When was the last time two or more rookies finished top-five in the same race?

By Dominic Aragon
August 30, 2016

With two rookie contenders finishing inside the top-five in the Pure Michigan 400 Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, those two drivers accomplished something that has not been achieved in over nine-and-a-half seasons.

Chase Elliott’s second-place finish and Ryan Blaney’s fourth-place finish marked the first time multiple Sprint Cup Series rookie-of-the-year contenders finished inside the top-five in the same race since November 2006.

Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin finished second and third respectively during their rookie campaigns in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November of 2006, 348 races ago.

This is the second time in the Chase-era the mark has been accomplished.

Since the inception of the NASCAR Rookie-of-the-Year Award in 1958 for the Sprint Cup Series, the feat has been accomplished a total of eight times, all at eight different venues.

Other Instances of Multiple ROTY Contenders in the Top-five

Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman did it twice in 2002. Johnson won the June 2002 Dover race while Newman finished fourth. Additionally, Johnson finished fourth and Newman finished fifth in the 2002 June Chicagoland race.

Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. did it once in 2000. Kenseth picked up his first career victory in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May while Dale Junior finished fourth.

In 1994, three contenders finished inside the top-five in the July Pocono race. Ward Burton, Joe Nemechek and Jeff Burton finished second, third and fourth respectively. That race marked the highest amount of rookie-of-the-year contenders to finish inside the top-five in the same race to date.

In 1974, Earl Ross won and Richie Panch finished fifth in the September race at Martinsville Speedway. The victory was Ross’ lone victory in the series.

In September of 1959, Bob Burdick and Richard Petty finished second and fourth respectively in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, the first time in series history two rookie-of-the-year contenders placed inside the top-five in the same race.

Year and Amount of Times
2016 - 1
2006 - 1
2002 - 2
2000 - 1
1994 - 1
1974 - 1
1959 - 1
Total - 8

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Will two or more ROTY contenders finish inside the top-five in the same race again this season?
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