The most recent, exciting Rookie of the Year battle was back in 2009 between Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Although Keselowski was not eligible for the award due to Cup starts the previous season, the competition between the two was exciting. Now teammates, the two are highly competitive and worth watching every weekend. This season, another exciting ROTY battle is in full swing. In 2013, there are three contenders battling for the “Sunoco Rookie of the Year” honors. Those drivers are Timmy Hill, Danica Patrick and two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Although there are three rookies competing for the ROTY trophy this year, only two of them have full-time rides in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series –Patrick and Stenhouse Jr.
What goes into determining the Rookie of the Year?
According to Jayski.com, “Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates are awarded points based on entry, competition, top-10 bonus points and voting panel points. Points are awarded based on his/her best 17 races in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series action.”
The points are broken down as follows:
- Attempting to qualify for a race earns the rookies one (1) bonus point.
- Highest finishing Rookie is awarded 10 points, second highest is awarded 9 points, etc.
- Top-10 finish earns the Rookie one (1) bonus point.
At the end of the season, a panel meets to evaluate the performance of the rookies. Some factors judged are conduct with NASCAR officials; conduct and awareness on track; and personal appearances and relationship with the media. Each rookie is evaluated and rated on a 1-10 scale. The scores are averaged and added to their points earned throughout the season.
For the rookies, only their top 17 finishes are counted for points at the end of the season. The winner is announced and presented with their award at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship banquet in Las Vegas.
The 2013 battle reignites the validity of the award
With two high profile rookies battling for top spot, this season’s battle has been one to watch. Patrick took the top honors in the season opener in Daytona. She became the first woman to capture the Pole in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and then went on to finish eighth. Since that historic season opener, Patrick has been running mid-pack, finishing in the top 20 just five times this season.
After winning back-to-back NASCAR Nationwide Series championships, Stenhouse Jr. had to learn how to battle his way through the field in the Sprint Cup Series. With just five previous Cup starts he has faired well in 2013. Although he has yet to finish in the top-10 this season, he has posted 17 top-20 finishes, including an 11th place finish in Kansas.
According to Jayski.com, Stenhouse currently leads Patrick and Timmy Hill in the standings as of Michigan.
Car#-Driver, Races Attempted/Races Run; Attempt Pt + Race Rookie Pts + Bonus Pts = Total Rookie Pts
#17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 23/23; 23 + 170 + 0 = 193
#10-Danica Patrick, 23/23; 23 + 157 + 3 = 183
#32-Timmy Hill, 11/11; 11 + 92 + 0 = 103
Danica Patrick may be trailing Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by 10 points, but don’t count her out just yet. Improving each and every week, this battle is just starting to heat up. While many are watching the Chase to the Sprint Cup, the 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year competition is one to keep an eye on. With a third of the season left in competition, it is far from over.