Six Young Drivers to Watch in 2016


By Aaron Burns

Another youth movement has hit NASCAR. Check out these six young talents who could be contenders for years to come.

  1. Chase Elliott: The son of 1988 NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, Chase Elliott has the pedigree, the equipment and the confidence to earn a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. All the 20-year-old Georgia native needs is experience. Elliott is a NASCAR XFINITY Series champion and the driver-to-be of the No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott doesn’t want to make fans forget about Jeff Gordon, but he has the potential to hoist more than one championship trophy in his career.
  2. Erik Jones: Three years ago, Erik Jones was an unknown commodity outside his native Michigan. Jones was 16 years old when he beat Kyle Busch in the prestigious Snowball Derby late model race in December 2012. It earned Jones a ride with Busch’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. He immediately took advantage of the opportunity. Jones will race full time for Joe Gibbs in the NASCAR XFINITY Series next year. Those inside the garage know he’s already fit for the Sprint Cup Series.
  3. Chris Buescher: Chris Buescher isn’t the first member of his family to compete for a NASCAR national series championship. His cousin, James, won the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series crown. Chris Buescher took the NASCAR XFINITY Series by storm this season, carrying the Roush Fenway Racing banner and emerging as one of the most promising young drivers in the Ford camp. The tenacious Texan turned 23 in October. While he’s already a champion racer, Buescher can get even better.
  4. Tyler Reddick: Tyler Reddick burst onto the NASCAR scene with his maiden NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Daytona in February, but he was already well known among dirt racers. “The California Kid” won again at Dover in May and took the Truck Series title battle all the way to Homestead. With support from Ford and Brad Keselowski Racing, Reddick will be in NASCAR for a long time. And he’s got room to grow as Reddick doesn’t turn 20 until January.
  5. John Hunter Nemechek: Few can top the résumé John Hunter Nemechek compiled before his 19th birthday. Nemechek won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race just three months after turning 18. Running a partial schedule for father Joe’s NEMCO Motorsports team, the second-generation racer showed his considerable skill. Now that he’s old enough to race on every NASCAR circuit, Nemechek won’t hesitate to go for the win every time he’s in position.
  6. Christopher Bell: Christopher Bell has competed in sprint cars, midgets, late models and trucks, but he’s never found a racing discipline in which he can’t win. Bell shifted part of his focus from USAC to NASCAR this year, and he made it count. Kyle Busch Motorsports and Toyota saw what Bell could do on dirt. He proved it to everyone when he won his first Truck Series race at Eldora in July. A pavement win isn’t far away.