NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 Up-And-Coming Drivers

The Cup Series has the week off so the Power Rankings turns its focus this Wednesday towards a different subset of drivers: the ones trying desperately to make it there. There are rising stars from the Nationwide Series, Camping World Truck Series, K&N and ARCA all trying hard to climb the ladder and reach the pinnacle of their chosen profession, battling for the best future opportunity while simply trying to survive through a trying 2011 for developing talent. Some of them have been competing at their current level for some time while others are gradually making their way up the ranks after proving themselves in each series along the way.

So which one of them, underdogs and favorites alike, has made the biggest impression so far this season? Check out the Top 15 Power Rankings this week to see if your driver made the list or if they still have some work to do to get their name out there.

*How The Rankings Are Calculated:* Frontstretch does our power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football — writers on staff will vote for the Top 20 on a 20-19-18-17-16-15… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first place driver, 19 for their second, and so on. In the end, Mike Neff calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and … voila! You have one batch of power rankings to serve to our fans.

*FRONTSTRETCH POWER RANKINGS: TOP 15 FUTURE SPRINT CUP STARS*
*Rank* *Driver (First Place Votes)* *Points* *Previous Rank (April)*
*1* *Austin Dillon (3)* 70 2
Needs some training from Carl Edwards on how to handle basic gymnastics moves. But the racing? He’s got that one down pat.
*2* *Justin Allgaier* 67 3
Wonder if Verizon will look back in five years and think A) They should have brokered a deal for the iPhone sooner; B) They probably should have kept their sponsorship with Justin Allgaier or C) All of the above.
*3* *Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.* 64 4
What a difference a year makes… from nearly unemployed to someone who could easily be the 2011 Nationwide Series champion.
*4* *Cole Whitt* 51 1
Gotta wonder if he’s the only reason Red Bull is considering staying around as a sponsor after they get out of the team ownership role.
*5* *Parker Kligerman* 50 9
Working to create the “Penske Abandoned Me In My Prime” club this offseason. Possible founding members include Brendan Gaughan, Justin Allgaier and Travis Kvapil.
*6* *Timothy Peters* 49 5
Quiet, mannerly, and keeps his car in one piece. It’s the anti-Kyle Busch!
*7* *Ty Dillon* 46 7
Better get this wrecking people to win races stuff out of his system now because the big boys won’t put up with that junk.
*8* *Johnny Sauter* 36 NR
Making the most of an opportunity to rebuild his career in the Truck Series; but to make it all the way back to Cup, he needs to follow through and capture this year’s title.
*9* *Aric Almirola* 32 8
Kelly Bires didn’t win and he got fired. Aric Almirola doesn’t win in JR Motorsports equipment… and he’s universally praised? Someone explain.
*10* *Elliott Sadler* 29 NR
Would like to shake the label of “that guy who lost the Daytona 500 before the rains came” with “that guy who went back to Nationwide and won a championship.”
*11* *Trevor Bayne* 27 6
If he really did have Lyme Disease, what he is doing in the car at this point is nothing short of amazing.
*12* *Reed Sorenson* 26 T – 14
One of just three Nationwide-only drivers to win this season. Hey, that’s more than he ever did at the Cup level…
*13* *James Buescher* 20 NR
Most people hate their in-laws. Buescher? He just drives for them…
*14* *Matt Crafton* 18 13
Good at collecting points, but needs to get better at winning races if there’s ever a hope and a prayer he can move up.
*T – 15* *Kelly Bires* 17 NR
$139,830 isn’t a bad bit of coin for working seven days out of the year.
*T – 15* *Darrell Wallace, Jr.* 17 NR
Bringing planking to a Victory Lane near you.
*Dropped Out:* Brian Scott (10), Josh Wise (T – 11), Clay Rogers (T – 11), Ricky Carmichael (T – 14).
*Also Receiving Votes:* Ron Hornaday, Jr. 16, Ricky Carmichael 15, Jason Leffler 14, Landon Cassill 14, Max Gresham 14, Jeremy Clements 12, Greg Pursley 11, Danica Patrick 11, Chad Hackenbracht 9, Brian Scott 8, Ryan Truex 8, Nelson Piquet, Jr. 8, Keith Rocco 8, Brett Moffitt 7, J.R. Fitzpatrick 7, Philip Morris 7, Andrew Ranger 6, Michael Annett 5, Coleman Pressley 5, Moses Smith 5, Joey Coulter 5, Brandon McReynolds 4, Brennan Poole 4, Justin Lofton 3, Sergio Pena 3, George Brunnhoelzl III 3, Patrick Sheltra 2, Scott Steckly 2, Johanna Long 2, Danny O’Quinn 1, C.E. Falk 1, Travis Pastrana 1.
*Writer Voting Panel:* Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, Bryan Keith, Phillip Allaway, Tom Bowles, and Garrett Horton.

“Contact Mike Neff”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14354/

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