Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 Best Up & Coming Drivers

The Cup Series took the weekend off, so the Power Rankings this week is going to take a look at the drivers who wheel their vehicles in other series. There are multiple national touring series and thousands of local short tracks across the country that have begun racing this year, leaving plenty of places for the next “major leaguer” to emerge in the weeks to come. The pollsters were assigned the duty to rank their top non-Cup drivers from whatever series and whichever tracks they choose.

Will the pollsters give Trevor Bayne lots of love for his Daytona win? Does Ron Hornaday Jr. receive credit for his years of success? How much attention will the Dillon brothers receive? Are any of the Whelen All-American drivers going to show up in the ranks? Did Justin Allgaier receive the love for his Nationwide victory last year? Read this week’s Power Rankings to see if your favorite driver from outside of the Cup Series showed up in the poll.

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.

Rank Driver (First-Place Votes) Points Current Series
1 Justin Allgaier (2) 75 Nationwide (5th in points)
The move to Turner Motorsports seems to have him running as well as he ever has in his career.
2 Austin Dillon 64 Trucks (2010 ROTY)
When he makes the move to the Cup Series in a few years, he’s going to bring the No. 3 back and do it in style.
3 Trevor Bayne 57 Nationwide (Part-Time Cup)
Winning the Daytona 500 can go a long way toward making your career whether your driving justifies it or not.
T-4 Cole Whitt (1) 52 Trucks (2nd in points)
Nobody had heard of him a year ago and now he’s making Truck Series regulars take notice.
T-4 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 52 Nationwide (2nd in points)
After learning how to run races to the finish last year, he’s focusing on winning the championship this year.
6 Reed Sorenson 44 Nationwide (1st in points)
He’s got 161 Cup starts but most people don’t realize he’s still 25 years old.
7 Ron Hornaday Jr. 38 Trucks (6th in points)
The best Truck Series driver ever but hasn’t done much of anything in the Cup Series throughout his career.
8 Johnny Sauter 34 Trucks (5th in points)
The only one of the Sauter clan – led by father Jim and followed by brothers Jay and Tim – who is still running in NASCAR.
9 Aric Almirola 32 Nationwide (7th in points)
Starting out the season driving for JR Motorsports. He’s hoping to still be driving for them when the season comes to an end.
10 Todd Bodine 31 Trucks (8th in points)
Not sure that he’s the best Bodine but he’s the last one standing.
T-11 Jason Leffler 28 Nationwide (3rd in points)
We learned during the Media Tour that Great Clips makes him keep the fauxhawk.
T-11 Elliott Sadler 28 Nationwide (12th in points)
Sadler claims there’s no pressure this year. We’ll see if he still feels that way if he’s outside the top 10 in April.
13 Matt Crafton 26 Trucks (1st in points)
Crafton might have finally figured out how to win a Truck title; we’ll see if this consistency can last.
14 Landon Cassill 25 Nationwide (limited schedule)
Impressed at Daytona, but after that? The only thing he’s been impressive at is pulling a car into the garage early.
T-15 Timothy Peters 23 Trucks (3rd in points)
Came from building trucks in his garage to leading the Truck Series points last year; let’s see if Red Horse Racing can get him to the mountain top this season.
T-15 James Buescher 23 Trucks (11th in points)
Right now, his most memorable moment is wrecking the GoDaddy girl down the stretch at Fontana. Can a victory this season finally sweep that ugly moment under the rug?
Also Receiving Votes: Parker Kligerman (20), Bill Elliott (19), Mike Skinner (18), Terry Labonte (17), Kelly Bires (17), Robby Gordon (16), Scott Bloomquist (16), Brian Scott (16), Boris Said (15), Phillip Morris (15), Frank Kimmel (15), Ken Schrader (14), Michael Waltrip (13), Jason Bowles (13), Grant Enfinger (13), Ty Dillon (13), Chase Elliott (12), Derrike Cope (11), Josh Wise (11), Scott Riggs (10), Kevin Swindell (10), Steve Wallace (9), Mike Bliss (9), Justin Lofton (9), Jeremy Clements (9), Ron Fellows (8), Keith Rocco (8), Robert Richardson Jr. (7), Burt Myers (7), Steve Arpin (7), DJ Kennington (6), Clay Rogers (6), Brad Sweet (5), PJ Jones (4), Jan Magnussen (3), Michael Annett (3), Brendan Gaughan (3), Chad McCumbee (3), Mattias Ekstrom (2), Benny Gordon (2), Kevin Conway (1), Davin Scites (1), Nelson Piquet Jr. (1), David Starr (1), Jason Keller (1).
Writer Voting Panel: Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Bryan Davis Keith, Phil Allaway and Garrett Horton.


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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