Saturday, September 30, 2023

Sunday’s Contender Boats 250 at Homestead Marks the Next Step in NASCAR’s Youth Movement

When the NASCAR Xfinity Series takes the green flag for Sunday’s Contender Boats 250 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the “youth movement” sweeping across NASCAR’s National Series will be alive and well, with five drivers participating in the event that were born after the turn of the century, the most all-time in a NASCAR Xfinity Series event.

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In fact, the average age for Sunday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Homestead-Miami Speedway is 9,726 days old (approx. 26 years, 6 months and 27 days old), the youngest average age for a NASCAR Xfinity Series event this season.

So who are the young drivers who will be bringing the youth movement to the NASCAR Xfinity Series?

Colby Howard, driving for JD Motorsports in the No. 15 has shown a great deal of potential in the NASCAR Xfinity Series over the last couple of races, scoring two consecutive top-twenty finishes, including a career best 15th at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a track which like Homestead-Miami, has an extremely worn out surface. Howard is scheduled to run at least twenty races with JD Motorsports in 2020.

In Saturday’s Hooters 250, Howard brought his No. 15 SANY America Chevrolet Camaro home in 17th, his third consecutive top-twenty finish.

Kody Vanderwal, driving for Means Motorsports in the No. 52 surprised a great deal of people when he announced that he would be contesting a thirty-race campaign for Means Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Through five series starts, Vanderwal has a best finish of 21st at Bristol Motor Speedway. Homestead-Miami Speedway will prove to be a learning experience for Vanderwal, as the 19-year old Colorado-native has only turned twenty-nine laps on a 1.5 mile track, after engine issues at Atlanta and Charlotte took him out of the running early in both events.

Vanderwal experienced the same type of engine issues in Saturday’s Hooters 250, finishing in 37th after an engine issue took him out of the race on lap thirty-two.

Colin Garrett, driving for Sam Hunt Racing in the No. 26, has limited experience in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, with the young driver only running a total of two races thus far, including Homestead-Miami Speedway last November. In those two starts, Garrett has earned a best finish of 23rd at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year, with this years race at Darlington resulting in a 37th-place finish after a mechanical issue sent the No. 26 to the garage for an extended stay. Garrett will have to battle some new challenges this weekend, as both of the NASCAR Xfinity Series events this year will be contested during the day, making for hotter, slicker conditions at the already slick race track.

In Saturday’s Hooters 250, Garrett earned his career best finish driving the No. 26, finishing twenty-first after running inside the top-twenty for the majority of the event.

Carson Ware, driving for SS Greenlight Racing in the No. 07 easily has the least amount of experience of the drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity Series field on Sunday, only having one start in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series (Bristol) and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (Phoenix). Ware’s second career NASCAR Xfinity Series start will come with a myriad of disadvantages, as with no practice time and no qualifying, Ware will be going onto the racetrack without a good feel of what it is like to run a NASCAR Xfinity Series car on a track this large.

Another big disadvantage that Ware will have to concure in order to earn a good finish is that he will have to start at the rear of the field with Daniel Hemric, AJ Allmendinger & JA Junior Avila because all three cars will have different drivers for Saturday’s event, much like the No. 07. Ware’s first 1.5 mile track experience will be a tough one, but if he can quickly learn the racetrack and get his feet underneath him, he should be able to pull off a solid result on Sunday.

In Saturday’s Hooters 250, J.J. Yeley brought the No. 07 JACOB Companies Chevrolet home in 11th position. Carson Ware will drive the same car in Sunday’s Contender Boats 300.

Harrison Burton, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 20 has had a DREAM rookie year so far in 2020, scoring six top-five finishes through eight races this season, never finishing worse than ninth all season long. Burton’s trip to victory lane not only locked him into the playoffs (despite being almost certainly a lock from the get go), but it also marked the first time that a driver born after the turn of the century has been to victory lane in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. After what seemed like a dismal season in the NASCAR Truck Series in 2019 by Kyle Busch Motorsports’s standards, Harrison Burton is thriving in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, riding a streak of ten consecutive top-ten finishes, dating back to last season.

Harrison Burton had a successful outing in Saturday’s Hooters 250, capitalizing on a late-race restart to capture his second career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory. With Saturday’s victory, Burton becomes the first driver born after the turn of the century to score multiple wins in NASCAR’s Top Three Series.

Some other young drivers to watch on Sunday?:

Anthony Alfredo (driving the No. 21 iRacing Chevrolet Camaro for Richard Childress Racing) ran inside the top-ten for the entire event, capitalizing on the free-pass on a late restart to claim his first top-five finish of his NASCAR Xfinity Series career.

Austin Cindric (driving the No. 22 PPG Ford Mustang for Team Penske) was very much involved in the battle for the win in Saturday’s Hooters 250, finishing second to Harrison Burton’s No. 20.

Justin Haley (driving the No. 11 LeafFilter Chevrolet Camaro for Kaulig Racing) was having a solid top-ten run before a pit penalty on a cycle of green flag pit stops relegated him to a finish outside the top-ten.

Noah Gragson (driving the No. 9 PUBGMOBILE Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports) dominated Saturday’s Hooters 250, leading 83 of 167 laps. Gragson had an eleven second lead, when Ryan Sieg went for a spin in turn two with seven laps to go, setting up a late-race restart in which Gragson would lose the lead to Harrison Burton and Austin Cindric.

Myatt Snider (driving the No. 93 LA Hot Sauce Chevrolet Camaro for RSS Racing) will start from the pole position in Sunday’s Contender Boats 250 after bringing his No. 93 Chevrolet home in the 15th position. Snider ran as high as 12th throughout the late stages of the race, before dropping to 15th at the finish.

Stefan Parsons (driving the No. 99 Toyota Supra for B.J. McLeod Motorsports) will look to continue his streak of top-25 finishes alive, driving for B.J. McLeod Motorsports’ No. 99 in Saturday’s Hooters 250. Parsons, who was reporting engine issues through the race, finished 22nd, two laps down

Kyle Weatherman (driving the No. 47 Blue Lives Matter Chevrolet Camaro for Mike Harmon Racing) ran as high as sixth in Saturday’s Hooters 250, even scoring stage points for Mike Harmon Racing. Weatherman was consistently running in the top-twenty before heading to the garage for mechanical issues.

Joseph Srigley
Joseph Srigley
University of Windsor | Business Administration - Supply Chain & Data Analytics Editor at

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