Bayne can’t run for Cup rookie award

Trevor Bayne will not be eligible for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year program in 2011.

A NASCAR official said a driver must “declare for champion series points” for a single series.

Although Bayne is scheduled to compete in 17 races for Wood Brothers Racing in the No. 21 Ford, the fact that the 19-year-old driver selected to race for the Nationwide Series title makes him ineligible for the rookie contest. NASCAR enacted a rule this season requiring a driver to select one series in which to compete for the title, regardless of how many races he runs in other series.

Thursday Bayne expressed his disappointment because he would have enjoyed the ability to participate in the 2012 Budweiser Shootout, a spot earned by recent rookie of the year winners. However, he understands NASCAR’s decision. That said, NASCAR is considering a waiver in a series regarding the number of races allowed to maintain rookie eligibility status should they graduate to the series the following season. Currently, a driver can only run seven races in a season and preserve his rookie status for that series the following year.

“As long as I can run for rookie of the year at some point it will be alright,” Bayne said. “I’m glad they’re doing something to accommodate the drivers because they have to encourage rookies to move up to that next level.”

Currently, Brian Keselowski is the only driver competing for rookie honors in the Sprint Cup Series.

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