Earnhardt building on 2014 success, including JR Motorsports championship

Earnhardt building on 2014 success, including JR Motorsports championship

CONCORD, N.C. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is already building toward 2015.

And he has quite a foundation to build upon from 2014.

His four wins and 12 top-five finishes last season were his best totals since 2004, and he cracked the 20-top-10s plateau for the third consecutive season.

Not only that, he took home a championship in the Nationwide Series as owner of JR Motorsports.

"I look forward to next year, and definitely going to enjoy what we've been able to accomplish this year," he said.

The newest recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's prestigious Myers Brothers Award was quick to credit those around him for helping accomplish those goals.

"The truth is I'm obviously extremely humbled by this award, but I feel like I share it on so many levels -- my sister Kelley [Earnhardt Miller] along with everyone at JR Motorsports is as deserving as this as anyone," he said upon accepting the award. "I've got a lot of passions with NASCAR but I wouldn't know how to make them realities without all those folks."

The championship for JR Motorsports came with crew chief Greg Ives -- who will move to the No. 88 team as the crew chief in 2015 -- helping Chase Elliott become the youngest champion in NASCAR national series history.

It got Earnhardt thinking about just how far the organization, which NMPA President Kenny Bruce said "has become a successful pipeline for moving new talent up the rungs of NASCAR all the way from its grass-roots level," has come.

"We went through a lot of growing pains, won some races, worked with a lot of great people, and, you know, this championship just really has me reflecting back on all that and all the people that have come through that shop and the people that we have now, the relationships that we've built, partners we've had," Earnhardt said. "It's only been 10 years, it seems like it's been 100. It's been a wonderful, wonderful trip."

Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick said he is proud of how hard Earnhardt and his sister have worked to build up the company.

And he couldn't be happier with how well JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports have worked together over the years.

"The success it's had this year with all the wins, and developing people like Greg Ives, giving him a shot and now coming on in the Cup Series to be Dale's crew chief, it's paying tremendous dividends to our company," Hendrick said.

As Hendrick alluded, Ives will move to the Sprint Cup Series in 2015 with Hendrick Motorsports -- just the latest example of how the two companies have benefitted one another.

Ives said he was grateful to have worked with Elliott and is looking forward to the new challenge in 2015.

"I've been very fortunate to have worked with him, very fortunate to have worked with JR Motorsports and all Hendrick Motorsports," Ives said. "They have given me this opportunity. We made the best of it over the year."

Now, with a championship to his name, Ives will take over for Steve Letarte, who departed the organization to become an analyst for NBC Sports.

And Elliott said the move will pay dividends for all involved.

"I think Greg is very deserving of the opportunity, and I think anybody that is wondering about the change, I think they're going to be pleasantly surprised by the results and the effort and the teamwork and the way that Greg treats people, not only to me this year driving his cars, but he treats people the way they should be treated that work on the cars, and nobody has -- nobody's role means any more than anybody else's, and I think Greg has a great understanding of that," Elliott said. "He obviously has the smarts and whatnot to do the job. But I think the biggest thing is leadership."

Earnhardt and Ives were already hard at work Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as the 2015 season rapidly approaches.

And both men will be looking for even more success in the future.