Rookie Report

Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Cup Rookies Avoid That Vegas Gambling Temptation… And Survive

Plenty of people were wondering when we would see this new, bright young star named Joey Logano live up to the hype. Well, we started to get a glimpse of his talent today -- but it wasn’t because of where he finished but rather, how he got there that showed it. In an afternoon full of carnage and failing equipment, Logano displayed the poise and maturity of a 10-year veteran, avoiding problems and ensuring that he stuck around until the end.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Freshmen Cannot Dodge Wrecks at Daytona

This week’s Rookie Report is based on the results of a rain-shortened Daytona 500. What is important to note is the race would’ve finished all 500 miles -- if the green flag didn’t fall at the ridiculous start time of 3:40 p.m. ET. When are the networks going to realize that fans want racing, not marathon pre-race shows?

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: 2009 Season Preview

After one of the most economically brutal NASCAR off-seasons in recent history, it’s finally time to start focusing on performances on the stopwatch instead of on the balance sheet. This also spells good news for Professor Lumbis as I get to preview and critique this season’s rookies once again. The 2008 season was not kind to rookie drivers as only one, Sam Hornish Jr., still has a full-time ride in 2009. That success rate, or lack thereof, may have owners changing the way they think about who will give them the best chance of success behind the wheel. Instead of reaching out to the open-wheel talents of other series, general managers are instead opting for stock car veterans to pilot their machines. The result is a much smaller rookie class this season, as only two drivers will compete full time for the Rookie of the Year Award while a handful of others will make spot starts throughout the next several months.

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2008 Sprint Cup Rookie Report Cards: Economic Woes and Poor Performances Leave Their Mark

After a successful freshman campaign by Juan Pablo Montoya which included a win at Infineon, that trend set the tone for the freshman class of 2008, as four out of the six Rookie of the Year candidates were open-wheel converts. Just nine months later, there is a very real difference for those open wheelers that debuted in '08 as compared to '07 -- just one of them appears ready to survive for a second season. What went wrong, and could their mistakes have been corrected? It’s now time for Professor Lumbis to grade their performance throughout the season, and take a look at the other new faces that emerged onto the scene and what the future may hold for them.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Scott Speed Provides 2009 Preview as 2008 Freshman Candidates Fizzle

In an attempt to secure a starting position for Scott Speed in the first five events of 2009, Team Red Bull elected to put veteran Brian Vickers in Speed’s No. 84 team, while the rookie drove the No. 83 normally driven by his teammate. The move paid off, as not only did Vickers put his teammate’s car back into the Top 35 in points, but Speed enjoyed the best weekend of his short career in sunny South Florida.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Marcos Ambrose Angling For Solid Finish To 2008

After seeing how the No. 00 (now No. 47) chewed up and spat out Michael McDowell earlier this season, I was very skeptical about Marcos Ambrose taking the wheel of this ride full-time. But, three races into his tenure as the team’s full-time driver, Ambrose has raced his way into and finished all of his events; and frankly, he's provided some of the most stable driving the team has seen since it opened the year with David Reutimann. Ambrose’s involvement in the lap 274 incident was entirely out of his control, and his ability to power home to a lead-lap finish was impressive. I’m still not convinced that Ambrose and the No. 47 team are ready to go Cup racing full-time in 2009, but their performance over the last three weeks has definitely not hurt the stock of NASCAR’s favorite Aussie.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Brad Keselowski has Impressive Debut While Joey Logano Struggles

Strapping yourself behind the wheel of a Rick Hendrick car is almost equivalent to placing a cape on your back…it almost makes you superman. With Jimmie Johnson on his way to a remarkable third straight championship and three drivers in the Chase, it seems like there is no such thing as a bad Hendrick team, and Brad Keselowski’s No. 25 was no exception. Let’s make sure we give some credit to the driver though. With two wins and 10 top fives in the Nationwide Series, the Michigan-native has proven that he can wheel a racecar with the best of them. Match that with the fact that his boss is taking the time to develop this young talent, and you have a driver who may very well not only be the future star of Hendrick Motorsports but of the entire sport. There’s no doubt about it, Keselowski’s debut was impressive as he recovered from a shaky start, kept his car out of trouble and finished the race with a top 20. I’m looking forward to seeing him in his next race at this level.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Sam Hornish Jr. Bounces Back From Crash To Widen Lead At Atlanta

From the drop of the green flag, it looked like it would be a long afternoon for Hornish. Yet again, his No. 77 team was forced to start from the rear of the pack after qualifying was rained out on Friday. Then, on lap 2, the rookie was involved in a wreck with veteran Bill Elliott and subsequently penalized a lap for pitting too early following the incident. But not all was lost for the driver of the Mobil 1 Dodge, as both he and crew chief Travis Geisler would continue working on the machine until it was good enough to make its way to the front. It may have taken most of the day to reach that point, but after running outside of the top 30, Hornish made a late-race charge that resulted in a 24th-place finish, two laps off the pace. It was the rookie’s first top-25 finish since Charlotte two weeks ago.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Scott Speed’s Debut Overshadowed by Almirola’s Short-Track Success

The rain on Friday worked in Aric Almirola’s favor when he inherited a 15th-place starting position by virtue of his team’s position in owner points. But while the U.S. Army Chevy faded a bit early, it would be pit strategy employed by crew chief Tony Gibson that would put Almirola back up front. After pitting during the first caution of the day, Gibson made the call to keep Almirola on the track after the day’s second yellow when Kasey Kahne’s Dodge came to a halt. The move gave Almirola the lead for his second consecutive start, and this time, the No. 8 car would lead a total of 53 circuits -- a career-high for the rookie.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Where Have All The Rookies Gone? Sent Home By Idealistic Owners

The true rookie story of this race is about those drivers who were not here. Yes, some anticipated debuts were ruined by the weather, but it is not Brad Keselowski, Bryan Clauson or even Scott Speed that I am talking about. No, it is the dismissal of Patrick Carpentier and the continued sabbatical for Michael McDowell that disturbs me. I would really like to know what goes on inside the head of a Sprint Cup owner when they set expectations for a rookie driver with little to no experience at racing’s top level. I’m beginning to think that some team executives expect a driver to jump into the seat of a stock car for the first time and immediately race his way into the Chase.

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