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Motorsports 101 Debate: Who Will Win the 2014 Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year?

October 16th, 2013 at 11:00 AM
By Mark Eddinger
Although not official the potential 2014 Rookie of the Year candidates in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series look strong. Kyle Larson is the only driver that official plans have been laid out for but Austin Dillon for sure and most likely Justin Allgaier are also going to be in the rookie class. There is a chance another driver or two could also be added to the mix before the silly season plays out entirely. Motorsports 101 takes an early look at who will win the 2014 Rookie of the Year honors.
There will be at least three rookies in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Kyle Larson will drive Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet and Austin Dillon will run a Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing in all likelihood the No. 3 and all signs are pointing towards Justin Allgaier running the No. 51 Chevrolet for the team Harry Scott Jr owns. It will be the best rookie class in recent memory as all three drivers have the potential to be staples in the Sprint Cup Series for years to come. 
The question is who will earn the Rookie of the Year award. To that I say Kyle Larson. Justin Allgaier gets hurt in this discussion just because his team is a new Sprint Cup Series operation and they will have some growing pains early on, which I think will hurt his season in 2014. So that leaves two drivers, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon.

I believe that Larson can be a star in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and while I think the star aspect of Larson’s career is still a few years away, I believe he will have a nice 2014 season. He is with a team that Jamie McMurray is 14th in points with and with all due respect to McMurray I believe Larson can be right there with him if not better than him. Obviously the team has been hamstrung at the end of the 2013 season because of Juan Pablo Montoya’s contract status but I believe that team has fixed their issues and are poised for some positive finishes in 2014. 
Not only is that the reason that Larson will be the best rookie in 2014 but I believe that Larson is the most talented rookie next season. Austin Dillon has had a decent second year in his Nationwide Series career but I look at it as a sort of a disappointment. He is on a Sprint Cup Series team and has yet to have a win in 2013. I understand he is leading the points and Larson has not come close to doing that but keep in mind that Dillon’s organization is much more established than Larson’s team so that helps Dillon a lot. I think Dillon is a nice driver but not as good as Larson. 
It’s going to be a tight points race and if Allgaier's team can grow faster than I expect he could make a play at it. He has the most experience out of the three rookies and has put together some nice seasons in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. However, I think the No. 42 team will be better than where they are this year and that is 21st . If Larson finishes 19th I believe he beats both Dillon and Allgaier. I think it’s asking a lot from a rookie to compete for the Chase.
Either way it’s going to be an extremely tight and extremely fun battle for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year.
Austin Dillon – By Mark Eddinger
The 2014 rookie class looks strong as a major shift in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is about to take place. Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, and Justin Allgaier will be at the forefront of a youth movement. Those are the three expected candidates for the 2014 Rookie of the Year but depending on how the rest of silly season plays out they could have company.
Swan Racing is auditioning young drivers in their No. 30 Toyota and seem to want to decide on one for the full 2014 season. That could be Cole Whitt who has been getting the majority of the late season starts, Kevin Swindell who made one start or Parker Kligerman who will make his Cup debut at Texas Motor Speedway for the team in November. Also one driver rumored for the open seat at Furniture Row Racing is Ryan Blaney. While this may not play out if he does land in that ride he would certainly give Dillon, Larson, and Allgaier a run for the Rookie of the Year.
With all that said Austin Dillon will be the Rookie of the Year. Dillon will be jumping into the cars for the team that has done the best in 2013 as he will take over the equipment that Kevin Harvick has been driving. Not only that but he will be racing for his grandfather Richard Childress. While Richard Childress Racing has not been overly strong recently a shift may be about to begin at the organization.
With the passion to fuel his grandsons to the top Richard Childress will work harder than ever to field the best of cars. Austin Dillon doesn't always get a lot of credit for his talent since a lot of people say he is handed everything and in great equipment. Well now Dillon will be able to prove how good he is as RCR is not the premier Cup Series team at this time.
Dillon won the 2011 Camping World Truck Series championship and finished third in the Nationwide Series in 2012. Now with three races left in the 2013 Nationwide Series season Dillon is the points leader and in a close battle with Sam Hornish Jr to see if he will enter his Cup rookie year as a Nationwide champion or not.
That doesn't always mean success right away in Cup though. Just ask Ricky Stenhouse Jr the winner of the 2011 and 2012 Nationwide titles. He is going to win Rookie of the Year honors over Danica Patrick and Timmy Hill but he only has two top 10 finishes on the season and is 22nd in points.
But back to Dillon, yes, he doesn't have a win in 2013 in the Nationwide Series but not many people not named Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski or Joey Logano do. He should have a very good rookie season. His toughest competition will be Larson and in the long term Larson will probably have the better career but Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing has struggled at times and Larson will still have some growing pains.
It will be a great battle of young talent but Austin Dillon will come out on top in 2014.

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Tags: Austin Dillon, Clayton Caldwell, Cole Whitt, Justin Allgaier, Kevin Swindell, Kyle Larson, Mark Eddinger, Motorsports, NASCAR, Nationwide Series, Parker Kligerman, Richard Childress, Rookie of the Year, Ryan Blaney, Sprint Cup Series

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