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Ford’s Up-and-Coming Driver Prospects

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

When seats are open in the NASCAR Cup Series, the focus turns immediately to the manufacturer’s prospect pipeline. These are where many lower series drivers get their opportunity to race in the Cup Series full-time. One manufacturer with an uncertain future is Ford, and their prospect pipeline is, unfortunately, very thin.

  • For this list, to be considered a “Prospect”, a driver must not have competed full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series at any point. We will look at the best current Ford prospects
  • Ford has plenty of drivers racing in the lower series, but many of these drivers are older. Currently, here are very few flashy, young prospects in the Ford pipeline, which is a problem.
  • Fans are growing concerned about Ford’s situation. Without good, young prospects, Ford’s future could look quite bleak.

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Riley Herbst

SeriesRacesWinsTop 5sTop 10sAvg. FinishLaps Led
Xfinity1531297515.3256
Trucks1102412.322

Riley Herbst is the only driver on this list who has won a NASCAR National Touring Series race, and he’s only won one. He’s a decent driver, but he’s far from a game-changer. He does bring funding from Monster Energy, which could help him to some extent if he works his way up the ladder.

However, he’s still an underwhelming prospect. He’s never finished better than 10th in the standings, and he’s never been a true Championship threat at this level. He’s far from a bad driver, but he’s not exactly a great one either.

Hailie Deegan

SeriesRacesWinsTop 5sTop 10sAvg. FinishLaps Led
Xfinity1200024.90
Trucks6900521.32

Hailie Deegan brought loads of hype to the NASCAR National Touring Series when she ran her first full-time season in 2021. However, she’s been all hype and no substance. This came despite winning three races in the ARCA Menards Series West. in the late 2010s.

Since joining the National Touring Series, she’s never cracked the top-5. Her move up to Xfinity hasn’t seen her do any better, as she hasn’t finished in the top 10 for a team that recorded nine top-10s one year ago.

Jake Garcia

SeriesRacesWinsTop 5sTop 10sAvg. FinishLaps Led
Trucks3603916.40

Jake Garcia is in his first full-time season with ThorSport, and, it’s been a disappointing season so far. With 0 top-10 finishes in the first 9 races, it’s a major step back from the potential he flashed in 2023.

However, Garcia is still only 19 years old. It’s too early to be too harsh on him, but, he hasn’t performed to expectations this season. He could be Ford’s top prospect if he starts performing better.

Layne Riggs

SeriesRacesWinsTop 5sTop 10sAvg. FinishLaps Led
Xfinity300113.39
Trucks1501320.56

So far, 2024 has been a disappointment for Layne Riggs. Whether it’s been getting caught up in someone else’s mess (Martinsville and Darlington), a mechanical failure (COTA), team or driver-inflicted wounds (Atlanta and Texas), or just being downright slow (Las Vegas and Kansas).

Riggs has shown speed at times this year, but he hasn’t been able to put together a full race. That has to change if he wants to work his way up, and he has the speed to make it happen.

Conner Jones

SeriesRacesWinsTop 5sTop 10sAvg. FinishLaps Led
Trucks1400023.30

Conner Jones races part-time for ThorSport, but the 18-year-old hasn’t found his groove yet. His best finish is 14th, coming at Las Vegas, and he’s been unable to find any good results. He has kept his truck clean, though.

Jones, like Garcia, is still young, so, there is plenty of time to improve. Given Ford’s thin pipeline, he has plenty of time to improve.

Ford is in a difficult spot right now wth their prospects. They don’t have any notable prospects in their pipeline, but, it does give the current drivers an opportunity to show if they can improve.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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