Tha Sports Junkies 101

Who Will be NASCAR’s Next First-Time Winner?

Which Rookie driver will get their first career NASCAR Cup Series win next? Photo by Christopher Brannan-Flickr


Over the past two seasons, three young drivers have received their first win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Kyle Larson at Michigan in June, Chris Buescher at Pocono in August, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr this past weekend at Talladega. There are several more young-guns who are still looking for their first series win.

A former champion in both the Truck and Xfinity Series, Austin Dillon was a rookie in 2014 who has shown flashes of greatness in Cup. Dillon and the 3 team made the Playoffs in 2016, finishing the season 14th in the standings. Teammate Ryan Newman won earlier this season at Phoenix, so Richard Childress Racing appears capable of winning multiple races again. While Dillon is currently 23rd in points, expect him to have chances to win races in 2017. He has proven his skill on superspeedways and on intermediate tracks. However, his team historically has lacked the consistency needed to contend for race victories.

An Xfinity Series champion and the 2016 Rookie-of-the-Year, Chase Elliott is arguably the favorite to get his first career win in the near future. From the onset of his full time Cup career in 2016, he has shown unprecedented skill and mastery of the famed 24 car. In 51 career starts he has 23 top 10 finishes. Elliott winning a race is a matter of when and not if. For both 2016 and 2017, Elliott could have potentially multiple wins. Expect his consistency that currently has him 4th in points to continue through 2017 and result in wins.

A winner in Xfinity and Trucks, finished 2nd in the Daytona 500, and is in another famous car. Ryan Blaney has the skill and experience necessary to break through in 2017. On the strength of a technical alliance with Team Penske, the Wood Brothers have turned the 21 car into a strong weekly contender. At Texas in April, Blaney led over 100 laps, showing his prowess and patience on intermediate tracks. Expect him to be in the mix this weekend at Kansas, and all season long.

While having a rookie winner this season is far from impossible, the experienced drivers listed above are more likely to end their winless streaks. The three rookie contenders this season, Ty Dillon, Erik Jones, and Daniel Suarez, are all fast drivers with solid teams. Any of them can win in 2017. Stenhouse’s win this past weekend may have come to some as surprising. The odds of another young driver getting career win number 1 in 2017 are high. Whether it’s Elliott, the Dillons, Blaney, Jones, Suarez, or another unexpected driver. Kansas and the remaining races this year are sure to have the young stars shine.