Every few seasons, there is a Rookie of the Year battle that is worth watching in the Sprint Cup Series. This season we saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Danica Patrick and Timmy Hill competing for the 2013 Rookie of the Year honors. Stenhouse would come out atop the standings. Rookies are sometimes looked at as “weak links” on the track. Some have made quite the impact on the series from winning in their first season to becoming series champions in short time.
One of the most recent Rookie of the Year winners who has been making headlines is Joey Logano. Capturing this top honor in 26 out of 36 races in 2009, he was the youngest to ever win the title. Logano captured his first win in his 20th start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2009. He currently drives the No.22 Pennzoil Ford for Penske Racing.
Ryan Newman won Rookie of the Year honors in 2002 with one win that season. He also holds the all-time record for most poles (6), most top-fives (14) and most top-10s (22) in one rookie season.
Ironically enough, Newman beat out six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson for the honor. Johnson had three wins and tied the record for most wins in a rookie season with Tony Stewart.
Making the Chase every season since its birth, Johnson has won six of the ten Chase championships. Making headlines by winning five in a row from 2006-2010, Johnson reclaimed top honors this season and added a sixth championship to his resume.
Danica Patrick became the first rookie since 2008 to sit on the pole when she started in top spot of the 2013 Daytona 500. Later on in the year, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sat on the pole for the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Rookie drivers may make “rookie” mistakes out on the track but as of late, they are proving that they can be just as competitive as the veterans.