Fan-favorite Jimmie Johnson has taken home this year’s Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award after crashing out in the final laps of the race.
The Indy 500 rookie award is an award that is voted upon, as opposed to the season-long ROTY award which is given to the highest finishing rookie in the points standings.
The seven-time NASCAR champion has one of the biggest followings in IndyCar since making the switch to the series at the start of 2021.
Running in his first Indy 500 this year, Johnson was the recipient of some of the biggest cheers from the crowd any time his name was mentioned over the PA.
The Indy 500 Rookie award is not voted on by fans, however, and is typically given to the highest finishing rookie unless extenuating circumstances present themselves.
Dale Coyne Racing’s David Malukas would have received the award if it were decided solely on finishing position, as the 20-year-old finished in 16th position at the end of 500 miles.
Johnson led two laps near the end of the race, but cycled down to 25th when he took his final pit stop later than most of his rivals.
He then crashed on his own five laps later, bringing out the day’s fifth caution and resulting in him finishing down in 28th position.
Malukas and his team took to social media to voice their disappointment with not winning the award they thought they had earned, with the young driver saying that the announcement ‘stings.’
His fans also spoke out by saying that the Indy 500 rookie of the year should at least go to someone that finishes the race, if not the highest finisher outright.
Johnson bagged an extra $50,000 bonus, along with bragging rights, for earning the prize.