NASCAR Cup: Chase Elliott claims Rookie of the Year honors
Chase Elliott (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Chase Elliott is the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year, beating out a fellow-rookie class that included Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Brian Scott and Jeffrey Earnhardt. The announcement came after Sunday’s season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway during which HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson claimed his history-tying seventh Sprint Cup.
“I definitely think it’s a really cool honor, and I’ve been proud to bee a part of it this year, racing against Ryan, Chris and Brian,” Elliott said. “It’s been fun to be a part of that group, and I appreciate the sportsmanship those guys have shown throughout the year.”
Unlike Elliott, Scott and Blaney, Earnhardt didn’t compete in all 36 points-paying races.
According to a release Monday from Hendrick Motorsports, Elliott led the rookie standings all season long, even though Buescher was the lone rookie to win a Sprint Cup race in 2016, doing so in a rain-shortened race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.
After running five Cup racing simultaneous to a full Xfnity Series season last year, Elliott embarked on full-time Sprint Cup competition in 2016, taking over the driving duties behind the wheel of the No. 24 HMS Chevrolet vacated by four-time champion Jeff Gordon and following in the footsteps of his father, retired Sprint Cup legend Bill Elliott.
Elliott kicked off his rookie campaign by claiming the pole for the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. He went on to post 10 top-fives and 17 top-10 finishes. He claimed two runner-up finishes in 2016, both coming at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Elliott also made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship post-season in his rookie campaign, advancing to the second round (round of 12).