As the NASCAR Nationwide Series came to the checkered flag at the Texas Motor Speedway on April 12, the rookie of the year battle intensified as Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson are setting up what could be the best battle in Nationwide Series rookie history.
Larson started the season as one of the hottest rookies to ever climb aboard a NASCAR Nationwide Series vehicle. Meanwhile, Bowman entered the series after running the ARCA Series in 2012, and winning a bunch of races as he impressed team owner Robby Benton enough to give him the No. 99 Toyota ride. Together, the two young guns are putting together one heck of a battle for the NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie of the year title.
Most would think that Larson would easily be leading the rookie of the year standings after his performances late last season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Turner Motorsports, but that’s not the case. Bowman is consistently running in the top 15 on a weekly basis and isn’t tearing up equipment. Even when he’s struggling, Bowman has the experience to take it easy. Larson is just the opposite.
When Larson’s car isn’t handling well, he tends to overdrive it. It’s apart of his driving style which includes a background of numerous types of racing series across the country. Considering it’s Larson’s first full season in one of NASCAR’s top tier series, he can afford to make mistakes. He’s in the series to learn. However, he won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship in 2012, so why can’t he win rookie of the year in the NASCAR Nationwide Series?
Though the team Bowman drives for isn’t as funded as Larson’s team, Bowman seems to have the support of Toyota Racing Development as well as RAB Racing, which is fielding a second car at Richmond with Kenny Wallace to help advance Bowman’s skills. Speaking to Bowman in the past, his confidence level seems to be high as he has hopes of contending for wins as he and his crew develop over the course of the season.
It seems like the NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie of the year battle will come down to the final week of the season at Homestead. As of now, Larson trails Bowman by two points in the rookie of the year standings while Nelson Piquet Jr. is 15 points behind Bowman.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.