• Guest Contributor: Rusty Wallace

The New Gen of NASCAR: Who Will Answer the Call to be the Next Big Name?

NASCAR Hall of Famer and MRN broadcaster, Rusty Wallace, recently visited AdLarge to discuss the current state of NASCAR and the future ahead. Little did we know that one of the biggest stars of the sport would announce his retirement a few days later. Here’s Rusty’s take on the breaking news and what it really means for NASCAR.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars our sport has seen; he has been a fan favorite with an immense following. At the end of the day though, Dale had to do what's best for him and his family, which might not line up with what other people want him to do. I applaud him for putting himself and his family first. He's getting out of the car while he's still healthy and capable of being competitive on a weekly basis. Those are both really important factors to consider when you're looking at this kind of decision.

You have to remember too, that he's not leaving the sport; he's just not driving in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series every week. He's still going to be involved on a number of visible levels, whether it’s driving in a few Xfinity Series races, being a major team owner through JR Motorsports or any number of other endeavors within the sport. I would imagine that it's even possible that we see him in some kind of broadcasting role at some point. The bottom line is that NASCAR is a big part of who Dale is and he will be involved for many more years to come.

Some people may worry about the impact of Dale's decision on the sport overall, but I really think that there’s more to look forward to. It's all part of a natural cycle; drivers retire and new ones have to step up and take their place. The retirement of David Pearson and Richard Petty gave way to folks like Darrell Waltrip. Then you had guys like myself and Dale Earnhardt; followed by drivers like Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. This is another chance for the torch to be passed on to the new crop of young drivers like Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, and Kyle Larson. Our sport is strong and fans are taking notice of the incredible talent and big personalities of the next generation.

Dale has made a huge impact over his career and he will be leaving on his own terms. While his stepping out of the car marks the end of one era, I'm very optimistic about the future of NASCAR drivers ahead of us.

Who will be the next NASCAR superstar? The hottest drivers right now are young, energetic, and eager to be the best. Not only are they drivers to watch, they are savvy and know how to engage with fans. 2017 already has fans on the edge of their seats and the season is just ramping up. Brands, don’t miss your chance to get in the race and engage this desirable audience. #AskAdLarge for more information on how to get your message in the race – on-air, online, and at-track.

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