The 2017-18 class of the NASCAR Next program, was announced on Tuesday and includes some familiar second-generation names, as well as drivers whom you may never heard of.
“The NASCAR Next program identifies emerging talent in our sport,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president, and chief marketing officer. “Drivers in this year’s class have already achieved success on the track or shown potential, and this program will help them further develop their skills. We look forward to watching these young stars connect with our fans and continue their climb up the NASCAR ladder.”
The selection process includes consulting industry executives, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Drivers Council and media members. The candidates are chosen from a pool of drivers between the ages of 15-25, who are actively racing at local tracks or lower-tier NASCAR series.
Here is a breakdown of the 2017-18 class.
Harrison Burton from Huntersville, North Carolina is in his second year of NASCAR K&N Pro Series East competition, with two wins to his credit. The 16-year-old is the son of former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Jeff Burton.
Chase Cabre is a rookie in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, driving for Rev Racing as part of the NASCAR Drive for the Diversity program. The 16-year-old picked up his first two pole awards in twin features at South Boston, before scoring a best-career finish of fourth.
Hailie Deegan has made a name for herself in the Lucas Oil Off Road Series, becoming the first female to score a podium in series history last season. The daughter of FMX legend Brian Degan won the Lucas Oil Off Road Modified Kart Championship last season.
Todd Gilliland from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina is running both NASCAR K&N Pro Series divisions in 2017, along with a limited NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The son of former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver David Gilliland won the Pro Series East Championship last year.
Riley Herbst raced in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West last season, scoring seven top-fives in 14 races. The Joe Gibbs Racing development driver is competing full-time in the ARCA Racing Series for 2017.
Cayden Lapcevich was a Canadian stand-out last year, winning three events en route to being crowned the 2016 NASCAR Pinty’s Series Champion in his rookie season.
Tj Majeski recently signed a development contract with Roush Fenway Racing to run a select number of NASCAR XFINITY Series events in 2017. The 22-year-old kicked off last year by winning the Super Late Model championship at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway, followed by a third-place finish in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standings.
Chase Purdy from Meridan, Mississippi took home NASCAR Whelen All-American Series rookie honors last year with a track championship at Greenville Pickens Speedway. The 17-year-old is racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this year.
Zane Smith put himself on the scene by winning the Super Late Model championship at New Smyrna’s World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in 2015. He finished off the year with a runner-up to Elliott at the Snowball Derby.
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