Meet the kids: Cup isn't only place brimming with young talent
MAR 07, 2014 6:03p ET
There's no doubt this year's rookie class in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is one of the best in years. Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson lead a class of eight drivers, and have dominated much of the conversation. Several of this year's rookies are expected to be future stars of the sport.
However, the future talent pool is not limited to just the Sprint Cup Series. This season's Nationwide Series rookie class also features a number of drivers who have turned heads and seem destined to make names for themselves in due time.
Ryan Reed, Chris Buescher, Dylan Kwasniewski, Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon, Dakoda Armstrong, Tommy Joe Martins, Chad Boat, and Tanner Berryhill are all competing for the Nationwide Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year title.
While you may not recognize them all, there are a few who are already becoming household names.
Ty Dillon follows in the famous footsteps of his grandfather, father and brother. After two full seasons in the Camping World Truck Series -- where he scored three wins and was runner-up to Matt Crafton in last year's season standings -- the younger Dillon brother makes the jump to the Nationwide Series for Richard Childress Racing.
Just two races into the season, Dillon has two top-10 finishes and is fourth in points. With a handful of Nationwide Series starts under his belt going into the season, and the vast resources at his disposal, Dillon will be hard to beat for the rookie title.
Dillon isn't the only rookie contender to come from a successful racing family. Chase Elliott is the 18-year-old son of 1988 Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott, and it appears the apple didn't fall too far from the tree.
Elliott honed his skills behind the wheel of late models, winning the 2011 Snowball Derby along with one ARCA, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and Camping World Truck Series race.
The young driver doesn't just have his famous father on his side; he also has the resources of JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports behind him. The JR Motorsports group is off to a strong start already in 2014, and Elliott is no exception. He finished 15th in Daytona and was ninth last week in Phoenix.
Perhaps the outsider of the group is Kwasniewski. A Las Vegas native, Kwasniewski is a far cry from his southern-bred competitors. Flashy and fast, he made history when he became the first driver to win championships in the K&N Pro Series West Series (2012) and the K&N Pro Series East Series (2013).
In the first two races of this season, Kwasniewski finished eighth after winning the pole at Daytona, and came home 13th in Phoenix for Turner Scott Motorsports.
Heading into Saturday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, rookies currently make up three of the top seven spots in the championship standings. Dillon is fourth, Kwasniewski is fifth and Elliott is seventh.
Not to be lost in the mix, Ryan Reed and Dakoda Armstrong sit 13th and 14th, respectively.
While the Sprint Cup rookies may be getting most of the attention and hype, the Nationwide Series rookies shouldn't be overlooked. They're already making names for themselves on Saturdays, and it may not be long until they're running in the Sprint Cup Series on Sundays.