- NASCAR Rookie of the Year
The NASCAR Rookie of the Year Award is presented to the first-year driver that has the best season in a NASCAR season. Each of NASCAR's national and regional touring series selects a RotY winner each year.
- 1 History of the Award: Grand National/Winston Cup/Nextel Cup/Sprint Cup
- 2 Rookie Points System
- 3 NASCAR Sprint Cup
- 4 NASCAR Nationwide Series
- 5 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
- 6 See also
- 7 Sources & References
History of the Award: Grand National/Winston Cup/Nextel Cup/Sprint Cup
The Rookie of the Year award for NASCAR's premier series was first presented to a driver named Blackie Pitt by Houston Lawing, NASCAR'S Public Relations director, in 1954. While it wasn't an official award, it would help set the standard for the top rookie prize.
From the 1958 through the 1973 seasons, NASCAR did not have an official points system to determine the Rookie of the Year. NASCAR's officials merely gathered together to select a winner. Naturally, this policy came under controversy, as officials didn't consider former champions from rival racing series. This system came to an end in 1973 after Lennie Pond was controversially chosen over Darrell Waltrip for the honor, even though Pond scored more points, although he ran 23 compared to Waltrip's 19 races. Since 1974, the Rookie of the Year points system described below has been used, even if it meant the winner was not the highest finisher in championship points.
Rookie Points System
Main Rookie Points
Rookie of the year candidates earn points for their best seventeen (Sprint Cup), sixteen (Nationwide), or fourteen (Camping World Truck) races of the season. All other points are based on a ten-to-one system.
- The highest finishing rookie earns ten points, the second highest finishing rookie earns nine points, etc.
- One point is granted to all rookies who enter an event prior to the entry deadline, regardless of finishing position or even if they don't qualify. All rookies with teams that enter past the regular entry deadline ("post entry") do not receive this point.
Rookie Bonus Points
Bonus points are also awarded to drivers in the following circumstances:
- A rookie candidate finishes in the top ten in a race. If that candidate wins, he/she earns ten bonus rookie points. If that candidate finishes second, he/she earns nine bonus rookie points, etc.
- "Segment Bonus Points." The season is divided into three segments, the first segment being after the first ten races of the season, the second segment being after the second ten races of the season, and the third segment being the rest of the schedule. The candidate with the most championship points in each segment earns ten bonus rookie points, the candidate with the second-most championship points earns nine, etc. The system is different slightly in the Craftsman Truck Series because only 25 races, compared to the other two series, are run in their season.
- The rookie driver who finishes highest in the championship standings at season's end will receive an additional ten bonus rookie points.
There is a five-member panel composed of the preceding year's Series Champion, officials, etc. that meet during the final week of the season. They evaluate that year's candidates on the following criteria:
- Conduct with officials
- Conduct and awareness on the racetrack
- Personal appearance and conduct with the media
The panel may penalize rookies for any conduct that may be detrimental to NASCAR.
Anyone involved with a rookie candidate (such as a teammate or car owner) may not serve on that year's panel and will be replaced by another person in that category. In case of the Series Champion, it is the preceding year's Series Champion. In 2002, 2000 champion Bobby Labonte served a second consecutive term on the Cup rookie panel as NASCAR disqualified 2001 champion Jeff Gordon from the position because of his equity ownership in Jimmie Johnson's #48 car.
Drivers must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible to run for or receive the Rookie of the Year award.
- Must have run no more than seven races in any previous season.
- Drivers who compete in more than five races in a higher series are not eligible for the award in a lower series.
- If a driver does not start eight races before the end of Race 20 on the schedule, they will immediately become ineligible to earn rookie points for the rest of that season. The seven-race-limit still applies pertaining to eligibility for future attempts.
- A driver may not receive rookie points if he/she starts a race for a team that he/she did not qualify with. However, he/she is still eligible for championship points in that race.
There have been a few cases where aspiring Sprint Cup drivers have sacrificed their future eligibility to be Rookie of the Year candidates by driving part-time schedules including more than seven Cup races. For example, in 2009, Brad Keselowski ended up running 15 races, including a win at Talladega. Two other famous drivers who did the same thing are Carl Edwards (13 Cup races in 2004), and Marcos Ambrose (11 races in 2008.)
On the other hand, 2007 Rookie of the Year winner Juan Pablo Montoya was eligible even though he had previously been the 1999 Rookie of the Year in the CART series (which at the time was the top level of open wheel racing.)
The 2009 Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year was Johnny Sauter, who ironically was a veteran of both the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series. He had never run more than three truck races in any previous season, and made no 2009 starts at all in either of the two higher-level series, hence he was eligible for the truck series' rookie award.
In 1992, Ricky Craven, the Busch Series Rookie of the Year, actually had run seven races when the limit was five in 1991. However, Craven was only credited with two Busch-only starts, as the other five starts were in combination races with the Busch North Series, which he was a full-time regular at the time. (The races were registered in the Busch North Series, so he could enter the race in that series and not compromise his eligibility in the "South" series.)
NASCAR Sprint Cup
- Brian Keselowski
- Andy Lally
- T.J. Bell (declared after Charlotte, picked up first Cup points at Pocono)
(Note: Trevor Bayne has declared to run for the Nationwide Series Championship and is therefore ineligible to earn Sprint Cup points. This also makes him ineligible for Cup Rookie of the Year)
- Josh Wise
History of Sprint Cup RotY Awards
Below is a list of all winners, and known runner-ups. (Note: some of the drivers listed here are not confirmed as ROY contenders, and competed in more than the maximum number of races to be eligible for ROTY honors.)
¶ Did not declare for ROY and ran more than seven races, but did not run a full season (2011-) and is still eligible for the award. † Did not declare for ROY, but ran more than five (or seven as of 2001-2010) races and are completely ineligible for the award. ‡ Declared for ROY, made enough races to be declared a series rookie contender for that season (seven races as of 2001; was five prior to that). * Declared for ROY, but did not make minimum five (or seven as of 2001) races, still eligible Ø Died during rookie season, received award posthumously æ Did not receive an official award ± Died during rookie season and was unable to complete the schedule
NASCAR Nationwide Series
History of Nationwide Series RotY Awards
^ Craven started seven races in 1991 (the limit was five) but was charged with only two starts. The other five starts were in combination races with the Busch North Series, where he raced as a regular. Both 1991 Busch Series wins were in combination races as a North driver.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Confirmed 2011 contenders
- Joey Coulter (#22)
- Jeffrey Earnhardt (#1)
- Craig Goess (#46)
- Parker Kligerman (#29)
- Johanna Long (#20)
- Miguel Paludo (#7)
- Justin Johnson (#51)
- Dusty Davis (#15)
- Cole Whitt (#60)
- Chris Eggleston (#27)
- Chase Mattioli (#10/#99)
- Nelson Piquet, Jr. (#8)
History of Camping World Truck Series RotY Awards
- Whelen Modified Tour (includes list of WMT RotY award winners)
Sources & References
- Jayski's Rookie Section
- Racing Reference
- Racing Thrills
- NASCAR Chronicle by Greg Fielden & Consumer Guide.
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NASCAR Rookies of the Year Sprint Cup1954: Pitt | 1957: Rush | 1958: Rollins | 1959: R. Petty | 1960: D. Pearson | 1961: Wilson | 1962: Cox | 1963: Wade | 1964: Cooper | 1965: McQuagg | 1966: Hylton | 1967: Do. Allison | 1968: P. Hamilton | 1969: Brooks | 1970: Dennis | 1971: Ballard | 1972: L. Smith | 1973: Pond | 1974: Ross | 1975: B. Hill | 1976: Manning | 1977: Rudd | 1978: Thomas | 1979: Earnhardt | 1980: Ridley | 1981: R. Bouchard | 1982: G. Bodine | 1983: Marlin | 1984: R. Wallace | 1985: Schrader | 1986: Kulwicki | 1987: Da. Allison | 1988: K. Bouchard | 1989: Trickle | 1990: Moroso | 1991: B. Hamilton | 1992: Hensley | 1993: Gordon | 1994: J. Burton | 1995: Craven | 1996: Benson | 1997: Skinner | 1998: Irwin | 1999: Stewart | 2000: Kenseth | 2001: Harvick | 2002: Newman | 2003: McMurray | 2004: Kahne | 2005: Ky. Busch | 2006: Hamlin | 2007: Montoya | 2008: Smith | 2009: Logano | 2010: Conway | 2011: Lally Nationwide Series1989: K. Wallace | 1990: Nemechek | 1991: J. Gordon | 1992: Craven | 1993: H. Sadler | 1994: Benson | 1995: J. Fuller | 1996: G. Allen, Jr. | 1997: Park | 1998: Santerre | 1999: Raines | 2000: Harvick | 2001: Biffle | 2002: Riggs | 2003: Stremme | 2004: Ky. Busch | 2005: C. Edwards | 2006: O'Quinn | 2007: Ragan | 2008: Cassill | 2009: Allgaier | 2010: Stenhouse, Jr. Camping World Truck
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