Rookie Roundup: Overton’s 400 Edition

With the first half of the season wrapped up, how'd our intrepid rookie class take to last Sunday's Overton's 400? (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

With the first half of the season wrapped up, how’d our intrepid rookie class take to last Sunday’s Overton’s 400? (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

After each race, such as this past Sunday’s Overton’s 400, 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 Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland.

Did Bubba Wallace have another promising race at Chicagoland? (Photo Credit: Kathleen Cassidy/TPF)

Did Bubba Wallace have another promising race at Chicagoland? (Photo Credit: Kathleen Cassidy/TPF)

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.

Having the Chicagoland race this early in the season threw a number of fans off, but that didn’t seem to bother this Rookie driver. Wallace qualified 26th to start the Overton’s 400 after a tight racecar cost him time on his qualifying run. Despite this, the team was optimistic going in to Sunday’s race.

Before the race even began, The No.43 gained a few spots on the grid after multiple cars failed post-qualifying tech, leaving him 22nd on the starting grid on Sunday.

Wallace dropped a few spots early on with a tight racecar. This seemed to be an issue for many on the track, but a few track bar adjustments helped him keep his speed until the team could make their first pit stop.

Following the end of Stage 1, Bubba was fighting for front grip and for a bit of relief from the heat.

There wasn’t much excitement through Stage 2 and 3. Some minor contact with the No.6 that didn’t cause any real significant damage. Wallace and the No.43 ran in the high 20s throughout most of the race, keeping consistent in the heat.

At the checkered flag, Bubba Wallace finished one spot below where he started, in 23rd.

Overton’s 400 Grade: B

Notes: This wasn’t a bad race for Wallace. He fought a tight and HOT racecar, yet stayed consistent throughout the 400 miles.

Was William Byron all smiles following the race at Chicagoland? (Photo Credit: Kathleen Cassidy/TPF)

Was William Byron all smiles following the race at Chicagoland? (Photo Credit: Kathleen Cassidy/TPF)

William Byron

The Overton’s 400 started well from Rookie William Byron. Byron and the No.24 Hendrick Motorsports Team put the car 8th on the starting grid, a respectable spot for the young driver. Unfortunately, things would drop back from the first wave of the green flag.

Just 10 laps in, Byron had already dropped 8 spots to 16th, but was quiet on the radio. A handful of laps later, he had dropped to 18th and radioed in that his car was really loose entering turn 3. He moved to 23rd before the first round of pit stops.

Big adjustments during the first pit stop seemed to help. Byron began climbing through the field, reaching P16 by the end of Stage 1.

Stage 2 was fairly positive for the No.24 team, running between 15th and 18th before his car took a tight turn. The team made more changes on pit road and Byron ran a good race to finish 400 miles at Chicagoland. He brought the No.24 Chevrolet home 20th, a respectable place for this Rookies first run in Chicago.

Overton’s 400 Grade: B+

Notes: Byron stayed consistent throughout the 400 miles, fight tight and loose conditions alongside the blistering heat.

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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