NASCAR’s Rookies of the Year–The Up-and-Comers of Racing

While most of the eyes of the NASCAR world were on the Champions–Johnny Sauter in the Camping World Truck Series, Daniel Suarez in the Xfinity Series, and Jimmie Johnson in the Sprint Cup Series–there was another competition of extreme importance to drivers solidifying their foothold in the sport. All three of NASCAR’s top touring series formally recognize the breakthrough drivers who, in their first full-time season on the circuit, have outpaced their rivals in Rookie-of-the-Year competition and who have positioned themselves for upward mobility in NASCAR. And since the average age of the Rookie-of-the-Year winners is under 20, it’s safe to safe a large portion of NASCAR’s future is held by these drivers.

Here’s a recap of the Rookie Champions in the three marquee series:

Sprint Cup Series

motorsports-nascar-elliott2The determination of Rookie of the Year honors encompasses a lot of factors, including points, bonuses, and the decisions of an expert panel that takes into account factors like conduct during interactions with race officials, conduct on the track, personal appearance, and media relationships. With all of these factors in mind, the final tally put 20-year old Chase Elliott at the top of the board.

Here’s a quick recap of Chase’s 2016 Rookie season:

Age: 20
Races: 36
Wins: 0
Top 5: 10
Top 10: 17
Poles: 2
Average start: 11.3
Average finish: 14.6
Laps led: 358

Xfinity Series

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones grabbed the honors in the Xfinity Series, with the Byron, Michigan native battling his way into the series’ inaugural Chase. He made it to the final round at Homestead, but got caught up in an overtime restart mess that relegated him to a ninth place finish and fourth place in the final point standings. His stellar statistics, coupled with his consistency as a front-runner, gave him the clear edge for the Rookie title.

Here are his 2016 statistics:

Age: 20
Races: 33
Wins: 4
Top 5: 15
Top 10: 20
Poles: 9
Average start: 3.1
Average finish: 11.6
Laps led: 627

Camping World Truck Series

It was a phenomenal year for Kyle Busch Motorsports driver William Byron who, although missing the final Chase round, finished strong with a commanding win in the Ford Ecoboost 200 at Homestead. Winning a series-high seven races in the season, he was the odds-on favorite to take the Xfinity title until an engine failure knocked him out of the final four. But with the season performance outlined below, nobody can argue that this young gun has a future, and his move to Rick Hendrick Racing for 2017 should help pave the way to further stardom.

Here’s a recap:

Age: 18
Races: 23
Wins: 7
Top 5: 11
Top 10: 16
Poles: 3
Average start: 5.6
Average finish: 9.2
Laps led: 727

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