Tuesday April 23rd, 2024 9:49AM

New year, new Sunoco Rookie of the Year class

By AccessWDUN Staff

The start of the Daytona 500 is four days away, and a new crop of talent has high hopes of making the Great American Race field.

This season, four drivers will compete for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Cup Series – Stewart-Haas Racing’s Josh Berry, Rick Ware Racing’s Kaz Grala, and Spire Motorsports teammates Zane Smith and Carson Hocevar. Note: Grala will run the majority of the season with RWR but will be attempting the DAYTONA 500 with Front Row Motorsports.

The Sunoco Rookie of the Year point system mirrors the points structure that awards the season-long championship, including stage points and Playoff points, with the eventual Sunoco Rookie of the Year earning the most points throughout the season.

As is the case with the season-long points structure, a race win will earn a Sunoco Rookie 40 points and five Playoff points. A second-place finish will earn a Sunoco Rookie 35 points; a third-place finish nets 34 points, and so on. A Sunoco Rookie who wins a stage will earn 10 points and one Playoff point.

  • Josh Berry – No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford – takes over the No. 4 previously driven by the recently retired Kevin Harvick and will be working with crew chief Rodney Childers this season. Berry has made one start at Daytona in the NASCAR Cup Series, last August for Legacy Motor Club, he started 29th and finished 22nd. This will be his first career attempt at the DAYTONA 500.
  • Kaz Grala – No. 36 Front Row Motorsports Ford – will be attempting to qualify for the DAYTONA 500 with Front Row Motorsports No. 36 team but plans to run the majority of the season with Rick Ware Racing in the No. 15 Ford. This weekend, Grala will be working with crew chief Seth Barbour. Grala has made three starts at Daytona, posting a best finish of 26th in last season’s DAYTONA 500.
  • Zane Smith – No. 71 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet – has been tapped to drive the No. 71 for Spire Motorsports’ newly formed team, working with crew chief Stephen Doran. Smith made his DAYTONA 500 career debut last season driving for Front Row Motorsports. He started the event 17th and raced his way up to a 13th-place finish.
  • Carson Hocevar – No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet – will strap into the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports, replacing Ty Dillon, and will be collaborating with crew chief Luke Lambert. This weekend will mark the NASCAR Cup Series track debut for Carson Hocevar at Daytona International Speedway.

Five drivers vying for Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year

Last season, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Sammy Smith beat his competitors and was crowned the Xfinity Series 2023 Sunoco Rookie of the Year. This season, there are five drivers competing for the 2024 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.

  • Jesse Love: Nineteen-year-old Love will be behind the wheel of the No. 2 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. He comes to the Xfinity Series after winning the 2023 ARCA Menards Series title. He will be making his debut in the series this weekend at Daytona.
  • Dawson Cram: Twenty-two-year-old Cram will be driving the No. 4 Chevrolet for JD Motorsports. He’s made 12 Xfinity Series starts from 2021-2023. He’ll be making his debut at Daytona International Speedway this weekend.
  • Shane Van Gisbergen: Thirty-four-year-old van Gisbergen, who took NASCAR by storm by winning the inaugural Chicago Street Race in his first-ever NASCAR Cup Series race, will be back full-time in the Xfinity Series driving the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. He will make his debut in the Xfinity Series this weekend in Daytona.
  • Hailie Deegan: Twenty-two-year-old Deegan is joining AM Racing behind the wheel of the No. 15 Ford. She has made one start in the Xfinity Series, where she posted a 13th-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2022.
  • Leland Honeyman Jr: Eighteen-year-old Honeyman will be behind the wheel of the No. 42 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet. He has made eight starts in the Xfinity Series, all in 2023. He will be making his debut at Daytona on Saturday.

The NASCAR Wire Service contributed to this story. 

  • Associated Categories: NASCAR News, NASCAR Cup, SpeedWeeks
  • Associated Tags: nascar, Auto Racing, nascar xfinity series, NASCAR Cup Series, stock car racing, Sunoco Rookie of the Year
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