NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Rookie Report

Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Out With The New And In With The Old For Phoenix Freshmen

While youth has been the preference of many NASCAR owners over the last decade, it appears as though the trend may be reversed for the moment. On a night where the ageless wonder, Mark Martin, drove to Victory Lane at the age of 50 years young, the newbies of the sport continued to struggle with the handling of these Sprint Cup cars. While Joey Logano started his Nationwide Series career with a bang and Speed decimated the ARCA field last season, both appear to be having a difficult time adjusting to new cars raced at the sport’s top level.

Read More »

Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Doomsday Looms Large Leaving Texas As Rookies Face Uncertain Futures

They say that everything is bigger in Texas; and in the case for most of the rookies and almost rookies, it was bad news that loomed large this past weekend. Brad Keselowski offered the lone bright spot as he once again shined in his Hendrick ride, finishing in the top 25 for the second consecutive race at the track. Marcos Ambrose may have also offered some good news if it weren’t for a faulty engine. I mentioned earlier this season that the No. 47 team may have an outside shot at the Chase, but they are quickly seeing those chances disappear as their engine department has not been able to keep pace with the rest of the team.

Read More »

Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Jiminy Cricket! Scott Speed Gets to Kyle Busch’s Conscience at Martinsville!

The lack of rookie incidents in last week’s race at Bristol certainly surprised me, but the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 sure made up for it. In an event that was appropriately named for this year’s freshmen, all rookies and almost rookies not named Ambrose ran into some sort of issue on the track or with their equipment. Speed certainly had to be the most disappointed leaving the track on Sunday evening. It appeared that if he could have stabilized his fall down the scoring pylon after leading, the former road-racing ace could have been positioned well to bring home a solid finish on a track that has very similar braking strategies to the circuits in open wheel. However, in a very similar fashion to what happened during the Las Vegas Nationwide race earlier this season, Speed fell victim to Busch, who uncharacteristically lost control of his car in the corner. If you think about it, Busch probably does not make a mistake like that more than twice a year -- and Speed was the “lucky” man to be a part of both. Seems like that guy has to shake some bad karma moving forward!

Read More »

Sprint Cup Rookie Report: The Bristol Stomp on Joey Logano’s Solid Finish and Scott Speed’s Bubble Hopes

The results certainly weren’t much to get excited about, but I said last week that given their experience levels, both Rookie of the Year candidates should only worry about finishing at Bristol. Looking at it from that perspective, Speed met his goal and Logano certainly would have if it weren’t for some nasty engine gremlins. However, with five races in the books, both drivers should look at their respective points position as wakeup calls for the remainder of the season. Given the fact that there is no testing this year, don't expect the duo to light the series on fire. However, with Speed now outside of the Top 35 and Logano squarely on the bubble, they're going to need to step it up to avoid putting themselves in jeopardy of missing races. One top-20 finish between the two certainly cannot be acceptable to their teams, crews, and most importantly, the drivers themselves.

Read More »

Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Rotten Peaches and Sour Cream For Joey Logano, Scott Speed in Atlanta

Throughout Sunday’s telecast of the Kobalt Tools 500, we heard several times how the Atlanta Motor Speedway was racing just like its neighbor about 300 miles to the north, Darlington Raceway. The way the surface was eating through tires forced crews to bring their driver in for fresh rubber almost every chance they had. Well, it was no wonder why rookie Logano thought that this was the week to put the Darlington stripe on the right side of his Home Depot Camry. Whether it was by himself, or getting help -- like from the No. 44 and No. 14 machines of AJ Allmendinger and Tony Stewart, respectively -- “Logano is in the wall” was a common phrase called out by the FOX announcers all afternoon.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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?

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »