Brad Keselowski's day nearly went sideways during a green-flag pit stop in the first half of Sunday's race at Pocono. And he nearly had some injured crew members too.

Keselowski's front tires locked under braking as he pulled into his pit stall and his car slid through the pit box. As his car didn't slow appropriately and his crew was waiting for him in the box, Keselowski hit multiple members of his crew and one of the tires that was supposed to get on his car went rolling down pit road.

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It was a scary moment for all involved, especially the crew member carrying the jack. It nearly fell on top of him as he tumbled through the air.

Keselowski was told that his crew members were OK. And in addition to the long pit stop because of the near-calamity, he had to serve a pass-through penalty for an uncontrolled tire.

The sequence could have put a damper on Keselowski's day. Instead, his car was fast enough to get him back into the top 10 and he was able to catch a break as the top three drivers with three laps to go all ran out of fuel. Keselowski did too. But later than they did.

"We ran out there at the end," Keselowski said. "[Race-winner Matt Kenseth] and his team did a great job. We just had a really fast car, made a mistake on pit road earlier in the race and got us behind and we had enough speed in the car to drive up to about fifth or sixth on our own merits. And then of course some guys ran out of fuel in front of us and we were able to get up to a second-place finish. But I think we had at least that good of a car anyway, so I was really proud of the team and effort."

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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: August 2, 2015, 9:54 pm

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Joey Logano was cruising to victory in Sunday's race at Pocono. And then Kyle Busch looked poised to win his fourth race in a row.

But neither of them won. Instead, it was Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, who made his fuel tank last to the end while Logano and Busch ran out of gas.

Teams usually work the races at Pocono backwards, meaning they calculate their fuel mileage from the end of the race and try make their final pit stop as soon as possible. At most NASCAR races, teams pit whenever they can under caution periods for fresh tires as tires are more important than track position.

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At Pocono, laps at the 2.5-mile track can take so long that drivers can pit under green flag conditions without losing a lap. And with track position at a premium, pitting under green is more beneficial than pitting under a caution flag and potentially losing spots to other teams.

The second half of Sunday's race had lots of green flag laps and Jimmie Johnson set off the final round of green flag stops with 38 laps to go. As teams copycatted Johnson's strategy it meant they were pitting right on the edge of their fuel window.

With one caution period, gas wouldn't be an issue. But the race went green until the end and drivers were forced to try tactics like letting off early and refusing to shift gears in the corners to save fuel and attempt to make it to the end.

In contrast to the last 50 percent of the 160-lap race, the first 72 laps featured seven caution flags including one for Kasey Kahne's scary encounter with the inside pit wall.

Logano ran out on the backstretch with three laps to go. Busch was approximately a second behind Logano and took the lead from him. Then, with two laps to go, Martin Truex Jr., who was about five seconds behind Busch, ran out of gas in turn three. Busch had a large cushion to Kenseth, who inherited second.

But Busch then ran out of gas on the frontstretch as he took the white flag. Kenseth, who likely had been able to save more gas than anyone else because he had no close competition for his spot, passed him in turn two and ended up taking the win.

"I wanted to pass [Jimmie] because you just never know about those guys," Kenseth said. "And I knew that ... and so I wanted to get in front of him and just control the gap and once he started dropping behind me [crew chief Jason Ratcliff] told me to start saving – we talked about it a little before the race – and just saved as much as we could."

It's Kenseth's second win of the year.

Logano, who won the season-opening Daytona 500, was gunning for his second win of the year too. He instead finished 20th after he coasted back to pit road. Busch wasn't so lucky because he ran out of gas on the frontstretch and on the last lap. He ended up 21st.

After winning four of the previous five races, Busch's main goal was to get into the top 30 in points because he missed the first 11 races of the year. With a fourth-straight win or even a second-place finish, he would have accomplished that goal with five races to go before the Chase.

Now he's still on the outside of the top 30, though he gained points on 30th place. He entered the race 23 points behind 30th and is now 13 points back in 32nd with five races to go. He's still on track to make the Chase by the time it begins at Richmond, but if he misses it, Sunday's race will be seen as a big reason why.

"We got greedy," Busch said. "I don't know how greedy but that's the position we're in. If it came down to other things and we haven't had the success that we've had lately, we would have had to have pitted and just made the best opportunity of it and got the best finish we could. We went for broke today and came up a little bit short. Can't fault the team."

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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: August 2, 2015, 9:35 pm

A Sprint Cup Series car hit the pit road wall at Pocono for the second time in two days on Sunday.

In the opening laps of Sunday's race, Kasey Kahne's car snapped loose off turn three. He slid into pit road and smashed into the wall that separates pit lane from where the crews and fans stand.

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The impact from Kahne's hit was so hard that a piece of his car was wedged into the wall, which appeared to bend at a joint. The wall did its job and held up, but NASCAR red-flagged the race so welders could repair a gap that was created in it.

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Pit crews put their helmets on the wall when they're not using them. Those helmets became veritable cannonballs as they were launched towards the pit boxes when Kahne's car made impact with the wall. NASCAR said no one was hurt behind pit wall. Kahne was OK.

"I just got loose, it was late exit, a lot later than I would have expected," Kahne said. "That's how I ended up so far down pit road which was crazy. I've never ended up over there. I just got loose and basically spun and ... that was it. I tried saving it, kind of avoided running into the [outside] pit wall and hit the one on the left not the one on the right."

"... Not sure why that happened, what happened so quickly there. But it was gone."

Kahne said he couldn't believe his car was heading down pit road.

"At first I couldn't believe I was clear over here this late in the corner and then all the way to the left heading towards pit wall and then I saw the people – I was like 'Man you better take off running, you know, get out of the way.' I haven't done anything like that before, so that was kind of crazy the way it all it happened."

During Saturday's practice session, Jeb Burton spun and crashed into nearly the same spot that Kahne did. If you look at Kahne's crash, you can see the tire tracks that Burton created on Saturday. It's crazy. Thankfully when Burton crashed there weren't any pit boxes or many people behind the wall.

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: August 2, 2015, 6:17 pm

Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman spoke publicly Saturday for the first time since his purchase of part of Chip Ganassi Racing was announced earlier in the week. After saying that he and Waltrip were close friends and business partners, Kauffman said his purchase was an "integration" rather than a step away from MWR.

"... So any idea that like I'm leaving or taking anything is misplaced," Kauffman said. "What we're actually doing is integrating the businesses, trying to get the most competitive product on track, the best for all of our partners and that's really our focus."

"It's a competitive business, as everybody knows. It's competitive on track as well as off track. The focus we're really trying to get to get this news out was to get it out of the way because rumors were bubbling and try and be as clear as we can and refocus everybody on 2015 and hopefully getting one or two cars in the Chase and doing a great job with our partners."

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If MWR and Ganassi Racing were to merge, a manufacturer switch for one of the teams would have to happen. MWR currently fields Toyotas and Ganassi fields Chevys. MWR is the logical candidate to switch because its contract with Toyota is up at the end of the year.

When word of Kauffman's purchase of a stake in Ganassi broke. Clint Bowyer was mentioned as a likely third driver for Ganassi Racing. Felix Sabates, minority owner in Ganassi, also mentioned that the plan was for a three-car team in the future. Ganassi currently fields two cars with Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson. MWR also has two cars; Bowyer and the No. 55 of David Ragan.

The No. 55 was originally scheduled to be driven by Brian Vickers in 2015 but he had to step aside because of a reoccurrence of blood clots. Ragan and the car's sponsor, Aaron's aren't signed after the season. Aaron's said earlier in the week that it was evaluating its options.

"In terms of our plans, whether we have three cars, four cars, two roofs, one roof, that's yet to be determined," Kauffman said. "And how we do in the 2015 season will help determine whether that happens. If we do a great job, that'll be one outcome. If we do a less great job, probably another and I think it should be pretty obvious to people."

Jamie McMurray and Bowyer are both currently in line to make the Chase, though neither has a win. Bowyer is also in 16th and if he doesn't move up, would be knocked out of the Chase if and when Kyle Busch cracks the top 30 in points.

Kauffman, the public face of the Race Team Alliance, also mentioned the fickle business model of Sprint Cup ownership in his comments, predicting more consolidation within the garage. He made sure to point out that the days of the "lone wolf" team were "are long past."

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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: August 1, 2015, 6:26 pm

Kyle Busch is now winning things he isn't sure he's going to win.

Busch, who has won four of the last five Sprint Cup Series races, posted the fastest lap (178.416 MPH) in the third round of Friday's qualifying session at Pocono and will start first for Sunday's race.

"I told you that I had a fast car, I just wasn't sure we could get the balance of it right," Busch said. "There right at the end, that last run, was the best it's been all day."

Busch unseated Joey Logano for the top spot in qualifying and survived a fast lap by Kevin Harvick, the only other driver to post a lap over 178 MPH. Logano starts third while Austin Dillon starts fourth and Tony Stewart starts fifth.

Harvick posted the fastest lap of the second round while Stewart was fastest in the first round.

Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon round out the top 10.

If Kyle Busch wins at Pocono and gets his fifth win in six races, it'd be his first win at the 2.5-mile triangle. Busch has eight top-10 finishes in 21 starts at the track. He won the pole there in 2010 and finished second to teammate Denny Hamlin.

43 drivers attempted to qualify Friday so no driver missed the race.

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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: July 31, 2015, 9:53 pm

As the future of Michael Waltrip Racing is unknown, Clint Bowyer made a statement after Friday's practice at Pocono.

Bowyer has been mentioned as possibly switching teams before the 2016 season as MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman has purchased part of Chip Ganassi Racing. Without Kauffman's funding – he owned 50 percent of MWR – the future of MWR looks tenuous. The team does not have a manufacturer deal signed for 2016. It also doesn't have a driver for the No. 55 car or a sponsor as the contract of Aaron's is up at the end of the year.

Bowyer, who recently signed an extension with MWR along with sponsor 5-Hour Energy, could go to Ganassi and be a teammate to Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray.

From Fox Sports:

"This isn't what any of you guys want," Bowyer told the media at Pocono. "You need to bear with us. There's obviously some change on the horizon. I got the same release you guys did. We've got a new sponsor on the car this weekend. It's a big deal for us. We've been working on this a long time. Got a lot of momentum going into this -- we're 20 points out of the Chase and we've got to finish this year strong. Like I said, there's a lot of work to be done in the future and we're all working on it and when I have something to tell you guys you all know me and I'll tell you."

Bowyer's car is sponsored by Maxwell House for Sunday's race.

After finishing second in the 2012 points standings, Bowyer hasn't won a race in the past two-plus seasons. He's currently on the periphery of the Chase but without a win, could find himself on the outside looking in, especially if other drivers who haven't won a race do so.

MWR currently fields Toyotas. Ed Laukes, a vice president of marketing for the car company, issued a brief statement about the situation.

“We’ve spoken with Rob Kauffman and understand he has agreed to buy an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Rob has not disclosed the plans for Michael Waltrip Racing past the 2015 racing season. Toyota and TRD remain focused on winning races and championships with our team partners this year.”

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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: July 31, 2015, 6:04 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 Happy Hour. Have you woken up from Indianapolis yet?

We kid. We kid. The race featured one more lead change than it did last year!

NASCAR said that it's going to try the Indianapolis rules changes at Michigan as scheduled despite the lack of action and poor reviews at Indy. And that's the smart move. NASCAR is trying to portray itself as being very pragmatic when it comes to changing the rules, even if their actions aren't totally backing the public statements up (more on that in a minute).

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Michigan, as you know, is a totally different track than Indianapolis. So NASCAR might as well give it a go and see what happens. Our big question for the race is if the slower speeds on the straightaways created by the larger spoiler will mean that teams are going flat out in the corners. If that happens, or comes close to happening, Michigan could be like a smaller version of Talladega or Daytona. It'd be the pack racing that NASCAR CEO Brian France has said he wants to have.

@NickBromberg I READ THAT NASCAR GOT IT WRONG W/ THE HIGH DRAG PACKAGE AT INDY. AS A RESPECTED JOURNALIST, WHAT CAN THEY DO TO GET IT RIGHT?

— ANNOYING RACE FAN (@annoyingracefan) July 30, 2015

We're respected?!?!?!

Oh, they totally got it wrong. But when you make changes, you're not guaranteed to get them right. Consider it the minus to Kentucky's plus and we're now back to square one.

The answer to getting the Indianapolis rules right seems pretty simple. Testing. NASCAR tested at Indianapolis in April and speeds were very, very high. So NASCAR made the changes to the rules after seeing what happened in the test. And while they were run through many simulations, they weren't tested on the track. And that's ultimately what got NASCAR in the predicament it was in on Sunday.

We're not saying that simply testing makes the race a super-entertaining one to watch, but NASCAR and the teams then know what to do to prepare for the race weekend and the sanctioning body can make further changes. It didn't have the opportunity by taking action without on-track testing to evaluate it.

@NickBromberg If MWR switches to Chevy is it too expensive for Toyota with one major team? Toyota = Dodge? Or is Gibbs good enough to stay?

— Lorne Cammack (@AGGIEcam) July 30, 2015

Based on what's been reported, MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman could take the No. 15 and Clint Bowyer with him to Ganassi as part of his purchase of part of Ganassi Racing. A move like that would mean MWR would be left with one car, as Ganassi co-owner Felix Sabates has said the team wants to have three cars, one more than its current two-car stable.

It's important to repeat that Kauffman has been the financial power behind MWR. If Waltrip wants to stay relevant in the Cup Series as an owner he's going to have to get an infusion of capital and/or align with an existing team.

He also would have to keep Aaron's for 2016 and beyond or find another sponsor for the No. 55. And figure out the driver situation. Furniture Row has been considered a candidate to move to Toyota and so it stands to reason that "hey, MWR could align with Furniture Row!" Aaron's being a competitor to Furniture Row quiets those thoughts pretty quickly.

The company said Thursday it is evaiuating its options.

#NASCAR ...MWR sponsor Aaron's: "We've been in talks with MWR about the 2016 season & we will be evaluating our options." @NBCSports

— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) July 30, 2015

There are still a lot of unknowns with this situation that's only recently gone from smoke to fire. One of the knowns, however, is that Toyota isn't going anywhere.

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I just finished reading the comments to your recent Power Rankings. In spite of that I still have some faith in humanity. My vacation must have really relaxed me. So do you think that someone will eventually inform us that the Trilateral Commission and the Free Masons are in charge of NASCAR (like everything else, no doubt). - Paul

Despite the common absence of common sense, the comments section has it all figured out, doesn't it? If you need a NASCAR conspiracy theorized, just scroll down to the bottom of a post, especially after a win by a driver not named Dale Earnhardt Jr. Or heck, even after Junior wins. You're bound to see some posts about how the race was rigged for him.

Hey, we love the creativity. Maybe one day the black helicopters will actually take flight.

@NickBromberg What is a bigger actual problem for NASCAR right now: the ratings (relatively speaking) or the empty grandstands?

— Travis Pineapple (@Rob_In_WI) July 30, 2015

TV runs the show, so when it comes to TV vs. in-person attendance, the needs of exponentially more watching at home is always going to come first. And that's why Sunday's race started so late. It was a chance for NBC to get some eyeballs tuned to NBCSN on a late Sunday afternoon. And the television rating reflected that.

While the rating was good for NBCSN, it was low compared to previous races. The channel is not as widely available as ESPN (part of the reason why the race is on it) and you're undoubtedly aware of the loud minority who is willing to tell anyone and everyone that they can't watch the race.

But you also have to keep in mind the changing habits of viewers. More and more people are going to keep cutting out cable and satellite packages. Online streaming is already up and running (NBC's app is pretty good) and you can get that to your TV with simply a cable. Sooner, rather than later, we're going to have an idea of how many people watched a race on TV and also streamed it.

@NickBromberg The trade deadline is here and Rob Kauffman may be a buyer, what NASCAR teams should be buyers or sellers GM Bromberg?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) July 30, 2015

Love this question.

Hendrick may be a buyer as its cars have been a tick slower than the Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing cars. Stewart-Haas Racing is clearly a buyer for two of its cars. Can they find the magic potion to get either Danica Patrick or Tony Stewart a win?

As far as sellers go, well, MWR may be in the unfortunate situation of actually selling or something similar. And Roush Fenway could be in the selling mode too. Not that the team should be for sale by any means, but that with Ricky Stenhouse and Trevor Bayne buried in the standings, it may deem some changes are necessary to experiment before 2016.

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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: July 30, 2015, 8:05 pm

Michael Waltrip Racing announced Thursday that co-owner Rob Kauffman had purchased part of Chip Ganassi Racing. The announcement comes a day after a Sports Business Journal report that said Kauffman was close to making the deal complete.

Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, has agreed to buy an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The companies will continue to operate separately and compete against each other for the remainder of the 2015 season. They are also currently evaluating ways to field the most competitive race teams possible to provide an excellent platform for their partners and employees for the 2016 season and beyond. More details will follow in due course.

Kauffman purchased part of Michael Waltrip Racing in October 2007 as the team was struggling in its debut season in the Sprint Cup Series. The team has had success since Kauffman's arrival but has struggled since the race manipulation tactics it used at Richmond. NAPA, a long-time sponsor of the team, left after the shenanigans and went to sponsor Chase Elliott. The loss of the company forced MWR to move to two cars.

Ganassi confirmed the move.

The SBJ report said Kauffman was purchasing Felix Sabates' stake in Ganassi. Sabates told SiriusXM NASCAR that he wasn't leaving the sport.

"I'm not going anywhere.  This is about making our team stronger, a three car team is stronger than a two car.  But the rumors that Rob is buying me out are not true, my last race will be five years from September 9th. I will be 75 years old then and will be done."

Sabates' desire for the team to be at three cars also dovetails with the SBJ report. It said Kauffman was wanting to bring the No. 15 of Clint Bowyer to Chip Ganassi Racing. The move would leave Michael Waltrip Racing with one car. Both driver David Ragan and sponsor Aaron's are not currently signed for 2016.

If MWR loses a car, it could face a very shaky future. Its best bet for survival may be to find a team to align with if another investor can't be found.

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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: July 30, 2015, 6:13 pm

As speculation about Michael Waltrip Racing's 2016 manufacturer mounts, it may have more things different about it next season that simply the make of the car.

According to the Sports Business Journal, MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman is "close" to purcahsing Felix Sabates' stake in Chip Ganassi Racing. In doing so he would take the No. 15 and Clint Bowyer with him to Ganassi and the team would be a three-car team in 2016 with Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson.

MWR has been mentioned as possibly moving to Chevrolet in 2016 but this is a wrinkle about the team's future that hasn't been publicly mentioned until today.

From SBJ:

Michael Waltrip Racing principal Owner Rob Kauffman is close to purchasing Felix Sabates’ stake in Chip Ganassi Racing, according to multiple industry sources, which would cause Kauffman to drop his affiliation with MWR if the sale is completed. Kauffman, who has been with MWR for eight years, would take on Sabates’ minority stake in the team, while CGR principal Owner Chip Ganassi would continue to retain majority control, according to sources. It is unclear if Sabates will hold onto a small stake to retain his affiliation with the team or if he will be dropping the affiliation entirely.

Kauffman bought into Michael Waltrip Racing in 2007 as the team was struggling in its debut Sprint Cup Series season. Waltrip, the former driver and now-Fox analyst, has mentioned before how important Kauffman's financial backing was to the survival of his race team.

“I wouldn’t be standing here in an interview, if I hadn’t met Rob,’’ Waltrip said in an interview with NASCAR.com in 2013. “Us hitting it off and sharing the same goals and dreams for the team, now seven years later, we’re best friends.

“I like who he is as a person. He doesn’t like when I say this, but I’m forever indebted to him. Not financially, but this whole endeavor is a big part of who I am and he helped me continue the dream.’’

The SBJ report said Ganassi officials declined comment and MWR didn't respond to inquiries. Kauffman is a respected figure in the garage area. He's been the voice of the Race Team Alliance, a grouping of all the Sprint Cup Series teams to help collaborate on NASCAR-related issues.

Michael Waltrip Racing has struggled since it was forced to downsize with the departure of longtime sponsor NAPA in 2013. The auto parts company left after the Richmond scandal involving a purposeful spin by Bowyer to get Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase.

Since then, MWR hasn't won a race. Truex won at Pocono with Furniture Row Racing in June and NAPA teamed up with Chase Elliott in the Xfinity Series. The company will also sponsor Elliott in the Cup Series in 2016 as he moves up to replace Jeff Gordon in the No. 24.

Ganassi's performance has risen in that timeframe as Jamie McMurray is in line for a Chase berth in 2015 and Kyle Larson ran well in 2014, though he's fallen short of expectations so far this season. Adding Bowyer to the team would be a boost for the two drivers and for Bowyer himself.

Bowyer finished second in the points standings in 2012 but has finished seventh and 19th in the standings in the past two seasons. He's in currently line for the Chase on points but could get knocked out if another winless driver wins a race. MWR shuffled the crew chiefs of Bowyer and teammate David Ragan earlier in the season to give them a boost.

And if the above scenario happens, the future for MWR is unknown. The team is currently hoping to re-sign Aaron's, who has been a long-time affiilate of Waltrip's. It would also need to make a decision on a driver of the No. 55, which will be piloted by Ragan for the rest of the year after Brian Vickers was sidelined with health issues.

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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: July 29, 2015, 10:00 pm

Unsecured ballast during practice at Indianapolis meant a pretty hefty fine and a suspension for Premium Motorsports.

Timmy Hill's car lost a piece of tungsten during one of Friday's practice sessions. As a result, crew chief Scott Eggleston was suspended for a race and fined $25,000. By NASCAR's penalty grading system it's a P3 penalty.

Car chief Kevin Eagle was also suspended. Both were put on probation until the end of the season and the team was penalized 15 points.

The tungsten adds weight to the car to help it reach the minimum 3,250 pound weight while empty. Unsecured tungsten can be dangerous if it falls out on the track while cars are at speed. Just look at what happened at Iowa.

The tungsten fell out of Hill's car at the exit of pit road.

It was a trying weekend for the No. 98 team, a backmarker team that doesn't have the resources of the Sprint Cup's behemoths. Hill crashed the car in Friday's last practice and the team rushed hurriedly to get the backup car, which was basically a shell car, ready to go on track. After putting in a qualifying lap on Saturday to just simply get a speed on the board, Hill finished 41st on Sunday.

Josh Wise had driven for the team until they parted ways after Kentucky.

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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: July 29, 2015, 6:47 pm

Welcome to Random Recaps, a weekly feature at From The Marbles. In this space, we'll recap a random race from the past at the track the where Sprint Cup Series is racing next.This week's race is the 1991 Miller Genuine Draft 500. And as always, Random Recap is truly random thanks to Random.org.

Rusty Wallace had the lead when the rain hit at Pocono Raceway on Sunday and got the win in his sponsor's race.

Wallace, who led 29 of the race's 179 laps, took the lead from Ernie Irvan on lap 168. He held onto the lead and was in first when the caution came out on lap 174 for rain. The race was called six laps later, 21 laps short of the scheduled 500-mile distance.

Irvan gave up the lead to Wallace because he had to pit for fuel sooner than Wallace did. His crew chief Tony Glover said he felt Irvan had a faster car than Wallace did, but the team went ahead and pitted from the lead, hoping the race would go further than it did and pit stops would cycle through. They didn't. Irvan, who led a race-high 65 laps, finished seventh.

Mark Martin finished second to Wallace. Geoffrey Bodine was third, Hut Stricklin was fourth and Sterling Marlin was fifth. Eight cars finished the race on the lead lap.

Points leader Dale Earnhardt finished 22nd, four laps off the pace. Second-place Ricky Rudd was 20th, and didn't gain much ground on Earnhardt, who now has a 140-point advantage over Rudd with 13 races to go. Both cars were involved in a big crash on the frontstretch on lap 72.

There was a rash of yellow flags during the first half of the race. 10 cautions happened in the first 103 laps, though the race went green from the caution on lap 103 until the rain hit.

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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: July 29, 2015, 2:13 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. Kyle Busch (LW: 2): Busch's run is remarkable. It'd be remarkable if he didn't miss the first 11 races of the year and it's even more noteworthy because he did. And in a system that appropriately rewards winning – we're not advocating for the F1 style, but, at the minimum, more bonus points for drivers who go to victory lane – he's in the Chase. Except he's not. But we're trying to put the whole Chase thing aside and just enjoy what's going on right now. You should too, even though we're going to ultimately view this streak in the context of the final 10 races of the season. Let's live for the present.

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2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 1): Sunday's race was summed up in the eight-to-go restart between Harvick and Busch. Because Harvick didn't have Martin Truex Jr. glued to his bumper – Truex mistimed the start – Harvick lost the top spot to Busch, who got a huge push from Joey Logano. And once Busch got out in front of Harvick, the No. 4 had no shot. Tough break for what was likely the fastest car of Sunday's race.

3. Joey Logano (LW: 4): If you get a chance to watch the final restart of Sunday's race again, pay close attention to the gap Logano and Busch get on the rest of the field. Logano was able to clear everyone else and get behind Busch while everyone from Harvick on back was two-by-two. The holes the cars cut in the air was apparent as the top two sprinted away from the field like they had gotten the invincibility star from Mario Kart. Hey, maybe invincibility stars are what NASCAR needs to add at Indianapolis to create more passing?

4. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 3): Johnson was a non-factor throughout Sunday's race. Pretty surprising, don't you think? The team was clearly concerned about something after his qualifying run in the second round. He posted the slowest time of the 12 qualifiers and the team pored over the car post-qualifying. Whatever tweaks they made didn't work out too well as Johnson finished 15th. Or he could have had a fast car and we just didn't realize it because of the lack of track position.

5. Kurt Busch (LW: 5): Busch finished eighth after starting 14th. That sounds boring, but Busch had a pretty eventful day. He had to pit a bit earlier than he wanted to on the first round of stops because of a flat tire. Strategy got him back to the front of the field and he ended up eighth. After the race, Busch said he didn't have a winning car, but eighth was worse than where he figured he'd finish. Yeah, the No. 41 team is fast.

6. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 7): The top-10 train is back on the tracks. After four weeks off the rails for repairs, Truex got his 16th top-10 finish in 20 races after finishing fourth on Sunday. He said he mistimed his push of Harvick on the third-to-last restart because he forgot to ask his spotter for help on timing out the caution. Yes "accelerating when the driver ahead of you goes" sounds easy to do, but an assist from the eyes in the sky can be invaluable.

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 6): Your last memory of Earnhardt Jr.'s Brickyard likely is of him sliding around in turn one after clipping the grass of Kasey Kahne's bumper. Junior took a higher line into the corner than Kahne did and when he got down to the bottom to blunt Kahne's run, his teammate was there and calamity ensued. But did you know that Junior ended up making up six spots after that incident and finished 22nd, ahead of Kahne and others?

8. Brad Keselowski (LW: 8): Keselowski had a fast car on Friday but didn't get that same speed on Saturday. He qualified 31st, which meant getting to the front was an exceptionally tall task. And he did get the lead of the race late, though he had to pit for fuel so it was a bit of a false lead. He did end up finishing 10th, which is still a 21-spot increase. The only driver who made up more spots was Ryan Newman. He finished a spot behind Keselowski after starting last because his qualifying time was disallowed.

9. Denny Hamlin (LW: 10): After a bashed up hood during Friday, Hamlin was likely OK with a fifth-place finish. He called passing on Sunday "excruciatingly difficult," which seems about as apt a summation as any. He also – accurately – said that anyone outside of the first two rows on the late restarts had no shot at the lead. "I felt like we had a shot at it, but you just have to restart in the first couple rows to contend for a win and really whoever comes off turn two with the lead has pretty much got it," Hamlin said. "You’re really racing towards turn two and that’s about it.”

10. Matt Kenseth (LW: 11): While Keselowski and Newman made significant gains from their starting positions, Kenseth did too. He started 23rd and finished seventh on a day where he called the aero tweaks NASCAR made "terrible." We'll see what these same rules do at Michigan. Our guess is it'll look a bit like a restrictor plate race at times, especially on restarts. 

11. Carl Edwards (LW: 12): After starting first, Edwards fell to 13th. He seemed to have one of the better cars of the day while he was up front, but much like many others in the field, he wasn't as strong in traffic. While Edwards has been stronger as of late, his likely Chase berth is overshadowing a disappointing season for him. Unless he does what Tony Stewart did in 2011 and goes on a tear to win the title.

12. Jeff Gordon (LW: 9): Gordon's final Brickyard 400 was reduced to limping around the track with a car made out of sheetmetal, tape and a lot of sweat to beat Alex Bowman and not be in last place. What a sour 22nd chapter to Gordon's Indianapolis career. Good thing he was sponsored by 3M during Sunday's race. having a taped-up 3M car is still a pretty good advertisment for the company.

Lucky Dog: Clint Bowyer. Bowyer finished sixth and sent out this tweet after the race that we can't embed for obvious reasons. But it did make us laugh.

The DNF: He finished the race, but Tony Stewart ended up 28th, the last car on the lead lap. He started fourth. Yes, his qualifying performance on Saturday was nice and made a lot of people optimistic, but Stewart has put in good qualifying performances before. It's putting in a fast race that's a struggle. The team seemed to have a decent car. It was just that its strategy ended up not being decent.

Dropped Out: None

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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: July 28, 2015, 8:04 pm

There would be no concerns for Kyle Busch's Chase eligibility if NASCAR used Formula 1's points system.

After winning his fourth race of the last five races in Sunday's Brickyard 400, Busch is tied for the Sprint Cup lead in wins with Jimmie Johnson. But he's in 32nd place in the points standings because of his absence in the first 11 races of the year after he broke his leg and foot at Daytona in February.

In the F1 format, Busch would rank ninth and ahead of such drivers as Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray.

A driver must be in the top 30 in points to be eligible for the Chase. Busch is on the fast track to the top 30 with the way he's blistering the field. But he's also potentially out of the Chase if he has a bad finish or two over the next five races and can't recover.

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NASCAR's points system awards one point to the driver that finishes last and increases by a point for each position. Drivers who lead a lap are granted a point, the driver who leads the most laps is given a point and winners are given three points extra, meaning race winners have, at most, a six point gap on the second-place finisher. Here's how F1's works.

1st: 25 points
2nd: 18 points
3rd: 15 points
4th: 12 points
5th: 10 points
6th: 8 points
7th: 6 points
8th: 4 points
9th: 2 points
10th: 1 point

Formula 1's points system is everything NASCAR brags about when it comes to its Chase format. The system appropriately rewards winning vs. other finishes and doesn't award points to drivers finishing 11th or worse. Points racing, something that NASCAR CEO Brian France has expressed his disdain for in the past, is severely lessened.

And unsurprisingly, Kevin Harvick is still dominating NASCAR with the F1 format. Here's how the standings would stack up via F1's system.

1. Kevin Harvick: 262 (1st in NASCAR's standings)
2. Jimmie Johnson: 206 (4th)
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 179 (3rd)
4. Joey Logano: 175 (2nd)
5. Martin Truex Jr.: 133 (5th)
6. Kurt Busch 124 (8th)
7. Matt Kenseth: 119 (7th)
8. Brad Keselowski: 116 (6th)
9. Kyle Busch 102 (32nd)
10. Denny Hamlin: 94 (10th)
11. Ryan Newman: 72 (12th)
12. Jeff Gordon: 59 (11th)
13. Jamie McMurray: 57 (9th)
14. Carl Edwards: 44 (16th)
15. Kasey Kahne: 42 (14th)
16. Paul Menard: 35 (13th)
17. Clint Bowyer: 35 (15th)
18. Kyle Larson: 32 (20th)
19. Greg Biffle: 19 (18th)
20. AJ Allmendinger: 14 (23rd)
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: 12 (27th)
22. Austin Dillon: 11 (19th)
23. Aric Almirola: 10 (17th)
24. David Ragan: 10 (24th)
25. Sam Hornish Jr.: 9 (25th)
26. Casey Mears: 8 (21st)
27. Danica Patrick: 8 (22nd)
28. Tony Stewart: 8 (26th)
29. Trevor Bayne: 4 (28th)
30. Justin Allgaier: 4 (30th)
31. Brett Moffitt: 4 (33rd)
32. Josh Wise: 1 (37th)

As you can see, Kyle Busch clearly has the biggest difference between systems. Everyone else is pretty much in the same spot. Aric Almirola has the second-biggest discrepancy and his is only six points positions.

Would NASCAR consider going to a format like this? We're guessing the chances are very slim and this post is simply designed as a fun exercise. The series keeps emphasizing the need for close competition – hence the Chase's elimination format – and its one-point-per position format keeps the field relatively closer together in the standings. In F1's, Hamlin has approximately 35 percent of the points that Harvick does. In NASCAR's system, he has 76 percent of Harvick's points.

But it's clear that Formula 1's format rewards successful drivers and doesn't change NASCAR's hierarchy too much. Plus, it really, really, emphasizes what the sanctioning body says it wants to spotlight: winning.

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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: July 28, 2015, 2:23 pm

INDIANAPOLIS – The lower downforce tweaks NASCAR made at Kentucky were immediately lauded by many of the drivers. The higher drag changes made for Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis did not receive the same enthusiasm.

The higher spoilers and other changes NASCAR made for the race didn't seem to have a big impact on the race. The Brickyard has always been a race where track position is pivotal. The fact didn't change with a nine-inch spoiler.

Joey Logano, who finished second to Kyle Busch, said he felt drivers had a three-lap window after restarts to make a pass. Drivers were able to make aggressive moves down the backstretch immediately after restarts before the field would start to string out.

"The draft on the straightaways, obviously, was larger for sure, but doesn't make up for what we lose in the corners so it's hard to make it happen somehow. I think we can fine-tune the package and maybe see something different, but for the most part it seemed like Indy out there to me."

Matt Kenseth was quite succinct. He finished seventh.

“It’s terrible, that’s what I think," Kenseth said. "You just can’t pass. Yeah, you can run up on the straightaway a little bit, but you can’t run through the corner with anything.”

Spoilers were increased by three inches and other changes were made to the cars to increase the draft on Indianapolis' long straightaways. The idea was that cars could catch each other and make passes before the track's narrow corners that prevent cars from going side-by-side at maximum speed.

However, the turbulence created by the draft on the straightaways was negated in the corners. The air slows down the trailing cars. And, as a side effect, the higher spoilers and bigger rear bumper covers meant the cars were hotter than normal.

"Well, it was really hot and that is part of being a driver. I can't complain because that is what I signed up for, Brad Keselowski said. "Besides that, I think we were all expecting there to be more drafting than there was. I dont think the draft was much different than last year and the penalty for being behind someone in the corner was more significant."

The lack of passing ease was evident on the race's restart with eight laps to go when Busch took the lead for the final time. He got a run past then-leader Kevin Harvick because he got a push from Joey Logano as the green flag waved. Martin Truex Jr. mistimed his push of Harvick and the No. 4 didn't have as much momentum as Busch did. Once Busch got around him, Harvick couldn't pass him back.

"We didn't see what we wanted," Truex Jr., who finished fourth, said. "They say they want a lot of drafting, a lot of pack racing. We didn't have any of that today. It was near-impossible to pass."

Busch did say there were benefits to the aerodynamic changes. But he was also speaking after visiting victory lane.

"Drafting is exciting, I would agree there is nothing more beneficial than to see a guy behind another guy gaining on him on the straightaways," Busch said. "Instead of it being a horsepower race you can make it a drag race. That's fun. But the thing that bothers us drivers is when you get to the corners you absolutely ... today for instance, when I was by myself I felt like I was a really good race car and I felt like I was the car to beat"

"But when you got back in traffic, whether you were behind a guy or behind a group of cars, you were horrible. It was just absolutely so hard to handle in traffic and it's not sometimes such a bad thing but you don't want to feel like you're going off into the corner and going to crash every time. That's the thing, you want to have some sort of security. So I think there's something to be learned from today. I'm not sure it's the right combination exactly, but I think there's some benefits to 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: July 27, 2015, 12:44 am

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INDIANAPOLIS – Even if he doesn't make the Chase, Kyle Busch's streak is one of the most impressive accomplishments in recent NASCAR memory.

The driver of the No. 18 scored his fourth win in five races in Sunday's Brickyard 400, holding off Joey Logano on a green-white-checker restart.

The four wins put Busch in a tie with Jimmie Johnson for the series lead in wins. However, Busch has run 11 fewer races than Johnson. He missed those races after breaking a leg and foot in an accident in the season-opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona.

The injury is why he's still not a lock for the Chase, though he's on pace to make it into NASCAR's postseason. Drivers must be in the top 30 of points to make the Chase and Busch is now 23 points out with six races to go before the Chase. He made up 35 points on 30th place on Sunday.

"Oh my gosh. I just can't believe this run right now," Busch said. "I can't believe what's going on ... It's really a treat to win at Indy."

Busch took the lead for the final time with eight laps to go. He was second to race leader Kevin Harvick on a restart and capitalized by hanging with Harvick into turn 1 and clearing him off turn two. Logano then passed Harvick on the next-to-last restart to set up the final challenge against Busch.

His win Sunday was also Toyota's first win at Indianapolis and the first time a non-Chevrolet driver has won at the track since Bill Elliott won in a Dodge in 2002.

Before winning at Indy, Busch won at Sonoma, Kentucky and New Hampshire. The only non-win in the stretch came at Daytona, where he recovered from hitting the wall to finish 17th.

It's natural to wonder where the last five races rank among similar streaks in NASCAR. If we're forced to rank the last five races right now, it's a five-race span that's behind Jimmie Johnson's four straight wins to seal the Chase title in 2007.

It doesn't rank with stretches like Jeff Gordon's seven wins in nine races in 1998 or Tony Stewart's five Chase wins in 2011. But let's be clear; any historical context of the ongoing run isn't official until it's over and we know if Busch makes the Chase. Currently slotting this run of Busch's behind any of those periods isn't a diss at all.

And to validate it, Busch needs to make the Chase. It's the harsh reality of NASCAR's current playoff format. If he misses the Chase, this summer swing will become overshadowed by the title drama NASCAR creates with the Chase's elimination format. And would also prove the routine boasts that "winning is everything" in NASCAR officially incorrect.

If he does make it, well, the focus will shift to Busch's performance in the Chase; an area where he's struggled. But the specter of what got him to the playoffs – considered an improbable achievement in May – will loom. And loom exceptionally large if he wins his first Sprint Cup title.

Though with five races to go before the Chase begins, Busch could have six or seven wins before the first race at Chicago. Would you be surprised if that happens? We sure wouldn'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: July 26, 2015, 11:05 pm

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INDIANAPOLIS – Jeff Gordon's hopes of a sixth Brickyard 400 win in his 22nd and final start in the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway disappeared after a crash on a lap 50 restart.

Clint Bowyer spun in turn three and Gordon was collected in the aftermath. His car spun around too and nosed the outside wall before coming to a complete stop. While it wasn't a hard hit, the damage was still fairly substantial. And with the demands placed on having an aerodynamically efficient car, a win was immediately out of the question.

"I was underneath Kasey Kahne and we were just racing for position," Gordon said in the garage while his car was being repaired. "I saw Bowyer get sideways. I don’t know what caused it. Me and Kasey were trying to check up to avoid it. I don’t know if he got loose or we just both got loose together. Then I just lost control and got in the wall.”

After his team attempted to repair the damage on pit road, Gordon was forced to go to the garage so his crew could make more substantial repairs. He returned again to the track but finished 42nd, 54 laps down.

The four-time Sprint Cup Series champion is retiring at the end of the 2015 season and moving to the broadcast booth for 2016. He became the first driver to win five Brickyard 400s with his win in 2014. He also won the first Brickyard 400 in 1994.

Though he's a California native, Gordon is a beloved figure in Indiana. His family moved to Pittsboro, Indiana, when he was a teenager to help his racing career. Pittsboro even held a parade and honored him on Thursday.

And while crashing in his final start is a cruel way to end his Indianapolis career, it's especially cruel when you consider the circumstances of the caution flag that necessitated the restart. The first yellow flag of the day was called on lap 44 when there were balloons on the backstretch.

Yes, really. The track released balloons before the green flag and apparently some of the batch meandered down to the backstretch over the first quarter of the race. And once they made it to the track, NASCAR felt the need to call a caution.

"My memories are always going to be spectacular," Gordon said after the race of Indy. "I am very upbeat about Indianapolis. Some of the greatest memories of my life are here at Indianapolis starting with the inaugural Brickyard 400. There were too many good ones that won't get overshadowed by a race like today. The whole week and weekend has been incredible.

"The parade the Speedway put on and Pittsboro, Indiana put on – that's a highlight for me that I will never forget and to follow that up with the incredible support I got when I got here to the track and today. It was amazing and I know that makes it even that much more difficult to handle when you have a poor finish like that but I can't thank the fans enough for the last 22 years."

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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: July 26, 2015, 8:46 pm

A family coming to the Indianapolis 500 is leaving with a Petty blue Ford Fusion and a year's worth of groceries.

Aric Almirola and Eckrich, his sponsor for Sunday's Brickyard 400, gave Luther and Stephani Martin a special edition 2016 Fusion painted to look like Almirola's car he'll drive on Sunday. And there was also a gift card for the groceries in the back seat.

Luther Martin is a retired staff sargeant and spent 17 years in the military before he medically retired with multiple injuries. Stephani Martin is his full-time caregiver and is part of the Operation Homefront Hearts of Valor program.

"I'm a little lost for words," Luther Martin said. "I was just told that we were coming to the race track today, but we had no idea that we were going to get a new car and free groceries.  I'm really thankful and humbled.  I can't thank Eckrich, Aric Almirola and Kroger enough for making this a great day."

Almirola, who is 15th in the points standings, starts 22nd in Sunday's race.

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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: July 26, 2015, 5:54 pm

INDIANAPOLIS – Carl Edwards has the pole for the second-straight race.

The driver of the No. 19 started first at New Hampshire last week and will lead the field to the green flag in Sunday's Brickyard 400. he posted the fastest lap of the second round of Saturday's qualifying session with a speed of 183.464 MPH.

Edwards will start alongside Joey Logano, who posted a lap of 183.139 MPH. Logano also started on the front row at New Hampshire.

David Ragan will start third, Tony Stewart will start fourth and Kyle Larson will start fifth.

Ragan was also third at New Hampshire. According to NASCAR, the last time the same drivers started 1-2-3 in consecutive weeks was in 2009. Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson did it at New Hampshire and Daytona.

But those sessions were set by points because of rain. The las time the same drivers went 1-2-3 in back-to-back weeks was in 1972. The drivers were David Pearson, Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker.

Stewart was the fastest driver in the first round of qualifying and went out last in the second session. The trackers showed him faster than Edwards through turns 1 and 2 but the advantage disappeared on the backstretch.

Stewart said his first run gave him some confidence. Will it translate to a successful Sunday? He's mired in 28th in the points standings and has one top 10 in 2015 and has shown qualifying speed at other times this season. He's been in the final round of qualifying seven of the first 19 races of 2015. His highest finish in those races is 12th.

Ryan Newman's speed was disallowed and he'll start at the back of the field via a provisional. The time was disqualified because NASCAR said he didn't have a right-side window net. Josh Wise, Jeb Burton and Reed Sorenson didn't qualify for the race.

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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: July 25, 2015, 6:50 pm

INDIANAPOLIS – Despite three practice sessions for Sunday's Brickyard 400, it's impossible to quantify just how much the higher-drag modifications to the Sprint Cup Series cars will affect the racing. It is apparent, however, that passing at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway won't magically be easy.

The cars at Indianapolis have a nine-inch spoiler (three inches higher than normal) and a larger splitter edge and bigger radiator pans. The changes were mandated by NASCAR in an effort to increase drag created by the cars. The higher drag means that, theoretically, trailing cars would have a large draft effect from the car in front of them.

The draft effect would then help facilitate passing. Which, according to Denny Hamlin, is still going to be hard to do. The fastest way around Indianapolis is single-file through the corners. While two-wide racing in the turns is feasible, it's not optimal.

"Passing will be tough to say the least," Hamlin said. "We're trying something new. I can't fault them for trying – they tried what we wanted to try and I thought we had a pretty successful race [at Kentucky] and now we're trying something different. We'll see if it's better or not. Still, here is a very tough race track. This is a one-groove race track where it's definitely been tough to pass here for 15 years or as long as I've been there. It's just going to be one of those tracks."

Cars typically don't run in close proximity during practice. Sunday's race will be the first real test of the modifications. But some teams – like Carl Edwards and his No. 19 team – tried to draft off other cars as much as possible.

And the draft does work. You can see cars catch up to the car ahead down Indianapolis' long front and back straightaways. But just because a car gets close doesn't mean it's able to pass. The draft goes away when a car pulls out to pass. The momentum gained in the draft seems to quickly go away. Or it hits its crescendo too close to a corner to make a move.

Joey Logano noted the dramatic effect of the draft Friday morning. But he also noted the potential downside of the higher drag package. The turbulent air from the car ahead negatively affects the handling of the trailing car in the corner. What the draft can give on the straights, the turbulence can take away in the corners.

"I drafted a car down the back straightaway as he was pulling in just to get closer and the amount of speed you gain as you get closer and closer to that car in front of you; and then I pulled out because he was pulling in – and when I pulled back into the air it was like putting the brakes on. It was like 'whoa.' The draft is huge," Logano said.

"What that does in the corners is going to be a different ballgame. Obviously, the hole in the air is larger, so druving the cars through the corners is going to be more challenging, but the drag down the straightaway will that overcome what the challenge is in the corner? We'll just have to wait and see. I think that's going to be an interesting part of the race."

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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: July 24, 2015, 9:04 pm

The limited visibility out of the backs of the Sprint Cup cars has been a discussion point at Indianapolis with the nine-inch spoilers. Since the spoiler is taller, drivers can see less out of their rear-view mirrors.

During Friday's second practice, Denny Hamlin not only had less visibility out the back window, he could hardly see out the front windshield of his car either.

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Hamlin's hood popped up and in front of his windshield thanks to an issue with the hood pins. The impact with his windshield busted the hood and a caution was necessary for NASCAR to pick up the debris from it.

Hamlin was able to make it back to the garage and his garage stall. His team was also able to fix the car so that he didn't have to go to a backup.

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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: July 24, 2015, 6:43 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.

Apologies for the belated Happy Hour this week. With our tour de Indianapolis (and rural Ohio), it's been a busy week.

The spoilers are nine inches tall at Indy this weekend and ... yeah, they look like fins on the back of the cars. There is a see through part of the spoilers near the top, though drivers have said they don't have much visibility through them. With spotters, the limited visibility shouldn't be an issue, but they are jarring to look at.

Maybe NASCAR should #bringbackthewing.

Let's go ahead and start with a question that you can simulate in your head about 150 different ways.

@NickBromberg Who is more likely to win next in their pro career Tony Stewart or Tiger Woods?

— Keith D (@kdesorm2) July 23, 2015

After thinking about this for a while we can convince ourselves of either answer. We're going to go with our initial instinct and say Stewart, simply because he has more opportunities to win in a given year. Tiger Woods isn't playing 36 tournaments a year.

And Woods also has to string four rounds together for a win. Stewart just needs one race. Hell, even the problems the two are having are sort of similar. Woods can play a good round of golf – Stewart can turn a fast lap in practice or qualifying – but when it comes to consistency, it simply isn't there. We like Stewart's chances a bit better. Only if it's because there are more of them.

Though we do have a sneaking suspicion Stewart could be a factor for the win on Sunday. Perhaps it's the thought of the comeback story at Indianapolis that is clouding an otherwise rational observation that the race will end up like most of the races for the No. 14 this season.

Who of the two would you pick?

@NickBromberg YEAH, WHERE WERE YOU HIDING AT ELDORA? DID YOU DUCK ME? THAT WAS TWO QUESTIONS.

— ANNOYING RACE FAN (@annoyingracefan) July 23, 2015

Our phone provider apparently does not have any towers in the Eldora Speedway area. We were incommunicado. Besides, you're hiding your face. How can you be ducked if we don't know what we're ducking from?

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So was it Brad or Joey who got ate? - John

John is referring to Sharknado, which was on during the Eldora race. From what we've read, Keselowski got eaten after a shark fell from the sky. We'll ask him how he's doing this weekend. Hopefully he's OK.

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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: July 24, 2015, 3:54 pm

Rossburg, OHIO – Eldora Speedway stays with you.

It's visible on your clothing, which looks a lot different and dirtier when you see it in a well-lit area. It's visible in the sink and shower when you look down and see the streaks of dust that have turned into mud when combined with water.

Oh, and you'll always remember the experience too.

Wednesday night's Camping World Truck race won by Christopher Bell was our first trip to the speedway. And if you're a NASCAR fan wanting to make a tour of tracks, you have to put Eldora on the list.

If you're used to frequenting tracks with local racing and lower regional or national series, the Eldora experience may not stand out extraordinarily. But when judged against the context of NASCAR races, it's certainly unique.

While Martinsville is quaint and a different experience from an intermediate track, it's still clear the entire time you're in attendance that you're at a Sprint Cup race. At Eldora, if it wasn't for the trailers behind the turn three and four grandstands with the NASCAR logo or the haulers in the infield, you wouldn't have much indication.

The grandstands on the frontstretch now have bars behind them. And by bars, we mean full-service bars that wouldn't look out of place at your local dive. The prices may be better too. Beer is $2. Shots are $3.

The main concession stands are similar to a cafeteria line. You walk in, grab what you want and pay at the cashier. The hot cheese balls are a gut bomb. But worth the roughly $2 we paid for them. And if you're not wanting the cafeteria experience, you can always get the state fair one.

And that doesn't only reference the food. Where else can you see a mower that is outfitted like a winged sprint?

The merchandise is something else too. You can buy shirts of your favorite NASCAR drivers, an Eldora t-shirt splattered with screenprinted mud or something like this if your daughter is a race fan.

When you walk up to the track and see the trucks for the first time, it's a race experience that isn't outstanding. In fact, it's almost disenchanting.

The trucks can't be driven like a car set up specifically for the dirt. They simply don't have the same consistent pitch – where drivers dive the car in to the left and steer to the right through the corner – to get into and through the corners that dirt cars utilize to go fast. The lack of pitch is visible on television, and incredibly clear in person.

It means the trucks are pretty slow. The lack of speed isn't necessarily a bad thing (especially as we talk about how to make better racing in the Cup Series), but it makes you wonder just how entertaining a race would look like.

The heat races didn't do much to change our opinion either, despite our awesome view from inside turns one and two. WIth six or seven trucks on track at a time, the races quickly got single file and we'd probably only want to watch one again.

But man, the race is a spectacle. What one truck or seven trucks can't accomplish, 32 can. Any doubts about how the race would be to watch are erased in the first few laps as you're enveloped in the dust cloud from the track. Watching trucks attempt to slide into the corners three or four-wide, only to learn it won't work time after time is mesmerizing.

(We also won't deny our laughter when this truck the first spin of the night. It felt like an appropriate analogy.)

We spent most of the evening on Brad Keselowski's radio. He too was making his dirt track debut. Listening to his learning experience helped accelerate ours. He stayed out at the first caution to inherit the lead but quickly learned how valuable new tires can be on dirt as faster trucks with fresher tires passed him with relative ease.

The battle for the lead over the race's final segment was fantastic. And we wish it could have gone green to the end. Bobby Pierce, an 18-year-old dirt-tracker making his first NASCAR start for a team that hadn't ever gotten a top-five in the Truck Series, let alone a win, was faster than Bell over the last 25 laps, even with a decklid that was hanging on just by the tethers from hitting the wall so much.

But restarts were Pierce's demise. He had radioed his crew that his transmission was getting harder to shift as the race went on and the split-second he'd lose entering turn one was always enough to prevent him from getting around Bell on the race's final two restarts.

Even if the race wasn't thrilling, the trip to rural Ohio was worth it – and we're not just saying that because we went to the Maid Rite in Greenville. Much like Martinsville, Eldora is a throwback. And not only is the Truck Series racing more entertaining there than at, say, Texas, it's a much more real and in-your-face experience too.

If NASCAR ever wanted the Truck Series to get closer to its founding roots of the mid-1990s (yeah, right), it simply needs to look at what goes on Wednesday night to see how consistenly fun the races can be.

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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: July 23, 2015, 1:50 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. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2): if only Harvick would have thrown a huge block on Kyle Busch as Busch made the move to get his lap back before the next-to-final caution. He could have won the race. But let's be real, there was no way that he realized the move Busch was making was going to be the winning pass. After all of the cries from drivers to throw a caution because of oil on the track, you can't blame them if they thought the caution was never going to fly. Harvick ended up third.

2. Kyle Busch (LW: 3): Ahead of Jimmie Johnson? Why not. Power Rankings are more about what drivers have done lately, and Busch has won three of four races and is 58 points back of 30th. But we do feel the need to douse some cold water on the Chase talk. Busch still has a ways to go to get into the top 30. Despite the run of recent form he's still only cut his points per race deficit by a third (from 12 points per race on 30th to 8). If he loses 10 points to 30th on Sunday at Indianapolis, his deficit is suddenly 68 points with six races to go and back to over 11 points per race. It's easier to fall than it is to climb.

3. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 1): A speeding penalty under green meant Johnson's day was pretty much toast from then on. He ended up finishing 22nd, the first car one lap down. Hell, if there would have been a caution before the last lap of the race, Johnson probably would have fought back and finished 15th or so. Instead, it was one of the rare races of 2015 where the race's caution flags didn't play out in favor of the No. 48. How fascinating would it be if Johnson won Sunday's race to tie Jeff Gordon with five Brickyard 400s?

4. Joey Logano (LW: 4): If the Gibbs cars have been the fastest of the two weeks, the Penske cars are a close second. After finishing second at Kentucky, Logano was fourth at New Hampshire. And since Johnson had a bad day and finished 22nd, Logano now has second place all to himself in the standings. Though he's a whopping 69 points behind Harvick. If there wasn't a Chase, the championship would be heading to a very early clinch.

5. Kurt Busch (LW: 5): Busch salvaged a top 10 out of Sunday's race. He wasn't one of the fastest cars on the track throughout the duration of the race, but he certainly wasn't in any danger of losing a lap. He was clearly the second-fastest Stewart-Haas Racing car, but it's also necessary to point out Tony Stewart finished 20th and Danica Patrick finished 24th. Busch should be a top pick for Sunday at Indy.

6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 7): Junior finished fifth at New Hampshire and now has the most top five finishes at the track without a win. In 32 career starts at the one-mile track he's got eight top fives and 15 top-10 finishes. He's finished in the top 10 four-straight times and that bodes well for the Chase race in September. If he makes it five straight he's likely moving on to the second round of the Chase.

7. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 6): It's time to panic. Truex finished outside the top 10 again. One of those statements is false. One is true. Which one is it? After finishing 12th, Truex now has 14 top 10s in 19 races after having 14 top-10s in 15 races. Truex was on an unsustainable top-10 pace, so this "slump" should be seen as nothing more than a regression to the mean. If the lack of top 10s becomes a drought before the Chase begins, then we can mention the p-word in serious terms.

8. Brad Keselowski (LW: 11): Keselowski was frustrated after the race despite his second-place finish. And do you blame him? He felt he had the best car and led 101 laps, the most of anyone. And even Kyle Busch said he had the third-best car of the day. While Keselowski is pretty much in the Chase becase of his win, a win on Sunday would have served as affirmation for the No. 2 given the circumstances of that first win.

9. Jeff Gordon (LW: 9): The Gordon tributes will be rocking at Indianapolis all weekend, especially since Gordon won in 2014. And while we mentioned the intrigue if Johnson tied Gordon on Sunday, what if Gordon won his sixth Indianapolis race in his final start to essentially clinch a Chase berth? After a season that hasn't been a fairytale farewell it'd be a crazy pivot point.

10. Denny Hamlin (LW: 8): Hamlin wasn't as fast as his teammates all day but got all the way up to fourth on the final restart of the day. He wasn't able to maintain his position after a two-tire pit stop and finished 14th. Now he's heading back to the scene of his Indianapolis crime. Or improperly fastened firewall block-off plates. Hamlin was fined 75 points for the infraction and lost then-crew chief Darian Grubb for six races. We're going to guess those plates may get triple-checked this weekend.

11. Matt Kenseth (LW: 12): Kenseth finished sixth and his career statistics at New Hampshire are basically like Junior's. Kenseth has seven top fives and 16 top-10 finishes in 31 races. Oh, and one win. Kenseth is going to stay down here all sneaky until he wins another race or two before the Chase. And then he'll still be considered a not-so-big favorite for the title and will still make the final eight. Mark it down.

12. Carl Edwards (LW: NR): Edwards' SportClips sponsorship got us thinking on Twitter on Sunday. Which sponsorship would have the lamest freebies? While everyone needs haircuts, would you really want haircuts for free given the possibilities of freebies from other sponsors? If we're ranking the sponsor swag, Jamie McMurray's Cessna sponsorship is near the top of the list. Anything involving insurance is pretty high too.

Lucky Dog: Austin Dillon's 8th-place finish was his second top 10 in three races and his third of the season.

The DNF: He finished the race, but Clint Bowyer's day wasn't exactly a good one. He ended up 34th.

Dropped Out: Jamie McMurray

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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: July 21, 2015, 4:26 pm

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Kyle Busch is on a roll. And he got his third win of the season on Sunday with a big assist from some possible oil on the track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Busch was racing behind leaders Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski as multiple drivers were radioing to NASCAR officials that there was oil on the track and that a caution flag was necessary. The calls went unheeded for a few laps and Busch split Keselowski and Harvick as the three were passing Landon Cassill into turn one on lap 251.

He drove to Harvick's inside and passed the leader as the group drove through turns one and two. The caution finally came out a short time later as the cars were on the backstretch.

The pass wasn't for the lead of the race, however. It was simply to get Busch on the lead lap. But it turned out to be the winning pass as the rest of the field headed to pit road and Busch inherited the lead.

Busch, who led 95 of the race's 301 laps, had pitted early for his final pit stop with the thought that he had a right front tire issue. As the oil calls seemed to multiply over team radios, a caution seemed more and more likely. Had it come down with Busch a lap down, he would have started at the tail end of the field. It waited just long enough.

"Luckily I got back to the lead lap before the yellow came out, but man, that saved us right there," Busch said in victory lane.

He said he didn't know if the pass he made to get back on the lead lap would turn into the pass for the win.

"Five laps, I just drove as hard as I could off pit road. I knew I needed to get those guys. They were telling me [David Gilliland] was the lucky dog [first car one lap down] spot and once I got there I was like 'OK, what else do I have to do to get back on the lead lap?'"

"I figured it was [Harvick] still, and it was and [Harvick] and [Keselowski] were really the class of the field I felt like today. Our car was a close third but ... on the long runs our front end would die and just couldn't turn."

Busch was the leader when the race restarted. He pulled away from Keselowski on the restart and built up a lead of over two seconds before Keselowski mounted a late and futile challenge that ended when a caution flag flew on the final lap.

The win still leaves Busch more than a race out of the top 30 in points. After missing the first 11 races of the season because of a broken leg and broken foot at Daytona in February, Busch still has an uphill climb to make the top 30 in the standings to get to the Chase.

But the ascent has transitioned from a rugged climb up the Rockies to a one in the Applachians.

Busch returned to the Cup Series 179 points back of 30th place. He's now 58 points out of the top 30 with seven races before the Chase. He's gone from needing to gain approximately 12 points per race on 30th place to eight.

He's still not guaranteed to make the top 30. One bad finish thanks to an engine failure or someone else's mishap could skew the average towards its original starting point. But it's become more likely that Busch will make the Chase. And if he does, he could start the postseason as high as the second seed.

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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: July 19, 2015, 9:02 pm

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Wrecking on the way out to practice is one more incident away from becoming a trend in the Sprint Cup Series.

A week after Cole Whitt and Sam Hornish Jr. made contact on the way out to the track at Kentucky, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon ran into each other in the New Hampshire garage on Saturday morning.

Cup garages aren't exactly wide open spaces, especially at a track like NHMS that's only a mile long. Bowyer was heading out to the track and Gordon was backing out of his garage stall, just like you'd back out of your driveway into your street.

So in this instance, Bowyer is the car coming down the street. And one of Gordon's crew members his rear-view mirror. The crew member was waving Gordon out and the four-time champion kept backing out. As Bowyer kept going towards the track.

Neither driver stopped in time and the right front of Bowyer's car smashed into the right rear of Gordon's.

While Bowyer was able to get back on the track for practice, Gordon's team spent the rest of the session fixing the right rear and preparing it for final practice.

The incident brings back memories of 2012, the last notable time the two drivers had a run-in on the track. Gordon retaliated against Bowyer for contact earlier in the race. The crash ruined Bowyer's title chances and the driver of the No. 15 sprinted through the Phoenix infield to get to Gordon and his team.

This was clearly an accident. We can't see this reigniting the feud.

At Kentucky, Whitt and Hornish had crumpled fenders when Whitt slammed the brakes to avoid Danica Patrick. The entrance and exit to the garages at Kentucky is the same (most tracks have a separate entrance and exit) and Whitt stopped suddenly to make sure he didn't hit Patrick. Hornish didn't stop in time and ran into the back of him.

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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: July 18, 2015, 3:31 pm

Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi, who was injured in a crash at Suzuka in 2014, has died. He was 25.

Bianchi's family made the announcement Friday evening (Saturday morning in France). He had been in a medically induced coma after suffering a severe head injury in the crash last fall.

“Jules fought right to the very end, as he always did, but today his battle came to an end,” the Bianchi family said in the statement. “The pain we feel is immense and indescribable. We wish to thank the medical staff at Nice’s CHU who looked after him with love and dedication. We also thank the staff of the General Medical Center in the Mie Prefecture (Japan) who looked after Jules immediately after the accident, as well as all the other doctors who have been involved with his care over the past months.

The October race was run in a downpour in advance of an approaching typhoon. During a caution period for Adrian Sutil's car, Bianchi's car hit an exceptionally wet patch of track. His car slid off the track and slammed into a tractor that was pulling Sutil's car to safety.

The track was under a local yellow instead of a full-course caution at the time of Bianchi's incident. A local yellow only mandates that cars slow down in a specific area. Under a full caution, cars slow down and form a line behind the safety car. The tractor was also between the track and the outside wall at the time of the crash.

Bianchi's family said he suffered a diffuse axonal injury in the crash. According to a brain and spinal cord site, 90 percent of people who suffer the type of injury never regain consciousness. His father had recently said Bianchi hadn't made any significant progress in recovering from his injuries.

The race was eventually called nine laps early because of the rainy conditions.

Bianchi drove for Marussia, a team that went defunct after the 2014 season and is now known as the Manor team in Formula 1. Bianchi scored the backmarker team's first points in 2014 at Monaco. He drove for Marussia for two seasons.

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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: July 18, 2015, 1:39 am

Joe Gibbs Racing followed up its strong run at Kentucky with a good showing in qualifying at New Hampshire.

Carl Edwards, who finished fourth Saturday night at Kentucky, will start first for Sunday's race. Joe Gibbs Racing placed its four cars in the top five at Kentucky. The lone non-JGR driver in the top five was Joey Logano, who finished second. He starts second on Sunday too.

The rest of the JGR crew qualified in the top eight. Kyle Busch, Saturday's winner, will start fourth. Denny Hamlin will start fifth and Matt Kenseth will start eighth.

David Ragan starts third while Kurt Busch will start sixth and Jimmie Johnson starts seventh.

The one driver that missed the race was Reed Sorenson.

Edwards ran a total of three green flag laps in Sunday's qualifying; one in each round. Most drivers ran two laps per qualifying run because of the minimal tire falloff at the flat one-mile track.

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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: July 17, 2015, 9:52 pm

There's intrigue surrounding the racing implications of the new rules NASCAR is trying at Indianapolis and Michigan. The sanctioning body is raising the spoilers on the back of the cars from six inches to nine in the hopes of creating larger holes in the air for trailing cars.

The bigger wake would then create a large draft effect where drivers can slingshot around one another in the straightaways, especially at Indianapolis. It's hard to pass at the Brickyard in the corners. By increasing the draft on the straightaway, there could be more passing there.

“In theory, it is," Greg Biffle said Friday. "What’s gonna be the determining factor is can you get enough of a run, let’s take four cars and put them single-file, can you get enough of a run or be close enough to that leader in the dirty air with the big spoiler, can you be close enough and get enough of a run at him around the corner for it to pay off by the end of the straightaway. 

"We all know that’s been a drafting race track, so under any rules package clear back to when I first started going there, if you didn’t feel you could get by him, you were gonna get passed by the guy behind you because the minute you pulled out and got beside him on the straightway, it punched a huge hole in the air so the guy behind you passed both of you.  We’ve seen that happen all along, so now with this being more like that, certainly if we see guys get side-by-side it’s gonna be a huge draft, so we’ll have to wait and see on the single car how that transpires.”

While the increased spoiler could create some impressive passing, Biffle also pointed out the lack of aerodynamic downforce on trailing cars in the corners.

"It really is just higher drag because it does take away a little bit of downforce," Biffle said. "I guess I thought about the nine-inch spoiler being a lot of downforce, but it does have that lip on it and it has that piece on the bumper, so it is actually a little less downforce, but high drag. What that does is it just blocks the air from the car behind you is all it does, so essentially the car behind you doesn’t have the downforce or the air on it that it does when it has a smaller spoiler, it doesn’t have all that drag effect.”

His comments note the razor blade NASCAR could be balancing on with the higher spoiler. Sure, more drafting could lead to more passing on the straightaways, but if cars lose a ton of downforce behind other cars the passing won't happen. If a car isn't able to stay close enough in the corners, there's no chance to execute a pass on the straightaway.

Biffle said he liked the rules NASCAR ran at Kentucky, where spoilers were cut 2.5 inches. The lower downforce changes (and lower turbulence for trailing cars) meant drivers could pick their own lane in the corners.

"All have to say that from the driver’s point of view, just from being behind the wheel at Kentucky, was probably one of the best races that I’ve been in in a long time because we were able to do things we couldn’t do with the car before. You weren't stuck behind that guy. You were stuck behind that guy because you always have been, but not like it was when the downforce was on it, it seemed like ...  And the speed in the corner was down just a little bit so that you could move around from lane to lane."

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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: July 17, 2015, 8:24 pm

The man who was driving the jet dryer that Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into at the 2012 Daytona 500 has died.

Duane Barnes was 55. He died Tuesday and had worked for Michigan International Speedway for 27 years. The Detroit Free Press said he died suddenly.

"Our condolences are with Duane's family and friends," Michigan International Speedway president Roger Curtis said in a statement. "Duane was a trusted, respected and most important part of our MIS family and the NASCAR community for almost 30 years, and we will miss him tremendously. We're a tight group, and I can only hope the wonderful memories of Duane will help comfort us and his family during this difficult time."

Barnes was quiet about the incident, which happened under caution during the rain-delayed race being run on a Monday evening. He was up near the wall when Montoya was hurrying to catch up to the rest of the field after being on pit road.

Something broke on Montoya's car as it entered turn three and it slammed into the jet dryer behind Barnes' truck. Both drivers able to escape their vehicles as fire engulfed the track from the leaking jet fuel and were uninjured.

The race was delayed two hours as Daytona workers cleaned up the mess and fixed the track. Had the race been called, Dave Blaney would have been the Daytona 500 winner. Matt Kenseth ended up winning the race.

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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: July 17, 2015, 6:19 pm

NASCAR's reality has a habit of being stranger than fiction at times.

For instance, if you crafted a fake story about a car's team members being allowed to work on a car while on the track during a practice session, you would have likely been laughed at and/or dismissed. But that's exactly what happened during the early moments of Friday's Sprint Cup Series practice.

Martine Truex Jr. had an apparent flat left-rear tire. So he stopped on the backstretch and pulled below the racing surface onto the apron. Practice was stopped for his issue, and instead of limping his car around to the garage or having it pushed by the wrecker, Truex simply waiting for his team to arrive.

And NASCAR acquiesced to Furniture Row Racing's desires. Crew members came out to Truex's car and changed the left rear tire. They put a placeholder tire on the car and Truex slowly drove back to the garage. All while practice continued to be stopped.

It was certainly an odd arrangement; something that we can't ever remember seeing happen during a practice session. Tire and other mechanical issues in practices aren't rare. But a team coming out on track to fix the car? That's an odd one.

We'll see if any other teams mimic the No. 78's move if and when they have practice issues in the future. NASCAR might have set an awkward precendent.

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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: July 17, 2015, 5:29 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.

The biggest NASCAR news of the week – outside of what NASCAR CEO Brian France said Monday – might have been the announcement that Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is no longer Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

We're glad we wrote this headline when we did.

The band announced they were changing their name to Jr. Jr. on Wednesday and if you haven't seen their reasoning why, you should. It includes the letter Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrote to the band when he heard of them.

If you haven't heard of the band, we recommend checking them out on YouTube. They have a distinctive sound and don't take themselves too seriously. Which is something we all need to do most of the time. Why do we say that? Well, look at this first email we got about Danica Patrick following Saturday night's race at Kentucky and her incident with Junior.

In my opinion, Danika Patrick needs to do something besides attempt to be a race car driver. She is taking up a space and not doing anything except going around the race track. GET OFF THE RACE TRACK DANIKA!!! - Cheryl

Cheryl likely clicked the email link in the post about Patrick, meaning she had just seen the correct spelling of her first name. Sigh.

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If [Earnhardt's] damn brakes didn't work why the hell didn't he pit and get them fixed! Stupid to endanger himself and others. - Vincent

Junior's team did fix them and he had been running relatively well since the repair. He just had another issue and hit Patrick. Racing is about risks, and while the points system means Junior could have just packed up and told his team to meet him at the hauler for a beer after the race, the team chose not to do so. And it's admirable.

When you're getting paid lots of money to do something you love, you want to persevere through the good times and the bad. Hell, you should want to persevere when you're not getting paid a ton of money.

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Quote from Junior after hitting Danica: "I know better than to run into her because it gets so much attention."  Clearly this would have been less of a deal if Junior had run into Stenhouse instead.  Are drivers extra-careful around Danica so they don't get negative media attention?  Has this helped Danica's on-track performance, even if just a little? - Craig

Highly doubtful. You're not doing your job as a driver if you're taking it easy on certain drivers because of media attention. And given that Patrick has been in a fair amount of incidents in her NASCAR career, it's tough to say she has been driven delicately by other drivers.

We just loved Junior's awareness after the crash. You knew he immediately was like "Crap, this is gonna be a headliner" when the incident happened and we give him a lot of credit for that. When you're in a position of power you can totally lack self-awareness. Or at least pretend that you do. Those two sentences certainly don't apply to Junior and others in NASCAR can learn from that example.

@NickBromberg With the racing being somewhat better this past week, how will the new tire package help when they get it together?

— Lorne Cammack (@AGGIEcam) July 16, 2015

Saturday night's race was fun. It's why it was, uh, interesting to see France list the reasons how it could have been improved. We anticipated muted crowing from NASCAR given the success of the race. And while France did say NASCAR liked the race, his comments about what he wanted to see more were, as we said, head-scratching. Here's what we wrote Tuesday. Pack racing and drafting and Kentucky don't make much sense.

The Southern 500 should be a good race too; and that's imperative for the perceived success of the new rules. It can drag on. It's just incredibly tough to run side-by-side at Darlington in the corners even if NASCAR has a softer tire for the race. We're anticipating drivers really getting runs off the corners to either complete passes exiting the turns or set passes up for the entry into the corners. And if Kentucky is any indication, lots of Darlington stripes and cautions.

@NickBromberg Sports desert last 2 days. Should 1)Indy&Cup from Iowa race the 2 days, 2)Ky move to these 2 days, or 3)Eldora move up a week?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) July 16, 2015

Brad Keselowski advocated for a mid-week race and we've talked about how much we like the idea before. It needs to happen and why not on Wednesday or Thursday night after the All-Star Race? Wednesday's television competition was either the ESPYs or the Gold Cup and since NASCAR is no longer on ESPN, competing with the worldwide leader isn't a problem.

Seizing the barren sports landscape should be imperative for a sport that once thought it could take on the NFL. It's still the top Sunday alternative to the league in the fall and will serve as an important lead-in to Sunday Night Football on NBC. But it's not pulling NFL TV numbers.

We're good with either of the first two options. Eldora on Indianapolis week makes too much sense for logistical reasons. It's about two hours from Indy. And w're so excited to be there in a week. We're just disappointed that there's no sports car racing at Indianapolis this year. Last year we attended the two sports car races, ARCA, Xfinity and the Brickyard. This year we were hoping to make it six races. We'll have to settle for four.

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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: July 16, 2015, 9:07 pm

Welcome to Random Recaps, a weekly feature at From The Marbles. In this space, we'll recap a random race from the past at the track the where Sprint Cup Series is racing next.This week's race is the 2005 New England 300. And as always, Random Recap is truly random thanks to Random.org.

Tony Stewart dominated Sunday's race at New Hampshire for his third win in the last four races.

Stewart led 232 of the race's 300 laps after starting 13th and was almost unchallengeable at times. The closest anyone got to swiping the win away from him was Kurt Busch after the race's final restart.

The race went green on lap 240 for the final time and Busch took advantage of a challenge from his brother, Kyle Busch. Kyle restarted second and dove to the inside of Stewart as the two raced off into turn one. As Kyle tried the inside line, Kurt tried the outside and pulled even for second down the backstretch.

Kurt Busch then drove around Stewart on the outside to take the lead in the next set of corners. Busch's lead was short-lived however. It lasted six laps before Stewart drove by and pulled away and held on for a win by just under a second.

Stewart won three weeks ago at Sonoma and then led 151 of the race's 160 laps two weeks back at Daytona. At Chicago he "slumped" to a fifth-place finish.

The midseason run has moved him to third in the points standings. He's gained seven spots in the standings over the past four races.

Kyle Busch fell to fourth over the race's final run as he was passed by Bobby Labonte. Greg Biffle finished fifth. Points leader Jimmie Johnson finished 13th.

Epilogue: Stewart went on to win five races in seven weeks, one of the greatest stretches in the last 15 years of the Cup Series. Especially when you consider how much he dominated at Daytona, New Hampshire and Watkins Glen. The five wins were his only wins of the season, though he won the 2005 Chase thanks to eight top-10 finishes in 10 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: July 15, 2015, 5:39 pm

Tony Stewart's disappointment with the way his 2015 season has unfolded was evident on Tuesday.

The three-time Sprint Cup Series champion was on NASCAR's weekly teleconference in advance of next week's Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora, the dirt track he owns. While the Eldora race is cause for celebration for Stewart, he's also 28th in the points standings through the first 18 races of the season.

Any joy about Eldora is muted by the way he's been running in 2015, and Stewart said the optimism he had entering the season has wavered as his team has struggled.

"You know, I wish I could say, No, it didn't," Stewart did. "But it did. I mean, the whole year's been frustrating.  You know, it just seems like everywhere we go, we seem to fight the same balance.  That's the part that's been frustrating for the whole 14 car."

"We're trying a ton of things and just can't seem to find anything that moves the needle and seems to make significant change.  Just seems like the further we go into the year, the more frustrating that gets, too."

The previous three races could have been a perfect turning point for Stewart. He's won twice at Sonoma, four times in the Daytona summer race and it reasoned he'd perform well at Kentucky with the lower downforce package. Stewart has not adapted well to the 2015 rules configurations.

He finished 12th at Sonoma and 14th at Daytona. Kentucky was a disaster. He hit the wall and ended up 33rd. 

"Well, I think honestly I'm not sure I'm the best judge of it," Stewart said of the Kentucky rules. "We're fighting the handling of our car so bad right now that I'm not sure I'm a real good judge of it."

"You know, it was a pretty considerable change package‑wise going into this weekend. Balance‑wise my car didn't change. I think there's guys that could tell you a lot more accurately about what the feel of it was better than I could at this point because we weren't close enough to getting our car driving good to really understand it."

NASCAR chairman Brian France said the sanctioning body liked what it saw at Kentucky but was also looking for more. Stewart said he thought the driver's council, which has helped streamline communication between drivers and NASCAR (and perhaps help spur changes like we saw at Kentucky), is something he's never seen. And that he'd like to see France there.

"It was all right to walk in the trailer and give [NASCAR officials] an idea, and that's as far as it always went," Stewart said. "Now you're actually having meetings, working hand‑in‑hand with NASCAR. I think that's something that I've never seen in this sport, which to me is really exciting as a driver and owner. I think it's great.

"So, you know, as far as the flipside of that, I really don't know what the answer is for that. But, I mean, I definitely think that seeing NASCAR's involvement on the more personal side, I'd love to see Brian France show up at some of these council meetings and stuff, but I'm sure he's busy."

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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: July 14, 2015, 10:26 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): Johnson keeps the top spot because he finished ninth, or one spot behind his closest pursuer in the rankings. If you expected more out of the No. 48 car over the weekend, you're not alone. And if the Cup Series decides to go towards the Kentucky rules for the Chase, do Johnson's chances take a hit? Eh, not really. Dude finished ninth and you know Chad Knaus would figure it out sooner rather than later if it became the new normal for the Chase.

2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2): Same with Harvick's crew chief, Rodney Childers. Two of the best drivers in the sport have two of the best crew chiefs. Harvick's car has fast for most of the day on Saturday but didn't have the same speed as the leaders at the end of the race. We're also not going to lie, we found it amusing when Harvick was talking about how bad his car was while running in the top 10. That's when you know life is going pretty well.

3. Kyle Busch (LW: 7): Speaking of things going well; this guy is one of a select few in the Cup Series with multiple wins. And his rate of wins per race is better than Johnson, who has four wins. If Busch keeps it up, he's going to make the Chase. Well, he's likely going to make the Chase. He's still in a precarious position. One poor finish can seriously slow this run to the top 30. Two? He's done. But hey, we've now got a dramatic summer storyline to watch before the Chase begins.

4. Joey Logano (LW: 6): Hey, here's the driver now tied for second in the points standings after finishing second at Kentucky in the midst of the Joe Gibbs Racing brigade. Logano did about all he could to hold off Kyle Busch at the end of the race but Busch was simply faster. That was evident in the ease with which Busch pulled away from the No. 22 after taking the lead.

5. Kurt Busch (LW: 4): Kurt Busch was fast, then he was crashing and then he was fast again. He went from spin to top 10, fighting back over the last half of the race to finish 10th. Busch is currently 8th in the standings, but remember, he missed three races. Based off his points pace, he'd be in second if he had run the entire season. That fickle Stewart-Haas team. The two highest-scoring drivers per race, and then the struggling No. 10 and No. 14 cars.

6. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 5): We're still calling this a blip in the radar. In the last three races, Truex has gone from second to fifth in the standings. But remember, it's gone road course, plate race and new rules. Right now we're thinking the No. 78 team's best shot is if the 2015 rules stay the same for the Chase. The team has done a great job to excel with the current setups. Would they be able to adapt as quickly as other teams if the rules change for the Chase?

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 3): No brakes. No brakes. No brakes! And a mad Danica Patrick. Earnhardt Jr. is one of the most self-aware drivers in the garage and given his post-race comments, you knew he was thinking immediately about the attention his crash with Patrick was going to garner. We're thinking we should have gone with the headline "Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. crashed at Kentucky and you won't believe what happened next." Bonanza.

8. Denny Hamlin (LW: 11): Heck of a recovery for Hamlin, who pitted because of a tire issue under green and then got a speeding penalty on top of it. He was two laps down after the problems and thanks to some well-timed cautions (well, a lot of cautions) he got the laps back and fought his way back to third. Is it fair to credit the new rules with Hamlin's ability to make his way through the field? Possibly. But the number of cautions may have had more to do with it than the new aerodynamics.

9. Jeff Gordon (LW: 10): Will Gordon win a race what's likely the final 18 races of his career? We're thinking he will. He finished seventh on Saturday night and wasn't ready to give the new aerodynamic package a glowing review just yet. "I think we have to give it a try somewhere… we’ve got to get the right tires on it," Gordon said. "This is not the right tire. It is still way too hard.  It doesn’t have near enough grip at the beginning of a run. It doesn’t really fall off. The only way you can make a low downforce package work is to have the proper tire on there. I’m glad we tried it, did a little more work, I’m looking forward to trying it again."

10. Jamie McMurray (LW: 12): McMurray's race was also derailed by a pit road issue. His team didn't get all the lugnuts tight on the first pit stop of the night and McMurray had to come back to pit road. He restarted deep in the field but was able to get back to the top 20 in relatively short order. He ended up finishing 14th, one spot behind Trevor Bayne. Yes, that Trevor Bayne.

11. Brad Keselowski (LW: NR): Keselowski led 62 laps Saturday night. Those laps just were all in the first 124 laps of the race. As the sun went down, Kyle Busch got faster while Keselowski scraped the wall. Did the wall scrape slow the car enough to prevent it from challenging for the lead late in the race? Keselowski said afterwards that he "probably" had the best car. He ended up finishing sixth.

12. Matt Kenseth (LW: NR): Welcome back to Power Rankings, Flatline. His fifth-place finish was his highest at a 1.5-mile track since ... well, since he finished 4th at the last one. Kenseth has finished fifth, ninth, 23rd, sixth, fourth and fifth at the 1.5-mile tracks in the first half of the season. Not a terrible average. No matter what the rules are for the Chase, he should be formidable enough to be among the drivers in the final eight.

Lucky Dog: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s 11th-place finish was his second-highest of the season.

The DNF: Yeah, that fickle SHR team. It's a tie between Patrick and Stewart.

Dropped out: Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne

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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: July 14, 2015, 9:36 pm

It's fair to say Saturday night was the most entertaining of the five Sprint Cup Series races at Kentucky Speedway. While the 13 lead changes was only third-most in the track's Cup history, the number of green flag passes increased more than two-fold over 2014.

The second stat is a telling one. The race featured a record 11 caution flags. Green flag pass numbers are typically inflated by rounds of green flag pit stops and long stretches of caution-free racing. Need an example? The 2012 spring race at Texas Motor Speedway, a forgettable race with two cautions, had 2,797 green flag passes. The 2014 fall race – you know, the one with Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon's kerfuffle – had 2,592 passes and 13 caution flags.

Monday, NASCAR chairman Brian France said the sanctioning body liked the early returns of the lower-downforce rules the teams ran at Kentucky. The cars had smaller splitter leading edges and spoliers, meaning drivers were forced to slow down more in the corners with the goal of creating more passing opportunities.

"It looked like there was more passing, there’s no question about that," France said on SiriusXM. "Cars were harder to drive; you saw some additional cautions as a result of that. And there’s a little bit of that possibly with not having a lot of practice time but they were slip-sliding a little more. And so therefore you saw more cautions and you saw more passing.

"But our mission and you’ve heard me say it many times, we want the cars as close as possible. We want as many lead changes as possible and most importantly we want the drivers that have got the talent and their teams, their talent and hard work take them as far as they can and have a real shot."

We're not surprised that France liked the race, and we're also not surprised he wanted more lead changes. Not long after the race was over we were assuming the lack of lead changes in an otherwise intriguing race would be a point of emphasis afterwards. But the other points of his assessment of how NASCAR wants to improve the good things it saw at Kentucky are a bit head scratching.

NASCAR has touted how close its teams are for a number of years. Those times are reflected on the practice and qualifying sheets, where thousandths of a second can separate cars. But it's imperative to remember that cars can only make a pass when there's a difference in speed. If two cars are going the same speed, passing is nearly impossible.

Heck, the closeness of competition so far in 2015 under the previous rules was an impetus for what NASCAR tried at Kentucky. Since drivers had very little time off the throttle and were going the same speeds, passing was, well, really hard.

Not long after France talked about how close his company wants its competitors, he emphasized it again. And then again.

"And we’re going to try some things coming up here in Indy where we’ll go the other way," France said of the higher drag package the sanctioning body will try in two weeks at the Brickyard. "And I’ll tell you what we didn’t see [at Kentucky] that we’d like to see more of, is more drafting. We didn’t see as much of that as we would have liked. And more pack racing, we saw that on the restarts but not quite as much."

The reason teams weren't able to draft at Kentucky probably has to do with the lower downforce. With a smaller spoiler, cars weren't poking large holes through the air, minimizing the draft effect the car behind could get. And as we've seen with the normal six-inch spoiler, cars can't get too close to one another because of the turbulent air coming off the car ahead.

One race is not a very large sample size. We're fully aware of that. But it sure seems like drafting and the Kentucky rules package don't go together.

Drafting will work at Indianapolis, where the spoilers will be higher. Since cars two-and-three wide in the corners at Indy isn't recommended, the higher drag package makes sense. Promoting passing on the straightaways should help competition. Michigan, the track where it's also being used, is a good litmus test to see if higher draft is mutually exclusive with less side-by-side racing in the corners.

But at most tracks, sustained pack racing is, well, unsustainable. If drivers are forced to manipulate the throttle in the corners at intermediate tracks – something that many advocate for – cars will likely be going different speeds. And passing each other.

In a pack, most everyone is going the same speed, similar to the normal 2015 rules package.

It looks like NASCAR hit on a good thing at Kentucky, and striving to improve it incrementally is admirable. And it may be on to something for Indianapolis and other flat tracks too. But there's a risk in trying too hard to find a white whale that likely doesn't exist.

Can cars be kept as close together as possible while also freely able to pass each other, almost at will? It's doubtful. The sweet spot is probably a compromise between passing ability and the proximity of the entire field to each other. Hopefully France and NASCAR realize that. Sometimes really good can be plenty great enough.

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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: July 14, 2015, 3:51 pm

Is there a fierce rivalry brewing between two of NASCAR's most popular drivers?

No, there isn't. The NASCAR internet is in no danger of breaking anytime soon. But yes, it's true. Danica Patrick did crash on Saturday night at Kentucky after Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran into her.

Here's the video proof.

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How did it happen? Well, the answer is pretty simple. Earnhardt Jr. had been struggling with a brake issue throughout the evening. The problem made slowing down in the corners a challenge; so much of one that he even hit the wall to bring out a caution flag earlier in the race.

His entry into the corner before hitting Patrick looked very similar to his previous single-car incident though Patrick had very little empathy immediately after the incident.

Danica Patrick radios team to tell Dale Earnhardt Jr. to "go f*** yourself." #NASCAR

— Jordan Bianchi (@Jordan_Bianchi) July 12, 2015

Danica is still not happy and has a suggestion for Dale Jr.: "Pick another lane, maybe."

— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) July 12, 2015

She also showed her displeasure with Junior by bumping him as the two pulled onto pit road after the accident.

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After the race, Junior explained what happened during the incident with Patrick and apologized. He was also completely aware of the NASCAR headlines he created with the crash.

"[The brakes] got worse and worse and worse and I probably shouldn’t have been racing as hard as I was when we ran into the back of Danica," Junior said. "But I went into that corner and mashed the brakes to the floor. I pumped it three times all the way to the floor and then ran into her.  There wasn’t anything I could do. It sucks. I don’t like running into Danica because it gets a little too much attention, but I’m sorry for that.

Junior finished 21st while Patrick finished 34th.

Will Patrick race Junior a little harder the next time the two are near each other as payback? Possibly. But given that Junior didn't run into her on purpose, we'll be incredibly surprised if it goes any further than that.

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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: July 12, 2015, 4:00 am

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Kyle Busch made a big leap towards the top 30 in points Saturday night at Kentucky as NASCAR hopes it made a big leap in improving the competition at intermediate tracks.

While Busch led over 160 of the race's 267 laps en route to the win, the racing throughout the entirety of the evening could not be considered boring, even by the most pessimistic of NASCAR fans. In NASCAR's first race with a new rules set that took away downforce from the cars, there was ample passing in the pack as drivers were sliding around and searching for grip.

It's Busch's second win of 2015 in his seventh start of the season. He entered the race 128 points behind Cole Whitt, the driver in 30th place in the points standings. He's now 87 points back of Whitt with eight races to go for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

With two wins, Busch is guaranteed a berth in the Chase ... if he's in the top 30. When Busch returned to Cup Series competition after suffering a broken leg and broken foot at Daytona in February, NASCAR waived the requirement that he start every race to be eligible for the Chase. But it didn't waive the rule that a driver must be in the top 30 to be Chase eligible.

At 87 points back, Busch now has to average a 17th-place finish over the next eight races to catch Whitt. It's a vast improvement over the 11th-place finish he needed with 11 races remaining before the Chase. Two wins in three races will do that.

To get the win, Busch needed to pass Joey Logano for the lead with less than 20 laps to go. Busch stalked Logano for a few laps and on his second try, passed the Daytona 500 champion for good. Following the pass, Logano had no answer for Busch, who drove away.

"I know I won, but so far so good, I like the new aero package obviously," Busch said. "It just seemed like you weren't stuck. Logano kind of moved up and blocked my lane and with the old package you kind of just get stalled out and you'd get stuck behind him. This one here I could kind of move around – I went back to the bottom and made a move on him to pass him low."

Logano was also the lone non-Joe Gibbs Racing car in the top five. Denny Hamlin finished third while Carl Edwards was fourth and Matt Kenseth was fifth.

The battle between Busch and Logano was one of the few fierce battles for the lead all evening. As has been usual in the Sprint Cup Series so far in 2015, especially at intermediate tracks like 1.5-mile Kentucky, the leader of the race was able to get far enough away from the rest of the field to keep any challengers at bay.

But while the leaders, mainly Busch and also Brad Keselowski in the early stages of the race, were largely unchallenged, drivers throughout the rest of the field kept each other company. As the groove widened out, drivers in the middle of the pack were able to size each other up for passing opportunities. And, most importantly, complete them.

The lack of downforce on the cars meant drivers were forced to manage the throttle more throughout the corners of the track. And while the pedal-wrestling drivers were likely doing may not have been apparent to many viewers at home, the ability of cars to run close to each others' bumpers was. Drivers were able to follow each other closely for more than just a split second to make a pass. With the larger spoilers and other previous rules, literal nose-to-tail racing was few and far between.

Since NASCAR's announcement of different rules for Saturday night's race, the race was a highly anticipated event. And while the results certainly looked encouraging, the anticipation also bears mention. Was the racing really that much better than it's been at similar type tracks so far in 2015? Or was it better because observers wanted it to be better after hearing how good racing with less downforce could be, namely from many of the Cup Series' top drivers?

It's a fair question. And one that may not have a clear-cut answer. Did the restarts after a track-record 11 caution flags help to increase passing opportunities? Those caution flags certainly helped keep cars on the lead lap. At one point past halfway, 36 cars were on the same lap as the leader thanks to the wave-around rule.

But if the answer is foggy, the magic 8 ball at least said "the outlook is good" rather than "reply hazy, try again." NASCAR undoubtedly would like more passing for the lead. But it can't be unhappy with what it saw otherwise. And heck, some of those 11 cautions were for actual crashes, a sometimes rare sight at intermediate tracks in recent memory.

The next time we'll see this rules set is at Darlington in September. And by then, NASCAR will have had the opportunity to try an even different set of tweaks at Indianapolis and Michigan. Are track-specific rules combinations the wave of the NASCAR future? If Saturday night is a harbinger of things to come, we're betting heavily they are.

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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: July 12, 2015, 3:24 am

Kyle Larson is on the pole for Saturday night's race at Kentucky.

Qualifying scheduled for Friday afternoon was canceled so Larson gets the top spot because he posted the fastest speed in Friday's practice session. Well, the portion of Friday's practice that happened because of rain. Part of the session was washed out.

Brad Keselowski was second followed by Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr.

Ryan Blaney, Michael McDowell and Travis Kvapil miss the race. The field was set by practice speeds and provisionals are determined by race attempts. Those three drivers' teams have the fewest attempts. Since qualifying was rained out at Daytona, Blaney and McDowell have miss two straight races because of the rule.

If the weather permits, NASCAR would like to hold an additional practice before Friday night's Xfinity Series race. The Cup Series is racing with a new rules package that decreases the downforce on the cars. NASCAR cited the early cancellation of qualifying and the desire to get in another practice session "in the best interest of safety and putting on the best possible event we can here at Kentucky Speedway."

The stance is a departure from 24 hours earler. Thursday, NASCAR ran the Camping World Truck Series race without any practice or qualifying and the field featured many drivers who had never turned a lap a the track. The race also featured – an event not related to the number of rookes – a nasty crash involving Ben Kennedy's truck getting into the catchfence.

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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: July 10, 2015, 6:37 pm

As NASCAR starts the process of putting together different rules for specific types of tracks, it can count Brad Keselowski as a fan of the initiative.

The Sprint Cup Series is running a lower downforce package for Saturday night's race at Kentucky. The cars have smaller splitters and spoilers. At Indianapolis and Michigan, the cars will have bigger leading edges of the splitters and larger spoilers to increase the drag and promote passing on the straightaways.

"I’m in that camp and on that team that says that’s what’s gonna take our sport to the next level as far as the quality of racing is concerned is developing genre-specific packages for the tracks with the realization that when the Car of Tomorrow and the Generation 6 car came out, I think it was designed to perform at a higher level at the plate tracks and, in some way, whether it was intentional or not, the road courses and we’ve seen the road course races and the plate tracks in that time – the last seven or eight years – kind of turn into some of what I think most of the industry and its fans would recognize as the best racing our sport has to offer right now," Keselowski said.

Road course races have certainly become must-see TV in the Cup Series. The races at Watkins Glen have been some of the most memorable in recent NASCAR history. And while many people can debate the authenticity of pack racing at Daytona and Talladega, there's no arguing that it's incredibly tense.

But NASCAR has been searching for the right combination at intermediate tracks, the tracks that dominate the schedule. Restrictor plate and road course races are only six of the season's 36 races.

Keselowski has won two of the last three races at Kentucky. He's confident about his chances of three in four, even with the new rules. While he has a win at California earlier in the season

"I look at it as one of those places that we kind of circle on the calendar for our team," Keselowski said. "I saw something pretty interesting that this is the last mile-and-a-half before the Chase starts.  That just really hit me hard because to win the championship you have to win the mile-and-a-halves. The championship is the mile-and-a-halves. Literally, the last race is a mile-and-a-half. Every bracket has a mile-and-a-half in it.  If you’re going to win the championship, you have to win the mile-and-a-halves and this is the last one before the Chase.

"Whoever is strong here this weekend, this is really their last chance to work and evolve into a spec or an iteration for their team to showcase strengths for what’s gonna count in a championship stretch. So I think that hit me really hard and, for that reason, we’re looking for some really big things out of the 2 car 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: July 10, 2015, 3:33 pm

Less than a week after Austin Dillon's car flew into the catchfence at Daytona International Speedway, Ben Kennedy's truck hit the catchfence at Kentucky Speedway.

In the late laps of Thursday night's Camping World Truck Series race at Kentucky, Kennedy moved up in front of another truck. He said he heard he was clear on his radio. He was not. His truck got turned head-on into the wall.

As he hit the wall, Kennedy was t-boned by John Wes Townley. The impact lifted his truck off the ground and spun it around. The rear of the truck caught the catchfence above the wall, tearing a hole in the fence.

Kennedy, the nephew of NASCAR chairman Brian France, was able to walk from his mangled truck and was visibly shaken up in a television interview after the accident.

"Thank the good Lord for keeping me safe and everything NASCAR does to keep these trucks safe because had this been years ago I don't know if I would have gotten out of my truck under my own power like that," Kennedy said. "It's pretty incredible."

"I was just coming down the front straightaway and I heard 'clear' and I guess [David Gilliland] had a run on the outside. As soon as I heard 'clear' I wanted to get a good arc into the corner so I ran up towards the wall and got hit in the right rear and I guess the rest is history."

While fans gathered at the scene of the accident following the crash, no fans were visible on replay in the vicinity when the crash happened. The track's president said no debris went into the stands.

The race was called with five laps to go and Matt Crafton, leading at the time of the accident, was declared the winner. A repair to the fence was estimated at over 90 minutes by NASCAR, too long to fix for five laps of racing.

While the incidents involving Kennedy and Dillon look similar, it's important to note they come at two different types of tracks and are precipitated by different circumstances. Daytona typically involves big packs of cars and is 2.5 miles long. Kentucky has lower banking and is 1.5 miles in length, though speeds aren't much slower, especially for the Truck Series.

While Dillon's car flew over two lanes of traffic before hitting the fence, Kennedy's truck appears to have gotten airborne because of the scale of the head-on impact into the wall.

The wall was not covered in SAFER barrier, a wall that has foam insulation for energy absorption. It was a bare concrete wall like the wall Kyle Busch hit at Daytona where he suffered a broken foot and a broken leg in February. The impact from the wall appeared to have lifted Kennedy's rear tires off the ground before he was hit by Townley, making it very easy to lift the truck into the air and into the catchfence.

But despite the lack of obvious connections between the two crashes, it's still a disturbing coincidence for NASCAR.

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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: July 10, 2015, 2:26 am

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.

Hello Kentucky week. Who has high expectations for the low-downforce package NASCAR is running Saturday night. Show of hands time. Y'all that have your hands up? Put them down.

No, we're not pessimistic about what we'll see Saturday night. It's just that we're not sure expectations are a wise idea. Hell, many fans may not see a discernible difference in race quality at all. But it doesn't mean it wasn't a successful race.

Kentucky can be a hard place for drivers to pass because of the bumps. Remember that Jeff Gordon quote we referenced from the first race there in 2011? Saturday night isn't going to miraculously become a race that resembles a restrictor plate track. The racing will probably largely look the same. Restarts will still be important. But if drivers are really getting off the throttle more in the corners, there should be more movement throughout the field.

Just don't get any concrete ideas of what you hope to expect.

Before we talk more Kentucky, we've got to reflect on Daytona. Let's do that now....

It's boring racing. Like watching a 200 mph traffic jam. Only thing of interest is waiting for the inevitable crashes. I'd rather watch demolition derby. Put the racing back in NASCAR. - Michael

There have been many references to how Austin Dillon's crash on Monday morning overshadowed a great race. Was it really a great race?

It wasn't a bad race or a boring race, but if we take away the crash for a moment (yeah, it's hard to do), what's memorable about the race outside of the fact that Dale Earnhardt Jr. won?

Sure, it was a step up from Talladega, but Talladega was a snoozer. A footrace between all 43 NASCAR drivers would be better than that (make it happen, NASCAR).

Our reasoning? Restrictor plate racing is currently like NASCAR's points system. Falling backwards hurts more than going forward does.

It's incredibly hard for a driver to make up a ton of spots by playing the draft perfectly. And the toughness of the passing means that drivers don't want to risk an aggressive move because they can easily go from 15th to 30th in the blink of an eye. There's much less downside to staying in 12th than there is in pulling out of line and going for a position or two.

It's why Kurt Busch's run from 12th to 5th in the final two laps was so remarkable. It was one of the rare times a driver was able to charge forward from within the pack.

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NASCAR racing is a volunteer business. Those drivers have volunteered to race. Racing a car at close to 200 mph inches apart is dangerous, we all know that. However, they have chosen to do this. When something like Austin's wreck happens, drivers come out and complain about the dangers of plate racing. The best analogy I can think of about a dangerous job which involves a much greater risk than racing on a plate track, is being shot off the deck of an aircraft carrier. Those pilots volunteer to do that and they know the risks. They, however, don't complain if something happens to one of them and a pilot goes in the drink. To sum it up, if these drivers don't like plate racing, they should step out of the car when NASCAR goes to Daytona or Talladega. - Sean

Just because people sign up for a dangerous activity doesn't mean anything and everything shouldn't be done to make it as safe as possible. NASCAR realizes that.

And anyway, the comparison is weak on numerous levels. For instance, pilots aren't in a sport and interviewed by media on a weekly basis where there's an opportunity to hear the safety concerns of their job. Having concerns about your own survival is simply human.

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First, I realize it could be terrifying to have that crash happen let alone be in it. But when you go to Talladega/Daytona, wrecks are expected. My husband and I went to a race many years ago and (not guaranteed) vaguely remember something on the tickets about the track not being responsible for injury. So why are these people getting a lawyer to pay for their expenses. Frankly, don't get seats in 'dangerous' areas. Second, in this day and age why do they not have insurance, especially with Obamacare in place? I don't remember the outcome of the lawsuit when Kyle Larson flipped into the fence but that is just wrong. People are just sue happy. - Jenny

Jenny's email references the post from Wednesday about the two fans injured in Austin Dillon's crash.

We're not sure how this is an instance of "sue happy." Sure, we believe that everyone should have health insurance, but for any number of factors (including cost) there are a lot of Americans without coverage. They are not alone. And if they're truly asking for Daytona to pay for their medical costs and not a giant sum that also encompasses "mental anguish" or a related term, do you blame them?

The language on the back of your ticket isn't binding. And think about it for a second; if you were injured from debris in a crash like that, wouldn't you retain a lawyer to protect your rights? Case in point: the track settled claims with nine fans after Larson's crash.

@NickBromberg I HOPE FOR AN EXCITING RACE. DO YOU THINK IT WILL RAIN? IF SO, DO THEY RACE AT 11:30 PM AGAIN?

— ANNOYING RACE FAN (@annoyingracefan) July 9, 2015

Thursday night's Truck race could, uh, be exciting. Because of rain, the trucks are set to start the race with no practice or qualifying. That certainly benefits the big teams but man, it could be a wild first few laps as drivers figure out how hard they can push it.

And talking about rain at Kentucky seems cruel. But maybe we can make middle of the night NASCAR a thing? Just minus the large wrecks aspect of it.

OK, no, let's not make middle of the night NASCAR a thing. Or at least schedule it way in advance. We were a wreck on Monday. Those of you who stayed up for the race and staggered into work on Monday have our appreciation and empathy.

@NickBromberg Guess Ky is now a "wildcard races" Sat., at the 🏁 the high $ teams are favs, right? Anyone find David Spade in Daytona yet?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) July 9, 2015

Oh, we don't think there will be a new winner Saturday night. Or if there is, it's going to be from a driver who is already near the top of the standings.

While a new rules package can lead to a surprise, the teams with the most resources are usually the quickest to adapt. We're thinking Brad Keselowski wins his third Kentucky race. That team hasn't been incredibly fast recently and the change could be a spark for them.

And man, David Spade. He was set to give the command but didn't stick around for the race. He pulled a Kate Upton. She was scheduled to give the command at the 2012 Daytona 500 but didn't stay in Daytona after the race was rain delayed. She missed the jet dryer incident because of it. Hopefully she regrets her decision.

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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: July 9, 2015, 10:21 pm

A woman hit by debris from Austin Dillon's car in the nasty last-lap crash during the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona Monday morning said she wondered as Dillon's car was flying into the fence if it was the end of her life.

Five fans were treated for minor injuries after the wreck. Pieces of Dillon's car flew towards the grandstands after his car flew into the catchfence after being hit by Denny Hamlin's car.

From ESPN:

"The car hit the fence, and I thought it was going to come right through the fence," Cindy Meyers said. "I thought that was the end of my life when it was coming. ... I'm glad me and my son are alive and whoever else might have got hurt in there."

Meyers, 58, was at the race with her 32-year-old son. She said she was hit primarily in the shoulder with debris and knocked to the ground. She and her son are bruised and she told ESPN he took a piece of metal out of his tongue on Tuesday.

They were two of the four fans treated at Daytona's infield care center. One fan was taken to Halifax Health and released a short time later.

"It was just a boom," Meyers said. "Stuff just flew like a tidal wave, a big part of the fence came down and stuff was flying everywhere.

"I didn't know if we were going to die, if that car was coming through that whole fence or what. I was mostly fearing I wasn't going to be alive anymore. It was a terrifying experience."

The two have retained an attorney who represented fans injured in the 2013 Xfinity Series crash involving Kyle Larson's car flying into the catchfence and are requesting the speedway pay for their healthcare costs. They do not have insurance.

Over 20 fans were injured when Larson's car hit the catchfence.

The crash happened in front of a newly-remodeled section of grandstands at Daytona. The track is in the midst of a reconstruction project and part of the renovations include new grandstands that are situated further from the track. It appeared via replays of the crash that much of the debris from Dillon's car didn't make it to the grandstands.

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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: July 8, 2015, 6:32 pm

Welcome to Random Recaps, a weekly feature at From The Marbles. In this space, we'll recap a random race from the past at the track the where Sprint Cup Series is racing next. There have only been four races at Kentucky, so there wasn't much to choose from. This week's race is the 2011 Quaker State 500, the first Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky. And as always, Random Recap is truly random thanks to Random.org.

Kyle Busch is the first Sprint Cup Series winner at Kentucky.

Busch led the last 11 laps of the race and survived a two-lap sprint to the finish after Clint Bowyer's crash with five laps to go. Bowyer cut a tire in turn two and slammed the wall.

Busch, who led a race-high 125 laps, chose the high line over second-place Jimmie Johnson and pulled away off turn two on the penultimate lap. Johnson didn't get a chance to challenge after that.

David Reutimann finished second as Johnson fell to third on the final lap. Reutimann had the lead for seven laps before he was passed by Busch on lap 257.

The win also gives Busch the points lead over Carl Edwards by four. Edwards, who entered the race with a five point lead over Busch, finished fifth.

There isn't much else to write about the race, either. It was kind of a snoozer. Jeff Gordon said it was extremely hard to pass on the track's bumpy surface.

Bruton Smith, the chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., the company that owns the track, said an estimated 15,000 fans didn't make the race because of heavy traffic that marred the track's Cup Series debut.

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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: July 8, 2015, 3:39 pm

Sprint Cup Series cars will have more drag at Indianapolis and Michigan this summer.

Cars at the Brickyard 400 and the August Michigan race will have a higher spoiler than has been the norm in 2015. The spoilers on the cars will be nine inches (currently six) and the cars will have a one inch wicker with bigger radiator pans and leading edges of the splitters.

The goal of the higher spoiler and other tweaks is to allow trailing cars to gain a speed advantage over the car ahead, especially on the straightaways. Turbulent air from a car ahead, especially if it isn't far in front, can make the trailing car slower in the corners.

"When you look at a lot of the data, and obviously you see it play out on the racetrack, but the belief is that the second-place car, if they're lined up maybe two, three, four, five, could have a five-mile-an-hour difference between the leader," NASCAR vice president Steve O'Donnell said. "As an example, if you came out of Turn 2 and you had a four-car-length lead, it's the belief that second and third, if they hooked up, could head into Turn 3 up on the bumper of the leader and potentially have kind of that – more that slingshot that you used to see and the ability to pass. A lot of that we've got to see in the real world once we're out there at Indy, but that's the effect we believe it'll have."

O'Donnell later added on Twitter that lap speeds at both tracks could drop about 10 miles per hour.

At Indianapolis especially, the ability for cars to pass on the straightaways is imperative. Cars are unable to go through the corners two-wide at anywhere close to the pace of a car by itself. Kasey Kahne might have had a faster car than Jeff Gordon at the end of last year's race, but once Gordon beat Kahne on a restart and got out front, Kahne was not able to make a charge.

Drivers and teams also played the race backwards. With track position being of the utmost importance, teams pitted as early as possible to make it to the finish so they could make up spots on strategy.

The Indy and Michigan tweaks are much different than the rules changes NASCAR is making for Saturday night's race at Kentucky. The spoilers, splitter edges and radiator pans are smaller than normal. The goal of the tweaks for Kentucky are to reduce the downforce on the cars. The lack of downforce should slow corner speeds, meaning more time off the gas for drivers and, theoretically, more passing.

The Kentucky configuration will also be used at Darlington over Labor Day weekend. Will we see an appreciable difference in racing in a few days? We're anxious to find out.

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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: July 8, 2015, 1:28 am

Austin Dillon started looking at videos of his crash not long after he emerged from the infield care center on Monday morning.

Dillon's car launched into the catchfence at the end of the rain-delayed Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. After making contact with Denny Hamlin's car, Dillon's car flew over two lanes of cars and slammed into the fence above the wall. Five fans were treated for minor injuries from his car, which came to rest upside down between the track and pit road.

Dillon said Tuesday his groin and tailbone are sore, but that he doesn't have a headache from the crash. He started to watch the videos of his crash after he showered following the race and the severity of the wreck became apparent when he talked to his brother Ty, who drives in the Xfinity Series.

"I watched a lot of videos, and just watching it in live speed, it is violent looking," Dillon said. "It's a wicked crash. When you see the fence just – the thing just blows apart. But for me, I think it kind of set in when I got to talk to my brother. He wasn't  after the race, I already got into the infield care center, I was pretty much fine. I wasn't shaken, and I was just kind of telling my parents, I'm okay, I'm okay, and talking to them. You could see how upset they were, and I hadn't seen the real footage of the wreck. I knew it was bad but I didn't know how bad.

"When I talked to my brother ... it was another level because he was upset, and hearing him on the phone upset was  it was like, man, I'm going to have to watch this, because he's a tough guy, and to hear him be upset about it and worried about me, it was like, all right, I need to look at this wreck, and I did, and you can see where a guy watching it from home not knowing how I was and the pit crew kind of running out to the car, it was pretty dramatic right there for 30 seconds, 38 seconds or so."

A broken radio cord added to the drama after the race. As crew members from various teams rushed towards Dillon's car to see if he was OK, his team was radioing him and asking him if he was OK. But Dillon's radio was not working. He could hear his crew but they couldn't hear them.

"And then also, the worst part for family members is you want to let them know you're okay after a wreck through the radio because they're listening, and the radio cord had ripped or something had ripped to make it ... The steering wheel had done its job, it kind of had released and was up in the roof. I grabbed it and pulled it back to me and keyed the mic to let them know I was okay, but they weren't able to hear anything. ... I was saying I'm okay, I'm okay, but it wasn't going through, and I could hear in their voice how scared they were, and they were saying, 'Talk to me, Buddy, talk to me,' and I couldn't respond to them. So that was a time for them I'm sure it was just painful because they didn't know how good I was. Luckily the guys had gotten there fast enough, gave everybody the thumbs up to let them know that I was fine."

NASCAR vice president Steve O'Donnell said the sanctioning body would not punish the crew members who exited their pits to rush to Dillon's aid but would like to talk to them about the incident. Cars were still coming towards the finish line after the accident as Dillon's car came to a rest following the incident.

Four of the fans treated for minor injuries from debris from Dillon's car were treated on-site at Daytona. One fan was taken to the hospital and released a short time later.

"I think we need to, and we can [prevent cars from flying in the air in crashes]," Dillon said. "And that's why I said that they've taken the car to NASCAR and they'll look at the car and figure out ways to keep them on the ground. I think we're trying to keep them from getting in the air, and we'll do what we can.

The way the racing is set up now ... it breeds these kind of wrecks. It's three-wide pack racing, and at Daytona it's tighter than Talladega, there's less room. I think if you're at Talladega, this wreck might not happen because it's a little bit wider. But it's just a part of the racing that we're in right now.

I think we can do things to help slow down some of the wrecks and might keep us from catching air, but we'll just have to see the direction that NASCAR goes, and maybe they'll ask the drivers their opinions, and we can give them a good opinion to kind of go together to make the racing still stay the same. I feel like we can create good racing because up until that wreck we had some really good racing Monday morning, but I think the wreck kind of tarnished a great race."

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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: July 7, 2015, 4:39 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): It was like Talladega all over again. And likely because people's attendtion was divided at the finish, there aren't the same ridiculous cries that Johnson allowed Earnhardt Jr. to win the race. Did Johnson have one of the two best cars like his crew chief, Chad Knaus, said at the end of the race? Probably. But let's be real here, Johnson was No. 2 in that group and Knaus likely knew it.

was the right call to stay out. He was simply damned no matter what happened.

2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2): The craziness of that finish-line crash means a lot of its participants finished in the top 10. Including Harvick, who finished fourth despite a very crumpled up front end of his car. And it also meant that Outback Steakhouse once again gave away free Bloomin' Onions because of Harvick's top 10. With five more top-10 finishes, Harvick ties his number of them from last year. And we're not even halfway through the season.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 6): That car was a beast. An absolute beast. And you've got to think it's coming back for the Chase race at Talladega, the site where Junior's Chase chances disappeared in 2014. While nothing is guaranteed at plate tracks, it's a massive confidence boost to not only go to a track where you've won earlier in the year but to have a car that can pull away from the pack by a couple car lengths on each restart. And in case you wanted to hear it, here's Junior's in-car audio after Austin Dillon's crash. You can see why he said it was terrifying.

4. Kurt Busch (LW: 4): Passing in the pack is not exactly easy with this restrictor plate package. It's why you see so many drivers fall to the back when they attempt to jump out of line to make a pass. Preventing yourself from getting passed has much more upside than going for a pass does. What is that leading us into? The run that Kurt Busch had during the final two laps of the race. After restarting 12th, Busch was a bull and had a massive run through the middle lane. He got himself all the way up to fifth. If you watch the final two laps again, pay attention to Busch's car.

5. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 3): What, Truex's run of top-10 finishes was unustainable? We are stunned. Stunned. After 14 finishes inside the top 10 in the first 15 races, Truex has been involved in two crashes. Yes, this is a slight course correction, and we're not inclined to think it's much more than that. Road course and restrictor plate racing can be random and we're fully expecting Truex to be near the front at Kentucky.

6. Kyle Busch (LW: 7): After hitting the wall early in the race it was easy to think Busch's Chase hopes disappeared too. The car was pretty torn up and Busch can ill-afford to finish outside the top 20 for the rest of the summer. He didn't at Daytona. His team worked like crazy to fix the car and with some helpful cautions he fought back for a 17th-place finish. Daytona could be the point where Busch was thrown a helpful Chase life preserver.

7. Joey Logano (LW: 5): Logano finished 22nd, which is a much higher finish than you'd think he'd get after being involved in the lap three crash. The front end of his car was a mangled mess. Hell, he finished on the lead lap too, which may be even more impressive. He got back on the lead lap because of David Ragan's spin with 12 laps to go and is still in fourth in the standings.

8. Ryan Newman (LW: 12): Newman was quick to show his disdain with restrictor plate racing once again after Monday morning's crash. And he finished inside the top-10 too, so they weren't words after a 35th-place finish. While we can't endorse what Newman said, we can understand his frustration after seeing a teammate's car fly into the air and get torn to smithereens.

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9. Kasey Kahne (LW: 9): Kahne was part of the four-car Hendrick brigade that ran up front for the early stages of the race. He just was the only member of the Hendrick brigade that didn't finish in the top 10. He was involved in a crash after he and Matt Kenseth made contact and Kahne ended up finishing 32nd. And were we the only ones who had a hard time remembering the orange and blue paint scheme was Kahne's?

10. Jeff Gordon (LW: NR): After finishing sixth, Gordon is 10th in the points standings, a point behind Matt Kenseth for ninth. Barring a massive slide there is little doubt Gordon will miss the Chase. However, it's hard to think that simply "making the Chase" is the goal for Gordon. We think the team is good enough to claw to the third round of the Chase at the moment but it's going to need some improvement to get to the final four.

11. Denny Hamlin (LW: NR): After a crappy week at Sonoma, Hamlin's race ended in a crash. But he crossed the finish line in third. Hamlin was the first driver to go spinning in the massive crash at the finish. He was battling Johnson for second and appeared to drift towards Johnson in an attempt to side-draft the 48. And as he did that, he was getting a push from Kevin Harvick. The off-center push sent Hamlin's car towards the infield and the wreck was on.

12. Jamie McMurray (LW: 10): McMurray salvaged a top-15 finish out of the race and stayed in sixth-place in the standings. Seriously, he's having the quietest good season in NASCAR. That's what happens when you're the only driver in the top nine without a win, apparently. Maybe McDonald's should start giving away free fries for every McMurray top 10. Someone could do a NASCAR version of SuperSize Me and eat at McDonald's and Outback every week and see how much weight they gain. Any takers?

Lucky Dog: Austin Dillon, for obvious reasons.

The DNF: Man, David Gilliland qualified in the top 10 and the race just disappeared on lap 3.

Dropped Out: Matt Kenseth, 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: July 7, 2015, 3:26 pm

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Austin Dillon's car was catapulted into the catchfence in the Daytona International Speedway trioval during a massive crash at the end of Sunday night's Coke Zero 400 as Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race.

One fan was taken to the hospital after it appeared some debris from Dillon's car flew into the grandstands.

Junior crossed the finish line ahead of a massive pack of cars typical of any restrictor plate race. Denny Hamlin got turned around behind Junior and chaos ensued. Dillon's car got launched from the inside line of the track over two lanes of cars and into the catchfence, where it hit bottom-side first, going from nearly 200 mph to zero in an instant.

According to Daytona president Joie Chitwood, eight fans declined treatment in the grandstands following the crash. The person taken to the hospital was treated and released from Halifax Health early Monday morning.

13 fans looked at in stands, 8 declined care, 4 treated here, 1 taken to hospital stable

— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) July 6, 2015

Fan treated and released from Halifax Health Medical Center.

— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) July 6, 2015

Replays showed debris from Dillon's car making it through the catchfence towards the grandstands. Dillon walked away from the crash and waved to the crowd. He was released from the infield care center afterwards and said he had a bruised tailbone and forearm.

“I am just going to be really sore," Dillon said. "It got my tailbone pretty good and my arm. Should be fine, just go ice it up and get ready for Kentucky. But just thank the good Lord for taking care of me and for what NASCAR has done to make the sport this much safer. I just hope everybody in the stands is all right. That is the next biggest concern. Just praying for everybody and glad the good Lord looked out for me tonight.”

Here's what the crash looked like from the stands.

"That scared the hell out of me," Junior said. "I'll be honest with you. I saw the whole thing happen. I was looking in the mirror the whole last lap and I saw [Hamlin] get turned, I guess that's how it started.

"That was just terrifying to watch. You know a wreck like that has a high potential for someone to get injured and you saw the car get high and into the fence and you just worry about everyone else in the grandstands and you just don't want to see that happen."

Jimmie Johnson said he was fearing the worst after watching the crash in his mirror.

.@JimmieJohnson: "I'm shocked that Austin Dillon's even alive after all he went through. I expected the worse." #nascar

— Nate Ryan (@nateryan) July 6, 2015

Daytona is in the midst of a massive reconstruction project. Part of the project is a remodeling of the grandstands. The portion of stands where Dillon's crash occurred is a completed section of the remodel, with the seats situated further from the track than the old configuration. Replays appeared to show most of the debris from Dillon's car not making it into the grandstands.

The impact tore an incredibly large hole in the catch fence and ripped the engine block from Dillon's car. The engine sat in the infield of the track smoldering after the crash. All that was left of Dillon's car was the roll cage encapsulating the cockpit and it came to rest upside down at the end of pit road after being hit by Brad Keselowski's car.

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The crash was very similar to one in the Xfinity Series in 2013 when Kyle Larson's car flew into the catchfence near the finish line. Over 20 fans were injured from crash debris.

The crash will again put the focus on racing safety following the race at the same track where Kyle Busch broke a leg and a foot in February.

Is it conceivable to have a catchfence design that doesn't tear cars apart like a can opener? Is there a way to modify the racing at restrictor plate races to prevent cars from getting airborne so easily? The situation could have resulted in more injuries.

Junior had the race's dominant car. He led the most laps and his car was able to consistently drive away from the field by a couple car lengths on every restart. The finish of the race was set up by a spin by Sam Hornish Jr. and Earnhardt was able to easily hold off Hamlin and teammate Johnson.

It's Earnhardt's second win of the season. He won in May at Talladega.

Sunday's race was delayed over three hours by rain and finished after 2:30 a.m. ET Monday.

__________________

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: July 6, 2015, 6:59 am

Sunday's Coke Zero 400 was delayed over three hours because of rain. When it finally got going before 11 p.m. ET, it didn't take long for the first big crash to hit.

David Gilliland cut down in front of Clint Bowyer on lap three. He wasn't clear of Bowyer and went spinning off Bowyer's bumper. As drivers behind the two checked up, chaos ensued.

Your browser does not support iframes. Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano was involved as his car was damaged heavily. He was ordered back to pit road after the race went back green because the splitter was dragging on the track.

Another big crash struck with more than 50 laps to go in eerily similar circumstances when Matt Kenseth cut in front of Kasey Kahne and spun as he moved towards the inside.

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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: July 6, 2015, 5:40 am

A Saturday afternoon thunderstorm in the vicinity of Daytona Beach meant Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start first in Sunday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Qualifying ended up being cancelled and the grid was set by the speeds in Friday's first practice session. Junior was fastest. So he's got the pole.

He's joined on the front row by Austin Dillon, who won the pole for the 2014 Daytona 500. The rest of the top five is comprised of Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and Trevor Bayne.

The session was set to be the first time NASCAR used its new single-car qualifying format at Daytona. After pole qualifying for the 2015 Daytona 500 included drafting and crashes, NASCAR tweaked the qualifying format.

Cars are released one-by-one from pit road at an interval that doesn't allow them to draft. Each qualifier gets one full lap to post a speed. The top 12 cars then repeat the process for a second round and the fastest car in that round gets the pole.

Michael McDowell and Ryan Blaney will miss Sunday's race. Both drivers are running part-time schedules and were at the bottom of the qualifying cancellation hierarchy because of their limited number of race attempts.

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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: July 4, 2015, 10:30 pm

Brad Keselowski made contact with Kyle Busch in turn 2 during the first practice for Sunday's Coke Zero 400. A crash started from there.

Busch collected other cars including Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. Here's how it happened.

Your browser does not support iframes. Busch wasn't too happy that Keselowski got away from the crash without being involved heavily. Busch and Keselowski aren't exactly on friendly terms. Remember, Keselowski once called Busch an "ass" at driver intros in Bristol when their rivalry was at its hottest. Your browser does not support iframes. Keselowski said the wreck "stinks." Your browser does not support iframes. Since the crash happened on Friday and qualifying is on Saturday, drivers going to backup cars will not have to start at the back of the pack. If a driver qualifies the backup car, he or she can keep the starting spot earned.

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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: July 3, 2015, 10:59 pm

The 2014 Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series banquets were held at Donald Trump's Doral resort in Miami. The banquets will be at a different location in 2015.

Following controversial comments by the business mogul and (again) presidential candidate, a NASCAR spokesperson said Friday that the sport would look for a different spot for the banquets.

Via Alan Cavanna's Facebook page.

"Everything weighs in. We started talking about this early in the week. Given all the attention brought to this matter and how it impacts our partners, sponsors, our teams and our drivers and certainly ourselves, it ultimately was a decision made today that we will not being going back there."

The media event before the final race of the 2014 Chase was also at the Trump National Doral.

Trump's comments in his presidential campaign publicity blitz about immigrants from Mexico have hurt his businesses. NBC has dropped his Miss Universe pageant and Macy's has also pulled his clothing line from its shelves.

“When Mexico sends its people they aren't sending their best,” Trump said at his June presidential event, “They are bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they are rapists and some are good people but I speak to border guards and they tell us what we're getting.”

He has continued the sentiments in recent interviews.

Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, called Trump's  characterizations "disgusting and offensive."

Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World, the title sponsor of NASCAR's third-tier series, said Friday in a public letter to NASCAR and chairman Brian France that he would not be attending any NASCAR events at any of Trump's properties.

Last year, our NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Awards Ceremony was held at the Trump National Doral in Miami, and due to recent and ongoing blatantly bigoted and racist comments from Donald Trump in regards to immigrants of the United States, I would like to inform you that I will not, nor will any representative of Camping World, participate or attend in the ceremonial event if it is held at any Trump property.  Our company will not stand to support any person or organization that associates with such beliefs and we feel strongly about distancing ourselves from any negative and discriminatory comments made against any gender, ethnicity, age group or so forth. I would hope that the entire NASCAR organization would agree with my sentiments.

Trump has polled as high as second in some Republican presidential polls. Is his momentum sustainable? Given the business backlash, we're betting heavily it's not.

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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: July 3, 2015, 10:22 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 has not been a slow week in terms of feedback.

The role of the Confederate flag in NASCAR has generated a lot of responses from y'all. So has Wednesday's post about Fox and NBC. We'l start with the main course, which is the flag. Then we'll move on to the side dish, television, and dessert later.

Let's get to it. And, as always, these emails are not edited unless absolutely necessary.

Do you really think Nascar fans give a rip about if they're "in favor" with Nascar or not when they fly the Stars & Bars? damn yankee, go cover curling - Mike

Well, we'd imagine so, especially if it means race attendance is at stake. For clarity's sake, Mike wrote this email before NASCAR tracks issued Thursday's statement asking fans not to bring Confederate flags to the track. But really, is a Confederate flag worth potentially having a conflict with track personnel and/or getting kicked out of a race you're attending?

Hell no, it's not. By openly disregarding NASCAR's request you're not standing up for something. You're being a defiant idiot risking a lot for very little.

And by the way, we live in SEC country and cover college football and NASCAR. If we're a yankee, we ain't much of one.

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The outcry over this iconic flag has surpassed the ridiculous. The "politically correctness" in this great nation of ours is slowly destroying America. Since its inception NASCAR has honored its beginnings in the South. Never before has this flag been vilified as a symbol of oppression as it is today, and all over one persons evil deed. Our Southern Heritage is a part of this country, and a very large part of NASCAR. If people would really seek truth before lashing out against something out of this outcry would never exist ... Freedom of expression is fast becoming a thing of the past. If you and I cannot say what we believe in America, without being labeled, America as a country will cease to exist. This applies to everyone's views. We are all entitled to a viewpoint, and if it is in opposition to another persons viewpoint , that is freedom of expression. - James

So the fading away of a battle flag associated with a group of states that fought to ... wait for it ... secede from the United States is ruining the United States? The idea of being exceptionally proud of the Confederate flag to the point of not understanding its shortcomings in the eyes of others while espousing it as an American virtue seems difficult to mesh together. But we're also not trying to rationalize those thoughts on a regular basis.

Besides, what is this "truth" that we're seeking. That many, many, many people see the flag as a symbol of a horrible period in our nation's country? Our nation has evolved a great deal in its existence and will continue to do so. You can either adapt with the times or get left behind.

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Mr. France is a moron,jumping on a bandwagon with another moron, Mr Obama. a lot of people lost there lives fighting for this flag. to use it as an excuse because one nutcase took some innocent lives is [garbage]. I could go on,but i’m sure it won’t make a differance. all everyone does is coddle him or her,give them what they want,we’re getting to be a country full of [pansies]. - Dan

Ah, you knew there had to be a President Obama reference coming, right? The people who lost their lives fighting for this flag were fighting to secede from the country. Yes, many people are descendants of members of the Confederacy. But not being able to display your flag is not a request to disown your heritage. It's simply a request of social awareness. And it's also highly entertaining to see the offense when people are offended by something. 

So many people only think being offended only matters if they're the ones offended.

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Does NASCAR not fear that no one will show up for said events? The way I understand it is a lot of folks will be tuning out from TV,and track attendance will be minimal. Having said that, I am a season ticket holder at Kentucky Speedway. And I for one am on the verge of throwing them in the garbage. I cannot stomach the fact that NASCAR is going to bend to this type of political correctness. And if I do show up I will surely be flying an ISIS Flag just because!!! To show everyone the extent of from which NASCAR'S beliefs lye. I for one am appalled by NASCAR'S decision to ban it and censorship of free citizens. - Anthony

None of this email makes sense. None. There have been no public boycotts (that we've seen, anyway) of NASCAR races before the request made Thursday. Have there been any public boycotts to stop watching NASCAR now that the request was made? If so, we can't imagine they'll be very big.

It's imperative to note that this is not a free speech issue in the slightest. Tracks and other sporting events ban guns from the property. No one screams about the Second Amendment being violated. Private business can do what they want. The First Amendment is about the government and freedom of expresssion. This can't be emphasized enough, because there's a massive tendency among those who cite the First Amendment as a defense to not know just what the hell the First Amendment actually is.

While we don't encourage bringing an ISIS flag to the race at Kentucky, we can't stop wondering just all of the things that could go wrong if it happened.

TV time!

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I disagree on NBC.  Did you have brain failure about their 1st Nascar run???  They were HORRIBLE!!!!!!!!! Nothing they did was interesting or made for good racing broadcasts!! That ESPN Pit Crew guy who was the host 1st time around was a BOMB!! OMG, they were awful! I am baffled you think they will be any good! Burton, good guy but he was not anyone I looked forward to hearing from on the side shows he has done. Latarte, he never offered anything worth listening to as Gordon or Earnhardt's crew chief.- Joe

Judging NBC by what happened eight years ago is a bit harsh. No one in the booth then is currently employed by the network now. And judging Steve Letarte by crew chief soundbites is foolish and premature.

We'll fully admit that we're probably guilty of building the anticipation to NBC, but it's important to not have too high of expectations. We're just to the point where it won't take much to be better than a Fox telecast of the Cup Series.

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Your remarks about Michael Waltrip ! He is a fresh breath to nascar . He loves the sports it shows on every day !
Micheal spilling a taco hell you don't think the fans can't relate to that ! He off the wall a clown at times but he inspires fans ! My wife loves the guy ! Our favorite phrase is his clowning around redneck style and he takes it all the way to the bank ! - John

You think Michael Waltrip uses Scope or Listerine? Hell, if he used a name brand mouthwash we'd probably already know via sponsor mentions, right? Maybe he uses the Kirkland stuff and buys it three-at-a-time at Costco.

To each their own. Tacos and Sprint Cup cars always go together.

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Thanks for the article about Fox/NBC. What a waste of paper. Why don't you write about something you know about? - Jim

Jim must have printed out our post to read when he had an opportunity. We love you, people who print internet articles.

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I wanted to troll those NASCAR fans out there that STILL can't get over Toyota running in the sport. The Toyota Camry has officially passed the Ford F-150 as the vehicle with the highest percentage of US sourced parts. - Darrell

Darrell don't lie. We've been telling the Toyota-haters that their slams were untrue for years.

@NickBromberg A great read about TV. That being said, what is the TV priority Sunday in the Bromberg mancave, #USWNT or #NASCARonNBC ?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) July 2, 2015

Days like Sunday are why we have four televisions in the basement. We're just happy the Women's World Cup will have a 45-minute head start on the race.

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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: July 2, 2015, 8:46 pm

NASCAR tracks issued a statement Thursday requesting that fans "refrain" from displays of the Confederate flag while attending races.

The statement signed by 30 tracks, including the tracks owned by International Speedway Corporation and Speedway Motorsports Inc., is as follows:

“As members of the NASCAR industry, we join NASCAR in the desire to make our events among the most fan-friendly, welcoming environments in all of sports and entertainment.

“To do that, we are asking our fans and partners to join us in a renewed effort to create an all-inclusive, even more welcoming atmosphere for all who attend our events. This will include the request to refrain from displaying the Confederate Flag at our facilities and NASCAR events.

“We are committed to providing a welcoming atmosphere free of offensive symbols. This is an opportunity for NASCAR Nation to demonstrate its sense of mutual respect and acceptance for all who attend our events while collectively sharing the tremendous experience of NASCAR racing.”

A NASCAR spokesperson said the request would pertain to "overt displays" of the Confederate flag. If you're a fan wanting to bring in a 15-foot Confederate flag to fly on track property while at a race or are planning to use the symbol as a way to make a boisterous statement, you're likely going to be asked to not do so and possibly escorted out of the track premises.

The statement from NASCAR's tracks is a continuation of the theme started by NASCAR chairman Brian France last week. In an interview with the Associated Press, France said he wanted the flag eliminated from NASCAR events.

After France's comments, it was clear that the sport with strong southern roots preferred fans to not loudly display Confederate symbols. Thursday's statement makes it even more obvious, though we'll freely admit the request's success hinges more on fans making the (smart) decision not to display the flag than it does on tracks' ability to find offenders.

Daytona International Speedway, site of Sunday's race, is hosting a Confederate flag exchange program for any fan who wants to turn in his or her Confederate flag for an American flag. The spokesperson said the program could be extended to other tracks as well.

The sport does not sell any officially-licensed merchandise with the Confederate flag symbol and previously said it supported the effort to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds at the South Carolina Capitol.

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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: July 2, 2015, 3:30 pm

Hello glory, goodbye strife. We now have NASCAR on NBC in our life.

Apologies for the trite adaptation of a line from NBC's commercials promoting its NASCAR coverage. But given Fox's coverage of NASCAR throughout the 2015 season, there's perhaps no more appropriate way to describe the switch from Fox to NBC for NASCAR.

Starting with Sunday's Coke Zero 400, the remainder of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series schedule will be on NBC and NBC Sports Network. The race at Sonoma was Fox's final race of the season and capped a year that was incredibly disjointed and, frankly, embarrassing at times for the network that has had NASCAR rights since 2001.

Fox built its NASCAR brand on Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip, its two race analysts who have been a staple since the beginning. But throughout Fox's 15 years of broadcasting, it's become clear that the two are further and further from their days in prominent race team roles.

Waltrip is back in the booth next season along with Jeff Gordon, who has provided some keen insight in his guest appearances on Xfinity races. McReynolds – while you can complain he was a shill for NASCAR, he was a regular sight in the Sprint Cup garage – isn't. He's being moved to a different role within Fox's coverage. And his sendoff on Fox at Sonoma was a brilliant example of the network's muddled coverage in 2015.

As McReynolds was fighting back tears and embraced Waltrip and play-by-play broadcaster Mike Joy following Sunday's race, the production awkwardly and abuptly cut from the booth without much of an opportunity for McReynolds to reminisce on his time calling races with his two friends. The broadcast was seemingly unable to figure out how to address McReynolds' move to a lesser role within the telecasts despite having months to prepare for the moment.

The seeming lack of production communication was nothing new. The abiliity to match up what Fox's broadcasters were exclaiming about on screen with the pictures provided to viewers tailed off precipitously in 2015. Like at Sonoma when Fox cut to an in-track camera at the top of turn two that shows viewers very little while Waltrip exclaimed to fans to watch how close and intense the side-by-side racing would be on the restart.

Oh, and there's the other Waltrip too. While we understand how Michael Waltrip's faux-enthusiasm could make network executives' hearts tingle, he provides nothing to the broadcast but embarrassment. The "grid walk" is an impotent exercise in stupidity. The contrived hokiness is neither informative or entertaining. Imagine trying to get to your non-NASCAR watching friends to watch NASCAR after they watched the grid walk. They'd laugh at you and go find something better to do.

But Fox apparently likes it. Why else would there be an official YouTube video of Waltrip spilling a taco on Denny Hamlin's car?

And don't get us started on the fake objectivity Michael Waltrip tries to maintain. A vast, vast majority of viewers know he owns two cars in the race. The broadcast's effort to pretend that Waltrip is an unbiased observer is pathetic. Following Martin Truex Jr.'s win at Pocono, there was a golden opportunity for Chris Myers to ask Michael Waltrip some honest questions about his feelings seeing Truex go to victory lane for the first time since his awkward departure from Waltrip's team in 2013.

Instead, Waltrip commented only indirectly as the broadcast mentioned the circumstances of his departure from Michael Waltrip Racing. If NBC has been paying attention throughout Fox's segment of the season, we hope it has a lengthy list of what not to do when covering the sport for the remainder of the season.

NBC, broadcasting NASCAR for the first time since 2006, has done a fantastic job with its Formula 1 and IndyCar broadcasts. The race broadcasts are the magical combination of being entertaining and informative, mostly because you can tell the analysts are prepared. Plus, they're showing legitimate enthusiasm while pointing out the exciting moments on track rather than trying to manufacture them.

Hopefully NBC's NASCAR broadcasts hit the same notes. The network is following the the same formula Fox did with a former crew chief (Steve Letarte) and driver (Jeff Burton) in the booth. But it's hard to see either person delve into kitschy analysis in lieu of researched thought. While we know there will undoubtedly be some kinks to work out early, there's no reason NBC's broadcast of the Coke Zero 400 shouldn't immediately be a step up from the first 16 races.

We can't decide what we have more excitement for on Sunday night; the race broadcast or the race itself. We enjoy being treated like adults and educated during sports telecasts; the entertainment should come mostly from the action by the sport's participants. If NBC's current motorsports coverage is the standard, it's going to be a highly enjoyable cap to the July 4th 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: July 1, 2015, 4:26 pm

Welcome to Random Recaps, a weekly feature at From The Marbles. In this space, we'll recap a random race from the past at the track the where Sprint Cup Series is racing next. This week's race is the 2004 Daytona 500. And as always, Random Recap is truly random thanks to Random.org.

The final laps of the Daytona 500 came down to a one-on-one battle between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart. Junior won out.

The son of NASCAR's seven-time champion got his first Daytona 500 win by beating the 2002 Winston Cup champion.

Junior took the lead from Stewart for the last 20 laps and while Stewart was able to make multiple charges, sometimes with an assist from Kurt Busch, a lapped car, he wasn't able to clear Junior, who had a gap of nearly three-tenths of a second at the finish.

The race turned into a heads up battle over the last laps because the final rounds of pit stops came under green flag conditions. The last 120 laps of the race didn't have a caution flag. So as teams pitted multiple times over the race's final 60 percent, the field kept getting more and more strung out. When Junior and Stewart emerged from pit road the final time they only had Scott Wimmer in the vicinity.

It's not a stretch to say the two best cars were battling for the win. Stewart, whose machine was repaired for the race after a practice crash, led 98 laps while Junior, who started on the pole by virtue of Greg Biffle's engine change, led 58. No other driver led more than 16.

The race's final caution flag came out on lap 71 when the big one struck. 12 cars, including 2003 winner Michael Waltrip, were involved in a crash on the backstretch after Waltrip and Brian Vickers made contact coming off turn 2.

The win is the 10th of Junior's career.

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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: July 1, 2015, 1:00 pm

A Confederate-themed flag flies atop an RV at the NASCAR race in June's Sonoma. (AP)Fans heading to Sunday's Coke Zero 400 will have the opportunity to get rid of their Confederate flag if they so choose.

According to reports from NBC Sports and the Orlando Sentinel, Daytona International Speedway is hosting a Confederate flag exchange program over the race weekend.

A track spokesperson told NBC that specifics for the program have not been finalized.

“We want to be open and inclusive,” Daytona president Joie Chitwood told the Orlando Sentinel. “We want to celebrate the American flag this weekend. That’s the flag that we should be celebrating. We’re going to have flags available so if fans want to exchange whatever flags they have for an American flag, we want to make sure they wave our nation’s flag. It’s our nation’s birthday. We’re going to have military there. That’s going to be our goal."

NASCAR chairman Brian France said he doesn't like the Confederate flag and would like to have it eliminated from his sport's races. While the sport doesn't use the flag in any official capacity, it can frequently be seen flown by fans in attendance, especially at races in southern states.

After the shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, NASCAR said it supported the moves to take the Confederate flag down from the South Carolina Capitol grounds. However, it didn't go so far as to ban the flag from races. While a ban could ultimately be possible in the future, no ban of the flag is in place for the weekend at Daytona.

Since NASCAR is a private entity, the banning of the flag is not a free speech issue.

Exchanges of controversial items aren't new in the sports world, though it's certainly fascinating to see one involving a flag that was around long before NASCAR was conceptualized. After the New England Patriots dissolved ties with tight end Aaron Hernandez, currently serving a life sentence in prison for murder, the team held a jersey exchange. Fans who had a Hernandez jersey were given the opportunity to trade in the jersey for another Patriots player.

Just like with the Hernandez exchange, there will be fans at Daytona with Confederate flags who refuse to participate for any number of reasons. And those reasons include defiance. While NASCAR and track officials won't be confiscating flags from anyone on track property over the weekend, given the recent comments and gestures, anyone who chooses to display the flag will be doing so knowing that they're not in NASCAR's favor.

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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: June 30, 2015, 8:51 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): Oh, Johnson was an absolute sitting duck on the final caution flag for Casey Mears' broken axle. Had Johnson pitted, lots of cars behind him likely would have stayed out. So Johnson stayed out, and everyone else behind him came in. He had a great car and did a pretty damn good job to hold on to sixth with old tires while everyone else behind him had fresh ones. But it was the right call to stay out. He was simply damned no matter what happened.

2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 3): Harvick finished fourth after charging forward with fresh tires. He had one of the day's better cars, he simply started 17th, so he didn't spend the entire day at the front. Plus, all of the differing strategies make it difficult to assess who the dominant car is sometimes. And by the way, we love the different strategies. Sunday's race was almost perfect, save for the lengthy delays to clean up crashes. Lots of strategy, tire management and ample passing. Sonoma every week!

3. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 1): Truex isn't endorsing our exclamation after what happened on Sunday. The 2013 winner was in the tire barrier after contact from David Ragan. We're not going on on a limb in saying that both drivers could have been a bit more patient in that fateful trip down the esses; a little restraint could have gone a long way. But it did look to us that Ragan purposefully sent Truex into the tire barriers. Maybe we can get Ragan and Ryan Newman to have a feud? It'd never end.

4. Kurt Busch (LW: 4): During the final turn of Sunday's race we wondered aloud if a different Busch would win with another lap. Kurt clearly had a faster car than Kyle did and made up some significant ground. He wasn't close enough to do anything on lap 110, but if there was a lap 111.... well, we're thinking this driver would have his third win of the season. Either way, he's a championship contender. If you don't think so you're delusional.

5. Joey Logano (LW: 5): "What? Why is Joey Logano here? He was hardly a factor all race and he must have finished back int he pack somewhere." *Checks standings.* "Ohhhhhh." Logano finished fifth on Sunday, another driver who capitalized on fresh tires at the end of the race. Logano was near the front of the field when the final caution came and went from eighth to fifth on the final green flag stint.

6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 6): Was it Junior's most impressive road course run? He finished third at Sonoma in 2014 but was a fixture near the front of the field for most of the day on Sunday. He might have been the most stout driver under braking too. How many times did Junior puill underneath another car entering a turn? Of course, the pass doesn't always work out in those scenarios; driving a car into the corner that deep means you can't accelerate off the corner as well. But damn, Junior was perfectly aggressive.

7. Kyle Busch (LW: NR): We know that Busch is a very good road course racer. A win at Sonoma under normal circumstances is no surprise. This, after the broken bones in February, is a bit of one. After feeling some pain during Friday's practice sessions, Busch was stout on Sunday. He timed his pass on Jimmie Johnson for the lead perfectly and got enough of a gap on the rest of the field to prevent a challenge for the win. He just now can't afford another bad finish.

8. Kasey Kahne (LW: 9): Kahne finished eighth and ran near the front of the field most of the day. He didn't have one of the race's strongest cars but he wasn't poor either. And he's now the third member of Hendrick Motorsports to become a father after the news his girlfriend will have a baby in October. Junior, you're up next, though Hendrick could be back to two child-less drivers in 2015 with the addition of Chase Elliott. Chase, you're still a teenager. Worry about drinking legally before you have kids.

9. Matt Kenseth (LW: 7): Kenseth qualifying third at Sonoma was a cause for Wisconsin celebration. He might have even gotten a congratulatory note from Aaron Rodgers. Alas, the qualifying success disappeared when he had a flat left rear tire and had to limp to the pits. Kenseth ended up finishing 21st. That's actually slightly above average. Thanks to one top 10 at the road coure, his average Sonoma finish is 22.1.

10. Jamie McMurray (LW: 8): If the strategy was good enough for Jimmie Johnson at the end of the race, it was good enough for McMurray. And it worked out just the same for both drivers. As Johnson fell to sixth with worn tires, McMurray slid back all the way to 11th. He's seventh in the points standings now, so it's going to take a collapse of epic proportions for McMurray to miss the Chase.

11. Brad Keselowski (LW: 11): Keselowski was wrestling with his car all afternoon. We'll go ahead and call it a draw. The car fought valiantly, but so did Keselowski. His car struggled with getting off the corners so he was basically playing defense against the rest of the field. He finished 19th and is still sixth in the standings. The win at California seems a long way off, doesn't it?

12. Ryan Newman (LW: NR): Newman gets crew chief Luke Lambert back at Daytona on Sunday night. Lambert, as you likely know, has been out for six races because of the tire manipulation penalty the team received. How funny would it be if NASCAR stationed an official in blatant view of the No. 31 team to watch over their tires all weekend at Daytona in a "Hey, we're watching you" type move? We'd laugh. Newman was ninth at Sonoma.

Lucky Dog: Sam Hornish, who finished 10th. It's his first top-10 finish since Talladega. His last non-road course or restrictor plate top-10 came at Loudon ... in 2010.

The DNF: David Gilliland. That was a hard hit into the tire barriers after, coincidentally, a flat tire.

Dropped Out: Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards

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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: June 30, 2015, 3:54 pm

If you were wanting Jeff Gordon to run a rainbow throwback car during 2015, your wish has been granted.

Gordon will drive a car similar to his iconic car of the 1990s at Bristol in August. He's vacating the seat of the No. 24 at the end of the season and moving to a broadcast role with Fox Sports in 2016.

NEWS: @JeffGordonWeb to run iconic #Rainbow24 scheme at THE Night Race! #ItsBristolBaby #ITNR RT if you're pumped! pic.twitter.com/TkwRjjCnpY

— BristolMotorSpeedway (@BMSupdates) June 30, 2015

You'll notice one difference right away. And it's Axalta instead of DuPont. The Carlyle Group bought DuPont in 2013 and the company became Axalta. The sponsorship with Gordon stayed.

If you're drawing a blank on what the original rainbow car looked like, here it is.

Now we just have to persuade Gordon to bring back the mustache for the Bristol race. He brought it back a few years ago, so we know he's not anti-mustache. Maybe a Change.org petition will do the trick? They seem to be the answer for everything these days.

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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: June 30, 2015, 1:33 pm

Martin Truex Jr. had 14 top-10 finishes in the first 15 races of 2015. He now has 14 in the first 16 races.

Truex's race went south in the early stages on Sunday at Sonoma when he made contact with David Ragan.

The two were racing side-by-side in the esses when they made contact. As Truex's car nudged ahead of Ragan's they made contact again and Truex was heading into the tires.

The impact necessitated a red flag to fix the tires and the concrete wall behind them. Truex was unhurt.

I kind of had [Ragan] passed about four times and every time he just didn’t really give an inch," Truex said. "I hit him down there in Turn 7 on accident and kind of doored him and I think he got pissed off and turned me on purpose. It’s just unfortunate that happened, but that is part of the restarts here and part of the craziness that happens. You have to be up front."

Truex's team got his car wounded car raceable again and he was able to get back on the track, albeit many laps down. Not long after Truex emerged onto the track again, Ragan was in the tires.

Ragan was racing alongside Carl Edwards when Edwards' car hopped off the right-side curb. The two cars made contact and went spinning into the wall on the other side of the track from where Truex hit.

Edwards took the blame for the incident with Ragan. When asked about his kerfuffle with Truex, Ragan said Truex paid the price for their contact.

Ragan finished 39th, Edwards was 40th and Truex was 42nd.

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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: June 28, 2015, 11:26 pm

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Kyle Busch has his win for Chase qualification. Now he needs to get into the top 30 in points.

Busch held off his brother Kurt for the win Sunday at Sonoma, his second-career win at the California road course.

Kyle restarted seventh when the race went back to green with eight laps to go because of Casey Mears' broken axle. More importantly, Busch was the second driver with fresh tires. Clint Bowyer was the only driver who pitted under the caution flag that started ahead of Busch.

Busch got past Bowyer three turns after the restart when Bowyer made contact with Busch's teammate, Matt Kenseth. Busch then went on a tear, passing drivers one-by-one until he got to leader Jimmie Johnson, who he dispatched with ease with six laps to go.

Kurt Busch got past Bowyer with a few laps to go but could get close enough to his brother's back bumper to make a challenge for the lead. It's the first time the two have finished 1-2 in a Sprint Cup Series race.

Kyle Busch missed the first 11 races of the season after he crashed in the Xfinity Series race at Daytona. After trying to work his way to the front with teammate Erik Jones, Busch's car spun and went sliding into the Daytona infield. His hit into a bare concrete wall broke his right leg and left foot. When he returned, NASCAR waived the requirement that he had to attempt every Sprint Cup Series race to make the Chase.

However, he still had plenty of work to do. Drivers with a win are virtually guaranteed a berth in NASCAR's playoffs; assuming those drivers are in the top 30 in points. By missing 11 races, Kyle Busch had an uphill climb to get into the top 30.

And the hlll had gotten steeper since his return. In his first four races back, Kyle finished 36th and 43rd in two of them. To get to the Chase based off the points pace of 30th-place Justin Allgaier, he had to average an 11th-place finish over the final 11 races of the regular season.

Oh, and get a win too. He now has that. But the points are still not in his favor. Cole Whitt is now in 30th with 261 points. Busch has 125 points. He needs to make up 136 points over the next 10 races.

Can he do it? It's a tall task. His race to the top 30 is now a big storyline for a series that's been deprived of them so far in 2015.

With the way Busch drove at Sonoma, we know better than to count him out of making the Chase. But one bad finish could ruin those Chase hopes. The next race on the Sprint Cup schedule? Yup, Daytona. A place where every driver knows just how quickly good runs can become bad finishes.

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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: June 28, 2015, 10:48 pm

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