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NASCAR excludes Trevor Bayne from rookie of the year award
Trevor Bayne when he was told on Thursday morning that he is ineligible for this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie of the year award.

“Nobody’s told me that,” he said, clearly caught by surprise. “I knew they were talking about it and trying to work something out, but I don’t know that anything had been decided. As of yesterday, nobody knew what was going on. Maybe they made the call in the last 30 or 40 minutes.”

He wasn’t far off. Only moments earlier, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp confirmed the decision that Bayne cannot run for the rookie honor this season. Tharp explained that since Bayne will race for the Nationwide Series title, he can’t earn Cup driver points in his 18 starts with Wood Brothers Racing. And if he can’t earn driver points, Tharp said, he can’t be rookie of the year.

But the news wasn’t all bad. Tharp said the details are not set in stone, but there are ongoing discussions about making Bayne eligible for the award in 2012 even though he will run half of this year’s 36-race Cup schedule.

“We’re not going to take away his chance to be rookie of the year,” Tharp said. “He can compete for it in whatever season he moves full-time to Cup. The seven-race rule [more than seven Cup starts normally disqualifies a driver from rookie status] won’t apply to him.”

Given a moment to digest the news, Bayne took it well.

“It would have been nice to run for it this year,” he said, “but as long as I still get an opportunity [later], it’s OK with me. I’d love to be able to say I was a Cup rookie of the year. Whether it’s this year or next year, I don’t know. Whatever year it is will be fine with me.” AutoWeek

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