Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Celebrating Athlon's NASCAR Rookie of the Year: Kyle Larson

Larson's first-year stats on par with great rookies of the past
Celebrating a spectacular rookie season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series by Kyle Larson.

Welcome to the Athlon Rookie Report, where each week David Smith will evaluate the deepest crop of new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series talent since 2006. The Report will include twice-monthly rankings, in-depth analysis, Q&A sessions with the drivers and more.

 

Today, David celebrates the 2014 Athlon Sports NASCAR Rookie of the Year, Kyle Larson.

 

 

NASCAR Chase Report: Previewing race No. 9 in Phoenix

Pretenders, contenders and potential winners as NASCAR's Chase hits PIR
Pretenders, contenders and potential winners as NASCAR's Chase hits PIR

For the last few years, NASCAR fans have bemoaned the 1.5-mile “cookie-cutter” tri-oval tracks for dominating the Chase for the Sprint Cup’s 10-race docket. “It favors the No. 48 team,” they say. “The tracks looks the same, things are boring, NASCAR needs a road course (it does), add another short track, revive North Wilkesboro, race at Eldora, blah, blah, blah …” 

 

Which races have provided the best action in the 2014 Chase? 

 

Potential trouble again looming for NASCAR's Kurt Busch

Geoffrey Miller's five things to watch at Phoenix International Raceway
Each week, Geoffrey Miller’s “Five Things to Watch” will help you catch up on the biggest stories of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ upcoming race weekend. This week, NASCAR rolls west to Phoenix International Raceway where the final four drivers will be set for a one-race, winner-take-all showdown in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Each week, Geoffrey Miller’s “Five Things to Watch” will help you catch up on the biggest stories of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ upcoming race weekend. This week, NASCAR rolls west to Phoenix International Raceway where the final four drivers will be set for a one-race, winner-take-all showdown in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. 

 

 

1. Kurt Busch investigated after domestic assault claim

Potential trouble is looming once again for NASCAR’s 2004 champion.

 

Will post-race fights be legacy of NASCAR's newest incarnation of Chase?

Through the Gears: Four things we learned in Charlotte
Post-race reaction from the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Jimmie Johnson took the win while Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick came to blows following the race.

CNN. ESPN. Good Morning America. Everywhere you turn this month, NASCAR has jumped to the front page of the news cycle as emotional outbursts have produced two-minute YouTube clips that cause millions of potential fans to pay attention. Don’t confuse it with the Jerry Springer Show; these men were clearly meant to drive, not box, as evidenced by 42-year-old Matt Kenseth’s recent headlock that looked more like playground roughhousing than grown men attempting Friday Night Fights.

Earnhardt, Hendrick score emotional win at Martinsville

Through the Gears: The four things we learned in Martinsville
Post-race reaction from NASCAR's Chase race at Martinsville Speedway.

Ten years. That’s how long since the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash, near Martinsville, which took the lives of 10 innocent victims. Among them were owner Rick Hendrick’s son, Ricky, and brother John; nieces Kimberly and Jennifer, engine builder Randy Dorton, Hendrick GM Jeff Turner, a DuPont executive and three pilots, two of which were at the controls. It was a tragedy that devastated the four-car organization, whose driver Jimmie Johnson won the race without knowing the darkness that unfolded in the hills behind the racetrack. 

 

NASCAR Chase Report: Previewing race No. 7 in Martinsville

Pretenders, contenders and potential winners as NASCAR's Chase hits Martinsville
Pretenders, contenders and potential winners as NASCAR's Chase hits Martinsville

The one thing the 2.66-mile behemoth that is Talladega Superspeedway and the half-mile paperclip that is Martinsville Speedway have in common is the reversal of fortunes each potentially delivers. After raising the ire of fans and the garage (Matt Kenseth, in particular) alike two weeks ago in Charlotte, Brad Keselowski faced virtually no other option but to pull a Jake Taylor in Major League and win the whole f___in’ thing at Talladega. Keselowski did just that — which was no small task — in rather dramatic fashion.

Penske teamwork results in clutch win for Keselowski at Talladega

Through the Gears: The four things we learned at Talladega
Post-race reaction from Brad Keselowski's win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Multi-car teams working together: it’s a modern NASCAR philosophy that began in the 1980s, failed miserably, and was redefined during the 1990s by Hendrick Motorsports. Built with Jeff Gordon, massaged by Terry Labonte and perfected by Jimmie Johnson, the organization has won 11 championships based on multiple cars sharing information, turning from rivals on the racetrack into individuals openly helping one another.

Earnhardt, Johnson, Keselowski among drivers needing win at Talladega ... or suffer Chase elimination

Five Things to Watch in the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
The five things to watch in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' visit to Talladega Superspeedway for the GEICO 500.

Talladega’s eternal question: offense or defense?

Conventional wisdom says Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway will be a non-stop battle of lead changes and side-by-side racing thanks to the building pressure of Chase for the Sprint Cup eliminations. And at Talladega, those prognostic words are really code for lots of wrecked race cars.

 

NASCAR Chase Report: Previewing race No. 6 at Talladega

Pretenders, contenders and potential winners as NASCAR's Chase moves south to Talladega
Contenders, pretenders and predicted winners for the sixth race of NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup, the GEICO 500 from Talladega Superspeedway.

With the WWE Attitude-Era finale to last weekend’s Bank of America 500 in Charlotte, you’d be hard pressed to remember how the first 25 laps were obscured by either a college football game or (of all things) a preseason NBA game. No chance of that happening this weekend, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup race runs on Sunday — and, of course, it’s Talladega.

Big names on outside of NASCAR's Chase bubble following chaos in Charlotte

Through the Gears: The four things we learned in Charlotte
Post-race reaction following a chaotic night at Charlotte Motor Speedway in NASCAR's fifth race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Brad Keselowski’s actions, both during and after the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte, are what everyone’s talking about this week in NASCAR. After running 16th and watching his title hopes potentially go up in flames, Keselowski took his anger out on Denny Hamlin, playing bumper cars both on the track and on pit road while roughing up Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and even rookie Alex Bowman on the way.

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