Race Weekend Central

The 12: NASCAR’s Top Up-and-Coming Drivers

After the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series took a back seat to enjoy the off week, all focus turned to stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series as they navigated the twists and turns of Road America and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

With the added attention, many competitors in NASCAR’s lower ranks have let their talents on the race track do the talking as they try to prove they belong on the biggest stage of the NASCAR stratosphere. Here are the power rankings of the top 12 up and coming drivers. To be eligible for this list, drivers must be competing in the Xfinity or Truck series, and those competing full time in Cup, such as Ross Chastain, will be excluded.

Power Rankings: Up and Comers Edition

1. Christopher Bell

Arguably the most talked-about driver of NASCAR silly season, Bell has once again lit the world on fire in Xfinity. While nothing has been set in stone yet, Bell, who just collected his sixth victory of the 2019 campaign, is likely headed for a Cup ride at seasons in. Many believe the Oklahoman is the next NASCAR superstar. Time will tell, but he has certainly been noticed.

2. Tyler Reddick

Once again, Reddick, an Xfinity championship favorite, will find himself without a ride when the season concludes at Homestead. While many speculate where Reddick’s next home will be, many believe it will be in Cup, possibly with current team Richard Childress Racing. Despite the Californian’s uncertain future, Reddick has unfinished business to take care of this season as he looks to defend his 2018 title.

3. Cole Custer

Along with Bell and Reddick, the Big Three on the Xfinity circuit would not be complete without Custer. A seven-time series winner, Custer has been touted as Ford’s next star. Like his two compatriots, many rumors have placed the 21-year-old in a Cup ride next year. With highly touted results in NASCAR’s developmental series and strong ties to Stewart-Haas Racing, Custer could be poised for a comfortable career at the Cup level.

4. Brett Moffitt

While a driver with 45 Cup starts and virtually no Xfinity experience might not fit the usual mold as a potential up-and-comer, Moffitt has been enjoying a career renaissance in the Truck Series the past two season. Currently sitting atop the points standings, the 2018 truck champion has been a threat to win at virtually every track the series competes on. Although Moffitt’s career has been an up-and-down rollercoaster, the Iowan has won about one out of every four truck races contested in the past two seasons. Does he deserve another shot at Cup?

5. Chase Briscoe

Throughout his NASCAR career, Briscoe has often been overshadowed by teammates. Although currently being teamed with Custer is certainly no different, the converted sprint car driver has quietly worked his way up the stock car ranks, collecting victories in every series he has competed in. While Briscoe may not be as flashy as his comrades, a simple can-do attitude might be just what this driver needs to have a successful career going forward.

6. Austin Cindric

A road course phenom in the Xfinity Series as of late, Cindric has suddenly exploded on the scene. With significant and often unbelievable experience for his young age, he’s used his ties to Team Penske as an advantage. Now piloting one of the winningest cars in the series, the 20-year-old might have one of the most diversified and impressive resumes across the entire NASCAR community. The only thing missing? A foray into Cup.

7. Tyler Ankrum

Like Moffitt, Ankrum might not be the first name that comes to mind in regards to up-and-comers. However, the young 18-year-old has strung together an impressive first season in the Truck Series, which includes a win at Kentucky and a playoff berth, despite having to start and park for two events due to a lack of funding. Ankrum has seemingly found a groove and has quietly become one of the most consistent drivers in the garage area. This consistency might just be what a team owner is looking for.

8. Chandler Smith

Sure, Smith’s NASCAR touring series experience is composed of just three Truck starts. However, the rumor mill is swirling around this competitor and many believe a full-time ride is in his future. Yet, Smith has shown significant promise in the aforementioned three starts, including the ability to run up front and compete for race wins. A runner-up finish at Bristol two races ago might be another stepping stone in the career of a driver filled with impressive potential.

9. Justin Haley

If you haven’t heard by now, yes, Haley did win a Cup race. Sure, it may have been rain-shortened. Sure, it was at a track that requires drafting. Sure, it may have been a fluke. Yet, no matter the doubts, Haley turned many heads at Daytona International Speedway this July. While Haley’s first full-time Xfinity season has been decent and not spectacular, he knows how to find victory lane, and victories will certainly keep you around a while.

10. Ben Rhodes

Rhodes has enjoyed a decent, but not spectacular, career in NASCAR’s lower divisions. Although Rhodes narrowly missed out on the Truck Series playoffs, he has proved he knows how to find victory lane. While his career may have landed him in the Truck Series, Rhodes consistency might be a great asset for higher divisions.

11. Christian Eckes

Despite not having won yet in the Truck series, Eckes has wheeled his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota like a veteran in the limited starts he has made. The 18-year-old has started to gain more and more experience on bigger tracks and has supplanted his name as potentially the next driver to deserve a full-time ride.

12. Greg Biffle

With a perfect winning percentage this season, Biffle might just be the next Truck superstar.

Oh wait, that may have already happened once before. Hmm…

About the author

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Never at a loss for words, Zach Gillispie is a young, talented marketing professional from North Carolina who talks and writes on the side about his first love: racing! Since joining Frontstretch in 2018, Zach has served in numerous roles where he currently pens the NASCAR 101 column, a weekly piece delving into the basic nuts and bolts of the sport. Additionally, his unabashedly bold takes meshed with that trademarked dry wit of his have made Zach a fan favorite on the weekly Friday Faceoff panel. In his free time, he can be found in the great outdoors, actively involved in his church, cheering on his beloved Atlanta Braves or ruthlessly pestering his colleagues with completely useless statistics about Delma Cowart.

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