NASCAR ROTY RANKINGS 1976: Ranking the Rookie of the Year Classes Through the Years

Join me as we take a look at every NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year class from 1972 (the start of the modern era) through 2021, going from the worst to the first in terms of overall careers of each year’s rookie class.


Runner-up Neil Bonnett

Winner: Skip Manning (Hagan/Harris/Langley).  Runners Up: Terry Bivins (Moyer/Ballard/Champion/Brockman), Neil Bonnett (Bonnett), Jimmy Means (Jimmy Means).  Aborted Attempts: Bill Elliott, John A. Utsman, Johnny Ray

How their careers turned out: Well, a runner-up sure outshone the winner here, huh?  Skip Manning put together a decent rookie year across three teams, but did little to nothing of note afterwards.  Meanwhile, Neil Bonnett had a great career, only stanched by numerous injuries and his untimely demise.  Jimmy Means was a great independent owner-driver (who didn’t love the Alka-Seltzer car?) and Terry Bivens later became a professional fisherman.

“Fun” “Fact” about the winner: According to legend, Skip Manning only won the ROTY award (remember, it was voted on for a majority of its existence) because Manning’s sponsor threatened to leave the sport if he didn’t.  Granted, this rumor comes from Terry Bivens, so…

Ranking: #36 out of 50 updated four times weekly

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