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Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott is only 15, which means he wasn't born when his father, Bill, won the 1988 Cup series championship.

It also means Chase isn't old enough to have his driver's license.

But he is good enough in a race car that he has signed a multi-year agreement with Hendrick Motorsports, the same company that spotted Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.

Though NASCAR rules require a driver to be 18 before he can race in the Truck, Nationwide or Sprint Cup series, only the calendar might slow Chase's rush to stardom.

"I had said I was out of the driver development business, but he was one we needed to get," Hendrick said. "I couldn't believe how mature he was for his age. Then you watch him drive in a late-model race against Kyle Busch. ...You can see his car control. He drives like his dad."

Chase has spent the past week taking his final ninth-grade exams at home in Dawsonville, Ga., but he is in the racing business with more than 60 victories at various levels. He's concentrating on the K&N Pro Series East this year, driving Nationwide-like cars with different motors and tires, in a glorified version of short-track, Saturday-night racing.

He will continue in the Pro Series East series - occasionally driving in other series as well - until he's 18, at which time he plans to move into the Nationwide Series. From there, it's one step to a Sprint Cup car.

Does it help that his father, Bill, is one of the sport's great drivers?

Absolutely.

But it's Chase, not Bill, who finished third in Denny Hamlin's shootout race this year, a race that included Tony Stewart, Busch, Hamlin, Joey Logano and Awesome Bill from Dawsonville.

"Obviously (the name) helps you some," Chase said. "His knowledge of the tracks and the cars I'm driving, that's been the biggest help.

"But no matter what your name is, you still have to go out and do your job. A lot of people look at (my name) as the only reason I've gotten where I am. But I look at it as I've gone out and done my job."

It helps, Chase said, that he has had a full-time sponsor on his car for three years. While most young drivers are scrapping for sponsorship money, he can focus on other issues.

"Having a sponsor is huge," Chase said. "A lot of drivers will tell you that's the hardest part, just being marketable."

Chase said he, his father and Hendrick began talking about a contract last year, and it was finalized in February. Together, they have mapped out a plan to get Chase the necessary experience so he's ready when he turns 18 to move into the next phase of his career.

"We talked about our goals and what could happen, and I want to get as much experience as I can in the car," Chase said.

"If things fall into place, I hope to run some (Automobile Racing Club of America) events in a couple of years and then go to Nationwide when I'm 18.

"My goal is to be in Sprint Cup racing, but that will be up to Mr. Hendrick and my dad."

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