The next generation of NASCAR superstars are making a name for themselves on the racetrack, and NASCAR has set their eyes on the next potential set of great drivers.
On Friday, NASCAR announced the latest roster of drivers in the NASCAR Next program, the future stars of NASCAR, as the newest class to the program were divulged at Iowa Speedway. 13 drivers now join the program that introduced fans to some of the well-known names in some of NASCAR’s top series.
The NASCAR Next program dates back to 2011 when it first began as the NASCAR Next 9 as a way to help spotlight the young and up and coming drivers in the sport.
Joining the NASCAR Next class of 2013 were several brand new drivers as well as a few returning names. New to the NASCAR Next program are Gray Gaulding, Ryan Gifford, Ben Kennedy, Brett Moffitt, Ryan Preece, Ben Rhodes, Kenzie Ruston, Michael Self and Jeb Burton. Returning to the roster are Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Cameron Hayley and Dylan Kwasniewski.
The 2013 NASCAR Next drivers all range from 15-to-24 years of age, and all come from diverse backgrounds whether in racing or their cultural backgrounds.
As the new set of future stars of the sport prepare to take on the rest of the racing season as part of the NASCAR Next program they will take part in several promotional events as well as continue racing.
All of the 13 drivers have found success in racing. Burton currently races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and is in contention for rookie of the year honors and is in the top ten in the points. Elliott is a two-time most popular driver and winner in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East as well as currently competing part time in the Truck Series. Moffitt, Gifford, Kennedy, Self, Kennedy and Hayley have all captured wins in the K&N Series.
Gaulding and Ruston have gone on to make history with Gaulding becoming the youngest pole winner and race leader in the K&N East Series at 15-years-old. Ruston as a rookie has placed the highest female finish with a third-place finish at Greenville Pickens Speedway.
Kwasniewski is the current 2012 K&N Pro Series West champion and past rookie of the year winner. Preece has found success in the NASCAR Whelen Modified tour as a two-time championship runner-up, as well as Rhodes capturing podium finishes in the same series. Gifford and Suarez both started through the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. Suarez has also raced in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series.
The 13 drivers of the roster each have accomplished several features that have landed them in the spotlight as future stars of the sport. All of them have made a name for themselves on their own and to be a part of the NASCAR Next program will give them the opportunity that they need.
Over the past two years, several of the previous drivers in the program have found success after being in the program. Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr. were a part of the previous NASCAR Next roster and have gone on to find success in some of NASCAR’s top series such as the Trucks Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Having the spotlight on the 13 drivers allows them to showcase their talent and their potential of becoming the next big stars at the racetracks.