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Five NASCAR Drivers Who Made Their Debuts In 2012

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Ryan Blaney Makes His Way Into History

Michael Hickey-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 NASCAR season saw the debut of two of the drivers part of the NASCAR NEXT 9, one of those being Ryan Blaney.

In the 2012 season Blaney would make his debut in two of NASCAR’s series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. Although Blaney would race in both series, toward the second half of the year he would go on to compete for most of the season in the trucks series with Brad Keselowski Racing.

Blaney would make his Nationwide Debut in 2012 with Tommy Baldwin Racing and competed in select races with Penske Racing. After competing in Nationwide Blaney’s focus went toward BKR and would capture his first career Trucks Series win during the race weekend at Iowa.

Blaney’s win at Iowa would become part of the trucks 16 different winner season and the new record holder of the youngest winner in the truck series.

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Travis Pastrana Makes His Long Awaited Debut

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 season featured the long awaited debut of action sports star Travis Pastrana after a more than a year long delay.

After his initial NASCAR Nationwide Series debut in July 2011 had to be set back due to an injury at the X-Games, Pastrana would have to wait until July 2012 to get a taste of the action in the Nationwide Series. During the race weekend at Indianapolis Pastrana would get his opportunity to make his first career Nationwide start. His debut in 2011 was set for Indianapolis but when the series still raced at Lucas Oil Raceway instead his first race came at Richmond International Raceway, the seventh race of 2012.

In his Nationwide debut Pastrana would capture a 22nd place finish. Throughout his partial race schedule he would go on to capture four top-20 finishes, with his best finish being 13th at Indianapolis.

Throughout his partial Nationwide schedule Pastrana would go on to race with RAB Racing and Pastrana Waltrip Racing as a partnership between both teams, as well as a race with Roush Fenway Racing.

Pastrana also made his debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series when he raced in the No.98 truck for ThorSport Racing capturing a 15th place finish at Las Vegas.

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Darrell Wallace Jr. Makes His Nationwide Series Debut

Credit: Jennifer Coleman/NASCAR

The NASCAR Nationwide Series also saw the debut of Darrell Wallace Jr., the second driver part of the NASCAR Next 9, in the 2012 season.

Wallace would get his first opportunity in a Nationwide car with Joe Gibbs Racing at the first Nationwide race of the year at Iowa. The race at Iowa would be the first of four races for Wallace with JGR in the 2012 Nationwide season. In his debut race he would capture a top ten finish as he went on to finish ninth.

Throughout his four races Wallace would go on to finish with three top-10 finishes and he also capture his first career Nationwide pole during the September race weekend at Dover.

Meanwhile Wallace competed in his four race schedule with JGR in the Nationwide Series, he was competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

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Johanna Long Makes Her Way To The Nationwide Series

Michael Hickey-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 NASCAR Nationwide season also featured the debut of one of the youngest female drivers on the circuit, Johanna Long.

After racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2011, Long made her move into the Nationwide Series in a partial schedule as part of the new rookie class racing for rookie of the year honors.

In 21 starts Long averaged a 19.5 start and an 23.6 finish. Long’s best finish in 2012 was a 12th place finish at Kentucky. Eight of her 21 Nationwide starts in 2012 where top 20 finishes.

In her Nationwide debut at Daytona for the season opener, with a 21st place finish Long became the youngest female driver to compete in the Nationwide Series.

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After A Championship Year, Austin Dillon Moves To The Nationwide Series

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

For Austin Dillon the 2012 season was his opportunity to race in a brand new series following a championship season.

After capturing the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in the 2011 season Dillon made his way up to the NASCAR Nationwide Series full time in 2012. As a member of the 2012 rookie class Dillon separated himself from the rest of the pack and made himself known as a championship contender.

In his debut Nationwide season Dillon made his way into Victory Lane twice in his rookie season, both wins at Kentucky. Along with his two wins Dillon captured three poles, 16 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes. He finished among the top three in points and was among the championship contenders. Dillon would finish the season with Rookie of the Year honors.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

With every NASCAR season that passes by several drivers make their debut and the start of their careers in the sport.

Throughout the 2012 season several drivers made their debuts in all three of NASCAR’s top series, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series. Some drivers made their debut for the first time in either of the three series, meanwhile others where making their debut after competing in one of the other series.

In the 2012 season drivers began to move themselves up within the three of NASCAR series, others were ready for their first opportunity within the top three series.

Five drivers made their debuts in either one or two series or move up a series and made an impact with their debuts. Five of those drivers were Ryan Blaney, Darrell Wallace Jr., Travis Pastrana, Johanna Long, and Austin Dillon.

Within these five drivers some broke records, others made their long awaited debut, and one of them moved into a new series after capturing a championship in another series. Some drivers even made their debuts with several teams within NASCAR throughout the year and some even got a taste of another series in between.

Within all five of the drivers, each one took the next step of their careers in the 2012 season after experiencing other areas of their careers first. Some drivers made their way into the sport from action sports, others from different series, and some from the next generation of stars, the NASCAR Next 9 and they each stood out in 2012.