Kansas Rookie Report: Larson on Top Once Again

Kansas Rookie Report: Larson on Top Once Again

by May 15, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — For the fifth race in a row in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing) claimed rookie of the race honors by finishing 12th in the 5-Hour Energy 400.

The driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet started the night from the fifth position and would run a solid race throughout the entire night. Larson managed to keep his car clean throughout all 267 laps of racing and was able to fight his way to fourth-place by Lap 240. The 21-year-old from Elk Grove, California, was unable to close the race within the top-five and he would fall completely out of the top-10 by the conclusion of the race. Although he may not have finished where he might have expected, Larson believes that he and the No. 42 team put in a strong performance that will do nothing but help them in the future.

“I thought that we had a good rebound tonight after a rough start,” Larson said post-race. “I started the race off really loose, but the crew did a great job of getting the right adjustments made to the Target Chevy, which helped me race back towards the front. Having to fight back from the start gave us something to learn from, which will make us better. All-in-all a good finish given how we started the race.”

Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) returned to the track he made his Sprint Cup debut at in 2011 looking to earn his second top-10 finish of the season. Dillon was able to run in the top-20 all night and like Larson, he was able to fight his way into the top-10 by Lap 240. Just as the No. 42 car slipped after Lap 240, the No. 3 Dow Chemical Chevrolet dropped from the top-10 as well; going on to finish 19th. Dillon will head to Charlotte next with the Sprint Showdown and the Coca-Cola 600 in his sights.

“We learned a lot tonight,” Dillon said. “It was a long night for sure but we’re moving onto Charlotte Motor Speedway and excited for the next two weeks.”

After stringing together some consistent runs across the past few weeks, Justin Allgaier (H Scott Motorsports) was unable to earn his team another solid finish after being caught up in a six-car accident on the frontstretch on Lap 188 – Allgaier would finish 36th. The 36th-place result is the No. 51 Brandt team’s worst result of the season thus far. Prior to being caught up in the accident, Allgaier put in a stellar drive that had him consistently run in the top-20 throughout the night, running as high as ninth by Lap 150.

“Speaking of this weekend, we had one fast BRANDT Chevy,” Allgaier wrote on his post-race blog on “We finished ninth in final practice and qualified 18th, which is my best start in my Sprint Cup Series career. Needless to say, I had a lot of confidence going into the race on Saturday night. Despite the accident, I think Kansas showed that my HScott Motorsports team has improved a lot since the start of the season. We were consistently running in the top 15 and even the top 10 at some points. I think Kansas was also a sign that our mile-and-a-half program has improved over the last few weeks. I hope we can keep this momentum going in the Coke 600 next weekend at Charlotte.”

Michael Annett (Tommy Baldwin Racing) was able to benefit from dodging the Lap 150 accident to finish 25th. Attrition and excellent pit stops by his pit crew led by Kevin ‘Bono’ Manion were key to delivering the No. 7 team their third top-25 finish of the year.

BK Racing’s trio of drivers, Cole Whitt, Alex Bowman, and Ryan Truex, had a day that was highlighted by Whitt finishing in 28th but marred by a Lap 61 accident that took out Truex and a run that placed Bowman in 35th-place. While Truex showed a flash of brilliance by placing his car in the ninth position on Lap 45; Whitt was the star of the night for the organization as he was able to hang around in the top-30 throughout the night.

All-Star weekend is up next for the Rookie of the Year candidates. Although no rookie points will be on the line during the weekend, the rookies entered for the Sprint Showdown will be able to make a name for themselves by finishing in the top-two of the Showdown to transfer into the All-Star Race. Of the rookie teams still racing full-time, Allgaier and the H Scott Motorsports team will be the only team to skip the Showdown so they can focus all of their efforts towards the Coca-Cola 600 that will be held the following week.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year Standings after Round 11 of 36

  1. 42 – Kyle Larson – Chip Ganassi Racing – 133 | Leader
  2. 3 – Austin Dillon – Richard Childress Racing – 114 | -19
  3. 51 – Justin Allgaier – H Scott Motorsports – 91 | -42
  4. 7 – Michael Annett – Tommy Baldwin Racing – 80 | -53
  5. 26 – Cole Whitt – BK Racing – 79 | -54
  6. 23 – Alex Bowman – BK Racing – 74 | -59
  7. 83 – Ryan Truex – BK Racing – 53 | -80
  8. — – Parker Kligerman – — – 41 | -92
Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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