The fourth NASCAR Next class was announced on Friday at Richmond International Raceway to highlight the upcoming talent that has aspirations to make the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series . The 2014-2015 class consists of 12 drivers that have combined for 20 wins in the lower NASCAR levels already.
The class was selected by industry executives and veteran racers. Drivers selected for NASCAR Next must be between the ages of 15 and 25.
“Over the last five years, our sport has undergone a tremendous shift, as we’ve seen an abundance of talented, young drivers begin to achieve their potential at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series level,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR vice president of industry services. “The NASCAR Next program is an instrumental platform to help draw attention to these young drivers – from media and fans to stakeholders and sponsors – and foster their growth within the sport.”
Former NASCAR Next members were Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, Ryan Blaney, Jeb Burton, Dylan Kwasniewski, and Darrell Wallace Jr.
The 2014-2015 members are:
Cole Custer, 16: Won two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races in 2013 and the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West opener in Phoenix. He also made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Martinsville earlier this year.
Gray Gaulding, 16: Won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Phoenix to end 2013. Is the youngest pole winner in both the East and West Series. He also made his Truck Series debut at Martinsville earlier this season.
Ben Rhodes, 17: Has won three of the five poles so far in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season and won at Greenville Pickens Speedway. He is the current points leader. He also made his Truck Series debut at Martinsville and finished eighth.
Austin Hill, 20: Won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dover last season.
Brandon McReynolds, 23: Won the ARCA Racing Series event at Talladega in 2012. Made one NASCAR Nationwide Series start in 2010 and one Truck Series start in 2012. Is currently second in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West standings.
Ryan Preece, 23: Became the youngest winner of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title last season. Has nine career wins on that Tour and also one win on the Southern Modified Tour. He made his Nationwide Series debut last season at New Hampshire.
Ryan Gifford, 25: Won in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Richmond last season and finished ninth in his Nationwide Series debut in 2013 at Iowa.
Kenzie Ruston, 22: She has the highest finish in a race and points of any female ever in NASCAR history. She finished sixth in the K&N Pro Series East points last season and her best finish was third.
Jesse Little, 17: Was the 2013 Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Has seven top-five finishes in 25 East Series starts.
Ruben Garcia Jr, 18: The 2012 NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series Rookie of the Year. Won a race in 2013 and made his Nationwide Series debut this season.Tags: Austin Hill, Ben Rhodes, Brandon McReynolds, Cole Custer, Dylan Lupton, Erik Jones, Gray Gaulding, Jesse Little, K&N Pro Series East, K&N Pro Series West, Kenzie Ruston, Motorsports, NASCAR, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Ryan Gifford