Rookie Roundup: AAA 400 Edition

After each 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 AAA 44 at Dover.

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Miles the Monster wasn’t very nice to Bubba Wallace. Wallace put the No.43 26th on the starting grid and that would prove to be bad luck from the beginning. An early caution on Lap 3 damaged a handful of cars, including the No.43. The team pitted for repairs but any body damage at a track like Dover can prove detrimental to a car.

Wallace ran mid-pack most of the race, running between 22nd and 25th and searching for grip.

The rest of the race was uneventful. The team played around with some pit strategy to get back on the lead lap but with the rain delay, it didn’t work. Wallace left Dover with a 25th place finish.

AAA 400 Grade: C

Notes: Bubba Wallace needs to make nice with Miles the Monster before the series returns later this year. He has the talent and the drive (no pun intended) to be successful at Dover. The early accident didn’t give him the chance to run up front. I don’t see that being the case the next time around.

William Byron

Hendrick Motorsports has a pretty good reputation at Dover, and Byron’s teammate Jimmie Johnson tamed Miles the Monster years ago. So, Byron had an arsenal of brains to pick when it came to tackling one of the hardest tracks on the circuit.

Byron took advantage of the three practice times and earned himself a top-20 spot on the starting grid. Cautions came early and by Lap 3, he had already picked up a few spots on the track. Just a few laps later, he was searching for grip and dropping.

He ended Stage 1 running 12th and conserving fuel. The team made changes on pit road and Byron started Stage 2 19th after a penalty for an uncontrolled tire. He slowly gained positions through the stage, earned himself the free pass and started the final stage in 15th.

A little rain and a red flag made the final stage extremely long and that was nearly all of the excitement that the final stage had. Byron finished the AAA 400 with a respectable 14th place finish at the Monster Mile.

AAA 400 Grade: B

Notes: There was nothing exciting or particularly great about Byron’s run at Dover, but he made it through the 400 miles fairly unscathed and with a great finish to boot. I hope his team takes this momentum to Kansas because this could be a track where he really excels.

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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