The time has finally come for the NASCAR Pro Series (NiPS) to get underway. The fight to get into the NiPS was brutal, but that’s just the beginning. As the feeder series to the Grand Daddy of them all – the NASCAR World Championship Series (NiWCS) – all the drivers will need to be at the absolute top of their game, week-in and week-out.

In the inaugural Pro season, Josh Parker took home the crown, amidst one of the most intense points battles in sim racing history. Parker snagged the championship away from Brad Davies in the final week of the season, and has gone on to a successful NiWCS season thus far.

The favorites going into the season are simple… There are none. With the top drivers last season all locked into NiWCS, it’s anyone’s best guess at who will come away with the crown.

Although nobody exactly knows who’s a lock for the next NiWCS, there are some reasonable picks. The first of whom has to be Byron Daley.  Daley (New York club) is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to setups, and has the driving talent to back it up. That can be a lethal combination for anyone in the same race as him.

Will Burstein be able to translate his Chevy Silverado success into NiPS wins?

Will Burstein translate his Chevy Silverado success into NiPS wins?

Another driver who has caught everybody’s attention is Jason Burstein. This 17 year old from Arizona seems to fly in any car he sits in, no matter what setup he has underneath him. Thus far in his sim racing career, Burstein has seen great success in the Chevy Silverados of the NASCAR Class C Series, but has never been faced with the competition he will be up against when he straps in for his first ever Pro race next week at Darlington Raceway.

You could go on and on about drivers who have grabbed people’s attention, but the fun part to talk about is underdogs. Joey Brown (Texas) has been very strong as of late, but seems to struggle at times with keeping the car on the track. Brown has the speed, but time will tell if he can keep it underneath him long enough to enjoy success.

Steven Gilbert (Carolinas), Harrison Widelitz (New Jersey), Josh Connors (New Jersey) and David Cater (Mid-South) are all big names who can run up front consistently, with the right setups. When you think ‘David Cater’ you automatically think ‘Late Model Expert,’ but what some people don’t know is that Cater can wheel the Nationwide car around the track with the best of them. If Cater can get the car to stay under control for an entire fuel run, without having to battle his tires, he’s somebody to watch out for.

Of course you will still have the ringers. Drivers like Josh Berry, Ray Alfalla, Josh Parker, Jesse Atchison and more. None of these drivers have commited to running the entire NiPS season, but you can bet you will see their names quite often at the top of the race results.

Experienced Pros like Ray Alfalla will be hard to beat in the NiPS.

Experienced Pros like Ray Alfalla will be hard to beat in the NiPS.

Pre-Season testing is well underway at “The Lady in Black.” The standouts on the speed charts right now are Alfalla, Steve Sheehan, Jameson Spies and Thomas Lewandowski. Those drivers have all shown that they have the speed to be up front, but they must hope luck is on their side if they want to come away from this extremely challenging track with a win.

Next Wednesday evening the Pro Series will kick off for the oval side of things. We will see who can conquer the enormous task of Darlington. Will it be a familiar face? Or will a relative unknown crash- land the biggest win of their career? All these questions and more will be answered when the 2010 NASCAR Pro Series kicks-off next week.

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