30 for 30: Top Former Cook Out Summer Shootout Racers Who Now Race In NASCAR

CONCORD, N.C. — John Davison Photo — Grassroots racing makes a pit stop at Charlotte Motor Speedway this summer as U.S. Legend Cars and Bandoleros hit the track for the 30th anniversary season for the CookOut Summer Shootout. For many of NASCAR’s most renowned drivers, this is where it all began, buckled in with dreams of making it to the big stage.

Long before drivers were the household names fans can pinpoint today, drivers got their first smell of rubber and their first taste of racing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway quarter-mile. Stars like reigning NASCAR Cup Series Champion Joey Logano found a passion for motorsports and the skills needed to move up the racing ranks during his time racing in the Summer Shootout.

“You learn the nuts and bolts of how to race people,” Logano said. “I had a lot of fun racing against guys like David Ragan before we ever got to the Cup Series. We had a blast. My dad and I came up here from Atlanta, tried to figure out how to race with people and we became pretty successful at it.”

Logano isn’t the only one with fond memories of his time behind the wheel of a U.S. Legends Car. Concord’s own Bubba Wallace began competing in summer shootout at 10 years old and quickly became infatuated with the sport.

“I miss racing Legend Cars,” said Bubba Wallace. “I remember coming out when I was 10 years old to run the Summer Shootout. I had a big enough lead at one point in a race that I was watching myself on the backstretch and I’d overdrive the next corner, messing up trying to watch. Those were good times for sure. There are a lot of good memories that come out of it.”

Now a NASCAR Xfinity Series standout, Daniel Hemric attributes his success in NASCAR to the valuable skills he acquired while racing U.S. Legend Cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Reflecting on his journey, which included winning the biggest purse on U.S. Legend Car history, Hemric emphasized the significance of competing against some of the best drivers from around the world during the summer races.

“As time goes on and you see so many drivers come in and compete at a high level, a lot of that is a testament to those Bandoleros and Legend Cars at Charlotte,” Hemric recalled. “You’d come here to race to put your name on the map. Winning the Legends Million was a huge thing for my career and it’s really cool to see the next generation of kids.”

Before the green flag waves on the 30th anniversary season of the CookOut Summer Shootout, here’s a look at some of the star drivers’ who have raced in U.S. Legends Cars at America’s Home for Racing over the last three decades (and where they are now):

Austin Dillon: NASCAR Cup Series
Austin Hill: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Ben Rhodes: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Bubba Wallace: NASCAR Cup Series
Chase Elliott: NASCAR Cup Series
Chandler Smith: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Chase Purdy: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Chris Buescher: NASCAR Cup Series
Corey LaJoie: NASCAR Cup Series
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: NASCAR Hall of Fame driver, team owner
Daniel Hemric: NASCAR Xfinity Series
David Ragan: Former NASCAR Cup Series driver, TV analyst
Hailie Deegan: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Harrison Burton: NASCAR Cup Series
Jesse Love: ARCA Menards Series
Joey Logano: NASCAR Cup Series
Nick Sanchez: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Noah Gragson: NASCAR Cup Series
Rajah Caruth: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Ricky Hendrick: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Riley Herbst: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Ryan Blaney: NASCAR Cup Series
Ryan Vargas: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Xfinity Series
Sam Mayer: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Sammy Smith: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Sean Rayhall: European Le Mans Series
Stefan Parsons: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Ty Dillon: NASCAR Cup Series
William Byron: NASCAR Cup Series
Zane Smith: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series

CookOut Summer Shootout will electrify fans throughout the next eight weeks as more than 150 drivers from around the world compete as part of the ultimate grassroots racing test, battling for points as they each aim to be named the 2023 shootout champion.

TICKETS: Tickets are $5 Monday and $10 Tuesday; kids 12 and under get in FREE. For tickets, schedules and more details about all the happenings at Charlotte Motor Speedway, visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets.

KEEP TRACK: Follow all the thrilling CookOut Summer Shootout action at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.