Kyle Larson

NASCAR Rookie Report: The Daytona 500

Ranking the eight-driver crop of rookies in the Sprint Cup Series
A weekly ranking of the rookies in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

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 attempts to isolate each rookie from his team and equipment and properly rank the driving chops of each driver in this year’s rookie class.

Encouraging NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie crop looks to Daytona

Young hires filled with potential trump vets in "other half" of Cup garage
How this season's pack of talented NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookies will shape up against others who have come before them in the Daytona 500.

At Daytona International Speedway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage is split into two sections. The plum positioning — garage stalls closer to restrooms and track entry and exit — are given out based on last year’s final point standings. A quick lap around what DIS dubs the “Sprint Fan Zone” will point out the obvious: It segregates the haves and the have-nots in NASCAR’s money-making division at a time in the sport where the delineation between the two has never been greater.

Meet NASCAR's 2014 Rookie Class: The best in over a decade

2014 NASCAR Driver Profile: Kyle Larson

Larson's rise culminates in promotion to Sprint Cup Series
Season preview for Kyle Larson and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

Kyle Larson: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star of the future.  Kyle Larson

That’s an outlook that seemed rather predictable at the start of the 2013 season. The young Californian had shown impressive talent in his quick move through the racing ranks and garnered a Nationwide Series contract from Chip Ganassi.

Jimmie Johnson, with little flare, just keeps on winning in NASCAR

Through the Gears: Four things we learned at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Four things we learned following Jimmie Johnson's sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in Homestead, Fla.

When I think of Jimmie Johnson and Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup championship performance, I’m reminded of a simple analogy Rick Hendrick brought up after the race.

“I like to use the Parcells quote,” the winning car owner said. “You are what your record says you are.”

Austin Dillon wins in NASCAR's return to dirt in Eldora

Dillon tops Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman in Mudsummer Classic
Austin Dillon wins Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway.

“I think it was a success. It was such a great show. This is real racing right here, and that’s all I’ve got to say.”  Austin Dillon and Tony Stewart

With those words from race-winner Austin Dillon, NASCAR’s inaugural trip to the famed Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, was deemed a success.

Not that those in attendance or watching on television needed affirmation.

5 Young NASCAR Drivers Who Could Be Hall of Famers

Athlon pinpoints the best young drivers in the NASCAR ranks.
<p> 5 Young NASCAR Drivers Who Could Be Hall of Famers</p>

To suggest that any player, athlete, coach or driver in any sport after just a few seasons is a lock to make the Hall of Fame is ridiculous. But it is always fun to look at guys who have had instant success and try to extrapolate long-term potential. Limiting the scope to the last three rookie classes, here are the most likely future NASCAR Hall of Famers.

Related: Top 15 Young Future NFL Hall of Famers

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