Preseason Top 10
1. Ty Dillon, Richard Childress Racing. This team won the Nationwide title last season with Ty’s brother, Austin. Ty has been successful on his own and should continue the tradition.
2. Brian Scott, Richard Childress Racing. Expect Ty Dillon’s teammate in the Nationwide series to be much-improved and in the thick of the title hunt.
3. Elliott Sadler, Joe Gibbs Racing. Sadler has been knocking on the door of the series championship in recent seasons. Can he finally kick it in?
4. Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing. This is a critical season for the winner of the 2011 Daytona 500. His performance will shape his future in NASCAR.
5. Regan Smith, JR Motorsports. Had a strong first season with JR Motorsports. Should continue his development despite a change in crew chief.
6. James Buescher, RAB Racing. Moving to the Nationwide series after a successful stint in Trucks, which included a title. He should make an immediate impact.
7. Brendan Gaughan, Richard Childress Racing. Changing from Trucks to Nationwide but expect him to contend for race wins along with his teammates, Dillon and Scott.
8. Chase Elliott, JR Motorsports. Talented second-generation driver is making his full-time national series debut. Expectations will be high, but his own are higher.
9. Dylan Kwasniewski, Turner Scott Motorsports. Two-time K&N Pro Series champ is on the fast track to NASCAR stardom if his performance is any indication.
10. Dakoda Armstrong, Richard Petty Motorsports. He will have his best chance to showcase his talent driving for a top-level organization this season.
What they’re saying• “I plan on running for the championship for sure right off the bat. Winning three or four races. I have a great team that’s been in the series for a couple of years now, won the championship, so I know I have the guys behind me. They’re going to give me great race cars. It’s up to me to be a quick learner as a rookie and go out and achieve my goals.” Ty Dillon
• “It was a really difficult decision from the family aspect and everything that we’ve accomplished together to leave Turner Scott Motorsports. I want to be a Sprint Cup champion one day. I have to make the moves in my career that are best for me, and I feel like coming over to RAB Racing and Toyota was the best situation for me.” James Buescher
• “There’s absolutely no guarantees on what the future holds. One thing that I do guarantee is that I have to get the job done regardless of what’s going on. I have to go out there and do the best that I can and contend for wins. At the end of the day I have to get the job done to move forward and I’m going to try to do just that this year.” Chase Elliott
Observations• The 2014 season is shaping up to be one of the best competitive in the Nationwide Series since NASCAR decreed drivers must choose before the season in which national series they will compete for the championship. There are more than a dozen drivers who could battle for the title and showcase their talent at the same time.
• Sprint Cup Series drivers will continue to run Nationwide races this season, and they could do more than just collect wins. The experience gained by younger drivers racing with the likes of Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth could accelerate their development. Nothing makes a bigger statement than winning a race and defeating several Cup regulars in the process.