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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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’.