Cup: Alex Bowman, Ryan Truex confirmed at BK Racing

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Add two more drivers to an already crowded rookie class for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as Alex Bowman and Ryan Truex are set to join BK Racing this season after testing for them during Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway.

As first reported by FoxSports.com’s Lee Spencer, Bowman will take over the No. 23 Toyota with sponsorship from Dr. Pepper – the car used to be the No. 93 but has now been re-branded, although the No. 93 has been retained on a “part-time basis” according to the team.

Truex, the younger brother of Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., is set to race the team’s second car, the No. 83 Toyota (pictured, from last year).

Dave Winston will work as Bowman’s crew chief on the No. 23, while Truex will have the services of Dale Ferguson on the No. 83.

“Alex and Ryan have always impressed me,” team owner Ron Devine said in a team statement confirming the two rookies as their 2014 drivers. “Both take care of their cars and have shown speed at every level they have competed in.

“With their abilities, we feel they can both excel in our equipment. As a team we are very excited, and their abilities to work with everyone here at BK Racing will be important.”

Bowman competed in all but one race last season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finishing 11th in the standings with two Top-5s and six Top-10s in the RAB Racing No. 99 Toyota (now driven by James Buescher). The Arizona native is also a veteran of ARCA and both the East and West divisions of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.

Truex, who had been a Richard Petty Motorsports development driver as of 2013, competed in his first three career Sprint Cup races last year at Bristol (night), Richmond (fall), and Dover (fall). All of those outings were for Phoenix Racing, and he earned a top finish of 32nd at Dover.

With freshmen Bowman and Truex now on the grid, this year’s Rookie of the Year title will be decided among a group of eight competitors that also includes Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing), Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing), Michael Annett (Tommy Baldwin Racing), Justin Allgaier (Phoenix Racing), and Swan Racing’s Parker Kligerman and Cole Whitt.

Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.