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Junior Won’t Be Rushed Into Rushing Chase Elliott

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, May 16 2014

Chase Elliott will stay true to the plan, Dale Earnhardt Jr. says. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie Chase Elliott already has two victories this year and sits atop the point standings, but team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday he doesn’t believe the plans outlined for the 18-year-old driver should change.

“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 Jr. said. “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.”

Elliott will celebrate his 19th birthday in November.

Earnhardt Jr. remained mum on his match race Friday with former NBA star Charles Barkley. He said they asked him not to talk about it until after it airs in TNT’s pre-race coverage this summer.

“I will tell you this. I was really surprised about how nice he was,” Earnhardt Jr. said about Barkley. “I expected him to be a competitor, a little more aggressive in just his personality in knowing what kind of basketball player he was and the kind of guy he was on the court. He was fiery, and aggressive, and getting in tussles.”

Earnhardt Jr. described Barkley as “super nice.”

“He just came in and was just really gracious and has an appreciation for our sport and was just a real nice guy to be around,” the third-generation driver continued. “We will just have to save the results for later, but you can imagine how it went.”

Rumors persist that Carl Edwards may head for Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season, but when Matt Kenseth was asked how he would feel about again having Edwards as a teammate, he said he hadn’t really thought about it.

“I’ve been more trying to figure out how we can get back to victory lane like my other teammates so we’re qualified for the Chase or have a better chance of getting qualified for the Chase and just back to form and running like we were last year.”

Kenseth and Edwards were teammates at Roush Fenway Racing from 2003 through 2012. Kenseth joined JGR in 2013, won seven races that year and finished second in the championship battle. It was Kenseth’s best season ever in the win department.

Danica Patrick said she and boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. picked up their new dog on Mother’s Day – a female miniature Siberian Husky named Dallas.

“She’s been a lot of fun, but she definitely acts like a baby,” Patrick said. “She wakes up all the time. She poops on the floor. She goes to the bathroom all the time. She’s due for more shots next week, you know, all that stuff.”

Patrick agreed with one observation from the media that a dog never has a bad day as long as you “show some love to them.”

“It’s always good because in this cruel sport of racing very rarely are you on Cloud Nine,” she said. “It’s nice to come home to that.”

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, May 16 2014
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