Wiggins's form 'better than ever' - Olympic champion Sir Bradley Wiggins says his form is "better than ever" as he targets a first world time trial title. Depleted Steelers sign linebacker James Harrison (Yahoo Sports) - PITTSBURGH (AP) -- So much for James Harrison's retirement. Nadal's coach criticizes female Davis Cup captain (Yahoo Sports) - FIFA to adopt 3-minute break for concussion (Yahoo Sports) - ZURICH (AP) -- FIFA wants to improve football's concussion protocol by stopping matches for three minutes while team doctors assess players with head injuries. Anfield stadium expansion approved - Serena Williams out in 2nd round at Wuhan Open (Yahoo Sports) - WUHAN, China (AP) -- Top-ranked Serena Williams retired from her second-round match due to a viral illness at the Wuhan Open on Tuesday, dropping a third match to Alize Cornet this year. Scotland face Dutch in play-off semi - The Netherlands stand between Scotland's women and the two-legged final for the last qualifying place at the 2015 World Cup. Cook set to stay on as ODI captain - Alastair Cook is expected to remain captain when England name their squad on Wednesday for the one-day series in Sri Lanka. Hooker Youngs out for three months - Tom Youngs out for three months -

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Chase Watch: Amidst drama surrounding Chasers, Joe Gibbs Racing takes a big hit [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 21, 2014, 10:48 pm]
Apparently eliminations are needed when a bunch of Chase drivers attempt to eliminate themselves in a single race. Issues struck a bunch of Chase drivers including Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., all three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers and Kurt Busch during Sunday's race at New Hampshire. Couple that with a mediocre performance from Carl Edwards and a strong run from Aric Almirola and the battle for 12th in the points standings at Dover is suddenly a close one. After Dover, the third race of the Chase, the 16-driver Chase field will be whittled down to 12. Thanks to the New England craziness, nine drivers are within 10 points of 12th place either way. Let's start with Gordon, who isn't among that group. The four-time champion, perhaps the most consistent driver in 2014, was having another solid day Sunday planted in the top 10. All hope of a top-10 finish went away with eight laps to go when Gordon had a flat right-front tire heading into turn one and slammed the wall. He ended up 26th and is now seventh in the points standings, 21 points ahead of 12th spot. It's enough of a margin that Gordon shouldn't be in danger of missing the next round barring an absolute disaster at Dover. However, given that Gordon could have been up 40 or more points, he can't breathe easy either. Here's what it looks like below Gordon. 8. Carl Edwards (+8 points over 13th): After a flat tire and trouble at Chicago, Edwards needed a strong run at New Hampshire. He didn't get it. Edwards lost positions in the closing laps on Sunday and ended up 17th. His average finish at Dover is 10.2, so if history holds, he should be fine. 9. Matt Kenseth (+8 points): Kenseth is tied mathematically with Edwards but loses the tiebreaker because he doesn't have any wins this year while Edwards has two. Early in the race Kenseth had to check up off turn two and was run into by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch. Busch suffered heavy damage to his fender and spun into the grass. Later, Kenseth was taken out by

Joey Logano wins and puts both Team Penske cars into the next Chase round [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 21, 2014, 9:49 pm]
New Hampshire has been very kind to Joey Logano. Statistically, Logano hasn't been great at the one-mile track (his average finish entering the race was 19.3), but it's the site of Logano's first Sprint Cup Series win and now his latest one as he pulled away from Kevin Harvick on multiple late race restarts to win on Sunday. He's now guaranteed to advance to the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup along with last week's winner and Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski after next week's race at Dover. The race featured 15 cautions, the second-most in New Hampshire history, and after Logano took the lead from Harvick under green with more than 20 laps to go, he held on to it over the course of three restarts. Logano got to the front with a strategy call that looked iffy at the time. Track position is always a dominant theme at New Hampshire and the first half of the race had largely been a green-flag affair. On lap 247, some 30 laps after the leaders last pitted, Logano's crew chief Todd Gordon called him down to pit road for four tires. The call put Logano back in the pack, but it didn't matter. With fresher tires than the cars ahead of him, he sliced through the field. "I thought we gave it away at that point," Logano said of pitting. "Man, four tires were good and we had some good restarts and were able to get ourselves back up there and had to work hard. This is my home race track. This is the coolest place to win for me. I could never pick a better place to win. I watched my first Cup race here when I was five and I won that other Cup race here and I just felt that I had to win one here the right way." The "other" Cup race Logano refers to was on June 28, 2009. Logano, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in his first full season in the Cup Series replacing Tony Stewart, played the fuel strategy game with then-crew chief Greg Zipadelli. It was his only choice after a cut tire and a car that was nowhere near the fastest on track. But it worked. When rain arrived to

Cole Custer wins Truck race, becomes youngest NASCAR winner ever [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 20, 2014, 9:13 pm]
16-year-old Cole Custer is now the youngest NASCAR winner. Custer won Saturday's Camping World Truck Series race at New Hampshire, beating Bubba Wallace by 1.14 seconds. Custer dominated the race; he led 148 of the race's 175 laps. But he needed to pass Matt Crafton with four laps to go to take the victory. Just to reinforce how young Custer is and perhaps make you feel old, he was born January 23, 1998. Because of NASCAR's age limits in the Truck Series, Custer has been running a part-time schedule and Saturday's race was his seventh start. Drivers must be 16 to participate in trucks at tracks under one-mile in length. Drivers can compete in a full season schedule at 18. Erik Jones, who was competing in Saturday's race, was previously the youngest winner. He was 17 when he won at Phoenix last year. Custer is the son of Joe Custer, an EVP at Stewart-Haas Racing. - - - - - - - Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @NickBromberg

Brad Keselowski earns pole for race at New Hampshire [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 9:59 pm]
Is Brad Keselowski setting up to go two-for-two at New Hampshire in 2014? The 2012 Sprint Cup champion and winner of the first race of the 2014 Chase at Chicago on Sunday won the pole Friday at New Hampshire, site of the second race of the Chase. In July, Keselowski led 138 laps and won at New Hampshire. Because of that win earlier in the year, six-time champion Jimmie Johnson called Keselowski's team the team to beat before Friday's qualifying session. “Yeah, I would expect him to be in a similar position for two reasons," Johnson said. "One, he had so much more pace than the rest of the field here in the spring race that it’s hard to believe that everybody could cover that gap and get back to him. And then when we went to Richmond, which wasn’t too long ago as a short track and they had that form there, too. So, I’d definitely say those guys are tough to handle.” Keselowski won at Richmond, the last race before the Chase. Johnson turned out to be prophetic for Friday. Will be prophetic for Sunday? Jamie McMurray qualified second, three-hundredths of a second behind Keselowski. Kevin Harvick qualified third, while Denny Hamlin was fourth and Kyle Busch was fifth. Here's how all 16 of the Chasers stack up for New Hampshire 1. Brad Keselowski3. Kevin Harvick4. Denny Hamlin5. Kyle Busch6. Jimmie Johnson7. Joey Logano8. Carl Edwards9. Ryan Newman11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.13. Jeff Gordon15. Kurt Busch16. Matt Kenseth17. Kasey Kahne21. Aric Almirola26. Greg Biffle27. A.J. Allmendinger - - - - - - - Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @NickBromberg

Brad Keselowski: 'It kind of feels a little bit like a cop-out' that Stewart case sent to grand jury [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 5:32 pm]
Brad Keselowski was asked about the continued legal proceedings surrounding the death of Kevin Ward Jr. on August 9 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park during his media availabilty on Friday. Ward was hit by Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart after he exited his car to confront Stewart's car on the track. The Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff's Department investigation into Ward's death wrapped before the Chase for the Sprint Cup began and on Tuesday, the Ontario County District Attorney sent the case to a grand jury. During its investigation, Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said officials had obtained a second video of the incident. Shortly after it happened, a video of the incident was posted to YouTube. Details of the second video are unknown. Save for statements made during the early stages, the OCSD's investigation was largely done out of the public eye. "The only concern I have is that it sounds like there is a second tape that they haven't released and I don't understand why," Keselowski said. "Beyond that, it kind of feels a little bit like a cop-out that they sent it to the grand jury. But I think everybody is wishing Tony the best and supporting him, and that's probably the most important thing. Under New York state law, the process of sending a case to a grand jury is not a cop-out. It's due process, especially when there is a death of a human being involved. This is taken directly from the New York County District Attorney's website. Under New York State law, unless the defendant consents, all felony cases must be presented to the Grand Jury.  Grand Juries are empowered to hear evidence presented by prosecutors, and to take various actions regarding the evidence and legal charges they are to consider. As we've pointed out before, it's incredibly important to note that a grand jury's involvement does not automatically mean an indictment is forthcoming. While Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo had the option of dismissing the case himself

Brad Keselowski: 'It kind of feels a little bit like a cop out' that Stewart case sent to grand jury [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 5:32 pm]
Brad Keselowski was asked about the continued legal proceedings surrounding the death of Kevin Ward Jr. on August 9 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park during his media availabilty on Friday. Ward was hit by Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart after he exited his car to confront Stewart's car on the track. The Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff's Department investigation into Ward's death wrapped before the Chase for the Sprint Cup began and on Tuesday, the Ontario County District Attorney sent the case to a grand jury. During its investigation, Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said officials had obtained a second video of the incident. Shortly after it happened, a video of the incident was posted to YouTube. Details of the second video are unknown. Save for statements made during the early stages, the OCSD's investigation was largely done out of the public eye. "The only concern I have is that it sounds like there is a second tape that they haven't released and I don't understand why," Keselowski said. "Beyond that, it kind of feels a little bit like a cop out that they sent it to the grand jury. But I think everybody is wishing Tony the best and supporting him, and that's probably the most important thing. Under New York state law, the process of sending a case to a grand jury is not a cop out. It's due process, especially when there is a death of a human being involved. This is taken directly from the New York County District Attorney's website. Under New York State law, unless the defendant consents, all felony cases must be presented to the Grand Jury.  Grand Juries are empowered to hear evidence presented by prosecutors, and to take various actions regarding the evidence and legal charges they are to consider. As we've pointed out before, it's incredibly important to note that a grand jury's involvement does not automatically mean an indictment is forthcoming. While Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo had the option of dismissing the case himself

Happy Hour: Claims of getting an edge, Tony Stewart and tweaking the points format [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 18, 2014, 8:49 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, have a good time and everyone's happy. Y'all were quiet this week. Did Brad Keselowski's pass bore you or something? Here it is again just because it was a rare moment. Spoiler alert, I'm afraid the chances of this happening throughout the next nine races are slim-to-none, but I'm not going to complain in the slightest if I am wrong. Wednesday, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Stanley and DeWalt would sponsor Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth respectively. It means that Richard Petty Motorsports is going to be down a sponsor for 2015, but given that there's a driver change a the No. 9, it's not terribly surprising. It'll be interesting to see how much sponsorship is tied to RPM's impending driver search. Let's get to our topics this week. And the onus is on y'all to break out some good questions next week. @NickBromberg Since we had a bit of “tampering” chat post-race, how ugly could things get this fall? — Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) September 18, 2014 What Brian is referring to is a deleted tweet by a now former road manager for Dale Earnhardt Jr.. The tweet referenced flaring of the right sideskirt on Keselowski's car. Tuesday, he resigned from his position. It's an odd situation and one we clearly don't know the dynamics to, so unfounded speculation would be irresponsible. The claims themselves, however, are interesting. Remember in 2012 when Keselowski referenced the Hendrick cars potentially pushing the rules? If anything was wrong with Keselowski's car it would have been found in post-race inspection. Nothing was announced. Teams are going to always push the rules, and sometimes people get caught. That happens. But I don't think this will be a storyline going forward. Unless Jimmie Johnson's garage partitions return. Then we can all start up the black helicopters again. ---

Tony Stewart case going to a grand jury [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 16, 2014, 7:01 pm]
A grand jury will decide if Tony Stewart will face charges in the August 9 death of Kevin Ward. The Ontario County (N.Y.) District Attorney's office announced Tuesday it is sending the evidence from Ward's death to a grand jury, which will decide whether or not to file charges against Stewart. Stewart and Ward were racing together at Canandaigua Motorsports Park (N.Y.) in a sprint car race on Aug. 9. After Ward hit the wall, he exited his car and went down the track to angrily confront Stewart. Stewart's car struck and killed Ward. The Ontario County Sheriff's Department had investigated the matter for approximately a month. Last week it announced it had sent the evidence from the investigation to the district attorney. According to the Associated Press, District Attorney Michael Tantillo "could have determined there was not enough evidence to support charges and dropped the case." Here is the full statement from Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo: Over the past several weeks I have reviewed with members of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department their investigation, as it progressed, in the Tony Stewart matter. Recently that office concluded its work and forwarded the complete case file to me. Upon my review of all of the information contained in the entire investigation, I have made the determination that it would be appropriate to submit the evidence to a grand jury, for their determination as to what action should be taken in this matter. Accordingly, the evidence developed in the investigation will be presented to an Ontario County grand jury in the near future. As grand jury proceedings in New York State are strictly confidential by law, I am unable to state when the matter will be scheduled, other than to state that I intend to present the matter in the near future. Similarly, because of the confidential nature of these proceedings, I cannot state who will be called as witnesses, or what any witness’s expected testimony will be. When the p

Power Rankings: Chasing Keselowski [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 16, 2014, 5:11 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. Brad Keselowski: Please note, we will not be resetting Power Rankings after each Chase elimination round. That seems like an exercise in not-power. With two consecutive victories and the points lead going into the Chase and the points lead after Chase race numero uno, Keselowski is the no-brainer pick for the top spot. His three-wide pass for the lead was great, but it's made more awesome in that it came in a season where battling for the lead at intermediate tracks has been nonexistent at times. 2. Kevin Harvick: Harvick was using everything in his bag of tricks to try to get Kyle Larson to burp the throttle just enough to yield first place. Had either driver been able to get clear, Keselowski may not have an opportunity to make his pass. Instead, Harvick and Larson had cut such a huge hole in the air on the frontstretch that Keselowski's car looked like it had rocket boosters attached to it. 3. Jeff Gordon: The man credited with having the best cars over the course of long green flag runs this season had a very good one as green flag laps accumulated on Sunday. We just simply didn't have enough laps to see if he could catch Keselowski. Speaking of Larson, he gave Gordon a heck of a battle for second at the end of the race too. So much so that Gordon called him "Kevin Larson" after the race. 4. Joey Logano: Yes, Joey Logano got very lucky when his engine expired right as he was crossing the finish line on Sunday. However, he was somewhat unlucky to pick up the large piece of plastic on the front of his grille in the waning laps. While the plastic ultimately killed the engine, it might have helped Logano's car before it blew up with the added downforce. If it helped Logano net a couple extr

Penske partners with V8 Supercar team, Marcos Ambrose to drive car [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 15, 2014, 12:53 am]
The possibility of Marcos Ambrose joining forces with Roger Penske in the Australian V8 Supercar series is official. Team Penske announced Sunday night it had partnered with Dick Johnson Racing for the 2015 season and that Ambrose would drive the No. 17 entry. “Team Penske is excited to partner with Dick Johnson Racing to compete in the V8 Supercars Championship starting next season,” Roger Penske said in a statement. “We believe in building our businesses through racing and our success on the track. With our new business ventures in Australia, it makes sense to showcase our brands through the V8 Supercars Championship and the opportunity to work with DJR and Marcos Ambrose convinced us to go forward.” Ambrose's current NASCAR team, Richard Petty Motorsports, announced Saturday that Ambrose wouldn't be returning to the team in 2015. Shortly after the announcement, Penske said it had an announcement scheduled for early in the week involving the Supercars series. Ambrose, a native Australian, was successful in V8 Supercars before he moved to NASCAR. He won the series championship in 2003 and 2004. This is a great opportunity to return home to a place that I love in a Series where I’ve experienced a lot of success,” Ambrose said. “It will be an honor to race for two motorsport legends in Roger Penske and Dick Johnson.” Ambrose has two wins in the Sprint Cup Series, both at Watkins Glen. He finished second at Watkins Glen in 2014. - - - - - - - Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @NickBromberg

Chase Watch: Aric Almirola's progression hopes might have gone up in smoke [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 14, 2014, 9:55 pm]
Three top 10s in the first three races would have virtually guaranteed Aric Almirola's progression into the next three races of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He was working incredibly well on getting 1/3 of the way there Sunday at Chicago. Unfortunately, his engine didn't want to make it the entire way. Almirola had moved himself into the top 10 among drivers like Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. when his car started spewing smoke on the backstretch on lap 231. His day was over. After climbing from his car, he was greeted by team owner Richard Petty. Almirola said that it was the first engine failure he had in his three-year tenure at Richard Petty Motorports and per Racing Reference, he's correct. He'd never retired from a race because of an engine until Sunday. So proud of my team! We rose to the occasion today and proved we can compete in the chase. Heartbroken for sure but they knew we were there — Aric Almirola (@aric_almirola) September 14, 2014 It's an incredibly costly explosion. If Almirola would have been able to hold serve where he was for the remaining 36 laps of the race, he's approximately 20 points behind points leader and race winner Brad Keselowski. Instead, he's 52 points behind Keselowski and 16th among the 16 Chase drivers. After New Hampshire and Dover, the lowest four drivers in the standings are eliminated from the Chase. In addition to Almirola, here's who occupies those four spots right now and how they fared at Chicago. 13. Ryan Newman (-1 point to No.12 Carl Edwards): Newman was at one point three laps down. He got all of his laps back and ended up in 15th place, five spots ahead of Edwards, who had a tire failure and finished 20th. The strategy play by crew chief Luke Lambert and Newman could be critical. If he stays a lap or two down, he doesn't have a chance to get a top-15. It could be the difference between advancing and being eliminated. 14. A.J. Allmendinger (-5 points to Edwards): Allmendinger finished two laps down in 22n

Brad Keselowski takes lead with three-wide pass, wins at Chicago [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 14, 2014, 9:33 pm]
Brad Keselowski saw Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson battling for the lead ahead of him and as Larson went high and Harvick went low heading into turn one, Keselowski took the middle. It was the right option. Keselowski stormed past both drivers and held on for the lead through a last restart to win the first race of the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup on Sunday at Chicago. Larson and Harvick were having a fantastic battle off a restart with 18 laps to go. Larson had the lead and Harvick, who restarted second, was able to hang with him. The two ran side by side for virtually the entirety of two laps, but the great racing came at a price. Keselowski was hanging around in third and got an incredible draft of the huge hole in the air the two were creating with 16 laps to go. As Harvick headed to the white line and Larson went towards the wall, Keselowski cut the middle and was clear by the time he was on the backstretch. "I'm not really sure," Keselowski responded when asked how he made the pass in victory lane. "I'll have to watch the ESPN replay to figure it out. But we obviously had a great car ... these Fords have really come together for a strong Chase run." Last week, Keselowski won the last race before the Chase at Richmond for his fourth win, a victory that gave him solitary possession of first place for the Chase. With the win at Chicago, he keeps first place in the Chase and may put him in place for a repeat. Keselowski won at Chicago en route to the 2012 title. (Oh, and Keselowski is also guaranteed a spot through the first elimination round of the Chase.) It was a win that came without the benefit of great track position too. Keselowski and his teammate Joey Logano have been the masters of qualifying this season but Friday's qualifying session was washed out. The lineup was set on practice speeds and both Penske cars started in the 20s. It ultimately didn't matter. And neither did late pit stop trouble. Keselowski had to pit a second time under caution on lap 1

Marcos Ambrose will not return to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2015 [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 13, 2014, 3:45 pm]
Richard Petty Motorsports announced Saturday morning that Marcos Ambrose wouldn't return to the No. 9 in 2015. Ambrose will be returning to his native Australia. The team termed it a personal decision. "Marcos will always be a part of our extended racing family,"Richard Petty said in a statement. "He came over to the United States with his family and dedicated his time here to giving it the best he had each week. I couldn't ask anything more from Marcos and his commitment on and off of the track to our race team and our partners. Away from the track, he's a family person first. That's something I respect and we'll miss Marcos, Sonja and their children." Ambrose narrowly missed qualifying for the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup by finishing second to A.J. Allmendinger at Watkins Glen. He's currently 23rd in the Sprint Cup points standings. The Glen is where Ambrose has collected his two career Sprint Cup victories. He won there in 2011 and 2012. He also has five career Nationwide series victories; his last came at, you guessed it, Watkins Glen in 2014. The team said it was "currently evaluating several driver opportunities to help drive the No. 9 team forward and will make a future announcement at the appropriate time." While the No. 9 car isn't considered an elite competitor in the Cup Series, it's a very good opportunity for a young driver if RPM wants to go in that directon. Or it could give David Ragan -- still a young driver at 28 -- another shot in a good ride. Ragan has driven for Front Row Motorsports for the past three seasons after he parted ways with Roush Fenway Racing at the end of 2011. Ragan won at Talladega in 2013. - - - - - - - Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @NickBromberg

Sportsbook installs Kevin Harvick as Chase favorite [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 12, 2014, 11:08 pm]
Is Kevin Harvick your favorite for the Chase? The Bovada Sportsbook has made Harvick the favorite for the Chase at 7/2. Jeff Gordon is the second favorite at 4/1. Jimmie Johnson is the best value on the board. He's the fourth favorite and listed at 6/1. Brad Keselowski is third at 9/2. Here's a complete list of the odds. We also think Kasey Kahne's a pretty good value too. Kevin Harvick                            7/2Jeff Gordon                              4/1Brad Keselowski                       9/2Jimmie Johnson                        6/1Dale Earnhardt Jr.                     13/2Joey Logano                             8/1Matt Kenseth                             12/1Kyle Busch                               14/1Kurt Busch                                16/1Denny Hamlin                            20/1Kasey Kahne                             22/1Carl Edwards                            40/1Greg Biffle                                100/1Ryan Newman                           100/1Aric Almirola                             200/1A.J. Allmendinger                      200/1 - - - - - - - Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @NickBromberg

Vegas sportsbook installs Kevin Harvick as Chase favorite [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 12, 2014, 11:08 pm]
Is Kevin Harvick your favorite for the Chase? The Bovada Sportsbook has made Harvick the favorite for the Chase at 7/2. Jeff Gordon is the second favorite at 4/1. Jimmie Johnson is the best value on the board. He's the fourth favorite and listed at 6/1. Brad Keselowski is third at 9/2. Here's a complete list of the odds. We also think Kasey Kahne's a pretty good value too. Kevin Harvick                            7/2Jeff Gordon                              4/1Brad Keselowski                       9/2Jimmie Johnson                        6/1Dale Earnhardt Jr.                     13/2Joey Logano                             8/1Matt Kenseth                             12/1Kyle Busch                               14/1Kurt Busch                                16/1Denny Hamlin                            20/1Kasey Kahne                             22/1Carl Edwards                            40/1Greg Biffle                                100/1Ryan Newman                           100/1Aric Almirola                             200/1A.J. Allmendinger                      200/1 - - - - - - - Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @NickBromberg

Qualifying rained out for Chicago; Kyle Busch starts first [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 12, 2014, 10:18 pm]
A fast lap got Kyle Busch the pole for the first race of the Chase. It just didn't happen during qualifying. Qualifying was rained out for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Chicago, therefore the lineup was set on speeds from Friday's practice session. Busch ran the quickest lap at 191.442 MPH, so he's the polesitter for Sunday's race. Six Chase drivers start in the top 10. Ryan Newman will start alongside Busch while Carl Edwards starts third. Here's where the entire Chase field starts 1. Kyle Busch 2. Ryan Newman 3. Carl Edwards 5. Matt Kenseth 7. Jimmie Johnson 8. Jeff Gordon 12. Kevin Harvick 13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 14. Kurt Busch 17. A.J. Allmendinger 19. Kasey Kahne 20. Greg Biffle 23. Aric Almirola 24. Denny Hamlin 25. Brad Keselowski 28. Joey Logano As you can see, it's quite the field inversion for the Penske cars. Incredibly successful in knockout qualifying, Logano and Keselowski are used to being two of the top qualifiers every week, not the two lowest Chase drivers. The rain that washed out qualifying is also threatening to postpone Friday night's scheduled Camping World Truck Series race.

Denny Hamlin likes the way the Chase format sets up for his team [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 12, 2014, 8:40 pm]
When Denny Hamlin saw the new Chase format come out in January, he was immediately optimistic. “You don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself, but I believe that as soon as I saw this grid and how it all worked out and the Chase tracks I was like, ‘Wow, this is like tailor made for us,’" Hamlin said Thursday. "It really is, we just have to get to that eliminator eight or whatever it’s called and that’s when we get into the wheelhouse of our race tracks that we’ve performed at in the past. For us I think that if we can make it to Homestead and have a shot, we go from being the extreme underdogs going into this probably to the favorite being that we’ve won there over the last couple years. Who knows how it all plays out. You have to get there first and you can’t look that far ahead. Our focus is here in Chicago, but you have to be consistent I believe these first two rounds and get yourself in position for those last four races.” At the beginning of the year, Hamlin got off to a bit of a rocky start; his win at Talladega in his ninth race of 2014 was just his third top 10 to that point. But Hamlin got better in the summer months and had a stretch of six top tens in eight races. That stretch included Indianapolis, where Hamlin finished third. But after the race, NASCAR found something in inspection with fire wall blockoff plates on Hamlin's car. Crew chief Darian Grubb was suspended for six races. The suspension is now over at a perfect time; the beginning of the Chase. Could his return boost Hamlin's chances? Hamlin certainly thinks so, especially if Grubb can make a late call to outfox the competition. Grubb, who won the 2011 Chase with Tony Stewart, was with Hamlin in 2012 when he finished sixth. “He’s been working really hard (over the last six weeks) and I think a lot of it is that he says he’s learned how races play out by watching them and seeing live data — able to have really papers all around him of strategies and stuff tha

Investigation into Kevin Ward's death complete and sent to district attorney [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 11, 2014, 8:12 pm]
The Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff's Department's investigation into the death of Kevin Ward Jr. is complete and has been handed over to the Ontario County District Attorney. The OCSD has been investigating the death of Ward for approximately a month after he was struck and killed by Tony Stewart on August 9 in a sprint car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. After missing three races, Stewart returned to the Sprint Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Any action against Stewart will be announced next week, according to the OCSD. When speaking during the early stages of the investigation, Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said there was no evidence of criminal intent in the incident. The Ontario County Office of Sheriff has completed its' investigation into the death of Kevin A. Ward, Jr., which occurred August 9, 2014, at the Canandaigua, New York, Motorsports Park. The entire thorough investigation, including a forensic video enhancement recently received from the New York State Police Laboratory in Albany, has been submitted to the Office of the Ontario County District Attorney for review. The District Attorney’s Office, which has been meeting throughout the investigative process with members of the Sheriff’s Office, will make a statement late next week advising what action will be taken regarding the investigation. Stewart and Ward were racing together August 9 when Ward's car hit the wall. After it came to a stop, Ward climbed from his vehicle and went down the track towards the rest of the field. As he gestured angrily at Stewart, the right rear tire of Stewart's car struck Ward, killing him. A video of the accident surfaced on YouTube later that evening. Povero said the OCSD had obtained a second video during the investigation and it is unclear what footage the forensic video enhancement refers to. Even though the incident didn't happen at a NASCAR-sanctioned race, NASCAR banned drivers from getting out of their cars before safety personnel arrive

Happy Hour: Our pick to win the Chase and points about the new format [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 11, 2014, 6:53 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, have a good time and everyone's happy. Sit back, relax and breathe in the air of the new Chase. It doesn't smell much different than the old Chase, eh? Sure, the format's changed, but we're not going to have a winner who wouldn't have qualified for the Chase under the old format. (Sorry Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, A.J. Allmendinger and Aric Almirola). I know I've harped on sample size and randomness in the past and how small sample sizes aren't the fairest way of determining a champion. And with the final winner-take-all race, who knows what's going to happen between four drivers? And that's kind of the point. It's set up for madness. (Click here for the official rules on the new format in case you're not up to speed.) But the four drivers in that position are going to be four drivers who have been not only four of the best drivers in the first nine races of the Chase, but four of the best drivers of the season. Sure, it's possible that we could see someone get hot like Tony Stewart did in 2011, but the odds are stacked against it. Let's look at where Chase-era champions would have been in the old points format after Richmond: 2004: Kurt Busch, 7th2005: Tony Stewart, 1st2006: Jimmie Johnson, 2nd2007: Jimmie Johnson, 4th2008: Jimmie Johnson 3rd2009: Jimmie Johnson 3rd2010: Jimmie Johnson, 5th (tie)2011: Tony Stewart, 9th2012: Brad Keselowski, 5th2013: Jimmie Johnson, 2nd The top seven in points this year? Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick. Does anyone legitimately think (outside of being a fan of one of the other nine Chase drivers) that we're going to see a champion from outside this group? It's possible, but the chances are probably smaller than the Kansas City Chiefs' are of winning the Super Bowl. Time for your quest

Power Rankings: What country is your driver? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 9, 2014, 6:26 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. This week, on the eve of the Chase, we're going to do something different. First we're expanding to 16 drivers. Second, we're going to rank the drivers 1-16 as we think they're going to finish in the Chase. Third, we're going to have some ridiculous fun with this "Chase Nation" concept that is being marketed for the Chase. We all know there's one true driver nation and then after that it's just a bunch of municipalities. But let's all pretend there really are driver nations. And these driver nations are real-world countries. Which countries would they be? Let's find out with the help of some terrible photo editing! 1. Jimmie Johnson, United States: Let's start off with an obvious one. Just like you don't tell someone wearing an American flag shirt that the United States is not the greatest country in the world, you don't tell someone wearing a No. 48 shirt that Johnson isn't the best driver in NASCAR. Both types of people are very defensive, simply because they deal with a lot of guff from the rest of the world. And just like Americans, Jimmie Johnson fans know there's a little bit of envy in with all that flak. Plus, with the new format, many non-JohnsonAmericans are hoping that this is the event that finally knocks the dominant force off his perch. 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr., China: The most populous nation in the NASCAR world is now at potentially its most powerful. The downfall of Johnson America could come at the hands of JuniorChina. It's a group that controls the most economic power in NASCAR too and a nation that is united in its love for its leader. You do not want to face the wrath of Junior Nation, for it can be swift, overwhelming and decisive. 3. Jeff Gordon, Great Britain: Once a great





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