 2015 season and what lies beyond that, check out his full interview with Ryan at the top.