Hey race fans, hope you all had a wonderful Easter! I know I did. This past weekend was a good time for an off-week in NASCAR; with all the Easter festivities going on around here it’s been busy! So I apologize for not having posted anything on here for a few days. But we’re back at it today!
To kick off our next stretch of races, I’d like to start out by taking things down a notch. By which I mean, let’s delve into the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series.
These are a pair of series swimming in amazing young talent. Problem is, they are often overshadowed by the boys who race on Sundays. But we do know there’s a lot of talent down there racing for those titles(see: Bayne, Trevor), so let’s take the time to decipher who the best of those guys is.
Obviously, whenever we think of young guns on the way to the Sprint Cup , we often look first to the Nationwide Series. And for good reason. Since 2000, only one champion(Kurt Busch, 2004) came through a developmental series besides the Nationwide Series. Busch made his way to Cup via the Truck Series, while Bobby Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, and Jimmie Johnson all came through the NNS.
This season, not one Nationwide-only driver has won a NNS race, though a few have come close. Of course, Nationwide-only driver Trevor Bayne did kick off the season winning the Daytona 500, so the talent is certainly there.
When looking for the best NNS driver, Bayne of course is one of the first drivers that comes to mind. However, to call him the best Nationwide-only driver may be a bit far-reaching…at the moment. Bayne has struggled just a bit coming out of the gate, but has gotten himself together over the past few weeks and now sits fifth in the standings.
Two men lead the standings; Justin Allgaier and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. share the top spot. But based on how they’ve run, I believe Stenhouse is the better driver right now. Allgaier has had past success and has been consistent but has struggled to compete for victories this season. Stenhouse has had some bad luck, but when misfortune doesn’t strike he always seems to be in the mix.
Of course, cases can be made for drivers such as Reed Sorenson and Jason Leffler, both of whom have been nothing if not solid from the drop of the green flag at Daytona. But when you look at the stats, it’s Stenhouse that leads all NNS drivers in top 10s(6), and has more top 5s than anybody in the top 5 in points with 2, second overall only to Elliott Sadler(4).
But can a case be made for somebody outside the Nationwide Series?
In the Camping World Truck Series, where Cup dominance is less prominent, it’s veteran Ron Hornaday who leads all drivers in top 5s(4) and top 10s(4). Atop the standings, however, is the only CWTS driver with a win.
Believe it or not, that would be Johnny Sauter.
Statistically, Sauter and Hornaday are the best. A case can be made for Timothy Peters, the second-place points man who has single-handedly carried an underfunded race team on his back for the past three seasons; Cole Whitt, the 18-year old rookie phoenom who has been on fire since the first race of the season; or Todd Bodine, the defending series champion.
But the unanimous pick for best CWTS driver may go to Austin Dillon, the 19-year old grandson of Richard Childress. Dillion, now in his second full-time season, has accumulated 18 top 10s in 32 starts, with 8 of those being top 5s. He also has a pair of victories, a career average finish of 11.7.
In one start this season in the NNS, Dillon finished seventh.
Yes, there are many things to consider when deciphering the best non-Sprint Cup Series driver. Which is why not everyone will agree with me, or each other. In my opinion, it comes down to who has more potential between Stenhouse and Dillon, though several others are not far behind.
What do you think? Who is the best non-Sprint Cup Series driver? Stenhouse, Dillon, or somebody else entirely?