Elliott: 'The future will figure itself out'
April 24, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
Rookie focusing on what's happening now, not future scenarios
RICHMOND, Va. -- Outside of it producing some momentum and morale, Chase Elliott says he is taking his two-race NASCAR Nationwide Series winning streak in stride -- even if everyone else is plenty impressed with the 18-year old's debut in a NASCAR national series.
Seven races into the season Elliott has six top-10 finishes, punctuated by back-to-back victories in the last two races at Texas and Darlington, which put him atop the championship standings. His worst showing is 15th in the season-opening Daytona International Speedway crapshoot.
Elliott comes to Richmond International Raceway for Friday night's ToyotaCare 250 (7 p.m. ET, ESPNews) looking to become the first driver to win three straight in the series since Kyle Busch won three in a row last year (at Bristol, Auto Club and Texas).
Should Elliott's No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet visit Richmond's Victory Lane, he would be the first Nationwide Series regular since his team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win three straight. Earnhardt won at Dover, South Boston, Va. and Watkins Glen in consecutive weeks in his 1999 series championship year.
"There's definitely some positives,'' Elliott said offering a slight smile. "It's good for the morale of your team and the guys at the shop who are putting in a lot of long hours. It's good for them to have this off week. They've been going non-stop since January.
"You still have to look at each week on a week-by-week basis. You can't get caught up in that (win streak). Just because we ran good at Texas didn't mean we'd be any good at Darlington and just because we ran good there doesn't mean we're going to be any good here Friday night. All these race tracks are very different."
This will be the first time Elliott has raced on the three-quarter mile Richmond track since 2012 when he finished runner-up in a K&N Pro Series East race here, and he used the two practices Thursday afternoon to reacquaint himself.
His 131 laps in practice were the most of anyone in the field and his lap of 121.561 mph was the seventh fastest lap of the day.
"We definitely have some work to do for the race,'' Elliott said. "Running (a lot of) laps is a good thing and simulates more what you'll see in the race. You're not going to be making five-lap runs in the race you're going to be making 50-60-70, 100-lap runs. I feel like simulating that will be beneficial for us.''
It would be hard to argue with Elliott's methods. It couldn't be working any better.
In fact, there has already been a lot of speculation and debate over Elliott's future in the wake of his win at Darlington. Fans, talk show hosts and bloggers figure his move up to the Sprint Cup ranks has a much more condensed timeline line now.
Earnhardt was asked on Twitter this week what kind of career advice he might have for Elliott and Earnhardt answered that in his opinion, two years of NNS with no more than five Cup starts in 2015 would be ideal before launching the youngster into NASCAR's big leagues permanently.
Asked about that following Thursday's NNS practice at Richmond, Elliott shrugged off any set timeframe or master plan.
"Whatever comes along, comes along,'' Elliott said. "It's really not my decision or anything I'm worried about. Like I've said, I've got a good opportunity with where I'm at right now with JRM, NAPA and it's an opportunity I didn't have going into the offseason. I'm still excited about it, anything else I'm not concerned about.
"It's up to Mr. Hendrick or whoever is there to make that decision. I'll be glad to do whatever they tell me. I've been told to do what I'm doing right now … and that's what I'll do.
"If I can do my job now, the future will figure itself out."