Pocono Rookie Report: Solid Day All-Around for NSCS Rookie Class

Pocono Rookie Report: Solid Day All-Around for NSCS Rookie Class

by August 4, 2014 0 comments

Photo by Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images

LONG POND, Pa. — For a track as intimidating as ‘The Tricky Triangle’ – better known as Pocono Raceway – the challenge of tackling the 2.5-mile superspeedway was evidently not as daunting as anticipated prior to heading into this weekend’s race for this year’s Rookie of the Year contenders.

While no rookie would finish in the top-10 in Sunday’s 400, none of the seven Rookie of the Year contenders in Sunday’s race would finish lower than 31st, an impressive overall performance for this year’s rookie class.

Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing), Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing), and Justin Allgaier (HScott Motorsports) would be the three rookies to finish on the lead lap in the 160-lap race. Larson would finish the 400 as the highest-finishing rookie with his 11th-place finish while Dillon and Allgaier would follow the driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet home with their respective 15th and 16th-place finishes.

Larson won his first career Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying for the 400 on Friday and led the field for the start of the race but fell back immediately. The No. 42 car would still ride competitively within the top-five for the first quarter of the race but would fall completely fall out of the top-10 by Lap 40. Larson would rebound in the later stages of the race by avoiding several incidents on track to claw his way back into the top-10 by Lap 120. Larson would fight his way back into the top-five but would slip a little bit at the end of the race to outside of the top-10 for his final 11th-place finishing position.

Dillon would have a completely up-and-down day in his No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet, yo-yoing from being within the top-15 to outside of the top-20 within periods of 10 laps throughout most of Sunday. Dillon would crack the top-five in the middle of the race but would not be able to hold his position near the top of the standings and would slip back outside of the top-20. Last year’s Nationwide Series champion would begin to rally after Lap 100 and would spend the rest of his race knocking on the door of the top-10 but would fall back like Larson to outside of the top-10 to his 15th-place finishing position.

Allgaier would face his share of adversity and would go through his ups-and-downs just as Dillon did during the race. At points during the race, the driver of the No. 51 AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet would appear to be in the running for a solid top-12 performance but would slip completely back out of the top-30 by Lap 100. As Allgaier began to move his way back up the standings, he would encounter a bit of a speed bump in his ascension up the scoring pylon as he would take some contact in a Lap 118 accident that involved 12 other cars in some form. The incident would not deter the Riverton, Illinois, native from moving up to his final 16th-position finish though. The 16th-place performance ties Allgaier’s best finish of the year that came at Michigan.

Michael Annett (Tommy Baldwin Racing) would also be involved in the Lap 118 accident but would continue to roll on to a 24th-place finish. Considering the fact that he was involved in an accident, Annett should be pleased with a top-25 result considering that he rallied to 24th all the way from a 38th-place starting position.

BK Racing’s trio of rookies – Cole Whitt, Ryan Truex, and Alex Bowman – had a great day at Pocono with all three drivers finishing the race and two drivers finishing in the top-25. Truex led the way for the team with a 20th-place finish with Whitt following closely behind him in the 21st position; Bowman would bring up the rear for the three-car effort with his 31st-place finish. Truex’s top-20 finish provided BK Racing with their first non-restrictor plate top-20 of the season, Bowman delivered the team their first overall top-20 of the year at Daytona in July with a 13th-place finish.

Leaving Pocono, Larson still holds a hefty lead over Dillon in the Rookie of the Year standings and he currently holds the 15th of 16 Chase seeds. Dillon found himself bounced out of a Chase seed by Greg Biffle (Roush-Fenway Racing), who finished fifth in the 400. Dillon is now three points out of a Chase seed while Larson is in the Chase by six points with five races remaining in the ‘race to the Chase.’

The Rookie of the Year contenders will now head to Watkins Glen, the second and final road course on the Sprint Cup Series calendar. In the rookies’ first exposure to a road course earlier this year in Sonoma, Dillon was the highest-finishing rookie with his mid-pack finishing position of 17th. No other rookie finished in the top-25 in June’s Toyota/Save Mart 350k.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Rookie Standings after Round 21 of 36

  1. 42 – Kyle Larson – Chevrolet – Chip Ganassi Racing – 226 | Leader
  2. 3 – Austin Dillon – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing – 189 | -37
  3. 51 – Justin Allgaier – Chevrolet – HScott Motorsports – 147 | -79
  4. 7 – Michael Annett – Chevrolet – Tommy Baldwin Racing – 140 | -86
  5. 26 – Cole Whitt – Toyota – BK Racing – 138 | -88
  6. 23 – Alex Bowman – Toyota – BK Racing – 124 | -102
  7. 83 – Ryan Truex – Toyota – BK Racing – 101 | -125
  8. — – Parker Kligmeran – — – — – 41 | -185
Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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