With young, talented drivers like, top row, from left, Sergio Pena, Daniel Suarez, Darrell Wallace Jr., Ryan Blaney, Corey LaJoie, Cameron Hayley, and bottom row, from left, Chase Elliott, Dylan Kwasniewski and Kyle Larson, NASCAR's future looks strong and bright. Jennifer Coleman/NASCAR
Next 9: See The Future
NASCAR's Next Generation Of Stars Are On Deck
May 30, 2012 - 9:00am
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Richard Petty’s last race and Jeff Gordon’s first.
As the careers of Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett and Terry Labonte wound down, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson emerged as the sport’s new stars.
Throughout the years, the torch has been passed in a near seamless transition as the legends make way for the new faces of NASCAR.
At some point, Johnson, Gordon and Tony Stewart are going to hang up their driver’s helmets and walk straight into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. To see that future, fans need only to look to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, where tomorrow’s stars are cutting their teeth on bullrings like Stockton and Columbus, and getting their first taste of the high-speed banks of Iowa and Richmond.
The series is a snapshot of what the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will look like in 2020.
It’s where drivers like Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Corey LaJoie are making their own name; where Daniel Suarez and Cameron Hayley are helping trail blaze the international path; where Dylan Kwasniewski and Kyle Larson are bringing a West Coast swagger; and where Sergio Pena and Darrell Wallace Jr. are diversifying Victory Lane with their successes.
It is particularly fitting that as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series heads into one of its biggest weekends of the year, it has a pair of 16-year-old drivers leading the points standings – Elliott in the East and Kwasniewski in the West.
Last year, NASCARHomeTracks.com introduced fans to the #Next9 – nine drivers that are 21-and-under running in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series who represent the next wave of young talent set to make an impact on the national series scene.
Before the green flag flies at Bowman Gray and Las Vegas, it’s time to take a look at the 2012 Class of the #Next9:
Cameron Hayley is a championship contender in his second season running in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. (Jennifer Coleman/NASCAR)
Bill McAnally knows talent when he sees it.
His race team, a staple of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, has collected a pair of championships in the last four years with Eric Holmes. McAnally has also fielded cars for two-time champion Brendan Gaughan, former series rookie of the year and current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Paulie Harraka, and gave Clint Bowyer his first NASCAR touring series start.
Now 15-year-old Cameron Hayley is looking to add his name to the team’s legacy. The Calgary, Alberta, Canada, driver is in his first full season running in the series and is the leading Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate.
Hayley got his start, like most kids, racing karts when he was 7, and has quickly progressed through the ranks. While getting his feet wet in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series last year, Hayley also claimed a Super Late Model touring series title in Western Canada and finished second in the Late Model series at Montana.
Too young to make his debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series until August of 2011, Hayley set the record for youngest driver to compete in the series history with his first race just a month after turning 15. Hayley impressed quickly with a second-place finish in that race at Montana. He added a third-place run at All-American later in the year, where he led his first laps.
It’s been more solid runs in the 2012 season, where he’s collected three more top 10 finishes, as he heads to Las Vegas – a track he’s had success on in lower divisions.
Now he’s looking to turn that fast start into more championship hardware at BMR.
GET TO KNOW CAMERON HAYLEY:
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