In most sports, the future is just that, the future. Whether it’s young football prospects tabbed as the ‘next big star’ by recruiting analysts or a can’t miss baseball prospect having to work their way through the minor leagues, time usually gets in the way of future stars making a big impact right away.
But in NASCAR, there is no such wait. The sport’s future stars are already asserting themselves as big names within the sport, and that future is very bright.
Look no further than who made their way to victory lane on Labor Day Weekend right here at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The average age of the winner of all three NASCAR events is 25.3. The oldest among them? Denny Hamlin at age 31.
The youngest? Ty Dillon, winner of the Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200. Dillon wasn’t even a year old when Richard Petty ran his final race of his career at Atlanta in the 1992 Hooters 500.
This new crop of drivers is not only talented, but also thriving when given opportunities to succeed. Ty Dillon entered the season with big shoes to fill, brother Austin having won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title a year ago before moving up to the Nationwide Series. But here Ty Dillon is, finding himself in the thick of the championship chase.
One of the most recent truck series winners, Ryan Blaney, is even younger at just 19-years old. He’s another product of a driver not only being given a good opportunity, but one also taking advantage of it.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. struggled initially in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, but has since won a series title, has a chance at another one and has shown enough promise to be tapped as Matt Kenseth’s replacement in the Roush Fenway Sprint Cup stable next year.
And then there’s Denny Hamlin. He entered Joe Gibbs Racing as the third driver alongside two well-established teams in the 18 and 20 cars. Now, Hamlin is the frontrunner at Joe Gibbs Racing. After narrowly missing out on winning the Sprint Cup title two years ago, he’s back for another chance.
The best thing about all this? These drivers have a lot of racing left ahead of them in their careers. As impressive as what they have been able to do so far is, they best may be yet to come! The future of NASCAR is indeed very bright!