The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year battle has been lackluster the past four seasons. In those seasons many of the drivers who won the award were either running a part-time schedule or were uncontested when they ran for the award.
In 2009, Joey Logano won the Rookie of the Year title in a landslide over open-wheel transfers Scott Speed and Max Papis. In 2010 Kevin Conway won the Rookie of the Year title despite only running 28 of the 36 scheduled events and having just one top 25 finish in his 28 starts. In 2011, Andy Lally won the Rookie of the Year title. Lally's only competition for the title dropped out of contention early as lack of sponsorship forced Brian Keselowski to run a limited schedule that season. Lally won the Rookie of the Year uncontested. He ran 30 of 36 races having only three top 25 finishes in his 30 starts.
In 2012, Steven Leicht beat out Josh Wise for Rookie of the Year title. Leicht started 15 races in the 2012 season and won the award even though his best finish of the season was 26th at Watkins Glen. Leicht, Conway, Lally and Logano all earned the Rookie of the Year Title and that award shouldn't be taken from them, however the entertainment and excitement for the award wasn't there when they won it. In 2013 the Rookie of the Year battle will generate some buzz.
The 2013 Rookie of the Year race will certainly generate some big time entertainment as two of the biggest names from the NASCAR Nationwide Series will join the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with two of the Cup Series best race teams.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr will be running for the Rookie of the Year title in 2013 running the full schedule for Roush-Fenway Racing after winning two consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series championships. Stenhouse has made just five career Cup starts before the 2013 season, registering two top 15 finishes in those five starts. Stenhouse appears to be the favorite to win the award.
Joining Stenhouse in the Rookie of the Year run will be Danica Patrick. Obviously Patrick's 2012 season was one to forget in the NASCAR Nationwide Series but she is running full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, no matter what the reason may be. Patrick will run a fully funded ride in a third car from the Stewart-Haas Racing stables. Being that she is with a great race team she could pose some competition for the Rookie of the Year title. Now Patrick will have to improve immensely from her 2012 season in which she only recorded four top ten finishes in 33 starts in the Nationwide Series. She made ten Cup starts for Stewart Haas Racing, finishing a career best 17th place finish in her season finale at Phoenix International Raceway.
Even though Stenhouse appears to be the favorite to win the award he should have more competition than the winners of the last few years have had.
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