HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 15, 2014) — In his first season racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet car for JR Motorsports, was officially anointed the 2014 series champion Saturday evening at Homestead-Miami Speedway following a 17th place finish in the Ford EcoBoost 300. He secured the title with a fifth place finish at Phoenix International Raceway last week. Tonight, he officially became the youngest NASCAR champion in any NASCAR National Series. He is also the first Rookie of the Year to win a NASCAR National Series Championship.
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, was the winner of the Ford EcoBoost 300, followed by Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson. It was Kenseth’s first win of 2014 but the 29th victory in a total of 283 NASCAR Nationwide Series races during his career. It was his third career win at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as he won the Busch series race in 2006 and the Cup race in 2007.
Elliott knows that this championship could not have happened without the help of many others on his team.
“It means the world to me—not just for myself but this is a huge accomplishment for our whole team,” Elliott said. “This has allowed me to sit back and think about what has made it possible this year, but there are a lot of great racers and people that have gotten me here that I want to thank.”
The 18-year old Elliott, who graduated from high school in his home state of Georgia earlier this year, has taken NASCAR by storm despite having had to juggle the racing circuit and school. Racing runs in the Elliott family as Chase’s father, Bill, will be a 2015 inductee into the NASCAR Hall of Fame after securing 44 Cup wins over a career that spanned 37 years (1976-2012). Together, they are only the fifth father-son tandem to claim a NASCAR National Series title, as Bill captured the Winston Cup Championship in 1988.
During qualifying for tonight’s race earlier in the day, Elliott failed to progress to round three. Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Hertz Ford car for Team Penske, won the pole. Keselowski finished in eighth place and helped contribute to Team Penske winning the Owner’s Championship for the second consecutive year.
Kenseth is also competing tomorrow in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 driving the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota.
“It’s always important to win, it’s not like I tried harder today than I did the last 35 weeks,” Kenseth said. “We have a great race team and we had great pit stops today. I’m really happy for Kevin (Kidd, crew chief), he’s been wanting this win for awhile just like us all.”
On Sunday, Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota, Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet and Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet, will compete for the 2014 Sprint Cup Series Championship in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race starts at 3 p.m. and is televised live by ESPN.