In what has been an already impressive first full season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Kyle Larson added another accolade to his resume Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway – the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. In doing so, he becomes the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D) graduate and first Asian-American driver to receive the award in a NASCAR national series.
Additionally, Larson was a member of the 2012 “NASCAR Next” class, an initiative designed to identify the sport’s next generation of stars.
“Kyle’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award marks a historic moment for NASCAR and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program,” said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR vice president of public affairs and multicultural development. “We couldn’t be happier for Kyle and with the progress we have made in increasing minority and female on-track participation in the sport.”
Larson captured the rookie honors by 82 points over runner-up Alex Bowman.
Larson, from Elk Grove, Calif., finished second four times (Bristol-1, Michigan, Dover-2 and Homestead) this season and overall compiled nine top-five and 17 top-10 finishes.
He made headlines in April, winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Rockingham Speedway to become the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program to win a NASCAR national series race.
Larson will compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2014, driving the No. 42 Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.