Richmond Rookie Report: Larson Rebounds, Allgaier Impresses

Richmond Rookie Report: Larson Rebounds, Allgaier Impresses

by April 27, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images

RICHMOND, Va. — The Toyota Owners 400 provided a grueling challenge for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie class with most of this year’s rookie class not turning in the stellar results they may have hoped for.

After starting in first-place by virtue of qualifying being rained out, Kyle Larson looked as if he was poised to have a terrific evening. Unfortunately for the Elk Grove, California native, his night went downhill rather quickly. As Larson led the field into Turn 1 after the drop of the green flag, Larson took a higher line into the corner to fend off second-place Brad Keselowski. Larson would then swoop back to the low side and into the right-front fender of Clint Bowyer, sending the No. 42 AXE Chevrolet SS around mere seconds after the start of the race.

From there it was an uphill battle for Larson and the No. 42 crew, who began to crawl their way back towards the top of the standings. Larson would never reach the top-10 again for the rest of the night but was able to work his way up to the 12th position by Lap 240. Larson would hang around the top-23 for the rest of the night and would go on to finish in 16th – making him the highest finishing rookie of the race.

Justin Allgaier turned a few heads in his No. 51 Chevrolet as he was able to run in the top-20 for most of the night. Allgaier was challenging for his first career Sprint Cup top-10 in the late stages of the race, however, Allgaier was shuffled back through the field on several late restarts after running in 12th-place with 20 laps to go – finishing 21st. Despite finishing outside of the top-20 after such a strong run, Allgaier was pleased with the package that HScott Motorsports put together for his first Sprint Cup race at Richmond.

“We had a great race going and I felt we had a top 10 BRANDT Chevy,” Allgaier said. “We had great track position, and it would have been the best finish of my Sprint Cup career, but unfortunately we don’t have the results to show it. On the bright side, I think we were able to show what HScott Motorsports is capable of. The guys are working really hard back at the shop and it’s showing on the track.”

It was a rather ho-hum day for Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon, the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet never broke the top-20 throughout the course of the race. Dillon returned to a circuit that was statistically one of his worst tracks in his Nationwide Series career – his best finish in the second-tier series at the track being a 6th-place result that came in the summer of 2012. The defending Nationwide Series champion’s first start at the track in a Sprint Cup car did not provide the champion with the opportunity to reboot his record at the three-quarter mile oval – Dillon would finish 27th.

BK Racing got their weekend off to a great start with Ryan Truex starting in the eighth position after turning in the eighth-quickest speed in Friday’s first practice. Unfortunately, Truex was unable to replicate his practice speed during the race as he faded quickly once the green flag dropped, dropping to 40th-place by Lap 60. Teammate Alex Bowman was able to hold his own throughout the early stages of the race, hanging around in the top-25 at the same stage of the race. As the race progressed, Truex was able to make his way back up the field little-by-little, fighting his way to a 31st-place finish; Bowman would finish 28th and record his fourth top-30 finish of the year.

As was the case with Truex, Michael Annett’s day started off promising as the driver of the No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet took the green flag in 23rd-place. Annett would hold his own in 24th through Lap 40 before dropping down to outside of the top-30. Annett would never break out of the top-30 for the rest of the night and would finish in the 33rd position.

The 2014 rookie class lost a competitor through the Easter break as Swan Racing announced a partnership with Xxxtreme Motorsports. Cole Whitt would retain his seat in the No. 26 Camry while Parker Kligerman would lose his No. 30 ride to Xxxtreme Motorsports driver J.J. Yeley. Mechanical issues have been a major problem for Swan Racing throughout the early stages of the season; Saturday night’s race would prove no different as Whitt would have an issue midway through the race that would relegate him to a 41st-place finish – 33 laps off of the pace.

The seven remaining full-time rookies head off to Talladega for next Sunday’s Aaron’s 499. While the 2.66 mile superspeedway may appear to be intimidating with its immense size, several drivers have been able to earn their first career victory at the track – Keselowski being the most recent driver to do so in 2009.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie Standings after Round 9 of 36

  1. 42 – Kyle Larson – Chip Ganassi Racing  – 98 | Leader
  2. 3 – Austin Dillon – Richard Childress Racing – 85 | -13
  3. 51 – Justin Allgaier – HScott Motorsports – 68 | -30
  4. 26 – Cole Whitt – Swan Racing – 58 | -40
  5. 7 – Michael Annett – Tommy Baldwin Racing – 56 | -42
  6. 23 – Alex Bowman – BK Racing – 53 | -45
  7. — – Parker Kligerman – — – 41 | -57
  8. 83 – Ryan Truex – BK Racing – 36 | -62
Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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