Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! With the 2015 racing season behind us (save for a Formula 1 race on Sunday), it's time to look back and give thanks for what auto racing gave us over the past nine months. Got anything you think needs to be added? Drop it in the comments below.

• Jeff Gordon's career. We're not going to write anything in this space below that is anything different than what you've already read. But Gordon holds a special place in my NASCAR life. When I first started watching NASCAR (the 1993 Daytona 500), Gordon was the guy that won too much. As I found non-Gordon favorite drivers, it continued until sometime in the early 2000s.

Yeah, I went through the same transition many NASCAR fans did. I realized Gordon's greatness and his appeal and it was hard not to appreciate his driving skill and the way he was able to help make NASCAR the fairly mainstream sport it is today. Every Cup Series race I've watched has included Jeff Gordon in it. Being in Daytona for Speedweeks in 2016 is going to be differrent. Especially as NASCAR starts a sendoff for Tony Stewart.

• Kyle Busch's speedy recovery from his injuries and broken Chase hex. His drive at Homestead on Sunday was perhaps the most impressive of his career. Busch has evolved over the last nine months. I think we're all excited to see what the future holds.

• Busch's race win on Sunday. As long as the current Chase format stays in place, there's going to be a time when the title winner doesn't win the race. Cherish the moments like Sunday, when the champion won the race for the second year in a row.

• The continued emergence of Joey Logano. He had the most wins in the Cup Series in 2015 and has the most wins of anyone in the past two seasons. Much like Busch, it's only a matter of time until Logano wins a Cup title.

• Kevin Harvick's excellence. He tied Logano with 28 top-10 finishes but led 2,294 laps, almost 800 more than Logano. Harvick was always very good at Richard Childress Racing. But his success at Stewart-Haas is incredible.

• Brad Keselowski's candor. Keselowski isn't afraid to make his point, either directly or indirectly. It's appreciated.

• Matt Kenseth's statement. Yeah, we didn't agree with his revenge against Joey Logano or it's blatant nature. But Kenseth showed NASCAR he was unhappy with the way the sanctioning body was governing. And while his retaliation netted a punishment, it might have changed the way drivers race each other in the futre.

• We say might because NASCAR CEO Brian France didn't back down from his "quintessential NASCAR" comments when talking about Kenseth and Logano at Kansas. And we're glad France did that. While the NASCAR chairman can seem disconnected with his sport, his consistency and authority was striking at Homestead.

• Jimmie Johnson's professionalism. Yeah, six titles helps, but he's been an example of how to act publicly when a stupid part failure derails your title run. And he went out and snagged the race from Brad Keselowski at Texas to prove that the No. 48 team is still one of the best in NASCAR. Johnson and Chad Knaus should be a force with the new rules in 2016.

• Speaking of the new rules, kudos to NASCAR for testing things out for the future during the season when it was apparent that the 2015 rules were a disaster. Yeah, the high-drag packages at Indianapolis and Michigan were a disaster too, but NASCAR recognized that and went with the low-downforce rules for 2016. If Goodyear can make softer tires with the reduction in downforce, Cup racing in 2016 is going to look a lot different.

• Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s continued Twitter excellence.

• We can't forget Kurt Busch, either. He handled the aftermath of what happened at Phoenix with his start penalty well, and his year can't be qualified as anything but a success. After coming back from an ill-advised suspension from NASCAR, Busch was one of the fastest drivers throughout the season. Busch should at least be contending for titles for the next few seasons.

• The Wood Brothers' return to full-time racing in 2016. If NASCAR goes through with a charter/franchising system, the Wood family needs to have one of the teams. If the move to full-time racing with Ryan Blaney is a way to do that, good for them. The sport needs to keep its links to the past.

• Erik Jones' super-sub ability. The kid's been in damn good equipment this year, sure, but he can sure drive it really fast. Does anyone other than Jones get to say he won a truck title, an Xfinity Series race and drove for three different Sprint Cup series teams in the same season? By the way, he was less than two months old during the Atlanta Olympics.

• And, once again, you all. Thanks for reading and entertaining us with your emails, tweets and comments (yes, we sometimes read the comments). Have a great Thanksgiving, eat a bunch of good food, don't waste your weekend chasing shopping bargains and enjoy the holidays.

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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: November 25, 2015, 7:52 pm

Tony Stewart's final Sprint Cup Series season will include a new crew chief.

Chip Ganassi Racing announced that Chad Johnston would become Kyle Larson's crew chief in 2016. Johnston has been Stewart's crew chief for the past two seasons. He replaces Chris Heroy at Ganassi.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to be joining Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, and the opportunity to work with Kyle Larson," Johnston said in a statement. "The organization has a great reputation in numerous forms of racing, and I’m looking forward to adding to that reputation in NASCAR. Kyle is certainly a unique talent, and I’m eager to get to work with him and the team as we look to build a foundation of success.”

Johnston and Stewart didn't win any races together in 2014 and 2015, the three-time champion's two worst seasons in the Cup Series. Stewart's average finish has fallen for five straight seasons. In 2014 his average finish was 20th and after finishing 29th in Sunday's race at Homestead, his 2015 average finish was 25th. He has 10 top 10 finishes over the past two seasons.

Stewart announced earlier in 2015 that he would retire following the 2016 season. He'll be replaced in the No. 14 car by Clint Bowyer, who is spending the 2016 season at HScott Motorsports. HScott has a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing.

According to Motorsport.com, Stewart's new crew chief will be Mike Bugarewicz. He will be Stewart's fourth crew chief in six seasons. Darian Grubb parted ways with the team after the 2011 Sprint Cup title. Steve Addington served as Stewart's crew chief for two seasons before Johnston arrived.

Bugarewicz has served as the engineer for Kevin Harvick for the past two seasons at Stewart-Haas Racing. The site also reported that Daniel Knost wouldn't be Danica Patrick's crew chief in 2016. While Harvick and Kurt Busch both won races and made the Chase, Patrick and Stewart struggled. Stewart finished 28th in the points standings while Patrick was 24th. Billy Scott, the crew chief of the No. 55 at Michael Waltrip Racing in 2015, will reportedly take over Patrick's car.

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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: November 23, 2015, 9:22 pm

AP Photo/Darryl GrahamHOMESTEAD, Fla. — As Kyle Busch ran the most important laps of his life, wheeling his No. 18 through turn after turn after turn, the most important people in his life gathered in his pit box, watching and waiting and praying.

Gaye Busch, Kyle’s mother, stood alone underneath the box’s awning, earphones in her ears, listening in on Kyle’s radio channel. Joe Gibbs, Kyle’s team owner, paced a tight line next to the pit box, checking stats taped to the wall, checking the track, over and over again. Samantha Busch, Kyle’s wife, dressed more for an evening on South Beach than a night at the races, watched the laps wind down with tears in her eyes.

Twenty laps remaining until NASCAR crowned its new champion. Kyle had opened up a several-second lead on the three other challengers for the championship. All around the pit box, cameras and onlookers had gathered. A few feet away, the throngs that had jammed the retiring Jeff Gordon’s pit stall all weekend had dissipated. Gordon’s story, as good as it was, was the past; Busch was the present and, perhaps, the future.

Twelve laps remaining. Kyle’s comfortable lead on his challengers vanished with the wave of a caution flag for debris on the track. Gaye’s head dropped. Gibbs — churchgoing Gibbs, gentleman Gibbs — thought of a few choice words, and motioned for the crush of fans to move back in order to give the pit crew room to work. Whether the debris was legitimate or not, whether the caution was designed to heighten dramatic impact or not — at this moment, it didn’t matter. Busch had one last hurdle to clear.

Eleven laps remaining. One final pit stop. One final opportunity for a terrible mistake. But everyone wearing an M&M’s firesuit hit their marks, tightening lug nuts and swapping out tires smooth as a song, and Busch wheeled out of the pits to the cheers of those gathered around the box. “Ten more laps, ten more laps,” said someone in the area of the pit box, which by now was jammed with people wearing Toyota and M&M’s golf shirts and gear.

Seven laps remaining. Gibbs motioned toward the pit box’s top level, and J.D. Gibbs, his son, slowly descended the box’s stairs. Earlier this year, J.D. began undergoing testing for issues of brain function, and he stopped coming to races. Tonight, he was here, and Joe Gibbs slipped an arm around his son’s waist. Together, they watched Kyle pass Brad Keselowski to take the outright lead.

Two laps remaining. Anticipation built in the pit box. Fists clenched and unclenched, “come on, come on” repeated over and over again. Gibbs and Gaye Busch remained still, not showing any emotion, not even when the white flag flew signaling just a mile and a half of track between Kyle and a championship. They knew how much could go wrong in a single lap.

One lap remaining. In the car, Kyle had been singing the theme song from one of his six-month-old son’s favorite shows, “VocabuLarry,” keeping himself calm and confusing the hell out of his crew chief.

Four turns remaining. Three. Two. One. In the car, a single tear rolled down Kyle’s cheek — “From the G-forces,” he later joked. And then it was over, the race won, the pit box exploding in ecstasy and relief, the pain and tension of families who’d given so much, suffered so much this year exploding in a primal scream.

Joe Gibbs hugged everyone who came anywhere near him, from tearful Toyota executives to grandchildren born a decade after Gibbs’ last Super Bowl victory. Gaye Busch deftly edged over the pit road wall — this is a woman who knows racing, after all — and dabbed at her eyes. Samantha Busch just wept, falling into the arms of one friend after another as she walked toward the stage already being constructed to honor her husband.

"After all we've been through this year..." Samantha Busch said, unable to find any more words.

"Elated. Just elated," Gaye Busch said, her eyes brimming.

"Every championship is special," said Joe Gibbs, who's now won three Super Bowls and four Cup championships, "but this one ... this was something special, wasn't it?"

All Busch had needed to do was finish ahead of the other three challengers for the Sprint Cup — Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., and the retiring Jeff Gordon — and the championship would be his. But no one wants to back into a title. And after the way this year began, you can forgive Busch for wanting to drive a stake through the heart of this season.

AP Photo/Terry RennaFeb. 21, 2015 surely ranks as one of the worst days in the Busch family’s history. Kurt Busch had spent most of the day trying, and failing, to overturn a NASCAR suspension for a he-said, she-said issue of alleged domestic violence. Later that evening, on Lap 113 of the Xfinity Series race, Kyle Busch plowed head-on into a section of Daytona wall not covered by shock-reducing SAFER barriers. The resulting impact broke Busch’s right leg and left foot.

Kurt Busch returned to driving in March; no charges were filed against him, and NASCAR lifted his suspension. But Kyle spent long days in a hospital bed and long weeks convalescing. This would be a lost season, most assumed; doctors initially indicated that his injuries would take up to six months to heal fully.

Busch was back behind the wheel after three months, missing 11 races. Thanks to a special NASCAR dispensation, he remained eligible to compete for the championship as long as he won a race and finished in the top 30 in the season’s points standings.

Busch won his fifth race back, at Sonoma. Then he won three of the next four. He knocked out the Top-30 requirement, expected to dog him right through the regular season finale in Richmond, in his 11th race back. The rest of the field had a three-month head start on him, and he caught them in a matter of weeks. Gordon’s retirement drew the nostalgia, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth’s feud drew the headlines, but all along the way, Busch was quietly putting together the foundations of a championship season.

For the first few years of his career, Busch made enemies easily on the race track. A few years back at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a young fan asked Busch, “Are you guys really friends when the race is done?”

“Not always,” Busch responded, and he could have just as easily answered, “Not ever.” He and Dale Earnhardt Jr. once tangled in a late-race wreck in Richmond that earned him the enmity of Junior Nation to this day. He and Harvick once had a memorable bumper-car fight on pit road at Darlington. He and teammate Denny Hamlin snarled at each other during an All-Star race. He earned himself a one-race suspension by slamming his truck into Ron Hornaday’s under caution at a Texas race. Most infamously, he ended up on the receiving end of a Richard Childress headlock after wrecking one too many of Childress’s cars.

You could make the argument — it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to make it to Kyle, but you could try — that breaking bones in both legs was the best thing that could have happened to him. Busch had earned a rep as one of the most talented drivers in the garage, but his attitude tended to obscure admiration, and his skill alone wasn't enough to navigate the higher pressures of the Chase.

But the Daytona wreck turned Busch into a sympathetic figure, brought low by no fault of his own. Drivers, long critical of what they perceived as insufficient safety protection at tracks, rallied to Busch’s side, speaking on his behalf and, later, welcoming him back into the garage.

“The recovery process, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re trying to achieve a championship,” Busch said, “but it made us mentally stronger and physically stronger.” Even standing was a challenge; he could put weight on his broken foot only for three seconds at a time. Still, he pushed himself farther than he knew he could, lifting ever-heavier weights, standing and exercising for ever-longer minutes.

Along the way, something changed in Kyle. The wreck showed him the fragility of a Sprint Cup career. The birth of his son — Kyle and Samantha welcomed son Brexton on May 18 — gave the famously race-obsessed Busch a look at life beyond the track.

“What he went through this year, I see a changed Kyle,” Gordon said after the race. “When he came back, not only was he driven and inspired by it, but you could tell he was racing smarter, with more patience, being more deliberate.”

You see that little guy that he holds in his arms, and you know, it puts things in a different perspective,” Harvick said as Busch celebrated. “It used to be you didn't want to have kids because it took the fire out of you from driving the car, and now it seems to have calmed a lot of us down to the point where we can focus and do the things that we need to do to concentrate on our jobs.”

Up on the stage, Kyle’s crew threw T-shirts and packets of M&M’s into the crowd. Nearby, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards looked on and smiled. In the center of it all, Kyle sprayed his team with champagne, stopping every so often to take a swig of the bottle himself.

A championship trophy. Adoration from the fans who’d so often booed him. Busch’s mother, his team owner, his wife, even Brexton, sporting oversize blue headphones and a tiny “18” T-shirt — all of them around him, all of them celebrating at the pinnacle. We should all be so lucky as Kyle Busch is today.

"I don't know how you top this," he said, "but I'd sure like to see."

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

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: November 23, 2015, 3:52 am

The upside of social media is that it gives a public voice to many people who previously wouldn't have one. The downside is, well, the same thing.

Last week, many people on Twitter believed that NBC's rain delay filler of taped race broadcasts were live. They were likely some of the same people who thought Jimmie Johnson's taped 2013 Daytona 500 victory happened a year later when Fox broadcast it during a rain delay.

And, sadly, there's probably some crossover in those two audiences with a prominent segment on Sunday. After Kyle Busch's win in the Ford 400 to clinch the Sprint Cup Series title, "Kyle Bush" received a lot of congratulatory tweets. Behold:

2015 SPRINT CUP CHAMPION Kyle Bush!!!! pic.twitter.com/FUWCW8t9q3

— Andre' George (@Andre_George13) November 23, 2015

@KyleBusch is the Spring Cup Champion! Dude missed 11 races and wins it all. AMAZING!!!! #KyleBush

— Matt Rodriguez (@WinstonWolf71) November 23, 2015

Kyle Bush great job tonight

— Landon Mtin Koetting (@mtin_landon) November 23, 2015


— BOB DUROCHER #NFB (@docd1111) November 23, 2015

Congratulations to Kyle Bush on your first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship would have love to see Jeff win it but good job team 24.

— Austin Randal Thomas (@AustinRandall88) November 23, 2015

For more tweets, you can click right here.


— Callie Misenheimer (@_callie_rene_) November 23, 2015

@nascarcasm David Ragan needs a "I helped kyle bush win the championship and all I got was this t-shirt" shirt

— Katie Fesenmeyer (@Kfezz) November 23, 2015

Busch wasn't the only driver who had his name butchered on Twitter throughout Sunday. Jeff Gordon, the four-time Sprint Cup Series champion who retired after Sunday's race, fell victim to the misspelling. Even Zachary Levi, the man who sang the national anthem before the race, couldn't get it right.

Well Jeff Gordan of course! Gotta go out on top. It’s meant to be. 😉🏁 https://t.co/rXzLnYcDet

— Zachary Levi (@ZacharyLevi) November 22, 2015

Hate that Jeff Gordan couldn't get another championship. What an amazing career! #24

— Cody Robinson (@CRobinson65) November 23, 2015

can't believe it's Jeff Gordan's last race luv 24 go 24

— Jade Caraway (@jade_brooke_) November 22, 2015

Few people know this but I use to be OBSESSED (understatement) as a kid, and Jeff Gordan was my hero! Today is a sad day #24ever

— Bryson Butler (@bry_kindaguy) November 22, 2015

Thank You #JeffGordan One Last Ride #24EVER #24 pic.twitter.com/4o0aIOTGeJ

— Dakota France (@Dakota_France92) November 22, 2015

Gordon finished sixth in Sunday's race. He'll be a broadcaster in 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: November 23, 2015, 2:49 am

HOMESTEAD, Florida – Martin Truex Jr. and his team weren't going to win the 2015 Sprint Cup Series title racing Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick heads up. So the team tried some late-race strategy.

It didn't pay off, as Truex ended up 12th in the Ford 400 and fourth out of the four drivers chasing the Sprint Cup Series trophy. Busch won the race and the title, beating Kevin Harvick to the line by 1.5 seconds.

Crew chief Cole Pearn elected to take two tires on the race's next-to-last caution flag on lap 168. The decision put Truex into the lead. But it came at a cost. Homestead-Miami Speedway chews up tires. With the rest of the field having four fresh tires beind him, Truex was going to be at a grip disadvantage over the course of a long green flag run.

The green flag run happened. The next caution didn't come until there were 10 laps to go in the 267-lap race. By the time the yellow flag came,

"We had to try something," Truex said. "We weren't getting anywhere. We made just about every adjustment we could possibly make on our race car and never really seemed like we could find that speed, so we were just taking some gambles. We did two early and it worked out for us pretty well. We did two later on and the race went green longer than we had hoped and we probably lost two spots because of it."

"But I think all in all at the end of the day, net‑net, we kind of ended up where we should have. We just didn't have the speed, so we were trying to gamble on some things and trying to get some track position any way we could, just couldn't hang onto it."

The changes Truex's team made to the car didn't begin during the race. They started the night before. He knew the team wasn't going to be competitive during practice on Saturday.

"Without – we really felt like without trying something quite different, we weren't going to get there because we had tried so many different things throughout practice, different packages, to try to get the feel or get some – really get some grip in the car. It just was never there for us. So we figured we had to take a big swing at it, and honestly I don't think it really was any worse than it was in practice."

The fourth-place finish in the points standings is Truex's highest points finish and the first time he's finished inside the top 10. Can he top it next year? There's reason for optimism. Truex's team is starting a technical alliance in 2016 with Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch's 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: November 23, 2015, 2:13 am

HOMESTEAD, Florida – The theme of Kevin Harvick's season continued Sunday night at Homestead.

The 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion picked up his 13th second-place finish of the season in the Ford 400. The driver that beat him? Kyle Busch, one of the three drivers he was racing for the title, meaning Harvick ends the year as the No. 2 driver in the points standings.

"It's been a great couple years, and I know we're disappointed about finishing second tonight, but it's kind of the theme of the year, finishing second," Harvick said.

Harvick was multiple seconds behind Busch as the laps wound down Sunday night. With the race in the middle of a long green flag run, the chances of Harvick catching Busch seemed slim. But with 10 laps to go, a caution came for debris on the frontstretch. Harvick restarted behind Busch on the outside line on the race's final restart. He had a chance to win the race.

He didn't have the car to do it. Busch got the lead out of turns 1 and 2 on the restart and started pulling away. As the laps wound down, Busch's interval on Harvick would grow by three-tenths of a second each lap. Not only did Busch have clean air at the front of the field, he had a faster car outright.

"Our car fired off good," Harvick said. "We were able to go through traffic good at the beginning, but as the night went, it seemed like [Busch] got better, and we just got -- we didn't get any better. We just stayed the same and never could fix the problems that we had."

Harvick started the season with two-straight second-place finishes at Daytona and Atlanta. He ends the season with two straight as well after finishing second at Phoenix the week before. Per NASCAR, his 13 second-place runs are the most in the Cup Series since Bobby Allison had 15 in 1970. Guess what? Allison finished second that season too.

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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: November 23, 2015, 1:53 am

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HOMESTEAD, Fla – Days before the Sprint Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kyle Busch said he'd dreamed of beating childhood hero Jeff Gordon to win the title. The dream came true Sunday as Busch won his first Sprint Cup championship, outracing Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. in a one race, winner-take-all race for the title.

Busch clinched the championship by winning the Ford 400, a race that from the start looked like Harvick's to lose. But as the race wore on, Harvick's grip on the championship loosened. His car slowed while Busch's sped up. 

But with under 15 laps to go a caution came out, bringing Harvick back in the mix. Busch restarted second and Harvick was fourth. But there was little drama, as Busch pulled away from race leader Brad Keselowski and set sail for the title.

Harvick wound up second, Gordon sixth and Truex 12th.

Gordon, searching for a fifth title before his historic career came to a close, briefly took the lead during the first part of the race but after losing track position on a later restart, he never sniffed the lead again. Gordon hovered around the back part of the top 10 and complained of an ill-handling car. At one point he told crew chief Alan Gustafson that he didn't know what the team could do to get the car to handle better.

After getting out the car for the final time, Gordon hugged team owner Rick Hendrick, then was joined by his family, as Busch celebrated behind him. 

"Well, we all know nothing would have been quite better than that and the win," Gordon said later. "But I've learned a lot in life, and there's no such thing as a perfect day and a perfect life. Just like there's no such thing as a perfect race car. They're really close and good and at times better than the rest, but it doesn't mean that they're ever perfect."

Busch missed the first 11 races of the season after breaking his right leg and left foot in the season-opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway. Upon his return, NASCAR said he would be eligible for the Chase if he was able to win a race and finish in the top 30 in points. With four wins in a five-race summer stretch, Busch easily got into the top 30 in points in 15 races. His Chase eligibility wasn't a question mark.

Gordon came to victory lane to congratulate Busch. As the two embraced, Busch told Gordon he was so glad he got to race Gordon in his final race.

Gordon's career was the focus of much of the pre-race buildup. A mob surrounded Gordon's car as he stood next to it before the race and he took pictures with legendary driver Mario Andretti, Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton and his family and team.Jeff Gordon greets fans before the final race of his career. (Getty Images)

After the race, Gordon took a moment and talked to wife Ingrid Vandebosch and their children Ella and Leo. Gordon, 44, will move to the broadcast booth for Fox's NASCAR coverage next season. He will be replaced in the No. 24 car by Chase Elliott, son of former NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, in 2016.

Harvick was looking for back-to-back titles. The driver of the No. 4 car won the 2014 race at Homestead to win the title. But he simply didn't have a car fast enough to stay up with Busch at the end. He tried to go to the high side of the track but couldn't make the line work to gain ground.

Truex, who won earlier in the season at Pocono, briefly held the lead because of a two-tire pit stop. The strategy play didn't work, however, and Truex's car slid through the field as he was passed by cars with four fresh tires.

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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: November 23, 2015, 12:57 am
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HOMESTEAD, Fla.—There's a reason they tell you not to smoke anywhere near pit road at a NASCAR race.

Martin Truex Jr., one of the four drivers in the hunt for a championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, had a heart-stopping moment roughly halfway through the race. While Truex was in for a routine pit stop, a random spark ignited the race fuel being pumped into his car. Both the car and the gas can nozzle burned, and Truex drove off in a hurry. His gas can holder tilted the can upward to keep more fuel from burning, and within moments the flame was a memory.

Once again: NASCAR drivers, and their crews, are just a bit insane.

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

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: November 22, 2015, 11:43 pm

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY SportsHOMESTEAD, Fla.—America’s highway system, for all practical purposes, ends about a mile from Homestead-Miami Speedway. The tunnel leading into the track bears the designation of “Southernmost Tunnel in the United States, 180 miles from Cuba.” The track sits in the middle of swampland, the runoff of the Everglades.

The roads around the track, such as they are, stretch on perfect compass lines, meeting at right angles. Some are sun-bleached pavement, others are twin tire ruts plunging into the underbrush. Palm tree farms dot the territory around the Air Base and the track, advertising BLOW-OUT SALE in eight-foot-tall weatherbeaten letters.

There is no earthy reason for a track to be here. And yet here it is, now 20 years on, the host of NASCAR’s championship hunt and an arena with one of the more fascinating backstories in American sports.

In mid-August of 1992, a small storm system formed in the Atlantic. Meteorologists didn’t even bother naming it until August 22, and even then, Hurricane Andrew seemed to be one of the dozens of storms that sputter out in a spray of rain.


But then the storm abruptly grew to Category 5 status, giving residents of South Florida less than a day to either batten down their homes or evacuate. Early in the morning of August 24, the eye of the storm bullseyed Homestead and Florida City, the southernmost towns in the continental United States, and the devastation was biblical.

Hurricane Andrew was only the third recorded Cat-5 hurricane to hit the continental U.S., and its winds, estimated at 160 mph, were so powerful it destroyed measuring instruments. The hurricane flattened enormous swathes of Homestead and Florida City. All told, the hurricane killed 44 in Florida and did $25 billion ($42 billion in today’s dollars) in damage to the state, the costliest in American history.


Nearby Homestead Air Force base, located just north of what is now Homestead-Miami Speedway, suffered a near-mortal blow. The base had managed to deploy most of its fighter squadrons to safer locales, but virtually every one of the 2,000 buildings on the base was damaged or destroyed.

“Homestead Air Force Base,” Florida Community Affairs official Toni Riordan said at the time, “no longer exists.”

In the wake of the hurricane, the Department of Defense made a fateful decision: Homestead-Miami Air Base would be reclassified as a reserve base, not an active one. That meant the base would go from 12,000 jobs to about 800, and the Homestead area would lose an estimated 25,000 people as a result.


At the same time, many non-military residents who’d seen their homes and lives flattened took their insurance checks and bailed on the area, moving closer to the Miami area.

“We had a population of 30,000, 27,000,” said Stephen Shelley, vice mayor of Homestead, “I’d say half those people left the city because the devastation was so horrible.”

“To say the area was depressed would be an understatement,” said Al Garcia, now the speedway's vice president of operations. “It was grim.”

Homestead needed an economic engine, and quickly. The area was bleeding, and with no incentive for income, bankruptcies could finish off what Andrew had begun. The city had access to $75 million in federal economic development funds, but the question would be how to spend it.

Homestead leaders had reason to tread with caution. Over the course of 1992, the Cleveland Indians had built a new, $18 million spring training home in Homestead and were planning to move into it to begin the 1993 season. After the hurricane, the Indians moved north for a temporary home that turned permanent once the team realized it was more efficient to keep the team in central Florida. (Cleveland has since moved to Arizona for spring training.)

The already-built stadium and complex languished for decades. Its still-extant fields serve as a local recreation center, and its buildings now serve as office space for the Homestead Police Department.

So one can forgive Homestead officials for viewing large-scale sports proposals with caution. But local Miami motorsports promoter Ralph Sanchez talked Homestead into building a new track on a stretch of potato farms east of the city. Two-lane roads and irrigation ditches ran past it, but the property was remarkably unremarkable.

Homestead-Miami Speedway groundbreakingGroundbreaking for what would become Homestead-Miami Speedway took place one year to the day after Hurricane Andrew hit. Development required some creative engineering; soil is only about five feet thick in the South Florida region, and then you hit solid rock. Engineers dynamited rock to create fill for the pilings that would hold up the grandstands; the 50-foot-deep lakes in the track’s infield and just outside its walls were created by those blasts.

In contrast to the prison rec yard décor of many tracks, Homestead featured an art deco style from Day One, combining aqua blue, tan, and purple to a sport so long defined by Petty Blue and Earnhardt black. The track opened for racing on Nov. 5, 1995, with Dale Jarrett winning the Jiffy Lube Miami 300 in what was then the Busch, now the Xfinity Series.

Homestead owns the track, and has leased it out—first to Sanchez, now to International Speedway Corporation—under a long-term deal. The track’s initial design resembled the low-bank, sharp-cornered layout of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but poor racing and dangerous crashes led the track to reconfigure the banks twice, first in 1997 and again in 2003.

Since 1999, the track has hosted NASCAR’s season-ending championship finale, among several other series championships. With a seating capacity of 45,000, Homestead sold out for Sunday’s Sprint Cup championship race, Jeff Gordon’s final turn behind the wheel of a car in NASCAR. The speedway now claims an economic impact of more than $300 million for the surrounding area, as well as 3,100 permanent jobs.

The roads around Homestead-Miami Speedway remain among some of the more desolate in Florida. Discarded appliances still dot the roads, bullet holes pock speed-limit signs, and who-knows-what lies in the swamps deeper in the sawgrass and palms. But the track now looms above it all, its lights visible for miles around.

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

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: November 22, 2015, 8:57 pm

Jeff Gordon fans filled his pit wall at Homestead-Miami Speedway with good luck messages before the start of Sunday's Ford 400.

It's the four-time champion driver's last race before he moves to the broadcast booth (a race that will be delayed by rain). Before the rain hit, his pit box had numerous fans with sharpies. Here are a few of the messages that we saw.

Yes, we took note of some of the odder ones.

The minion in Jeff Gordon's pit stall is drawing plenty of ink. pic.twitter.com/3IpB0uNCUS

— Jay Busbee (@jaybusbee) November 22, 2015

Should we tell this woman he's retiring and not dying? pic.twitter.com/vnv9th8wri

— Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) November 22, 2015

Uh did this person misspell ever? pic.twitter.com/0QvDeV7TsC

— Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) November 22, 2015

Many of the messages contained "#24ever" a hashtag commemorating Gordon's retirement and it was clear that Gordon was the most popular driver when it came to fan attire in the garage and 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: November 22, 2015, 7:25 pm

HOMESTEAD, Fla.—Matt Stonie devoured 71 ribs in five minutes on Sunday, which is impressive in part because Stonie doesn't look much bigger than a pork rib himself.  Here, watch:

Watch Matt Stonie devour a ton of ribs, and keep your fingers away from his mouth. pic.twitter.com/FuF5jnppai

— Jay Busbee (@jaybusbee) November 22, 2015

As part of a Smithfield "Whole Hog Challenge" promotion, Stonie powered through nearly six dozen ribs with the determined bearing of an MMA fighter, twisting the meat off the bone, devouring it in four bites per rib, following every few ribs with a gulp of water, and stopping every dozen or so to jump up and down and settle the meat in his stomach. Richard Petty, the winningest driver in NASCAR history, looked on, an unreadable grin on his face.

Stonie, nicknamed "Megatoad," powered through the ribs as Sam Barclay, the carnival barker-esque emcee of Major League Eating, rallied the crowd. Aric Almirola, who now drives the Smithfield 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports, smiled and shook his head in disbelief.

 When it was over, Stonie wiped his mouth, wobbled a bit, held up a trophy nearly his size, and a hand-written "71" sign. The record was his, and so too were many, many pounds of pork.

PODCAST: Jeff Gordon ends his career; NASCAR championship preview:

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: November 22, 2015, 5:23 pm

Sunday's race at Homestead-Miami Speedway is the 797th and final Sprint Cup start of Jeff Gordon's career. Can the four-time champion add a fifth before he retires? Gordon is racing against Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. for the title.

Here's a look at some of the key numbers from Gordon's career to date. While all of them could look different after Sunday's race, the figures are proof of the impact Gordon has had on NASCAR.

Jeff Gordon's career by the numbers. Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports


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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 22, 2015, 2:00 pm

Chris Buescher finished 11th on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway to win the Xfinity Series championship.

Buescher entered the weekend with an 18-point lead on defending series champion Chase Elliott. The lead meant Buescher simply needed to keep Elliott within 16 places (at worst) to win the title. It happened as Elliott finished three spots ahead in eighth.

Ty Dillon and Regan Smith were also mathematically eligible for the title. Dillon finished seventh and Smith was ninth. Kyle Larson won the race after passing Austin Dillon with three laps to go. Dillon scrubbed the wall and Larson moved by to take the lead for the final time. Larson led a race-high 118 of 200 laps.

Buescher had two wins and 20 top-10 finishes in 2015. He won at Iowa in the 10th race of the season and at Dover in the 12th. He finished seventh in the Xfinity Series in 2014 and made six Cup Series starts in 2015 for Front Row Motorsports.

His teammate Ryan Reed also made history. Reed won the season-opening race at Daytona and never finished in the top 10 the rest of the season. He's the first driver to run a full season and the Xfinity Series and win one race with no other top 10. Only two other drivers have driven more than 10 races in a season, won a race and never finished inside the top 10. Justin Labonte won in 17 races in 2004 and Jeff Purvis had a win in 12 races in 2002.

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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: November 21, 2015, 10:42 pm

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HOMESTEAD, Fla.—The final qualifying round of the 2015 season, and of Jeff Gordon's career, ended with a mild surprise: Gordon qualifying second among the four drivers hunting for the 2015 Sprint Cup championship.

Denny Hamlin—"Mr. Irrelevant," as he dubbed himself—won the pole. Gordon, after struggling early in the first round, managed to fight his way up to fifth. Kyle Busch will start third, Martin Truex Jr. will start 11th, and Kevin Harvick will start 13th.

"Sitting back here and watching Jeff talk and everything, it's like, man, you know, I thought about it before, but I didn't think about like how awesome it would be [for Hamlin] to win his final race," Hamlin said. "No disrespect to him, but man, that would be awesome to win his final race. I hope he finishes third behind Kyle."

Gordon, for his part, will not be going out quietly. "Obviously with our effort today in qualifying, I think we showed how bad we all want it, to be better than just being here battling for the championship and it being my final race," he said. "When I'm in the car, when I'm in the garage, I'm very focused and I can't say it's about fun at that time, but when it goes the way it went in qualifying, man, that's a lot of fun, and then just all the other interactions with the media, a few presentations, seeing those crew guys today, past crew members, I mean, that was awesome.  How could I not be having the time of my life?"

PODCAST: Previewing Jeff Gordon's final race and the NASCAR finale:

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

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: November 21, 2015, 1:15 am

Matt Kenseth (20) walks out of the garage after NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto racing practice Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)HOMESTEAD, Fla.—The last time Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano were in close proximity, Logano was riding Kenseth's bumper right into the Turn 1 wall at Martinsville. Logano still had championship hopes, and Kenseth was racing in his 571st consecutive race dating back to early 2000.

Three weeks later, Logano is out of the championship hunt. Kenseth's consecutive-starts streak is now at zero. Their feud, which divided NASCAR fans, drivers, and officials, has faded into the background of a championship chase and a retirement celebration. But is their fight truly over?

Perhaps. "I think everything will be fine there," Kenseth said in a story first reported by the AP. "I mean, I wish none of it had happened, obviously. There's probably certain things we'll never agree on, but I think long-term it will be fine and we'll work it out."

Kenseth-Logano I began at Kansas, when Logano knocked Kenseth out of the lead and, as it turned out, out of the Chase. Kenseth-Logano II came at Talladega, when Kenseth accused Logano of cramping him on pit road. And then the knockout blow: Kenseth-Logano III, Martinsville, when Kenseth plowed Logano into the wall. Kenseth was 10 laps down at the time while Logano was in the lead, and that breach of race etiquette was enough to convince NASCAR to sit Kenseth for two races.

Earlier on Friday, NASCAR chairman Brian Z. France allowed that while Kenseth had suffered an unfortunate stroke of fate, his retaliation was over the line. "When Kansas happened, we were very disappointed for Matt, because he got the, obviously, the real short end of that exchange," France said, "but as a NASCAR racing incident, that happens all the time."

Kenseth indicated after Martinsville that he believed he had the green light to piledrive Logano, which might be a bit of convenient rationalization, but NASCAR made it clear that retaliation will not stand. "If something is so egregiously obvious that somebody wasn't just trying to have a hard racing moment, but they're literally just trying to take somebody out, we will obviously deal with that," France said. "That is a line. We'll deal with that."

With Kenseth and Logano effectively settled, by the standings if nothing else, the question thus arises: what if the championship hunt involves blocking or spinning? How would NASCAR deal with that? "My expectation is nobody would ever block either. But they do. It doesn't take any talent to block," France said. "But contact late in the race, that's just part of it and we got to have an understanding of that and not be so surprised when that happens in a NASCAR race. That has happened in our entire history."

Regardless of how Sunday shakes out, neither Kenseth nor Logano will figure in the championship hunt. For two of the season's hottest drivers, that's more than enough punishment for any sins, real or imagined.

PODCAST: Jeff Gordon retirement celebration, Homestead preview:

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: November 20, 2015, 9:44 pm

Welcome to a special edition of Power Rankings! The soon-to-be-retiring Jeff Gordon has received a bunch of gifts over the course of season from Sprint Cup Series tracks so we've decided to rank them.

Please note, this isn't a complete list, rather one of tangible, public gifts. Many tracks did tributes to Gordon (Charlotte did promotions leading up to the race) and other tracks chose to give him gifts privately. This is a list of the public gifts Gordon received in his final season as a NASCAR driver.

Pocono and Richmond: Pocono hosted a poker tournament to benefit Gordon's foundation and the NASCAR foundation and raised $58,000. Richmond made a donation to the Richmond Children's Hospital of toys in a toy box shaped like Gordon's car. It also hosted a fundraiser. While we're admittedly a sucker for charitable causes, we feel both of these gifts had more of an impact than any others. Gordon won over $150 million in his Sprint Cup Series career. He's an incredibly fortunate guy.

Indianapolis: Pittsboro, Indiana, Gordon's hometown, hosted Jeff Gordon Day before the Brickyard 400. He also got the Sagamore of the Wabash Award, the highest award in the state of Indiana. Pittsboro also had a parade for Gordon. We all want to have a parade in our honor, right?

Bristol: The track announced in August that one of its sections of grandstands would be named "Jeff Gordon Terrace." We assume Gordon gets to pick wherever he'd want to sit in that grandstand for life, though he won't ever need a ticket. He'll always have special access. And he can always have fun with people when he pretends to be offended if they didn't get tickets in the section named after him.

Phoenix: The track renamed itself "Jeff Gordon Raceway" on November 15. Perhaps Mother Nature didn't approve given the rain that plagued most of the day and cut the race 93 laps short. We kid about that part, but having a track named after you, even for a day, is fun even if it's a bit hokey, right? It would have been cool if Gordon would have been put in charge of the race operations for the day too. He was already qualified for Homestead so he had nothing else to worry about.

Texas: TMS gave Gordon two shetland ponies for his kids. We didn't expect anything less from Texas, the most outlandish promotional track on the circuit. Per the track, the ponies are still in Texas and are awaiting transportation logistics to be worked out before they are shipped to North Carolina. Maybe Gordon should start pony racing next.

Kansas and Atlanta: Atlanta gave Gordon a Bandolero car with his number on the car and his son Leo's name above the door. Kansas gave Gordon a replica of his first quarter midget car, a car he's been looking for. The Bandolero may end up being raced if Leo wants to imitate his father, and if Gordon can't ever find the quarter midget, having a replica is certainly better than nothing at all.

Martinsville: Gordon got a model train set from the track on the Friday before the race. The train has a car for each of Gordon's then-eight wins at the track. He then went out and won the race on November 1 to add another car to the train. If you're wondering why Gordon got a train, there are train tracks that run behind the backstretch at Martinsville and trains frequently go by on race weekends.

Kentucky: The only track Gordon hasn't won at gave him a special batch of bourbon. Kentucky presented him with four sets of 24 bottles from differing Kentucky manufacturers. Hopefully Gordon really likes bourbon. If he doesn't, perhaps this should be further down the list. And on the Kentucky theme, media members presented Gordon with a trophy from Kentucky while at Phoenix last weekend. Well done, fellow media members.

Sonoma: The track in California wine country started the alcohol theme by giving Gordon a giant bottle of wine. The 18-liter bottle was custom painted to reflect Gordon's five wins at the track. We'd like to know how many people it would take to drink an 18-liter bottle of wine.

Dover: The track presented Gordon with 90 Miles Monster trophies, one for every member of the shared Hendrick Motorsports shop of Gordon's team and Kasey Kahne's team. If one of them shows up on eBay, we know there was an ungrateful crew member.

Las Vegas: Gordon was presented with a custom blackjack table. Is he ever going to use it at home? Don't get us wrong, we wouldn't want to turn down anything that's on this list, but does it get a spot in Gordon's house?

Fontana: Auto Club Speedway gave Gordon a helmet commemorating his win at the track in 1997, the first Sprint Cup Series race there. It's a cool gift, especially considering Gordon's relevance to the track, but how many helmets do you think Gordon has from over the years?

Michigan: Gordon got four nights at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island from Michigan. Hey, we'll gladly take the vacation, but Gordon can afford any type of vacation he wants. We do give Michigan president Roger Curtis credit for the rocking chair symbolism, however. When presenting Gordon with the gift, Curtis joked that instead of giving the four-time champion a rocking chair, they'd just give his family a vacation at a hotel with a really long porch full of them.

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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: November 20, 2015, 9:14 pm

NASCAR Chairman Brian France stood by his comments regarding Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth's incident at Kansas and the way the sanctioning body handled Kenseth's retribution to Logano two weeks later.

After Kenseth went spinning from the lead off Logano's bumper, France called the racing between the two "quintessential NASCAR," a line that became a bit contentious in the events that followed. He used the q-word four times during the course of his media availability on Friday.

"I even go back to just last year in Texas, we had a perfectly, what I always call quintessential moments in NASCAR, where Jeff Gordon is, needs to win and in Texas at the time and Brad Keselowski makes an aggressive move," France said. "A lot of people thought he shouldn't have done it. He came splitting down the middle, lots of contact, Jeff Gordon gets the short end of that particular exchange, probably cost him a shot at the championship last year, that's part of NASCAR.

Were we going to react to that? Of course not. We're not going to react to anything that's part of the traditional part of hard, aggressive racing. This is, there is going to be contact. I always expect that. I don't expect people to turn people around. That's not what we mean when we say contact. But sometimes it happens. ... Lots of things can happen when there's really hard racing and contact going on and NASCAR will officiate the way we have always done that. That's why there's been zero, I want to say that, zero drivers walk in and say, can you ask, can we talk about where the line is. They know exactly where the line is."

Kenseth, who used "quintessential" as a hashtag on Twitter two weeks ago regarding the battle for the lead at Texas with Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson, met with France on Monday. Kenseth returned to the track Friday at Homestead.

France said he was "thrilled" with the Chase format, which is currently in its second year. Though it's hard not to see his support for the Chase as a tacit admission that NASCAR executives were dissatisfied with the racing in the Cup Series before it was implemented in 2014.

"I was talking to Mike Helton the other day, I said this might be the best thing we could have ever done for the quality of racing that we have ever done," France said. "And he said, I think you're right. And we both kidded ourselves, because he and I both were the ones that were, believe it or not, against going forward with this format for a number of years. Advancing it to an elimination and winner take all scenario. But we got exactly what we want, which is great racing, obviously when you get great racing, you're going to get great moments, we love great moments as anybody in sports does. But more importantly, the thrill of watching the teams elevate to do things, achieve things, and I see on pit road, it's not just what the driver does, it's they're taking chances, their strategies, their preparation, and obviously the drivers are doing things."

And while the Chase may not be changing in 2016, the rules for the Sprint Cup cars are. NASCAR is reducing downforce for all Cup cars in the hope of creating better racing.

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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: November 20, 2015, 7:58 pm

The Wood Brothers' No. 21 car is making a full-time return to the Sprint Cup Series.

The team announced Friday that it would attempt every race on the Sprint Cup schedule next season and Ryan Blaney would continue to drive for the team.

The team has been running a part-time schedule in the Cup Series since 2009. The Wood Brothers have won 98 races throughout its history in NASCAR. Drivers like Cale Yarborough, A.J. Foyt and David Pearson have won races in the No. 21.

However, the team hasn't performed as strongly in recent years. It's won just twice since Morgan Shepherd took the team to victory lane in 1993. Elliott Sadler won at Bristol in 2001 and Trevor Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500.

When Blaney joined the team for the 2015 season, the Wood Brothers' technical alliance shifted from Roush Fenway Racing to Team Penske. The team said Friday that its performance had improved enough to allow it to increase its number of races. Blaney, who drives for Penske in the Xfinity Series. In 15 races this season, he has finishes of fourth at Talladega in the spring and seventh at Kansas in the fall.

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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: November 20, 2015, 6:48 pm

HOLLYWOOD, Florida – There were no verbal replications of the kick Holly Holm delivered to Ronda Rousey during Thursday's Chase media day.

The pre-race media festivities before the Sprint Cup Series season's final race at Homestead have usually delivered at least some sort of trash talk. Tony Stewart jabbed Carl Edwards in 2011. Just last season, eventual champion Kevin Harvick poked Joey Logano.

Harvick was back on stage Thursday along with Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr. But Harvick, nor any of the other three drivers, decided to single out another. Instead, it was a press conference full of stares straight ahead and, once the drivers got comfortable, some laughs.

Harvick blamed it on Gordon.

"I think it's his fault," Harvick said. "We're going to blame it on him. It's a little bit different, I think, just for the fact that I know we all want to win. We all want to have a championship."

"But in the end, you don't want to be the guy that was disrespectful at Jeff Gordon's last press conference or say something that's just a total jackass move."

Gordon identified Harvick as driver to beat.

"He's the favorite," Gordon said. "We're the sentimentals."

Harvick won last year's race at Homestead en route to the title. He's also the only driver in ths year's final four who was in last year's.

"I have the confidence in my team and the things that we've done this year that I believe that our car will be competitive," Harvick said. "But as we've proven throughout the Chase, even though your car is competitive, there's a lot of things that can go wrong in our sport, just whether it's mistakes from me or parts failures or whatever goes on."

He continued: "You know, you're confident in what you have, but you can't be confident in the results just for the fact that you just never know what can reach out and grab you."

Busch, Gordon and Truex Jr. are the sentimental favorites for obvious reasons. By now you know that Gordon's final race of his illustrious NASCAR career is Sunday. The four-time champion hasn't won a title since 2001 and has even said himself that a fifth title would be a fairytale ending to his career.

Truex Jr. unceremoniously lost his ride with Michael Waltrip Racing following the 2013 season after a race manipulation scandal started the team's slide into oblivion. He joined with Furniture Row Racing in 2014 and after a season of struggles on the track, won in June and has been a consistent member of the top 15. His longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, is also currently in chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.

"The way I see it, these three next to me are supposed to win the championship, and I'm probably not, so that's a pretty cool story in itself," Truex said.

In addition to Truex, Busch is going for his first title too. He missed the first 11 races of the season after breaking a leg and foot in a nasty crash in the Xfinity Series race at Daytona. He was given a waiver to make the Chase by NASCAR and won four races in a five-race stretch over the summer.

Busch called Gordon his childhood hero on Thursday and said he'd been dreaming of winning a title since his early teens. And yes, beating Gordon is included in those dreams.

"Yeah I've beat him a few times in my championship dreams for sure," Busch said. "I've already had probably six or seven by now when I was 13 years old thinking of it. But right now I'm at zero so we've got to make the first one happen"

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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: November 19, 2015, 9:22 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.

Guess what? If the Chase was cumulative, Jeff Gordon would have a one point lead on Carl Edwards. Joey Logano would be 15 points back. Nine drivers would mathematically have a title shot. Yeah, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, but this would be one hell of a finale.

1. Jeff Gordon 2,334
2. Carl Edwards 2,333
3. Joey Logano 2,319
4. Kyle Busch 2,318
5. Martin Truex Jr. 2,317
6. Kevin Harvick 2,306
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2.305
8. Brad Keselowski 2,304
9. Kurt Busch 2,297
10. Denny Hamlin 2,293
11. Ryan Newman 2,286
12. Jimmie Johnson 2,270
13. Jamie McMurray 2,263
14. Paul Menard 2,237
15. Matt Kenseth 2,197
16. Clint Bowyer 2,174

After rain shortened the Phoenix race by 93 laps, rain was easily the dominant topic of this week. Let's start with that.

@nickbromberg should #NASCAR allow Chase races to be rain-shortened, or should it follow the MLB/World Series route and require full length?

— Philip Jones (@philgoodstory) November 19, 2015

@NickBromberg NASCAR really would not end the final race 1/2 way, and hand out a trophy, would they?

— Andy R. (@andyacr) November 19, 2015

Does NASCAR want to hand out the trophy while NBC has Sunday Night Football on?

We don't want to fret about rain. Who knows. It could rain. It may not. But there's no need to add to the hand-wringing already going on about the forecast for the weekend. Since it's warm in Florida (newsflash!) and there could be a decent wind off the shore, track-drying may not take that long.

Ultimately, NASCAR will do whatever it can to finish the race, and having a full race bumped to NBCSN is better than finishing early – assuming there's a chance to finish the race in the evening – and keeping the race on NBC.

We like the idea of a full race guarantee in the Chase, though it could produce some logistical issues for teams. What if a race gets delayed to Tuesday? But is the possible pressure on the teams worth it for making sure every race is run to completion? We lean to yes.


@jaybusbee @NickBromberg what of the championship winner fails post race inspection? Do they still get championship after being illegal?

— TJ (@tjmingo22) November 18, 2015

This is the disaster scenario for NASCAR. It also may depend on where the teams finish in the race. NASCAR hasn't taken wins away from drivers and what if the winning driver also wins the race? Will he get a points penalty but keep the win? Will that affect the points standings?

This is the bad outcome mailbag.


To help eliminate what caused the problems between Kenseth and Logano NASCAR should adopt the rule they use at Toledo Speedway here in Ohio.  For some of the series that race there, if a driver cannot bump and run without spinning or wrecking the car they are trying to pass, both drivers are asked under the resultng yellow whether it was their fault.  If neither driver admits it was their fault, both or either car that can continue go to the tail end of the restart.  If this rule were in effect at Kansas, Logano would probably have tried to miss Kenseth rather than let their cars make contact. - Dave

This seems like an absolute cluster. Would Logano have admitted fault? And issuing penalties for what happened at Texas would make the criticism from fans that NASCAR has gotten after the Kenseth penalty seem very quiet.

I know Matt was mad & I don't blame him for what he did. I think nascar is picking & choosing who to punish without any set format. if they have one why wasn't Danica punished for doing the same thing? maybe after Brad K. or Joey L. get someone hurt or killed they will start to look at the difference between hard racing & dirty racing. Just my view point. - Allen A.

Danica Patrick was punished for running into David Gilliland at Martinsville. The incident between Patrick and Gilliland had been brewing for the entire race and neither were in contention for the win or the title. Completely different circumstances.

And what the hell? Why single out Logano or Keselowski? Both of them have been the victims of the most vicious purposeful punts in recent NASCAR history. Were those hits coming because of incidents on the track? Yes. But were they things that put other people in serious jeopardy? With the exception of what happened at Talladega (a disturbing trend not limited to Keselowski and Carl Edwards), no.


@NickBromberg What will be your quintessential memory of the 2015 Sprint Cup season? Can 2016 be as screwy as this year was?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) November 18, 2015

No. But at the same time, the track caught on fire in Daytona and we never saw that coming. As Jay Busbee and I talked about in the podcast below, NASCAR truth is always crazier than NASCAR fiction. Sure, people like to have their favorite black helicopter theories, but the realistic stuff that people make up doesn't come close to the things that actually happen.

2016 should be fun for what happens on the track because of the low downforce rules. We hope, anyway.

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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: November 19, 2015, 8:33 pm

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Join us, Jay Busbee and Nick Bromberg, as we break down the final race of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season. Will Jeff Gordon get title No. 5 before he moves to the broadcast booth? Will Kevin Harvick go back-to-back or will Kyle Busch or Martin Truex Jr. win his first championship?

Have a listen.

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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: November 19, 2015, 6:53 pm

Jeff Gordon's three Hendrick Motorsports teammates will have yellow numbers as a tribute to the four-time Sprint Cup Series champion on Sunday.

[Yahoo Sports Store: Buy NASCAR Chase gear]

The final race of the 2015 season is the final race of Gordon's iconic career. His car has traditionally had a yellow No. 24 on it and so Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will run yellow numbers.

#ICYMI: @DaleJr will have yellow 88's on his @Nationwide Chevy SS this weekend to honor @JeffGordonWeb. #24ever pic.twitter.com/0xaxpHK6CW

— Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) November 17, 2015

Proud to sport a yellow 5 this weekend to honor one of the greatest ever @JeffGordonWeb ! @TeamHendrick @GreatClips pic.twitter.com/9KRGAuQS6Y

— Great Clips Racing (@GREATracing) November 17, 2015

A full look at @JimmieJohnson's #lowes48 with yellow numbers for this weekend @HomesteadMiami. #24ever pic.twitter.com/zFAfMcebvi

— Team Lowe's Racing (@LowesRacing) November 17, 2015

Gordon is one of the four drivers racing for the title on Sunday. Kahne failed to qualify for the Chase while Earnhardt Jr. was eliminated in the second round. Johnson was knocked out in the first round because of a part failure at Dover.

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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: November 18, 2015, 8:04 pm

1. Kyle Busch (LW: 1): Harvick led 143 laps to Busch's 1. And he finished a spot ahead of Busch. But we're keeping Kyle here because he's made it to the final race of the Chase in title contention for the first time. That's an achievement, especially for a driver who has had such Chase failures like Busch has. But enough about those, he's going to get asked about them a lot over the week. He's handling the pressure of the last nine weeks well. There's no reason to think that he won't handle the final week well too.

2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2): There's part of us that wonders if Harvick will pick Busch as a trash-talk target if he decides to throw a few verbal jabs at Media Day on Thursday. You can't exactly try to trash talk Jeff Gordon and what are you going to say to Martin Truex Jr.? Busch is not only the only remaining competitor, but he and Harvick aren't exactly the best of friends anyway. We're betting, however, that Harvick will be a little different on Thursday.

3. Jeff Gordon (LW: 3): OK, NASCAR. Here's your story to save the dreadfulness that has been the 2015 Chase so far. Will Gordon give NASCAR the moment it's desperately wanting? While a Gordon title would be a great way for the four-time champion to end his career, it'd also be a perfect example of the randomness of the Chase. If you were ranking drivers over the course of the season, Gordon wouldn't be in the top five.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 4): Here's our fourth title contender. Yeah, the one-car team based in Denver storyline will be overrun this week, but we find something more interesting about Truex's candidacy. He's driving for a team that's switching manufacturers at the end of the season in an attempt to further improve performance. While Brad Keselowski won the 2012 title in a Dodge, Penske was on an island and working on its cars themselves. Furniture Row Racing gets equipment from Richard Childress Racing, a stalwart Chevrolet team.

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 8): Congratulations to Dale Earnhardt and, more specifically, his crew chief Greg Ives. If Junior was pitted on the turn 1 side of the start/finish line at Phoenix, Kevin Harvick probably wins the race. Instead, Junior was in front of the start/finish line and ended up being scored as the leader after the cars that didn't pit under green headed to pit road. We won't beat the dead horse here, but if the caution came out just a bit later at Talladega, Junior would be one of the final four drivers.

6. Joey Logano (LW: 7): While Kurt Busch has a huge "what if?" gripe given the rule that he violated on the start of Sunday's race, Logano's game is pretty massive too. Logano has been one of the best drivers over the past two seasons at restarts. And he had a pretty fast car throughout the entirety of Sunday's race. He would have restarted third had the race gone green. It's not crazy to think he would have been in a heads-up battle with Kevin Harvick for the chance to run for the title again.

7. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 6): Johnson finished fifth after starting on the pole. His fifth-place run was his fourth top-five in the nine races since the track has been repaved. He's still been pretty damn good there (he has other finishes of sixth and 11th), but it's not like the dominance he showed on the old pavement. Before the track was repaved, Johnson had finished outside the top 10 twice in 16 races. And those two finishes were 15th-place ones. Damn.

8. Kurt Busch (LW: 10): Look, Busch violated a rule at the start of Sunday's race. The second-place car can't beat the polesitter to the start and he did just that. But it's a cruel punishment when you see that the same scenario happened in the spring Phoenix race and went unpunished. Yeah NASCAR said it was taking a closer look at starts and restarts during the Chase. But unlike restarts, which have a lot of room for variance, what Logano did in the spring race in beating Harvick to the line was a cut and dried penalty. He escaped, while Busch got the wrath of NASCAR. Oh, by the way, he finished seventh. Hell of a comeback.

9. Brad Keselowski (LW: 5): We applaud Brad Keselowski for sticking to the theme that the Chase's entertainment value trumps fairness. It does, and that search for entertainment leaves it open to being underwhelming like it is currently. The old Chase format had elimination built in. While all drivers were still theoretically part of the Chase at Homestead, the self-selection that happened over the previous nine races left just a handful or less of drivers racing for the title every year. This format with forced elimination guarantees a close title race, but that's about it.

10. Carl Edwards (LW: 9): Edwards soooooo wanted to keep racing Sunday night. He was two spots ahead of Martin Truex Jr. and needed to make up five points. There's no guarantee he could have done that, but it would have been a fascinating subplot to what would likely have been a pretty good fight for the lead and a Chase berth. Instead, Edwards was left to wallow in the rain and, again, lose a title thanks to mother nature. Remember, in 2011 when he was racing Tony Stewart at Homestead for the title, a rain shower helped Stewart get track position late in the race to fend off Edwards.

11. Denny Hamlin (LW: NR): Hamlin finished eighth at Phoenix. And honestly, he's here because we're out of drivers to put in the top 12. Jamie McMurray finished towards the bottom part of the top 20. Ryan Newman was 11th. Paul Menard was 13th. In case you were wondering, Carl Edwards has a 15-point lead on Joey Logano for the not-at-all-important bonus for finishing in fifth.

12. Erik Jones (LW: 12): Jones finished 19th on Sunday after qualifying seventh. Two top-20 finishes isn't a bad way to sub for a championship driver. Now we just need to see if Joe Gibbs Racing wants to pull Edwards out of the No. 19 this week to let Jones see time in all four of its Cup cars this year. Yeah, it won't happen, but it'd be pretty cool and funny to see.

The Lucky Dog: Aric Almirola was 10th while teammate Sam Hornish Jr. was 31st.

The DNF: We'll give it to Ricky Stenhouse and Joey Gase for causing the caution that turned the end of the race into a cluster.

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: November 17, 2015, 8:13 pm

Matt Kenseth met with NASCAR CEO Brian France before he returns to the Sprint Cup Series on Sunday at Homestead-Miami.

Kenseth was suspended for two races after crashing Joey Logano intentionally. Kenseth has said he doesn't regret what he did to Logano and told the Associated Press that he would race more aggressively upon his return from his suspension.

''I really stand by my actions,'' he told the AP. ''I feel like there's a breaking point. It wasn't just about being mad, it was about getting this fixed. It was time to make it stop.''

A NASCAR spokesperson confirmed the scheduled meeting with France and Kenseth to USA Today. It happened Monday morning.

NASCAR's Brian France met with Matt Kenseth today in CLT. Brian was pleased with the dialogue. Now all focus is on Ford Championship Weekend

— Brett Jewkes (@BJewkes) November 16, 2015

Given Kenseth's comments about the racing being "kind of out of control" following the finish at Talladega, we've wondered if Kenseth's punt of Logano was not only a shot towards the driver of the No. 22 but towards NASCAR as well. Kenseth's teammate Denny Hamlin had made a wild west reference when talking about the race. Until Kenseth was suspended, NASCAR had recently been preferring to let drivers settle their differences on the track (and, sometimes, off of it as well).

''I felt like I was almost encouraged. I felt like the comments almost condoned it, the way Brian France said Joey was smart in the way he strategically eliminated a threat for the title,'' Kenseth said to the AP. ''I just never dreamed, ever, that I'd get suspended for going back and evening the score.''

Kenseth went for a slide after he and Logano had made contact while racing for the lead with five laps to go at Kansas. Kenseth, the 2003 champion, had said he felt Logano crashed him intentionally while Logano maintained he hadn't. Kenseth was nine laps down when he crashed Logano at Martinsville. Logano was leading 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: November 16, 2015, 4:12 pm

Sunday's rain-shortened finish to the Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix was a fitting way to continue what's been an ultimately unsatisfying Chase.

The race, which determines which four drivers will race heads-up for the Cup Series title on November 21 at Homestead, was called 93 laps early because of rain. The beneficiaries of the call were Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. As Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race, they joined Jeff Gordon for the right to drive for the title.

The losers were Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards. Instead of having 93 more miles to determine their title fates, they were left standing underneath umbrellas as NASCAR called the race 20 minutes before midnight on the east coast.

We've said it numerous times, but it bears repeating; NASCAR's elimination Chase is predicated on big moments. And while 2015 has certainly brought them once again, the mess that the moments have created leaves a feeling of emptiness.

The first moment came at Kansas, when Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano made contact while racing for the lead with five laps to go. Had Kenseth held on for the win, he would have advanced to the third round of the Chase. Many, including Kenseth himself, felt Logano had spun the driver of the No. 20 intentionally.

At Talladega, Harvick made contact with Trevor Bayne to help incite a chain reaction accident that ended the race under NASCAR's new and unnecessary green-white-checker restart rule created specifically for the race. As the field froze at the moment of contact, Earnhardt Jr., coincidentally, was a few feet short of being declared the winner. Had he won at Talladega, just like Kenseth at Kansas, he would have advanced to the third round of the Chase.

And hell, we're not even counting Martinsville, where Kenseth took out Logano with about 50 laps to go. Logano had the day's dominant car and was leading at the time. While Gordon's win proved to be the ultimate NASCAR fairytale and helped distract from the incident that led to a two-race suspension for Kenseth, his win too feels empty. There's no telling if he would have had a car capable of challenging Logano for the lead if Logano hadn't been wrecked by Kenseth.

Should NASCAR have continued the race on Sunday? It's possibly a question without a right answer. The downpour that engulfed Phoenix would have prevented the race from starting anytime before 1 a.m. Eastern. Incredibly late for a sporting event. But this is the sport that finished a race earlier in the year at Daytona at 2:40 a.m. Eastern.

Since the race was past halfway, it was already official. And there's no modern precedent for continuing an official race to the next day. Given NASCAR's tendency to be inconsistent, you could make the argument the sanctioning body should have made sure such an important race went the scheduled distance. But NASCAR ultimately stuck with its rules.

It did so at the start of the race too. Kurt Busch, who started second, was penalized for an infraction that's very clear in the NASCAR rule book. Busch crossed the start-finish line when the green flag dropped ahead of polesitter Jimmie Johnson. The polesitter being beaten to the start is a no-no. Busch was given a pass-through penalty and finished seventh. In the race at Phoenix in March, Joey Logano started second to Kevin Harvick. He beat Harvick to the line at the start of the race. He wasn't penalized.

Did the penalty cost Busch the race? It's incredibly hard to argue it didn't. Track position is key and passing is difficult at Phoenix. Busch fought his way to seventh over the first 200+ laps of the race. Could he have made up six more to get into the Chase over the final 93?

Logano and Edwards will be playing the "what if?" game too. Logano has become one of NASCAR's best at restarts. He would have restarted (and ended up finishing) third on the race's next restart behind Earnhardt Jr. and Harvick. With his restart prowess and a fast car, who knows what Logano could have done over the final 93 laps.

Edwards was 12th, two spots ahead of Martin Truex Jr., who was the final driver in on points. Truex beat Edwards by five points, but that's just five positions on the track. With over 90 laps remaining, a shift of five positions combined isn't drastic.

Keselowski finished ninth. Barring a difficulties that plagued the other Chase drivers ahead of him, he needed to win Sunday's race too. He didn't have the race's fastest car, so winning the race was probably out of the equation for him. When he was asked if the ending was fair by NBC after he climbed from his car he had this to say.

"I don't think it matters what's fair, it matters what entertains the fans," Keselowski said. "And if the fans are happy, then that's what it's all about."

He's right. The entire format of the Chase isn't fair. Its designed for entertainment and randomness.

And sometimes the unpredictability lends itself to a series of events that aren't satiating for those its designed to entertain. Will the satiation come at Homestead in the form of a Gordon championship? We'll see. If what has happened so far is the guide, don't bet on 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: November 16, 2015, 5:37 am

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won Sunday's rain-delayed and rain-shortened race at Phoenix while Kyle Busch, defending champion Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. will join Jeff Gordon to race for the championship in the final race of the season.

Junior inherited the lead during a round of green flag pit stops. As cars were coming to pit road at regular intervals for fuel and tires, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Joey Gase collided. Earnhardt Jr.'s pit box was on the turn 4 side of the start-finish line.

He was in his pit stall when the caution came out and as he crossed the start-finish line under caution he became the first driver who had pitted under green to be scored by NASCAR. Since he stayed on the lead lap, he took over the lead when the drivers who hadn't previously pitted came to pit road.

The race never got restarted because of rain. After starting over six hours late because of rain, the race was shortened after 219 laps. The caution was lengthy because Gase's car had spilled fluid all over the track. By the time the track was ready to go, it had started to rain.

Yes, NASCAR's second-to-last race of the season, a race that cuts the Chase field in half to determine the four drivers who will race for a championship at Homestead, didn't get to the full distance.

Of course, the rain isn't NASCAR's fault. A Sunday night race is better for television eyeballs than a Monday afternoon one. And since Phoenix has lights and is in the Mountain Time Zone, NASCAR had time to delay the race with the intermittent showers that plagued the area. But when a downpour hit less than 30 minutes before midnight on the east coast, the sanctioning body pulled the plug on the race with 93 laps to go.

Harvick finished second and Busch was fourth. Truex was the last driver in on points as he finished 14th, five points ahead of Carl Edwards, who finished 12th. Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch are eliminated from Chase contention. Busch was penalized on the start of the race for beating polesitter Jimmie Johnson to the line.

The Phoenix win is the third for Earnhardt Jr. this season. He previously won at Talladega in the spring and Daytona in the summer.

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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: November 16, 2015, 4:57 am

When the Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix finally got going on Sunday, NASCAR deemed Kurt Busch was a little too anxious.

Busch, who started second, beat polesitter Jimmie Johnson to the start-finish line. By rule, the second place car cannot beat the polesitter to the line on the start of the race. NASCAR reviewed the start and penalized Busch, who was competing to be one of four drivers to race for the championship at Homestead on November 22.

Busch finished seventh after the rain-delayed race was called with 93 laps to go because of more rain. He was eliminated from Chase contention; he had to win to move on to the final round. And, ultimately, his chances for a win disappeared with the call.

Busch was given a pass-through penalty, meaning he was forced to drive down pit road at pit road speed as the field passed by at full speed. The penalty wasn't as detrimental as it could have been, Busch didn't lose a lap by the time that the caution flag flew on lap 40. But it cost him a ton of track position at a track where passing is difficult.

The rule is spelled out pretty clearly in the NASCAR rule book. So there's no way to say Busch didn't violate a rule. It was obvious he was ahead of Johnson at the start of the race.

But while the rule is black and white, NASCAR's enforcement of it may not be. Need some proof? Well, we went back and found the start of the spring Phoenix race on YouTube. Kevin Harvick was the polesitter and Joey Logano started second. Logano beat Harvick to the line.

Logano was not penalized for the start. He led the first 25 laps of the race. Yes, it's imperative to note that NASCAR has said it's looking closer at start and restart procedures throughout the Chase. But the inconsistency is glaring.

Conspiracy theorists are undoubtedly noting that his presence racing for the title wouldn't be a public relations positive for NASCAR. After all, Busch is the driver that NASCAR suspended indefinitely days before the Daytona 500 after a protection order was issued against Busch in favor of an ex-girlfriend. Busch was reinstated after he missed three races when criminal charges weren't filed due to a lack of evidence.

With Busch racing for the title, domestic violence and NASCAR's handling of the situation -- the sanctioning body gave him a waiver after he was reinstated to allow him to race for the championship -- would come under scrutiny once again. And you can see why NASCAR wouldn't want to face that type of attention from outlets who don't normally cover the sport.

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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: November 16, 2015, 3:06 am

It happened again.

Remember when people thought Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona when Fox replayed the 2013 race the following year in a rain delay? Well, there were some people on Twitter who apparently thought that NBC's replay of the November 1 race at Martinsville was real again.

Sunday's race at Phoenix has been delayed by rain. So NBC played the last part of the Martinsville race. Yes, it included the part when Matt Kenseth crashed Joey Logano.

Here's what the Twittersphere had to say when the wreck was shown on NBC on Sunday. Some of these could be jokes. But if you're on Twiter, you know that not everyone was joking. Hell, maybe no one was.

What Matt Kenseth did to Joey Logano was an absolute classless move. #ClasslessKenseth #NASCAR #SprintCupSeries #PhoenixInternationalRaceway

— Anthony (@adub241) November 15, 2015

@NickBromberg pic.twitter.com/7ZxzHOzuVd

— Richard Garcia (@RichardG619) November 15, 2015

Kenseth could have hit him in the door. Logano is right - a stupid cowardly move. I hope the 22 gets suspended. #NASCAR

— Jennifer (@TomsMom1997) November 15, 2015

Change up on the subject anybody see Kenseth wreck Logano????

— Alex Barreau (@alexbarreau70) November 15, 2015

Yeah I get it, Logano wrecked you in Kansas, but why don't you race like you're supposed to instead of being childish like that #NASCAR

— SSJ todd (@AuthementTodd) November 15, 2015

The above tweets are just a sampling. Jeff Gordon won at Martinsville and, of course, people thought he had won on Sunday too.

That's what I'm talking about baby Jeff Gordon for the win

— imanthabossman (@I_man21) November 15, 2015

Jeff Gordon way to go.... That was a great ending.....

— Kevin Burger (@pahawareness) November 15, 2015

Come on Jeff Gordon!! Always been my favorite driver!! #NASCAR @JeffGordonWeb

— ChaileeLynn (@Chaileelovesyou) November 15, 2015

Keep the gap @JeffGordonWeb Oh and no cautions. That's all

— Snooze (@snoozantx) November 15, 2015

Lets go!!!!!!! #JeffGordon #24 @NASCAR

— Adrian Page (@MightyPage) November 15, 2015

Maybe there will be live racing Sunday night. We can only hope. Or for maybe another replay of a race. It'd at least provide us some Twitter entertainment.

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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: November 15, 2015, 11:12 pm

Richard Petty Motorsports' No. 9 car will probably have a different driver in 2016.

Petty said Saturday that Sam Hornish Jr. isn't expected be back for a second season with the team. Hornish made his return to racing full-time in the Sprint Cup Series with RPM in 2015 and the results have not been great. The former IndyCar and Indianapolis 500 champion is 25th in the points standings and has three top-10 finishes in 34 races.

Richard Petty says no driver yet for 9 car. Not expected to be Hornish. Says need $$ but getting close. #NASCAR

— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) November 14, 2015

His teammate, Aric Almirola, is 17th in the standings, the highest among all drivers who didn't make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. RPM even made a crew chief swap on Hornish's car in May, hiring Kevin Manion to be his crew chief.

Hornish drove for Kyle Busch Motorsports in eight Xfinity Series races in 2014. He won once and had four top fives. He also made one Cup start, replacing Denny Hamlin at Auto Club Speedway. He joined KBM on a part-time basis after he parted ways with Team Penske in the Xfinity Series. He finished 2nd in the Xfinity standings in 2013 with the team in the No. 12 car.

RPM recently re-upped its manufacturer agreement with Ford and likely is considering a driver who already has a relationship with the automaker. David Ragan, who started the season with Front Row and moved to Michael Waltrip Racing midway through the season after subbing at Joe Gibbs Racing, could be an option as MWR is shutting down at the end of the year. So could Chris Buescher, the current points leader in the Xfinity Series. Buescher has made a handful of starts in the Cup Series this year for Front Row.

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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: November 14, 2015, 6:36 pm

Jeff Gordon's Chase fate is simple. He's guaranteed to be racing for the championship at Homestead next Sunday. There's still work to be done for the seven other drivers in the Chase who haven't won a race in the third round.

Here's how the Chase standings look (minus Gordon) entering the race.

• Kyle Busch: 4,080 points
• Kevin Harvick: 4,079 points
• Martin Truex Jr.: 4,076 points
• Carl Edwards: 4,069 points
• Brad Keselowski: 4,057 points
• Kurt Busch: 4,048 points
• Joey Logano: 4,013 points

Logano's scenario is simple as well. He has to win to have any hope of advancing to the final round. With a deficit of 63 points to Truex, who would be the last driver advancing to Miami as of Friday, he can't make up the gap in one race.

Kyle Busch advances automatically if he finishes third or better with no laps led, fourth with one lap led and fifth if he leads the most laps. Kevin Harvick, since he's one point behind Kyle Busch, needs to finish one spot better in each of Busch's scenarios. So second if he leads no laps, third if he leads one and fourth if he leads them all.

Given his Phoenix track record recently – four straight wins – it's a good bet Harvick will accomplish that barring a failure or accident.

For the four drivers not named Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano, things are a bit complicated. None of them can clinch on their own without winning the race.

Kurt Busch and Keselowski are in the worst situation among the four. Keselowski is 19 points behind Truex and Busch is 28. Not only would they have to make up that gap on Truex (or a larger one on Kyle Busch and/or Kevin Harvick) they have to worry about Carl Edwards, who is 12 points ahead of Keselowski and 21 ahead of Kurt Busch, who said he has an idea of what the perfect scenario could be in the closing laps on Sunday.

"The perfect day for Stewart Haas Racing would be for [my] car to win and for Kevin Harvick to finish second," Busch said. "That would allow both of us to advance to the Championship Round at Homestead.  We hope we are in that position. This race here in the spring, Kevin won, and I was running second with about 40 to go.  We chose to come in for tires and we didn’t get back up through there and ended up finishing fifth. We were running 1-2 with 50 laps to go in the spring, so I would like to see that happen again.”

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

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 13, 2015, 7:20 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.

Joey Logano's poor Texas finish dropped him to fourth in the old Chase standings.

1. Carl Edwards 2,301
2. Jeff Gordon 2,295
3. Martin Truex Jr. 2,287
4. Joey Logano 2,278
5. Kyle Busch 2,277
6. Brad Keselowski 2,268
7. Kevin Harvick 2,262
8. Kurt Busch 2,260
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,258
10. Denny Hamlin 2,257
11. Ryan Newman 2,253
12. Jamie McMurray 2,234
13. Jimmie Johnson 2,230
14. Paul Menard 2,206
15. Matt Kenseth 2,197
16. Clint Bowyer 2,153

And speaking of the Chase, the Chase could be coming to the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series.

@NickBromberg WHat is going on with them talking about adding Chase to lower series?

— Michael Harvey (@MrLester88) November 11, 2015

@NickBromberg The horrid notion of a chase in Xfinity or trucks.

— #UdderNation (@Jim_Udder) November 11, 2015

Motorsport.com reported over the weekend that NASCAR was considering a Chase format for the Truck Series. The format could be like this:

One scenario that’s been discussed would feature eight contenders in a seven-race elimination where two drivers are knocked out after each three-race segment with the four teams battling for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

A Chase format for the Xfinity Series was presented in the NASCAR fan council survey recently. Here's what it said below. Remember, there have been no official announcements about a Chase format in either series.


It's clear that NASCAR is investing heavily in this elimination Chase format if it's considering it for the lower two series. And it's a sign that the format may not be going anywhere for a while. After all the tweaks NASCAR has made to the Chase in its existence, this has a chance of being the longest-lasting format. Of course, that's like saying you're the longest-living gnat, but hey, gotta shoot for something.

If there was an Xfinity Series Chase in 2015, the 12 drivers would be Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Regan Smith, Chase Elliott, Ryan Reed, Ty Dillon, Elliott Sadler, Bubba Wallace, Daniel Suarez, Brian Scott, Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Sieg and Jeremy Clements. While Cup drivers have sniped 23 of the 31 race wins so far, it's not unreasonable to expect that if there were no Cup drivers in the field no one outside of the mentioned drivers would win a race.

If there was a Truck Series Chase, the eight drivers would be Matt Crafton, Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick, Timothy Peters, John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer, Johnny Sauter and Cameron Hayley. John Wes Townley would not have made the Chase because his win came in the period where the Chase would have been happening and he's not high enough in points to otherwise make it in.

It's also apparent NASCAR wants to guarantee both lower series titles come down to Homestead. Last year, Chase Elliott had the Xfinity Series title wrapped up at Phoenix. But would an elimination style format bring any more interest or eyeballs to the series? That's the big question.

TV ratings haven't exactly skyrocketed with the new Chase format in the Cup Series. And if non-NASCAR fans haven't been taken by the Cup Series and the Chase, why would the NASCAR fans who aren't already watching the Xfinity and Truck Series start suddenly watching?

NASCAR has to figure that out. Selling your entire sport to short sample-size randomness when the majority of NASCAR history has been predicated on sustained success may be considered a disaster by many people. The jury is still out on the current Chase format, especially if NASCAR starts to govern as less of a benevolent dictator. In our eyes, it's far too soon to be implementing it in other series.

Okay @NickBromberg , you've been in charge of getting NASCAR a new title sponsor for the Cup Series, how's the last few weeks been for you?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) November 11, 2015


NASCAR has a limited scope of suitors for such a high-dollar sponsorship. And as such, if any potential sponsors were turned off by what happened at Martinsville, it's imperative that NASCAR make sure any fears were assuaged.

There's been no public process on the sponsor front. And our guess is there won't be an announcement until early 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: November 12, 2015, 10:26 pm

1. Kyle Busch (LW: 3): Joey Logano keeps the top spot no more. Busch gets it because he finished fourth on Sunday and is poised to make the final round of the Chase barring a disaster at Phoenix. Busch has been pretty good at Phoenix since the repave; he has four top 10-finishes. But the three other races he's finished 36th, 23rd and 34th. Anything in the 30s is going to open the door for teammate Carl Edwards on Sunday.

2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 5): Fun fact: the top four finishers in Sunday's race were the top four finishers in the 2014 fall race at Texas. Last year, Johnson won, Harvick was second, Keselowski was third and Busch was fourth. Harvick and Keselowski simply swapped spots this year. Kyle Busch also had this to say about Phoenix, where Harvick has been dominant: "I do not think it's a winnable race until Kevin Harvick gets beat. He's shown that he's certainly go the stranglehold on the Phoenix racetrack."

3. Jeff Gordon (LW: 3): Gordon said they were going to use the race at Texas as a bit of a test session for Homestead given his guaranteed spot in the final round. He finished ninth on Sunday, so for Gordon's sake, hopefully the No. 24 team got a lot of valuable data from the race. It would be a shame if Gordon had a terrible race at Jeff Gordon Raceway on Sunday, wouldn't it? And we hope those ponies Gordon got at Texas Motor Speedway made it back to North Carolina safely.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 4): Did anyone else have flashbacks to last year when Truex and Keselowski made contact while racing for the lead? We'll admit that the words "Not again" might have floated through our brains. But Truex and Keselowski shook hands after the race and all was good. They were racing for the lead; "quintessential NASCAR" if you will. It's just that the sport's increased reliance on aerodynamics have exponentially heightened the consequences of contact.

5. Brad Keselowski (LW: 9): Keselowski had no shot of holding Jimmie Johnson off. He did everything he could and the chess match between the two entering each corner was fascinating. He was especially wrestling his car off turn 2, where the pavement falls off sharply. Keselowski was letting his car push to the wall as hard as possible to keep speed. Ultimately it didn't work as the run Johnson got down the backstretch to make the winning pass was all too much.

6. Jimmie Johnson (LW: NR): Jimmie Johnson is back. Eh, he never left. Johnson has won a couple of races like he did Sunday in 2015 and it speaks to the talent of his team and crew chief Chad Knaus. He's had speed to start but with every pit stop the car gets better and better and before you know it, Johnson is at the front of the field. This time, there was no tire strategy involved.

7. Joey Logano (LW: 1): Is this the most abrupt change in Cup Series fortune since ... ? Not long after it looked like he was heading to a fourth-straight win, Logano must win a race to make the final round. And he has to do it at a track that has been owned by his main nemesis (outside of Matt Kenseth, of course). It's a fascinating subplot to a race that could be a tad underwhelming. Age Phoenix pavement, age!

8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 6): That was one hell of a comeback by Junior. We'd like to have him higher in the rankings but the guys that vaulted above him finished first and second respectively. He smacked the wall so hard while racing up front that the right rear of the car separated from the decklid. The team got the damage taped up and his car had speed again. Junior ended up finishing sixth and is, along with Johnson, the favorite among non-Chasers to win at Homestead.

9. Carl Edwards (LW: 8): Edwards finished fifth and he was open about his team's desire to have Jimmie Johnson win on Sunday. "My guys never cheered so hard for Jimmie (Johnson), we needed that for the points going to Homestead," Edwards said. Why? Because if Keselowski had won, there are only two spots available on points at Phoenix. One if Kurt Busch or Logano wins Sunday.

10. Kurt Busch (LW: 10): Busch is in pretty much the same situation Logano is now. He finished seventh at Texas but because of his Martinsville accident he's on the outside looking in. Maybe we should be bullish on Busch's chances? He can always commandeer Harvick's car and crew and drive it to the win. Unless Harvick is a key part of that Phoenix magic. If so, Busch may need a bit of a miracle.

11. Jamie McMurray (LW: NR): McMurray finished 10th, the third-highest non-Chaser in the field. And really, we aren't sure who else to give 11th to at this point. After two good weeks, McMurray gets the nod. He attempted to hold off Harvick last year at Phoenix so maybe he'll be in position to do it again. McMurray is currently 13th in the standings, a place below where he would be if there was no Chase.

12. Erik Jones (LW: NR): We'll give Jones some love after finishing 12th in Kenseth's car. Jones ran all three races at Texas over the weekend and the Cup Series race was his lowest finish. Not bad for a 19-year-old. He's got a bright future ahead of him, the only question is where it will be. An easily-guessable scenario sees Furniture Row expanding to two cars in 2017 with Jones behind the wheel of one of them. That's just our idea, however.

The Lucky Dog: Austin Dillon was 12th.

The DNF: Kyle Larson finished 37th. He wants 2017 to begin.

Dropped Out: Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth

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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: November 10, 2015, 6:57 pm

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Kevin Harvick finished third on Sunday at Texas. It was Harvick's 21st top-five finish of 2015. Big deal, right?

Given what Harvick and his team overcame throughout the course of the race, definitely.

Harvick suffered two punctured tires and had to battle a bad shifter handle for the last quarter of the race. The car popped out of gear and Harvick was forced to use one hand to steer and keep his right hand on the shifter handle to prevent the car from popping out of gear.

The team even gave him a bungee cord to use to keep the shifter in place.

"It hadn’t missed a gear or jammed a gear or anything like that," Harvick said of his transmission. "It shifted smooth all weekend. I was just going along like normal. One lap, all of a sudden, it just pops out of gear in the middle of the straightaway. So, I don’t really know. That’s happened to us several times, so we definitely need to figure that out.”

Harvick got the bungee cord in the race's final caution period. He didn't use it.

“No, I never found anything to hook it to," Harvick said. "I don’t trust those bungees anyway. I would rather just sit there and hold it and take my chances.”

He started the final restart sixth and ended up third after passing Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray and Martin Truex Jr., who had a right front wheel loose on the final 18-lap run of the race.

The first tire puncture happened early in the race and Harvick got a caution immediately after it. The second came under green, but just before a pit window. Harvick ended up pitting more than a dozen laps ahead of the rest of the field. As the race stayed green, Harvick cycled to the lead briefly before he was swallowed up by the cars with fresh tires. However, the race's final caution gave him a chance to get back on equal tires with the rest of the field.

Through two races of the second round, Harvick is second in points among the seven drivers vying for the three remaining spots at Homestead for the title. And he's just a point behind Kyle Busch heading to his best track on the schedule: Phoenix.

Harvick has won the past four races at Phoenix and five of the past six. He's to Phoenix what Jimmie Johnson has become to the fall race at Texas. There is no favorite at the 1-mile oval other than the No. 4 car, even if he's had a ridiculous eventful Chase. There was the tire rub at Charlotte, running out fuel at New Hampshire, the win at Dover, the Talladega crash and a tire rub at Martinsville. It's not a complete list either.

“Hectic," Harvick said when describing the Chase. "Even Charlotte wasn’t 100 percent smooth. The cars have been performing well. We’ve just had to overcome things week after week after week. I guess those are character-building moments as you go through those weekend, but we’ve managed to survive and advance and that’s what we’ve got to do next week."

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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: November 9, 2015, 12:28 am

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Brad Keselowski led over 90 percent of the laps Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. But he couldn't shake a familiar foe at the end.

Jimmie Johnson passed Keselowski with four laps to go to win his fourth straight fall race at Texas and become the third driver to win both Texas races in the same season.

Johnson, who is out of the Chase, ran up front for most of the day. His car was fast. But it was super fast over the last run of the race. For the first time all day, Keselowski had a driver capable of giving him an extended challenge for the lead.

“The 48 car had mega turn that last run and I couldn’t keep the turn and it kept pushing real bad," Keselowski said. "I did everything I could to hold him off but he was way faster that last run."

As Johnson would go high, Keselowski would cover him. As Johnson would go low, Keselowski would cover that. The two danced for nearly 10 laps before the raw speed in Johnson's car through the corners was simply too much for Keselowski to hold off.

“I just kept pressure on him," Johnson said. "I could see that he was really tight and that was the first I had seen him that vulnerable all day. I just kept the pressure on him, kept searching for line. He saw me coming on the top and protected it

"I just kept trying to put pressure on him hoping for a mistake. He got real loose off of Turn 2 and I had a big run down the backstretch and drove it in really far into Turn 3 hoping to hear clear.  Once I did I knew I was home free.”

A certain suspended driver noticed the way Johnson raced Keselowski too and fired off this tweet.

Good work @JimmieJohnson! Textbook pass for the win at the end of the race when someone is trying to take your lane. #quintessential

— Matt Kenseth (@mattkenseth) November 8, 2015

With the win, Johnson might also have ruined Keselowski's title hopes in the process. Not only was Keselowski racing for the win, he was racing for a guaranteed spot to race for the title at Homestead. Thanks to a poor finish at Martinsville last week as a result of a crash, Keselowski is 23 points back of Kyle Busch even after finishing second. It's a points deficit of more than 20 positions.

Keselowski was trying to successfully outrun Johnson for the first time at Texas too. In 2012, Keselowski and Johnson famously raced in turns 1 and 2 after a restart in the late laps. Johnson prevailed then.

A year ago Johnson and Keselowski were the main characters in the late-race fight for the lead. But that battle is overshadowed given the contact Keselowski had with Jeff Gordon (and the subsequent post-race fight).

This year, it looked like Keselowski had Johnson covered. He started on the pole and his car was a rocketship in clean air. The race's second-biggest lap leader was third-place finishing Kevin Harvick. He led 11 laps.

But instead, Johnson swooped in from out of the Chase to take the victory. Johnson was eliminated in the second round of the Chase last season and led 191 laps on his way to victory lane in Texas.

He was out of the Chase in the first round in 2015 after a part failure at Dover.

“Those emotions were weeks ago now, so we have just been focused on winning races and help our teammates advance through the rounds," Johnson said. "We got [Gordon] through last week and now it’s time to go out here and not have to worry about teammates and just go for a win and we got it. Just very rewarding for the team, this No. 48 team worked all year to be in championship contention ... It’s tough to work so hard all year long and not have a shot at the championship. This is kind of a silver lining in that.”

Here are the Chase standing with one more race remaining in the third round: 

1. Jeff Gordon WIN
2. Kyle Busch 4,080
3. Kevin Harvick 4,079
4. Martin Truex Jr. 4,076
5. Carl Edwards 4,070
6. Brad Keselowski 4,057
7. Kurt Busch 4,048
8. Joey Logano 4,013

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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: November 8, 2015, 11:36 pm

Joey Logano's efforts to get to the final round of the Chase got a lot harder in the early laps at Texas.

Logano spun on lap 9 of Sunday's race thanks to a left rear tire that exploded on the backstretch.

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Logano didn't hit anything but the tire caused a lot of damage to the left rear of his car. Logano's crew spent three laps under caution repairing the damage and then he took it to the garage after. The team, per NBC, suspected that the tire shredded the cords to his radio.

His best bet to make the Chase now seems like a win at Phoenix. And Kevin Harvick has dominated at the 1-mile track. 

“It isn’t about points for us," Logano said. "Points don’t mean anything right now. It is all about wins. That was our goal today going into the race. The car didn’t take off bad and we were going to get to lap 25 and make some adjustments like everyone else would and I thought we were in the ballpark at least."

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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: November 8, 2015, 7:43 pm

If you think Matt Kenseth was unjustly suspended by NASCAR, there's a t-shirt you may want to order.

Matt Kenseth's official store is selling "Free Matt" t-shirts. The slogan is inspired by a hashtag started by Denny Hamlin on Twitter while protesting Kenseth's suspension on Tuesday. The proceeds from the shirt benefit the Denny Hamlin foundation. Kenseth is suspended for two races after crashing Joey Logano at Martinsville.

And if you're feeling thrifty, you can use the promo code below.

They're here!👏 https://t.co/yF5LfENxsF Use code: FREEMATT & receive flat shipping of $5.95 at checkout. Proceeds benefit @DHFoundation!

— Jess Smith (@JessicaLSmith20) November 6, 2015

Guess how much it saves you? It's a whopping 48 cents per the site. What does Joe Gibbs Racing have against Jimmie Johnson?

Erik Jones, who won Friday night's Camping World Truck Series race, is replacing Kenseth in the No. 20 car at Texas and Phoenix.

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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: November 7, 2015, 6:15 pm

Brad Keselowski's got a fast short run car. Can he translate his qualifying speed to Sunday's race at Texas?

Keselowski was the fastest car in all three rounds of qualifying Friday and will start first. It's his second-straight pole at a 1.5-mile track. He started first three races ago at Kansas Speedway.

He finished that Kansas race in ninth. After a 32nd-place finish at Martinsville, ninth may not be enough to put Keselowski in a position to advance to the final four at Homestead if there isn't attrition among the other six drivers he's racing for the three remaining spots at Homestead.

Kevin Harvick, the defending Sprint Cup Series champion will start second. Kyle Busch will start third while Joey Logano will start fourth and Kyle Larson will start fifth.

Of course, we would also be remiss to if we didn't say that Keselowski's pole comes a year after his famous run-in with Jeff Gordon at Texas. Gordon got two (real-life) ponies from Texas Motor Speedway on Friday. Seriously.

Joey Gase and Reed Sorenson didn't qualify for the race. Here's how the eight Chase drivers will start on Sunday:

1. Brad Keselowski
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Kyle Busch
4. Joey Logano
7. Kurt Busch
13. Carl Edwards
18. Jeff Gordon
24. Martin Truex Jr.

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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: November 7, 2015, 12:41 am

Joey Logano said Friday that he was confident in the way he's handled the situation he's found himself in with Matt Kenseth.

Kenseth is suspended for Sunday's race at Texas and the next race at Phoenix after intentionally crashing Logano from the lead at Martinsville. He was exacting payback from contact he and Logano had at Kansas while racing for the lead.

"I am confident in the decisions that we have made," Logano said. "I am confident in the decisions I made as a driver and the decisions we made as a team ... that was a racing thing what happened at Kansas and I wouldn’t expect a phone call from someone else if that happened. I thought about it and it is a decision you make and you think about how you handle every situation and that is now the way you want to see a race end in Kansas that day.

"You want to battle it out all the way to the end. You don’t want to see that happen but when I looked at it, the more I looked at it, it was just a racing thing. It just happened. It was unfortunate but I would understand if it happened to me."

Denny Hamlin, Kenseth's teammate, said after Kenseth's suspension was announced Tuesday that Logano hadn't reached out to Kenseth after the Kansas incident. Logano has maintained the contact was the product of hard racing and referenced the spring race at Texas when he was blocking Kevin Harvick to support his point.

"I took that risk and I knew the consequences," Logano said. "He moved me out of the way. I said that is what I had coming to me. He kept his nose in there. I knew the chances I was taking. There was nothing I said to him. I didn’t expect a phone call from that. I didn’t expect anything. I felt like in that case I was in the wrong. I put myself in that situation and I got moved up out of the groove."

While Logano didn't go for a slide at Texas, Kenseth did at Kansas. Kenseth finished 14th and was eliminated from the Chase a week later. Logano won at Kansas and was looking for his fourth-straight win when he was crashed from the lead at Martinsville.

He also said he's still confident about his chances to be in contention at Homestead for the title for the second year in a row. He hasn't finished lower than 12th in the past six Texas races and won in the spring of 2014.

"To be honest I am not convinced [Martinsville] is a bad thing," Logano said. "Our team is more fired up than ever. I am more focused than ever ... Is it the way we wanted it to go? No, of course not. Did we get the finish we felt we deserved that day? No, but this team has plenty of confidence coming off three in a row and in position for four. There is plenty of confidence and more drive than there has ever been.”

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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: November 6, 2015, 7:24 pm

As of now, Matt Kenseth is still suspended for two races. [UPDATE: And he's officially out for both.]

Kenseth's appeal of his two-race suspension was heard Thursday morning by a three-person NASCAR appeals panel. The panel upheld the suspension. Kenseth will make a final appeal at 1 p.m. ET.

Kenseth was suspended for two races for intentionally crashing Joey Logano at Martinsville. Kenseth was nine laps down when he crashed Logano, who was the race leader. Had Logano won the race, he would have advanced to the final round of the Chase.

The crash was in retribution for contact the two made at Kansas Speedway while racing for the lead. Kenseth went spinning with five laps to go and he finished 14th. He was eliminated from the Chase after the second round.

Kenseth is slated to miss races at Texas and Phoenix if the suspension is upheld on final appeal.

UPDATE: The final appeal also upheld the penalty against Kenseth, so he is officially out of the 20 car for the next two races.

Statement on results of final appeal for Matt Kenseth. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/PC7X21AGP6

— Pat DeCola (@Pat_DeCola) November 5, 2015

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

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 5, 2015, 10:25 pm

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

We didn't even have a chance to ask for Tweet submissions this week because of the overload in our email inbox. So let's get the old Chase standings out of the way before we hit the craziness,

1. Joey Logano, 2,274
2. Carl Edwards, 2,262
3. Jeff Gordon, 2,260
4. Denny Hamlin, 2,2,51
5. Martin Truex Jr., 2,250
6. Kyle Busch, 2,236
7. Ryan Newman, 2,231
8. Brad Keselowski, 2,224
9. Kurt Busch, 2,223
10. Kevin Harvick, 2,220
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2,220
12. Jamie McMurray, 2,200
13. Matt Kenseth, 2,197
14. Jimmie Johnson, 2,183
15. Paul Menard, 2,175
16. Clint Bowyer, 2,124

Time for the madness.

Racing is racing! NASCAR didn't have any issues with Logano taken out Kenseth, they can not have any issues with Kenseth taking out Logano! Race how you want to be raced! - Ron

Because Logano and Kenseth were racing? The parallels being drawn between what happened at Kansas and what happened at Martinsville simply do not exist. How is this so hard to understand? One was hard racing, the other was premeditated revenge. Even if you believe Logano put the bumper to Kenseth to crash him on purpose, they're still not the same.


Looking at the multiple action “big picture”, not just the final event, I say Kenseth was mild and well justified to take some action against the Penske Pair. - David

Why does "some action" = a deliberate crash? You can race a driver harder, knock him out of the way, etc. About 100 different other things than putting a driver in the wall while being nine laps down.


Why didn't you write about Kenseth's lie about his tire going down. That makes him a liar and a cheat in my book. - Paul

Because it's been pretty well established that Kenseth's move was on purpose?


I read your article regarding this issue and I have to disagree with you.  I think that Joey had it coming and deserved what he got.  Of all the places to take someone out (which is NO DOUBT what Matt did), this is the place to do it.  Relatively slow cars make the chance of serious injury very minimal.  I have to be honest and I was yelling and screaming and so happy to see Matt take Joey out.  I rewound the DVR several times to watch it happen again and again.  To me, this is what racing is about.  Tension mounts and tempers flare.

I think that this is no different than Danica going after Gilliland or Carl going after Brad or Jeff going after Clint.  Payback is a b---- and if you are going to intentionally take someone out who is leading the race (which is EXACTLY what Joey did, regardless of what he says) then you better not be surprised when the same happens to you. - Brian

So NASCAR is simply a game of an eye-for-an-eye at this point and that's how it should be?

There are limits. And the onus is on NASCAR to establish those limits. I have no problem with revenge or the "race someone how you should be raced" mantra (assuming we actually know what it means) but there are limits. From what drivers have said, they didn't feel like there were many/any limits in place. And now there are, creating much of the discord.


Nick, concerning your article that I just read about the Kenseth/Logano wreck at Martinsville on Sunday, one only has to listen to the tapes and here Logano's spotter tell him that he is still there on the inside and watch Logano come down on Kenseth and cause the wreck.  I don't know why NASCAR doesn't treat one and all alike.  This is my last year watching NASCAR.  My favorite driver has always been Gordon since his inaugural appearance in Winston Cup. - Dan

Uh, what? Kenseth didn't stop. He was inside because Logano raced his normal line while Kenseth's car didn't slow down. Come on.


Would people think differently if Kenseth took out Logano at Homestead, while leading for the championship? - Craig

Possibly? The next two emails may answer the question in a different way.


Do you think drivers and fans are defending Kenseth's actions simply because there aren't many people who like Logano? When Jeff Gordon wrecked Clint Bowyer three years ago, it seemed like there were many people who were upset with Gordon's actions. I think it was because people like and respect Clint Bowyer because he is humorous and very friendly. However, Logano has a reputation of being arrogant and a spoiled rich kid which is why Kenseth isn't receiving the same scorn from fans and drivers. - Robert

Do you think there's an Old vs. Young dynamic going on with the drivers these days? I didn't see NASCAR for about 25 years (1979-2004) so I don't know what Jeff Gordon was like in his younger days, but I thought I read where HE could be aggressive and occasionally upset some older drivers. (Those dang hotshot kids! Don't know to respect their elders or how to give and take, consarn it!) (I may have my facts wrong, but was away for a long time.)

So maybe we have a new group of "elders" (Johnson, Stewart, Gordon, Kenseth, etc.) who don't like those hotshot new kids (Keselowski, Logano, Lasrson, etc.) being aggressive and trying to win races when they should let the established older drivers win the races once they have the lead (think about the move Kes put on Gordon last year)? - Paul H.

The personalities involved in this situation dictate the reaction. NASCAR fans have always and will always react to a situation based upon the people involved even if the circumstances were the same. If Junior was in Logano's position, do you really think that Kenseth would be getting the love he is now?

And Paul is right, a generational divide also wouldn't be new to NASCAR. Think of how Gordon was received when he came up through the 90s.

Also, what the heck is up with Logano being arrogant? Sure, there's the Tom Logano angle that people harp on, but the kid was thrust into a situation he wasn't ready for at 18, didn't do well and was replaced (by Kenseth). Is there anywhere that Logano has shown arrogance? He wasn't the one who coined "Sliced Bread."

We'll end on this beautiful email.


Keselowski taking Matt out was like logano taking Matt out. they are team mate's. does anyone not see this was well planned. It's funny when Matt won his champingship, they changed the rules on the champingship and so on. Matt has been on the short end of the stick  with nascar as long as he has been racing in nascar. logano also got back at joe gibbs racing for getting rid of him when Matt replaced him, get the picture. nascar is no longer on my tv but I still like Matt Kenseth. I would not respect Matt if he didn't take logano out. nascar car has screwed Matt every time. nascar will have to give away more free tickets to fill the stands. the announcers for nascar are morons and suck ups. I have no use for nascar. the races are boring, nascar is boring, steve O'Donnell is, well? - Jacquelyn

Anyone else wondering how Jacquelyn thinks NASCAR announcers are morons and suck ups if she doesn't watch?

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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: November 5, 2015, 6:51 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 and we'll try to have some fun. 

Apologies for being a day late this week. A once-every-30-years title parade and a two-race suspension dominated Tuesday.

1. Joey Logano (LW: 1): There's no way to justify dropping Logano after what likely would have been a win disappeared when Matt Kenseth pile-drove him into the wall. If it wasn't for Kenseth, Logano would likely be locked in to run for the title for the second straight season. And no, it's not a situation where if it wasn't for Logano, Kenseth would still be in the Chase. There was a very good possibiity that Logano was going to pass Kenseth in the final five laps if there wasn't contact between the two.

2. Jeff Gordon (LW: 8): The driver already guaranteed a spot in the final four is this one. Gordon was perhaps the most expressive he's ever been in victory lane after Sunday's race and you have to wonder just how much of it was relief. While the four-time champion has been going after title No. 5 for quite some time, how much do you really think he'd want a shot at the fifth while being winless? Sure, he said he didn't care about being a winless champion, but does anyone want to be the subject of that discussion?

3. Kyle Busch (LW: 4): Hell of a recovery for Busch after that spin. He was forced to alter his driving style after it was clear that the inches of wet pavement in the corner at Martinsville wasn't going to go away. Busch got his left-side tires on that slick patch and went around. He fought back to finish fifth and he's got to be one of the favorites at Texas, right?

4. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 9): It's still two races from being reality, but the thought of Truex racing for a title the year before his team switches manufacturers for better performance seems a little surreal, doesn't it? Furniture Row has done as good a job as anyone of maximizing the 2015 rules package. Can it do the same with the 2016 rules in a Toyota? Eh, who cares now. Truex still has that title to go for. He finished sixth.

5. Kevin Harvick (LW: 6): The No. 4 team learned from its Chicago misfortune and had Harvick pit for a tire rub at Martinsville. The contact that caused the rub came from teammate Kurt Busch on pit road when drivers were stopping to try to restart on the inside line. Harvick did what he should have done at Chicago and the team took tires on the next caution to prevent any calamity. He finished eighth.

6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 7): Not a bad sequel to last year's fall race. After winning in 2014, Junior finished fourth on Sunday. He said his car was much faster at the end of the race and also had this to say: “I love Martinsville.  But if we are going to run at night we need to put some damn lights up here.” Good point, Junior, the start time of Sunday's race needs to be up to an hour earlier.

7. Denny Hamlin (LW: 11): How much of Hamlin's comments about Kenseth's suspension are due to Hamlin's past history with Joey Logano and the fact that Kenseth is Hamlin's teammate? We can't help but wonder how the associations are coloring things. It's easy to see how Hamlin wants it both ways -- he said it was tough for drivers to act when no authority was laying down the law and is now speaking out against the authority -- but NASCAR deserves a lot of blame for letting that confusion happen.

8. Carl Edwards (LW: 2): Meanwhile, Edwards looks poised to be the only JGR driver who hasn't been replaced by Erik Jones in 2015. Jones will likely sub for Kenseth during his suspension and has already driven for Kyle Busch and Hamlin. Should Edwards watch his back? Nah. We still like his chances to get to the final four even after his tough Martinsville day.

9. Brad Keselowski (LW: 3): Keselowski explained Tuesday night that the initial contact with Matt Kenseth broke the right front suspension on his car. It's a very sensical explanation. The torque that Kenseth's rear wheels were generating was enough to knock Keselowski's car out of sorts, especially given the direct contact the wheels had. And no, Keselowski didn't crash Kenseth on purpose. That's a ludicrous proposition.

10. Kurt Busch (LW: 4): Kurt Busch, innocent bystander. The accident between Kenseth and Keselowski launched Busch's car up into the air and destroyed it significantly. A top five run had turned into a disaster day in the blink of an eye. Busch should be fast at Texas, assuming that he'll be able to have the same speed that Kevin Harvick has shown. But the issue in making the Chase may not be Busch's speed but rather the lack of separation between Chase drivers in the standings.

11. Ryan Newman (LW: 12): Newman keeps on chugging on. He finished seventh at Martinsville and is now in 10th in the points standings. Oh, that's right, only the final eight drivers are alive in the points. Keep trying, Newman! Maybe a year after missing the title by a spot Newman can win the coveted bonus for finishing fifth. How coveted is that bonus? Well, can you name who won it last year?

12. Matt Kenseth (LW: 10): When you get suspended for two races you are going to get dropped out of Power Rankings, so adios Matt. It was a good ride this year. We understand you felt the neeed to dropkick Joey Logano in retaliation. But we also wonder just how much of your Logano punt was aimed towards NASCAR itself rather than Logano. We may never know. Hopefully you get to enjoy the Packers and Panthers in Charlotte on Sunday.

Lucky Dog: AJ Allmendinger, who had no shot of holding off Jeff Gordon for the win.

The DNF: Man, Greg Biffle had a rough day. Danica Patrick too.

Dropped Out: None

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: November 4, 2015, 3:23 pm

Oh, where to begin?

NASCAR suspended Matt Kenseth for two races on Tuesday for his blatant crash of Joey Logano at Martinsville on Sunday. Logano was leading the race on lap 454 when Kenseth crashed him. Kenseth was laps down from a previous crash that happened with Logano just in front of him.

Kenseth's reaction wasn't surprising; many expected him to do something to Logano over the season's remaining races after the two made contact at Kansas while racing for the lead with five laps to go. The contact effectively ended Kenseth's title hopes while Logano swept all three races in the second round en route to the third round.

Why was the retaliation expected? We'll let Denny Hamlin explain after he was asked about the racing in the Chase. Hamlin has been one of the integral figures in the formation of the driver's council in the Cup garage.

“I don’t even know anymore, the structure in which we have around us is not very strong as far as an authority figure saying, ‘No, you cannot do that anymore.’ It’s just tough for us because this is what’s been created. I love (NASCAR chairman) Brian France, but when he says that drivers are doing what they have to do, it seems like he’s promoting this type of racing so that’s tough to crown a true champion when things go like this.”

And yes, Hamlin said racing changed in the Chase.

“Oh it changes it for sure – it’s a no holds barred, wild, Wild West," Hamlin said. Sure, when people crown the statement that a driver’s doing what he’s got to do and they became okay with that statement, you’re just opening up Pandora’s box – everyone is just doing what they have to do I guess. It’s a bad statement, it’s an ugly statement, I wish we could all do this fair and square and the fastest person win, but I just don’t know if that’s going to be the case.”

If Kenseth's actions Sunday were vigilante justice, they sure were well-received, not only by the cheering fans in attendance but by drivers and teams.

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Does the widespread approval mean his act was less vigiliante and more tenured sheriff in a self-policing garage? NASCAR has prided itself on letting drivers settle disputes over the years. And its drivers have certainly provided dramatic moments for the sport to promote as they've done much disputing and very little settling.

The lack of settling was why NASCAR needed to make a move on Tuesday. NASCAR saw this snowball and had to blow it to smithereens before it did more damage than it already had done.

Hell, Kenseth himself was searching for an authority figure just a week ago at Talladega, something that makes his move at Martinsville even more incredible. He called the racing out of control and subsequently proved his point. Not only did Kenseth piledrive Logano, he itched a rash of public squabbling so hard that NASCAR had no choice but to search for the strongest topical ointment possible.

But even after it temporarily stopped the itch, drivers were left confused. Days after he called the wild west atmosphere a bad statement, Hamlin didn't take too kindly to the sanctioning body's use of authority.

Two 👎🏻 down. Bad call. #freematt

— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) November 3, 2015

Kenseth's suspension is a race longer than Kyle Busch's in 2011. Busch, the last driver to be suspended for on-track conduct, wrecked Ron Hornaday under cation in a Truck Series race.

"There's an unspoken driver code ... any race car driver that's been doing this long enough understands what the driver code is and I feel like the driver code that's been established since racing has ever begun 100 years ago, that driver code is more compromised than ever," Hamlin said on Fox Sports' RaceHub on Tuesday. "And NASCAR said in years past, and they said even this year that they like the drivers to police themselves. And he was policing the driver code in my opinion."

"When someone does you wrong, they have an opportunity to defuse the situation by a phone call or talking to you at the race, any kind of thing like that. Or even through the media they can say they made a mistake. I feel like none of that happened and instead it was kind of a 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry about your luck. You're going to have to to deal with it because this is how I'm going to handle it.' And that probably frustrated Matt. And on top of that I don't think Joey reached out to Matt to defuse the situation. So Matt thought it was in his driver code to take care of the situation. And that's what he did."

Following the Kansas incident, Logano maintained his contact with Kenseth was not an intentional spin and rather just hard racing.

If Hamlin's confusion at how the situation was handled has you confused, you're likely not the only one. The confusion is on NASCAR. The snowball was once a snowflake. But as drivers started fulfilling NASCAR's desire for drama and promotable moments, the sanctioning body helped incite an avalanche. And it needed to be stopped before it's prized possession, the winner-take-all race for the title at Homestead, got swamped in a pile of filthy snow.

Hamlin also hasn't been the only driver to talk about a code among drivers. Kenseth said he's always raced drivers how they've raced him. Tony Stewart has famously ranted against blocking; most notably when he was blocked by Logano and confronted him at California in 2013.

But Kenseth was the one blocking multiple times at Kansas. Is this a generational thing among Cup drivers? Logano, at 25, could be in the final four for the second-straight year. If he wins the title, he'd be the youngest driver since Jeff Gordon in 1995 to win a Cup title.

Only two drivers under 30, Kurt Busch in 2004 and Brad Keselowski in 2012, have won Cup titles since Gordon did in 1995. All three of those drivers faced scrutiny among their peers and fans for their driving styles as they emerged as stars. Is the talk of violating an unspoken code, well, simply code for a lack of acceptance of Logano among the sport's veterans?

Or is it a case of drivers abiding by different sets of personal rules forced to mingle in a sandbox that previously didn't have an adult paying close attention until someone got smacked upside the head with a shovel?

And if so, is the adult going to keep paying attention in the future?

“Every driver has a different code," Keselowski said in Race Hub. "You can’t go off of driver codes because one driver’s code is different than another driver’s code, and they’re going to clash. That’s just been the story of racing from day one and will continue to be. So, the line is, and always will be, in the NASCAR trailer and in the NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach and in Concord (North Carolina). That’s the line. Whatever they decide, and that’s what we found 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: November 4, 2015, 2:26 am

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Matt Kenseth has been suspended two races for intentionally crashing Joey Logano at Martinsville.

"Based upon our extensive review, we have concluded that [Kenseth], who is no longer in the Chase, intentionally wrecked [Logano], a Chase-eligible competitor who was leading the race at the time,"NASCAR vice president Steve O'Donnell said in a statement. "[Kenseth] was nine laps down, and eliminated [Logano's] opportunity to continue to compete in the race.

"Additionally, we factored aspects of safety into our decision, and also the fact that the new Chase elimination format puts a premium on each and every race. These actions have no place in NASCAR." 

Kenseth's actions were retribution for contact with Logano at Kansas Speedway. Kenseth went spinning off Logano's bumper with five laps to go as the two were battling for the lead. Kenseth subsequently missed the third round of the Chase at Talladega the next week as Logano advanced thanks to wins at Charlotte, Kansas and Talladega.

Kenseth wrecked Logano on Lap 454 at Martinsville on Sunday. Kenseth did so after his car was severely wounded in an accident with Logano's teammate, Brad Keselowski. Logano ended up finishing 37th Sunday and is eighth out of the eight remaining drivers in the Chase.

Drivers have been penalized for crashing others intentionally before, but not for multiple races. Kyle Busch, Kenseth's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, was suspended for a race in 2011 after he crashed Ron Hornaday under caution in a Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

JGR said Kenseth would appeal the suspension on the grounds that it's inconsistent. Expect the team to cite Busch's suspension heavily in that appeal.

The 2003 Sprint Cup Series champion will miss races at Texas and Phoenix International Raceway if his suspension is upheld upon appeal. NASCAR will likely use an expedited appeals process to ensure a final decision before Sunday's race at Texas.

Erik Jones will likely replace Kenseth during his suspension. The JGR development driver has subbed for Denny Hamlin and Busch already this season.

Additionally, NASCAR announced that Danica Patrick had been penalized 25 points and fined for running into David Gilliland on purpose under caution at Martinsville.

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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: November 3, 2015, 11:08 pm

Just a hunch, but there’s probably a part of Matt Kenseth that feels guilty for what happened on Sunday afternoon in Turn 1 at Martinsville.

Kenseth has built a championship career on racing hard but clean, tough but fair, and in one jam-it-to-the-floor moment, he rearranged it all. At the moment he hammered Joey Logano’s car into the wall, he wasn’t a champion. He was a guy several laps down taking out the leader, nothing more. That’s what revenge does to you.


(AP Photo/Don Petersen, File)Revenge, like Christmas, holds much more power in the buildup than in the minutes after its execution. The anticipation, the rage, the tunnel vision … you convince yourself you’re justified in the moment, and then afterward? You’re trying to explain to everyone, including yourself, what happened.

 Kenseth had a decent enough line when asked whether he intended to crash Logano—“some days you’re the bat, some days you’re the ball”—but he couched it in talk of dragging splitters and wheels going down and whatnot. Kenseth was asked at least three separate times, per postrace transcripts, whether he’d intentionally wrecked Logano, and he dodged the question each time.


Why not own it? Why not say, hell yes, I did it, and I’ll do it again if that guy ruins my Chase? Because Kenseth knows that what he did was a cheap move—not exactly “cowardly,” as Logano put it, but not worthy of one of the better drivers in NASCAR history.

The crowd cheered Kenseth, but don’t let that fool you. The crowd was looking for blood—or, at least, wreckage—and Kenseth gave it to them. They weren’t considering what it would cost him, what it would do to his rep. Kenseth had been calling out Logano for weeks, and that kind of tough talk is red meat for the crowd. By the time the red-and-yellow 22 loomed large in Kenseth's windshield on Sunday, Kenseth had no choice: piledrive him or risk losing even more face.


Respect. That’s what this was about. Kenseth gave a hint into his thinking at another point after the race. “You never like to be in these situations,” he said. “They really stink, to be honest with you, but sometimes you get put in these spots and you’ve got to try to keep respect in the garage area. You can’t get yourself ran over. You can’t get in the Chase next year and get ran over for the same reason.”

Kenseth is nobody’s idea of a chump. He got spun at Kansas when he had the weaker car, older tires. Blaming him for that is like blaming a batter for taking a fastball to the knee. He had every reason to be enraged, every reason to want retribution. And his revenge had the perfect target.


Joey Logano (22) and Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth (20) race for position during the NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday Sept. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Jesse Hutchinson)Not to go all blame-the-victim—mainly because revenge, by definition, means that everybody’s a victim at one point—but Logano hasn’t helped matters. He expressed exactly zero remorse for effectively torpedoing Kenseth’s championship chances, even as he had already guaranteed his own spot in the next round. Jeff Gordon called Logano’s post-Kansas attitude “gloating,” and there’s no surer way to rile up an old-school throwback like Kenseth than dancing on his wreckage.

Gordon provides an interesting case study for the arc of Logano’s public rep. Like Logano, Gordon spent the first years of his career speaking in the halting, laugh-to-cover-the-silence cadence of a nervous teenager, even when he proved himself the equal of anyone with a wheel.

Gordon drew the ire of the crowd, especially once he started beating everyone on the track, but he won while keeping the respect of the entire garage. His stepfather John Bickford, instrumental in Gordon’s development, didn’t inject himself into driver disagreements the way Tom Logano does. Logano has a long way to go to win the respect of the garage and the crowd, and as he’s learning, wins aren’t enough.


Thought experiment for all those rallying to Kenseth’s defense. Swap out “Joey Logano” for “Tony Stewart,” “Jeff Gordon,” or, heaven forbid, “Dale Earnhardt Jr.” Same exact situations: spinning Kenseth in a battle for the lead at Kansas without regret, winning three straight, then ending up on the business end of Kenseth’s bumper at Martinsville. Imagine it. The conversation suddenly shifts from “Logano got what he deserved!” to debating how many seasons Kenseth should be suspended.

What's the appropriate penalty here? Suspension for a race seems about right. Kenseth won public acclaim, and he and Joe Gibbs Racing will need to do some gladhanding with their sponsors, but taking a race off seems fair. NASCAR has its own share of culpability in this mess, yes, but Kenseth's bid for revenge crossed lines that have been in place long before the Chase was a gleam in Brian France's eye.

“I lived the ‘do anything for a win’ motto for two years working with Dale Earnhardt, who would have wrecked his mother to win a race,” Larry McReynolds, Fox commentator and former Earnhardt crew chief, said. “I’m fine with that when it’s for a win.  But when a driver is laps down, rides around and waits on someone to come around the track, drives him into the wall and purposely wrecks him, that action is way over the line.”


Here’s the problem with revenge: where does it end? Kenseth took more from Logano than Logano took from Kenseth. Doesn’t that, then, obligate Logano to knock out the 20 this time next year? Should Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski take out Kenseth’s remaining teammates in a one-of-mine-for-one-of-yours cycle? Does this continue every year, every Chase, every time one of these two has a chance to ruin the other's day? By the codes of revenge, it should, shouldn't it?

Revenge feels so, so good in the moment. But before long, you’re just going around in circles, each one smaller and more petty than the last.

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION (Harper, Feb. 2016). Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: November 3, 2015, 3:33 pm

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NASCAR vice president Steve O'Donnell said the sanctioning body was disappointed in the way that Matt Kenseth took out Joey Logano in Sunday's race at Martinsville.

Kenseth was driving a wounded car and crashed Logano, who was leading the race. Kenseth and Logano had previously had contact at Kansas two weeks ago when Kenseth went spinning as the two battled for the lead in the race's final laps.

Kenseth's car on Sunday was damaged from a previous incident involving Logano's teammate Brad Keselowski on a restart. While he stopped short of directly admitting his intentions after the crash, the video of the incident made it clear that Kenseth had one thing on his mind as Logano lapped him on lap 454.

O'Donnell said that Kenseth being multiple laps down colored the sanctioning body's view of the incident. Any penalties against Kenseth would be announced Tuesday.

"What we've said is the Chase promotes great racing and we saw that today on the race track," O'Donnell said. "... I think what was disappointing today was the incident that we're referring to is a driver that's not competing for a win, was in fact many laps down when that happened. So in our minds that's a little bit different than two drivers really going after it coming out of turn four for a win versus what happened tonight."

We left the first sentence of O'Donnell's comment in there for a reason. He referred to how the Chase promotes "great racing" multiple times throughout his press conference. It's hard not to see how those comments aren't at least a small admission that the racing itself in the Cup Series right now isn't great. And that the sport needs an elimination-style playoff format to create drama and excitement.

There's been plenty of chaos through the first 17 races of the current Chase format. Enough that it's hard to remember them all. There was Kenseth tackling Keselowski at Charlotte in 2014. The kerfuffle between Keselowski's team and Jeff Gordon's after an on-track incident at Texas. Ryan Newman pushing Kyle Larson out of the way at Phoenix to get to the Chase. Kevin Harvick shoving Jimmie Johnson after the two had contact at Chicago this year. Logano and Kenseth at Kansas. And of course, the craziness at Talladega last week.

Did we forget anything?

Kenseth's retribution towards Logano is simply a continuation of the circus theme peddled after last week's finish. With the list above, it's hard not to argue that NASCAR's Chase has become a circus. Just when you think the absurdity is over, lighter fluid is poured over the faintest of sparks.

O'Donnell was adamant that the Chase format is not the lighter fluid.

"I think the Chase format creates great racing on the track and you saw the eight competitors who were going for a championship lead laps today," O'Donnell said. "Drivers at their best. So you're going to see drivers going door-to-door and in the history of NASCAR we've seen that. Again I'd go back to this incident as a one-off that we'll look at and we continue to believe that the Chase promotes great racing on the track and I think the fans certainly saw that today."

It's hard to agree with him at this point.

But that could change with any punitive actions the sanctioning body takes on Tuesday. Kenseth's "cowardly" (according to Logano) and punkish move could be the catalyst for the way NASCAR handles the Chase and controversy moving forward.

With his actions Sunday, Kenseth backed up his Talladega words that the racing is "just kind of out of control.” If NASCAR chooses to penalize Kenseth substantially (because he's been eliminated from the Chase, a points penalty is severely diminished), it can show it has control of what's happening on the track. And finally give a clear warning that not every incident needs to be settled with a bumper or a physical confrontation.

2015 hasn't been a good year for the sport. The preseason rules changes flopped so badly that the sport made midseason tweaks. The sanctioning body suspended a driver days before the Daytona 500 and reinstated him three races later after no criminal charges were filed against him. And it issued a weak and ineffective declaration asking fans to refrain from bringing the Confederate flag to NASCAR events.

But there's optimism moving forward and it's mainly due to the anticipation of the quality of the racing in 2016. The low-downforce rules that were such a hit at Darlington and Kentucky will be in effect almost everywhere next year. Many believe there won't be any promotion or fostering needed by the sport's title format for great racing to happen.

Sunday is a grand opportunity for the sport to show that the constant-confrontation status quo isn't sustainable, even if it's entertaining. The cheers for Kenseth after he got out of his car were exceptionally loud.

So were the cheers for Jeff Gordon, the winner of Sunday's race. Gordon's win was an authentic moment. Kenseth's was, well, borderlining on professional wrestling. And many people consider wrestling to be entertaining. But few, if any, consider it to be authentic.

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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: November 2, 2015, 12:25 am

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Jeff Gordon has a chance to go out a champion.

The four-time Sprint Cup Series champ got his ninth win at Martinsville on Sunday. And the win means he's going to be one of the four drivers racing for the Sprint Cup Series title at Homestead on November 21.

Gordon, 43, is retiring at the end of the season. In victory lane he was jumping up and down and screaming, calling the win the "sweetest feeling."

It's Gordon's first win of the season and the 93rd of his career. The emotion Gordon showed after the checkered flag was perhaps the most exuberant the surefire Hall of Famer has ever been after a win. He even joked he was going to unretire and return to the cockpit of his No. 24 at the end of the season.

“I knew that if we could just get in this position, we could do something special," Gordon said. "And man, this has turned into a fairytale year. I cannot believe it. Homestead is going to be an unreal weekend and we’re going to completely focus now. We talked about this in our meeting before the race and if we could make it through today and win, all our focus is on the Homestead car."

He got the win thanks to some ridiculousness from another veteran. Matt Kenseth used his wounded car as a battering ram to crash leader Joey Logano. Kenseth, the 2003 champion was unhappy about an incident with Logano while the two were racing for the lead at Kansas. Kenseth's car was beaten up after contact with Brad Keselowski, Logano's teammate, so he decided to exact his revenge on Logano when Logano lapped him.

It was the second time in as many weeks that the closing events in a Sprint Cup Series race were unceremonious at best and downright dubious at worst.

The crash put Gordon into a great position for the win, but it didn't come without drama. As darkness fell upon Martinsville, a crash soon caused another caution. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted third behind AJ Allmendinger and Denny Hamlin with 30 laps to go.

He got around both thanks to fresher tires and seemed poised to take the checkered flag until another accident. The final restart came with two laps to go and Gordon dispatched Jamie McMurray for the win.

Not only was Gordon winless until Sunday, he really hadn't been a consistent threat for a win throughout the 2015 season. He entered the race with four top-five finishes, the fewest he's had in any season in his career. His 227 laps led through 32 races also put him on pace to have the fewest laps led in any season outside of his rookie campaign.

But he avoided mass calamity throughout the season and especially during the Chase. Gordon entered Martinsville believing his team had a shot at a win over the next three races and happy with the speed he'd shown through the first six races of the Chase. Four of his 17 top-10 finishes had come in the Chase and his lowest finish in NASCAR's playoffs had been 14th.

And not only does he have a shot at the title, he'll avoid all Ryan Newman comparisons as well. While a Gordon title run is set to be a big PR boost for NASCAR among casual followers and non-NASCAR covering media outlets, a title run without a win would have come with a lot of questions.

In 2014, the first year of NASCAR's elimination Chase format and supposedly renewed emphasis on winning, Newman finished second in the championship without winning a race the entire season. Had Gordon been in a similar position, the viability of NASCAR's format would once again have been questioned more than normal.

Instead, the chance for the fairytale ending to Gordon's career is intact while the sport attempts to sort through the (literal) wreckage its governance helped create to provide Gordon the opportunity for the win.

Here's how the points standings look with two races to go in the third round. Texas is next.

1. Jeff Gordon - Clinched final round berth
2. Kyle Busch, 4,039 points
3. Martin Truex Jr., 4,039
4. Kevin Harvick, 4,037
5. Carl Edwards, 4,030
6. Brad Keselowski, 4,013
7. Kurt Busch, 4,011
8. Joey Logano, 4,009

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

Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 1, 2015, 10:57 pm

Joey Logano's bid for a fourth-straight win in the Chase went away thanks to the bumper of Matt Kenseth.

And his title chances might have disappeared as well.

While Kenseth wouldn't admit it directly, it was pretty clear. The lap 454 crash was retribution for the contact that Logano and Kenseth had while racing for the lead at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago. Just watch the video.

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Kenseth and Logano made contact with five laps to go at Kansas. Kenseth was in front and he moved up in front of Logano as the two headed towards turn one. Logano got inside Kenseth and the front bumper of Logano's met the left-rear of Kenseth's. Kenseth went spinning.

Logano maintained the contact was hard racing and noted how Kenseth had blocked him multiple times during the battle for the lead. Kenseth said Logano was lying about the purposefulness of the crash. He was convinced that Logano did it on purpose.

And with some extra incentive fresh in his mind, Kenseth took the opportunity for vindication at Martinsville, a race that Jeff Gordon ultimately won.

Kenseth had a wounded car thanks to contact with Brad Keselowski, Logano's teammate. The Penske cars had been up front all day and when they would restart on the front row, the leader would start to the outside and non-preferred lane. The second-place car would slow down to make sure the leader would get to the inside without incident.

On a previous restart, Keselowski slowed to let Logano in. The restart wasn't the speediest or cleanest and Keselowski was forced to check up to let Logano in front in turns 1 and 2. He and Kenseth made contact (Keselowski's right front tire caught with Kenseth's left rear tire) and a calamity ensued.

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Kenseth was angry with the restart and with the contact from Keselowski. So he decided the best use of his wounded car would be as a revenge machine. After all, because he didn't win at Kansas, he was out of the Chase. By crashing Logano at Martinsville, he could stop the driver's winning streak and get payback out of the way before Logano potentially won a race in the third round.

"His race was over and he tried so hard to catch us the first time and he took out half the field, and he was successful the second time so I give that to him," Logano said. "It’s kind of a coward move.Actually, a really coward move for a race car driver to do that, essentially someone as mature and an experienced race car driver that knows what this is all about ... We were still leading the race.  We’re not gonna let this take us down.This is a strong team and he’ll have his.”

The payback against Logano isn't unexpected; it was clear Kenseth was going to to something at some point to Logano. But to do it in the manner that he did Sunday was absolutely ridiculous and absurd. He also didn't directly admit what he did after the fact, either.

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“There’s people that say a lot of things," Kenseth said when asked if the move was intentional. "The splitter was dragging the ground and got into the corner and certainly ruined his day. I know what it’s like to be that too. Some days you’re the bat some days you’re the ball. It’s never fun when you’re the ball so like I said disappointing end, a disappointing end to our Chase and he’s got a couple races left, he’s got the best car, he might get a couple of wins here and still have a shot at it.

"Certainly disappointed it came down to that. Man, I was out there trying to race as hard as I could for Dollar General and try to get the win. I really thought we were going to have a shot for the win before they got me the first time. Disappointed to get wiped out twice in the last four weeks with a shot to win for sure.”
NASCAR parked Kenseth after the crash – his car wasn't going to continue on anyway – but the sanctioning body's desire for dramatic moments and highlights whenever possible has helped foster the environment that Kenseth thrived in on Sunday. Witness what he said at Talladega after last week's race.

"I got wrecked out two weeks in a row from people doing what they had to do to make the Chase, but call it what you want. But I just feel like they lost total control of this whole thing. It’s not what racing is all about. [Logano] last week wrecks us for the win to get in, to keep us out and get him in and then today we’ve got a chance, he’s lined up behind, he’s dragging the brakes, he’s trying not to go. He’s doing everything he can to make it worse for you, so he’s standing there in victory lane and he’s happy, but the racing is just – it’s just kind of out of control.”

Kenseth deserves a lot of scorn too, of course. The 2003 champion should know better than to look like an absolute punk against a driver 18 years his junior. If you're going to get revenge, do it somewhat stealthily. Don't do it with a cartoon-sized mallet.

The Chase's elimination format has become all about survival. Winning isn't everything; avoiding bad finishes is. Drivers know that passing each other can be impossible. The best way to create a points gap is to hope for – or create – a mistake for an opponent. And with fights, temper tantrums and games of bumper cars becoming the norm in the Chase, NASCAR has been content to let the ridiculousness thrive.

Will it do anything punitive about Kenseth's actions on Sunday? We're going 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: November 1, 2015, 10:29 pm

A California woman now has a car that used to be four-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon's.

Gordon met a fan of his named Loraine at Sonoma over the summer. He signed the license plate to her old Jeff Gordon edition 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The car had been totaled when it caught on fire.

Here's the car Loraine lost. I signed the tag for her @RaceSonoma. I got to hand her new keys at @citychevrolet. pic.twitter.com/6TE0Ww1M1d

— Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) October 29, 2015

Gordon, who is retiring at the end of the season and moving to the broadcast booth, said Friday he was talking with his stepfather and they were deciding what to do with one of his cars that was in storage. And then he had an idea. He'd give the car to Loraine.

"I met her in June and immediately when I met her she shared her story with me," Gordon said. "My heart went out to her and I could tell what a huge fan she was. Anybody that has that car, anyone that has the 24 Monte Carlo from 2003, you know they are a big fan. I felt for her and it just so happened that my stepfather and I were talking about one of our own cars that we had and had collected for many years. We had it in the warehouse and we were talking about what our plans were for that car.

"I said, ‘I have an idea’, if we can track down this lady that I met, I think that she deserves it and I wanted to give it to her. And as you saw, that is what we ended up doing. Of course it felt good, but more important was to see the smile on her face and to see the reaction. When you see one of your biggest fans get the opportunity and an experience that they will never forget – that is pretty much what life is all about in my opinion.” 

Here's the video of Gordon giving Loraine the car this week at City Chevrolet in Charlotte.

Pretty dang cool, eh? It's yet another reason why Gordon has become so beloved throughout his Sprint Cup Series 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: October 30, 2015, 9:54 pm

Joey Logano's looking to continue his second-round dominance in the third round.

Logano will start Sunday's race at Martinsville on the pole after he was the fastest car in the final round of qualifying. While last week's race at Talladega was his sixth win of the season, Friday's pole is his sixth of the year. And it's his second of the season at Martinsville.

He started first in the spring race and finished third despite a spin. He hasn't won any of the five previous races where he's started on the pole but in every race he's finished in the top five. If he finishes in the top five on Sunday, he should be in great shape heading into Texas.

Martin Truex Jr. qualified next to Logano on the front row. All eight of the remaining Chase drivers qualified in the top 15. Here's where they  start:

Joey Logano, 1st
Martin Truex Jr., 2nd
Jeff Gordon, 5th
Kyle Busch, 6th
Brad Keselowski, 11th
Kevin Harvick, 12th
Carl Edwards, 14th
Kurt Busch, 15th

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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: October 30, 2015, 9:43 pm

Martinsville is perhaps the most unfair track in the Sprint Cup Series for double-file restarts.

The preferred groove at the half-mile track is near the curb. So the driver on the otuside line is at a serious disadvantage when the race restarts. It's not uncommon to see a driver on the outside lose more than a position per lap as he struggles to find an opening to get down to the bottom groove.

Simply put, starting on the outside line late in the race on Sunday could be huge when it comes to the finishing order, and as a result, the points standings. Given how close the top of the Chase field has been so far through the first six races of the Chase, having the outside line on a late-race restart could be the difference in making the final four at Homestead and not advancing.

The chances of that happening aren't high, of course. But neither were the chances of the restarts at Talladega going so squirrely late. Sometimes it feels like the least-probable scenarios are the most likely ones in NASCAR.

Carl Edwards was asked Friday about the double-file restarts. Sometimes drivers try to manipulate their pit road speed while on pit road under caution. After all, having an odd-numbered position means you're on the inside line. So drivers and teams will attempt to see what order they're coming off of pit road for a potentially better restart position.

“Everyone tries to do it," Edwards said. "We’ve got it right I think two or three times and I think one or two of those, one of the guys in front of us got a penalty and we ended up in the wrong line anyway. I remember one in particular, [spotter Jason Hedlesky] was screaming at me, ‘Give it to him, give it to him.’ I gave him the spot, I’m doing mental high-fives there and they said somebody was speeding so we hurt ourselves.

"I don’t know. It’s really hard to give up a spot. It’s hard to give up one of those spots that you earn so hard on pit road in the hopes that you counted correctly and number one, no one has a penalty. It’s one of those things, you do it, but I don’t know if it’s really a huge factor. I guess in the long run, yes if you did it all the time and you counted correctly and you were able to do it then it’s good. I remember one time I was with someone and we were battling to be the slowest and somebody else got us and I can’t remember if it worked out for us or the other guy, but you get kind of disgusted after a couple instances like that and you just go for 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: October 30, 2015, 7:04 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.

Well, we were a bit off on our prediction of a general lack of nuttiness at Talladega. It looked good until the ridiculousness that was the green-white-checker attempt(s) to finish the race. Then NASCAR's rule (that still doesn't have a direct causation, by the way) went in and helped caused the chaotic finish that we all saw.

Here's what the old Chase standings would look like after Talladega. The highest-standing driver in the final eight is Denny Hamlin in seventh. Kevin Harvick is the lowest driver still alive in 11th. Last year at this time it was about the same. Seven of the top eight in the previous format were alive.

1. Joey Logano, 2,265
2. Carl Edwards, 2,232
3. Jeff Gordon, 2,213
4. Kurt Busch, 2,212
5. Martin Truex Jr. 2,211
5. Brad Keselowski, 2,211
7. Denny Hamlin, 2,209
8. Kyle Busch, 2,197
9. Ryan Newman, 2,194
10. Matt Kenseth, 2,191
11. Kevin Harvick, 2,183
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2,180
13. Jamie McMurray, 2,158
14. Jimmie Johnson, 2,151
15. Paul Menard 2,146
16. Clint Bowyer, 2,123

Let's get to your reactions about Talladega. No sense in beating around the bush.


The teams in the Chase should be on a different scoring system.  (i.e. if there are 16 teams in the chase, those drivers should get 16 for the win and 1 for last place.)  They are truly racing against each other and where Matt DiBennedetto finished shouldn’t affect the overall championship.

This scenario is setting up a bad bad situation at some point with a winner take all race in Miami.  More than likely, we could have 4 drivers from teams with multiple cars.  How easy would it be for one of the drivers without a dig in the fight to affect the outcome.  Would JJ punt Harvick into the wall with 30 to go in Miami if it would benefit the 24?  Maybe a two race series with a 1-2-3-4 point scale. - Peter

Anyone like the points idea in the first paragraph? We've thought about similar points systems. Though we're not sure what's optimal at this point outside of balancing excellence with bad finishes. We sound like a broken record here, but NASCAR's points format is too skewed towards penalizing bad finishes. While not making mistakes is something that is part of winning a title, excellence isn't properly rewarded. And yes, we say that knowing full well about the win-and-in part of the Chase.

The second graph is the disaster scenario for NASCAR. What happened last year at Homestead isn't going to be a given every year. There are going to be races – assuming that NASCAR keeps this format longer than it's kept all its other Chase formats – where the four drivers in the final four won't be running in consecutive positions. A snoozer is bound to happen.


This is why as a casual fan in Atlanta--I have lost interest in NASCAR. Like Wrestling on wheels... - David

David has been secretly fined by NASCAR for his comments. David, please direct any inquiries to Denny Hamlin. He will tell you how not to compare NASCAR to professional wrestling.


Dont see how its any different from 2013. same radio chatter from needing a wreck to advance plus video showing him looking at the 6 car to compared to itching arm or being told to pit. But poor MWR paid the price which helped shut down his company. The one difference is kevin took alot of cars out which couldve hurt someone. MWR didnt.  

Been a fan for 32 years of Nascar but this last couple years esp. this years changing rules every week is the most inconsistent sport there is. People calling it a non sport will eventually be right they keep this up. Im a Jeff G fan but  Nascar keeps it up,  their fan base will die out eventually which already started.  This year their doing good but only due to Jeff last year. Maybe next year be ok with Tonys last year but I betting sales down next year and all they will do is make an excuse instead of dealing with the real problem.  When no one passed at Dover race that changed my mind on getting tickets to going to races. So far best decision I made - Helen

The key difference with Harvick and MWR is that there's no smoking gun. Sure, you can be convinced that Harvick wrecked Bayne on purpose, but what are you going to point to as your definitive proof? The GIF? Yes, there was an exchange on Harvick's radio about how a wreck was the team's best chance to advance in the Chase but there is no direction to cause the wreck. There was a clear direction with Bowyer at Richmond (and, you can argue, two years before with Paul Menard).


With your comment "And if you dismiss Bayne's complaint that Harvick did it on purpose, you must also immediately dismiss Matt Kenseth's complaint against Joey Logano from Kansas.", you just know some (people) are going to come out of the woodwork saying that's not true in that Logano didn't need the win to get into the chase. But we know two things: Joey knew the JGR cars would be strong competition so it was in his best interest that Kenseth didn't win, and he drives for Roger Penske, who I suspect pays his drivers to win races. So I agree with you. If it's okay in one situation, then it should be in another. I'm not in favor of dirty racing or blatantly taking drivers out (Newman), but this is auto racing, not cricket, lawn bowling, or squash. I can't imagine this exchange talking place:
Logano's spotter to Kenseth's spotter: "Joseph and Mr. Penske say that as they are in the Chase, tell Matthew to pull out in front and he'll take second place.
Kenseth's spotter: (after relaying the message to his driver) "Matthew says that is quite sporting and to thank Joseph and the good Mr. Penske. He's says he'll buy Master Logano a soda after the race."
Logano's spotter to Kenseth's spotter: Righto. And Bradley in the #2 car says "good luck"!
Nick, Nick, Nick. How can you make such silly assertions. ;-D - Paul
Racing is almost baseball-like with its unwritten rules. Especially the "race someone as he races you" mantra. There's no room for interpretation at all in that one, right? Both drivers can feel they're racing against each other the way that the other races and be mad at each other. It's an unending circle. And a fascinating concept.
And are unwritten rules more important than the written ones? Hell no. In a sport that costs millions and needs millions in sponsorship dollars and its infinitely harder to make up ground than it is to lose it, drivers are going to do what they need to do to secure survival. Maybe that's the new unwritten rule.

@NickBromberg do you think they throw away the 1 Gwc rule after the whole "that attempt doesn't count" debacle?

— Jeff Dorman (@jddorman2) October 29, 2015

At minimum the rule is likely clarified and/or tweaked. It may go away altogether. It was well-received by drivers, so the latter seems like it's not going to happen. But we can't imagine it'll be left alone.

@NickBromberg Was Sun a normal NASCAR dumpster fire that passes, or one of those things that hurts longer term?#TodayMeansNothingForTomorrow

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) October 29, 2015

If there's carryover from Sunday's race -- AKA, a driver takes revenge on Harvick for what they perceived to be purposeful actions -- then oh boy, it's going to be interesting. If we were running NASCAR we'd want to get as far away from the embarrassment that was Talladega. It's easier said than done.

And regarding the hashtag, someone who covers the sport told us our "prediction" was "wrong" about Kevin Harvick and Talladega. Thing is, we didn't make any predictions about Harvick or any penalties. It was like a wrestler jumping from the top rope and injuring himself when there was no one to land on.

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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: October 29, 2015, 7:28 pm

Justin Allgaier is making the move to the Xfinity Series in 2016.

Allgaier will drive the No. 7 car for JR Motorsports next season. He's going with sponsor Brandt, who will sponsor 18 of the season's 33 races. Brandt has sponsored Allgaier in the Sprint Cup Series for the past two seasons.

Allgaier will be replacing Regan Smith at JR Motorsports. Smith, the current driver of the No. 7 car, doesn't have a ride lined up for the 2016 season. Allgaier is leaving HScott Motorsports in the Cup Series. HScott will field cars next season for Clint Bowyer and Michael Annett. Team owner Harry Scott had said the team was staying at two cars for 2016 and with Bowyer's arrival for a season before he moves to Stewart-Haas Racing to replace Tony Stewart in 2017, Allgaier seemed like the odd man out.

Allgaier, 29, last raced full-time in the Xfinity Series in 2013. He's finished in the top-six in points in each of his five full-time seasons in NASCAR's No. 2 series and he has three Xfinity Series wins. He was 29th in the Sprint Cup standings in 2014 and is currently 30th through 32 races in 2015.

The move to JR Motorsports means Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Xfinity Series team will have two new full-time drivers next season. Elliott Sadler will drive for the team as Chase Elliott moves from the No. 9 to fill Jeff Gordon's seat in the Sprint Cup Series. Sadler comes to the team after driving for Richard Childress Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush Fenway Racing over the past five seasons.

JR Motorsports will also field a third car, the No. 88. It will be driven by a rotation of drivers including Junior, Elliott, Kevin Harvick and 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: October 28, 2015, 5:39 pm

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Kevin Harvick spoke at length on Tuesday about the events on the final restart at Talladega and said he doesn't think he has to defend what he did as the field attempted to get up to speed.

Harvick's engine was wounded in the late laps and he pulled up high on the non-restart that was aborted because of a crash before the start/finish line. On the second restart, he moved to the right again, though not as dramatically. As he did, he made contact with Trevor Bayne and Bayne's car went spinning.

The crash ended the race and meant the 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion advanced to the third round of the Chase.

"You know, look, I didn't cause the first wreck," Harvick said about the non-restart that didn't happen because Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson went spinning. "I definitely don't believe that I caused the second wreck either.  It's just one of those situations where I did the best I could on the restarts to get going. I got out of the way.  I never even really saw [Bayne] until he was by me and doing what he was doing."

Harvick also said he was hoping another driver would give him a push on the restart.

Multiple drivers, including Bayne, said they believed Harvick caused the wreck intentionally. A crash to freeze the field was his best hope of staying in the position he was in (he finished 15th). Had the field accelerated to full speed, Harvick's car would have been unable to keep up and he could have fallen to the last car on the lead lap. And subsequently out of the Chase.

NBC published scanner talk from the cars around him on the restart. Here's what Bayne and his spotter and crew chief had to say during the restart

Kraft: “Now the 4 is saying he’s not going to do the same because he’s on the verge of the Chase deal.’’

Bayne: “Well, what am I supposed to do?’’

Crew chief Bob Osborne: “If (Harvick) lays back, NASCAR needs to do something about it. Tell the spotter official up there the same thing.’’

Kraft: “Just got to see about the 4. I’ll let this official up here know.’’’

Kraft: “Just got to see what (Harvick) does here. Timmy (Fedewa, spotter for Harvick) don’t know. He thinks they might get out of the way. He’s not sure. They’re right on the verge. 20 (Matt Kenseth) will be on the bumper.’’

Bayne: “As long as the 20 knows the situation.’’

Coming to the restart, Kraft says: “Just be heads up on the 4 if he’s real slow. We’re just going to change lanes before the stripe or go back to 20th with him.’’

Kraft: “Be ready. 10 away (from restart zone). Five away. Ready, green, green, green. Rolling. Go up. Keep rolling, keep rolling, keep it. That’s exactly what he was hoping for. He was trying to wreck the field so he’s in the Chase.’’

Kraft: “Are you all right Trev?’

Bayne: “No!’’

Bayne: “He pushed me.’’

Later, Bayne says: “Harvick turned right and wrecked the crap out of me. I’m ticked.’’

Kraft: “He did it on purpose. Timmy told me that they were hoping for a yellow. He didn’t tell me they were going to wreck half the field to get one.’’

"I don't need to defend myself," Harvick said. "Here's the deal. If those guys were in the same situation, and their car would still function, it's like a football player. If his knee's blown out and he's playing in the Super Bowl, he's going to try to play as long as he can. 

"We maintained the speed on the caution.  If all the circumstances would have been different, it might have had a different outcome.  Those guys have been throwing stones all year, so you just go on with it."

NASCAR said Tuesday that it found no evidence of shenanigans on the restart; Harvick (or anyone else) wasn't penalized for his actions. And if it had, how could it have penalized him after NASCAR chairman Brian France called Joey Logano's Kansas bump "quintessential NASCAR" and the sanctioning body didn't penalize Ryan Newman when he shoved Kyle Larson into the wall for a spot in the final round in the Chase last season.

Harvick also had this to say when asked about the possibility of being black-flagged before the restart. On the aborted restart his car was considerably slower than the rest of the field as others accelerated.

Since NASCAR froze the field after the non-restart, he got his spot back in line for the one that ended up counting. He said he had gotten out of the way on the first attempt because of the wreck including Johnson and Larson.

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"I didn't have an oil leak," Harvick said. "My car was still maintaining speed.  It's like I got a dagger in my side, but I can still walk. You know what I mean?" 

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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: October 27, 2015, 11:11 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 and we'll try to have some fun.

1. Joey Logano (LW: 1): Six wins including the Daytona 500. The first driver to win three-straight Chase races since Jimmie Johnson. Not a bad season, eh? But with the way that Joey Logano is performing right now, it's title or bust. He was the best overall driver through the Chase's 10 races last year. He is once again this year. One more win gets him automatically to Homestead, where he hopes to avoid late-pit stop disaster.

2. Everyone else, err, uh, Carl Edwards (LW: 5): Seriously, who would you put at No. 2 right now? You could argue that it should be Dale Earnhardt Jr. based off the strength of his Talladega performance. Instead we'll go with Edwards, who successfully orchestrated a "ride in the back and finish in the top five" strategy for part of the race. A lot of times the patience doesn't pay off. It worked for Edwards and he's in the next round.

3. Brad Keselowski (LW: 8): Logano had a choice on the final restart(s). He could have taken the bottom lane and had Keselowski behind him or he could have taken the top side and separated Junior and Jeff Gordon. He chose the latter option. We'll never know how it would have worked out -- Junior said he was happy to have the bottom lane -- but it's easy to understand Logano's line of thinking.

4. Kyle Busch (LW: 3): Hey, Kyle Busch is still alive in the Chase! Given his performance this season it's not a surprise. But given his historical Chase performance, it's a bit of one. Busch was lamenting his Chase predicament after Charlotte. And while those words were largely out of frustration, one has to wonder how much of a confidence boost it is that he's still around. We think he'll get to the final round too.

5. Kurt Busch (LW: 6): How much of an upset would it be if Busch was in the final round of the Chase while his teammate Kevin Harvick was not? His points-per-race pace is only two points off Harvick's throughout the entirety of the season. So, not much. Busch's car will have a different look this weekend too. It'll be sponsored by Monster Energy for the first time. The company will be on his car's hood for half of the season next year.

6. Kevin Harvick (LW: 4): NASCAR's announcement that it didn't find anything to penalize at Talladega won't calm those who feel Harvick acted purposefully on the final restart of the race. And again, we say that if he did, he was doing so to help his own self-interests and advance in the Chase. Perhaps nothing signifies the survival instinct necessary in the Chase than purposefully causing a crash or moving a driver for your own personal advancement. It's kind of like the circus, really. We watch for people to survive the crazy tricks and avoid mistakes.

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 11): If it wasn't for the wild ending Sunday, the overwhelming story would be Junior's drive. Not only did he lead 61 laps he was back to the front in a blink after he was at the back of the pack because of a pit road penalty. His average finish at the four restrictor plate races this year is a whopping 1.75. How nutty is that? It'd be 1.5 if he had won the race.

8. Jeff Gordon (LW: 10): Speaking of survival, here's a guy doing just that in his final Sprint Cup Series season? Is Gordon a title threat? Sure. Ryan Newman was at Homestead when he was chasing Kevin Harvick, right? While Gordon winning the championship would be a great storyline to cap his career, NASCAR better hope he wins a race over these next four. Otherwise it's going to be bigger than Newman.

9. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 9): Martinsville is going to be a good barometer of Truex's title chances. His average finish of 22.2 there is second-worst among all tracks on the schedule. He did get his fifth top 10 in 19 starts in the spring there, so there's reason for optimism. A repeat of that, and he's sitting pretty. If he finishes 28th like he did last fall, well...

10. Matt Kenseth (LW: 7): First Kenseth was threatening to kick Logano's butt after the two made contact while heading to pit road and then he was saying this after the race: “Well, at the end, [Harvick] knew he was blew up and we had the first attempt, but I guess they said it wasn’t an attempt ... So then they tried it again and the 4 knew he was blew up, so he said he was going to stay in his lane, so the [Trevor Bayne] then went up and outside and he clipped him and caused a wreck because he knew he’d make the Chase that way, so it’s – I got wrecked out two weeks in a row from people doing what they had to do to make the Chase, but call it what you want. But I just feel like they lost total control of this whole thing. It’s not what racing is all about. [Logano] last week wrecks us for the win to get in, to keep us out and get him in and then today we’ve got a chance, he’s lined up behind, he’s dragging the brakes, he’s trying not to go. He’s doing everything he can to make it worse for you, so he’s standing there in victory lane and he’s happy, but the racing is just – it’s just kind of out of control.”

11. Denny Hamlin (LW: 2): Hamlin seemed set to overcome the roof hatch craziness he had during the race to sneak into the Chase. And then the final crash happened. Hamlin was out of the Chase. How crazy is it that Hamlin has had issues with his hood flying up and his roof hatch popping open in the same year? At least with the hood at Indianapolis it didn't happen during the race.

12. Ryan Newman (LW: 12): Goodbye, sweet Newman. We will miss your relentless borderline top-10ing for Chase advancement. Newman finished 12th at Talladega but it wasn't enough after Harvick finished 15th. Had NASCAR found intent and penalized Harvick, Newman would have been the beneficiary. How weird would it have been if he had gotten in/advanced in the Chase twice because of penalties to others?

Lucky Dog: Well done Paul Menard.

The DNF: The race itself.

Dropped out: No one. We're going to start having fun with the four non-Chase spots next week.

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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: October 27, 2015, 5:39 pm

No driver, including 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, will be (publicly) penalized for his or her actions during the messy and ridiculous final laps of Sunday's race at Talladega.

NASCAR had previously said Sunday evening that it had found nothing fishy about the green-white-checker attempt at the end of Sunday's race. Harvick's car made contact with Trevor Bayne's, helping trigger a multi-car crash that ended the race. But when saying Sunday that the sanctioning body hadn't found anything, NASCAR vice chairman Mike Helton couched his words with a "so far."

The results of the preliminary findings are now official.

“NASCAR has worked to review an extensive amount of material from Sunday’s NASCAR race in Talladega including video, team radio transmissions and downloadable data," a NASCAR statement said Tuesday morning. "Based on that review, the race results are considered official as we prepare for the upcoming 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Eliminator Round starting Sunday at Martinsville Speedway." 

Harvick, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr. are the eight drivers advancing to the next round of the Chase. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth were eliminated at Talladega.

NASCAR's statement continued.

“Additionally, aside from today’s post-race inspection, NASCAR has completed review of any other potential penalties from the track this past weekend, and there will be no further actions.”

Harvick was accused by multiple drivers of causing the crash on purpose. His car was experiencing engine difficulties and could not accelerate to race pace. As he moved to the outside on the restart, Bayne passed him to his outside. The two made contact.

While Harvick has gotten a lot of scrutiny for his actions, it's also fair to wonder why NASCAR didn't black flag him before he made contact with Bayne. On the previous "attempt" to restart the race for a final time, it was incredibly clear that Harvick's car could not accelerate with the rest of the field. As drivers hit the throttle, Harvick's car dropped towards the back of the pack.

However, since Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson went spinning before the field took the green flag, the field was frozen and Harvick was returned by NASCAR to his original position on the restart.

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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: October 27, 2015, 1:46 pm

Start your calendars. NASCAR has released the 2016 schedule for its Sprint Cup series, and while the dates change a bit, the tracks remain the same.

Of note: NASCAR extended its agreements with all tracks through at least 2020, so there will be no additional tracks on the schedule until then. The only way Iowa or any other track would be added would be if an existing owner were to purchase the track and move a current date, as happened several years back with Atlanta and Kentucky.

The season once again begins before Valentine's Day and ends just before Thanksgiving. There are a few minor changes:

• Bristol's second race moves a week earlier to accommodate the September Virginia Tech-Tennessee game at the track.

• Daytona's summer race will once again be a Saturday night race after this year's Sunday race suffered rain delays.

• The series' breaks will come on March 27, June 19 and August 14.

• The schedule format for the Chase for the Sprint Cup remains unchanged, with Dover, Talladega and Phoenix serving as elimination dates.

Feb. 13 Sprint Unlimited
Feb. 18 Can-Am Duel at Daytona
Feb. 21 Daytona
Feb. 28 Atlanta
March 6 Las Vegas
March 13 Phoenix
March 20 Auto Club
April 3 Martinsville
April 9 Texas
April 17 Bristol
April 24 Richmond
May 1 Talladega
May 7 Kansas
May 15 Dover
May 21 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race
May 29 Charlotte
June 5 Pocono
June 12 Michigan
June 26 Sonoma
July 2 Daytona
July 9 Kentucky
July 17 New Hampshire
July 24 Indianapolis
July 31 Pocono
Aug. 7 Watkins Glen
Aug. 20 Bristol
Aug. 28 Michigan
Sept. 4 Darlington
Sept. 10 Richmond
Sept. 18 Chicagoland
Sept. 25 New Hampshire
Oct. 2 Dover
Oct. 8 Charlotte
Oct. 16 Kansas
Oct. 23 Talladega
Oct. 30 Martinsville
Nov. 6 Texas
Nov. 13 Phoenix
Nov. 20 Homestead-Miami

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 26, 2015, 8:50 pm

The odds didn't favor a green-white-checker restart ending under caution at Talladega on Sunday.

In the 23 previous races with the GWC rule in effect in the Sprint Cup Series, 10 Talladega races had gone into overtime. And only two of those races had more than one two-lap sprint to the finish. It seemed very likely that Sunday's race was going to either finish at 500 miles or with one attempt at a two-lap sprint.

Well, until NASCAR jinxed the finish of Sunday's race with the announcement that green-white-checker finishes would be limited to one on Sunday. The reasons for the rule seemed unclear. Given the data presented above, multiple GWC finishes at Talladega haven't been widespread. And Austin Dillon's scary crash at Daytona in July came after the race had officially finished.

OK, so jinx isn't the right word. With history as our guide, the odds still looked good. But sure enough, NASCAR's new rule came into play on Sunday. And what unfolded was sheer madness.

The ending of the race was set up by Jamie McMurray's blown engine. It seemed reasonable that NASCAR officials could have halted the race with a red flag to clean up the track and try to finish the race in regulation. Instead, a long caution flag let the laps tick off. Greg Biffle, a non-Chase driver in position to potentially steal a win on fuel mileage, was forced to pit.

There would be one GWC attempt. OK, make that two. As NASCAR tried to start the race for the final time, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson spun before the field hit the start/finish line. Since the penultimate lap hadn't started, NASCAR ruled it was not an attempt.

The logic is understandable. The lap wasn't officially started under green. But audio from team channels revealed a lot of flabbergasted teams. Some felt that since NASCAR had, well, attempted to start the race, it counted as the attempt. Perhaps NASCAR hadn't explained the scenario to its teams well enough.

By now, you've likely seen the video of what happened on the second, err, first attempt at a green-white-checker finish. The field crashed yet again, but just a little bit later.

We should have known that NASCAR's new rule would come in to play despite strong evidence that it wouldn't The sport, which can be making news for rules-related discussions as often as it does for its action on the track, has a tendency to self-inflict chaos even when it means well.

This was one of those times. Drivers supported the one-GWC rule for obvious reassons. It cut down the opportunities to crash. But, when put into action, also strongly raised the possibility of NASCAR being forced to determine not only the winner of the race but the eight drivers that moved on to the next round of the Chase via video monitoring and frame-by-frame deduction.

The sport has become all about extracting every ounce of "excitement" and "entertainment" from its on-track product suddenly put itself in its officials hands inside the scoring tower to properly sort out the madness it had helped create below. Is any event exciting and entertaining when it comes down to the decisions of those ruling it? Especially one that has much larger implications than itself?

As a result, NASCAR spent over an hour trying to figure out the official results of the race instead of simply seeing the order of who crossed the finish line and reprinting it. And had it made the decision to throw the caution flag a split second later, Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have been in victory lane and the next round of the Chase.

Instead, Joey Logano was ruled to have been ahead when the caution flag flew. The scenario meant that the sport dodged a barrage of Junior-favoring conspiracy theories in the weeks ahead. A bright spot for the credibility of NASCAR amongst its (non-Junior) fans? Sure. But the mere mention of this idea means that NASCAR's decision once again had unintended consequences.

Will this rule extend to Daytona and Talladega in 2016? Who knows. Group qualifying at restrictor plate tracks looked like a great idea in theory until it was hot garbage in reality.

If it does, it'll likely be tweaked as NASCAR learns from what happened on Sunday. But it doesn't erase the dozens of "what-if?" scenarios that fans and drivers will ask themselves in the upcoming weeks. There's no guarantee that two more restarts would have gotten the race finished under green, but you can bet a bunch of people are wondering how they'd have played out had NASCAR not created a new rule that's still looking for a good explanation.

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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: October 26, 2015, 12:34 am

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For the second-straight season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. needed a win at Talladega to advance in the Chase. He came up short again on Sunday, but he was a hell of a lot closer than he was in 2014.

Junior finished second to Joey Logano after NASCAR ruled that Logano was ahead of Junior when the race's final caution flag came out. A crash happened as the field took the green on a green-white-checker restart. Since NASCAR had instituted a rule that there would be only one GWC attempt at Talladega, the race was over when the caution flag flew.

Logano and Junior had restarted on the front row when the green flag flew. After the race, Junior said he had been nervous all weekend. He won at Talladega in the spring and led a race-high 61 laps on Sunday. But he's not moving on to the third round of the Chase yet again.

"I just wanted to go out there, whatever happened, put forth a good account of myself, my team," Junior said. "I'm real proud of what we did today. So I can feel good about that. I can look back on a lot of different things that put me in this situation right now, starting with the first two races in this round where we didn't run well. We got wrecked by [Carl Edwards at Charlotte], and just didn't run well at Kansas.

"I'm going to get asked about the greenwhitecheckered rule, which I'm fine with it. I feel like no matter the rules, when the race is over, I can live with the result as long as everyone else is going by the same rules. So I felt like, per the rule book, it sorted out and I finished second.  I'm okay with that. We could argue they could have waited another hundred foot to throw the caution, but they didn't have to. They threw it when they needed to. I'm fine with that."

While being nervous, Junior said he was confident because he had a good car. And it showed. He had battled back from a pit-road pass through penalty after his team had come over the pit wall too early on a green flag pit stop. Once Junior had caught back up to the pack thanks to a caution, he was back in the front in a matter of minutes.

But he wasn't at the front when the race ended. Last year, his Chase ended in the midst of a crash at Talladega.

"Well, the best thing that could happen for us is the same thing that happened last year, go win.  We're disappointed today.  We were disappointed last year when we left Talladega.  But we went to Martinsville and sort of surprised ourselves with our first win there.

"Dang, you know, when I look at that video of all of us jumping up and down on that trailer like idiots, that's a team that's not too bothered being knocked out of the Chase right there. If we can go to the racetrack and win, it certainly makes our situation much more bearable. If we could go to Homestead and run well, I'd love to win there. Never won there. I like that track. Running against the wall is a lot of fun. We'll see."

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

Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: October 25, 2015, 11:47 pm

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NASCAR vice chairman Mike Helton said Sunday night that the sanctioning body has, so far, found no evidence that Kevin Harvick wrecked Trevor Bayne intentionally to end Sunday's race at Talladega.

The race was on a green-white-checker attempt when Harvick and Bayne made contact. Harvick's car had started having issues and he said it would not accelerate. He pulled out of line to the outside and Bayne moved to Harvick's outside to pass him. As Bayne moved ahead of Harvick, the two made contact and Bayne's car went spinning.

Multiple drivers had accused Harvick of spinning Bayne intentionally.

"Obviously some of the teams have questioned what the 4 car did on the restarts and we went back and walked through with them but procedurally, from NASCAR, we don't see anything there that is suspect, so far," Helton said.

Helton said NASCAR had reviewed video from the incident.

"We haven't seen anything," Helton said. "Only thing I mean about so far is that I've been around long enough to know that something could crawl out of the woodwork over the next 24 hours."

He also said NASCAR would not be opposed to doing something about the Chase if it deemed there were shenanigans. Harvick advanced to the next round of the Chase while Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman did not.

"We historically have been," Helton said.

Here's a GIF of Harvick's in-car camera synced up with his roof camera.

"I don't know if I clipped the No. 6 or if he came across as I was coming up," Harvick said. "Just one of those days where everything went wrong until the very end. When the bottom fell out those last couple of restarts when it cooled off. It has a broken exhaust pipe or something."

Bayne was one of the drivers that contended Harvick crashed him on purpose. So did Hamlin, who was visibly frustrated after the race.

What a joke we have a car with no motor wreck the field to end the race. Complete crap. Sorry to anyone who spent $ coming to this circus

— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) October 25, 2015

Bayne: That’s a crappy way 4 Harvick to have to get in the Chase is to wreck somebody – what I believe to be on purpose – maybe it wasn’t.

— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) October 25, 2015

Did Harvick spin Bayne intentionally? We may never know; the shot of his in-car camera isn't an absolution. But here's the thing. It was in Harvick's best interest to crash Bayne. Can you really fault him for doing what he had to do to move on in the Chase? And if you dismiss Bayne's complaint that Harvick did it on purpose, you must also immediately dismiss Matt Kenseth's complaint against Joey Logano from Kansas.

Is crashing a driver intentionally the most ethical thing to do? Hell no. But NASCAR set a precedent in last year's Chase when Ryan Newman knocked Kyle Larson out of the way at Phoenix to make the final round of the Chase. The sanctioning body did nothing about Newman's incredibly blatant – and admittedly purposeful – move. Why would it do something about Harvick's?

With the limit of one green-white-checker finish in place at Talladega on Sunday, Harvick knew that if he caused a crash, the race would be over. And a crash was his best chance for making it to the next round. With a car incapable of accelerating, he was going to fall like a rock behind the pack. With every position equaling a lost point, a clean restart spelled the end of the 2014 champion's Chase fortunes.

NASCAR likes to tout how it's elimination Chase fomat is survive-and-advance. Well, that's exactly what Kevin Harvick did at Talladega. How many of you would have done whatever it took to keep your championship hopes alive?

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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: October 25, 2015, 11:03 pm

Joey Logano won Sunday's race at Talladega, his third win in the second round of the Chase. And Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not moving on in the Chase.

How did that happen? Make sure you're comfortable. This is going to take a while to explain.

First, a little backstory. NASCAR said earlier in the week that there would be just one attempt at a green-white-checker finish. And of course, that rule came into play on Sunday as Jamie McMurray's engine expired with five laps to go. NASCAR extended the race past regulation and into the one GWC finish.

As the race went green, Logano, who was lined up next to Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the front row, spun his tires. Jimmie Johnson went spinning back in the pack. The caution came out ... before the field had reached the start/finish line. NASCAR deemed it not an "attempt," much to the chagrin of many team radios. The race was restarted again.

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A similar scenario happened on the second restart. But it came just a bit later. NASCAR threw the caution flag after Logano and Junior had passed the start/finish line. The race was over at that point and NASCAR determined Logano was ahead of Junior when the caution came out. Since Junior was in a points scenario where he needed to win the race to make the Chase, he was eliminated.

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How did the second caution start? Kevin Harvick was having engine issues and said his car couldn't accelerate. As he pulled out of line to avoid the pack, Trevor Bayne pulled to his outside. Harvick made contact with Bayne and Bayne's car went spinning to spark the melee.

Did Harvick do it on purpose? It's hard to blame him if he did, though it's a decision that could and possibly should face punishment by NASCAR if the sanctioning body deems it was intentional. With a car that was wounded, he couldn't afford to fall back in the pack. He could potentially miss the Chase. And given what happened on the first restart, he knew he could save himself with a caution.

Here's a GIF of Harvick's in-car camera teamed up with his roof camera:

Here's Harvick's explanation of what happened:

Harvick said he was hoping his car would restart better on last restart and then pulled to outside and didn't see 6 pull in front of him

— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) October 25, 2015

Other drivers thought Harvick did it intentionally.

What a joke we have a car with no motor wreck the field to end the race. Complete crap. Sorry to anyone who spent $ coming to this circus

— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) October 25, 2015

Wow. That was the champ. Not a very smart move. What a joke. Not happy

— David Gilliland (@DavidGilliland) October 25, 2015

Bayne: That’s a crappy way 4 Harvick to have to get in the Chase is to wreck somebody – what I believe to be on purpose – maybe it wasn’t.

— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) October 25, 2015

Officially, Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Hamlin won't advance to the next round of the Chase. The final 8 is Logano, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Harvick.

The next Sprint Cup Series race is November 1 at Martinsville.

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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: October 25, 2015, 10:01 pm

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