Though the battle for this year's Automobile Club Road to the Future Award is far from over, there appears to be an early frontrunner. Third-generation racer Tanner Gray moved into the role of favorite when he drove his Gray Motorsports entry to the Pro Stock title at the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, becoming the youngest driver to ever win in a Pro class in NHRA history. Though Gray's win puts him in the catbird seat for now, he does have some tough competition in the battle to be named this year's top rookie.
Jonnie Lindberg has been very impressive in his nitro debut, advancing to the final round at both events he has attended, most recently finishing as the runner-up to Tommy Johnson Jr. in Las Vegas. Joey Gladstone has had just one shot thus far with the Pro Stock Motorcycle class only competing in Gainesville, but he made a strong first impression, qualifying third and recording a semifinal finish. Shawn Reed has also logged a semifinal showing early in the season, and Troy Coughlin Jr. has been a top-half qualifier at all four events this season. Following is a look at the stats of this year's rookies after four of 24 events.
|Best qualifying position||6||11||10||3||3|