As we continue to focus on the 2017 season, here’s a look at some of the up and coming drivers eligible for the Rookie of the Year award in their respective series.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series:
- Erik Jones – In August 2016, Furniture Row Racing announced they would become a two car team in 2017 and Erik Jones was the choice. The 20-year-old was named the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year. He’s already racked up 13 wins in his NASCAR national series career and 74 Top 10’s in 100 career races in the NASCAR XFINITY and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Jones made his official Cup Series debut at Kansas Speedway in May 2015, when he filled in for Kyle Busch. Jones qualified 12th and led a lap before finishing 40th.
- Daniel Suárez – The defending NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion was out at lunch with his girlfriend and her family when he received a call from his public relations representative. After 40 minutes, he returned to the table and wasn’t able to tell anyone that he just found out he was replacing Carl Edwards in the No. 19 car at Joe Gibbs Racing. Instead of defending his XFINITY Series championship in 2017 as the first foreign-born driver to win a NASCAR national series championship, he’ll be running full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series while occasionally making appearances in the XFINITY Series.
- Ty Dillon – After making 11 Cup Series starts in 2016, Ty Dillon is making the move to full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. Ty is the grandson of Richard Childress and younger brother of Austin Dillon, who drives the No. 3 car and was the 2011 Truck Series champion and 2013 XFINITY Series champion. Ty has an impressive resume which includes the 2011 ARCA Racing Series championship, the runner-up to the championship in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2013 and he finished third in points in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015. Overall, he has three wins in the Truck Series and one win in the XFINITY Series. His first career ARCA win came at Kansas Speedway in 2010. Ty will also make 20 starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
NASCAR XFINITY Series:
- William Byron – William Byron made a name for himself in NASCAR before he graduated high school in 2016 by winning his first ever NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway in May. Byron went on to win six additional races to set a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series record of seven wins by a rookie. With that performance, he was named the Rookie of the Year in the Truck Series. With an unfortunate engine failure in the final cutoff race in the Chase for the Camping World Truck Series championship, Byron redeemed himself by winning the season finale at Homestead, bringing home the owner’s title for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Midway through the season, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Byron would drive full-time in the No. 9 car in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for JR Motorsports.
- Cole Custer – After running a full-time slate in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2016, as well as five races in the XFINITY Series, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Custer would be racing full-time in the XFINITY Series in 2017 in the No. 00 car. Custer became the youngest winner in the history of NASCAR’s national touring series in 2014 when he won the Truck Series race at Loudon at the age of 16.
- Daniel Hemric –The 26-year-old made the inaugural Chase for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2016 despite not winning a race. He moves to the NASCAR XFINITY Series after finishing in the Top 10 in 30 of his 50 starts in the Truck Series. Hemric will drive the No. 21 car for Richard Childress Racing in 2017.
- Matt Tifft - Tifft had a rough year in 2016. After sitting out a race at the recommendation of his doctor for a back injury, a tumor was discovered in his brain. Luckily for Tifft, it was a benign low-grade tumor and he was back racing after a month and a half. Tifft will drive the No. 19 car full-time in 2017 for Joe Gibbs Racing, replacing the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion, Daniel Suarez. Tifft will compete for Rookie of the Year honors in 2017.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
- Grant Enfinger – The 2015 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Champion will race full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2017. Enfinger made eight starts in 2016 in the Truck Series with success. He sat on the pole at Daytona in the season-opener and won his first NASCAR race in October at Talladega. Enfinger finished in the Top 10 in five of his races. In 2014 and 2015, Enfinger won 12 races in the ARCA Racing Series and finished in the Top Five 24 times in 40 starts. Enfinger was the runner-up in the ARCA Racing Series in 2014. While he has 14 Truck Series races under his belt, Enfinger will compete for Rookie of the Year honors as he drives the No. 98 for ThorSport Racing.
- Chase Briscoe – The 2016 ARCA Racing Series champion will drive the No. 29 truck full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Briscoe dominated the ARCA circuit in 2016, winning six races including four straight and the season finale at Kansas Speedway.
- Cody Coughlin – Coughlin will drive the No. 13 truck full-time for ThorSport Racing in 2017. Coughlin has 12 career starts in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races in the last two years, including the 2016 Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway. He made his Kansas Speedway debut in the ARCA Racing Series in 2014, earning his first ever Top-Five finish.
- Noah Gragson - Gragson will drive full-time in 2017 for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the No. 18 truck. After grabbing a Top-Five finish at Kansas Speedway in the 2016 Kansas 150, Gragson made his NASCAR debut at Phoenix in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In addition to running a full season in the Truck Series, Gragson will also race in the ARCA Racing Series.
- Myatt Snider – Snider will drive eight races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2017 for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Snider raced at Kansas Speedway last year in the ARCA Racing Series finale, starting fourth and finished 27th.