Two years ago there were six rookie drivers. Last year four of them returned for their sophomore seasons. This year the three best are back once again for their third seasons in Cup—and just like over the past two years, we’ll be ranking them here at Spade Racing.
Just like in years past we’ll be utilizing the PRETTY grade—Performance Relative to Equating Team’s Typical Year—as a way to properly rank someone from a top-flight team like Joe Gibbs Racing against someone from a top-flight slumping team like Stewart-Haas Racing against someone from a mid-level operation like RCR.
Here’s where our three guys stack up heading into Sonoma:
1.) Christopher Bell (Joe Gibbs Racing). 2022 Best Race Finish: 3rd (COTA). PRETTY Grade: B+. C.Bell to the lead! Five straight top-ten finishes will do that. And believe it or not, Bell is ahead of Denny Hamlin in the points standings. Now all he needs is a win to punch his Playoff ticket…and, preferably, a better paint scheme than that weird purple Yahoo one.
2.) Tyler Reddick (Richard Childress Racing). 2022 Best Race Finish: 2nd (Bristol Dirt, Darlington). PRETTY Grade: A. Two second-place finishes, one of which was a near miss, and Tyler drops in the standings? Well, two 30th place finishes at non-plate tracks will do that. But he’s still beating Austin Dillon in the points AND the headwear department.
3.) Cole Custer (Stewart-Haas Racing). 2022 Best Race Finish: 11th (Auto Club). PRETTY Grade: D-. Chase Briscoe has a race win. Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick are in the top-sixteen in points. And Cole is 27th without a single top-ten race finish. Maybe its COLE who should be retiring instead of Double-A.
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