M/cloudy
27°
M/cloudy
Hi 32° | Lo 5°
NASCAR

Chase Elliott finally set to graduate high school

  • Driver Chase Elliott stands by his car before qualifying for Saturday's Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, May 2, 2014, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

    Driver Chase Elliott stands by his car before qualifying for Saturday's Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, May 2, 2014, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

  • Chase Elliott celebrates after winning NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Friday, April 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Larry Papke)

    Chase Elliott celebrates after winning NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Friday, April 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Larry Papke)

  • Chase Elliott raises the trophy in Victory lane after winning a NASCAR Nationwide series auto race at Darlington Speedway in Darlington, S.C., Friday, April 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

    Chase Elliott raises the trophy in Victory lane after winning a NASCAR Nationwide series auto race at Darlington Speedway in Darlington, S.C., Friday, April 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

  • Chase Elliott climbs from his car after a NASCAR auto race practice at the Darlington Speedway in Darlington, S.C., Thursday, April 10, 2014. While Dale Earnhardt Jr. fights to get out front in the Sprint Cup series, he’s already on top in the Nationwide circuit as his JR Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott and Regan Smith stand 1-2 in the standings heading into Friday night’s event at Darlington Raceway. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

    Chase Elliott climbs from his car after a NASCAR auto race practice at the Darlington Speedway in Darlington, S.C., Thursday, April 10, 2014. While Dale Earnhardt Jr. fights to get out front in the Sprint Cup series, he’s already on top in the Nationwide circuit as his JR Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott and Regan Smith stand 1-2 in the standings heading into Friday night’s event at Darlington Raceway. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

  • Driver Chase Elliott stands by his car before qualifying for Saturday's Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, May 2, 2014, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

    Driver Chase Elliott stands by his car before qualifying for Saturday's Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, May 2, 2014, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

  • Driver Chase Elliott stands by his car before qualifying for Saturday's Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, May 2, 2014, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
  • Chase Elliott celebrates after winning NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Friday, April 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Larry Papke)
  • Chase Elliott raises the trophy in Victory lane after winning a NASCAR Nationwide series auto race at Darlington Speedway in Darlington, S.C., Friday, April 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
  • Chase Elliott climbs from his car after a NASCAR auto race practice at the Darlington Speedway in Darlington, S.C., Thursday, April 10, 2014. While Dale Earnhardt Jr. fights to get out front in the Sprint Cup series, he’s already on top in the Nationwide circuit as his JR Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott and Regan Smith stand 1-2 in the standings heading into Friday night’s event at Darlington Raceway. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
  • Driver Chase Elliott stands by his car before qualifying for Saturday's Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, May 2, 2014, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

DES MOINES, Iowa – For many veteran NASCAR drivers, balancing a career while raising kids is a huge challenge.

Chase Elliott? He has risen to the top of NASCAR’s Nationwide Series while dealing with the responsibilities that come with being a teenager. Imagine how good the 18-year-old Elliott might become now that he won’t have to worry about high school anymore.

Tomorrow morning, Elliot will graduate from King’s Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta, Ga. And then he will have to “turn and burn” according to his father, 1988 NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, with qualifying at Iowa Speedway scheduled less than 10 hours after Elliott receives his diploma.

It’ll be the last time Elliott will have to juggle school and work.

“What’s going to be weird is not going back to high school this fall. That’s going to be the deal that makes you sit back and think. I’m kind of waiting for that moment,” Elliott said.

Unlike many high school graduates, Elliott has known his calling for years.

Elliott notched six top-10s in the K&N Pro Series East in 2011 at just 15 years old. His first NASCAR win came during a K&N event in Iowa in May 2012, and last season he won an ARCA race at Pocono.

Elliott also dabbled in the Camping World Trucks series in 2013, posting five top-10s while becoming the youngest winner in a NASCAR national series event at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

All of this helped him land a deal with the star-laden JR Motorsports in the offseason, even though the first nine Nationwide races fell during the end of his senior year at King’s Ridge.

“He’s a pretty focused individual,” Bill Elliott said. “As he continues on and learns more, it’ll make him better. But how much better, I don’t know. The biggest key is, once he understands more of what he needs. He knows how to race, and I think the key of the whole thing is making sure he does what he can do and go from there.”

Earlier in his career, Elliott tried to lessen his academic pressure by taking his books with him on the road.

He quickly realized he couldn’t focus on both at the same time. So Elliott typically crammed a week’s worth of studying into just three days so he could spend Thursdays, Fridays and weekends focused on racing.

It never hurt his performance in the No. 9 Chevrolet.

Elliott won back-to-back Nationwide races at Texas and Darlington last month – taking over the points lead in the process – and finished second at Richmond before settling for 19th at Talladega two weeks ago.

Even though Elliott is excited about the opportunity to focus mainly on racing, he’s also wary of being so focused on the track that he “gets his head screwed up.”

For Elliott, finding something other than school to help even out his life is his next hurdle to clear.

“I think it is important to have a balance of what you do racing-wise and what you do during the week,” Elliott said. “It seems like all the Cup guys are having kids right now, and they’re all having them at about the same time. They all talk about that balance away from the race track, and I can understand where they’re coming from.”

Legacy Comments0
There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.