AP Auto Racing Writer
SONOMA, Calif. (AP) -- Karsyn Elledge likes playing with her phone, computer and riding her bike.
When she's not racing, of course.
Elledge, the 12-year-old niece of Dale Earnhardt Jr., is taking a big step up in her racing career this summer by heading west with her father. She unveiled Saturday at Sonoma Raceway the No. 3 mini outlaw sprint kart that she and Jimmy Elledge will take to 12 races across the West Coast during her break from school.
"It's been really easy for her from the start. She hasn't had to have a lot of guidance or direction," Elledge said. "She won the first three races she ever drove, so the fourth race was really hard because she lost. So I felt like it was safe because of the full containment seats and the wings, and I thought it was going to be able to teach her a lot of life lessons about sportsmanship and competing and life in general."
Elledge also wanted his daughter, who has won all but two races she's competed in this year in her box stock car, to take a step up in competition.
"I figured out here, the competition level is so much higher," Elledge said. "I figured if we could get her out here to compete in this class at the race tracks where Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet and a lot of those boys have competed, we can expose her to higher levels."
Karsyn, who received a text message from uncle Dale to calm her nerves right before her news conference to unveil the car and announce Nickelodeon had signed on as sponsor, said she's excited to take the next step.
"It's very fun, and not just because it's my family thing. It's just interesting and so much fun. I love it," she said. "I'm excited to compete at a higher level because it will only make me better and give me experience."
The rising eighth grader has had several occasions to talk racing with her favorite driver, Danica Patrick.
"I'm a very big Danica Patrick fan. She's like my idol," Karsyn said. "She's a girl and she races and she shows that girls can do it, too."
The only drawback to Karsyn's summer adventure is her admitted apprehension to traveling all across the coast with her father.
"It's going to be interesting because I don't like traveling in the car for a long time. I get really bored," she said. "It's going to be fun traveling with my dad, but also hard, boring, interesting. It's going to be a lot of different things."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.