With eight rookies in the Sprint Cup Series this season, there will be plenty of mistakes and errors made on track. Each week, I’ll recap the Hits and Misses of the 2014 Rookie of the Year class.
Austin Dillon: Dillon kicked off the season by winning the pole position for the Daytona 500 and went on to finish ninth in the big race. Bringing the famed No. 3 back to the NSCS, he had a lot of pressure on his shoulders and seemed to handle it all with his head held high.
Cole Whitt and Parker Kligerman: The Swan Racing duo had to race their way into the Daytona 500 the previous Thursday in the Budweiser Duels. Whitt finished 11th while Kligerman finished 17th, respectively, in their Duel races. Just outside the top-15 with a good qualifying speed.
Starting Sunday’s race 23rd and 41st respectively, the duo were both caught up in wrecks and didn’t finish the race but just making the field was victory enough.
Justin Allgaier: Qualifying 40th for the Daytona 500 on speed after his 20th place finish in his Duel race put him outside the top-15. Allgaier ran a respectable race Sunday night, finishing 27th, and can move on to Phoenix happy with his finish.
Alex Bowman: Qualifying 23rd for the Great American Race, Bowman drove under the radar for most of the weekend. Finishing his Duel race in 15th, the final transfer spot, put a smile on his and the team’s face as it locked them in to the big race. Bowman finished right where he started in 23rd on Sunday night and has nothing to hang his head about.
Kyle Larson: One of the favorites to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year, Larson got the season off to a really rocky start in Daytona. Hitting the wall in the beginning laps of the race, Larson just couldn’t quite get the No. 42 Target Chevrolet to his liking. Let’s hope Phoenix treats this rookie a little better than Daytona.
Ryan Truex: In his first attempt at making the field, the younger Truex couldn’t quite get in. Being caught up in a wreck in the second Duel, he finished 19th and just missed getting into the field for the Daytona 500. Starting off the season with a DNQ isn’t what he, his team or his older brother Martin, wanted to see.
Michael Annett: Ending his Daytona 500 in a wreck, Annett started 36th and finished 37th. Being caught up in a wreck in his Duel race as well, this team had a lot of work on their hands to get ready for Sunday’s race. Phoenix and Las Vegas will be the big races for this single car team as they try and build their racing resume and sponsorship.
Austin Dillon: Yes, Dillon gets the nod in both categories as he made quite a few mistakes out on the track Sunday night. Being caught up in three separate incidents that led to yellow flags, Dillon was the main culprit in two of them. If he hopes to gain respect from the leaders of the series, the rookie driver needs to be a little more cautious out on the track. These next few races will be telltale signs as to how his season will start out.