Saturday Sprint All-Star Notebook
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: No need to speed up Chase Elliott’s timetable
CONCORD, N.C.—Those who are eager to promote Chase Elliott to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have to get past Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Yes, Elliott has already won two NASCAR Nationwide Series races this season. Yes, he has a realistic chance to win the Sunoco rookie-of-the-year award and the series championship in the same season.
But no matter what Elliott achieves this year, car-owner Earnhardt insists the driver of the No. 9 is on a two-year plan in the Nationwide Series. That’s his timetable, and he’s sticking to it.
“We have like a two-year plan, I suppose, that he runs in the Nationwide Series, and I think you just stick with the plan regardless of the success he is having,” Earnhardt said Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, quashing talk of an early promotion. “You have the commitments in line with sponsors and what have you, so I think it will suit him well to relax and not have to worry about that and just follow the plan that he has had in front of him from the start.
“He is really young too, so he has a lot of time on his hands and time to get to Cup level to realize that potential, one day. But yes, I think he can just sit there and relax knowing what we tried to set out to do from the start and not really adjust.”
Besides, the 18-year-old driver has plenty to keep him occupied. This weekend Elliott is commuting between his high school graduation in Georgia and the NNS race in Iowa.
VIEW FROM THE BLEACHERS
On a quick turnaround to promote the June 14 Driving for Linemen 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis, driver Tim Peters stopped by Busch Stadium to throw out the first pitch Tuesday night’s rivalry game between the Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.
Peters then spent the first four innings enjoying the game with the denizens of the left field bleachers.
Even though he was out of his element on the pitcher’s mound, Peters said taking the green flag at Daytona is a much more nerve-wracking experience.
“But this is no different from the stage that’s presented to us every weekend,” Peters told the NASCAR Wire Service. “This is just as much of a rush as it is strapping into my Toyota Tundra every week.”
Nor is baseball an acquired taste for Peters, who has followed the sport since childhood.
“I like the Cardinals, and not because I had the opportunity to throw the first pitch,” Peters said. “But living in southeast Virginia, it’s only six hours from the Atlanta Braves, so I always grew up kind of a Braves fan, too.”
UP TO SPEED
Kurt Busch took his first tangible step toward his May 25 Indianapolis 500/Coca-Cola 600 double, posting a lap at 229.960 mph in the first round of qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
That speed was third fastest when Busch left Indy for his regular job—driving the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race.
As drivers continued to run laps at the Brickyard, Busch slipped down the speed chart, but no matter. The starting order, including the pole for the Indy 500, won’t be determined until the second qualifying session on Sunday.
Tony Stewart, new to Twitter but well-versed in all aspects of motorsports, posted a message of encouragement to his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate.
“Congrats to my teammate @Kurt Busch for qual for his first #Indy500,” wrote Stewart, who obviously is getting the hang of Twitter handles and hashtags.
“Thnx, Boss—let’s go get ‘er done tonight!” Busch replied before boarding a plane back to North Carolina.