Rookie Roundup: Food City 500 Edition

Bubba Wallace in NASCAR = match made in heaven.

After each race, as in the case for the Food City 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 the Food City 500 at Bristol.

Darrell Wallace Jr.

The first African-American driver to lead a race in the NASCAR Cup Series since Wendell Scott in 1964.

That was the title Bubba Wallace left Bristol Motor Speedway with Monday after an extremely LOOONG weekend in Tennessee.

And that title is nothing to hand your head about.

After a top-grade run at Texas, Bristol was going to be a different type of beast for the Rookie to tackle.

Could he handle it?

Apparently he could!

Wallace led 6 laps on Monday’s extended, part 2, edition of the Food City 500, but then it all seemed to slide downhill from there. The Rookie took to social media following the race, posting a video about his run at Bristol. Take a look at the video here.

Wallace left Brisol with a top 15 finish and a great story of getting stuck in the bathroom of his motorhome and having to crawl out a hatch to make it to driver intros in time. Missed that story? Check that one out here!

Food City 500 Grade: A-

Notes: Wallace’s No.43 car was a great car for the short track… until it wasn’t. After he lost the lead to eventual race winner Kyle Busch, Wallace’s car just seemed to disintegrate. He quickly found himself a lap down and struggling. What happened to his car? I don’t think Wallace can even answer that question.

William Byron:

For a young driver who hasn’t had much time behind the wheel, compared to other guys on the track, William Byron handled Bristol better than many of the veterans.

Sure, he did nothing he did out on the track was anything to brag about. However, he came out with a top-20 finish at one of the toughest tracks on the circuit.

Byron and the No.24 team played the pit strategy game to get laps back and stay in contention for a great finish. Hendrick Motorsports always brings great cars to Bristol and with his 11th place starting position, he was in for a wild yet exciting ride.

Food City 500 Grade: B

Notes: Bristol could have gone a lot worse for William Byron. There are still a number of veteran drivers who haven’t figured out Bristol yet. Don’t be surprised if you see William Byron in Victory Lane at this short track sometime soon.

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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