New trio takes home Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors

Austin Cindric celebrates after winning the 2022 Daytona 500.
Jared C. Tilton
Getty Images

Three NASCAR rookies – one each in the NASCAR Cup Series, Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series – brought home awards for their respective teams after a thrilling weekend of championship races at Phoenix Raceway.

Team Penske’s Austin Cindric started the 2022 year with a victory in the season-opening Daytona 500, and he took the season’s final checkered flag on Sunday, having earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year.

Cindric, 24, has the Daytona 500 victory alongside five top-five and nine top-10 finishes this season and advanced to the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

He said securing that all-important early season victory allowed him to essentially learn the ropes of NASCAR’s major league as a rookie with the security of knowing he’d already earned a playoff position.

“It does change the regular season in the fact I’m able to go through the regular season without the pressure of having to win a race as well as figure everything out,” Cindric said. “And that was probably more of an advantage than I gave it credit for, not having to put pressure on yourself, your team or have to be desperate.

“From that standpoint, I think it was something that made me be able to be patient or aggressive in areas I needed to be.”

Following Cindric in the rookie standings are fellow Ford drivers – Wood Brothers’ Harrison Burton and Front Row Motorsports’ Todd Gilliland. Burton’s best finish was third place at the Indianapolis Road Course this summer. Gilliland’s top effort was fourth place at the Indy Road Course.

RELATED: Cup Series standings | Full list of ROTY winners

Austin Hill wins Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors

Austin Hill has won the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year title – earning a pair of victories in his first season driving the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

Hill, 28, of Winston, Ga., had an especially strong first full season in the series, winning the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway and then again at his home track in Atlanta this summer – the only rookie to win a race in 2022.

He scored a ninth-place finish in the Phoenix finale and wraps up the rookie title with 11 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes. Hill’s RCR teammate Sheldon Creed finished second in the rookie points, followed by Kyle Sieg and Jesse Iwuji.

RELATED: Xfinity Series standings

Corey Heim wins Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors

Kyle Busch Motorsport’s driver Corey Heim’s seventh-place finish Friday night at Phoenix capped an impressive Sunoco Rookie of the Year run in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The 20-year-old Georgia driver finished 211 points ahead of Lawless Alan for the rookie title.

Just for good measure, the part-time driver of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota finished the season with a seventh-place finish, leading five laps on the night.

It was the exclamation point on a highly-impressive debut in the series that included a pair of victories – at Atlanta Motor Speedway and then from the pole position at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. In only 16 starts this season, he posted 10 top-10 and six top-five finishes.

Next season, Heim will move to the TRICON Garage team – formerly known as Team DGR – driving the No. 11 Toyota Tundra full-time as a championship entry.

RELATED: Truck Series standings