Wallace continued in the NASCAR K&N East Series in 2012. He earned a win, six top-five and seven top-10 finishes to finish seventh overall. He now has seven wins in three seasons in the series. Wallace was second in the overall series standings in 2011. In 2013, he will run a limited Nationwide Series schedule for Joe Gibbs Racing and the full Camping World Truck Series schedule for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Up and comers
While NASCAR Sprint Cup stars gain the majority of the headlines, there's a new generation of drivers just waiting for their chance to gain the notice of racing fans.
At tracks across the country, a new generation of drivers 25 and under, such as Dylan Kwasniewski (pictured), are making their marks. No one in this group has completed a full season in NASCAR's three major touring series, but all are on track to become fan favorites in the years to come.
So who will be the next generation of champions? Here are some who are already on that path:
Annabeth Barnes (5-3-95)
Barnes debuted in the Limited Late Model Division at Hickory Motor Speedway in Newton, NC, in 2011. As a rookie, she earned her first win as well as nine top-five finishes. She earned three pole positions in eight races. The Hiddenite, N.C., native will compete for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program in the Legends program in 2013. She has racked up 17 championship titles.
Mackena Bell (6-9-90)
Mackena Bell of Carson City, Nev., returns to the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program in 2013. In 2012, she raced in the Rev Racing’s Late Model program and won the pole position for the Fall Brawl at Hickory Motor Speedway. In 2010 she ran six races in the K&N Pro East Series.
Ryan Blaney (12-31-93)
Blaney is a force to be reckoned with whenever he gets onto the track. And he's showing up everywhere. In 2012, he ran 13 NASCAR Nationwide Series races and earned seven top-10s, with a top finish of second at Texas Motor Speedway. He also ran five K&N West races, earning two top fives, and one Whelen Modified Tour race. In 2011, his racing resume included events in the K&N West and East and ARCA series. And, boy, did he make an impression in each. He ran two ARCA races, finishing sixth and second. He ran two East series races, earning top-10 finishes in each. And he raced only once in the K&N West series, winning at Phoenix. Blaney won the PASS South championship in 2011, as well. Watch out for this kid down the road — it was announced in January that he'll run the full Truck schedule for Brad Keselowski Racing in 2013.
Danny Bohn (06-29-88)
Watch out for this young driver. Bohn debuted in the Whelen Southern Modified ranks in 2012 and immediately became a contender to watch. In 11 starts, he earned his first career victory and posted eight top-10 finishes. He earned six top fives to finish behind only series vetern George Brunnhoelzl III in the overall title race. Just imagine what he can do with a little more experience under his belt.
Justin Bonsignore (02-03-88)
Bonsignore is competing in NASCAR’s modified division, this season taking on the Whelen Modified Tour. He finished seventh overall for the second consecutive season. He earned one win and had eight top-10 finishes, five of them top fives. He also earned one victory in 2011. That season, he tallied 10 top-10 finishes, seven of them top fives, and earned a pole position.
Alex Bowman (04-25-93)
Bowman is yet another young driver who is a threat every time he gets behind the wheel. In 2012, he finished fourth in the ARCA Series, earning four wins in 19 starts. He had 13 top-10 finishes, 11 of them top fives. In 2011, he ran two K&N West Series races, posting finishes of ninth and second. He made two starts in the ARCA ranks, winning both races. In one Pro Cup start, he finished fifth. And in the K&N East Series, which he ran full time, he earned seven top-10 finishes, four of them top fives. He finished sixth overall in the standings.
Chris Buescher (10-29-92)
Buescher continues to gain attention and find success in racing. In 2011, he finished second in his first full season of ARCA and ran a pair of Nationwide Series races. In 2012, he ramped up his performances. He finished in the top 10 in 16 of his 19 ARCA races and earned a series-tying four wins with 12 top-fives to storm to the series championship.
Matt DiBenedetto (07-27-91)
In 2012, DiBenedetto competed in a variety of races, running seven in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and one in the K&N Pro East ranks. DiBenedetto joined an impressive group of young drivers battling in the NASCAR K&N series in 2011. He focused his efforts in the East series, where he earned a win and a pole position. He tallied nine top-10 finishes, seven of them top fives, to finish fourth overall in the series standings. He also ran in a couple of ARCA races, earning one top-10 finish there.
Noel Dowler (02-17-93)
Dowler was popping up all over the place in 2012. Showing his ability to adjust to series with a veteran's ease, he ran one NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race, one Nationwide race and the full Canadian Tire Series. A year after finishing 15th in that series, when he ran 10 of 12 races, he raced the full Canadian Tire schedule. In 12 starts, he earned five top-10 finishes, one of them a top five, and finished 10th overall.
Austin Dyne (02-20-92)
Dyne made a name for himself in the NASCAR K&N Pro West Series in 2012. The young driver finished eighth overall in the series standings, gaining ground on the veteran drivers quickly. In 14 starts, he earned eight top-10 finishes, two of them top fives.
Kyle Ebersole (10-25-90)
Ebersole made his debut in the Whelen Southern Modified Series in 2012 and quickly gained notice. He earned seven top-10 finishes in the 11 series starts, with three top fives. That put him sixth in a series loaded with veteran talent, in his debut run.
Chase Elliott (11/28/95)
Elliott is one of the drivers carrying the banner for the next generation waiting to break into NASCAR’s elite level. Already signed on as a Hendrick Motorsports development driver, he’s balancing racing in various series with a high school curriculum. In 2012, he finished fourth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings, earning one win with nine top-10 finishes, six of them top fives. The son of former NASCAR Cup champion Bill Elliott, he ran in the Pro Cup, K&N East and K&N West series in 2011. He made two starts in the Pro Cup ranks, winning once. In the West series, he made one start, finishing third at Phoenix. His full-time driving role came in the K&N East series, where he earned six top-10 finishes, three of them top fives, in 12 starts. He finished ninth in the series standings and earned the series’ award for most popular driver. Elliott also won the prestigious Snowball Derby in 2011. In 2012, he plans to continue to primarily compete in the Late Model series.
J.R. Fitzpatrick (05-09-88)
In 2012, Fitzpatrick finished as the runner-up in the Canadian Tire Series. He earned two wins with 10 top-10 finishes, nine of them top fives. Fitzpatrick appeared in a variety of series in 2011, including the NASCAR Nationwide, Camping World Truck and Canadian Tire series. He ran seven races in the Nationwide ranks, earning a top finish of fifth. He raced the full season in the Canadian Tire ranks, earning 10 top-10 finishes, three of them top fives, and one pole position. He finished third in the standings for the season.
Spencer Gallagher (11-20-89)
Gallagher, a veteran of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, was a force in the ARCA ranks in 2012. He made 19 starts in the ARCA ranks, earning six top-10 finishes. That put him seventh overall in the series standings and showed that adjusting to the ranks as he moves up in racing will not be a problem.
Ryan Gifford (3-10-89)
Gifford is entering his fourth season with Rev Racing through the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program. In 2012, he finished 11th in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with three top-10 finishes, two of them top fives. In 2011, he was 10th in the standings. He also races dirt Late Models with Team Dillon Racing.
Max Gresham (04-30-93)
In 2012, Gresham will join the Joe Denette Motorsports Camping World Truck Series team, where he earned a top finish of 11th in 13 starts. He also ran one ARCA race, finishing in the top 10. Gresham stormed several series in 2011. He raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck and K&N series, as well as some ARCA races. He won the K&N East Series championship in an impressive run that included two wins. He earned 11 top-10 finishes in the season’s 12 races, nine of them top fives, to take the crown. He also ran seven ARCA races, earning four top-10 finishes, two of them top fives, and two pole positions.
Brandon Gdovic (02-28-92)
The Yorktown, Va., native is making a name for himself on a national level these days. Competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro East Series, Gdovic ran 11 races in the series in 2011, finishing 15th. What a change a season can make, though. Taking on a full-time role in 2012, he earned nine top-10 finishes in his nine starts, including four top fives. That bolstered him to an eighth-place finish in the overall standings and showed the promise of a bright future.
Paulie Harraka (09-15-89)
Harraka took time off in 2011 in order to get funding together for the 2012 season, where he ran a mixture of NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck series races. In 2011, he ran only one NASCAR K&N West Series race. In 2010, he finished third in the series standings. Now, he’s looking to get into a full-time ride and could be in the Camping World Truck Series in the weeks to come.
Chad Hackenbracht (11-07-91)
Another driver making a name for himself in the ARCA ranks, Hackenbracht moved into the winner's ranks with a victory at Pocono Raceway in 2012. In 19 starts in 2012, he earned 12 top-10 finishes, five of them top fives. That put Hackenbracht in the top 10 in the series standings for the second straight season — and for both of his full-time efforts in ARCA. He finished fifth overall, a year after finishing eighth. What does the future hold for this rising star?
Cameron Hayley (7-21-96)
Hayley, pictured with Jeff Gordon, entered his second season of NASCAR K&N Pro West Series competition in 2012. He marked his first full-time season in the series with a strong effort. Hayley earned nine top-10 finishes in his 15 starts. He had five top fives to boost him to seventh overall in the series. Watch out as he continues to get more time behind the wheel.
Daniel Hemric (1-27-91)
Hemric has made a name for himself in every racing series he has competed in while moving up through the ranks. In fact, he has earned a nickname, Hotshoe, befitting any racer. He began racing in go-karts at age 5, kicking off a career that would include victories in a variety of series at his debut track, Concord (NC) Speedway. At 16, he moved into the Legends cars and he went on to win the Pro Championship at the track. In 2009, he really made his mark, winning the championship in the Summer Shootout with six wins in 10 starts. He also took the national title that season. At the end of the year, he moved into the Late Model ranks, finishing second in his first outing. He added to his resume in 2010, winning the Legends Million event at Charlotte Motor Speedway and taking the largest paycheck in Legends history at the track. He kicked off the 2011 season finishing third in the SpeedFest Rheem 150 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour event at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Ga. In 2012, he showed his consistency in finishing in the top 10 in each of the Whelen Southern Modified Tour races he ran.
Ben Kennedy (12-26-91)
Kennedy starred in the K&N Pro East Series in 2012. He made 14 starts, with nine top-10 finishes, three of them top fives. That netted the young driver a ninth-place finish overall in the series standings.
Ross Kenseth (5-25-93)
Kenseth (right) is following solidly in the footsteps of his NASCAR champion father, Matt (left). In 2012, Ross Kenseth won the PASS South Race at Orange County Speedway.It continued the success the young driver has found in recent years. Like Matt Kenseth did in his day, Ross has won the Red, White and Blue championship that includes a trio of Late Model races at Wisconsin International Raceway. Competing primarily in races on the ASA Midwest tour, the CRA Super Series and the Pro All-Star Series, Kenseth earned eight wins against a variety of competitors and at various tracks in 2011, including a stretch in July in which he won three consecutive races. Watch out for more from Kenseth this season.
Dylan Kwasniewski (5-31-95)
Just call him champ. Kwasniewski took the NASCAR K&N Pro West Series crown in 2012 with a consistent run. He earned 15 top-10 finishes in 15 starts. He won three times and posted 12 top-five finishes to take the title. In 2011, Kwasniewski ran in 13 of the series’ 14 races. He won twice, as well as garnering the pole position twice. He earned nine top-10 finishes, eight of them top fives, to finish fifth in the overall series standings.
Kyle Larson (07-31-92)
Larson has been making a name for himself all over the place. Not only did he snare the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title, but he also went 4 for 4 in the International Midget World Series, which started on Dec. 29 at Western Springs Speedway. The Auckland track crowned him “King of the Springs” after he won the third feature — a 40-lap race on Jan. 1, 2013. In the K&N ranks in 2012, he earned 12 top-10 finishes in 14 starts with two wins as well as eight top-five finishes en route to the title. He also ran in four Truck series races in 2012, finishing in the top 10 in three of those and the top five in one. Expect to hear this name for years to come. In 2013, he's taking on a full Nationwide Series run for the first time, chasing NASCAR rookie honors.
Corey LaJoie (9-25-91)
Lajoie, son of former NASCAR Nationwide Series standout Randy LaJoie, is making a name for himself in his own right. He has won races in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour ranks, but in 2012 his focus moved to the K&N Pro East Series. It was there that he showed just how much potential he has to move up through the ranks. LaJoie amassed five victories in his 14 starts. He was in the top five in 10 of those races. That kept him in the title race to the end, where he finished second overall to Kyle Larson.
Jack Madrid (12-21-94)
Madrid joins the Rev Racing team through the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program this season. In 2012, he ran in four Super Late Model races and was the fastest qualifier in three of them. He earned his first victory in the series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In 2001, at the age of 16, Madrid qualified second in his first season at the All-Star Showdown at Irwindale. He was a national and world champion in the Semi-Pro Road Course Division at the age of 13.
Brett Moffitt (08-07-92)
Moffitt proved consistent in 2012, finishing third in the K&N Pro East Series standings. He earned two wins in the series with 10 top-10 finishes, eight of them top fives. In 2011, he made a strong run in the series, also finishing third in the standings after tallying a trio of wins. He earned eight top-five finishes in his 12 starts.
Brandon McReynolds (05-21-91)
McReynolds moved into a new tier of racing in 2012, earning his first career win in the ARCA Series in the race at Talladega Superspeedway. In 2010, he made seven starts in the NASCAR K&N East Series, earning three top-10 finishes. He also ran one ARCA race for the year.
Sergio Pena (02-13-93)
Pena returned to the K&N Pro East Series in 20012. He finished 10th in the standings in a season in which he earned eight top-10 finishes, three of them top fives. He also enjoyed a strong season in the series in 2011. Pena ran the full season in the series, earning three wins in the 12 races. He also posted seven top-10 finishes, four of them top fives, to finish fifth in the series standings.
Bryan Ortiz (02-10-88)
Ortiz has enjoyed a wide range of driving opportunities in recent years. In 2009, he competed in a Grand-Am Series race, then in 2012 he concentrated on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race, though he also ran one in the K&N Pro Series West. He shone in his East effort, earning nine top-10 finishes in 14 starts — with two top-five runs. That boosted him to fifth overall in the series standings, a run showing his future potential. In 2013, he continues with the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program in the K&N Pro Series East, where he was also runnerup for rookie of the year in 2012.
Brennan Poole (04-11-91)
Poole stormed into the ARCA ranks in 2011, winning in his first part-time season in the series, In 2012, he ran the full schedule for the first time — and doubled his level of success. Poole earned two wins — back to back at Elko Speedway and Pocono Raceway — and earned three pole positions. Overall, he earned 15 top-10 finishes in 19 starts. In addition to the pair of wins, he had eight top-five finishes to finish third in the standings behind Chris Buescher and veteran Frank Kimmel. Will he double his impact again in 2013?
Ryan Preece (10-25-90)
Preece was busy making a name for himself in 2012. In the Whelen All-American race, he finished fifth overall with a stunning 48 starts. He earned 14 wins while showcasing his consistency with 40 top-10 finishes, 33 of them top fives. Wow.
Lee Pulliam (4-5-88)
Pulliam may be young in racing terms, but he's a name well-known to those accustomed to competing against him year to year. In his debut 2007 season, he was the Boston Speedway limited sportsman rookie of the year. The next year, he won the division. A year later, he moved up and gained acclaim again as the Late Model Stock Rookie of the Year at South Boston. By 2011, he was a champion at South Boston and Motor Mile speedways and third in the Whelen All-American Series national championship points. In 2012, he earned 22 wins in 36 starts, with 32 top-10 finishes, 30 of them top fives, to win the Whelen All-American national championship. What's next?
Kenzie Ruston (10-12-91)
Ruston will join the Turner Scott Motorsports team in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East full time this season. The El Reno, Okla., native began raing in the Bandelero division then moved to Legends cars in 2009. She won seven championships in her first season there to become the first female to win an asphalt national championship. She moved to Super Late Models in 2010 and in 2011 became the first female to lead laps and finish in the top 10 in her first ARCA race. She earned two top-10 finishes in four series' starts. In the ARCA/CRA Super Series, she won at Lucas Oil Raceway Park in Indianapolis that season. In 2012, she raced in the series full time, earning 12 top-10 finishes, six of them top fives, in 19 starts.
Michael Self (11-01-90)
Self continues to show consistency and drive as he gains experience in the NASCAR K&N Pro West Series. He's been working his way toward the top in three full seasons in the series. In 2010, he finished eighth in the standings, in 2011 he was seventh and in 2012 he was sixth. But in '12, his impact was much larger. He earned three wins in 15 starts. He earned nine top-10 finishes, eight of them top fives, to move into the ranks of regular contenders week to week.
Daniel Suarez (1-7-92)
Suarez debuted in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at South Boston Speedway in 2011. In 2012, he ran in nine of 14 East events while also racing for the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series championship. He finished third in the series points standings. In 2013, he will compete in the K&N East as part of NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program.