A shining star is beginning to emerge at the Nationwide level, and his name is Chase Elliott.
In the past, names such as Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick won a lower-level points championship before rising as Sprint Cup stars.
Now, Elliott is looking to add his name to the list. One list that he's currently on top of is the Nationwide standings after 18 races.
Heading to yet another unfamiliar track, Elliott will likely have to fend off a plethora of Sprint Cup regulars at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Much like previous events, expect plenty of notable names starting at the Brickyard ahead of the Sunday race.
Before the race officially gets underway, here's a look at the schedule, standings and preview ahead of the Lilly Diabetes 250.
Lilly Diabetes 250 Information
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, Indiana
When: Saturday, July 26, 4:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
|2014 Nationwide Standings|
|Pos.||Driver||Points||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
Not only is Elliott a rookie, he's also the youngest full-time driver in the Nationwide Series at 18 years old. So it was only fitting that his third win came during the 18th race of the season.
Elliott, who is just two years removed from earning his license, is now a true contender for a points championship. Though he has never raced at Indianapolis, the JR Motorsports driver spoke about getting a chance to compete at the track, per Jerry Bonkowski of NBC Sports:
I’m real excited about getting to Indy. That’s a place that means a lot to me personally, having my dad win the Brickyard in 2002. That’s just a special place for me ever since. It’s just such a tough race track, and the history that’s there when you walk through the tunnel, I don’t know if you can describe it.
To walk through Gasoline Alley there next week, that’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we’re going to try and make the most of it.
Following in his father's footsteps is something that car owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. knows plenty about. The two-time Nationwide points champion had to earn his bearings at the level before becoming a Sprint Cup regular.
As for whether or not Elliott will be around for a second year, Jenna Fryer of The Associated Press provides her thoughts:
While Regan Smith and Elliott Sadler trail the JRM driver by seven and eight points, respectively, all of them will have to overcome the Sprint Cup drivers.
Serving as a tuneup before the Brickyard 400, Harvick, Busch, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Larson are all on the entry list. With Busch winning the race last year, he comes in as the favorite.
Busch led 92 of 100 laps last season and comes into the race tied with Elliott for wins this year. He also noted the history surrounding the track following his win, per Tom Surber of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's site: “It’s Indianapolis. It’s pretty awesome to be able to win here. It’s cool to win at this place with the history, with all the automobiles that have raced on this surface.”
With a chance to yet again capture a victory at the track, Busch enters Saturday looking for his 10th win across the three NASCAR series. Plenty of youth and veterans will be contending against one another, with each hoping to earn a memorable win at the historic track.
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