25 Nov 2021 | 08:56 | NASCAR
When the checkered flag fell at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, among the drivers to put a bow on a successful 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season was Chase Brisoe. Despite crashing out due to a left rear tire failure and finishing 35th, the Mitchell, Indiana, driver will now forever be remembered as the top first-year driver in his class.
Chase Briscoe was officially named the Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Cup Series for 2021 at the conclusion of Sunday’s season finale at Phoenix, allowing him to put two hands on an award he already effectively had wrapped up. Briscoe’s Rookie of the Year title was secured by virtue of his performance throughout the season, which saw him be the top-finishing rookie over ROTY rival Anthony Alfredo 29 times compared to Alfredo’s seven.
Briscoe also earned 655 points en route to a 23rd place finish in the final standings, nearly double the total Alfredo earned.
After winning 11 times in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, including nine times in 2020, Briscoe was promoted by Stewart-Haas Racing to drive the No. 14 Ford vacated by the retirement of Clint Bowyer. While the 2021 season was not SHR’s strongest, Briscoe flashed throughout the season and earned three Top 10 finishes with a best result of sixth at Circuit of the Americas and Road America.
Briscoe also contended for the win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course before a penalty for cutting the course on the final restart took him out of contention. He is now the fourth Indiana-born driver in Cup Series history to win Rookie of the Year honors. Briscoe joins Kenny Irwin Jr. (1998), his car owner Tony Stewart (1999) and Ryan Newman (2002) among Hoosiers to have earned top rookie honors.
Briscoe is the second-straight Stewart-Haas Racing driver to win Rookie of the Year honors, following up on Cole Custer winning the award in 2020.
This also marks the second straight Rookie of the Year title for a Ford driver, a prize the Blue Oval looks to keep in-house in 2022. As of November, the two prospective Rookie of the Year candidates in Cup next year are Austin Cindric and Harrison Burton, both of whom move up from the Xfinity Series to drive Fords in Cup.