When comparing the NASCAR Nationwide points standings after Talladega to the same time last year, there is one thing even the most casual of observers will notice – there are plenty of new names in the top 10.
Going into Friday night’s VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway, there are six drivers present that were not included in last year’s top 10 after the eighth race: Regan Smith (currently first); Parker Kligerman (fourth; -47); Brian Scott (seventh; -51); Brian Vickers (eighth; -53); Alex Bowman (ninth; -74) and Trevor Bayne (10th; -75).
Of the six drivers, only one of them appeared in the top 10 in the standings at the end of the 2012 season – Scott (ninth). In eight races this season, he has three top-10 finishes.
Kligerman and Bowman, who are both running their first seasons in the NNS, are coming off solid performances at Talladega with sixth- and 13th-place finishes, respectively. Kligerman also has two top-five performances. Bowman’s best performance of the season was third in the season opener at Daytona.
Former 2003 series champion Vickers has a pair of third-place finishes and a fourth, while 2011 Daytona 500 champion Bayne has a pair of fourth-place finishes and a ninth on the season.