How strong is the ’16 Sprint Cup rookie class? Get the skinny
The 2016 Sunoco Rookie of the Year class in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is as deep and talented as any group since 2006, when Denny Hamlin won rookie honors over a field that included Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.
Here’s a snapshot of the rookie hopefuls for 2016:
No. 24 Chevrolet
The lowdown: Elliott is the favorite to win rookie honors, in part because of his talent and bloodlines and in part because he has the best car of any of the rookies. Elliott, the son of NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bill Elliott, won the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship in 2014. In five Cup starts last year, Elliott’s best finish was 16th at Richmond.
Front Row Motorsports
No. 34 Ford
The lowdown: After easily winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship last year with Roush Fenway Racing, Buescher is getting loaned by that team to Front Row, which has formed a technical alliance with Roush. In six Cup starts with Front Row last year, Buescher’s top result came at Auto Club Speedway, where he finished 20th.
Wood Brothers Racing
No. 21 Ford
The lowdown: Although he has 18 career Cup starts to his credit, Blaney is eligible for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, since he hasn’t run for Sprint Cup points in his career. The son of former NASCAR racer Dave Blaney, Ryan could make some noise with the Wood Brothers going back full time this year for the first time since 2008. Blaney has two career top-10 finishes in Cup races, including an impressive fourth at Talladega last year.
Richard Petty Motorsports
No. 9 Ford
The lowdown: Like Blaney, Scott has made a number of Cup starts — 17, to be exact — but has never run for points in that series, so he will be one of the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates this year. After driving for Richard Childress Racing, Scott moves to Richard Petty Motorsports this year. His best career Cup finish was 12th at Kansas last fall.