Larry Mac: 2014 Cup Rookie battle likely a two-horse race

Austin Dillon (left) and Kyle Larson (right) could both make noise as Sprint Cup Series rookies.

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I am really excited to see the Rookie of the Year battle this year because we have so many great candidates. Let’s face it: The last few years, the rookie battle hasn’t been much of a topic. Now sure, it was mentioned more than once last year simply because of who was competing and the fun twist to it all.

Danica Patrick raced against fellow rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the title. The twist, obviously, was they were dating each other. Ricky won out, but I really believe in most cases there was more focus on those two dating than there was on the actual Rookie of the Year battle.

This could be the most depth a rookie battle has had since 2002 when Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson came on the scene. It’s actually been several years since we’ve even had a rookie battle. In fact, the last time a rookie of the year ran all the races was 2009 with Joey Logano.

Photos! The best of Danica and Ricky from 2013

Of course, the biggest focus has to be on Austin Dillon. He is stepping into the No. 3 car which is the former No. 29 of Kevin Harvick. That’s obviously a winning program. There is also a lot of anticipation about Kyle Larson, who has replaced Juan Pablo Montoya at Ganassi Racing.

You can’t overlook Michael Annett and Justin Allgaier who are also in the mix, but I really see it coming down to Austin versus Kyle for the rookie crown. So, that gives us a whole new storyline to follow in 2014. I just think it’s exciting to finally be able to talk about a Rookie of the Year battle.