Donruss makes it's triumphant debut in NASCAR with the 2017 set, and it positions itself as the flagship NASCAR release. There's a lot to like about this set, here's my breakdown of what I got in my hobby box.
Most of the Cup drivers have a driver card and a car card...but not all. And some of the choices are downright odd. Kyle Larson does not have a base card. Carl Edwards does not have a car card. Aric Almirola is not included in the base set at all yet appears in the autograph inserts...he also has a card in the 1984 subset but that's it.
The design of the base card is superb.
The backs of the cards are bright and colorful but the second most disappointing aspect of the set (with the first being the lack of car cards for everyone and the odd exclusions as mentioned above).
And the car cards...this is, by far, the BEST part of this set.
The backs of the car cards are the only ones that are not color coded.
Here is the Race Kings subset, which comprises cards #1-27 of the set, including the Race Queen card for Danica, Card #7, which I did not get in my box.
Rated Rookies take up Cards #28-36, although most of the drivers in this subset have cards already. I got one base and one Green, and I am showing the latter.
The 1984 subset is cards #137-184, and here I have chosen to show a Gold parallel, of AJ Allmendinger.
The Nicknames subset finishes off the checklist with cards #185-189, although some of the nicknames are kind of a stretch.
This is a Blue parallel of Daniel Suarez, denoting his Xfinity title last year. It uses the same photo as his base card.
There are also variation cards. I could do without these, mainly because they share the same number but are totally different otherwise-different photo, different text on the card back, and a nickname on the front. These are basically no different from the nicknames subset but instead of being part of the base set they just have the same number as the base card- stupid.
I pulled one from my box, and it was Kenseth. Interestingly, the base Kenseth card came from the same pack.
Now, that covers the base set. But there are a lot of inserts, and all of them have parallels. The relics and autographs have gold and black foil parallels, and the standard inserts all have Cracked Ice parallels which are all numbered to 999 copies, I wasn't able to pull all of them, and in fact the Pole Position insert, I pulled ONLY a Cracked Ice, no standard. The Cracked Ice look much better in hand than they do in scans. Here are, without further blathering, all the standard inserts I got. None of them yielded more than one card per set.
Now, each box promises one autograph and two relics, and I got exactly that. My autograph came out of my first first pack, and is my first and currently only card of third generation driver Todd Gilliland.
The Logano card, part of the 1984 Retro Relics insert, does not say what the material is but it feels like firesuit. I really wish Panini would tell you what it is they are putting on the cards. With NASCAR it's easier to figure out what the material is- there's no mistaking tire or sheet metal, for example- than for the other sports, which feature multiple options that use the same basic material, there's no real way to know, unless you get a patch and can match it to the jersey photo.
Overall, this is a GREAT set, and a worthy flagship. It's not perfect, but I will say it's Panini's best effort so far. I completed the non-SP base cards from my box, with many duplicates to spare, but I still want to pick up a blaster to see if I can get some of the short prints or maybe a parallel.
Five drivers made their cardboard debut in this set: Todd Gilliland, Alon Day, Julia Landauer, Matt Tifft and Noah Gragson. The latter four appear only in the Signatures series, while Gilliland appears in the Rated Rookie subset. I added 8 new people to my collection, which is a very high number for a NASCAR box. I don't know what the record is, but this may be it, not counting when I first started collecting and everyone was new, of course. New to me were: Gilliland, Byron, Kate Dallenbach, John Hunter Nemechek, Cameron Hayley, Daniel Hemric, Christopher Bell and Ben Kennedy.
Thanks to my mom for giving me the box as a surprise gift!
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