Rookie Round-Up: Pocono 400 Edition

fter 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 Pocono 400 at Pocono.

#43: Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Kroger / Coca-Cola

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Well…

There isn’t too much to say here about Wallace’s appearance at Pocono. It didn’t last long. Just a 108 laps before the No.43 blew an engine and retired to the garage.

Wallace’s car had some speed but seemed to be lacking a bit of what the leaders had. His practice times were decent, stinking around the upper-20’s on the speed chart and his qualifying run of 19th was not a surprise, but definitely respectable.

The only highlight of his day was the lap he led, but that was pit strategy at its finest.

Pocono was Wallace’s first start in the Cup series in 2017. There, he put his car 16th on the grid and finished 26th. We can’t fairly compare that race to this one, seeing as he didn’t complete all 400 miles. But rest assured, when the series returns, he will have his first start to look back on, not this one, for race notes.

Pocono 400 Grade: D

Notes: There isn’t much to grade him on here except his practice and qualifying. His car just seemed to be missing that “oomph” that the leaders had. Which, looking at how his race ended, the faulty engine could have contributed to lack of speed.

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

William Byron

This rookie had a decent race at the Tricky Triangle. After qualifying 16th, Byron had a fairly uneventful race.

The Hendrick Motorsports Driver kept to himself and stayed out of the way, logging laps and gaining valuable experience at one of NASCAR’s most unique tracks.

Byron finished just two spots lower than where he qualified and still on the lead lap. A respectable race for a young rookie.

Pocono 400 Grade: B

Notes: There really isn’t much to say here. Byron really did nothing wrong in the race, but didn’t do anything spectacular either. He added pages into his notebook and we will see just how much he learned when the series returns.

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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