Ranking the 10 Best NASCAR Drivers Under 30 Years Old

Chad Robb@@MrFantasyNASCARCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2014

Ranking the 10 Best NASCAR Drivers Under 30 Years Old

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    Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Who are the best drivers under 30 years old in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series?

    Unlike other sports, where players enter the professional levels right out of college, NASCAR drivers must gain experience in lower professional levels before they make it to the Sprint Cup Series. Because drivers can race into their late 40s, a young driver in NASCAR is anyone under 30 years old.

    The 2006 Rookie of the Year class was the last relevant rookie class in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The class consisted of Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Reed Sorensen, J.J. Yeley, David Stremme and David Gilliland. Since then, the NASCAR Rookie of the Year race has not had much competition.  

    This season will be different. The 2014 ROTY class consists of Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett, Parker Kligerman, Ryan Truex, Cole Whitt and Alex Bowman. Dillon and Larson will have a good chance to win a race this season and may win a championship in the future.

    Here is a list of the 10 best NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers under 30 years old.

10. Justin Allgaier

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    Justin Allgaier will compete for the Rookie of the Year award in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He does not have much experience in the top level of NASCAR, but he has finished in the top 10 in the last five NASCAR Nationwide Series standings.

    Allgaier is 27 years old and must perform well in his first season in the Sprint Cup Series if he wants to make it his permanent place of racing.

    He will drive the No. 51 car for Phoenix Racing, now owned by Harry Scott. This team will have a chance to race inside the top 20 this season because its engines will be supplied by Hendrick Motorsports. Steve Addington moved from Tony Stewart’s No. 14 car to become the crew chief. That move should help the it become competitive.

    If Allgaier can finish inside the top 25 this season, he may find opportunities with a better team in 2015. He has a chance to become a household name in NASCAR with a little luck and some top-10 finishes in 2014.

9. Trevor Bayne

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Trevor Bayne is only 22 years old and he already has a Daytona 500 trophy. It is surprising that he does not also have a full-time job in the Sprint Cup Series.

    Last season, Bayne had his best points finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He finished sixth and is one of the favorites for the championship this year. He will also be racing in many of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. He is no stranger to the Sprint Cup Series, having competed in 46 career races with an average finish of 24.3.

    It will not be long before Bayne takes over a full-time ride in the Sprint Cup Series. That is when he career will really take off.

8. David Ragan

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    David Ragan had his chance to become a great driver in the Sprint Cup Series. He began racing full-time for Roush Fenway Racing at the age of 21. After five years of poor results, he was released by Roush Fenway Racing and had to drive for a less-funded team.

    Ragan is currently driving for Front Row Motorsports. Last season, he only had two top-10 finishes driving for the team. If Ragan can finish consistently inside the top 25, he may get a chance again for one of the top teams in the Sprint Cup Series. But it will be a big hill for him to climb at this point in his career.

7. Aric Almirola

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Aric Almirola is one of the more underrated drivers in NASCAR. Last season, he finished 18th in the point standings with six top-10 finishes.

    Almirola drives the No. 43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports. This is one of the most popular cars in the sport, because it is the same car The King drove when he was racing. Almirola has done a good job keeping the No. 43 car relevant in the sport.

    Almirola is 29 years old and must start turning his top-15 finishes in to top-10 finishes or he may lose his seat to one of the development drivers for Richard Petty Motorsports. The team is working with Corey LaJoie and Ryan Truex to become drivers in the Sprint Cup Series in the future.

    Almirola is still one of the good young drivers in the Sprint Cup Series.

6. Kyle Larson

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    What has Kyle Larson done in his career to deserve the sixth-place ranking on this list? Nothing yet! He is ranked sixth because of the potential he has to become one of the great drivers in the Sprint Cup Series.

    Larson is only 21 years old. He made his debut last season in both the Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup Series. He finished eighth in the Nationwide Series standings and had 17 top-10 finishes. He competed in four Sprint Cup Series races and finished two of them inside the top 25. His engine blew up in the other two races.

    Larson will take over for Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 42 car for Chip Ganassi Racing. He may struggle this season as a rookie, but he has a good chance to become one of the better drivers in the sport.

5. Austin Dillon

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    Randy Holt/Associated Press

    Austin Dillon is one of the best young drivers in the NASCAR. He is only 23, yet he already has a NASCAR Nationwide Series championship on his resume.

    This season, Dillon will race full-time in the Sprint Cup Series.

    The eyes of Earnhardt Nation will be on him, as he will drive the No. 3 car for Richard Childress Racing. It will be the first time the No. 3 car has been on the race track full-time since Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001.

    Dillon has the skills to become one of the best drivers in the sport. Like any rookie, he will have to take his lumps. It would be great for the sport to see the No. 3 car back in Victory Lane.

4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    At the age of 26, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has already made a nice resume in NASCAR. He won back-to-back championships in the Nationwide Series in 2011 and 2012, and last season, he finished 19th in his rookie season in the Sprint Cup Series.

    Now that Stenhouse can remove the yellow rookie stripe from his car, he needs to prove he can win races in the Sprint Cup Series. Last season, his best finish was third at Talladega.

    Stenhouse has a great team behind him at Roush Fenway Racing. It won't be long before he finds his way to Victory Lane.

3. Joey Logano

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    Jay Sailors/Associated Press

    Joey Logano is the best driver in NASCAR under the age of 25, as he is only 23 years old and is already in his fifth full season in the Sprint Cup Series.

    Logano made the Chase for the first time last season, but it probably will not be the last time. He finished the season with 19 top-10 finishes and a win at Michigan.

    Logano only has three wins in his five years in the Sprint Cup Series, but he has a lot of time to add to his total.

    He made a good decision by going to Penske Racing. He seems to get along well with his teammate, Brad Keselowski. This could be the season he wins multiple races for the first time in his career.

    Logano has a bright future in the Sprint Cup Series.

2. Brad Keselowski

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    Steve Helber/Associated Press

    Brad Keselowski is 29 years old and he already has a Nationwide Series championship and a Sprint Cup Series championship on his resume.

    Keselowski could have easily been ranked No. 1 on this list, but he needs to win more races to pass Kyle Busch. He has 10 career wins, and five of them came in his championship season.

    Keselowski has a bright future in NASCAR, and it would not be surprising if he ended his career with multiple championships on his resume.

1. Kyle Busch

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    Steve Helber/Associated Press

    Kyle Busch is the best young driver in NASCAR. He has 28 career wins, 163 top-10 finishes and 109 top-five finishes in the Sprint Cup Series. He also has 63 career wins in the Nationwide Series and 35 wins in the Camping World Truck Series. The only thing missing from his resume is a Sprint Cup championship.

    Busch is good on every type of race track. Each week, he is considered one of the favorites to go to Victory Lane.

    When Busch’s career in NASCAR is complete, it will be remarkable to see the stats he has put up. The only question is how many championships he will have.

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