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.
History of the Award: Grand National/Winston Cup/Nextel Cup/Sprint Cup Edit
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. The first official winner was a driver named Ken Rush, who received the award at NASCAR's victory party at the end of the 1957 year.
From the 1957 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. 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 of the year candidates earn points for their best seventeen 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 deadline do not receive this point.
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 rookie driver who finishes highest in the championship standings at season's end will receive an additional ten bonus rookie points.
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.
History of Grand National/Winston Cup/Nextel Cup/Sprint Cup RotY AwardsEdit
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 ROY honors.)
Did not declare for ROY, but ran more than seven races and are completely ineligible for the award.
Declared for ROY, but did not complete season, no longer eligible
Declared for ROY, but did not complete season, still eligible
Died during rookie season, received award posthumously
Did not receive an official award
Died during rookie season and was unable to complete the schedule
Henley Gray, Clyde Lynn, Dick Hutcherson (NOTE: Hutcherson won nine times and finished second in the championship standings that year, but was not considered to be eligible due to being a champion in the IMCA)