CUP: Rising Stars – Youngsters On The Move

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Dylan Kwasniewski. Chase Elliott. Kyle Larson. Darrell Wallace Jr. Ryan Blaney.

Those and other names are likely to flow across television screens with regularity in the near future as young drivers build their resumes and accelerate toward probable careers at the top levels of NASCAR.

Kwasniewski and others made their names prominent in 2012.

Following in the tire tracks of fellow Las Vegas natives and NASCAR successes Kurt and Kyle Busch, Kwasniewski, 17, won the K&N Pro Series West championship, becoming the series’ youngest champ. He won three races and scored 12 top fives in winning the title over teammate and defending champion Greg Pursley.

Larson, 20, was the K&N king on the other side of the country, winning the Pro Series East championship despite the fact he had not driven a stock car prior to February.

In winning the championship and the series’ rookie of the year honor in the same season, Larson gave Rev Racing its first NASCAR touring series title. He also grabbed some attention in the Camping World Truck Series while driving for Turner Motorsports.

Wallace Jr., a 19-year-old from Concord, NC, built on his impressive resume. He became the first black driver to win a pole in the Nationwide Series (driving for Joe Gibbs Racing). He started four Nationwide events and is expected to expand that schedule in 2013.

Wallace also scored his sixth career victory in the K&N Pro Series East, winning at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina.

Expect more – much more – from Ryan Blaney next season. Son of Sprint Cup veteran Dave Blaney, Ryan won the Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway in September. Only 18, he also made 13 Nationwide Series starts. He won the K&N West finale at Phoenix.

Corey LaJoie, 21-year-old son of former Cup driver Randy LaJoie, won five times in the final 10 races of the K&N East season and finished second in the points race to Larson.

Lee Pulliam, 24, scored 22 wins in 36 starts and won the Whelen All-American Series championship after finishing third in the standings last year.

Chase Elliott, son of former Cup champion Bill Elliott, became the youngest (17) pole winner in K&N series history and won for the first time at Iowa.

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.