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Atlanta Rookie Report: Larson Finishes Eighth, Loses Ground in Chase

Atlanta Rookie Report: Larson Finishes Eighth, Loses Ground in Chase

by September 2, 2014 0 comments

Photo credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

HAMPTON, Ga. — Kyle Larson racked up his 11th top-10 finish of the year in Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500 and earned Rookie of the Race honors for the 17th time this season with his eighth-place finish at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Despite Larson’s strong performance in Atlanta on Sunday night, the Elk Grove, California native would lose ground in his quest to earn a Chase spot with one race remaining on the schedule. Larson entered Atlanta 26 points behind the Chase cutoff and would exit Atlanta 24 points behind the cutoff spot. With only Richmond remaining in the ‘Race to the Chase’, the driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing’s only option is to win and get in the 2014 edition of the Chase.

Following his Atlanta race, Larson acknowledged that things may be looking a little bleak in terms of his Chase hopes for his rookie season.

“It was a tough race,” Larson stated. “The first corner or so I felt pretty good. For whatever reason, we got pretty tight in the center and I couldn’t roll the bottom like I want to. Really couldn’t go anywhere. I lost a ton of track position. And we got the car better. Couple times we got caught on pit road when the caution fell, so we had to do the wave around and restart behind all the lap down cars. That kind of worked out to where at the end where we are the green-white-checkered and the Target Chevy felt pretty good through the green-white-checkered. Just had to start pretty far back.”

“But, top-10 is not bad. Doesn’t really matter any more because Kasey won. So happy for Kasey, but that pretty much ends our Chase hopes. Unless we win.”

Fellow rookie Austin Dillon is now in the same position as Larson. Dillon was a contender for one of the last Chase seeds in the weeks leading up to Atlanta but a 24th-place finish would put a damper on the driver of the No. 3 Dow Chemicals Chevrolet’s hopes of qualifying for a Chase spot. Dillon is now 54 points out of the Chase cutoff and must win at Richmond on Saturday to earn his spot in the Chase.

In April’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond, Larson finished 16th while Dillon would finish in the 27th position.

Michael Annett had a strong run for Tommy Baldwin Racing in the Oral-B USA 500. Annett would be the second-highest finishing rookie of the race with his 21-place finish that would tie his best run since the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July. The run should be nothing but a positive for the No. 7 TBR crew as this breaks their three-race skid of finishes outside of the top-30.

The 1.5-mile ovals have not been kind to Justin Allgaier thus far this year and this trend carried over into Atlanta. Allgaier would finish in the 26th position – three laps off of the lead. The driver of the No. 51 Auto-Owners Insurance Chevrolet would be unable to make an impact all night as he would not advance his way out of the top-20 throughout the night. Allgaier and his HScott Motorsports crew now head to a track where they finished 21st at in the Toyota Owners 400 five months ago.

Sunday night would prove to be a forgettable one for BK Racing’s trio of rookies. Cole Whitt would lead the way for the group with his 30th-place finish while Alex Bowman and Ryan Truex would finish right next to each other in the 35th and 36th positions. Truex would find trouble early in the race as he would go for a spin in Turn 4 on Lap 118 – an incident that would be a sign of things to come for the night for the BK Racing organization.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Rookie of the Year Standings after Round 25 of 36

  1. 42 – Kyle Larson – Chevrolet – Chip Ganassi Racing – 247 | Leader
  2. 3 – Austin Dillon – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing – 195 | -52
  3. 51 – Justin Allgaier – Chevrolet – HScott Motorsports – 161 | -86
  4. 7 – Michael Annett – Chevrolet – Tommy Baldwin Racing – 152 | -95
  5. 26 – Cole Whitt – Toyota – BK Racing – 149 | -98
  6. 23 – Alex Bowman – Toyota – BK Racing – 135 | -112
  7. 83 – Ryan Truex – Toyota – BK Racing – 112 | -135
  8. — – Parker Kligerman – — – — – 41 | -206
Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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