Rookie Roundup: A Look Back at the FoHQT 500

William Byron had a decent day for a rookie racer at Atlanta. (Photo Credit: Zach Darrow/TPF)

William Byron had a decent day for a rookie racer at Atlanta. (Photo Credit: Zach Darrow/TPF)

Each week after the race, as in the case with the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, 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 Atlanta.

After a fun-filled Daytona 500, our two rookie drivers had a bit of a while ride at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.
Bubba Wallace was having a decent day at Atlanta until late race problems. (Photo Credit: Zach Darrow/TPF)

Bubba Wallace was having a decent day at Atlanta until late race problems. (Photo Credit: Zach Darrow/TPF)

After a great second place run at Daytona, Wallace found himself in a different position at Atlanta. The rough surface proved to be a tough opponent for the young driver.

Wallace and the No. 43 team brought a fast car to Atlanta, laying down quick laps during the two practice sessions and logging some much-needed time on track before raceday.

After starting 19th, Wallace ran a respectable and largely uneventful performance in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.  Unfortunately for Wallace, he ran into some trouble late in the run. Actually, he really just ran in to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. following an engine blow-up from Trevor Bayne.

Consequently, the No.43 sustained significant damage to the nose of the car and lost time on pit road as his team made repairs. In the end, Wallace finished six laps down in 32nd.

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Grade: C

Notes: Wallace ran a good race at Atlanta. He didn’t take too many risks and would have finished mid-pack had it not been for the wreck with Stenhouse Jr.

William Byron
Byron enjoys a selfie moment with young race fans.

Byron enjoys a selfie moment with young race fans. 

Atlanta Motor Speedway was a great learning track for William Byron. The young driver did nothing spectacular over the 500 miles, but ran a good and respectable race. Through the two practice sessions, Byron and his team made a number of adjustments to the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet to earn a 23rd starting spot.

Byron dropped to the back early in the race with a loose racecar, saying he felt that something was broken. After the competition caution, it was found that the tires had corded. Following the caution and a great pit stop, Byron climbed to mid-pack and largely stayed there throughout the rest of the race. Byron finished the race 18th and two laps down.

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Grade: B

Notes: He may not have finished on the lead lap. However, Byron and his No. 24 team gained a lot of experience at Atlanta that they can take with them throughout the season. Las Vegas should be a good race for Bryon. With a test session under his belt there, some track familiarity should suit him well.

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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