Two crew members were hit by a car on pit road during Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

As James Davison was exiting his pit stall after the halfway point of the race, his teammate, Pippa Mann, was in the left lane on pit road. There was no room for Davison and after the two cars collided, he hit the crew members from Tristan Vautier's team. All three cars drive for Dale Coyne Racing.

According to ABC's broadcast, one crew member was taken off via gurney and was conscious and another was transported from pit road via ambulance. It looked like an especially gnarly hit for the crew member on the left side of the screen. Teams are supposed to watch for other cars coming down pit road to attempt to prevent these types of situations.

The Coyne cars weren't factors for the race win and Davison's car was damaged enough that his race was over after the incident.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 24, 2015, 6:25 pm

Don't you ever get in the way of Mari Hulman George giving the command at the Indianapolis 500.

As the Chairperson of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, she's traditionally given the command for drivers to start their engines for the iconic race.

Sunday, she was escorted to the stage by a woman in a white dress who wanted to help. Hulman George, 80, didn't want it.

Look at that death glare.

We're working to identify the woman who got the look from Hulman George, though Deadspin identifies her as Nancy George, Mari's daughter. We're guessing there was a discussion after they exited the stage.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 24, 2015, 4:34 pm

Happy Indy 500 day! Follow along as experts bring you the latest from the track, with live updates, photos, analysis and more.

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: May 24, 2015, 4:32 pm
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The greatest day in racing started with a surprise in Formula 1.

Nico Rosberg won his third-straight Monaco Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton, who dominated the race after starting on the pole position, pitted for a second time.

Rosberg and Hamilton are teammates and have been the season's dominant duo for Mercedes. They were running 1-2 when the safety car came out for a crash involving Romain Grosjean and Max Verstappen. Verstappen slammed incredibly hard into the foam barriers on the outside of turn one.

Hamilton had a lead of over 20 seconds at the time of the crash. A full-course caution was issued and his team, apparently thinking he had enough time to pit and rejoin the race in first thanks to the massive lead, called Hamilton into the pits.

He exited the pits in third, behind Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. When the race restarted with less than ten laps to go, the top three stayed the same. Hamilton, despite having fresher tires than both Rosberg and Vettel, couldn't get around Vettel to make a charge at his teammate. Rosberg ended up winning easily.

Rosberg is the first driver to win three-straight Monaco races since Ayrton Senna won five in a row from 1989-1993. With 168 of the day's 1,268 scheduled miles complete, it's now time to turn our attention to the Indianapolis 500.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 24, 2015, 2:33 pm

Matt Kenseth is starting first in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600.

It's Kenseth's first pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and it's on the 15th anniversary of his first win. The 2003 champion's first race win was the 2000 Coca-Cola 600.

Kenseth won the pole earlier in the season at Bristol. He won that race too, leading 47 of the race's laps.

Joey Logano will start second and Kenseth's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards was third. Greg Biffle and Denny Hamlin, another JGR car, round out the top five.

Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart were the two fastest cars in round two, however they didn't get great laps in the final round. Harvick starts eighth while Stewart will start 12th.

Brad Keselowski was sixth and David Ragan was seventh. Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon will start in 9th, 10th and 11th respectively.

Five cars missed the race. They were Jeb Burton, Jeff Green, Mike Bliss, Travis Kvapil and Brendan Gaughan.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 22, 2015, 12:23 am

Jeff Gordon's move to Fox full-time in 2016 is now official.

The four-time Sprint Cup Series champion announced Thursday afternoon that he would be a part of the network's Sprint Cup race coverage in 2016. He'll be an analyst in the broadcast booth, replacing Larry McReynolds and joining analyst Darrell Waltrip and play-by-play announcer Mike Joy.

"Jeff is not only a champion but an icon of a racing generation," Fox Sports president Eric Shanks said in a statement. "We are thrilled he has chosen to become a part of the Fox Sports family and pair his experience with Darrell. Each is credited with helping elevate NASCAR to the popularity it attained in his respective era, and alongside Mike Joy, this duo will treat fans to unmatched insights each and every week."

Gordon, 43, announced he'd be stepping away from driving full-time in NASCAR after the 2015 season in January. His move to the broadcast booth full-time isn't much of a surprise. Gordon had said he was open to television and had said he'd be around the series plenty in 2016. He also has been a guest analyst for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in 2015.

The move to pair Gordon with Waltrip gives Fox two former drivers in the booth. NBC, which picks up the NASCAR schedule in July, has former crew chief Steve Letarte and former driver Jeff Burton in the booth. Letarte was once Gordon's crew chief.

McReynolds will move to the infield with Chris Myers and Michael Waltrip for Fox's race coverage.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 21, 2015, 9:13 pm

Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com or @NickBromberg. We'll post them here and have a good time.

Oh baby, it's the best racing day of the year.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's also one of the best weekends of the year. And there's nothing like spending one of the first warm weekends of the year outside doing fun things. So why don't you just take your TV outside and watch the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 from the patio? Multi-tasking!

1,268 miles of racing may be daunting at times when it's 3 p.m. and you realize you've got another race to watch, but naps exist for a reason. Couple the racing with NBA and NHL playoff action, baseball in full swing (in KC we have the Royals hosting the Cardinals, a matchup of the two best teams in baseball) and it's a fantastic sports weekend. Dare we make the proclamation that it could be better than May 2? Because we're doing it.

You'll notice this over the weekend, but the driver names across the windshields this weekend in the Sprint Cup Series have been replaced with the name of fallen military members. It's a nice gesture, but we're going to be (not at all) greedy and ask for something tangible. We'd endorse the movement if there was a corresponding (and large) donation made to each person's family or charity of choice in honor of the person on the windshield. It'd be a fantastic way to show that NASCAR is doing more than paying lip service to our military members and could help bring real impact to those who are back home from service.

(How cool would it be if the winner of Sunday night's race donated his race-winnings check in honor of the soldier on his car?)

According to NASCAR, many of the families of those honored will be in attendance and it's a cool experience for them. However, there are thousands upon thousands of veterans in this country who are in need of assistance. While Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have passed away, we humbly suggest it should also be a time to reflect upon how we can make a sustainable and real impact for the veterans that need it most. There's no better way to support the troops than to help improve the services they need.

Let's get to it. And after you're done with Happy Hour, we highly recommend this ESPN report about the finances of the Armed Forces Foundation, the charity run by Kurt Busch's ex-girlfriend.

@nickbromberg monaco. indy. charlotte. which will feature the best broadcast? which will feature the best racing? and which will be a flop?

— Philip Jones (@philgoodstory) May 21, 2015

PJ is doing this to troll me.

Monaco will be the most entertaining broadcast, Indianapolis will be the most exciting race and Charlotte could feature a lot of times with the leader checked out from the field. And, stunningly, the race at Charlotte may turn on a late-race restart.

While Indianapolis has the biggest chance of being the most exciting race, we're also going to be on pins and needles throughout given the five crashes that have happened during practice.

We've got our fingers crossed that it will be a safe race and there will be no crazy crashes like we've seen. Accidents are a part of racing, but a pattern of cars flying through the air shouldn't be.

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I am beating a dead horse, but NASCAR needs to shake up the All Star race. It is no secret that the exhibition race has been a dud for a while now - despite all of the annual hype. Every race of the season should not be expected to be a thriller, but the All Star race should be, and the only way to do that with the current rules package is to not race on a 1.5 mile oval configuration. The event does not even have to leave Charlotte. The track website says the facility has a road course configuration. Why not use that for the 2016 All Star race? Or one of the facility's short tracks?

p.s. The truck race at CMS had one of its best finishes in a while, but that is the only good thing I have to say about the race.- John

For a sport that seems hell-bent on entertainment in its points races, the lack of monster change with the All-Star race can seem a bit puzzling.

But yes, it's time to start from scratch. If no one cares about anything but the winner in the All-Star Race, attempt to guarantee that the winner will do something memorable. Something. Anything. Was Saturday night's race terrible? No. But It wasn't memorable. And how many times have you been promised greatness from the All-Star Race?

The Truck Series finish was fantastic, but it was unfortunately set up by a caution flag with less than two laps to go. And involved a truck that failed inspection at the end of the race.

@NickBromberg Doing my daily NASCAR media fantasy game, u feeling good, or buy Busbee? You make $ when i buy you? 1268 gets what 3 winners?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) May 21, 2015

Why would you even consider Busbee? Psshhh....

The picks to win this weekend are Lewis Hamilton in Monaco, Helio Castroneves in Indianapolis and Kevin Harvick in Charlotte. How boring, eh?

Here's how we're looking at our pick to win the 500. Castroneves is not only the most recognizable IndyCar driver among non-racing fans thanks to Dancing With the Stars, a win makes the 100th Indianapolis 500 even more compelling in 2016.

Castroneves ties the record for most 500 wins (4) if he wins on Sunday. Not only will he be a big hit on the media circuit after the race, there's automatically a monstrous talking point heading into 2016. And we have to think casual fans would be drawn to the 100th Indianapolis 500 with a guy going for five wins, right? Racing is better with a healthy IndyCar Series, and a Castroneves win could be a shot in the arm.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 21, 2015, 8:52 pm

Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner are the 2016 inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The five will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in January. They were chosen from a pool of 20 candidates on Wednesday and five candidates will take the inductees' place in the pool for consideration into the 2017 class. 

Smith was the leading vote-getter with 68 percent of the vote. Labonte was second with 61 percent, and Turner was third at 60 percent. Both Cook (47 percent) and Isaac (44 percent) got less than half of the available votes, speaking to the lack of voter consensus among this year's nominees. 

Jerry Cook: Perhaps the most unrecognizable name for casual NASCAR fans, Cook won six NASCAR modified titles. He also won four in a row from 1974-1977. He retired in 1982 and became the series director of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 1985. He is a competition administrator for NASCAR. He's also a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel, but he, along with Robert Yates, was recused from the voting since he was a nominee.

Bobby Isaac: Isaac won 37 Sprint Cup Series races in 308 starts over 15 years. He was the 1970 series champion, winning 11 races in 47 starts. His winningest season came in 1969 when he won 17 races. He won 19 poles that same season, a mark that still stands as the most poles won in a single NASCAR season. 

Terry Labonte: A two-time champion, Labonte won 22 races in 890 starts. He won his first title in 1984 when he had 24 top-10 finishes in 30 races. His second title came in 1996, when he had 24 top-10 finishes in 31 races. He also won two races in each of those seasons. His winningest seasons were in 1994 and 1995; he won three races in each. His first and last wins came at Darlington.

Bruton Smith: The executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., Smith has been an integral part of NASCAR's growth. SMI owns tracks in Charlotte, Texas, Las Vegas, Kentucky and more. Overall, Smith has eight tracks on the Sprint Cup Series schedule and the tracks host a third of the series' points races. He built Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1960 and Joe Lee Johnson won the first Coca-Cola 600 that year. 

Curtis Turner: Turner made starts over a span of 17 NASCAR seasons and had 17 wins in 184 races. He won four races in 16 starts in 1950 and won three races in 12 starts in 1951 and three races in 17 starts in 1958 (he never ran a full season in NASCAR). He competed in NASCAR's first strictly stock race at Charlotte in 1949 and he's the only driver in NASCAR history to win two-straight races from the pole while also leading every lap. Those wins came at Rochester and Charlotte in 1950.

The pool of 15 candidates that didn't make it in the 2016 class included Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Harry Hyde, Alan Kulwicki, Mark Martin, Hershel McGriff, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Larry Phillips, Mike Stefanik and Robert Yates. 

Harold Brasington won the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions for NASCAR. Brasington built Darlington Raceway, which hosted NASCAR's first 500-mile race in 1950.

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Nick Bromberg
is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 20, 2015, 10:37 pm

Welcome to Random Recaps, our new weekly feature at From The Marbles. In this space, we'll recap a race from the past at the track the where Sprint Cup Series is racing next.

This week's race is the 1988 Oakwood Homes 500. Need to know how Random Recap works? Click here.

Rusty Wallace took the lead from Brett Bodine with 12 laps to go to win the Oakwood Homes 500.

Bodine had grabbed the lead from Darrell Waltrip with 39 laps to go. However, Wallace closed in on him as the race wound down and made the winning pass as Bodine eventually fell to third behind Waltrip.

Points leader Bill Elliott finished fourth, minimizing the ground Wallace was able to make up in the standings. Wallace is now second to Elliott, 109 points behind with four races to go.

Wallace led 35 laps but his pass of Bodine was the first time he'd been in first since lap 70. 15 cars took turns leading the race for a total of 36 different lead changes.

The dominant car of the day, at least in terms of laps led, was Dale Earnhardt, who led 83. However, Earnhardt ended the race in 17th, six laps down.

10 cars finished the race on the lead lap. Sterling Marlin finished fifth, while Bobby Hillin, Jr., Ken Schrader, Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin and Terry Labonte rounded out the top 10.

Epilogue: Wallace won three of the season's remaining four races to give Elliott a run for the title. But while Wallace was racking up the wins, Elliott was finishing near the front too. He entered the final race of the year with a 79-point lead over Wallace. The 1989 champion won the final race of the year, but Elliott finished 11th and won the championship by 24 points.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 20, 2015, 3:30 pm

With the All-Star Race last week, we're not going to base our wonderfully exact and authoritative weekly rankings of the Sprint Cup Series off an exhibition race. So we're going to switch it up a bit and give the Camping World Truck Series some glory.

1. Erik Jones: This is a tough choice for the top spot and we're going to be contrarian based off the last two races. Jones was absolutely dominant at Kansas, leading 151 of the race's 167 laps. However he was forced to pit for fuel late and lost the lead and the race. He started in the back of the pack at Charlotte on Friday night. He was in the top 10 in less than six laps. And he lost a photo finish to Kasey Kahne, whose truck failed inspection after the race.

2. Matt Crafton: Here's the man who won the Kansas race and is the only Truck Series regular to win multiple races this year (he also won at Atlanta in the second race of the season). Why is he not first? Because he's led fewer laps overall (216) than Erik Jones (278). Are we being too harsh on the two-time champion? Quite possibly.

3. Tyler Reddick: Outside of Crafton, he's the only Truck Series driver to win a race this year. Reddick won the season-opener at Daytona and has four top-five finishes. The only real blip on the radar is qualifying at Kansas, where he spun and took out teammate Austin Theriault in the process. But even after that mess he was in position for a top-five finish before he ran out of fuel and finished 13th.

4. Johnny Sauter: Sauter has been just a tick behind Crafton, his teammate, this year. While Crafton has four top-five finishes, Sauter has two. And he hasn't led any laps. In fact, the Truck Series regular with the fourth-most laps led (behind the top three in our rankings)? Mason Mingus. He's not in the top 8.

5. Timothy Peters: Peters has three top-10 finishes and snuck a top-five finish out of the fuel-mileage race in Kansas. But he's 59 points out of the lead. The Red Horse trucks haven't been to the level of the Kyle Busch Motorsports trucks or the ThorSport Toyotas. Or even...

6. John Wes Townley: ... to the points level of the #ChickenMan who is two points ahead of Peters despite having one less top 10. Yes, JWT is fifth in the points standings. He's done that by finishing inside the top 12 in every race since Daytona, where he finished 22nd. It's not going to be terribly surprising if Townley wins a race in 2015.

7. Justin Boston: The rookie has three top-10 finishes in five races. Top equipment (Kyle Busch Motorsports) helps, but Boston has shown potential. All three of those top-10 finishes have come in the last three races too. Take away a 29th-place finish at Daytona and he's much higher in the standings.

8. Cameron Hayley: We're concluding this top eight with another rookie driver. Hayley is sixth on the circuit in laps completed, but has one top-five finish in 2015. It came at Kansas, as he was the third of three ThorSport trucks to make it to the end on fuel as other drivers were forced to stop. He's been just outside the top 10 otherwise with finishes of 14th, 11th and 14th at the other three non-Daytona races.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 19, 2015, 8:49 pm

James Hinchliffe's injuries from a nasty Indianapolis 500 practice crash on Monday were reportedly caused by a piece of suspension equipment that came through the tub of his car.

Hinchcliffe's car had an apparent mechanical failure in turn three and shot straight into the outside wall. According to RACER, via an associate of the 28-year-old driver, Hinchcliffe's injuries were life-threatening and that the quick response from IndyCar's safety team in the seconds following his crash "more than likely saved" his life.

As of Tuesday, Hinchcliffe is "stable and improving" according to Dr. Timothy Pohlman, the senior staff trauma surgeon at IU Health Methodist Hospital, where Hinchcliffe was taken for surgery after the accident.

Here's an excerpt from RACER with the reported description of Hinchcliffe's injuries. We're going to go ahead and warn you if you've got a sensitive stomach. It may get upset.

In the impact, which flattened the right side of the chassis, one of the suspension wishbones penetrated the Dallara safety cell, and subsequently caused the majority of the physical damage Hinchcliffe received. RACER has confirmed through multiple sources that Hinchcliffe had the steel wishbone enter and exit his right leg, then enter his upper left thigh, and continue into his pelvic region, where it came to a stop. The suspension component pinned the 28-year-old in the car, leading the safety team to cut the wishbone from the chassis to allow Hinchcliffe's extraction.

With the multiple intrusions, Hinchcliffe experienced massive blood loss at the crash site, and despite the gravity of soft tissue injuries to his lower extremities, stopping the bleeding became an immediate priority for the medical staff to address once he was pulled from the chassis.

IndyCar has its own safety team that travels with the circuit from race to race. NASCAR does not have a traveling on-track safety team. IndyCar's safety team was at Hinchcliffe's car within seconds of it coming to a stop.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon by the series, Hinchcliffe called the safety workers and the doctors at the hospital his heroes.

"Words can't describe how thankful I am to the Holmatro Safety Team," Hinchcliffe said. "Those guys, in addition to the doctors and staff at the hospital, are my heroes. I can't say enough how much I appreciate the outpouring of support from INDYCAR fans, my family and fellow drivers. We are all one big family and it feels like that today."

Here's video of the accident again.

His team owner, Sam Schmidt, said the piece of suspension that went into Hinchcliffe's legs was reinforced before the season per IndyCar rules.

"Previously, it would have folded," Schmidt told the Indianapolis Star. Schmidt also said that Hinchcliffe didn't suffer any bone injuries.

A replacement driver for Hinchcliffe in Sunday's race hasn't been named yet. According to the associate of Hinchcliffe's quoted in the report, he's likely going to miss the rest of the season. His car was going over 200 MPH when it hit the wall, which thankfully was covered in SAFER barrier, a type of wall that has foam insulation. The hit was a reported 125 Gs.

His crash was also the fifth scary crash in the lead-up to the 99th Indianapolis 500. Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Ed Carpenter's cars all flipped over after impacts with the wall and Pippa Man slammed into the beginning of the outside pit road wall off turn four.

Hinchcliffe has four wins in 73 races in over four seasons in the IndyCar Series. He won earlier in the season at New Orleans.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 19, 2015, 3:17 pm

James Hinchcliffe is in stable condition after he wrecked while practicing for the Indianapolis 500. Hinchcliffe's car collided with the wall at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and flipped before coming to rest.

Here's video of the wreck:

Hinchcliffe was transported to Methodist Hospital, where he underwent surgery to remove a piece of debris from his left thigh.

Hinchcliffe's left thigh was pierced by a piece of equipment from the car, causing "massive bleeding," according to the Associated Press, requiring surgery.

According to Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star, Hinchcliffe is in stable condition.

On-board cameras show Hinchcliffe's right-front wheel lifting shortly before impact. A Honda spokesperson said the right-front suspension broke.

A gif showing why Hinchcliffe hit the wall. pic.twitter.com/wUqxwNxsX6

— Geoffrey Miller (@GeoffreyMiller) May 18, 2015

Hinchcliffe is the fourth driver to get airborne in a wreck at this year's Indy practices. Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Ed Carpenter have all wrecked within the past few days.

"Are the new aero kits, which feature aerodynamic trim pieces on the front, sides and rear of the car, helping the cars get airborne so easily? It's a fair question," Yahoo Sports' Nick Bromberg wrote in the wake of Newgarden's wreck. "It's fair to be concerned about the probability of a car flipping during the race on May 24."

According to the Associated Press, Derrick Walker, IndyCar's president of competition and operations, "has blamed Castroneves' wreck on an aero balance setting that was pushed too far, Newgarden's on a cut tire and said Carpenter simply had an accident."

Hinchcliffe had qualified 24th for the Indy 500. No word yet on if he will be replaced.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: May 18, 2015, 5:54 pm

2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon will start first for next Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

While Sunday's qualifying session wasn't incredibly dramatic, the hours before the session were. During pre-qualifying practice on Sunday morning, Ed Carpenter crashed and his car flipped over. It was the third time in the past five days that a car flipped over after hitting the wall during practice.

Carpenter's crash spurred a flurry of meetings between IndyCar officials and team owners. As the track's fence was being repaired in turn two after the accident, the series made changes for qualifying.

Instead of a multi-session format where the pole would be determined from the fastest nine drivers, qualifying became a single-session affair. Horsepower on the cars' engines was turned down, meaning no driver came close to breaking the 230 MPH average-speed barrier for four laps. Teams were also required to run the same aero kit pieces on the cars in qualifying that they would run for the race.

The third car of 33 cars that made attempts, Dixon's pole-winning four-lap average was 226.760 MPH. It's his second pole for the 500. The first? Yep, when he won in 2008.

The aero kits have been considered a possible culprit for the rash of flips. The Chevrolet and Honda cars are sporting additional bodywork for speed and downforce this year and it's the first time the trim kits have been used at the Indianapolis 500. While the three cars that flipped have all been Chevrolets, Honda teams were also mandated to make the same qualify-what-you-race changes to their aero kits.

Teams were planning to run a higher downforce setup and kit in the race, opting for a sleeker and faster setup in qualifying for the best-possible qualifying spot. With changes over the next week suddenly outlawed, teams essentially had to qualify with their baseline race setup.

"We don't know if it's just a Chevy problem," IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said Sunday morning about the flips.

2014 IndyCar Series champion Will Power starts second, while his Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud starts third. Dixon drives for Chip Ganassi Racing and his pole broke a streak dating back to last year of eight-straight poles won by Team Penske cars.

Here's the starting lineup for the race. Buddy Lazier didn't qualify.

1. Scott Dixon, Chevrolet
2. Will Power, Chevrolet
3. Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet
4. Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet
5. Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet
6. Justin Wilson, Honda
7. Sebastian Bourdais, Chevrolet
8. Marco Andretti, Honda
9. Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet
10. J.R. Hildebrand, Chevrolet
11. Carlos Munoz, Honda
12. Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet
13. Oriol Servia, Honda
14. Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet
15. Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet
16. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda
17. Graham Rahal, Honda
18. Carlos Huertas, Honda
19. Simona de Silvestro, Honda
20. James Jakes, Honda
21. Tristan Vautier (qualifying for James Davison), Honda
22. Alex Tagliani, Honda
23. Sage Karam, Chevrolet
24. James Hinchcliffe, Honda
25. Conor Daly, Honda
26. Townsend Bell, Chevrolet
27. Takuma Sato, Honda
28. Pippa Mann, Honda
29. Gabby Chaves, Honda
30. Sebastian Saavedra, Chevrolet
31. Jack Hawksworth, Honda
32. Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet
33. Bryan Clauson, Chevrolet

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 17, 2015, 9:55 pm

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Denny Hamlin FedExed Joe Gibbs Racing its first Sprint All-Star Race victory Saturday night.

Hamlin drove off pit road first and maintained the lead throughout the final 10-lap segment of the race and won the exhibition event at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the first time.

The final segment was precipitated by a mandatory four-tire pit stop for the entire field. The order entering pit road for the stop was determined by the average finish order of the drivers in the previous four 25-lap segments.

Hamlin entered pit road with the sixth-best average finish (helped by a two-tire pit stop earlier in the race), but he had the last pit stall on pit road thanks to winning the pole earlier in the evening. He beat the entire field off pit road, and held off Kevin Harvick in the race's final laps.

Harvick might have had a faster car in the final segment and was stalking Hamlin over the last laps. While Hamlin ran the low line in the corners for much of the waning laps, Harvick was in the middle lane, creeping ever-so-slowly to Hamlin's back bumper. But with three laps to go, Hamlin moved up to the middle line in turns one and two and blunted Harvick's momentum. He lost a bunch of ground to Hamlin and was never able to make it back up thanks to the clean air Hamlin's car was enjoying.

Outside of Harvick, Brad Keselowski could have been Hamlin's biggest competitor. He exited pit road right behind Hamlin in second, but in doing so, sped on pit road. The speeding penalty meant he had to restart at the back of the pack, ending his chances for a win.

Quite frankly, the events described in the last two paragraphs above were the most dramatic things about the race, unless you want to count Jamie McMurray's save on a restart earlier in the race (Had McMurray not kept his car pointed straight after getting bumped by Joey Logano, half the field would have crashed). Because of the current rules package in the Sprint Cup Series and how it translates to intermediate tracks like CMS, the race wasn't incredibly thrilling.

The most entertaining moments, like McMurray's save came immediately after restarts. Like with many Sprint Cup points races, after the field got strung out a few laps after the waving of the green flag, the drama ratcheted down considerably.

And the lack of entertainment throughout the race is a big reason why the All-Star Race needs to be reformatted and/or moved to a different track in 2016. Because it's not for points, it thrives on memorable moments. It hasn't had them recently.

A short track like Bristol, Martinsville, Richmond or a track where the Cup Series currently doesn't race at would stand a much better chance of producing a memorable moment. Hell, a road course even would.

While Hamlin sure isn't complaining about what happened Saturday night, you can bet a vast majority of fans' excitement levels are far, far below his. If NASCAR wants to keep its All-Star Race relevant, it needs to change it up. The sanctioning body has shown that it's clearly willing to tinker with the structure of its championship at the sake of drama. It needs to apply that same aggressiveness to its All-Star Race immediately.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 17, 2015, 3:39 am

Have you ever wondered why teams are hit with relatively stiff penalties when lead falls from a car on the race track?

Here's why.

Here is a closer look at the damage to @JamieDickRacing car #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/DNGhK3Iv47

— Jason Toy (@JasonToy1) May 16, 2015

The ballast from the car, apparently Ross Chastain's, ended up hitting Jamie Dick, the driver of the No. 55, in the helmet during Xfinity Series practice at Iowa Speedway on Saturday.

All the spacers and lead started coming out," Dick said via the Des Moines Register. "I dodged the spacers, but I didn't dodge the lead."

Dick said he thankfully didn't feel an ill-effects from the hit because of the helmet. It's a rude welcome back to the Xfinity Series, where he's missed two months of competition after being diagnosed with diabetes. And boy, could that accident have been a lot worse.

While Dick didn't identify the car that started dropping weight, Chastain posted an apology to Twitter after the practice. Cars are attached with weight to ensure that they meet the minimum weight specifications. Chastain's team will likely face a penalty on Tuesday. The Xfinity Series race is Sunday afternoon.

pic.twitter.com/sVx3nnQ2ns

— Ross Chastain (@RossChastain) May 16, 2015

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 16, 2015, 7:27 pm

Kasey Kahne beat Erik Jones at Charlotte Friday night in the second-closest finish in Truck Series history.

Kahne's winning margin was 0.005 seconds. Yes, that's five-thousandths of a second.

But – and this is a big but – Kahne's truck failed inspection after the race. NASCAR ruled the truck was too low on both sides of the front and too high on the right rear.

The win won't be taken away from Kahne. NASCAR typically doesn't do that when winning teams don't pass inspection. But it's fair to wonder what advantage he had at the end of the race. A truck closer to the ground in the front has more downforce (and doesn't create as big a hole through the air), and the spoiler higher in the air in the rear creates more downforce too.

Don't get us wrong, the finish was great. But it'd have also been a lot more fun if it was after the end of a 20-lap run and wasn't set up by a green-white-checker restart. Daniel Hemric lost a tire while Jones was pulling away with two laps to go. Before he took the white flag, the caution was out, and for the final two green flag laps, Kahne and Jones dueled side-by-side.

Penalties for Kahne's JR Motorsports team will be announced this week. They'll likely include a fine and points penalty for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s newly founded truck team. The win was Kahne's fifth in six Truck Series starts.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 16, 2015, 5:39 pm

Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer won the two segments of the Sprint Showdown Friday night and will join Danica Patrick in the field for Saturday's Sprint All-Star Race.

Biffle won segment one while Bowyer won segment two, both of which were 20 laps. Patrick won the fan vote.

Both segments looked similar; the driver who took the lead in the laps after a restart was able to check out from the field unchallenged.

Biffle started second and took the lead at the outset of the race. The first 20 laps were run without a caution flag and no one was able to get close to Biffle after he pulled away from the rest of the pack. Bowyer passed Paul Menard for second but was unable to mount a charge.

Teams had the option of pitting for tires between segments and the first four cars off pit road took two tires. Bowyer took four and capitalized on a restart with 17 laps to go after a J.J. Yeley spin. He pulled to the inside of Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson in a three-wide battle for the lead and was able to drive away from both.

Larson ended up hitting the wall after a close encounter with Sam Hornish Jr. and Truex finished the second segment in third place behind Paul Menard.

Qualifying for the All-Star Race takes place before the main event, which is scheduled to start after 9 p.m. ET.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 16, 2015, 12:17 am

Paul Menard and Greg Biffle have the top two starting spots for the Sprint Showdown on Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The race is the precursor to the All-Star Race and features all of the drivers not already qualified for Saturday night's exhibition event (17 drivers are already qualified for the All-Star Race).

The Showdown consists of two 20-lap segments. The winners of each segment will advance to the All-Star Race and so will the winner of the fan vote. The top five drivers in the fan vote (in alphabetical order) are Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, Danica Patrick, Martin Truex Jr. and Josh Wise.

Here's how the field will line up for the event, which begins at approximately 7:25 ET and takes place before the evening's Camping World Truck Series race. If you don't see your favorite driver listed, it's because he's already qualified for the All-Star Race.

1. Paul Menard
2. Greg Biffle
3. David Ragan
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Austin Dillon
6. Kyle Larson
7. Martin Truex, Jr.
8. Danica Patrick
9. Casey Mears
10. Michael McDowell
11. Chase Elliott
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
13. Sam Hornish Jr.
14. Justin Allgaier
15. Trevor Bayne
16. Alex Bowman
17. David Gilliland
18. Mike Bliss
19. Josh Wise
20. Landon Cassill
21. Matt DiBenedetto
22. Jeb Burton
23. Cole Whitt
24. J.J. Yeley
25. Michael Annett
26. Jeff Green
27. Brendan Gaughan
28. Alex Kennedy
29. Tanner Berryhill

Who you got? We're taking Patrick to win the fan vote and Bowyer and Truex to win segments. We also wouldn't be surprised if Josh Wise wins the fan vote for the second straight year.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 15, 2015, 9:02 pm

Kyle Busch's return to the Sprint Cup Series is being marked with a t-shirt by Joe Gibbs Racing.

Busch is racing in Saturday's Sprint All-Star Race, his first race back since he broke his right leg and left foot in a crash in February. To mark the occasion, JGR is selling "Rowdy Returns" t-shirts with the date of the All-Star Race on them.

Get yours now! #RowdyReturns http://t.co/4mhoPq9en6 pic.twitter.com/c6QRwIYLHt

— Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) May 15, 2015

They're available at the JGR online store for the low cost of $19.99.

Why?

OK, we know the answer to that question. It's to make money. And in a sport that's a traveling smorgasboard of billboards, capitalism on any and every opportunity isn't all that surprising (you can buy t-shirts celebrating the win of a pole). But just because the opportunity is available doesn't mean it should be taken.

Busch was injured in an absolutely gruesome hit. His return is cause for celebration, no doubt. But is it really worthy of a t-shirt, the proceeds of which don't appear to be going to any worthy charitable organizations and instead into the coffers of already well-off entities? There's no mention of any charities in the short description of the shirt on JGR's website.

If all of the proceeds from the sale of the shirt are benefitting any number of foundations (how about as extra money to Martin Truex Jr.'s Catwalk for a Cause?), we can understand the impetus for creating and selling them. But it doesn't unfortunately appear to be the case.

And besides, would you really wear that shirt regularly over the next few years if you were a Kyle Busch fan?

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 15, 2015, 5:58 pm

A day after Helio Castroneves flipped over in an Indianapolis 500 practice crash, Josef Newgarden did the same. And his car didn't land right side up.

During another 500 practice session on Thursday, Newgarden's car went airborne when it hit the wall in turns one and two, very close to the spot where Castroneves' car crashed. While Castroneves' car landed with the top of his head facing the sky after initially landing on its side, Newgarden's car hit upside down and went skidding across the track.

He was able to climb from the car and was treated and released from the infield care center.

From Frontstretch.com:

“I don’t know what to think of it. We were just going out there for a run and it was a pretty crazy hit,” Newgarden said. “I don’t think there’s any concern right now but I haven’t even talked to my guys yet, so I’m not sure.”

“I was pretty impressed by the hit, it was a hard hit. I feel fine. I hit my hand a little bit and I think I got a bruise, but other than that, I’m fine. We make these cars as safe as we can … I feel very safe in them. We’re always looking for more, but i think they’re about as safe as we can make them right now.”

Ugh. Happy to see @josefnewgarden out of that car okay. Rough May so far... #IndyCar #Indy500

— Pippa Mann (@PippaMann) May 14, 2015

Mann crashed in practice on Wednesday and, thankfully, her car didn't catch any air. However, she had a hard hit at the beginning of the wall that separates the pit road from the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The IndyCar Series introduced aero kits this season, the fourth year for its new chassis. The kits are customized for both road courses and speedways and help the Chevrolet and Honda cars with performance and also brand identity.

Are the new aero kits, which feature aerodynamic trim pieces on the front, sides and rear of the car, helping the cars get airborne so easily? It's a fair question.

"We think the wicker that's on the front of the car pinned the front of the car down as it was sliding; you could see it in the pictures," team owner Roger Penske told the Indianapolis Star after Castroneves' crash on Wednesday. "When the rear end got a little air under it ... it caught the air and then went up."

Both Castroneves and Newgarden drive Chevrolets. According to Chevy's press release announcing the Indy 500 aero kit, the car's "rear bumper bods and wheel wedges were designed as an integrated solution to reduce vehicle drag" (while the car is facing the right direction, of course) and the rear wing, unique for the race, "features low-mass rear wing pillars and a low-mass rear mainplane."

Not liking seeing these cars flipping. Hope @josefnewgarden is doing ok. Damn, that’s scary stuff.

— Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) May 14, 2015

It's important to note that IndyCars getting airborne is not a new phenomenon. Mike Conway's car flew into the catchfence in the 2010 Indianapolis 500 and he suffered a broken leg. Numerous cars got airtime in the massive and tragic crash at Las Vegas in 2011 that killed Dan Wheldon, who tested this newer and safer chassis extensively before his death (the chassis is named in his honor).

However, with two flips in two days, it's fair to be concerned about the probability of a car flipping during the race on May 24.

Qualifying for the race begins Saturday and concludes Sunday. With the cars trimmed out for maximum speed and low downforce for a top qualifying spot, the session could be a good barometer of what preliminarily appears to be a flipping trend if anyone bobbles and crashes.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 14, 2015, 10:15 pm

Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com or @NickBromberg. We'll post them here and have a good time.

It's time for the All-Star Race! Who is excited?

It doesn't seem like many of you. The main theme heading into the race is alternative options for the race. That's not a good sign for the event's continued viability in it's current form.

And it's because the All-Star Race simply isn't different. Yeah, it features a shorter field, but there's nothing really compelling about the event. If the most compelling thing about it -- that it's winner take all -- is the same phrase used to describe the Chase and its qualification process, well, you know something has to be done.

Does NASCAR? Hopefully. We'll be watching, though we're not expecting much drama. Hell, what's the second-biggest storyline about the event after Kyle Busch's return?

Away we go...

@nickbromberg aside from wanting to see my driver win, why should i watch the all-star race? a million $? yawn. CMS? yawn. sat. night? yawn.

— Philip Jones (@philgoodstory) May 14, 2015

... to continue the theme.

All are valid points. If your driver is in the race, you'll obviously be cheering for him. But, say, you're a Clint Bowyer fan and he doesn't get in via the Showdown on Friday night or the fan vote. Do you have a reason to watch other than "well, cars are going in circles and I'm at home, so I'm going to watch."

It's pretty clear (at least among those who have given us feedback) that the $1 million for the winner asset doesn't pique fans' interests. Charlotte doesn't lend itself to great racing with this aero package. If you're out at the bar and want to watch the race, you may have to ask the bartender to turn it on.

This race needs to be one of the most fun events of the year.

@NickBromberg ok got it. Um, so why does the All-Star Race need a technical rulebook?

— Geoffrey Miller (@GeoffreyMiller) May 14, 2015

And here's a way to make it fun!

How awesome would this be? Chad Knaus said it should be a secret to teams until the garages opened, making them scramble to be innovative. We've got an idea that takes off on that, and allows for some longevity.

There are many things NASCAR teams can do in the span of 48 hours. Instead of an unlimited rule book, why doesn't NASCAR take away a specific section or part for the race? And then teams are notified of the missing puzzle piece when they get in the garage?

One year, cars could be mandated to have the front splitters cut off. Spoilers could be banned. The tapered spacer could be banned. Sideskirts could be tossed out. There could be no rules on shocks. Different tire compounds could be available. The possibilities aren't endless, but there's enough options to keep teams guessing and force them to show off their ingenuity. And hell, they could lead to better racing.

@NickBromberg Suppose Vickers shows up-"I'm healthy,let's race" give a waiver? Pic-Screensaver? Framed in mancave? pic.twitter.com/cfEJBWfV59

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) May 14, 2015

Of course, Vickers is out for the rest of the year. And Brian knows that, so we're just having some hypothetical fun here.

If he was going to race next week, he gets a waiver. He's already gotten one before, and he'll get one again, especially now that Kyle Busch has one.

In case you missed it, that was the trophy for (Sunday morning's) race. While large and in charge, it was also quite two-dimensional. Maybe a three-dimensional sponge was too much to ask?

That picture is also living nowhere else but Twitter, Facebook and here. Which, quite frankly, are three places too many.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 14, 2015, 8:59 pm

Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves had a frightening moment during practice for the 2015 Indianapolis 500 on Wednesday.

Castroneves' car bobbled as he exited Turn 1 and hit the wall. The impact turned the car backwards on the track and then as the air got underneath the rear of his car, it flipped over.

Here's the video, which includes a clip from his in-car camera after the broadcast replay.

IndyCar issued a statement after the crash saying that Castroneves was uninjured. He crashed on the second lap of his run and continued a blah day. Earlier Wednesday he was penalized eight points for an incident in Saturday's Grand Prix of Indianapolis. 

Pole qualifying for the race on May 24 is on Sunday. Castroneves was the fastest driver in Tuesday's practice session, turning a lap of 227.514 MPH. He won the 500 in 2001, 2002 and 2009.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 13, 2015, 5:35 pm

Brett Moffitt has a ride for the rest of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season. And Front Row Motorsports now has a driver for the rest of the season for it's No. 34 car.

Yes, the two sentences are related.

The team announced Wednesday that Moffitt would be in the seat of the car for the remainder of 2015. He's been filling in on a part-time basis in the No. 34.

"I am excited for the opportunity to be in a Sprint Cup car on a weekly basis," Moffitt said in a team statement. "The most important thing for me at this point of my career is seat time, going to some of these tracks that are new to me, and racing around 42 other drivers in race conditions. And the more time I spend in the 34 car and with this team, the more competitive we'll get. And I think that consistency will lead to some good finishes."

Moffitt began the season as the fill-in driver for Brian Vickers and finished seventh at Atlanta. When Vickers returned (briefly) to the Sprint Cup Series, Moffitt moved over to the No. 34, which was in need of a driver after David Ragan was named as Kyle Busch's substitute driver.

Now that Busch is back, Ragan is driving the No. 55 for the rest of the season while Vickers is out because of a recurrance of blood clots. With three starts in the No. 34, Moffitt became the logical choice.

We're glad to be able to move forward knowing who is going to be in the car on a consistent basis," Front Row owner Bob Jenkins said. "Brett's already got some great experience under his belt, and I think having the same driver-crew chief team working together regularly will bring some stability to our No. 34 team and help Brett with his development as well."

Moffitt finished 34th Saturday night at Kansas for Front Row. The team has only entered two cars  for David Gilliland and Cole Whiitt – for Saturday night's Sprint Showdown qualifier for the All-Star Race, and Moffitt's next race will be the Coca-Cola 600.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 13, 2015, 3:25 pm

Kyle Busch has been granted a waiver for the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup. However, it only waves the requirement that a driver must attempt to qualify for every race.

"On behalf of everyone at NASCAR, it’s great to have Kyle Busch back racing," NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell, said in a statement. "Our decision to grant Kyle a waiver that allows him to continue running for a championship is one we discussed extensively. The spirit of the rule never was designed to punish drivers who are unable to compete due to extenuating circumstances such as recovering from a racing accident."

Busch has missed the first 11 races of the season after he broke his right leg and left foot in the season-opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona. He's returning to the seat of a Sprint Cup Series car on Saturday for the Sprint All-Star Race with the hopes of competing the rest of the season. The next points race is the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24.

With winners receiving all but an automatic berth into the Chase, NASCAR requires drivers to be in the top 30 in points and attempt every race. It's been very liberal with the use of waivers regarding the every race mandate, as Busch is now the fourth driver to get one in less than two years along with Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers and his brother, Kurt Busch (We've written how NASCAR needs to drop the every race requirement here).

NASCAR CEO Brian France had said previously that the sport wanted to figure out a way to get Busch eligible for the Chase. At the time of France's comments, a public timeline for Busch's return was unknown and the driver was non-committal about being in a car in time for the series' return trip to Daytona in July.

With a July return date, it would have been almost impossible for Busch to get into the top 30 in points. Now, with 15 races remaining before the Chase, it's a difficult task. But not insurmountable. As we said yesterday, if Busch comes back and can average a 15th-place finish until the Chase begins, he'd get in the top 30 based off the pace of Tony Stewart, the driver 30th in points currently.

Of course, simply getting into the top 30 isn't going to be enough to make the Chase. Busch also has to win a race for this conversation to even become reality. He's got 15 chances to do it.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 13, 2015, 1:47 pm

Our Power Rankings are far from a scientific formula. In fact, it's the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. And you think we dislike your favorite driver, so it makes sense, right? Direct all your complaints to us at happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com.

1. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 1): Well this is boring, isn't it? Johnson led the final 10 laps after he stayed out during the last caution period and the clean air helped him get to victory lane for the 73rd time. Here are some fun facts about his win at Kansas. Johnson's 10 laps led were the sixth-fewest he's led in any of his 73 wins. Of the five races he's won leading less than 10 laps, he's only taken the lead later in the race than he did at Kansas (lap 258) twice. Once was at Las Vegas in 2006 (when he passed Matt Kenseth on the final lap, and the other was at Atlanta in 2007, when he led the last nine laps.

2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2): Without the caution, Harvick was in control. But as the leader when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hit the wall, he was going to be damned if he did pit, damned if he didn't. He chose to pit for gas and two tires and was second off pit road. However, he was sixth on the restart because four cars ahead of him stayed out, including Johnson. Because he was sixth, he got to restart in the high line and ended up second. However, had he been in the second row and not the third row on the restart, he might have won the race.

3. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 5): This was the guy who restarted in fifth. And it hurt his chances for the win. Truex, who was second when the caution came out, got just fuel on his pit stop and beat Harvick out of the pits. However, he was on the inside line and with old tires and a propensity to not get going immediately on the restarts all evening, the formula was not a good one for Truex. He faded back to ninth by the end of the race, but he's still establishing himself as the driver to beat among those without a win. And yes, that sentence makes sense to us.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 3): Following up a win with a third-place finish isn't terrible. Junior stayed out along with Johnson and almost stole a win had he been able to clear Johnson off the restart. He didn't, which meant he was playing defense to Harvick, a game that he also lost. It meant a repeat finishing order of the race at Texas, where Johnson, Harvick and Junior finished in the top three (in that order) after a late-race restart.

5. Kurt Busch (LW: 4): Busch led from laps 30-49 and looked like an early contender for the win. Those were the only laps he led. His car was good after the lengthy rain delay, but not really good. Or good enough to contend for a top three spot. Busch ended up eighth. He's been so good so far this season that he's 14th in the standings despite missing three races because of his indefinite suspension. Even without the win at Richmond, Busch would be in a position to make the Chase.

6. Joey Logano (LW: 6): Here's the man who charged from the back of the field not once, but twice throughout the evening on Saturday. The first penalty he got on pit road was because his crew members jumped over the wall too soon. He worked his way through the field and then messed up later by pitting when the pits were closed. He went to the back again. The end result was a fifth-place finish and easily the most cars passed of anyone throughout the entire evening.

7. Matt Kenseth (LW: 8): Kenseth had one hell of a save on lap 130 when he almost lost the car off turn two. While he was officially listed as the reason for the caution, he made out the best of anyone involved in the incident as Brett Moffitt hit Tony Stewart and sent the No. 14 car into the wall. While Stewart's race was toast, Kenseth's wasn't and he ended up finishing sixth.

8. Ryan Newman (LW: 7): Now that the appeal process is over and Newman is officially docked 50 points, Saturday night's race was his first without crew chief Luke Lambert. And he got a 10th-place finish to show for it. Not terrible, eh? If the No. 31 bunch averages a 10th-place finish throughout Lambert's suspension, the team will undoubtedly have weathered the storm. Will it happen? Probably not. But it's not going to be lost without him.

9. Jamie McMurray (LW: 10): McMurray finished 13th Saturday night and is currently the No. 2 driver in the Chase on points. Not bad at all. It's almost like the No. 1 and No. 42 teams have switched roles from 2014. Last year, Larson was racking up good finishes while McMurray was showing flashes. This year, McMurray has been fast and consistent and looks good for the Chase barring a collapse over the next 15 races.

10. Kasey Kahne (LW: 9): As Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. marched forward from their starting spots outside the top 15, Kahne slipped backwards. After starting second, Kahne survived on the periphery of the top 10 until the final restart. He pitted, and like Martin Truex Jr., fell backwards over the final green flag run. He ended up 17th, a finish not indicative of the speed he showed throughout the race.

11. Brad Keselowski (LW: NR): Keselowski is sixth in points but eighth in average finish. How is that possible? Because Ryan Newman has been a bit more consistent this year (Newman? Consistent?) and Kurt Busch has the third-best average finish and has missed races. Saturday night, Keselowski finished seventh and led 43 laps. If you're not taking a Hendrick-powered car for the All-Star Race, you better be picking a Penske one.

12. Aric Almirola (LW: 12): Best finish of the year? Best finish of the year. Almirola was 11th at Kansas and is now 11th in the standings, one point outside of the top 10. Keep top-15ing them to death, Almirola. You're going to be like a gnat that doesn't go away. And hell, you may also prove that the Chase berth last year wasn't a fluke. That's a big boost.

Lucky Dog: Jeff Gordon finished fourth. He's not much of a Lucky Dog rather than the guy we'd slot 13th (or 12th if we weren't having so much fun with Almirola).

The DNF: Oh, Tony Stewart. Oh, Tony Stewart.

Dropped Out: Paul Menard

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 12, 2015, 3:45 pm

Kyle Busch is going to be back racing in a Sprint Cup Series car on Saturday.

Busch, who has missed the entire 2015 Sprint Cup Series season to date, will return to the circuit for the Sprint All-Star Race. Busch suffered a broken leg and a broken foot in a crash during the season-opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

I'm back. #RowdyReturns https://t.co/gWCs00aH4p

— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) May 12, 2015

Joe Gibbs Racing confirms @KyleBusch will return for Sprint All-Star Race this weekend, 12 weeks after being injured at @DISupdates. #nascar

— Nate Ryan (@nateryan) May 12, 2015

Matt Crafton filled in for him during the Daytona 500 and David Ragan drove nine races in the No. 18 car. Erik Jones, a Joe Gibbs Racing development driver who drives for Busch in the Camping World Truck Series, filled in for Busch on Saturday night at Kansas. Jones was running sixth when he crashed on lap 196.

The All-Star Race is a non-points event and provides a relatively-low pressure situation for Busch to return to NASCAR's top level. Yes, the winner of the race receives $1 million, but the stop-and-start nature of the five-segment race will provide a good experiment under race conditions. If the race is deemed a success for Busch, you'll undoubtedly see him in the seat of the No. 18 car for the Coca-Cola 600 and beyond.

Busch was injured when his car slammed into a wall that was not protected with SAFER barrier, a wall system that is insulated with energy-absorbing foam. Because of the nature (and NASCAR's ignorance) of the crash, NASCAR CEO Brian France said the sanctioning body would look to find a way to make Busch eligible for the Chase upon his return.

Currently, drivers must be in the top 30 in points and have a win to make the Chase. If NASCAR gives Busch special dispensation to make the Chase with a win, it could conceivably (and stupidly) waive the top 30 requirement for qualification for Busch to be Chase-eligible.

Through 11 races, 30th-place Tony Stewart has 179 points; he's averaging roughly 16 points per race. It's a pace of 423 points for 26 races and for Busch to get to 423 points in 15 races, he'd need to average approximately 28 points per race (a 16th-place finish). Currently, 13 drivers are averaging better than a 16th-place finish in 2015.

Would getting into the top 30 be a difficult task for Busch, especially given the nature of his injuries? Absolutely. However, it's not impossible, especially if he wins a race to make the Chase a legitimate discussion anyway. It's why NASCAR shouldn't give Busch anything but dispensation waiving the every-race requirement for the Chase. He's coming back early enough to make qualification without any extraordinary assistance from NASCAR a legitimate possibility. Let's see what happens organically.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 12, 2015, 2:48 pm

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Erik Jones' great night had a sour ending for the second night in a row at Kansas.

A day after dominating the Camping World Truck Series race before running out of fuel, Jones ran in the top 10 for a significant portion of the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 before he crashed on lap 196.

Jones, 18, was running sixth when he crashed. As he exited turn four, his car got loose and as he corrected it he slammed into the outside wall.

“I just lost it and it’s too bad, I had such a good night going," Jones said. "We had a fast M&M’s Camry and it’s just a matter of trying to get a little better on my end and figuring out where the limit is. Unfortunately, we found it there and we’ll try to get a little better and see if we can get another shot in this thing.”

Jones, who won his first Xfinity Series race earlier this year, was making his first official start in a Sprint Cup Series car Saturday night as the substitute driver for Kyle Busch (he replaced Denny Hamlin at Bristol after the race had begun). He was immediately fast in practice and backed the speed up in the race while running near the front of the field the entire race.

Friday night he was far and away the fastest in the truck race, leading 151 of 167 laps. However, he was forced to pit with six laps to go for fuel and ended up 11th, one lap down.

As of now, Saturday night's start is his only scheduled one in the No. 18 car. Busch, who suffered a broken leg and a broken foot in February, could be back soon. And despite the crash, Jones proved – in a limited sample size, of course – that he's on the fast-track to more chances in the Sprint Cup Series, whether it's in the Coca-Cola 600 as Busch's sub again or at a different date in the future.

"We had good speed," Jones said. "It definitely makes me confident that we can go run with these guys. I’m excited for hopefully my next opportunity, whenever that is. It was a good night overall – a lot that I learned and a lot that I can take from it.”

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 10, 2015, 6:00 am

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Jimmie Johnson and his team are thieves.

The No. 48 crew snagged an unexpected win in Saturday night's rain-delayed SpongeBob SquarePants 400 thanks to a late-race refusal to pit.

A caution for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hitting the wall on lap 256 of the 267-lap race presented a dilemma for teams. Do you pit for tires and gas – the race's pit stop cycle had put teams on the precipice of making it to the end on fuel – or stay out, hoping to not run out of gas and that track position would make up for the lack of fresh tires?

Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus chose the latter. And it worked perfectly as Johnson took the lead off the final restart with six laps to go and held off Kevin Harvick for the win.

"Just in a bad spot leading the race there," Harvick said. "[Johnson] and [Earnhardt Jr.], those guys didn't have anything for us on speed. They were just doing what they had to do track position-wise and then moving all over the racetrack to try to get the air off the cars."

When the race was red-flagged for over two hours for rain with 98 laps complete, Johnson was mired in the 20s and nearly crashed his car in the early stages of the race, saving it from an impressive tire-smoking four-wheel slide.

But as the race resumed in the complete darkness, Knaus and company made adjustments to the car and Johnson started creeping his way to the front of the field. He didn't take the lead until he got it under the final caution flag thanks to the well-executed strategy ploy.

"In some ways we fought really hard to get to victory lane, but it's fun to win one gambling," Johnson said. "We haven't really gambled before and won. Not to my knowledge. So it feels a little different and pretty cool to have that come together."

Harvick had the lead when Stenhouse hit the wall, but he and Martin Truex Jr., the driver who was running second at the time, both pitted along with others. Four cars – Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch – stayed out, meaning Truex restarted in fifth and Harvick, who led 53 laps, restarted in sixth.

Harvick was able to move to third behind Johnson and Junior after the restart, but after clearing Junior, he wasn't able to get anywhere close to Johnson to challenge for the win.

Even if he had gotten near Johnson and passed him, it would have meant the continuation of an incredible streak. Including Saturday night, Johnson and Harvick have won seven straight races at 1.5-mile tracks dating back to October's race at Kansas Speedway.

With victories at Atlanta and Texas, Johnson is the first driver in 2015 to get three wins.

Truex led 95 laps, the most of any driver, but couldn't charge towards the front in the race's final laps as he took fuel only on his pit stop. He finished ninth.

Junior ended up third while Gordon was fourth. Polesitter Joey Logano, the driver not named Harvick or Johnson who last won a race at a 1.5-mile track, finished fifth after fighting back from two pit road issues. The first was a pit road penalty for too many men over the wall and the second was when he pitted when pit road was closed. Both violations meant he had to restart the race at the back of the pack.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 10, 2015, 5:42 am

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Joey Logano is starting first once again.

The Team Penske driver got his fourth pole of the first 11 races on Friday at Kansas Speedway for Saturday night's SpongeBob SquarePants 400. His lap of 192.397 MPH was faster than Kasey Kahne, who qualified second.

Logano was the only driver to break the 192 MPH barrier in the last round of qualifying. He also won October's race at Kansas Speedway, the last time a driver not named Kevin Harvick or Jimmie Johnson won a race at a 1.5-mile track.

Logano's teammate Brad Keselowski will start third while Martin Truex Jr. starts fourth and Carl Edwards starts fifth.

Logano got the pole at the second race of the season at Atlanta and also won the pole at Martinsville and Richmond. The pole at Kansas is the 12th of his career.

Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson round out the top 10. The only driver to miss the race was Brendan Gaughan.

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 8, 2015, 11:55 pm

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Racing is fun. Dale Earnhardt Jr. knows that. He drives cars for a living. Does it well. And gets paid really well.

He's got a job that a lot of us would envy.

But now is when it gets to be really fun. After winning at Talladega on Sunday, Junior is pretty much guaranteed to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup for the fifth-straight season. And he's looking forward to racing without having to worry about a win.

"As soon as we crossed the finish line and was going around turn one and two and down the back straightaway, that was probably the sole thought in my mind, was the relief of getting that win and locking yourself in [the Chase]." Junior said. "You always think in the back of your mind that you are a good enough team that if you had to rely on a points position that you could, but you just hate having to do that because so much emphasis is put on winning. Not by the points system, but by the sport, by our fans, our sponsors and ourselves, so much is expected ... The best part about it is you come into this race and the one after that and the one after that with so much less stress. You just get back to the core values and just enjoying racing and driving."

Without the win, Junior would be in a good place in the standings through 10 races. He's currently fifth, and would be the second driver in the standings without a win (assuming he would have finished second at Talladega). With 16 races, a lot could happen, of course, but Junior didn't have reason to really stress about the Chase without a win. At least at this point, anyway.

After mentioning the core values of racing, Junior went into a tale of racing in his younger days before he made it in NASCAR.

"We used to go race at Myrtle Beach every weekend. We didn't care whether we won the track championship or not. We just loved racing. We couldn't wait for our 100 lap feature. The whole process of getting there, going and sizing your tires, getting the car ready and qualifying, the whole process was so much fun," Junior said. "You can get right back down to the core of that. Going through the whole weekend and just enjoying yourself because th pressure of the points, winning, the expectations all that stuff can sort of zap the enjoyment out of it a little bit. We had so much fun last year and now we get to do it all over again."

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 8, 2015, 9:08 pm

Leavine Family Racing lost multiple cars in a fire at its shop on Friday morning in Harrisburg, N.C.

From WSOC:

The fire marshal told Channel 9 that they did not know how the fire started but that four race cars in the building were destroyed and there was extensive damage to an 8,000-square foot section of the shop.

Officials with the race team confirmed there was a fire at their shop and that nobody was hurt.

Firefighters were called to the fire at approximately 7 a.m. ET.

Leavine Family Racing runs a part-time schedule in the Sprint Cup Series with the No. 95 and Michael McDowell and the team is entered in Saturday night's race at Kansas Speedway.

While the loss of four cars is a big loss for any organization to absorb, it's an especially large one for a team like LFR which doesn't have the inventory that other teams have at their disposal. The team gets its equipment from Team Penske.

McDowell has attempted six of the season's first 10 races. He's qualified for five of them – he missed the show last week at Talladega – and his best finish of the year is 22nd at Bristol.

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 8, 2015, 7:04 pm

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Saturday night's SpongeBob SquarePants 400 will be Erik Jones' official Cup Series debut, though it'll be the second time he's raced in the series.

In April, Jones was a late sub for Denny Hamlin in the rain-delayed Food City 500 at Bristol when Hamlin had a neck spasm during the first portion of the race. Since Hamlin started the race, he got the points Jones earned by finishing 26th.

Now, as Kyle Busch's replacement driver this weekend, Jones is going to have his name in the box score at the end of the race.

“Bristol, really and honestly I didn’t have time to think about it so it wasn’t much different," Jones said about his scrambling to fill in for Hamlin. "I think it’s just the comfort level of everything. I feel like in the Truck Series I’m super comfortable walking into the garage, walking around and knowing where things are. Even the XFINITY Series now, I feel 100 percent comfortable there and any time you go into a new garage with a new team and a new series there’s kind of that level of uncomfortable where you kind of walk in and you’re like, ‘Okay, where’s my place and where do I go, what do I do, where am I supposed to be?’ That kind of fades with time and experience and that’s been my case at least with the other two NASCAR series."

"There is a little bit more nerves going into the race weekend. I’m not feeling them right now ... and I’m sure as the race comes around and as we get closer to the start time I’ll be a little bit nervous about getting the green flag and going out and making laps. Right now, feel pretty calm, but there’s definitely more time to think about it.”

Jones, 18, is driving a full schedule for Busch's Camping World Truck Series team as well as a partial Xfinity Series schedule. He's Busch's replacement this week after David Ragan moved from the team to become Brian Vickers' substitute driver in the No. 55. Busch has been out since the beginning of the season with a broken leg and broken foot suffered in the season-opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona.

As of now, it's a one-race arrangment for Jones in Busch's car. Busch is reportedly close to returning. The next points series race after Kansas is the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24.

"Honestly, we haven’t really thought much past this weekend," Jones said. "We’re all hoping Kyle (Busch) can come back, I know he’s ready to come back. Right now, it’s just Kansas and going out and seeing what we can do this weekend.”

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 8, 2015, 4:13 pm

Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com or @NickBromberg. We'll post them here and have a good time.

We'd normally have a post-Talladega hangover, right? Well, you probably do if you're a Junior fan, though there have to be some Junior fans that would have preferred a much more thrilling finish. All races can't be thrillers -- no matter how much our highlight-driven world would like them to be -- so it's hard to get too worked up about the snooziness of Sunday's race. But it's certainly not going to be a memorable race.

Our intro topic this week is our buddy Steve Wallace, whose song Anderson Speedway is benefitting the American Cancer Society every time it's played here. Well done, Steve.

Let's start with Talladega, shall we?

@NickBromberg I just want to make sure I have this right in my head... Unwarranted caution: Carl Edwards sliding across traffic at 170mph

— Darrell (@diriditi) May 7, 2015

@NickBromberg Warranted caution: tear off/water bottle/hot dog wrapper/microscopic organism on the the apron with 3 to go.

— Darrell (@diriditi) May 7, 2015

We get what NASCAR is trying to do on the last lap. If a safety vehicle needs to be dispatched immediately, a caution will be thrown. If it doesn't, it won't. However, I do understand the argument that Edwards had spun in front of a lot of the field and there should be a safety incentive for drivers to slow down for the crash.

There doesn't seem to be a feasible way to do a "local yellow" behind the crash, where the field is frozen from the point of the incident backwards. You'd need a different color flag and some rules that wouldn't make a whole lot of sense, no matter how good-intentioned they were.

And we understand how there can be so much confusion with the seemingly borderline debris cautions during races while the last lap feels like a free-for-fall. They don't look like they go together.

In a world where finishing under green seems paramount, there isn't a perfect solution.

@NickBromberg From time to schedule talk. Ks.'16, the spring race will be run on infield road course, how would that fly with fans & teams?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) May 7, 2015

If there's a petition for Kansas' first race to be on the road course, we're one of the co-sponsors. If we're looking to add more right turns to the schedule, a roval seems a better option than a street course. Many tracks have infield road courses, so, right, there wouldn't need to be any date relocating. And it'd be great to see how teams would set up their cars for a flat road course with a few banked turns.

It needs to happen, even if it's an exhibition race. However, there are some logistical caveats. The track that hosts a roval race would likely lose a lot of camping spots. At Kansas, turns one and two would be wiped out in the infield as well as some other camping spots (the track hasn't sold camping for IMSA races). It could conceivably put campers along the backstretch and in turns one and two, but any extra outside the track would not match the revenue generated from an oval race weekend.

@NickBromberg WHY IS DALE EARNHARDT JR MORE CONFIDENT AND "REAL" COMPARED TO HIS DAYS AT DEI? THANKS. BIG FAN.

— ANNOYING RACE FAN (@annoyingracefan) May 7, 2015

Probably because he's driving better equipment? OK, that's a simple answer, and we're not going to profess to be in Junior's head. However, it's clear that he's comfortable in life outside the track and the better life on the track probably goes hand-in-hand with it. Will Junior ever win a championship? While you can't say for certain he will, you also can't say for certain he won't.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 7, 2015, 7:55 pm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – "What the (duck) did you get me in to?"

Those were the famous last words of Clint Bowyer before he climbed the steps into the Kansas City Royals dugout on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium. He was dressed in full uniform (sans spikes) and went through pregame rituals with the team.

But not after talking some NASCAR with Royals manager (and noted Yahoo Fantasy NASCAR player) Ned Yost, who chatted with him almost as soon as he entered the clubhouse.

The experience wasn't entirely new to Bowyer. He took batting practice before a game a few years ago. Yes, that was the last time he swung a bat.

"I feel like a baseball player, Bowyer said. "However, I know what's underneath is clearly not a baseball player."

But this one involved catching fly balls during batting practice too. The last time Bowyer caught a fly ball was many moons ago. He guessed he was 7. So instead, he talked in the outfield. We weren't sure he moved more than a few steps any time a ball was hit to where he was stationed in left field.

Before his experience, Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie wanted him to stand in the batters box while he threw a few pitches. They wouldn't be at game speed, but enough for Bowyer to see what speed outside of a race car looks like.

"So Guthrie wants me to get in the bullpen and stand in front of his pitches and screw that," Bowyer said. "He can throw like 100 miles per hour."

Bowyer took a couple in the dugout (begrudgingly), but he wasn't wanting to do an experiment of the pain of crashing a car in a race versus the pain of getting hit with a baseball.

"I don't want that experience," Bowyer said. "I don't even want to think about that experience. I have a helmet on, seat belts.

"When you hit a wall at 200 MPH you don't have a ball cap on."

This is a true statement. Bowyer is a man of wise words.

We also asked if he had gotten any advice from the team. After all, they had to have some encouragement, right?

"No, they're baseball players," Bowyer said. "Professional baseball players. It'd be like me trying to tell somebody to try to hold a steering wheel."

He may not have needed the advice. While his second round of batting practice wouldn't have made anyone in the stands mistake him for a professional, he made contact. He wasn't the NASCAR version of 50 Cent on a baseball diamond.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 6, 2015, 11:37 pm

The tire penalty given to Ryan Newman's No. 31 team after California stands on final appeal.

Final appeals officer Bryan Moss upheld the penalties assessed to the team after the first appeal based on a "preponderance of evidence." While the original penalties were decreased after the initial appeal, Richard Childress Racing elected to take its case to Moss in the hopes of getting them decreased further.

The team was penalized for manipulating the tires during the race at Auto Club Speedway. According to NASCAR, the team made a modification to release pressure from the tire outside of legal means. Before Newman's penalty, there was talk in the garage that teams were poking holes in tires to bleed air pressure throughout the length of a tire run. As tires get hotter, air pressure builds and a tire with lower air pressure is faster.

Newman will lose 50 points while crew chief Luke Lambert, tire tech James Bender and engineer Philip Surgen are suspended for six races. They did not start serving their suspensions through the appeals process and are now eligible to return at Daytona in July.

Before the first appeal, Newman's penalty was 75 points and Lambert was fined $125,000. He's now fined $75,000 as the appeals board said "because there is no written explanation of what constitutes a post-race inspection."

Newman is now officially in 14th in the Sprint Cup Series standings and 123 points behind points leader Kevin Harvick.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 6, 2015, 11:00 pm

Welcome to Random Recaps, our new weekly feature at From The Marbles. In this space, we'll recap a race from the past at the track the where Sprint Cup Series is racing next.

This week's race is the 2011 STP 400. Need to know how Random Recap works? Click here.

Brad Keselowski won the second race of his career and the first of his Penske Racing tenure at Kansas Speedway.

Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe played a different fuel strategy than teammate Kurt Busch and took over the lead for the final nine laps, the only laps he led all day. Busch lost the lead because he was forced to pit for fuel with 10 laps to go after a long green flag run to end the race.

The fuel-mileage finish was set up when the final caution flag came on lap 163. The last 102 laps were run under green and Keselowski last pitted 57 laps from the finish, making it further to the end than anyone else.

However, when he pitted for the final time, he wasn't the favorite to win the race if the race stayed green to the finish. Tony Stewart was, as he pitted a lap later than Keselowski. However, Stewart's team didn't get the car's tank completely full of fuel and he was forced to pit again while Keselowski was able to safely stretch his tank to the finish.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second, though he couldn't mount much of a charge because he too had to save fuel.

Busch led 152 laps but since he had to pit twice during the final green flag stretch, he ended up finishing ninth. Denny Hamlin was third, Jeff Gordon was fourth and Carl Edwards was fifth. Stewart finished eighth.

The win puts Keselowski in 21st place in the Sprint Cup Series standings and on the periphery of Chase contention. Two wild-card spots are given to drivers with wins occupying the 11th-20th spots in the standings.

Epilogue: Keselowski went on to win two more races in 2011 (Pocono and Bristol) and finished fifth in the standings. As you know, he won the title the next year. Did anyone have any idea that a fuel-mileage win would help jump-start his Penske career like it did?

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 6, 2015, 3:02 pm

NAPA is sticking with Chase Elliott.

Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday morning that the auto parts company would become Elliott's primary Sprint Cup Series sponsor for the next three seasons. Elliott, who is running a part-time schedule in the Cup Series this year, is taking over Jeff Gordon's No. 24 car at the start of 2016.

NAPA will sponsor 24 races each year through 2018.

“We have an incredible opportunity with NAPA, both on and off the track,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “Our organizations work extremely well together and share many of the same values. The program already has a ton of positive momentum, and we want to carry that into 2016 with great performance in all areas of the business. We take a lot of pride in the relationship and are committed to making a big impact for NAPA.”

The company is sponsoring Elliott in his part-time run this year and has sponsored him since he moved to the Xfinity Series (and won the title) in 2014.

The company joined forces with JR Motorsports and HMS after it left Michael Waltrip Racing following the 2013 season on the heels of a race manipulation scandal. MWR had instructed its two other drivers to sandbag to ensure that Martin Truex Jr., sponsored by NAPA, would make the Chase and after NASCAR found out what happened, Truex was given a penalty that knocked him out of the Chase.

Roughly a week after it said it was looking at its sponsorship with MWR in light of what happened at Richmond, the company said it was leaving. And it's proven to be one hell of a decision.

With HMS, the company is now at the most powerful team in NASCAR with the sport's biggest rising star. And the announcement is on the heels of the 2014 Xfinity Series championship, which Elliott won in his first full-time season.

Meanwhile, MWR was forced to cut back to two teams after NAPA left and hasn't won a race in the 46 races since while HMS has won 18 races.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 6, 2015, 1:20 pm

Sam Hornish Jr. will have a new crew chief starting at Kansas Speedway.

Richard Petty Motorsports announced Tuesday that Kevin Manion would replace Drew Blickensderfer atop Hornish's pit box. Hornish has struggled mightily this season with the team. He's 28th in the points and has finished on the lead lap in three of the first 10 races.

His two finishes inside the top 15 this season have both come at restrictor plate tracks. He finished a season-high sixth on Sunday at Talladega.

"We began the season with changes to the No. 9 race team, most notably with the addition of Sam as our driver," RPM director of competition Sammy Johns said in a statement. "We are now looking to give Sam all the tools he needs to be successful.  We feel that Kevin will bring in some new ideas to help better our performance.  We welcome him to the Petty family."

The team said Blickensderfer had been offered another position within the organization.

Manion has previously served as crew chief for the No. 1 car and Martin Truex Jr. and Jamie McMurray. He's been the crew chief for Tommy Baldwin Racing's No. 7 and Alex Bowman in 2015. While with Truex, the two won the 2004 and 2005 Xfinity Series championships.

Hornish joined RPM to replace Marcos Ambrose. He drove part-time in the Xfinity Series in 2014 and last drove full-time in the Cup Series in 2010. While Hornish is near the bottom of the standings, his teammate, Aric Almirola, is in 12th.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 5, 2015, 9:24 pm

Our Power Rankings are far from a scientific formula. In fact, it's the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. And you think we dislike your favorite driver, so it makes sense, right? Direct all your complaints to us at happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com.

1. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 1): Can you imagine the reaction if Johnson passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the last couple laps? Of course, the chances of that happening were slimmer than they otherwise would have been given the two drivers' Hendrick relationship, but Johnson could have done some serious damage to his popularity with the pass. And yes, Johnson is popular, Vader-haters. Though if you look at the rest of the top five, Johnson easily would have been the second-most popular choice for the win.

2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2): An eighth-place finish after a fair amount of front-end damage isn't a bad way to survive Talladega. Harvick's car got dinged up in the first big crash of the day, but his team worked on the car, put a bunch of tape and pieces on the front and got it working like a high-speed do-it-yourself home improvement project. And hey, since Harvick finished eighth, the Bloomin' Onions were free again on Monday. Not only is Harvick destroying everyone in the points standings, he's making NASCAR fans fatter.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 8): Sunday's win was the 24th of Earnhardt Jr.'s career. He has six multi-win seasons and in five of those seasons, he's gotten his first win at a restrictor plate race. In his four one-win seasons, he doesn't have a restrictor plate win. If past results are any indication of future success, Junior is going to have another win or two coming this year. And it won't be surprising.

4. Kurt Busch (LW: 3): The most notable moment of Busch's race might have been the incident involving Trevor Bayne. And no, it really wasn't Busch's fault. Bayne's car washed up the track a bit and Busch got near his left quarterpanel, taking the air off that part of his car. Bayne's car snapped around and away went the crash. Busch got around it and after he fell towards the back of the pack, worked his way to 12th on the final lap.

5. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 6): Truex beat Harvick at Talladega to cut into his points lead ... by two points (Harvick was three sports behind Truex but led a lap). Barring some sort of collapse, Truex is going to make the Chase via points. Yeah, we sound like a broken record, but given the team's struggles in the first half of last year, it can't be repeated enough how good they've been in 2015.

6. Joey Logano (LW: 5): For the second time in three races, Logano was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had nowhere to go when Bayne's car started crashing and he got a ton of damage. Though his ton of damage wasn't nearly the ton of damage that other drivers got and his car was fairly fixable. He ended up two laps down in 33rd place and the first car a lap(s) down.

7. Ryan Newman (LW: 11): The best decision Newman made in the final laps of the race might have been abandoning Tony Stewart's aggressiveness in the low line. Stewart was one of the only drivers trying to make things happen in the late laps and Newman was with him on the backstretch. However, Newman jumped back in line on the high side when he realized Stewart wasn't making much progress and stayed there until the last lap chaos. He ended up seventh while Stewart finished 19th.

8. Matt Kenseth (LW: 4): Kenseth was the pied piper of his line. Except his line was not very close to the leaders in the late stages of the race. He finished 25th, just his second finish outside of the top 20 in the past eight Talladega races. Yeah, Kenseth has become one of the better restrictor plate racers in NASCAR, but we feel comfortable saying Sunday's race wasn't entirely indicative of drivers' plate-racing ability.

9. Kasey Kahne (LW: 8): Kahne was also caught up in the early crash and finished a whopping 30 laps down. After finishing 34th, he's now ninth in the points standings and 108 points behind Kevin Harvick. However, five of the top six drivers have wins and Kahne is third among drivers who haven't been to victory lane this season. We're still betting he doesn't have to wait until the fall for his first win.

10. Jamie McMurray (LW: 10): The guy who is second? McMurray, who is seventh in the standings. The 2013 fall Talladega winner finished 11th on Sunday and is quietly putting together a fantastic season. So far, he's had the speed he showed in flashes in 2014 and has been a bit more consistent. After a slow start, McMurray has finished in the top 20 in seven of the last eight races. The finish outside the top 20? 21st.

11. Paul Menard (LW: NR): Menard finished third and is 11th in the points standings. We'll paraphrase what we think Menard would say when asked about his finish and say "Good run for our Menards Chevrolet." While he has two top-five (and top-10) finishes in 2015, he's finished in the top 15 seven times so far. If that keeps up, Menard is once again going to be in the Chase discussion at Richmond.

12. Aric Almirola (LW: NR): The streak of slow and steady is continuing. Almirola is 12th in the standings and a point behind Menard after finishing 15th. He also finished 15th at Daytona and still doesn't have a top 10 all season. But with nine finishes in the top 20, Almirola is simply letting other drivers fail while he maintains. And maintains. And maintains.

Lucky Dog: Ryan Blaney, Sam Hornish Jr. and Josh Wise (Tie): Blaney finished fourth, Hornish was sixth and Wise was 10th. It was the best career finish for Blaney and Wise and the best finish of Hornish's season.

The DNF: We'll give it to David Ragan, who was in his last ride at Joe Gibbs Racing before he heads to Michael Waltrip Racing at Kansas.

Dropped out: Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 5, 2015, 1:55 pm

Dale Earnhardt Jr. signs autographs during qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway, Saturday, May 2, 2015, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/David Tulis)TALLADEGA, Ala. - While Daytona holds the place of highest significance in the story of the Earnhardt family, Talladega claims more than its share of spectacular Dale moments.

Earnhardt Sr. won more races here than anywhere else. Those 10 included his spectacular 2000 victory, his final win, in which he drove from 18th place to victory lane in just a few laps. Earnhardt Jr. also claims more wins at Talladega than any other track. Bolstered early in his career by his father's expertise, Junior won four straight in the early 2000s and five of seven, capped by a 2004 victory in which he cost himself championship points by cursing in victory lane.

Until Sunday, that was Junior's last win here, a stretch of 10 years and 20 races, a stretch in which Junior went from guarantee to threat to afterthought and back to threat again. Sunday's Geico 500 marked the final step in Junior's resurgence, the final kiss-off to the dark days of 2009 and 2010. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is fully and completely back at the top of the NASCAR world. At long last, the cheers of his tens of thousands of fans at Talladega aren't for his past, but for his present and his future.

"It's just real emotional," Earnhardt said in victory lane, seeming to hold back tears. "I haven't won here in a long time. It was my daddy's birthday a couple of days ago, and I'm just real emotional, man." Earnhardt Sr. would have turned 65 on April 29.

It wasn't a flawless race; Talladega never is. A large wreck on lap 47 took several cars out of contention, but few serious challengers. Talladega is generally a place where aggression ends badly, and perhaps with that in mind, the final few dozen laps were a high-speed locomotive with Earnhardt as the engine and Jimmie Johnson serving as a rolling blockade in second place. Almost no one made a move on Earnhardt until the final lap, and by then, it was far too late.

"It wasn't that no one was trying," Jeff Gordon said of the single-file line, "it's just that you need a group of more than five to go ... It's not about trusting one guy to go with you, you've got to trust 10."

The only driver at the front who had the impetus to make a real run at Earnhardt was Denny Hamlin, who was in fourth place but behind series newcomer Ryan Blaney, racing in just his sixth Sprint Cup-level race. Hamlin, who drives a Toyota, was surrounded by Chevrolets, and understood that he had an uphill track to race to even catch Earnhardt, much less pass him.

"You gotta have pushes, runs when you can," Hamlin said afterward. "It's really stacked against you when you're the only Toyota out there." Hamlin made a move that didn't pay off, and ended up in ninth place as a result. Blaney fell to fourth place, one spot behind Paul Menard, with Martin Truex Jr. rounding out the top five.

The victory almost surely puts Earnhardt into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He sits in fifth place, 75 points behind series leader and defending champion Kevin Harvick. As he drove down the frontstretch following his win, the grandstands erupted in some of the loudest cheers Talladega has heard in a decade. For the moment, all is right in Junior Nation.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: May 3, 2015, 9:29 pm

TALLADEGA, Ala. - It's always a matter of When, not If, when you're talking wrecking at Talladega. On Sunday afternoon at the Geico 500, "When" came around at lap 47.

Trevor Bayne lost control of his No. 6 Advocare Ford and set off a wreck that involved more than a third of the cars in the field. Of the 15 drivers in the wreck, several, including David Ragan and Landon Cassill, Kyle Larson, Greg Biffle, and Bayne, weren't able to return to the track.

The wreck happened when Bayne began to spin without contact. "It felt like the 27 (Paul Menard) was really tight on our door and sucked us around," Bayne said afterward. "The air is so sensitive here ... When you get to close to somebody it can just pull you right around, and it's as much as hitting somebody physically when you get down on their door that tight."

The wreck resulted in an 11-minute red flag for the race, followed by four laps of caution. The wreck heavily damaged Kasey Kahne; to a lesser degree, Danica Patrick, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano, among others, also suffered damage. Kyle Larson was forced to sit by and watch as his car underwent repairs:

Kyle Larson, far right, watches as the 42 team hustles through repairs. pic.twitter.com/RLuR0ZgHFa

— Jay Busbee (@jaybusbee) May 3, 2015

"I was hoping we could get a good finish and contend for a win here today," said Ragan, who is running his last race for Joe Gibbs Racing before switching over to Michael Waltrip Racing, "but just wasn’t meant to be."

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: May 3, 2015, 7:09 pm

Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com or @NickBromberg. We'll post them here and have a good time.

It's Talladega week.

Here's to turning up, slowing down, and cars that go real fast.

We'll be taking care of some non-racing business this weekend, but we've got the race on the DVR and Jay Busbee will be at Talladega. We can't wait for October, where we hope to see both the Alabama Crimson Tide and Talladega in person. And it will be wonderful.

Side note of actual news before we continue. Joe Gibbs Racing has confirmed that Erik Jones will be in the No. 18 starting at Kansas. David Ragan moves to the No. 55 at Michael Waltrip Racing that weekend.

Back to our regularly scheduled nonsense.

Did the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Kansas Speedway last week and man, was it a lot of fun. It was our first time in a stock car on an oval and got up to 134 MPH. Which, frankly, is embarrassing. WE NEEDED TO GO FASTER.

We figured out why we didn't, however. Throughout the instruction process, you're implored to be very smooth with the accelerator (you don't touch the brakes at an intermediate track like Kansas). We were too smooth. Only on our last lap did the realization hit that we weren't flooring it as soon as we could off the corner and instead smoothly pressing the gas pedal down as if we were on the highway.

The big takeaway for us wasn't the sense of speed either. It's the banking. You feel like you're going fast, of course, but it doesn't overwhelm you. The banking just shoves you down onto your left buttcheek harder than you think it's going to.

If you've got the opportunity to ever do the driving experience, do it. It's something we're glad we crossed off our racing bucket list. Next is to compete in the Daytona 500, so we're gonna start working on that now.

Yesterday, the following was the afternoon topic on Sirius XM's NASCAR channel.

Our #SXMSpeedway Driving Topic: How would 3 hour races impact both your in-person attendance and television viewing of NSCS races?

— SiriusXM NASCAR (@SiriusXMNASCAR) April 29, 2015

It got us thinking ... just what was the average race time in 2014? Because we initially wondered just how much racing would be cut if all NASCAR races were timed similar to road course racing events.

So we did a little math and for the 35 full events in 2014, the average race time was approximately 3 hours and 11 minutes. So, at a track where a lap takes 30 seconds, that's roughly a race 22 laps shorter under a 3-hour timed format.

At a shortening of such a short distance, why would a three-hour race even be considered a debate? And especially so when you dive deeper into the numbers. 21 races last year were over three hours, however only 10 were over 3:20. And if you take out the Southern 500 at Darlington and the Coca-Cola 600, the average race time is shortened by four minutes.

@NickBromberg MLB seems to think shortening events is worth it. NFL, too. But feel free to ignore the conversation if you like.

— Dave Moody (@DGodfatherMoody) April 29, 2015

We understand why shortening races is a discussion and we're not trying to dismiss it. We've been known to drift off into a wonderland in the mid-stages of a three-hour race as drivers are "clicking off laps" at the mid-point of a race. Shorter races can create more urgency and we didn't initially counter SXM's tweet yesterday with the intention of firebombing it.

We're just not sure that time is the way to discuss a possible change and feel it's important to frame the discussion in the context of current NASCAR race times. With exceptions for longer races, NASCAR is coming pretty close to fitting into the standard three-hour sports window. NFL games routinely run over three hours and don't get us started on how long college football games now take. If you think NASCAR drags and drags, we're not sure what you'd think about some near four-hour CFB games.

And besides, the reason other sports are trying to figure out how to speed up games is because of the added time via commercial breaks. As you know, NASCAR doesn't stop for commercials. It's not nearly an apples-to-apples comparison.

@NickBromberg Is it just me or have there been less blown engines this year?

— Marc Auslander (@Marcmann2) April 26, 2015

Marc brings up an interesting question. So we went back into the annals of NASCAR box scores, and engine failures and related retirements (based off official reasons for retirement) are actually up compared to last year at this time. Through the first nine races of 2014, there were seven engine failures. This season there have been 11. The increase is because of the three engine failures at Daytona (up from two in 2014) and three at Texas.

@NickBromberg WILL DANICA SURVIVE WITHOUT GODADDY IN NASCAR? THANKS. BIG FAN.

— ANNOYING RACE FAN (@annoyingracefan) April 29, 2015

WE THINK SHE WILL.

Now, does this throw a wrench in plans for a return to Stewart-Haas Racing? Potentially. However, we're also not going to act naive and pretend that Wednesday was the first time that SHR and Patrick knew that GoDaddy wasn't coming back, either. This has likely been known for quite some time.

And is GoDaddy's departure a bigger deal to SHR than it is for Patrick? GoDaddy was a pillar sponsor for the team – they sponsored the most races of any SHR sponsor in 2014 outside of Gene Haas' own company – and the money Patrick brought in was a given. They can likely replace it if they want to, but it could be with a similar arrangement to Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart's teams.

@NickBromberg It's Wed. and I'm still sitting here waiting on the phantom caution to rob Kurt Busch of the Richmond win. I know it's coming!

— Darrell (@diriditi) April 29, 2015

Given the events at California, we'll admit that we did wonder just how many people were bracing for a late debris caution with Busch leading.

@NickBromberg Rare event Richmond day race. Your home track has both day n night races, preference? How's the Cadbury inventory holding out?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) April 29, 2015

This is why Brian makes it into Happy Hour nearly every week, you guys. Good questions.

We're going with the night race. We're spending all day at the track regardless, and the night race is on Saturday night. That gives us the rare Sunday off, and with Mother's Day, the chance to grill out with the family and enjoy the late afternoon. Yeah, it may be a late night, but it won't be an early morning the next day. We're a huge fan of spring and summer Sundays with no obligations.

And the Cadbury Creme Egg stash is holding up better than expected. We haven't eaten more than one a day and have actually skipped a few days. It could make it to August.

 

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 30, 2015, 1:48 pm

Dale Jarrett snuck ahead of Tony Stewart before the caution flag waved on the final lap to win the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega.

The race was extended two laps because of a crash and Jarrett restarted fourth, behind leader Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Stewart. He was fourth as the field headed into the tri-oval on the penultimate lap when Stewart made a big attempt at a pass on both Newman and Kenseth, who had maintained the lead.

After passing Newman on the high side Stewart dove low to pass Kenseth, who threw a block. As Kenseth attempted to make sure Stewart didn't get around him, Jarrett cruised around on the high side, pulling even with Stewart through turns one and two on the final lap.

The two were side-by-side down the backstretch as Jarrett held a slim lead. As he was ahead of Stewart, the caution came out for a crash involving Kyle Petty, meaning the field was frozen and Jarrett had his 32nd Sprint Cup Series win.

Kenseth ended up third while Newman was fourth. Carl Edwards, a fourth Chase driver, was fifth.

Steweart takes over the points lead because of the second-place finish. He entered the race 11 points behind Newman, but since he led the most laps (65), he now has a four-point advantage. Stewart entered the race fifth in the standings behind Jimmie Johnson, Rusty Wallace, Newman and Mark Martin. Johnson finished 31st, 32 laps down after he was in a crash on lap 65. Wallace was also in the same crash and finished 25th, five laps down.

Martin was the Chase driver who took the biggest hit in the standings. Martin lost 140 points to Stewart after he was caught up in a lap 20 crash that involved Michael Waltrip's car going upside-down.

Epilogue: The win was the final one of Jarrett's NASCAR Hall of Fame career. It was also the final win for Robert Yates Racing. Stewart went on to win the title, his second of three career championships.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 29, 2015, 7:38 pm

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Jeff Gordon has never done the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 "double." He's not doing both races in the same day again in 2015, but it may be the closest he's ever come to trying it.

Wednesday, Chevrolet announced Gordon would drive the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 before he retuns to Charlotte to drive in the 600 on May 24.

He's never competed in the 500.

"As I got older, I moved to Indiana," Gordon, who was born in California, said. "My first car was a Chevy. My second car was a Chevy. Now I get to drive Chevrolets every weekend on the racetrack and win in a Chevy.  To do it here in Indianapolis is the ultimate.

"There's only one thing that was missing, that was the Indy 500. This is as close as I think I'm going to get.  But this is pretty awesome."

The four-time Sprint Cup Series champion is retiring from full-time competition at the end of 2015. He grew up racing open-wheel cars but hasn't driven a CART or IndyCar Series race in his career. He ran his first Cup Series race in 1992.

He's won five Brickyard 400s at Indianapolis in the Cup Series, more than any other driver.

"Yeah, it's one that I always look forward to," Gordon said of watching the Indianapolis 500. "I've never been anywhere else on race day for like 20 something years, so this is going to be quite an experience.  It's one that I'm really looking forward to.

"I'm trying to get Rick Hendrick to come up here as well. I don't think he's ever been to an Indy 500. But my wife and kids are very excited. I took my son Leo to a race at Pocono a couple years ago.  He thought those cars were the coolest cars ever. He's pretty excited to come to this race and see these cars on the grid."

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 29, 2015, 6:33 pm

GoDaddy won't be returning to sponsor Danica Patrick's car next season.

The company announced Tuesday it is ending its primary sponsorship of Patrick's Sprint Cup Series ride. She has been sponsored by GoDaddy for the entirety of her Sprint Cup Series career.

The company would still like to sign Patrick to a personal services contract, and a spokesperson said it was looking to expand its international brand. NASCAR is much more popular in the United States than it is in other parts of the world.

From USA Today:

"We love Danica and all she does to empower and inspire people, especially women, which is why we are working to keep her in the GoDaddy family," GoDaddy chief marketing officer Phil Bienert said. "We have the utmost respect for Stewart-Haas Racing, and they've been phenomenal partners. In fact, NASCAR has been a tremendous domestic platform to help us achieve an 81 percent aided brand awareness domestically, but at this stage, we need a range of marketing assets that reach a more globally-diverse set of customers."

The news also comes as Patrick is in the final year of her contract at Stewart-Haas Racing. Both Patrick and team officials have expressed optimism that she'll sign an extension with the team, however finding funding is now also necessary to keep Patrick with the team, as GoDaddy was one of the four-car team's biggest sponsors.

Patrick's teammate Kurt Busch, Sunday's race winner at Richmond, is sponsored by team co-owner Gene Haas' automation company.

GoDaddy has been with Patrick since her IndyCar days. After she was sponsored by Motorola and Boost Mobile, GoDaddy signed on with Patrick and Andretti Autosport in 2010. When she made her transition to NASCAR in 2012, the company went with her.

"I'm sad. I'm a little surprised and I'm sad," Patrick told the AP. "But to say I didn't imagine this was not a scenario would be a lie. It's bittersweet. It's going to be really weird to think I won't drive the bright green, can't-miss-it car next year."

It's also leveraged Patrick's popularity via advertising. Patrick had appeared in 13-straight Super Bowl ads for the company, though her 2015 Super Bowl commercial for the company was pulled after negative feedback.

After finishing 25th at Richmond, Patrick is 16th in the points standings.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 29, 2015, 1:46 pm

Our Power Rankings are far from a scientific formula. In fact, it's the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. And you think we dislike your favorite driver, so it makes sense, right? Direct all your complaints to us at happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com.

1. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 1): If Johnson made a nice recovery last week, what was it this week? After starting 36th, Johnson immediately worked his way through the field. He got some slight damage on the nose of his car from that march to the front and lost time on pit road as his team fixed the damage with tape. Then the march began again. He ended up finishing third, one spot behind the man just behind him in the Power Rankings standings.

2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2): Yeah, sorry Harvick, second over third isn't good enough to move you up a position in Power Rankings. Hope you understand. And besides, what was with this weak sauce effort at Richmond anyway? You led just two laps, the fewest laps you've led in a race all year except for the Daytona 500, where you had the gall not to lead any. Though you finished in second both races, so I guess we should give you a pass. Step it up at Talladega on Sunday, OK?

3. Kurt Busch (LW: 4): If you're predicting the Chase's final four today, are you putting Kurt Busch in it? We are. Along with Harvick, Logano and Johnson. Will the final four be like that? Oh, probably not, because we're terrible at predictions. But it was only a matter of time before Busch made it to victory lane this season, and we're thinking he may make another trip or two before the Chase begins.

4. Matt Kenseth (LW: 3): That slippery Kenseth, just points racing his way to another Chase berth. After starting eighth, Kenseth finished seventh and really didn't stray from the top 10 the entire day. He didn't challenge for race supremacy either, though that comment isn't a diss by any means. Especially when you consider where the No. 20 car was in relation to the rest of the JGR crew. Carl Edwards finished 19th, Denny Hamlin was 22nd and David Ragan was 23rd.

5. Joey Logano (LW: 5): JoLo dominated the first 94 laps of the race and then, well, didn't lead again. He ended up fifth and had a top 10 car, but as Busch's car got faster, Logano's didn't and it was a battle to keep the leaders in sight the rest of the way. At least he didn't have a cylinder disappear on his car like his teammate. Though given how (relatively) good Keselowski was with the engine problem, it may not have affected Logano's finish too much.

6. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 6): Another race, another top 10 for Truex. And yet, he's almost a full race (42 points) behind Harvick in the points standings. We're not going to rule out a Truex win this year, but so far the No. 78 seems on a similar track to 2013 with Kurt Busch. They're fast, not fast enough to challenge for wins, but plenty fast to make a Chase berth seem like a total non-surprise.

7. Jeff Gordon (LW: 7): Welcome to the top 10 of the points standings, Jeff Gordon. With the sixth-place finish, Gordon is now 13 points ahead of a driver we'll talk about later on in the rankings for 10th in the standings. So much for that bad start damaging his Chase hopes, eh? As of now, Gordon would be the sixth driver in on points and he's only 12 points from being the second driver on that list.

8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 8): Blame Junior for Tony Stewart's spin. Or blame Tony Stewart for Junior's spin. Blame one of them racin' deals. Actually, yeah, let's do that. It seems like the safest bet. Junior didn't have as much room as Stewart thought he did, and contact occurred. It made us think of the moment that Stewart had with Allgaier at Phoenix. In both instances, he hit a car to his outside and was unable to correct the car.

9. Kasey Kahne (LW: 11): The car that's 12 points ahead of Gordon and in the No. 2 spot on points in the Chase? This guy. Kahne finished sixth and was one of the first drivers to talk about the inconsistency in tires from the weekend. After qualifying, Kahne wondered about his (fast) car's tires, because he was only able to start 40th. Like Johnson, he quickly moved to the front of the field after the race began, giving some credence to the idea his qualifying was simply marred by a goofy set.

10. Jamie McMurray (LW: NR): The driver who led the third-most laps over the final 300 laps of the race? Jamie McMurray. With four. Had there not been three cautions over the final 50 laps of the race, it's fair to wonder if McMurray would have had the long run speed to catch Busch and possibly get the win. But we're also not going to go crazy wondering about the final 50 laps of a Cup race going caution free, because, come on, that doesn't happen very often.

11. Ryan Newman (LW: 11): It was quite the Newman day for Newman. After starting 23rd he worked his way up near the top 10 and finished 11th. The appeal for Newman's penalty is scheduled for May 6, 20 days after the original appeal. And it's 36 days after the penalty was officially announced. Contrast that with (the differing circumstances as well of) Kurt Busch's appeals process, which saw both appeals held on the day after his penalty.

12. Brad Keselowski (LW: 10): Keselowski's car wasn't too slow with that engine issue. What if he would have stayed out on that caution flag for Brett Moffitt's inability to get to pit road? He was leading, and all but one car was off the lead lap. If Kes didn't pit, he would have prevented the field from taking the wave-around. How funny would that have been, especially if the No. 2 team knew that their chances of winning were gone? If the car was slower, it could have been a realistic possibility.

Lucky Dog: Clint Bowyer. It was his second top-10 finish of the season and first since Richmond.

The DNF: Tony Stewart

Dropped Out: Aric Almirola

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 28, 2015, 3:05 pm

David Ragan's move to the No. 55 of Michael Waltrip Racing is official.

The team announced the move Tuesday morning. Ragan will move from the No. 18 at Joe Gibbs Racing to the No. 55 at Kansas Speedway on May 9 and finish the year with the team. News of the possible move was first reported Friday.

“Life has thrown a lot at MWR the first part of this racing season, but our team has stood tall and worked through it,” Waltrip said in a statement. “Our original plans for the No. 55 team have been challenged since December and we felt it was important for our employees and our sponsors to solidify the remainder of the 2015 season. The opportunity to bring David Ragan into the team is incredible for a number of reasons. He will bring experience, consistency and a lot of confidence based on how he has been running with our Toyota teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing. He also puts the No. 55 team and Aaron’s right back into the Chase for the Sprint Cup contention, which is a very positive turn of events for that team."

Brian Vickers is the full-time driver of the No. 55 but he's currently out because of a recurrence of blood clots. According to the team's statement, there is no timeline for his return. Brett Moffitt has been filling in as the primary sub in the No. 55 and Waltrip will drive it on Sunday at Talladega.

“There is absolutely no question about Brian Vickers’ ability, but there remains a question of his availability," Waltrip said. "We are going to remain very close with Brian while he works on his plan to return. We have told him that MWR is here when he has a clear picture about what the future holds, but we don’t need to add any timeline pressures. He is working with a lot of medical advisors and once he has established his plan, we will sit down and discuss next steps."

Ragan, who entered 2015 as the primary driver of Front Row Motorsports' No. 34, had been filling in for Kyle Busch in the No. 18 car after Busch was injured in a February crash.

His move away from the No. 18 presumably opens it up for Erik Jones a developmental driver for JGR. Jones, competing full-time in the Camping World Truck Series and part-time in the Xfinity Series, subbed for Denny Hamlin on short notice at Bristol.

Ragan is currently 19th in the points standings. He was 10th in the standings two weeks ago but has dropped nine spots after finishes of 41st and 23rd.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 28, 2015, 12:24 pm

There are still 17 races to go before the Chase, so it's a bit early to be making proclamations. However, it may be safe to say that Tony Stewart is clearly in a position where he'll have to win to make the Chase.

A week after finishing a season-best sixth at Bristol, Stewart ran for most of the day in the top 15 at Richmond. However, his hopes for a good finish took a nosedive when he made contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on lap 358.

Junior and Stewart hit in the tri-oval as the No. 88 was outside of Stewart's car. The right front of Stewart's car hit the left rear of Junior's, and as Stewart went to correct after the contact, his car went spinning into turn one.

Junior said he wasn't sure what happened.

"I don't know, you'll have to ask him," Junior said. "He he hit me in the left rear quarterpanel. I was trying to clear the 51 on the outside of me so I was as high as I could go. You're going to have to ask him."

According to Fox, Stewart declined comment after the race. Cameras captured him flinging his helmet and HANS device into his hauler.

It looked like Stewart escaped significant damage in the spin and would be able to stay on the lead lap. However, he said he couldn't get his car to crank upon refiring it. With it unable to move at the entry to turn one, he got out and it was towed back to the garage.

He finished 41st, his fifth finish of 30th or worse this season.

Through nine races, Stewart has 148 points and is 30th in the standings. He's more than 200 points behind leader Kevin Harvick, but most importantly, also 86 points, or basically two full races, behind Ryan Newman, the last driver into the Chase based on points in the current standings. For Stewart to qualify for the Chase on points, not only would he have to make up two full races on Newman (assuming the standings don't change, which won't happen), he'd also have to pass 15 other drivers.

It's an accomplishment that's highly improbable, meaning Stewart's best chances for Chase qualification are via a win. Which, if we'll be honest, looks a bit improbable too.

We know better than to rule anything out with Stewart, a man who publicly derided his team's title hopes in the summer of 2011 on the way to his third title. So we're not counting him out completely, especially since two of the Stewart-Haas cars have been some of the fastest on the circuit.

Do you think he get his first win since June of 2013 before the Chase begins?

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 26, 2015, 9:24 pm

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Kurt Busch is likely going to be utilizing his waiver to get into the Chase.

Busch, who missed the first three races of the season because of an idefinite NASCAR suspension, won Sunday's rain-delayed race at Richmond, his first in over a season.

"It's an incredible feeling," Busch said in victory lane. "It's a total team effort. The way everything came together it just seemed like we were building and building and building toward a great finish like this ... It's an unbelievable feeling when you pull deep from within, you go through troubles. When you're accused of something and things go sideways, your personal life doesn't need to affect your business life and I'm here in victory lane."

The 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion was suspended two days before the season-opening Daytona 500 after a Delaware county commissioner ruled that it was more likely than not Busch committed an act of abuse against his girlfriend in September 2014 (you probably remember the hearing for its trained assassin accusations).

He was reinstated before the fourth race of the season at Phoenix following a decision not to press criminal charges by the Delaware attorney general's office. Upon his reinstatement, NASCAR waived the requirement for a driver to make an attempt to start every race to be eligible for the Chase.

As soon as he got in the car at Phoenix, he was fast, much like he was fast at Richmond. Busch took the lead for the first time in Sunday's race at lap 94 and stayed near the front the rest of the way, leading 291 of the race's 400 laps. Or, if you prefer, 291 of the race's 307 laps since he first took the lead.

Yeah, Busch had a damn good car.

His biggest threat for the win might have been Jamie McMurray, who briefly took the lead from him for four laps. However, McMurray, who made progress on Busch during long green-flag runs, never pulled in on Busch's bumper after the race's final restart with 27 laps to go and was passed by Kevin Harvick for second place.

When Busch was reinstated from his suspension, it seemed clear that he would have to get a win to make the Chase. The three missed races would likely prevent him from being able to qualify for the Chase on points alone. But Phoenix was a harbinger of Busch's 2015. He finished fifth there and had led laps in the four other races he's been in while finishing all in the top 15.

There's no doubt that Busch is a legitimate championship contender at this point in the season. He's shown speed to rival his teammate (and points leader) Harvick and has so far avoided the terrible finishes that plagued his 2014 campaign. If you're making a short list of drivers who can dethrone Harvick this year, Busch has to be on it, and it's now all-but guaranteed he'll be racing for the championship.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 26, 2015, 8:52 pm

Here's another reminder of the dangers of being on a NASCAR pit crew.

Look at this fire that happened in Brendan Gaughan's pit during Friday night's Xfinity Series race at Richmond. It's sparked as Gaughan's car is still being fueled and as we all know, gasoline and fire don't mix.

The fire was extinguished pretty quickly, though as you can see, it was pretty damn big. Three crew members were taken to a local hospital. Eric McClure's pit was next to Gaughan's.

NASCAR says two crew members from Gaughan’s team and one from Eric McClure’s team were transported to a local hospital.

— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) April 25, 2015

Gaughan ended up finishing the race, won by Denny Hamlin, in 11th.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 25, 2015, 1:39 am

Defending Richmond winner Joey Logano will start first for Saturday night's race.

Logano outpaced former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin for the top starting spot, his third pole position of the season. He's previously started first at Atlanta and Martinsville.

Hamlin has won twice at Richmond, though his last win at the track came in 2009 when he led 299 laps.

Kurt Busch will start third while AJ Allmendinger starts fourth and Kevin Harvick will start fifth.

Logano won last year's race after an awesome four-car battle for the win. Because why not, here it is again. It doesn't get old.

Hendrick Motorsports cars didn't have a very good qualifying session. While Jeff Gordon made it to the final round and will start 11th, he was the only full-time HMS car to even make it to the second round.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 26th while Jimmie Johnson starts 36th and Kasey Kahne will start 40th. Kahne said he wondered if his car had a bad set of tires while Johnson's reaction to qualifying was summed up thusly:

I be like... pic.twitter.com/EJCykCzGLN

— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) April 24, 2015

Chase Elliott, making his second start for the team, will start 16th.

The two cars missing the race were Jeb Burton and Brendan Gaughan.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 24, 2015, 10:48 pm

Is David Ragan going to drive for another Toyota team in 2015?

According to the Charlotte Observer, Ragan is expected to take over the No. 55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing starting at Kansas Speedway on May 9. The Associated Press first reported MWR's interest in Ragan.

Ragan is currently subbing for Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing following Busch's injuries in the Feburary Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway. Ragan has driven for JGR since the second race of the season and would vacate the car after Talladega for Erik Jones. NBC Sports first reported the possibility of Jones taking over at Kansas.

Jones, 18, got his first Xfinity Series win at Texas Motor Speedway earlier in April and made a hasty Sprint Cup Series debut at Bristol, even if it doesn't officially count in the box score. Denny Hamlin had an issue with a neck muscle in the opening laps at Bristol and Jones flew in from Charlotte during a rain delay to take over for Hamlin.

According to the Observer, Ragan would be driving the No. 55 for the rest of the season, meaning Brian Vickers won't be returning to the Cup Series in 2015. Vickers, who missed the first two races of the season after heart surgery, is out because of a recurrence of blood clots.

Here's what Ragan said to USA Today about the report:

"I know I'm going to be in the 18 car for a little while," Ragan said. "This week and Talladega are obviously two very important weeks we're looking forward to. I'm focused on that and I just don't really have any comment."

If Ragan moves to the no. 55 for the rest of the year, Front Row Motorsports would need to find replacement drivers. When Vickers returned to the Cup Series briefly this year, his current replacement driver, Brett Moffitt, drove the No. 34. With Moffitt in the No. 55, Chris Buescher has served as the team's main driver, though he's not participating at Richmond.

Waltrip is scheduled to drive the No. 55 next week at Talladega. Busch is expected to return to Cup Series action at some point this season but no timeline has been established for his return.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 24, 2015, 5:51 pm

If Kyle Busch wins a race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup upon his return to the series, there may be a good chance he'd make the Chase.

NASCAR Chairman Brian France, speaking at an Associated Press Sports Editors meeting, made it clear that he wants to find a way to get Kyle Busch in the Chase.

From the AP:

"Depends on when he comes back of course, but it'll be more likely than not that we're going to try to figure out how to accommodate him, which is the beauty of our playoff system," France said Thursday during a meeting of The Associated Press Sports Editors at the NASCAR offices in Manhattan.

"What happened to him was on us," he said. "We'll balance a lot of things at that point when we have to make a decision, but we're inclined to want to figure that out for sure."

Busch said last week that he hoped NASCAR would find a way to make him Chase eligible if he won a race upon his return. Current NASCAR rules say a driver must be in the top 30 in the points standings to be eligible to make the Chase. Because he's still sidelined from a broken leg and broken foot sustained in a February crash where he hit a non-SAFER barrier protected wall, it's incredibly unlikely Busch will be in the top 30 in the points standings when the Chase begins.

Of course, for this conversation to become reality, Busch will have to win a race. And with likely 12 or fewer races to do so upon his return, he won't have many opportunities. However, there's absolutely no reason this should be even a serious conversation at this point.

No matter the intentions, admitting Busch into this year's Chase would further undermine the system that NASCAR has tried so hard to pass off as legitimate since the beginning of 2014.

NASCAR has already issued waivers to Chase drivers before, however, the waivers issued to Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers and Kurt Busch all applied to a previous (and unnecessary) provision stating that drivers must compete in every race. Stewart was inside the top 30 at the time of his waiver in 2014, Vickers had a significant chance of doing so before being sidelined with blood clots again (would he receive the same treatment as Kyle Busch if he comes back?), and Kurt Busch is already inside the top 30 in points despite competing in five of eight races in 2015.

Playoff systems in all American sports are not indicative of the regular season; look at the Kansas City Royals last season or the Pittsburgh Steelers' run to a Super Bowl win as a No. 6 seed in 2005. However, teams must achieve success throughout the season to get to the playoffs. While NASCAR wants to promote winning as everything when it comes to the Chase system, one race win shouldn't simply equal a successful season.

If it did, why was the top 30 rule installed in the first place? By putting in the rule, NASCAR clearly wanted to incentivize teams and drivers to run the entirety of the season before the Chase. And in writing it, NASCAR knew there could be a chance a major injury forces a driver to miss enough time to fall outside the top 30 in points.

After all, officials saw what happened to Denny Hamlin when he slammed into a non-SAFER barrier protected wall in 2013. To think there wouldn't be a scenario where a driver sustains serious injuries by slamming into a bare concrete wall again is ignorant at best.

But it seems that France hasn't learned from his mistake in 2013 when he added Jeff Gordon as a 13th driver to the Chase after a race manipulation incident at Richmond. It was an incident that clearly undermined his sport's credibility, yet he apparently desires to make a very similar mistake once again if given the opportunity. Would Busch be added in as a 17th driver? Would a deserving driver based on points be knocked out at his expense? Would this even be a topic if it was David Gilliland and not Busch?

NASCAR has worked feverishly since 2004 to promote the Chase as a grander and greater alternative than the season-long points format it had in place since the sport's inception. And that work increased in 2014 when the one-race "winner take all" format was introduced. NASCAR knew it was an incredibly stark departure from the days of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

France's sport has positives. It's producing good racing, has a monstrous television deal in its back pocket and has a bunch of nationally-recognizable stars. Yet by showing a preference to tweak the sport's parameters for settling a champion whenever he sees fit, France pushes away the mainstream credibility NASCAR has tried so hard to achieve.

If NASCAR wants the current Chase format to catch on, its rules need to be left alone. And if those rules mean a star misses out on the playoffs, so be it. While you can convincingly argue that NASCAR's blithe disregard for SAFER barriers contributed to Busch's unfortunate injury, there shouldn't be yet another scramble to make up for a mistake at the expense of the sport's championship.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 24, 2015, 2:51 pm

Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com or @NickBromberg. We'll post them here and have a good time.

Welcome to this week's Happy Hour, where we're still getting used to the news that there will be a hydrogen-fueled pace car at Richmond. We hope they quintuple-check the lighting system on the car for electrical shorts before the race.

Our best email of the week was unfortunately not racing related. However, we'll share part of it with you anyway.

Ya just gotta hate small time bloggers like you who write those disgusting little blurbs ... (redacted for being inappropriate)

Why don't you do better research before you write and stop being just another lemming? - Philip

Why the hell is this email noteworthy? It was about former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. The subject line was "Jameson Winston." Yeah...

Speaking of people who can be polarizing, here's a sampling of what we got after Sunday night's race and Danica Patrick's record-breaking sixth-top 10 finish.

Typical of the media to glom onto Danica's ninth place finish and make it the big headline of the night. Is really more important the Kenseth breaking his win drought? One of the best drivers of his era and she gets the big headline and the pub. Sickening if you ask me. She is nothing as a racer but a woman racer makes her more special than those who are actually championship worthy - Kent

Kenseth breaking a 51-race winless streak was clearly the story of the evening. He's now basically guaranteed into the Chase and the second JGR driver likely in.

But Patrick is a big story too, and not simply because of breaking Janet Guthrie's record. She has two top-10 finishes in three races (at Martinsville and Bristol, nonetheless) and is 13th in the points. It's still way to early to talk about non-winning drivers in the Chase, but she's on the right track. That certainly stops the "championship worthy" point, even if you don't think she's a threat to win the title.

If Patrick is in the same position in the standings halfway through the season, these type of emails should slow down.

Worst article I ever read! - Ray

Or maybe they won't.

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How is the race purse divided?  How is it determined which driver will get what?  And the car owners?  The racetrack owner?- Gail

This question comes up every year because of the confusing nature of NASCAR's race winnings structure. The race winnings printed in the box score are a combination of prize money from the race purse and contingency programs. Not all drivers and teams are in all contingency programs. For example, teams can opt out of the Coors Light Pole Award.

Drivers don't receive all of that money listed in the box score. They receive a percentage of the race winnings based off their contract. Then the money is also divvied up based on other contracts the teams have. Tracks receive 65 percent of NASCAR's television contract.

@NickBromberg What did Outback do with all the Bloomin" Onions not used Mon.? Think 22 fixes car if track has tunnel and they could leave?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) April 23, 2015

These are both fun. How many people do you think went into Outback on Monday assuming that Kevin Harvick finished in the top 10? It may not be in the thousands, but there's gotta be more than a few, right?

The Logano question is interesting. Not fixing the car is the ultimate statement that points really don't matter in the Cup Series (if you have a win), but was fixing the car something based on circumstance rather than the inherent desire to get it done and see what could happen? It's probably much more of the latter, but it wouldn't be surprised if the track played a role.

We're heading out to do the Richard Petty Driving Experience for the first time. Here's your advice to us. We promise we'll take the last one into consideration and are prepared to potentially bribe our teacher to open up the limiter on our car to make it go as fast as possible.

@NickBromberg go fast right away, even when it scares the crap out of you

— Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) April 23, 2015

@NickBromberg make sure you get the clean air early. Seems to be the thing to do at the 1.5ers!

— Darrell (@diriditi) April 23, 2015

@NickBromberg If you haven't driven a manual transmission recently, practice if at all possible. I stalled off pit road. I was proud.

— nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) April 23, 2015

@NickBromberg dont wreck

— Deuce Deucer (@dallasjhawk) April 23, 2015

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 23, 2015, 9:10 pm

Welcome to Random Recaps, our new weekly feature at From The Marbles. In this space, we'll recap a race from the past at the track the where Sprint Cup Series is racing next.

This week's race is the 1985 Wrangler Sanfor-Set 400. Need to know how Random Recap works? Click here.

Darrell Waltrip led the final six laps of the Wrangler Sanfor-Set 400 to beat Terry Labonte.

Labonte led 52 laps prior to being passed by Waltrip, who was able to cut into points leader Bill Elliott's advantage with the win. Elliott finished 12th and scored 127 points. After getting 180 for the win, Waltrip is now 153 points behind Elliott with seven races to go.

It's Waltrip's third win of 1985 and the 67th of his career.

Richard Petty finished third, Dale Earnhardt was fourth and Ricky Rudd was fifth. Harry Gant was the last car on the lead lap in sixth and polesitter Geoffrey Bodine was a lap down in seventh.

Greg Sacks, who started sixth, finished 20th, eight laps down. Why are we talking about Greg Sacks? Well, because he spun in front of most of the field early in the race and NASCAR didn't throw a caution flag. After starting 22nd, Waltrip narrowly avoided Sacks' car during the incident.

Epilogue: Waltrip ended up passing Elliott in the standings to win the 1985 championship. He'd win 17 more races in his career and retire with 84 career Sprint Cup Series wins. The $1.3 million he won that season stands as the high-water mark of his career, though he made over $1.2 million in 29 starts without a top-10 in 2000.

And can you imagine NASCAR not throwing a caution flag if a similar situation happened during Saturday night's Richmond race? No, neither can we.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 22, 2015, 3:00 pm

Kevin Harvick's pilgrimage to the White House happened Tuesday.

The 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion was honored by President Barack Obama for his title.

"It’s great to have Kevin’s crew chief, Rodney Childers, who is here," Obama said. "We’ve also got Greg Zipadelli –- almost messed it up there; it’s like Obama, too many vowels. And the team from Stewart-Haas Racing.  NASCAR’s leadership is here as well. Brian France is here and Mike Helton. Welcome back. 

"And even though the Budweiser Chevy got the White House parking pass this year, I am sure Tony Stewart doesn’t mind adding another Owner’s Championship to his collection. So congratulations to Tony."

President Obama also made sure to incorporate Steve Byrnes into his remarks about Harvick. The Fox announcer passed away earlier Tuesday.

"I also want to offer my condolences to everybody in the NASCAR community on the passing of a legendary reporter and broadcaster, Steve Byrnes," Obama said. "And I know a lot of fans’ thoughts and prayers today are with his wife, Karen, and his son, Bryson. We are here to celebrate, though, Kevin Harvick.  This was an exciting year for the “Four Car.”  As the season started, Kevin had a new team, a new crew chief to adjust to.  It usually takes a little time for a driver and a crew chief to find their groove, but Kevin and Rodney seemed to figure out each other in a hurry – sort of like when Joe Biden joined my team.

"So they had instant chemistry.  And as Kevin can tell you, when you have a trusted partner shouting world-class advice into your ear at every turn, you can’t lose."

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 22, 2015, 1:14 am

Fox Sports announced that announcer Steve Byrnes passed away on Tuesday. He was 56.

Byrnes had been battling head and neck cancer after he was diagnosed in August of 2013. Sunday's race at Bristol was renamed to be the Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes and many in and around NASCAR paid tribute to him throughout Fox's coverage of the race.

He joined Fox in 2001 when the network picked up NASCAR rights. He was scheduled to be the network's lead announcer for Camping World Truck Series coverage in 2015.

NASCAR extends its condolences to the many friends, FOX Sports colleagues and family of Steve Byrnes," NASCAR Chairman Brian France said in a statement. "Whether you had the privilege of knowing him or if you watched him on television for the last three decades, Steve’s work ethic and authenticity made him a beloved individual inside and outside the garage.

“His level of professionalism was matched only by the warmth he showed everyone he met. He battled cancer with tenacity, and was a true inspiration to everyone in the NASCAR family. Simply stated, we’ll miss Steve dearly. Our thoughts are especially with his wife Karen and son Bryson during this difficult time.”

Before that, he had covered NASCAR for CBS, TBS and TNN. Byrnes played football for a season at James Madison before he transferred to the University of Maryland, where he graduated with a degree in Radio, Television and Film.

He's survived by his wife of 22 years, Karen, and his 12-year-old son Bryson. According to Fox, funeral services are pending.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 21, 2015, 5:57 pm

Our Power Rankings are far from a scientific formula. In fact, it's the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. And you think we dislike your favorite driver, so it makes sense, right? Direct all your complaints to us at happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com.

1. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 2): What a recovery for the No. 48 team. After hitting the wall and sustaining some pretty heavy damage, Johnson was also in an accident after he got into Jeb Burton and was run into by David Ragan. The damage on the rear of the No. 48 wasn't crippling, and after a two-tire pit stop late in the race, Johnson had enough track position to be in position to sneak in for the win had Matt Kenseth bobbled. However, Kenseth didn't bobble.

2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 1): Harvick might have had the race's best car. He led the most laps, 184, and even that number is deceiving. Those 184 laps came in the first 312. He didn't lead again after he was in the accident that Johnson was in with Burton and Ragan. Harvick was behind the crash and when he went to lock the car down, he went into a heavy slide and slammed into Ragan. The damage was too significant to fix on pit road and Harvick ended up 38th, 32 laps down.

3. Matt Kenseth (LW: NR): From unranked to the top three? Well, who else is going to be in third? You'll see that there really aren't many other candidates, hence why we're going with Sunday's winner. Kenseth was emotional in victory lane, and we understand why the win serves as validation after a 51-race winless streak. However, it's important to remember that the No. 20 team hadn't suddenly become a non-factor. He tied for the second-most top-10 finishes in 2014.

4. Kurt Busch (LW: 10): Would Busch have won had he not pitted for tires? It's not guaranteed. Would he have won without the two late caution flags? It's not guaranteed either. But it's easy to wonder "what if?" on both. Busch pitted from the lead on lap 477 and restarted sixth. He then had two decent restarts but was collected in an accident after Carl Edwards crashed. He finished 15th and is still outside the top 20 in points though it's also easy to wonder just how soon he's going to win.

5. Joey Logano (LW: 3): Logano was our first instance of collateral damage on Sunday as he had nowhere to go when teammate Brad Keselowski lost control of his car from third place early in the race. Instead of packing up and going home, his team waited out the rain delay to log laps. The net result? Three positions, as Logano finished 40th. While the points payoff might not have been that great, you have to applaud the perserverance given how easy it would have been for the virtually-Chase-qualfied team to simply move on to the next race.

6. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 4): Goodbye top-10 finish streak, you were good to Truex. A loose wheel and, later, contact with the wall, meant unscheduled pit stops for the No. 78 bunch and Truex finished 29th, seven laps down. He's still third in the points standings, and actually gained points on Kevin Harvick. It's also his worst finish since Martinsville last year, where he finished 38th.

7. Jeff Gordon (LW: 9): Everyone from the Hendrick team had an eventful day. And like his double-number teammate, Gordon was able to make a decent-tasting salad out of it all and finished third. While he ultimately didn't run out of gas, Gordon was not a fan of the long caution period NASCAR ran near the end of the race to try to keep the track dry in the hope of finishing the race under green. While it worked out for him, it didn't for Austin Dillon, who was forced to pit from the top five because the race went so long and ended up 10th, though it was still his highest finish of the year.

8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 6): Junior started the Hendrick chain of crazy events when he had an unscheduled pit stop early in the race for a flat right rear tire. At one point he was four laps down after another unscheduled stop. He got two of the laps back and finished 16th, the first car two laps down. Had Junior stayed on the lead lap, a top 10 would have been possible as his car was pretty damn fast. He just wasn't able to make up the track position.

9. Ryan Newman (LW: 11): Newman was another driver who had a nice recovery. He went a lap down early in the race and after getting the lap back, found himself in the top five. He had crew chief Luke Lambert atop the pit box too, as Richard Childress Racing is appealing the reduction of penalties to NASCAR's final appeals officer. A decision on the final appeal is likely this week. Will the penalties be reduced even further?

10. Brad Keselowski (LW: 5): Keselowski said after his accident that he wasn't sure how has car snapped around on him. Was a slick track to blame? Something else? It's possible it was the rain, but it's worth pointing out that no one else had issues. Well, except for Logano. And like his teammate, Keselowski's team fixed his car and he finished 22 laps down in 35th.

11. Kasey Kahne (LW: 7): Kahne stayed out of trouble and near the front of the field for most of the race on Sunday until he met Tony Stewart's front bumper. From there, he went spinning and into AJ Allmendinger. While he said his team was "nothing exceptional," before the crash, he was running in the top 15. Or, much better than 39th, which is where he ended up finishing.

12. Aric Almirola (LW: 12): Another close-to-a-top-10 keeps Almirola in the top 10 in the points standings. Come on Aric, we're cheering for you to continue to consistency your way towards the Chase. And if you do make the Chase without a top 10, does it mean there will be a massive Martinsville hot dog celebration? There should be. Maybe put some bacon on top of them.

Lucky Dog: Justin Allgaier snagged the first top-10 finish of his career.

The DNF: Man, Landon Cassill was simply in the way and got run over.

Dropped out: Denny Hamlin, though we completely understand why Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing did what they did. With a win, erring on the side of caution was smart.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 21, 2015, 5:18 pm

The track that gave us the Funnel Bacakonator is back with some more crazy concessions.

Charlotte Motor Speedway announced Friday that it will serve a 6.5-pound burrito and a six-pound burger during the All-Star Race weekend on May 15-16.

Yes, those measurements are in pounds and not ounces. If you're looking for something less hefty, you can always go with the candied bacon on a stick the track introduced with the burrito and the burger.

First, the details on the burrito.

The "Crank Shaft Burrito," which will cost $25, has four tortillas, 1.5 pounds of beans, 1.5 pounds of cole slaw and 3 pounds of pulled pork. It also has a half-pound of cheese sauce plus a quarter-pound of jalapenos and "more" baked beans, slaw and pork. If you're scoring at home, you'll notice that the ingredients add up to more than 6.5 pounds, so depending on the amount of "more," you could score a seven-pound burrito.

The burger is the "Speedway Picnic Burger" and has eight quarter-pound burgers and eight hot dogs. It also contains 1.5 pounds of pulled pork and a pound of bacon, though it only has eight slices of cheese. We were hoping for 10.

It also includes lettuce and tomato, but really, you're not buying that burger for the vegetables, are you?

In the press release announcing the food, the burrito was listed at 1,685 calories and the burger at 2,156. Shortly after the post was initially published we got an email from Kevin, a reader, questioning the calorie totals by a significant amount. It got our brain spinning – and it should have been immediately spinning – and we reached out to Charlotte Motor Speedway and Levy Restaurants for comment.

Tuesday, we received revised calorie totals from Levy, citing a "mix up." The burrito is now listed at 5,047 calories and the burger is now listed at 6,209 calories. Yes, those totals are approximately three times the initial estimates.

At $35, the burger nets you 177.4 calories per dollar while the burrito is approximately 202 calories per dollar at the speedway's values. Yes, when you're a former fat kid you sometimes do these type of calculations to see what gets you more caloric bang for your buck.

The burger is also wrapped in a tablecloth for the full picnic experience, though we're just thinking it's because the lines between napkin and tablecloth become blurred when you're wrapping food of that size.

The track promotes both items as shareable, however we've got a feeling that there will be many people attempting solo conquests. In this age of American gluttony we won't truly be amazed unless someone eats them both in a two-hour timeframe. We guarantee someone is going to try it, and if you're that somebody, let us know. Because at more than 11,000 calories combined, you're not going to be able to do it without getting sick.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 21, 2015, 4:31 pm

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Danica Patrick set a record with her ninth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday night.

The race marked Patrick's sixth top-10 finish of her career in the Sprint Cup Series, breaking a tie she had with Janet Guthrie for the most top-10 finishes by a woman in NASCAR's top level.

Guthrie, who made her debut in what's now the Cup Series in 1976, had five top 10s in 33 career starts over a span of four seasons. Sunday night was Patrick's sixth top 10 in 90 Cup Series starts.

Guthrie's highest finish of her career – coincidentally enough – came at Bristol in 1977, where she finished sixth. Patrick's best finish is also sixth. She snagged that at Atlanta last fall.

Throughout much of Sunday's race, it was hard to envision how Patrick would get a top 10. She didn't run poorly by any stretch of the imagination; she was in the top 20 for most of the evening. She just found her car pointing the wrong direction in the aftermath of crashes ahead of her on more than one occasion.

 

However, she was able to scramble towards the front before the end of the race, which Matt Kenseth won.

“I didn’t think this day was ever going to end," Patrick said of the race that had multiple rain delays and finished 9.5 hours after it was originally scheduled to start. "I’m proud of everybody for keeping their heads up and staying positive and these are the things that happen when you work together as a team ... We had some luck on our side and I really feel like that positivity feeds into getting some luck and being at the right place at the right time. ... We came out of here with a top 10.

"I got to tell you I did not think – I was hoping for a top 20 after our weekend. We were like 30 something in practice. Lucked out in qualifying and got 26th which like I said lucked out. It was a struggle of a weekend, but by all means you take these weekends because they tell you what you have a great weekends and you are running well and something happens."

It's also Patrick's second top-10 finish in three races. She finished seventh at Martinsville in March and the two races are her first top-10 finishes at short tracks.

Throughout her Sprint Cup Series tenure, Stewart-Haas Racing has talked about her improvement as a driver and if the last three weeks are any indication, it's being reflected in the box scores. She's 13th in the points standings through the first eight races. If this trend continues, a berth in NASCAR's Chase won't seem as farfetched as you might think.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Follow @NickBromberg

Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: April 20, 2015, 3:43 am

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