Hendrick became convinced that Elliott was ready for the move up after the youngster tested the cars of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson recently.
“We haven’t arrived at a decision for sure, but I think you’ll probably see him run a few races next year,” Hendrick told SiriusXM radio network. “Before he ever won a Nationwide race, I watched him test Jimmie’s car and Jeff’s car at Nashville, and Jimmie and Jeff both commented to me, ‘This kid is super smooth and super fast. He takes care of his equipment, and he doesn’t get in a jam.’
“I said before he ever ran a race, I would put him in a 600-mile race at Charlotte and think he’d finish in the top 15, top 10, because he’s so smart,” Hendrick added. “He just understands the car and takes care of it. I think he’s going to do a super job whenever the time comes. I think we’ll surely, probably the second half of next year, we’ll probably see him in some races.”
Hendrick Motorsports has four full-time cars, the maximum allowed by NASCAR. However rules do allow teams to field a fifth car for rookie drivers.
Elliott’s crew chief, Greg Ives, will move to Sprint Cup next season to oversee Earnhardt’s car, No word was released on who would take his place as crew chief of the No. 9 Nationwide Series team.