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Dale Earnhardt Jr. not yet subjecting Chase Elliott to rookie hazing

The youngest member of Hendrick Motorsports has thus far been treated kindly by his veteran teammates.

Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Rookies are subject to bringing donuts to team meetings, picking up the dinner tabs and performing a variety of menial tasks at the behest of veteran teammates.

But thus far any rookie hazing has largely been absent within Hendrick Motorsports, as veterans Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne have welcomed first-year driver Chase Elliott to the team -- though Johnson concedes that could change once Elliott hits a milestone birthday in November.

"We have to wait a few more months until he turns 21, then it's an open gate," Johnson said Tuesday at Daytona 500 Media Day. "It's like we're dealing with a minor in some respects, so we're going easy on him."

The successor to Jeff Gordon, who retired at the end of the 2015 season, Elliott is the son of 1988 Cup Series champion Bill Elliott and takes over the iconic No. 24 car Gordon drove to four championships.

Like Gordon once was, Elliott enters NASCAR's top division highly touted and regarded as a rising star. The 20-year-old flashed his impressive talent by speeding to the Daytona 500 pole-position in qualifying Sunday for the Feb. 21 season-opener.

But while Elliott may have won the pole in his first start as Gordon's replacement, he is still a rookie -- a fact his Hendrick teammates are quick to point out. When it came to assigning in-season testing dates, Elliott was quickly volunteered the unfavorable slots.

"If there's a test on an off week, you're probably not going to see Jimmie or Dale or Kasey go do it," Elliott said. "They're going to sign me up first-hand. What am I going to say?

"In a meeting the other day, they talked about tests during the year. It hadn't been out of somebody's mouth for two seconds, and Jimmie said, ‘Chase, signed up.'"

Johnson confesses to volunteering Elliott, but said there was no indignity intended. In some instances having Elliott test at a particular track is for his own betterment, even if the date may be disadvantageous.

"Yes, he's low man, but at the same time there's certain test sessions that have come up that really could be useful for him -- getting those reps, having the seat time," Johnson said. "Now once we get into the Goodyear tire tests and other really meaningful test sessions, even if the driver is a little grumpy about losing a day or two to testing, the driver's team, the driver's engineers, crew chiefs say, ‘Oh, hey, we want that.'

"We're very intentional with what we're doing and how we're using the dates."