2014 NSCS Rookie Daytona 500 Breakdown and Phoenix Preview

By Eric Webler
TheRacingExperts.com Reporter
March 1, 2014


The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season has the potential to be the best season in the past decade. New points system, new qualifying system, but the best thing of all, and 8 driver rookie class! You have to go all the way back to 2008 (6 drivers) but that season only had 2 drivers that kept their ride the whole season (Sam Hornish Jr and Regan Smith).. This season's Rookie Of The Year battle will definitely be one to remember. The rookies just completed the Daytona 500. This race had a rookie on the pole and some other rookies biting their nails wondering if they will be in the race or not. With Phoenix coming up, we will really see how these rookies race because you are not pushing your foot to the gas pedal the whole time and breaks really come into play.

#3 Austin Dillon
Start: 1st

Finish: 9th

Highest Finishing Rookie

Austin Dillon had a fantastic speed weeks. He put the famous #3 car on the pole for the biggest race of the year and he was able to keep the car safe the whole week to start on the pole on Sunday. Dillon has always done good at the Superspeedways in Nationwide and Trucks and he has a Daytona 500 start already under his belt so it was no surprise so see him run well. The ECR engines also had a lot of speed the whole weekend so that also helps Dillon. There were 2 cautions towards the end of the race that Dillon was involved with the start of them but full blame couldn't be put on just him. Overall, Dillon did a great job at Daytona. He got a top 10 and was the highest finishing rookie (thanks to the majority of them wrecking).

With Phoenix coming up, there is a good chance we will see the 3 car near the front. The last 4 races Dillon has ran at Phoenix in the Nationwide series, he hasn't finished worse then 6th. I expect Dillon to have a top 15 on Sunday. He will start 24th this Sunday.

#23 Alex Bowman

Start: 29th

Finished: 23rd

2nd Highest Finishing Rookie

The chances of Alex Bowman making the race on speed and making the top 15 in the Budweiser Duels were low, very low. The BK Racing cars did not have the amount of speed their competitors had. Luckily for Alex, the #23 could have possibly gotten in on owner points. However, Bowman was able to get a 14th place finish in his Budweiser Duel and he put his #23 Toyota in the Daytona 500 field. Before the rain, Bowman was running well for having only 3 super speedway races in NASCAR under his belt. He kept it clean and kept it on the lead lap. Before the race restarted, he was talking on the Sirius XM NASCAR Radio and he said that he needed someone behind his car for him to have good speed. That is exactly what didn't happen when the race restarted and after many laps, Bowman found himself a lap down. Despite going a lap down, he kept his car clean and avoided the wrecks. He might have finished 2 laps down but, he had a top 25 in his first cup start and was the 2nd highest finishing rookie.

Bowman will be in the race for Phoenix. He has 3 starts at Phoenix in the Nationwide Series with 2 top 15 finishes. BK Racing doesn't have the best equipment but I think we will see a top 30 run from Bowman this weekend. He will start 35th this Sunday.

#51 Justin Allgaier

Start: 40th

Finish: 27th

3rd Highest Finishing Rookie

After so many year in Nationwide, Justin Allgaier is finally running a full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Allgaier's #51 had some good speed during the speed weeks but he went a lap down during his duel and had to rely on owner points to be in the race. In the 500, he ran very well up until he was involved in the late race crash that took out him and 2 other rookies. Allgaier deserved a better finish then 27th.

Luckily for Allgaier, Phoenix is a track he has done very well at in the Nationwide Series. In 11 starts at the track in the Nationwide Series, he hasn't finished worse the 16th. Both of last years races, he didn't finish worse then 3rd and led 17 laps in the fall race. Justin also has one start at this track for the Cup series which happened in last years fall race and he finished 31st, 3 laps down. I believe now that HScott Motorsports has had some time to work on their cars over the off season, the #51 will be good this weekend and I expect to see him run in the top 25. Allgaier will start 43th after crashing in qualifying.

#26 Cole Whitt

Start: 23rd

Finish: 28th

4th Highest Finishing Rookie

Cole Whitt had an interesting week at Daytona. He was involved in a crash during practice that his team had to prepare because his teammate flipped and needed the backup car. Not only did the team repair the car in time for the Duel, he was very fast and competitive. Whitt had no owner points to rely on so he had to get a top 15 finish in his duel and that is exactly what he did. During the 500, Whitt was doing very good in the draft and he was looking to have a great finish but he was involved in the late race crash and ended up finishing 28th. He also deserved a better finish.

Phoenix hasn't been a place where Whitt has finished good. In 3 Nationwide starts, he has a best finish of 13th and in 2 Cup starts, he has only finished 1 of those races which was a 25th place finish. Whitt will start 31st on Sunday after having a speed good enough to make the race. I think Whitt will run near the top 30 most of the race.

#30 Parker Kligerman

Start: 41st

Finish: 29th

3rd Lowest Finishing Rookie

Parker Kligerman had a wild speed weeks. During practice, he was involved in a big crash that led to him being on his roof. Swan Racing had to get out a backup car for him. After seeing practice speeds and how it preformed during his duel, it wasn't as good as his primary. Kilgerman ran out of fuel on the final lap of his Duel and ended up finishing outside the top 15. Luckily, he was able to make the 500 based on owners points. Kligerman ran with a group in the back of the field trying to stay out of trouble which turned out bad for him because he ended up a lap down at one point in the race. However, cautions worked towards his favor and he was able to get back on the lead lap. Kligerman had a tough time moving his car through the field towards the end of the race. He was barely able to hang on to the end of the main pack. Kligerman was involved in the late race caution and he ended up finishing 29th which is around where he ran most of the day.

Kligerman has 2 Nationwide starts at Phoenix with both finishes being in the top 20. I expect Parker to have an okay run this Sunday but they need to get some more speed in his car seeing that he qualified 36th. I expect him to run in the top 30 for most of the race.

#7 Michael Annett

Start: 36th

Finish: 37th

2nd Lowest Finishing Rookie

Another driver who is finally in cup after many years in Nationwide is Michael Annett. He had a fast car during speed weeks but the finishes don't show it. Annett was fast in practices and he qualified 18th. Annett went a lap down during his duel and he made the race due to his qualifying time. Annett ran pretty good during the race but was involved in a caution around lap 160 that took him out of the race. I believe that Annett deserved a way better finish then 37th.

Annett has had mixed results at Phoenix in the Nationwide series. In 9 starts, he has finished as low as 33rd and has high as 7th. The majority of his finishes were in the top 20 though. Tommy Baldwin Racing has got sponsors this year and hopefully it will make a difference for the team. Annett however qualified 41st for Sunday's race. Hopefully the team will be able to get more speed in the car. I do though expect to see the team run in the top 35.

#42 Kyle Larson

Start: 16th

Finish: 38th

Lowest Finishing Rookie

Kyle Larson ran pretty good for most of speed weeks but he ran into some problems in the 500. Larson happened to hit the wall at the beginning of the race and that led to him blowing a tire and spinning out. Larson ended up going 2 laps down. Cautions worked in his favor and he was on the lead lap in the main pack come the 4th quarter of the race. Him and Austin Dillon got into each other and Larson got the worst of it and wasn't able to finish the race. It looked like Larson would be getting a top 20 but the wreck led to him finishing 38th, the lowest of the rookies in the race.

Larson didn't fair too well in his 2 Nationwide starts at Phoenix last year. He fished 13th in the first one and crashed out in the 2nd one. Despite that, he is looking very good this weekend and is the highest starting rookie. Actually, he is the only rookie in the top 20. Kyle Larson will roll off 8th on Sunday. I honestly think we will see him run very well and be in the top 15 for most of the race.

#83 Ryan Truex

Did Not Qualify

Speed weeks didn't go as planned for Ryan Truex. As older brother Martin Truex Jr qualified 2nd, Ryan qualified 46th. Like I said before, BK Racing wasn't as fast as their competitors the whole week and the chances were low for them to make the race on speed and be in the top 15 in the duel. Truex went a lap down early in his duel but was able to be with the pack once they caught him. He was actually in the race because of owner points at the start of the final lap but, because of the big crash and the Labonte brothers racing their way in, Ryan Truex missed the race. It was a heart breaker. Truex did however have a very good run in the Truck race for Turner Scott Motorsports that week.

Truex might have only 35 starts in the Nationwide Series, but he has started 3 races at Phoenix. He also has a truck series start there in 2012 for Hillman Racing with a 9th place finish. Ryan's highest finish in Nationwide at Phoenix came in his 3rd start in fall 2011 where he got 8th. He was able to qualify for the Cup race this weekend and he will start 34th. I expect him to run in the top 35 for most of the race.