DAYTONA, Fla. — While the Sprint Cup Series may take most of the headlines away from its junior series, the Xfinity Series, formerly known as the Nationwide and Busch Series, has arguably some of the best young racing talent fans have seen in years.
Each season, there are always a couple names here and there that are the next up-and-coming stars. This year though, it’s hard to look down the championship standings of Xfinity drivers and not see a driver who could win that week and could be a future star in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.
The most obvious names are the Dillon brothers, Ty and Austin. Austin has already secured a full-time Sprint Cup ride, and at only 25 years old, there will be more wins coming than just last week’s Xfinity win at Daytona. Austin’s brother Ty, two years younger, has raced in a handful of Sprint Cup races, but for the most part is a full-time driver in the Xfinity Series.
Possibly the driver with the highest expectations of all Xfinity racers is Chase Elliott. Chase, the son of former Winston Cup Series legend Bill Elliott, is currently second in the point standings and is the defending series champion after winning the 2014 title. At the age of 19, a whole lot of potential is just now starting to shine. Elliott’s statistics are remarkable. Out of 41 races, Elliott has three wins, 19 top-5 finishes and 31 top-10 finishes. Only 10 races so far in his Xfinity career Elliott did not finish inside the top 10.
Several other young driving aces are starting to show off their talents as well. Chris Buescher, 22, is currently leading the 2015 championship standings. Buescher drives for Roush-Fenway racing and has recorded two wins, 10 top-10 finishes and has finished inside the top five eight times.
Darrell Wallace Jr., 21, Ryan Reed, 21, and Daniel Suarez, 23, all currently sit in the top 10 in championship standings halfway through the season. Wallace Jr. and Reed both drive for Roush-Fenway racing while Suarez is piloting a Joe Gibbs Toyota. All three of those guys will be fixtures in the Sprint Cup series very soon.
Erik Jones (19, Joe Gibbs Racing), Ryan Blaney (21, Team Penske) and Dakoda Armstrong (23, Richard Petty Motorsports) are also young guns that you’ll see running near the front week in and week out.
This week, both the Xfinity and Sprint Cup Series drivers will head to Kentucky Motor Speedway. Blaney and Ty Dillon both had top-10 finishes in last year’s race.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87