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During the most recent racing offseason, NASCAR announced a rules change in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series that would allow 16 and 17-year-old drivers to compete on the circuit at tracks shorter than a mile. Previously, drivers had to be at least 18 years of age to compete anywhere in any of NASCAR’s three national series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck).
The Truck Series makes its first stop at a short track in early April with the April 6 race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, and two youngsters have already thrown their hats in the ring — Chase Elliott and Erik Jones. Elliott is the son of past NASCAR Sprint (then-Winston) Cup champion Bill Elliott and is a developmental driver for Hendrick Motorsports. He’ll be driving an entry for Turner Scott Motorsports through a deal with Hendrick at Martinsville and the following weekend at Rockingham. Elliott is 17.
Jones is the most recent winner of the famous Snowball Derby late model race held each December in Florida. He defeated the likes of Sprint Cup drivers Kyle Busch and David Ragan and Nationwide regular and former Snowball Derby winner Johanna Long to take the victory. Now, Jones, 16-years-old, finds himself with a five-truck-race deal with Busch’s Kyle Busch Motorsports, including the Martinsville race, the Rockingham event, two races at Iowa Speedway in Newton and another race to be determined later.
Seems fitting that one of the aforementioned drivers get their chance to compete at the Camping World Truck Series level at such a young age with Kyle Busch Motorsports. After all, Busch is credited with being the reason for NASCAR raising the minimum age limit to 18 several years ago.
Busch showed up behind the wheel of a Roush Fenway Racing truck in 2001 and looked to be in contention for the race win until a wreck late in his series debut. That was in 2001 and Busch was only 16, himself. It was soon after that he was sidelined for a couple of years by NASCAR’s then-new 18 or over madate. As you know, Busch resurfaced on the NASCAR scene a couple of years later as a Natioinwide (then-Busch) Series driver for Hendrick Motorsports.
Guess you could say that Busch is on both ends of this rules change. He is, at least somewhat, responsible for the rules than shut out drivers under 18. Now, he’s part of the move to let those young drivers back in.