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Michael Annett #7 (Tommy Baldwin Racing)
Eric’s take: Annett moves up to the Sprint Cup ranks for his rookie season but I think it’s too soon. Annett needed another year in the Nationwide Series to really hone is skills. He’s improving but won’t be a factor in TBR in 2014.
Exclusive Interview with Michael Annett
Luke’s take: Annett is part of a crop of rookies who are starting out with teams that are (thankfully) not start-and-parkers, but also not exactly what you would call competitive from week to week. Perhaps the best way to judge their performance will be to compare their finishes to those of last year’s drivers. I’m curious to see whether Annett can surpass the results Dave Blaney had in this car in 2013.
Cole Whitt #26 (Swan Racing)
Eric’s take: Another driver moves up to full time Cup racing who isn’t quite ready. Whitt made some starts last year but he’s not with an established team and won’t even compete for top-20′s this year. He just has far too much to learn and he’ll be fighting an uphill battle in inferior equipment.
Luke’s take: I agree with Eric that Whitt is probably moving up a level before he’s ready. It’s great to see new faces in the Cup series, but it won’t be fun for these guys to disappear at the back of the pack every week. However, isn’t that the way it used to be done? Talented young drivers would cut their teeth at the back of the pack, scratching and clawing for every position? Maybe this crop of young rookies in subpar equipment is just what NASCAR needs.
Parker Kligerman #30 (Swan Racing)
Eric’s take: He is in the same boat as his rookie teammate Cole Whitt. The team doesn’t have the resources or equipment to succeed, let alone expand to a two-car team for the first time. Kligerman has tons of talent, but I don’t think he was ready to move up to Cup just yet.
Luke’s take: It’ll be interesting to see how these rookie teammates respond to their inevitable struggles in 2014. These guys are talented, but what they will need is maturity—lots and lots of it. 2014 might not be a pretty year for them, but it might be perfect for their development and long-term future.
Justin Allgaier #51 (Phoenix Racing)
Exclusive Interview with Justin Allgaier
Eric’s take: Unlike the other rookies in this category, I do think Allgaier was ready to move up. Unfortunately, it’s to a team without much resources or equipment yet as he will struggle due to that. Allgaier, has the ability to be a Sprint Cup race winner, but he won’t do so with this team.
Luke’s take: I believe Allgaier has a better chance to succeed than any of the other three rookies in this article, but it will be a tough season nonetheless. I’m a little surprised that he took the position at Phoenix given what he told me during the 2012 season about his plans on moving to the Cup series. Yes, Phoenix has better cars than TBR, Swan Racing, BK Racing, and a couple of other teams, but it’s still firmly in the third tier of Sprint Cup teams.
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