10 Motorsports Stars Capable of Successfully Switching to NASCAR

Joseph Shelton@@JosephShelton88Contributor IIIJuly 9, 2013

10 Motorsports Stars Capable of Successfully Switching to NASCAR

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    Crossover stars are nothing new in NASCAR. We've had Indy champions, sports car drivers and even Formula One stars grace the starting grid at one point or another. While some have had success like Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya, others haven't fared as well, like Danica Patrick and Dario Franchitti.

    Still, we're always on the lookout for drivers who can prove that they are the next big thing to conquer all forms of motorsport—that one driver who honestly say that he (or she) is the best out there.

    Although it is highly unlikely that any of these guys will master every form of racing they've attempted, with their talent, they could be considered possible candidates for a NASCAR ride.

10. Ron Capps

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    Typically known for winning races that last less than five seconds, Ron Capps is actually a very good crossover candidate. Granted, his oval experience may be minimal, but he's raced in every Prelude to the Dream at Eldora from 2005 to 2012. His fourth-place finish there in 2006 showed that Capps can play the oval game well.

    Among the funny car contingent, Capps is one of the drivers with a strong knowledge of the workings of his car and what he can do to get the most out of it. A 38-time event winner, Capps has finished runner-up in points four times in his career, including the 2012 season. 

    Capps' experience would go along well with the fact that he just doesn't quit. He's familiar with success and will accept nothing less.

9. Sebastian Vettel

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    Vettel is too good not to have on this list. 30 career wins coupled with three driving championships from 2010 to 2012? A runner-up points finish his first full season in 2009? Current points leader at press time? Vettel is meant for driving success.

    Often compared to Formula One legend Michael Schumacher, Vettel holds the record for being the youngest world champion at the age of 23 in 2010. He has been noted for his hands-on approach with his race team, and as we've seen before in NASCAR, this could prove very helpful when a driver is willing to get his hands dirty with his team.

    Considering Vettel took to the competition fairly quickly, it would be no surprise if Vettel were to prove competitive early in the going if he were to venture to stock cars. He's got the focus and the driving style of a champion.  

8. Donny Schatz

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    World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz would have no trouble at all finding success in NASCAR if he ever decided to pursue it. He's a three-time WoO champion (2006, 2007, 2008), and if that weren't enough, he happens to drive for Tony Stewart. 

    The barrel-chested Schatz has tremendous car control. Like Vettel, Schatz takes a hands-on approach to his equipment. Also, he's a proven natural on short tracks, and considering he's a lot like the racers of old, there will be no questioning where his focus lies.

    Schatz wants to win, plain and simple. He's done it enough times as is.

7. Ryan Hunter-Reay

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    2012 IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay would be in some excellent company if he were to move to NASCAR. His peers would include former IndyCar standouts such as Patrick and Montoya, as well as fellow IndyCar champions Tony Stewart and Sam Hornish Jr.

    It helps that NASCAR and IndyCar often run on the same tracks, and Hunter-Reay would be familiar with many of the venues on the NASCAR circuit. Along with that, Hunter-Reay would undoubtedly be more comfortable on road courses than most NASCAR drivers.

    Were he to ever give the thought serious consideration, he'd be a fun driver to watch on the high banks of Daytona. He has a knack of keeping his nose clean and staying out of trouble. He'd definitely be a contender.

6. Memo Rojas

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    Memo Rojas would prove to be killer on the road courses if team owner Chip Ganassi were to move him over to NASCAR. Already a four-time Grand Am champion and three-time winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Rojas has what he needs to be a serious threat in a stock car.

    Rojas is accustomed to running roughshod over the competition with co-driver Scott Pruett in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series. He's proven himself capable of handling long distances, and considering his team owner happens to be an established NASCAR personality, Rojas has the backing and the talent needed to make it.

    Ganassi should put Rojas into a third car at select races next season. He might like what he sees.

5. James Hinchcliffe

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    Canadian IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe would be a welcome addition to the NASCAR ranks. He's reached his comfort zone behind the wheel in 2013 has won three races so far this season. On top of that, he's one of the more entertaining drivers in American motorsports.

    A team like Hendrick Motorsports would benefit from having Hinchcliffe in their ranks. He's a driver with a true appreciation for racing and what he has, and he is more than capable of being successful in stock cars as well as open-wheel race cars.

4. Jamie Whincup

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    Four-time V8 Supercar champion Jamie Whincup would be in excellent company with fellow Supercar standout Marcos Ambrose if he were to ever race in NASCAR. 

    Whereas Ambrose has won only on road courses, he has shown promise on ovals as well thanks to climbing his way up the NASCAR ladder. Whincup would be able to follow in these footsteps as well, but he would probably prove more successful if he were placed in better equipment.

    A stint with Roush-Fenway could help introduce Whincup to success a lot faster than Ambrose. He'd already be established on the road courses, and his learning curves on the ovals would be quicker.

3. Carlos Muñoz

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    Muñoz is to IndyCar what Kyle Larson is to NASCAR: scary good.

    With five wins in the Indy Lights and a fifth-place points finish in his rookie year of 2012, Muñoz is poised to win a championship in Lights this season, as he is the current points leader. On top of that, he finished runner-up to Tony Kanaan in his IndyCar debut.

    It just so happened that he debuted at the 2013 Indianapolis 500. Not a bad place to make a racing splash.

    If Muñoz were to move to NASCAR, we could expect very Larson-esque results from the kid. Like Larson, he is a natural behind the wheel, bound to win in any kind of equipment he is placed in.

2. Jenson Button

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    A veteran Formula One racer, Button still has time to take a swing at NASCAR (and no, that doesn't just mean Stewart). 

    The 2009 Formula One driving champion, Button would be a boon for ticket sales in NASCAR. He's one of the most established and marketable drivers out there, and considering his longevity in racing, he'd be apt to learn where younger drivers would be too stubborn.

    Button is a much-needed class act, and while he might not win a NASCAR championship, he could find himself in contention for a number of wins. He's a great driver and would be rather easy to teach the tricks of the NASCAR trade.

1. Ken Block

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    For the love of God, put this man in a car. I don't care who. If I have to, I'll find a way to raise money and put him in my own car. Because folks, this man will win.

    Anyone who has seen Block's hypnotic Gymkhana videos on YouTube knows that aside from coming up with interesting "infomercials" for DC Shoes (of which Block is also a Chief Brand Officer), he isn't afraid to put the car where it doesn't necessarily belong.

    Granted, a stock car isn't a modified Ford Fiesta, but with the type of control Block exhibits over his cars, I doubt that would be a problem. On top of that, he's bound to fare much better than fellow X Games standout Travis Pastrana. 

    Simply stated, Block is a dangerous man behind the wheel. He's accustomed to going sideways, up, down and all around in a race car. I seriously doubt he'd have much difficulty in NASCAR.


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