Top 20 NASCAR prospects for the next decade

Who are the top young drivers most likely to make an impact? NASCAR Cup Series in the next 10 years?

I tried to take an educated guess.

If you are wondering about the drivers to see in the truck, Xfinity or a series of tours that might come your way, here’s the list.

A few specs: This list includes riders 28 and under with no more than a handful of Cup races (so riders like John Hunter Nemechek And Josh Berry not on this list) and cannot go to the Cup full-time. It is all subjective and is based on the age of the driver, the talent and results shown, and the speed at which the driver moves into another series. The possibility of land financing is also considered. This is based on my research and input from some driving scouts.

first. Zane Smith (age: 23; previous rating: 2)

Smith tops this list after winning four truck races and a series championship in 2022. He will try to defend his truck title but is on a fast track to the Cup, trying to win. trying to run seven races this year, including the Daytona 500, for Front Row Motorsports.

You can read more about Smith and his ambitious plans for this year here.

Zane Smith wins NASCAR truck title 2022

Zane Smith wins the 2022 NASCAR World Camping Truck Series championship after holding off Ben Rhodes in frenetic extra time.

2. Corey Heim (age: 20; previous rank: 5)

With two wins, six top 5 finishes and 10 top 10 finishes in 16 truck starts, Heim will challenge this year’s truck title driving for Tricon Garage. Heim is the 2021 ARCA national series runner-up.

3. Chandler Smith (age: 20; previous rating: 6)

Smith has been a five-time truck champion in the past two seasons and is third in the truck rankings. He’s coming to Kaulig Racing this year for the full Xfinity schedule.

Chandler Smith wins at Richmond

Chandler Smith continued an impressive run with a dominant final leg to win the Richmond Raceway in August 2022.

4. Taylor Gray (age: 17; previous rank: 10)

Gray will demonstrate what he can do this year as he runs a full truckload schedule when he turns 18 at the end of March. His results last year in his eight truck starts was a bit low, but he won three ARCA races with 10 places in the top five in 14 starts.

5. Sammy Smith (age: 18; previous rating: 8)

Smith won six of his 16 ARCA races last year and averaged a 2.9 in the series. He’s been respectable in his 9 Xfinity starts with 1 top 5 and 3 top 10 finishes. This year, as a rookie driver for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series, he’s going to find out. See if you can handle the rigors and roller coasters of the 33-race schedule.

6. Sam Mayer (age: 19; previous rating: 3)

Some may have been unhappy with Mayer after last season when he finished seventh in the Xfinity rankings driving for JR Motorsports. But he’s had 11 top-flight games and he’s still young. He definitely needs to win at this year’s JRM to continue to capture the attention of Cup owners.

Ty Gibbs and Sam Mayer brawl

After running on the track on the final lap of the Xfinity Series race at Martinsville last April, Ty Gibbs and Sam Mayer exchanged pit punches.

7. Austin Hill (age: 28; previous rating: 4)

This will be the last time Hill is on this list, as he will turn 29 in April. He racked up two wins and 11 top five finishes in the Xfinity Series last year but will need to fight a bit more this year, his second time driving for Richard Childress Racing.

8. Nick Sánchez (age: 21; previous rating: 11)

Sanchez claimed the 2022 ARCA title with three wins and nine top five finishes in 20 races. He’s driven in eight Xfinity races with one in the top 10. Working through Chevrolet, he has a great opportunity in 2023 driving trucks for Rev Racing when the team was founded at Kyle Busch Motorsports.

9. Carson Kvapil (age: 19; previous rank: 18)

Kvapil won the CARS Late Model Stock touring title (four wins in 14 races) driving for JR Motorsports last year after winning the CARS Late Model championship with four wins the previous year. As a JRM driver, he will be reviewed in-house or from other people.

10. Brent Crews (age: 14; previous rank: 17)

Crews became the youngest Trans Am winner at Road America last year, and he entered the Chili Bowl main event last month. Is that diverse enough for you at just 14 years old? He was hired by Kevin Harvick Inc. (and Toyota) sign the contract and that will help him find the best places to race and learn.

11. Sheldon’s creed (age: 25; previous rating: 9)

It seems like forever since Creed won the truck title in 2020. He was undefeated in the Xfinity Series last year and didn’t even make it to the knockout stages driving for Richard Childress. Racing. So why is he even on this list? Many believe he has talent, and his eight truck wins prove he knows how to win.

Noah Gragson wins Darlington over Sheldon Creed

Last September, Noah Gragson won in Darlington over Sheldon Creed and Kyle Larson after making it past the final round.

twelfth. Carson Hocevar (age: 20; previous rating: 7)

Hocevar has been in the truck knockouts for the past two seasons but has yet to win a race. He’s challenged to get some wins and see them slip out of his hands in 2022. That’s going to happen. It is part of the learning process. But he needs to win in 2023.

13. William Sawalich (age: 16; previous rating: 19)

Sawalich was quick to join the late model events and the CARS late model stock he participated in. He is driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in the ARCA Series and will have some select races with Tricon on trucks. He will have great equipment to show off his skills.

14. Daniel’s dye (age: 19; previous rating: 13)

Dye finished second in last year’s ARCA Series with 13 top-flight games (but no wins). He will be running full truckloads for GMS Racing in 2023.

15. Rajah Caruth (age: 20; previous rating: 12)

Caruth finished a spot behind Dye in the ARCA Series last year. He’s also made four truck starts and seven Xfinity starts. His car owners have great things to say about him as he only started racing a few years ago. He will be running trucks full time for this year’s GMS Racing.

Rajah Caruth in the big accident in Phoenix

Rajah Caruth was tipped off by Layne Riggs, leading to a massive crash in Phoenix during a truck race in November.

16. Jesse Love (age: 18; previous rank: 15)

Love has consecutively won the ARCA West titles in 2020 and 2021. He has not contested for any title in any series in 2022 and has not had the best results. He will drive the entire ARCA national season this year for Venturini Motorsports as well as three truck races for Tricon.

17. Katie Hettinger (age: 15; previous rating: NR)

Hettinger was the most winning female racer at Hickory Motor Speedway. She’s still a bit unproven outside of that track, but her abilities at a young age are being noticed. Chevrolet is supporting some of her development.

18. Luke Fenhaus (age: 18; previous rank: 16)

Fenhaus had four top-flight matches in four starts on the CARS Late Model tour last year and has competed at major short-distance events. He won the Slinger Nationals in 2021 and finished second last year – behind the Cup driver William Byron.

19. Isabella Robusto (age: 18; previous rating: NR)

As a Toyota Racing Development racer, the Robusto has been running late for the past few years. She finished second in last year’s Hickory Motor Speedway rankings and third at Tri-County Speedway. She will race a variety of cars in 2023.

20. Layne Riggs (age: 20; previous rating: NR)

The 2023 NASCAR Weekly Series national champion, Riggs would have placed higher on this list if he had had a solid and confirmed run for the year. Halmar Friesen Racing wants to put him on a truck if the sponsorship comes to fruition.

25 others to watch: Jade Avedisian, Kaylee Bryson, Hailie DeeganJake Drew, Christian EckesJake Finch, Jake Garcia, Kaz Grala, Gray leatherDerek Griffith, Riley herbs, Brandon JonesConner Jones, Caden Kvapil, Buddy Kofoid, Derek KrausLanden Lewis, Ty Majeski, Connor Mosack, Parker Retzlaff, Rhodes WharfGio Ruggiero, Logan Seavey, Kyle Weatherman, Connor Zilisch

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsport, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News- Journal. Follow him on Twitter @reedsand sign up FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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