The 5 Nationwide Series Drivers Most Likely to Succeed in the Sprint Cup Series
The Nationwide Series is perfect for NASCAR, when you think about it. Sure, in recent years it has been dominated by Cup regulars, namely Kyle Busch. But if you want to really catch a glimpse of the future of our sport, take a peek at the Nationwide Series regulars. Particularly the younger guys.
They're the ones that will answer your question about whether our sport will be left in good hands.
Although the series is filled with future favorites such as Alex Bowman and Parker Kligerman, these five are going to be the names that everyone will know whether or not they're a NASCAR fan.
These five are already grabbing headlines, staying consistent, and in a couple of cases have already gone to Victory Lane. So keep a lookout for them.
5. Brian Scott
Brian Scott isn't exactly a proven star in NASCAR, especially when compared to other proven winners in the Nationwide Series.
However, he has been proven as one of the more consistent drivers in Nationwide, and although he has been in the Nationwide Series for some time now without winning, he is in the prime position to turn that around.
Sometimes it takes a change of scenery to bring out the best in a driver, or a change of equipment. Although Scott has shown us much of the same this year, Richard Childress wouldn't have tabbed him as a driver if he didn't think Scott would get the job done.
With that being said, as consistent a driver as Scott is, if Childress were to put him in a Cup car, Scott could end up doing what Tony Stewart did in 1998 and 1999. For those who remember, 1998 wasn't exactly kind to Stewart in the Nationwide Series, yet when he went to Cup the next year, he turned the racing world upside down.
Scott's quiet consistency is a lot like the Stewart of '98, and if you want to consider his scuffle with Nelson Piquet Jr. at Richmond, Scott has an intolerance for stupidity much like Stewart's.
4. Justin Allgaier
With three wins in the Nationwide Series, as well as 25 top-fives and 76 top-tens since winning Rookie of the Year in 2009, it comes as a surprise that Allgaier has not been offered a legitimate swing at the Cup Series.
He keeps his nose clean, consistently stays at or near the front of the field, and is often in the right place at the right time, like at Montreal last year when he won after muscling past Jacques Villeneuve. Allgaier's car wasn't great, but after the leaders were systematically erased, he happened to be in contention on that last lap.
Allgaier is a proven driver, and one that Cup teams should take a serious look at. He has what it takes to be a serious contender.
3. Austin Dillon
With Richard Childress backing him up, Austin Dillon will find success in a matter of time in the Sprint Cup Series. It will only be a matter of time.
Granted, during his limited schedule run this year he hasn't exactly been impressive; however, that is not uncommon among rookies. Besides, all the good ones tend to wad a few cars up before they really get good.
It took Dillon a little bit to get accustomed in both of his Rookie of the Year seasons (2010 in the Camping World Truck Series and 2012 in the Nationwide Series), but he is the 2011 CWTS champion and he managed to sweep both Nationwide events at Kentucky in 2012.
He even contended for the 2012 Nationwide championship until late in the season.
He'll need to build up his repertoire and prove he can handle the pressure if he intends to be successful in the Sprint Cup Series.
2. Trevor Bayne
In the case of young Trevor Bayne, it isn't about youth or blazing trails. It's more or less a matter of better equipment.
When Bayne drove the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford to victory in the 2011 Daytona 500, it made for one of NASCAR's most storybook moments, plus it was great to see the No. 21 in Victory Lane again at Daytona.
But the Woods Brothers aren't the team they once were, and for that young Bayne has suffered. However, in the Nationwide Series he has managed to run up front and make a name for himself in a Roush-Fenway Mustang.
If Roush were to put him in a Sprint Cup Ford, complete with top-of-the-line backing and equipment, Bayne would be able to do better than just two Nationwide wins and one Daytona 500.
He's got tenacity and plenty of experience, so if Roush is planning on making the move to promote Bayne full time, he needs to do it soon.
1. Kyle Larson
Sprint Cup veterans should be scared of Kyle Larson. They should be very scared.
The kid may be the quiet, humble type, but at the end of 2012 he was making a lot of noise in the Camping World Truck Series, including a second-place finish at Phoenix in the penultimate race of the season.
In four starts in 2012, he earned one top-five and three top-ten finishes. The fourth start, at Homestead, would have put him in the top-five again, maybe even the win, if not for a crash late in the going. He did end up earning that win this year at Rockingham.
The 2013 Nationwide season has only served to heighten Larson's profile. Starting of the season with one of the most spectacular accidents in recent memory, Larson has gone on to give the other drivers plenty of reasons to shake in their racing shoes. Just ask Kyle Busch.
In 12 starts, this season he has earned three top-fives and seven top-tens. He will better that total this year, and when he goes to the Cup series (give it a season-and-a-half, maybe two), he'll be challenging for the win in no time.