NASCAR

Deep rookie class will challenge for wins, Chase

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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I continue to see more and more written about this year's Nextel Cup rookie of the year class and rightly so.
2006 Nextel Cup rookies
Car No. Driver
No. 07 Clint Bowyer
No. 11 Denny Hamlin
No. 49 Brent Sherman
No. 41 Reed Sorenson
No. 40 David Stremme
No. 1 Martin Truex Jr.
No. 18 J.J. Yeley
We've had some strong rookie classes in recent years. We had a very potent class last season with Kyle Busch winning two races, and Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman won four races as rookies in 2002. This season's group of seven rookies will be contending for wins and the championship. I wouldn't be surprised if one or two rookies made the Chase for the Nextel Cup, especially Denny Hamlin — who came on so strong after jumping in that Joe Gibbs No. 11 car last year — and Martin Truex Jr. at Dale Earnhardt Inc. Those two rookies at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates — Reed Sorenson and David Stremme — could be a little underrated because of their short careers in the Busch Series.They are going to be a couple of guys to watch awfully closely so it's going to be neat to watch this rookie of the year battle. And that's the word for it — a battle — in this race within a race for the rookie title.

Ready for the next level

A lot like Truex, who won back-to-back Busch Series championships and is ready for the next challenge — the Nextel Cup Series — my son, Brandon, is up for the next challenge after Bandoleros, which is the Allison Legacy Series.
Speed Mail Larry
My son leads the point standings in the Winter Heat Series at Lowe's Motor Speedway, which allows drivers to drop two races. Even if he missed the final two events, he's locked up the championship by one point. Like DW says, I did the math, throwing out the worst two finishes of the drivers in 2nd through 6th and giving them two wins in the final two races for maximum points. The closest driver still trailed Brandon by a point. In our final two Bandolero races of the 150 or 175 in Brandon's career, we're going to try to go out in style. This Saturday will actually be my final Bandolero race with him because the final race of the year takes place on Feb. 25 when I will be in Fontana. It's a good feeling to clinch the title, but I want to approach the final two races the same way we approached the Summer Shootout. Try to win the race, let the points fall where they may and start working on our Legacy program. We're still actively seeking sponsorship for the Legacy races, but we're pretty excited about moving to the next level.


FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

Tagged: Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Reed Sorenson

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