It’s no secret, NASCAR is boasting with pride from the way this youth movement is playing out. They have a great group of young drivers coming through the ranks and ready to transition from one regime to another. With all that being said, and how this offseason is going to play out there, the Verizon IndyCar Series can really reap the benefits of this.
Yes, you read that right.
An open wheel series benefiting from NASCAR’s youth movement?
Think about it this way, as the veterans of the sport are being pushed out, the youth are rising up. But, there’s other talented younger drivers coming through the ranks now too, that are soon going to have no where to go. Think about this for a second, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Childress Racing are all soon about to be fully stocked with youth. With a four-car cap in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for each team, each team is about to have their inns filled.
Hendrick is about to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. retire, but Alex Bowman is a 24-year old ready to replace him. Kasey Kahne will likely soon be out too, and 19-year old William Byron is next. If it goes to that plan, then only 41 year old Jimmie Johnson who just signed a three-year deal is left.
Joe Gibbs Racing has Denny Hamlin (36) Kyle Busch (32) and Daniel Suarez (25) locked in likely though 2020 too. Erik Jones (21) will move over whenever they’re done with Matt Kenseth. Their alliance team in Furniture Row Racing has 36-year old Martin Truex Jr. in one seat, and the other will be switched from Jones to Kenseth, left for Jones, or open to one of their other five developmental drivers coming up the ranks. But, look at it this way, that’s just one seat at the moment, and potentially a place for two more seats to grow at a max for five drivers right now.
Team Penske will likely retain Brad Keselowski and have already signed Joey Logano. They have Ryan Blaney, Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe ready to move up too.
Richard Childress Racing has both Dillon brothers, Ryan Newman, Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones as part of their plans.
So, mix that with Chip Ganassi Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing, where is there to move up if you’re a younger driver in say USAC, Late Models or ARCA if you’re not already in the mix now? Those prime seats are really accounted for. With funding as hard to get as ever, and no where to move up, where do they go?
That means they need to start looking at other avenues, say IndyCar.
That series is on an uptick, and with a new car and room to grow coming in 2018, this is a chance for the teams in the series to expand into the feeder series’ like USF2000, Pro Mazda or Indy Lights and sign these drivers to developmental deals like they do in NASCAR. There’s plenty of drivers in USAC that are worthy of a chance in IndyCar.
Rico Abreu, Spencer Bayston, Chris Windom, Justin Grant, Tyler Courtney, Chase Stockton, Kody and Tanner Swanson or Bobby Santos would be great fits. These drivers would be good in IndyCar. The only problem is that they’d have to learn the road courses, but that’s why you develop them in the feeder series to get used to those circuits.
The USAC to IndyCar pipeline used to be great and now there’s a great chance for it to revive again. This is a prime opportunity for the series to get some drivers and get back to their roots.
The ball is in your court.