Rookies? Who Needs Rookies? The Sprint Cup Series Doesn't In 2010
“Beware, rookie coming through,” will not be heard when tuning into a 2010 Sprint Cup Series race.
After Joey Logano and his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota took home Rookie of the Year honors for 2009, many began to look toward who might make up the rookie class for the upcoming year.
Well, you’re going to have to look really hard because so far there isn’t one.
While Brad Keselowski will debut as a full time driver, he broke the eligibility rules by running more than seven races last season.
Keselowski drove for both Hendrick Motorsports and James Finch, and then ran the final three races of the year for new team Penske Racing.
In order to run for Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year, the guidelines state that no driver can run more than seven races the year prior to competing for ROY.
Also, a driver can not compete in more than five races in a higher series to be eligible for the award in a lower series. And a driver will not receive rookie points if he/she starts a race with a team they didn’t qualify with.
No team has announced they plan to put a new face in one of their cars and run for ROY, which means there will be no rookie class, no rookie stripes, and rookie battle to follow next season.
However, there will be plenty of rookies in the lower two series, Nationwide and Truck.
After Roush Fenway Racing pulled out of the Camping World Truck Series, the team promoted Colin Braun to the Nationwide Series to run the No.16 Con-way Freight Ford Fusion.
He joins teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who had been running partial schedules, but is now taking reins of the No. 6 full-time. David Ragan has driven the No. 6 car the last few years and won two races last season.
While Stenhouse Jr. still doesn't appear to have a sponsor, he and Braun will race full time while competing for ROY. They'll also have teammate Carl Edwards returning for another full year of competition to be their mentor on the weekends.
Their competition will come from another up and coming driver: James Buescher.
Buescher was recently given the keys to the No.1 Miccosukee Resort Gaming Chevrolet, which was vacated by Mike Bliss halfway through last season. Buecher made two starts in 2009, finishing 11th and 13th at Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway, respectively, in November.
While those three drivers seem set in stone to be contending for ROY, Brian Scott could be waiting in the wings to join them.
A team hasn't signied Scott yet, but he is on many people’s radar after running a few races for Braun Racing last season.
Scott is another defect from the Camping World Truck Series. Fans of that series may have up to four new drivers to root for.
After running select races in 2009, Austin Dillon is slated to attempt a full-time schedule in his No. 3 truck for grandfather Richard Childress.
No sponsor for that truck has been announced.
Then there is Justin Lofton, fresh off of winning the ARCA championship, who has decided to move into the Truck Series for 2010. He’ll be driving the No. 7 Lofton Cattle Toyota for Tom Deloach and Red Horse Racing.
While nothing seems definite yet, Tim Bainey Jr. and Tommy Joe Mathis could be two drivers looking at a full-time schedule.
Bainey Jr. would be driving the No. 00 Aaron’s Lucky Dog Toyota for Tim Bainey, using engines from Hendrick Motorsports.
Mathis would be behind the wheel of the No. 44 Ford; no sponsor has been announced of the Craig Mathis owned truck.
The fresh faces will not only be competing with the champions and other veterans of each series, but with the man handing over the rookie honors.
Justin Allgaier will now be a sophomore and searching for his first career win in the Nationwide Series. Meanwhile, Johnny Sauter will be back in the Camping World Truck series to help mentor the younger drivers.
Even though Sauter was named the 2009 Rookie of the year in the Truck Series, he’s one of the older men on the circuit.
So, while the Sprint Cup Series won’t have any new drivers to follow and gush over, 2010 could be the year that the lowers series shine with their new talent.
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