How many times have we heard over the past two decades “This guy is going to be the next Jeff Gordon”? By all accounts perhaps far too often than anyone cares to recall, since Gordon’s historic debut in 1992 the four time champion has set the gold standard for excellence in NSCS competition.
Throughout his 22 year career in Sprint Cup Gordon’s accolades have often been imitated, but never duplicated. Names such as Logano, Irwin Jr., and Atwood have attempted to fulfill their date with destiny, but in the process failed to live up to enormous expectations bestowed upon them by the famished racing community. In the end comparing young unpolished talent to the likes of a four time NSCS champion is grossly obscene.
No driver in NASCAR history other than Jimmie Johnson has even come close to replicating Gordon’s accolades on any level in NSCS competition. That’s not to say a driver from the not so distant future won’t rise to the occasion, and challenge the above mentioned driver’s career achievements.
Today’s Nascar fans are eagerly anticipating the arrival of future superstars they can firmly support for years to come. And are they in luck because Nascar’s current talent pool is chock full of young exciting drivers waiting to shape their own storied legacies.
Here are 5 driver’s we can’t wait to see make their Nascar Sprint Cup Series debut.
1 Chase Elliott- Racing is the marrow in Chase Elliott’s bone, the red in his blood. The wide eyed Georgia boy is the 17 year old son of 1988 Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott. In a short period of time Chase Elliott has captivated the imagination of the racing world.
Chase’s natural ability behind the wheel immediately caught the eye of Rick Hendrick. So it comes as no surprise that Mr. H wasted no time in signing Chase to developmental contract with Hendrick Motorsports. Expectations are high for the blue chipper out of Dawsonville Georgia to achieve imminent greatness in Nascar’s top division for years to come. Already in 2013 Elliott has competed in four NCWTS races finishing no worse than 6th in those four starts. Hendrick Motorsports plans to have Chase Elliott compete in the NNS in some capacity in 2014. Whether that be part time or full time primarily depends on sponsorship from Aaron’s.
Those close to the Elliott camp project young Chase could potentially succeed Jeff Gordon as the driver of the # 24 machine once the four time champion calls it a career.
Yes, all the pieces appear to be falling into place for Chase to follow in the footsteps of his famous father.
As time progresses Hendrick Motorsports must be cautious with the development of such a highly touted racing prospect. Chase essential can’t rely on pedigree to shape his reputation once he arrives on Nascar’s grand stage. Chase’s central focus must be on building his own legacy outside of his famous father and celebrated car owner. Remember Landon Cassill was once poised to be the saving grace for Hendrick Motorsports. The future of Hendrick Motorsports looked to be in good hands with Cassill comfortably nestled into the fold. Although nothing in the racing business is ever guaranteed don’t expect Chase to suffer the same fate as Landon Cassill and become another failed statistic. Deep down Rick Hendrick is beaming from ear to ear because everybody knows this Elliott kid is something special.
Biggest career achievement – Chase won his first ARCA series race at Pocono in June 2013. The victory put Chase in the record books as the youngest winner in ARCA series history.
Projected NSCS debut- 2015
2. Kyle Larson- Sacramento California native Kyle Larson is freakishly talented.
Larson a product NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, already has a championship under his belt at the age of 21. Kyle won the 2012 K&N Pro Series East title by a mere 14 points over Corey Lajoie despite the fact Lajoie had three more victories on the season. In the end Larson had the advantage of scoring two more top 10 finishes than Lajoie, once again proving consistency wins championships.
Larson’s fearless attitude combined with his winning smile earned him a full time NNS ride with Turner Motorsports this season (2013). Consistency seems to be Larson’s strongest trait thus far in his young NNS career. Through the first 23 races of the 2013 NNS season Larson has finished in the top 10 in 13 of those races. Perhaps Larson’s greatest accomplishment this season in Nationwide competition was his gusty 2nd place run at Bristol in March. Larson came within inches of defeating all-time series wins leader Kyle Busch for his first career NNS win. Larson needs not worry he will be visiting victory lane quite frequently in the years to come.
Currently Kyle Larson is signed to a development contract with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and is expected to be inserted into their driver lineup within the next few years. Rumours are circulating around the garage he could take over the wheel of the #42 Target Chevrolet next season.
Make no mistake about it Kyle Larson has the aura of a future champion in NASCAR’s top touring series.
Biggest career achievement – Winning the 2012 K&N Pro Series East championship.
Projected NSCS debut – 2014
3. Ryan Blaney – Take one glance at third generation racer Ryan Blaney and it’s easy to see he has that “it” factor. At 19 years of age Blaney silently exhibits a confident swagger like nobody else. Blaney’s contagious charisma has caught the eye of established NASCAR superstars such as Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick. Both of which have sung the praises of this tremendous standout from High Point North Carolina.
Ryan’s irresistible appeal has landed him amongst some pretty good company thus far in his young NASCAR career. Blaney currently drives for Brad Keselowski in the camping world truck series and sits 7th in NCWTS points with one victory on the season. Ultimately the goal for this season is to take an honest run at the CWTS title. Judging by the numbers (1 win, 5 top 5’s, 8 top 10’s) he’s got a really good shot at turning this dream into a reality.
Ryan’s father NSCS veteran Dave Blaney has done an outstanding job in overseeing his son’s racing career at this critical stage of the game. As Dave heads into the twilight of his NSCS career his complete focus appears to solely be on developing his son into a glorified winner. So far they are hitting all the right notes. When Ryan speaks to the media he demonstrates genuine maturation far beyond his 19 years. Possessing a winning attitude is vital in today’s NASCAR, and Ryan Blaney is a team owner’s dream. Expect big things in the years to come from this young man.
Biggest career achievement- Winning 2 NCWTS races.
Projected NSCS debut – 2015
4. Ty Dillon- Presently RCR is reinventing itself as a family business. Richard Childress’s grandsons Austin & Ty are emerging as future stars of the industry. The Dillon brothers are fortunate to have their grandfather Richard Childress backing their NASCAR careers. In a few short years RCR’s NSCS roster will be all about the Dillon’s.
Richard Childress’s youngest grandson Ty Dillon is currently making a name for himself in the NCWTS much like his older brother Austin did before graduating to the NNS last season. Ty is a 2 time winner on the NCWTS circuit and very much remains a factor in the championship hunt this season. Recently RCR announced Ty Dillon will graduate to the NNS in 2014. Ty has enjoyed modest success in the early stages of his NASCAR career. Therefore Childress must handle his youngest grandson’s career with kid gloves. Adequate seat time in the NNS likely determines the longevity of Ty Dillon’s career in NASCAR beyond the NNS. Relying on older brother Austin for moral support is paramount since the brothers are destined to become future teammates in Sprint Cup.
Perhaps one day we’ll see a Dillon VS Dillon battle for the NSCS championship?
Biggest career achievement – 2 time NCWTS winner
Projected NSCS debut- 2016
5. James Buescher- Surviving complete disaster on the final lap at Daytona in the 2012 season opening NNS race propelled James Buescher to an unlikely victory. Winning in any major racing series at Daytona can make a career. On that Saturday afternoon Buescher not only beat a field of NNS regulars he also bested a hand full of NSCS superstars.
Buescher’s breakthrough NNS victory set the tone for a successful 2012 for the Turner-Scott Motorsports driver. Later on in the season Buescher would go on to win four NCWTS races en route to claiming his first career NCWTS championship. Buescher currently sits 2nd in the 2013 NCWTS standings, If Buescher can pull off another championship victory he would be the first driver in NCWTS history to claim back to back titles. It’s clear the 23 year old Plano Texas native has a bright future beyond NCWTS competition, he is rumoured to be moving up with Turner Motorsports to the NNS full time in 2014.
James will likely cut his teeth in the NNS for a few seasons before thinking about competing on Sunday afternoon’s.
Biggest career achievement – Winning the 2012 NCWTS championship.
Projected NSCS debut – 2015
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