Rookie Roundup: Auto Club 400 Edition

With the Auto Club 400 in the books, which rookie made the grade?

With the Auto Club 400 in the books, which rookie made the grade?

Each week after the race, I will take a look at our two Rookie of the Year (ROTY) contenders and any other drivers deemed a “rookie.”

Like a professor, a grade will be provided for their performance on the track.  All things considered, a high finish doesn’t necessarily mean a good grade, as a bad finish doesn’t always result in a bad grade.

Let’s take a look at how our two ROTY contenders fared following the Auto Club 400 at Fontana.

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.
Meeting Migos and bringing his car home in one piece? Not too shabby.

Meeting Migos and bringing his car home in one piece? Not too shabby.

Well…he finished.

There isn’t much to say about Bubba Wallace from his run at Auto Club Speedway but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Wallace piloted the No. 43 to a respectable 20th place finish on Sunday, just one spot lower than where he put her on the starting grid.

Leading up to the race, he made a handful of practice laps. Additionally, he was mid-pack on the speed charts, a good indication of what was to come on Sunday.

While Wallace didn’t do anything spectacular or noteworthy on Sunday, he logged all but one lap of the race and crossed the finish line in one piece and added more notes to his race book for future use.

Wallace continues to lead the ROTY contest by three points as the series heads to Martinsville.

Grade: B

Notes: The west coast swing wasn’t anything spectacular for Wallace and the No.43 team, but Martinsville should be. Wallace has had some success at the Paperclip. I’m excited to see him take on this track and I am expecting big things this weekend.

William Byron

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William Byron stayed largely out of the way during the Auto Club 400. After sitting in the top-20 throughout the three practice sessions, Byron found himself starting 29th, a result of not making a qualifying attempt on Friday.

It didn’t take long for Byron and his team to make up ground. In fact, Byron ran in the top-20 throughout most of the race, even finishing in the top-10 in Stage 2.

Damage to the nose of his Chevrolet did seem to slow him down a bit towards the end of the race.  However, he came home with a top-15 finish to end his West Coast Swing.

Grade: B

Notes: Every track that William Byron comes across during the first half of this season is new, in a way. This rookie hadn’t logged any laps in the Cup car during a race until Daytona. That said, he has done well running with the big guys during the start of the season. Ultimately, the real test might just be coming at Martinsville.

Katie Copple

They say the best things are left unsaid. I say, the best things need to be put down on paper...or the internet in this case. I discovered NASCAR and the world of motorsports in college and it changed my life... and my career path. Now, when people ask me to describe myself, I tell them that I am a 20-something that has an obsession with racecars.

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