In almost any other year, a statement such as that made above would be laughed at, however in view of the calibre of rookie's in this season's Winston Cup, it isn't really that surprising.

Take a look at the record's of those taking in their first season of Winston Cup action. Dale Earnhardt Jr arrived on the big stage with the last two Busch Grand National titles in his back pocket. He has also got the same team behind him which helped him to his success's. The team is owned by Dale Earnhardt whose enormous amount of experience is always available for his son to benefit from.

'Little E' has taken the NASCAR world by storm with two points scoring victories in the first twelve races and yet he isn't leading the Rookie of the Year championship. That honour goes to the quietly spoken Matt Kenseth who took his first win in Winston Cup competition last Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Kenseth fought tooth and nail with Earnhardt Jr for the last two years in the Busch series and was never able to get the upper hand. This year could be the year he takes his revenge.

Kenseth has graduated to the big leagues in a team owned by Jack Roush and his idol, Mark Martin. Despite the new work environment, Kenseth retains his Busch series crew chief, Robbie Reiser which has proved to be an invaluable move so far this year. While Earnhardt Jr has taken most of the spotlight in the early season, Kenseth has quietly got on with the job and has worked his way onto the fringes of the top ten in the points table. Kenseth currently sits 13th in the points, three places ahead of Earnhardt Jr.

The other major pre season talking point was the appearance of ex-CART star Scott Pruett who arrived on the scene with the new PPI Motorsports outfit which ran him in the Fed-Ex Champ Car series. People were expecting Pruett to undergo a tough baptism and sure enough, the single seater ace has struggle to cope with the racing conditions. Often quick in qualifying, witness his second place at Las Vegas and sixth position at California, Pruett has not looked at home 'in the draft' and has become involved in some nasty looking accidents. Pruett has always been a realistic racer and such a tough baptism will not have detracted from his desire to conquer stock car racing. However from 40th place in the points, that may take more time than he expected.

Stacy Compton is currently the nearest challenger to Messrs Earnhardt and Kenseth in the Rookie of the year standings, albeit some 44 points behind the second placed Earnhardt Jr. Compton differs from the pair ahead of him in that he isn't driving for a race winning outfit. Compton's Melling Racing team have been on the NASCAR scene for some time but cannot compete on the same level as Dale Earnhardt's or Jack Roush's outfit, there simply isn't the funding available. Still, Compton has shown a good turn of speed and barring bouts of bad luck, Compton has been a consistent finisher.

The other threat in the Rookie championship is Dave Blaney who graduates from the Busch championship in as second Bill Davis run Pontiac. Blaney's form has been difficult to assess thus far. On occasions Blaney's pace has been there for all to see but at other time's he has struggled. Davis' other driver, Ward Burton is currently challenging for championship honours so there is no doubting the team's pedigree. Whether Blaney can turn it into a race winning pedigree remains to be seen.

Last season Tony Stewart set a new standard for all rookie drivers to aspire to. Already that standard has been broken by Kenseth and Earnhardt who are raising the level of performance to a new plateau. Despite only sitting 13th and 16th in the points table, both driver's carry a legitimate shot at winning the Winston Cup at their first attempt. For either to do so, it would require the current championship contenders to undergo a remarkable period of bad luck but as already seen in the Winston Cup this year, anything is possible.