Rookie Report: Kobalt 400
Photo by Brian DeGruchy/TheRacingExperts.com
Ryan Blaney talks with Kevin Harvick pre-race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.


By Dominic Aragon Editor March 7, 2016 daragon@theracingexperts.net


LAS VEGAS—Five rookie-of-the-year candidates were among the 39 starters in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 field at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Below is a breakdown of how each fared.



No. 21 Ryan Blaney
Blaney started 14th in his second career start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

After the NASCAR-mandated competition caution, Blaney restarted twelfth, on the lead lap, when the race resumed on lap 36.

Blaney, who ran as high as the top-five, eventually finished sixth, his first top-ten finish of 2016 and third career top-ten finish.



Photo by Jeremy Thompsoni/TheRacingExperts.com
Ryan Blaney practices at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“Overall a good day,” Blaney said. “A nice day to have after our disappointment last week in Atlanta. That was tough for us. Hopefully this is a good step in the right direction. But our team did a great job... I think our organization is stepping in the right direction, for sure.”

Blaney has been the highest finishing rookie in two of the three Sprint Cup races this season.

Blaney sits 14th in driver standings heading into next week’s race at Phoenix International Speedway seven points above the Chase cutoff.


Photo by Jeremy Thompsoni/TheRacingExperts.com
Chase Elliott pre-race Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

No. 24 Chase Elliott
Elliott started 13th, the highest qualifying rookie.

Elliott restarted tenth after the competition caution period on lap 36.

Running as high as second place, Elliott was involved in a four car incident on lap 225. Elliott finished 38th, out of the race.

“Just disappointed, what a fast race car, I appreciate everybody working hard,” he said. “I feel like we made a lot of gains this weekend. Just a terrible job on my behalf. That is pitiful. We have run three races and finished one. Just a bad job on my end. I ought to know better to miss a wreck like that.”

Elliott will enter next Sunday’s race 28th in driver points, 28 points behind the Chase cutoff.

No. 32 Jeffrey Earnhardt
Earnhardt started 38th Sunday in his fourth career Sprint Cup race.

Earnhardt fell one lap down before the competition caution. He restarted 38th after the competition caution period on lap 36.


Earnhardt eventually finished 33rd, five laps down. The result is a career high for Earnhardt.


“It was a big learning day for us,” he said to The Racing Experts. “We were way out of left field in Atlanta, walked away a little frustrated. Trying to just figure out the difference in these cars and the Xfinity cars.

“We started off  the whole weekend here a lot better than where we were in Atlanta so we’re already a lot happier with our package here.”


Photo by Jeremy Thompson/TheRacingExperts.com
Jeffrey Earnhardt practices at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
No. 34 Chris Buescher
Buescher started 25th in his first start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
He restarted 29th after the competition caution period on lap 36.


Buescher had a penalty on lap 85 for an uncontrolled tire, resulting in a pass-through penalty.

Buescher posted his best finish this season, 26th, one lap down.  

“It was a windy day,” he said to The Racing Experts. “We’ll keep getting better and working forward as we go.”

Buescher enters next week’s race at PIR 34th in driver standings, 39 points behind the Chase cutoff.



Photo by Brian DeGruchy/TheRacingExperts.com
Chris Buescher pre-race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

No. 44 Brian Scott
Scott started 32nd in his second career Sprint Cup start at Las Vegas.

Scott restarted the race 30th after the competition caution period on lap 36.

Scott eventually finished 27th, one lap down.

“We struggled, we just lacked speed from the time we unloaded,” he said to The Racing Experts. “I’m proud of my guys, we fought as hard as we could and we did everything that we could to get as much speed in our car, and I felt like we had it to about its capabilities. I think we were capable of running 20th.”



Photo by Brian DeGruchy/TheRacingExperts.com
Brian Scott practices at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Scott sits 27th in points after three races in 2016. He is 27 points behind the Chase cutoff.



Joe Laracuente contributed to this article.

Thanks to Team Chevy and Ford Performance


Which rookie impressed you most Sunday?
Ryan Blaney
Chase Elliott
Jeffrey Earnhardt
Chris Buescher
Brian Scott
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