The NASCAR season has its first official race this coming Friday (February 22) at the Daytona International Speedway with the Nextera Energy Resources 250. Several young up-and-coming drivers will test their skills this year in one of NASCAR’s premier divisions, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Four of those drivers will be entering their first full-time venture into Trucks with an eye towards the future. Here’s a look at each one (listed alphabetically).
Ryan Blaney — The son of sprint car legend and current NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Blaney will drive for the reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski in the #29 Ford F-150. Ryan started out driving and winning in quarter midgets, then Bandaleros and Legend cars. The North Carolinian is 19 years old and drove in nine Camping World Truck events last season, actually winning at Iowa in only his third Truck race ever. He also managed seven Top 10s in only 13 Nationwide starts, proving he’s someone to watch this year and for quite a few years to come.
Jeb Burton – The son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, Jeb will drive Turner Scott Motorsports #32 Chevrolet Silverado. He came through local stock car divisions such as Sportsman and Late Models where he had several victories. The 20 year old Virginian won in his first Pro Cup race last September in Radford, Virginia, at a little two-fifths mile track. In five tries last season in the Truck series, Jeb was able to garner one Top 10.
Brennan Newberry – He is the son of a race car owner, Bob Newberry. Brennan took up karting at a young age, then moving into midgets and finally stock cars. Having just turned 23, the Californian will drive for his father’s NTS Motorsports team – co-owned by Joe Denette – in the #14 Chevrolet Silverado and is teamed with the best Truck driver of all-time, Ron Hornaday Jr. In the ARCA series, Brennan had three Top 10s in three starts. With the experience of fellow Californian Ron Hornaday to lean on, Newberry may surprise in 2013.
Darrell Wallace Jr. – This season, he might be the most heralded and watched of this bunch of newcomers in the division. Wallace will take a full-time seat for Kyle Busch Motorsports, driving the #54 Toyota Tundra. Wallace comes from NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which has had difficulties producing a regular major division driver — now starting its tenth year of development to aid minorities and women. Originally from Alabama, he has lived most of his life in North Carolina. The 19 year old is the son of a black American mother and he’s had success in the NASCAR Pro Series with six wins in 36 attempts, including a historical event when he won his very first race in the series at the age of only 16 (source: K & N Filters). The attention he could draw will be something to watch.
Also, keep an eye out for several very young drivers to pop up now and then this year on short tracks in the Truck series. NASCAR has changed the rules and will allow as young as 16 year old drivers to race at facilities with one mile configurations or smaller.
As far as our foursome, Blaney and Wallace are talented and have equipment capable of making them multiple-time winners. Plus, they will likely be in the running for the championship if breaks go their way. Burton and Newberry are with solid teams as well, so don’t be surprised if most if not all of these young men take a trip to victory lane in their first full-time ride in the Camping World Truck Series.