CHARLOTTE, NC - If things continue to play out the way they have so far through the first two months of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will be one happy owner come November.
After scoring his second consecutive win of the season last Friday night at Darlington Raceway, JR Motorsports driver Chase Elliott is doing plenty to turn heads, including his team owner Earnhardt. The Dawsonville, GA speedster became only the fourth driver to win in his first national series start at the 1.366-mile track. When he won the previous week at Texas, Elliott became the second-youngest driver in series history to post a win at 18 years, four months and seven days. Seven days later, however, he became the youngest driver to capture his second victory in any of NASCAR's three national series.
In addition to his two wins, Elliott has six top-10 finishes in the first seven races of 2014. His only non-top 10 was a still-respectable 15th in the Daytona season opener. Going into the Easter break, Elliott leads the points standings by 13 over his teammate Regan Smith, who hasn't been too bad either. Smith has started the season with seven straight top 10s, including a victory at Daytona.
As it stands right now, it looks like JRM's Elliott and Smith are the drivers to beat. One of the two drivers has led the drivers' standings after each of the season's first seven races. Smith led the points after the first five races before handing over the reins to Elliott, who also holds a 22-point advantage over Ty Dillon in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year race.
Speaking of the rookie competition, Elliott is simply setting the bar high for everyone else. Dillon is having a stellar year in his own right and would be enjoying a healthy lead in the rookie standings most other years, having already compiled seven finishes of 11th or better.