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New Kid on the Block
April 12, 2014 - Al Stephenson
There are some young drivers in Nascar's two top series that are starting to turn heads and turn on viewers. It was expected that Austin Dillon, the grandson of Richard Childress, would impress people with his driving skills in the Sprint Cup Series. A few others that were making their debuts in Sprint Cup were Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett and Alex Bowman. They might not match Dillon's expected success, but would be worth keeping an eye on.
The jury was still out on Kyle Larson. He was going to take the seat of Juan Pablo Montoya in Chip Ganassi's Target Chevrolet, but many wondered if he was ready for prime time. At 19, some felt he was being rushed into a seat not unlike Joey Logano when he replaced Tony Stewart at Joe Gibbs Racing. Logano struggled at JGR, but has had a great start to this year now that he is with Roger Penske for a second season. Larson has impressed though, both in Cup and Nationwide. His duels with Kyle Busch in the junior series earlier this season has race fans talking.
In the last two weeks though, no one has created the stir of one Chase Elliott. The 18-year-old son of former Cup star Bill Elliott, all young Chase has done is to win the last two Nationwide races. His victory last weekend in Texas was fun to watch. The reaction of other drivers such as Kevin Harvick, who playfully punched him on Pit Road after the race, shows us that the young man is respected and well liked. Considering that his father was the most popular driver for many years (before Junior took over the role), it is not surprising that he is popular among the fans. When the drivers feel the same way that is a whole different story. You must earn that respect in the garage area and for someone so young to have seemingly done that already is amazing.
If you watched last night's Nationwide race, you had to come away thinking that Chase Elliott is going to be very special indeed. You just don't do what he did at Darlington at such a young age. The last two lap sprint was just amazing. His save of the race car earlier when he and Larson were careening out of control was also a thing of beauty.
The view from my seat suggests that there is a new kid on the block in Nascar racing. Chase Elliott will be fun to watch as will Kyle Larson and a host of other young talent. Even the seasoned Logano, a veteran at the age of 24, has many more years to race with this latest crop of youthful wheel men. I think Nascar will regain a lot of popularity with these new young drivers.
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