“Could See the Talent” – Rick Hendrick Reveals What Convinced Him to Sign a 14-Year-Old Chase Elliott

Published 12/12/2020, 4:45 AM EST
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 13: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, stands on the grid during the NASCAR Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)


Moments after Chase Elliott won the NASCAR Cup Series title, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick expressed that many people in the organization thought he was ‘nuts’ when he signed a 14-year-old Elliott. However, Hendrick believed in his decision and in Chase’s abilities.

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Recently, Hendrick reminisced about the incident and explained how Chase Elliott’s signing happened back in the day.

Last week, at the Snowball Derby, Elliott drove the No. 9 super late model owned by former NASCAR Cup Series team owner James Finch. Finch was the man who first noticed Elliott years ago and felt his talents should not go unnoticed by anyone. He then approached Hendrick.

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James Finch asked me if I had seen Chase Elliott drive. And I said ‘no,’ and he told me I needed to. Because he’s whipping all these guys on pavement,” Hendrick said about the incident.

Nov 8, 2020; Avondale, Arizona, USA; NASCAR driver Chase Elliott (9) during the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

How Rick Hendrick was introduced to Chase Elliott

Finch told Hendrick how Elliott was beating some of the top guys. He had not been signed by anyone at the time, because he was still so young. Nevertheless, Elliott had defeated the likes of Kyle Busch and David Ragan. He had also won a few titles by then at the short tracks.

So, I started getting some videos, and then I called Bill, and they came down and we talked,” Hendrick said further. Soon, Hendrick saw Chase run in the super late models and got a first-hand experience of how talented the young driver was.

Hendrick was surprised at how well Chase was doing in a race that also involved Busch.

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AVONDALE, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 08: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and his father Bill Elliott pose for a photo after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Season Finale 500 and the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 08, 2020 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Hendrick soon recognized Elliott’s talents

I just watched him in those Super Late Models and then actually saw one of the races where he raced Kyle Busch. And just thought so much of how Bill raised him. And what a polished young guy was. You could see the talent and thought, ‘he may be 14-years-old, but we need to take a chance if we could,” Hendrick explained.

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He then did exactly that. Hendrick signed Elliott, and as he earlier mentioned, many could not understand why. Soon, Chase proved Hendrick right and impressed everyone as he made his way up the NASCAR ladder. A decade later, the 25-year-old is a superstar in the sport and is already considered by many as a future ‘Hall of Famer’.

MORE – “Can’t Put It Into Words” – Chase Elliott Expresses Why NASCAR Cup Series Title Win Is Yet to Sink in for Him

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Aayush Majumdar

1006 articles

Aayush Majumdar is a NASCAR content strategist, a Tennis Writer, and a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. He is well-tenured as a tennis and NASCAR writer, with over 900 articles across both sports. After pursuing a Post Graduate program in Sports Management, Aayush explored various roles in Sports Media, including a Sports Reporting role at a leading English daily.

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