2014 NSCS Rookie Phoenix Breakdown and Las Vegas Preview

By Eric Webler
TheRacingExperts.com Reporter
March 8, 2014


You think Daytona was a big challenge for the 2014 rookie class? Phoenix might have been a bigger challenge. Every rookie driver made the race this time but, thats about the best thing for them. At one point, every rookie driver was at least 1 lap down. For these 8 drivers, I bet they all were glad to get out of the desert. Hopefully these guys will turn it around tomorrow at Las Vegas.

#42 Kyle Larson

Start: 8th

Finish: 20th

Highest Finishing Rookie

After finishind 38th at Daytona, Larson really needed a good run at Phoenix. The weekend started off good after being one of the fastest 12 drivers in round 1 in the new qualifying system. Larson started 8th for the race and was the only rookie that started in the top 20. At the beginning, Larson dropped back a little bit but stayed in the top 20. He was actually in the top 20 for most of the race. Second half of the race, Larson ended up going 1 lap down but after a couple of cautions near the end of the race, Larson was able to get the lucky dog and he finished 20th, the last car on the lead lap. This was a decent rebound from Daytona but he needed a higher finish to get back up in the Rookie Of The Year standings.

Las Vegas wasn't too good for Kyle Larson in the Nationwide Series last year. He finished 32nd after starting 13th, crashed out of the race. After qualifying 17th for Sunday's race is around how fast he was in the practices leading to qualifying. After qualifying, more speed was found in the #42 and he was in the top 10 for practice 2 and happy hour. I expect to see Larson have a top 15 run at Las Vegas if he can keep is car out of trouble and he runs smart.

#3 Austin Dillon

Start: 24th

Finish: 24th

2nd Highest Finishing Rookie

Phoenix wasn't too good for Austin Dillon. After starting 24th, he started to drop. He was about to go a lap down but was saved by the competition caution. The team wasn't able to get the car much better and he stayed around the top 25 for most of the race and at least a lap down by the second half. Austin ended up finishing where he started in 24th.

Austin Dillon has a Cup start and 2 Nationwide starts at Las Vegas. Both of the finishes in the Nationwide races were 7th or better and in his Cup start last year for Phoenix Racing, he finished 21st, one lap down. So far Dillon has been really fast at Las Vegas. He qualified 4th and has been in the top 10 for every practice except for 1 which was in the top 20 and that is still pretty fast. I expect to see him run in the top 10 for most of the race. Based on his speeds, he actually might be a contender to win on Sunday.

#26 Cole Whitt

Start: 31st

Finish: 27th

3rd Highest Finishing Rookie

For the growing team that Cole Whitt is racing for, 27th is an okay finish for him. There must have been some worries for him after his teammate had engine issues. The first break for Whitt started with making the race. He needs to qualify in the top 35 to be in and he did that. Cole ran around the top 30 for most of the race and he ended up finishing 2 laps down in 27th.

Whitt started off pretty good this weekend. He was 6th fastest in Thursday's testing session and has been around the top 30 for most of the weekend and once again qualified for the race and will start 28th for Sunday's event. I would like to say, based on the test, he runs in the top 25 but I think it will be more along the lines of around the top 30.

#51 Justin Allgaier

Start: 43rd

Finish: 30th

4th Highest Finishing Rookie

Justin Allgaier started at the end of the field because he wrecking in qualifying. Before the competiton caution, he was able to work his way up to the top 30. That's about where he stayed. Around lap 170, he was involved in a caution with Danica Patrick and Travis Kvapil. He was able to continue on to get a 30th place finish, 3 laps down.

Las Vegas has been pretty good to Allgaier in the Nationwide Series. In 5 starts, all of his finishes have been in the top 10 except for the most recent start which was a 15th place finish. So far, he hasn't done so good this weekend. He has been below the top 30 for every practice and for qualifying. Hopefully his team can get more speed in that car for Sunday. Based on the speeds, I expect him to run around the top 35 for most of the race.

#7 Michael Annett

Start: 41st

Finish: 34th

4th Lowest Finishing Rookie

Phoenix didn't fair to well for Michael Annett. He didn't run well for most of the weekend. Annett ended up finishing 34th, 5 laps down. Either Phoenix wasn't a good track for Annett or Tommy Baldwin Racing still needs some help to get better.

Las Vegas is a track that Annett hasn't done too great on. In 4 Nationwide starts, he has finished twice with both of those finishes being 13th. So far, he hasn't been that fast this weekend. He will start 38th on Sunday. I like Annett but I don't think he will do very well. With a car that doesn't have the speed his competitors have and okay finishes in the Nationwide Series, I think that he will run around the top 35.

#83 Ryan Truex

Start: 34th

Finish: 35th

3rd Lowest Finishing Rookie

After missing the Daytona 500, Ryan Truex needed to make the race at Phoenix and he did. Starting 34th, he ran around that spot most of the race. He finished 35th, 5 laps down. Now it could have been his team or a lack of experience that was the cause of this finish.

Ryan Truex has one start at Las Vegas in the Nationwide Series that resulted in a 19th place finish, 5 laps down. So far this weekend, he hasn't beeo that fast. He will start in the 39th position. I don't expect him to do very well this weekend. He will probably run around the top 35.

#23 Alex Bowman

Start: 35th

Finish: 41st

2nd Lowest Finishing Rookie

After Bowman got a great finish at Daytona with a team that sometimes doesn't have the best cars compared to the other teams they face, things were really looking up to them for Phoenix. The team ended up having some problems that put them in the garage. He ended up finishing 41st.

In Alex's first and only start at Las Vegas in the Nationwide Series, he finished 8th. This weekend, the #23 didn't seem that fast and he ended up qualifying 36th. During happy hour, it looks like the team found a little bit of speed in the car and he was 27th fastest. There is some hope for the team that they will run good and I hope they run in the top 30 but, it will most likely be around that.

#30 Parker Kligerman

Start: 36th

Finish: 42th

Lowest Finishing Rookie

Daytona didn't go so well for Kligerman and they needed to bounce back and have a good run at Phoenix. Sadly that didn't happen when the engine turned sour around the begnning of the race and it died after a little over 200 laps. Tough luck for Parker for his first two cup races.

Parker Kligerman has 2 Nationwide Series starts at Las Vegas. Both of them resulted in a 30th place finish or worse. He had problems in both of those races. Hopefully he will run well this weekend because he really needs to. First Practice, he was 27th but he dropped in the next couple practices and he qualified 32nd. The team got a sponsor this weekend and I expect them to run around the top 30 for most of the race.