Brandon McReynolds, Dakoda Armstrong and others - The Future Faces of NASCAR
In case you're interested, Brandon has a Facebook page, here, and I'm sure he'd love some more fans. He also tweets, so you can follow him on twitter @franchize28. On Saturday after the race, Brandon tweeted that he had come close, but ran out of fuel on the last lap. He ended up finishing 9th, and said "At least they knew we were there".
If the name isn't familiar to you, Brandon is the son of long time crew chief, now race commentator, Larry McReynolds. Brandon has been trying for some time to gain a quality ride, and this year he will compete in the number 4 for Turner Motorsports, full time in the ARCA series.
Saturday marked his first start at Daytona in the ARCA series, but after running one race in 2010 at Talladega for Turner, it seems they liked what they saw. Good move on their part, as Brandon dominated most of the race. No wonder. Larry Mac, Brandon's dad, is most famous for being Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s crew chief, but he also guided Davey Allison, Ernie Irvan and others. And all of those he guided seemed to do well at Daytona and Talladega.
Brandon spent last year in the K&N Pro Series East, gaining experience and becoming comfortable in the car. This year he will be out to prove he deserves to be in the big boy leagues.
Dakoda Armstrong is another up and coming race car driver I have followed for a while. He also raced in the ARCA Series, but has now graduated to the Camping World Truck Series. However, last year, he did very well in ARCA, winning at Talladega, and finishing 7th in points. He was also named Rookie of the Year.
Of course, those Dillon boys, Austin and younger brother, Ty, also made their way through the ARCA series. Austin is racing full time in the Nationwide Series this year, while Ty has moved up into the Camping World Truck Series. Blake Koch, another driver I have followed, also makes his way into the trucks this year, but unlike the drivers above, Blake did his early racing in the Camping World East Series.
Parker Kligerman did extremely well in the ARCA Series, yet has struggled a little in making the move into the Trucks. He attempted to qualify for two races last season, racing in a Brad Keselowski machine as a development driver for Penske. He regrouped, and was able to gain some success later in the season, grabbing a top ten finish at Bristol and another on the road course in Montreal.
Of course, the so called "Feeder" Series of NASCAR aren't only that. There are many drivers who have been content to run in the ARCA series for years. One of those is Bobby Gerhart. Bobby, of course, won Saturday's race at Daytona, for the 8th time, starting from 42nd. Frank Kimmel is another elder statesman. He has won the ARCA Championship a total of nine times.
I have, over the years, traveled to our local racetracks many times. I grew up spending my weekends at the local track. I'll go to a live race any chance I get. Racing is more than just NASCAR. It is more than just Sprint Cup or Nationwide. Many drivers I mentioned above have dreams of competing in the big series. Not all of them will do so, but watch for those names. Don't be surprised if a future Daytona 500 winner is named in the midst of this article. I won't be.