NASCAR announced their 2018 version of the
Toyota NASCAR Next class which is essentially the cool kids club of up and coming drivers. NASCAR has had solid success with their Next program alumni advancing to the Cup series. The 2018 edition has a few promises and like other classes a few duds that will make your cheap 4th of July fireworks look like sky blazers.
You get racial diversity, gender diversity, parental net worth diversity, just diversity across the board with NASCAR Next. Good drivers, not good drivers, drivers everywhere. On top of that, you have Toyota drivers, more Toyota drivers, a couple more Toyota drivers and one more Toyota driver.
Here is the 2018 NASCAR Next class, take a look at who might be the future face of the sport if Kevin Harvick stops dominating. Don’t tell Kyle Busch these young kids were getting press time today though;
Anthony Alfredo (@anthonyfalfredo): Alfredo like the pasta just not as good looking drove late models for JR Motorsport last season. In 2018 he’s racing for MDM in the K&N East Series where he is coming off a win. In 13 CARS races last season with JRM he recorded 2 wins and 11 Top 10 finishes. In 5 K&N East races this year he has 1 win and two Top 10 finishes. Alfredo is 19 but has started to find his stride recently. Naturally, the older kid in the group listens to AC/DC. This kid needs a new nickname though.
Biggest win: K&N East
— Anthony Alfredo (@anthonyfalfredo) May 15, 2018
Hailie Deegan (@HailieDeegan): Why can’t it just be Haley? Nooooo someone was born in the 2000’s and their name had to be different. Whatever, it’s year #2 for Deegan in the Next program. Her dad is Brian Deegan so you probably watched him fall out of the sky a time or two when you were a kid. Turns out he has kids and one is a race car driver. She drives for the best team in the K&N West Series, she’s in the best position to shine. Checkered pants, get it?
Biggest Win: None
— Hailie Deegan (@HailieDeegan) May 15, 2018
Riley Herbst (@rileyherbst): WHAT?! Need to see the campaign finance records to ensure this wasn’t a paid endorsement.
Biggest Win: ARCA Pocono 2017 in a full JOE GIBBS FACTORY OPERATION.
— Riley Herbst (@rileyherbst) May 15, 2018
Derek Kraus (@derek9kraus): Taking a page out of Erik Jones’ best selling book “how to secure a future in racing by beating a Cup driver: the Erik Jones story” Kraus beat Kevin Harvick at Kern County Speedway earlier in the year. He’s only 16 but Kraus could be in an ARCA/Truck sooner than later.
Biggest Win: 2018 K&N Kern County beating Harvick
— Derek Kraus (@derek9kraus) May 15, 2018
Chase Purdy (@chasepurdy12): “Boy you got a purdy mouth” thank god this kid is growing up now and not when Deliverance came out. Chase doesn’t have a major series win, yet. But he has one of the best looking ARCA cars out there that is reminiscent of a Dale Jr. throwback. Although it’s on a Toyota. Really solid race car driver that will bring you home an appropriate finish. Does Chase Purdy actually know what a Triumph is?
Biggest Win: none
— Chase Purdy (@chasepurdy12) May 15, 2018
Will Rodgers (@willrodgers65): At 23 the Solvang, California, native is the oldest driver in the Next program. Rodgers entered two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East events in 2017 at Watkins Glen and New Jersey Motorsports Park winning on both occasions. Current Cup drivers William Byron, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones are younger than Rodgers. Bromberg can’t be happy about that golf club either.
Biggest win: K&N on the road courses
— Will Rodgers (@willrodgers65) May 15, 2018
Zane Smith (@zanesmith41): Zane looks like that kid from the Dirty Dancing remake that hooks up with Julianne Hough. Not that I’ve seen it but I’ve heard. Also, his California look intimidates the hell out of me and he drives a race car while dating a Gauldashian. Zane Smith, actually good. Also, checkered jacket, get it?
Biggest Win: ARCA at Nashville & Talladega
— Zane Smith (@zanesmith41) May 15, 2018
Tanner Thorson (@Tanner_Thorson): He might not have the same hype as Kyle Larson but Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Larson both said on the Dinner With Racers podcast Tanner Thorson is the next dirt guy to make the jump. He has a handful of starts to look forward to this Truck series season.
Biggest win: Gold Crown Midget Nationals
— Tanner Thorson (@Tanner_Thorson) May 15, 2018
Ryan Vargas (@The_Rhino23): He might look like a kid who will get stuffed in a locker but Ryan Vargas is trying to show us all that he can drive. His 2018 season hasn’t started off exceptionally well but look for Vargas to be around.
Biggest win: none
— Ryan Vargas (@The_Rhino23) May 15, 2018
There were certainly names left off this list that should have been included. Christian Eckes and Chandler Smith are two that immediately come to mind. NASCAR Next will produce a star or two, this is like Hunger Games with young drivers. They’ve been given the exposure now they have to fight to survive or become forgotten about name that sells real estate in the Charlotte area.
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