NASCAR ROTY RANKINGS 1986: Ranking the Rookie of the Year Classes Through the Years

Alan Kulwicki
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.


Winner: Alan Kulwicki (AK/Terry).  Runners Up: Michael Waltrip (Bahari), Chet Fillip (Circle Bar).  Aborted Attempts: Davey Allison, Jerry Cranmer, Rick Baldwin, Jonathan Lee Edwards, Wayne Kramer

How their careers turned out: Alan Kulwicki faced long odds, running his own equipment often with limited funding, but beat them all to win the 1992 Cup championship—only for his career to tragically be cut short the following year.  Michael Waltrip, meanwhile, had a lengthly career going from a driver famous for NOT winning to winning the biggest races of them all.  Chet Fillip is probably better known for his CART/IndyCar career, only making seven Cup attempts after his rookie season (and the less said about Circle Bar’s other driver, the better).

“Fun” “Fact” about the winner: No snark here—AK was one of the greats for what he did, and I just wish we got to see more of him.

Ranking: #15 out of 50 updated four times weekly

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