During the final off week of the NASCAR season, despite a year where rookies are few and far between in the Cup Series, we’re taking a look at some stars of tomorrow who could potentially make an impact down the road. There are a multitude of racers spread all over the country, and thousands of them have the talent to race at the top levels of the sport – they just need the right opportunity.
Who’s best positioned to take the next step? Find out as our experts play the role of talent scout, picking out the diamonds from the rough ‘n’ tumble Nationwide Series, Truck Series and more in the latest edition of the Frontstretch Power Rankings.
How the Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football – writers on staff will vote for the top 20 on a 20-19-18-17-16-15… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first-place driver, 19 for their second and so on. In the end, Mike Neff calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners and… voila! You have one batch of Power Rankings to serve to our fans.
|FRONTSTRETCH POWER RANKINGS: TOP-15 FUTURE SPRINT CUP STARS|
|Rank||Driver (First-Place Votes)||Points||Current Series|
|1||Justin Allgaier (1)||130||Nationwide (4th in Points)|
|Little Gator apparently can pull chicks at greasy spoons, so he get bonus points for that alone.|
|2||Trevor Bayne||125||Nationwide (8th in Points)|
|Ever see how geeked this kid gets just because he gets to be a racecar driver? Either he needs to take a Mayfield test or he’s the real deal and just high on life.|
|3||Aric Almirola (5)||117||Trucks (2nd in Points)|
|The Cuban Missile could give many drivers and teams a crisis to deal with when he makes it up to Cup with a solid team.|
|4||Austin Dillon (1)||100||Trucks (7th in Points)|
|Good thing Grandpa Richard’s doing this one right and keeping him in Trucks for 2011. Could a season championship be next?|
|5||Parker Kligerman||95||Nationwide (2 straight top-10 finishes)|
|While we all hate seeing Sam Hornish Jr. struggle, if Penske ever decides to put some more people behind the program, here is your next young phenom.|
|6||Timothy Peters||88||Trucks (4th in Points)|
|Showing he can run with the big boys in equipment that isn’t even close to equal. Imagine him in some good stuff.|
|7||Steve Wallace||55||Nationwide (7th in Points)|
|Everyone else wrecks him and it’s never his fault. But other than that, we think we’re finally seeing some improvement. Only took five years!|
|8||Justin Lofton||53||Trucks (10th in Points)|
|Back-to-back top-five finishes in Trucks remind us he’s the reigning ARCA champ on a mission. A few years away, but both the money, talent and a new nickname is in place: Paul Menard Jr.|
|9||James Buescher||52||Trucks (6 top 10s in 14 starts)|
|Thirteenth in Truck Series points and he didn’t even run the first three races? That says it all.|
|10||Brian Scott||51||Nationwide (13th in Points)|
|Bring on the “Great Scott” puns when he hits the Cup Series.|
|11||Steve Arpin||48||Nationwide (1 top 10 for JR Motorsports)|
|Carl Edwards‘s boy becoming a man transitioning from ARCA to Nationwide with ease. Tony Eury Sr. says he’s not ready but someone else will take a chance for 2011.|
|12||Matt Crafton||38||Trucks (6th in points)|
|A possible Truck Series champion one day, but looking like a lifer there if he doesn’t start stepping up and winning races.|
|13||Patrick Sheltra||35||ARCA (2nd in Points)|
|Leads the ARCA series in PR emails, if nothing else – but seriously, did you see that move to take the lead at Springfield? A future star in the making.|
|14||Grant Enfinger||33||ARCA (4 top 10s in 6 starts)|
|Shows up and runs top five in cars he prepares by himself. If someone would give him a ride, he’d kick butt.|
|15||Michael Annett||32||Nationwide (12th in Points)|
|Best thing to come out of Iowa since corn.|
|Also Receiving Votes: Ricky Carmichael (30), Colin Braun (28), Landon Cassill (27), Jason Leffler (26), Kelly Bires (24), Josh Wise (23), Brian Ickler (23), Johnny Sauter (17), Coleman Pressley (16), Matt DiBenedetto (14), Jeremy Clements (13), Mikey Kile (13), Tayler Malsam (13), Scott Lagasse Jr. (12), Jason Bowles (11), Jason White (10), Danica Patrick (10), Brandon McReynolds (10), Ryan Truex (10), Brendan Gaughan (8), Nick Hoffman (8), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (8), Tom Hessert (8), John Wes Townley (8), Danny O’Quinn Jr. (7), Ron Hornaday Jr. (6), David Starr (6), Craig Goess (6), Casey Roderick (4), David Mayhew (4), Ty Dillon (3), Paulie Harraka (3), Chad McCumbee (3), Robert Richardson (2), Jennifer Jo Cobb (2), Brad Sweet (1), Peyton Sellers (1)|
|Writer Voting Panel: Phil Allaway, Thomas Bowles, Garrett Horton, Bryan Davis Keith, Mike Neff, Vito Pugliese and Brock Beard|
About the author
What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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