Meet NASCAR’S NEXT Class of 2016-17

Two are following in the footsteps of their former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driving fathers, Todd Gilliland (David) and Harrison Burton (Jeff). One is a long-time racer who competed on the reality television show “Survivor,” and later added a degree from Stanford University. Another is one of the fastest rising stock car drivers in the Midwest. There is even a pair of international phenoms!

From Charlotte to New York City, and from Quebec to Israel, the 11 drivers who were announced as the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class today are primed for a successful and impactful future in NASCAR. This is the sixth edition of NASCAR Next, an industry-wide initiative designed to spotlight to best and brightest rising young stars in racing.

“The NASCAR Next program has introduced current stars such as Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney to the NASCAR fan, and we believe this year’s class has the same potential,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president of marketing and industry services. “These drivers have shown the talent and intangibles to climb the NASCAR ladder, and we look forward to watching their careers grow.”

This year’s NASCAR Next class was selected through an evaluation process that included input from industry executives, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Drivers Council and media. Drivers must be between the ages of 15-25, have tangible and expressed goals in eventual competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and demonstrate the potential to realize that goal.

The following drivers have been selected to the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class.  Take a few minutes to read each of their very short bios.

Harrison Burton

Age: 15
Hometown: Huntersville, N.C.
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Twitter: @HBurtonRacing
Favorite Sprint Cup driver: Clint Bowyer

“Welcome to racing” moment: Winning my first Pro Late Model race at New Smyrna Speedway’s Speedweeks at 13 years old

If I wasn’t pursuing a NASCAR career I would … “Be an engineer.”

Collin Cabre

Age: 22
Hometown: Tampa, Fla.
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Twitter: @collincabre12
Favorite Sprint Cup driver: Kasey Kahne

“Welcome to racing” moment: My first win in a sprint car in 2012

If I wasn’t pursuing a NASCAR career I would … “Be interested in pursuing something in the motorcycle (motocross) industry.”

Spencer Davis

Age: 17
Hometown: Dawsonville, Ga.
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Twitter: @SpencerDavis_29
Favorite Sprint Cup driver: Kevin Harvick

“Welcome to racing” moment: Had to be my first-ever race where I led a majority of my first kart race and finished second; just the rush made me want to pursue racing as a career.

If I wasn’t pursuing a NASCAR career I would … “Be studying engineering and trying to pursue a career in the car industry.”

Alon Day

Age: 24
Hometown: Ashdod, Israel
Series: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series
Twitter: @Alon_Day
Favorite Sprint Cup driver: I got into the NASCAR world very late, just in the past two years. … Right now I don’t have any favorite driver; I just try to get the benefits out of every driver in Sprint Cup to learn from them.

“Welcome to racing” moment: Winning my first international championship back in 2009 (Asia Formula Renault 2.0) when I was 18 years old; then I realized that things are getting serious, and I will work all my life in motorsports and racing cars.

If I wasn’t pursuing a NASCAR career I would … “Be a fighter pilot?”

Tyler Dippel

Age: 16
Hometown: Wallkill, N.Y.
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Twitter: @Tyler_Dippel
Favorite Sprint Cup driver: Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“Welcome to racing” moment: When I got my first “real” dirt car for Christmas (from Santa) at age 6. It was a Slingshot race car with a REAL motor, not one of those battery-operated cars that you drive in the yard. Then I started watching the NASCAR races on Sunday with my Dad.

If I wasn’t pursuing a NASCAR career I would … “I’ve never seen myself doing anything other than being a NASCAR driver.”

Todd Gilliland

Age: 16
Hometown: Sherrills Ford, N.C.
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
Twitter: @ToddGilliland_
Favorite Sprint Cup driver: Kyle Busch

“Welcome to racing” moment: At the beginning of last year, getting the inaugural CARS tour win in the Late Model Stock division

If I wasn’t pursuing a NASCAR career I would … “be studying engineering.”

Noah Gragson

Age: 17
Hometown: Las Vegas
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series
Twitter: @NoahGragson
Favorite Sprint Cup driver: Kyle Busch or Kyle Larson

“Welcome to racing” moment: When I won my first NASCAR K&N Pro Series race (at Tucson Speedway) last year.

If I wasn’t pursuing a NASCAR career I would … “be working as a PR person for a racing team.”

Gary Klutt

Age: 23
Hometown: Halton Hills, Ontario, Canada
Series: NASCAR Pinty’s Series
Twitter: @Garyklutt
Favorite Sprint Cup driver: Kyle Busch (past: Dale Earnhardt Sr.)

“Welcome to racing” moment: My win last year at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series.

If I wasn’t pursuing a NASCAR career I would … “probably be a backcountry ski guide.”

Julia Landauer

Age: 24
Hometown: New York
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
Twitter: @julialandauer
Favorite Sprint Cup driver: Mark Martin.

“Welcome to racing” moment: In my first full season of racing cadet go-karts when I was 11, I had a hard, race-long battle with the top-three drivers and wound up on top. Working my butt off and getting the euphoric feeling of capturing the win made it very clear to me that I wanted to be a professional racer.

If I wasn’t pursuing a NASCAR career I would … “be working with people to make the automotive industry more environmentally friendly.”

Ty Majeski

Age: 21
Hometown: Seymour, Wis.
Series: ARCA
Twitter: @TyMajeski
Favorite Sprint Cup driver: Kyle Busch. He’s a racer. Period. He’s so smooth and the guy can get behind the wheel of absolutely anything and be competitive.

“Welcome to racing” moment: At Oktoberfest in 2013, a couple by the name of Brad and Nancy Mannstedt were walking around the pits observing different drivers and teams with the interest of starting their own team. Some of the drivers they were looking at were not with the rest of their team, looking at their phones and not focused. I was with my crew chief explaining what my car was doing and how we could make it better. That made Brad and Nancy’s decision to chose me as the driver of their new team. The rest is history.

If I wasn’t pursuing a NASCAR career I would … “be an engineer working for a NASCAR team.”

Matt Tifft

Age: 19
Hometown: Hinckley, Ohio
Series: NASCAR XFINITY Series
Twitter: @Matt_Tifft
Favorite Sprint Cup driver: Jeff Gordon

‘Welcome to racing’ moment: Winning my first late model race.

If I wasn’t pursuing a NASCAR career I would … “be doing something in business or travel.”

Familiarize yourself with these race car drivers.  There is no doubt that you will be hearing a lot about a few of these race car drivers in the very near future!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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