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NASCAR Rookies of 2001…How Many Do You Remember?

Posted by chadmusselman on August 19, 2009

Casey AtwoodWhen Jeff Gordon started racing in the Sprint Cup full time in 1993 Dale Earhnardt nicknamed him the “Wonder Boy” since he was so good. Since then there have been many young, good drivers join the top series in NASCAR. A lot of these “young guns” are the drivers veterans like Gordon are chasing around the track each week. Think you know all of the drivers that have joined the Sprint Cup since 2001? Can you name ½ of them? Well, let’s take a look at the rookie class of 2001 first, and see if you remember them. You may be surprised by the names that you’ve forgotten, and some you may be surprised are still racing. Next week we’ll look at the rookies of 2002.

There were 5 rookies in the class of 2001, with all of them running 30 or more races. Can you name all of the rookies, or even 2 of them?

The two biggest names from that class are Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, who ran all 35 races that year. Harvick had a very good season with 2 wins, 6 top fives, and 16 top tens and easily won Rookie Of they Year honors with Kurt Busch being 2nd.

The other guys in that class? Casey Atwood, Jason Leffler and Ron Hornaday. Harvick and Busch are obviously mainstays in the Sprint Cup series and capable of winning any race, but the rest never really panned out in the series.

Remember when Casey Atwood was suppose to be the next Jeff Gordon? Ray Evernham was way off on that one. After two full seasons at the premier level Casey went back to racing in the Nationwide series where he is still racing in 2009 without a top ten finish.

After his rookie season, Jason Leffler never ran more than 19 races in the Sprint Cup Series, but has made a good name for himself in the Nationwide series over the past three seasons.

Ron Hornaday never started more than 3 races in the Spring Cup outside of his rookie season. He did toil in the Nationwide series from 2002 – 2004 making 30 or more starts each year, finishing 3rd and 4th in the standings in 2003 & 2004. From 2005 on, Ron has done very well in the Truck Series, finishing no worse than 7th in the final standings and winning the championship in 2007, and is leading the series in points this season.

So, how many of these guys could you name, or even remember were in the Cup Series at all? Next week we’ll take a look at the 2002 rookie class.

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