After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Austin Dillon

NASCAR Experience: 2011 Camping World Truck Series champion. 2013 Nationwide Series champion. 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion?

Most recent team: Richard Childress Racing

Most recent season finish: 20th

2014 accomplishments: Completed more laps than any other driver in the Cup Series not named Jeff Gordon. Finished fifth at Daytona in July.

Most memorable moment: Winning the pole for the Daytona 500. You can't forget that the No. 3 was back, could you? And please promise to not tell Ryan Newman about the 500. He's still happy about finishing second and we don't want to rehash that.

Strengths: Only Greg Biffle has a shot at a three-peat.

2015 goals: A championship, duh. Look at the pattern. Though a Chase berth would be nice.

FTM's Take: For the flurry of attention that winning the pole at Daytona received, Dillon settled into relative NASCAR anonymity. And while it was because he didn't have many super-strong runs, it's because he was like his teammates. There were few brutally bad ones either. Maybe there's something in the water at RCR? We should have Carrie Underwood investigate.

No, it's not realistic that Dillon will win the 2015 title, but if the consistency carries over, there's no reason for Chase hopes to not exist into August. We've seen how avoiding bad finishes can pay off in the Cup Series, and if it's a skill, Dillon's showing that he has it.

Previous reviews: No. 21 Paul Menard, No. 22 Brian Vickers, No. 23 Marcos Ambrose, No. 24 Martin Truex Jr., No. 25 Tony Stewart, No. 26 Casey Mears, No. 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 18, 2014, 8:57 pm

Roush Fenway Racing has found a fourth Xfinity Series driver for 2015.

The team announced Thursday that Darrell Wallace would drive the No. 6 car in the former Nationwide Series in 2015. Wallace, 21, won four Camping World Truck Series races in 2014 while driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. When he won at Martinsville in 2013, he became the first black driver to win a NASCAR national series race since 1963.

“We are very excited to bring Bubba Wallace into the Roush Fenway fold,” said team president Steve Newmark. “He is viewed in industry circles as one of the brightest young drivers and I feel that we are very fortunate to be able to bring him on board.  He has a charismatic personality and at the same time has exhibited the ability to win on the race track.  We are looking forward to getting him in our race cars next season.”

Though he drove for KBM in 2014, Wallace was previously under contract with Joe Gibbs Racing as a developmental driver. At the conclusion of the 2014 season, JGR hadn't announced anything concrete for Wallace other than references to a partial season in the Xfinity Series. Earlier in December, Wallace was granted his release from the team.

WIth Roush, Wallace will drive with Elliott Sadler, Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed. No sponsorship was revealed with the announcement.

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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: December 18, 2014, 7:43 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Paul Menard

NASCAR Experience: Parts of 12 seasons in the Sprint Cup Series including eight full-time seasons. Brickyard 400 winner.

Most recent team: Richard Childress Racing

Most recent season finish: 21st

2014 accomplishments: Paul Menard doesn't like talking about Paul Menard and talks about Paul Menard in the third person. Brevity is big. Five top fives. Third at Las Vegas. 2011 Brickyard 400 winner.

Most memorable moment: 2011 Brickyard 400 winner. Was twice in the top 10 in points in 2014. Why do you want all this information?

Strengths: 2011 Brickyard 400 winner. Last name.

2015 goals: Attempt to go the entire season without an interview, which may be impossible if the Chase is made. This is a tough potential dilemma.

FTM's Take: The quietest driver in the Cup Series garage, Menard is not one for many public words. He's got the gig that many of us would love to have. He's self-funded, drives for a good team in the series and stays out of the spotlight. Of course, that's easy to do when you run mid-pack, but there's a lot of something to be said for never making headlines on the down side of the spectrum.

However, as mentioned in the 2015 goals section of this entry, Menard would have to put himself in the spotlight if he made the Chase. And given the expanded Chase field, it's not a crazy thought. He was 14th in points after Atlanta, but was the fourth driver out on points after Richmond and ended up 22nd. If he stays consistent and more drivers ahead of him win (and maybe even Menard himself wins), who knows?

Previous reviews: No. 22 Brian Vickers, No. 23 Marcos Ambrose, No. 24 Martin Truex Jr., No. 25 Tony Stewart, No. 26 Casey Mears, No. 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 18, 2014, 2:41 pm

In his time on the stand Wednesday, Kurt Busch said he told his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll multiple times to leave his motorhome on the night of September 26.

Busch testified as part of hearing for a request for protection order Driscoll placed in the wake of her domestic assault allegations against Busch on the Friday night of Dover race weekend. Driscoll alleges that Busch slammed her head into the wall of his motorhome multiple times.

Busch said those allegations are false.

From the Wilmington News-Journal via USA Today:

Busch testified that he had been sleeping the night of Sept. 26 when Driscoll arrived at his motorhome with her then-nine-year-old son, Houston. He says he told her repeatedly to leave, but she kept bringing her son in from another room, saying that Busch needed to tell the boy that the relationship between Busch and Driscoll was over.

Busch says Driscoll came to his motorhome uninvited and unannounced.

Busch says while the two were in his bedroom, he again asked her to leave, for what he said was the fifth time. He says he cupped her cheeks in his hands, looked her in the eye and said, "you need to leave." He says he was defusing the situation.

On Tuesday, Driscoll testified that Busch was struggling with alcoholism and depression and corroborated her claims made in a report to Dover police in November. The allegations are still being investigated.

Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion, finished 12th in the 2014 standings.

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: December 17, 2014, 10:49 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Brian Vickers

NASCAR Experience: Seven full-time seasons in the Cup Series, 12 overall. Yes, just turned 31 years old in October. Three wins and the 2003 Nationwide Series title.

Most recent team: Michael Waltrip Racing

Most recent season finish: 22nd.

2014 accomplishments: Second at Daytona in the summer after rain cut short the race and gave Aric Almirola the win and a Chase berth. Finished fourth at Texas and Talladega in the spring.

Most memorable moment: It's not pretty, but it's the lap two crash at Michigan in June after qualifying 10th.

Strengths: Three wins have come on a diverse array of tracks (restrictor plate, two-mile track and one-mile track.)

2015 goals: Recover quickly and get back to the Sprint Cup Series fully healthy.

FTM's Take: After winning a race while driving part-time for MWR in 2013, Vickers is rewarded with a full-time ride in 2014. And after finishing 22nd, he's now going to miss the beginning of 2015 because of complications from a 2010 heart procedure. That's tough.

Last year, MWR took a step back when dropping down to two full-time cars. Vickers has shown he can be competitive in the right situation. If MWR and Joe Gibbs Racing can figure out their information sharing, Vickers can be a threat at times when he gets back in the driver's seat.

Previous reviews: No. 23 Marcos Ambrose, No. 24 Martin Truex Jr., No. 25 Tony Stewart, No. 26 Casey Mears, No. 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: December 17, 2014, 1:26 pm

Patricia Driscoll, the ex-girlfriend of Kurt Busch, testified Tuesday at a hearing regarding her filing of a protection order against the driver.

In a claim of domestic assault filed in November, Driscoll alleged that Busch grabbed her head and smashed it three times against the wall of his motorhome on September 26. On Tuesday, Driscoll said that Busch had issues with alcoholism and depression while Busch's attorneys refuted everything she said.

Just take a look at the first three paragraphs from the Delaware News-Journal's recap of the hearing:

NASCAR driver Kurt Busch was described by his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, as someone struggling with alcoholism and depression the night he erupted into a rage and smashed her face into the bedroom wall of his motorhome.

Attorneys for Busch described Driscoll as a mercenary who was an unbelievable storyteller, and a public relations professional who was bent on trying to destroy the driver's career.

"Why don't you just call a press conference and say every bad thing you can about him," said Rusty Hardin, Busch's attorney.

Driscoll leads the Armed Forces Foundation, a foundation that Busch supported throughout their relationship.

Attorneys for both parties declined comment after the hearing, according to the News-Journal. In her testimony, Driscoll said that Busch didn't want to extend his two-year contract with Stewart-Haas Racing, the team he joined in 2014. He made the Chase in 2014 but was eliminated after the first round, which ended at Dover.

Driscoll also said that Busch "was angry that Tony Stewart had killed that kid and ruined his entire career" in reference to the incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on August 9 when Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward.

The hearing is set to continue Wednesday morning. In November at Homestead, NASCAR CEO Brian France said that the sport would let the legal process take place before deeming if disciplinary action would be necessary against Busch.

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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: December 17, 2014, 1:25 am

Sprint will not return as the primary sponsor of NASCAR's top series upon the conclusion of its current contract at the end of the 2016 season.

"We are proud of our association with NASCAR's top series but have made the decision not to extend our sponsorship beyond the next two years," Sprint vice president of marketing Steve Gaffney said in a statement. "As we look to the future, Sprint is focused on investing in maintaining a competitive edge and providing consumers with the best value in wireless."

The company's name had been on NASCAR's Cup Series since 2008 when Sprint and Nextel merged. Nextel took over from Winston as the tobacco company left after the 2003 season. When Nextel entered the series, NASCAR instituted the 10-race Chase format for the championship after crowning the season winner over a full season previously. Given the switch to the winner-take-all final race of the season in the 2014 Chase, it seems unlikely that a new sponsor would also mean a different title format. However, the Chase has been tweaked four times in 11 seasons.

“NASCAR and Sprint have enjoyed a long and productive partnership that has returned significant value to both parties," NASCAR chief communications officer Brett Jewkes said in a statement. "We understand significant changes within Sprint and the highly competitive business environment it is in has led to a decision not to extend its Cup Series entitlement position following the 2016 season. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a very unique, premium sports marketing platform with strong momentum, so we are very confident of moving forward in 2017 with an outstanding new partner. In the meantime, we look forward to Sprint’s partnership on the best racing series in the world for the next two seasons.”

NASCAR's original contract with Nextel was for 10 years and $700 million. Sprint then extended the contract for three more seasons.

NASCAR recently found a new sponsor for the Nationwide Series in Comcast. The No. 2 series will be known as the Xfinity Series starting in 2015. Camping World took over the title sponsorship of the Truck Series in 2009.

In addition to the change in sponsorship, NASCAR has also seen a shift in its television coverage recently. ESPN and TNT concluded their agreements to broadcast Sprint Cup Series races at the end of 2014. For the next 10 years, Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series races will be split between Fox and NBC properties.

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: December 16, 2014, 6:52 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Marcos Ambrose

NASCAR Experience: Six full seasons in the Sprint Cup Series and two consecutive wins at Watkins Glen in 2011 and 2012.

Most recent team: Richard Petty Motorsports.

Most recent season finish: 23rd.

2014 accomplishments: Top fives at Bristol and Martinsville to start the season, and eighth at Sonoma and a second at Watkins Glen.

Most memorable moment: The battle with AJ Allmendinger to try to secure a berth in the Chase. Watch it again, will you?

Oh, and this, which gave us a teaser of what was to come in the Chase.

Strengths: This doesn't need to be explained, does it?

2015 goals: Kick some ass in V8 Supercars.

FTM's Take: One of the road course drivers in recent memory will be especially missed when the Cup Series heads to Sonoma and Watkins Glen. We'll remember the two wins at Watkins Glen, and we'll remember his misses of other wins too There was the time he stalled the car going uphill at Sonoma. The way his dominance in 2013 was snatched away. The duel with Allmendinger at the end of this year's race.

But let's flash back to 2012, shall we? What a freaking final lap. This is going to be our favorite memory of Ambrose in the Cup Series.

Previous reviews: No. 24 Martin Truex Jr., No. 25 Tony Stewart, No. 26 Casey Mears, No. 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 16, 2014, 5:37 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Martin Truex Jr.

NASCAR Experience: Nine full Sprint Cup Series seasons and two wins. The 2004 and 2005 NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) [Xfinity] Series champion.

Most recent team: Furniture Row Racing

Most recent season finish: 24th

2014 accomplishments: Finished fourth at Kansas in the fall and led a lap at Talladega in the fall. Didn't get hit by a meteor at the beginning of the season when on-track performance started out poorly.

Most memorable moment: Simply having a full-time ride after NAPA left Michael Waltrip Racing following the race manipulation thing at Richmond last year. Unrelated to performance on the track, it's having longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex back at the track following her August cancer diagnosis.

Strengths: Won on a road course and a one-mile track and has shown strength at intermediate tracks.

2015 goals: Try to replicate Furniture Row's 2013 when it made the Chase with Kurt Busch. Get win No. 3.

FTM's Take: While Furniture Row and Truex were meant for each other for 2014 given their situations entering the season, the results weren't what anyone was expecting. And we don't mean that in a good way. It's crazy to think that Truex led just a single lap and had one top-five finish. Of his nine full-time Sprint Cup seasons, 2014 had his fewest top 10s, laps led and his lowest finish in the standings. But all of that was second to Pollex's cancer diagnosis.

Simply put, it was a rough season for Truex. With a crowded field ahead, moving up is easier said than done. But Truex should contend for the top 20 next year.

Previous reviews: No. 25 Tony Stewart, No. 26 Casey Mears, No. 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 16, 2014, 3:04 pm

Pardon us if you've heard this one before: The eligibility criteria for the Sprint Unlimited is changing.

Here's how the field will be composed for the Feb. 14, 2015 race:

• All drivers who made the 2014 Chase are in. There's 16.

• All drivers who won a pole in 2014 who weren't in the Chase. That gives us seven more drivers.

• All drivers who competed full-time in 2014 who have previously won a Daytona 500 pole. This fills the field out to 25 with the addition of Danica Patrick and Martin Truex, Jr.

However, Brian Vickers, a 2014 pole winner, is expected to miss the race because of complications from a 2010 heart procedure. The NASCAR release says a "minimum of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are eligible to participate in the Sprint Unlimited at DIS" and that "any remaining spots will be filled by drivers highest in 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship points who are not already eligible."

If the race expands to 25 to meet the minimum because of Vickers missing the race, his teammate Clint Bowyer would get in. Bowyer is neither a former race winner of the Unlimited or Daytona 500 pole winner and was 19th in the 2014 points standings. Drivers Nos. 1-18 all are eligible for the race.

Here is the original field of 25 drivers based off the bullet points above.

• Kyle Busch
• Austin Dillon
• Jeff Gordon
• David Gilliland
• Denny Hamlin
• Kevin Harvick
• Jimmie Johnson
• Matt Kenseth
• Brad Keselowski
• Kyle Larson
• Joey Logano
• Jamie McMurray
• Brian Scott
• Tony Stewart
• Brian Vickers
• Kurt Busch
• Dale Earnhardt Jr.
• Carl Edwards
• Danica Patrick
• Greg Biffle
• Martin Truex Jr.
• Ryan Newman
• AJ Allmendinger
• Kasey Kahne
• Aric Almirola

The race will once again be 75 laps. No format for the 75 laps was announced.

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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: December 15, 2014, 11:44 pm

Michael Waltrip Racing announced that Brian Vickers will miss what it termed the "early part" of the 2015 season after complications from a 2010 procedure.

In 2010, Vickers missed 25 races because of blood clots in his leg and lungs. While undergoing testing for the issues with the clots, doctors found a hole in Vickers' heart. Vickers said in a statement that his body is rejecting the patch that was inserted for the hole in his heart.

“First, I want to thank everyone for their sincere support," Vickers said. "I have faced obstacles before and it has made victory that much sweeter and I know that will be the case again."

“My previous experiences have given me a very keen understanding of my body. Late last week I knew something wasn’t right, so I went to the hospital to be checked out. Following several tests, it was discovered that my body was rejecting an artificial patch that was inserted in 2010 to fix a hole in my heart. Saturday, I had to have corrective surgery to repair the hole and now I am beginning the recovery process. I will need plenty of time, rest and rehab but this temporary setback will not stop me from pursuing my dream of becoming a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.”

No timetable was given by the team for Vickers' return, nor were any possible replacement plans revealed on Monday.

“Brian has been a part of the MWR family since 2012 and our thoughts today are with Brian, his wife Sarah and the Vickers family,” MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman said. “As a race team, MWR has plenty to consider and we will confer with our partners, including Aaron’s and Toyota. As this is fresh news, we will adjust our future plans as more information becomes available.”

Team owner Michael Waltrip could be a candidate to drive for Vickers at Daytona given his relationship with Aaron's and his part-time plans since retiring as a full-time driver at the conclusion of the 2009 season. Since then, Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion, has raced in 19 races and all but two have been at Daytona and Talladega.

After Red Bull Racing folded at the end of the 2011 season, Vickers joined MWR and drove on a part-time basis for the team in 2012 and 2013 and won at New Hampshire in 2013. He moved into a full-time role as the driver of the No. 55 for 2014 and finished 22nd in the Sprint Cup standings.

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

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: December 15, 2014, 8:57 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Tony Stewart

NASCAR Experience: Three Sprint Cup Series titles, most recently in 2011. The only driver to win a championship in both the full-season and Chase format. 48 Sprint Cup Series wins.

Most recent team: Stewart-Haas Racing

Most recent season finish: 25th

2014 accomplishments: Finished fourth in the Bristol spring race, fourth at Martinsville in the fall and fifth at Auto Club Speedway. Yeah, this really doesn't jive with the stats listed above. Can we call this an outlier season for a myriad of reasons?

Most memorable moment: Smiling at Martinsville after that fourth-place finish. A late gamble to not pit meant a chance for the win, but as Dale Earnhardt Jr. took fresh tires and sliced through the field, he couldn't be stopped.

Strengths: A lot of things. You remember the 48 wins, right?

2015 goals: Win races Nos. 49 and 50. Qualify for the Chase. You know, return back to normal, or establish a new normal.

FTM's Take: A Stewart resumé about 2014 is brief for obvious reasons. When you add in the recovery from the broken leg he suffered in 2013 and then what happened at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in August 2014 when he struck and killed Kevin Ward, there aren't many fitting adjectives to use to describe Stewart's season. It's fair to question whether or not Stewart, 44 in May, will ever return to the form he's shown throughout his career, especially after a less-than-stellar 2013 before his sprint car accident. And those questions are likely why Stewart was forthright about his 2014 and adamant about his future at the end of the season. 2015 may be Stewart's most vital season yet. But we've learned to never bet against him.

Previous reviews: No. 26 Casey Mears, No. 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 12, 2014, 5:54 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Casey Mears

NASCAR Experience: Over 400 starts in 12 Sprint Cup Series seasons. Once won at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2007. Bet you can't name who finished second in that race. Or third. Or fourth. It may be the best top-five of any Sprint Cup Series race over the last 10 years.

Most recent team: Germain Racing

Most recent season finish: 26th

2014 accomplishments: Scored a fourth-place finish at Daytona in July. Finished 10th in the Daytona 500 and 10th at Talladega in the fall. Highest non-restrictor plate finish was a 12th-place finish at Pocono in August.

Most memorable moment: Martinsville. But it's because the race ruined a streak dating back to Talladega in the fall of 2013 without a DNF. A crash at Martinsville meant a 37th-place finish.

This was a not-getting-punched category, right?

Strengths: Restrictor plate racing and the ability keep a car in once piece.

2015 goals: Continue to utilize the alliance with Richard Childress Racing and beat Furniture Row Racing and JTG-Daugherty Racing in the standings.

FTM's Take: Mears has settled in to a nice place in the Cup Series. Granted, he won't ever fulfilly the star potential that some might have seen when he was at Hendrick Motorsports, but a solid ride with a funded team that has an alliance isn't terrible, right? We know how finicky restrictor plate luck can be, so after finishing no lower than 14th last year at a plate race Mears could easily finish below 30th in every race in 2015. But if it's a skill, that lottery ticket could turn into a win.

Previous reviews: No. 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 11, 2014, 7:40 pm

The man who caused a caution flag during the September race at Richmond by climbing onto the catchfence in turn four was sentenced to a year in jail on Thursday with 11 months suspended.

From NBC 12:

A judge found James Dennis guilty on Thursday of being drunk in public and disorderly conduct and sentenced him to a year in jail with all but one month suspended. He was also ordered to pay a $100 fine on each of the counts.

Dennis, 53, was shirtless and climbed up on the fence, apparently avoiding all track security in the process. NASCAR was forced to put out the yellow flag and Dennis was apprehended when he climbed down from the fence.

"It was one of those crazy spur of the moment things I should have never did and more or less ashamed of myself for doing," Dennis had said in September.

According to NBC 12, Dennis said after he was arrested that he was trying to get a picture of Kevin Harvick, his favorite driver. Maybe it's of small consolation to him that Harvick won the 2014 championship, though we imagine there aren't too many people who would trade up to year of jail time for a title for their favorite driver.

And while his move was one of the most memorable events of the 2014 season, it's because it was incredibly insane and unsafe. Hopefully the sentence serves as a nice deterrent for anyone crazy (and liquid-couraged) enough to repeat what Dennis did.

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

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: December 11, 2014, 5:54 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

NASCAR Experience: Two full seasons in the Sprint Cup Series and two championships in the Nationwide Series.

Most recent team: Roush Fenway Racing

Most recent season finish: 27th

2014 accomplishments: Finished second at Bristol in the spring and if it wasn't for the rain, it might have been a win off a green-white-checker restart. Followed that spring race finish up with a sixth-place finish at the August race. Scored in-home bragging rights by a position in the season standings and grew a great mustache.

Most memorable moment: After winning the race at Texas in November, Jimmie Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus had this to say.

"From my standpoint, watching these guys off of turn four, pit stall 43, man, that was exciting.  There were so many cars coming off there sideways.  I'll tell you what, Ricky Stenhouse can really drive a racecar.  That car was sideways coming off that corner."

Strengths: Proven winner in the Nationwide Series and even with not-top-notch equipment, has shown the ability to be competitive on short tracks.

2015 goals: Figure out what's going on with the team and finish inside the top-20. Fastenal isn't paying to finish 27th in 2015.

FTM's Take: Stenhouse won eight races while winning two championships in the Nationwide Series. He's just had the unfortunate luck of rising to the Cup Series as Roush has trended downwards relative to the rest of the Sprint Cup Series field. However, it's fair to ask how long the car vs. driver argument can be made. If Roush's equipment takes a step forward, Stenhouse should be around the top 20 in the standings.

Previous reviews: No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 11, 2014, 2:10 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Danica Patrick

NASCAR Experience: Two full seasons in the Sprint Cup Series, a full season in the Nationwide Series and an IndyCar Series win.

Most recent team: Stewart-Haas Racing

Most recent season finish: 28th

2014 accomplishments: Scored three top 10 finishes, including two at 1.5-mile tracks. The third was at Daytona in the summer. Highest-finishing driver in the standings that didn't have a top-five finish. Qualified in the top 10 in three consecutive races in May.

Most memorable moment: In the midst of that three-race top-10 qualifying streak was a seventh-place finish at Kansas, the first top-10 of the season. Was one of the best cars all evening and raced with teammates and other Hendrick cars throughout the night. 

Strengths: Sponsor exposure and ubiquity. Even though the finishes may not be there to show it, restrictor plate racing has become an asset.

2015 goals: No longer is a top-10 good enough. Rather, a top-five or two needs to happen. And, in the right circumstances, a win shouldn't be out of the question either.

FTM's Take: Depending on the week, Patrick looked like she was either improving or had absolutely no chance. Look, we all know that Patrick hasn't shown that she should be competing for top-10 finishes on a weekly basis. But the alternating battle of keeping up with the rest of the Stewart-Haas gang and being three laps down needs to even out considerably. And preferably for Patrick, it's on the higer side of that roller coaster.

Previous reviews: No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 10, 2014, 3:03 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Justin Allgaier

NASCAR Experience: Just completed first full season in the Sprint Cup Series after five-plus seasons in the Nationwide Series.

Most recent team: HScott Motorsports

Most recent season finish: 29th

2014 accomplishments: Improved significantly towards the end of the season. Finished inside the top-20 nine times and seven of those finishes happened in the final 16 races of the season. And four came in the last five (participated in) races of the season.

Most memorable moment: Unfortunately, this explains the parenthetical above. Did not qualify at Talladega because of the craziness that also enveloped Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Strengths: Short tracks and road courses. Won at Montreal in 2013 in the Nationwide Series and finished 17th at Watkins Glen in 2014.

2015 goals: Take the improvement from the end of 2014 and translate it to 2015. With Hendrick equipment and a full year of understanding the relationship, a top-20 season should be the goal.

FTM's Take: Is Allgaier's improvement real? Given the Chase, his steps forward were greatly overshadowed but he was clearly much better with experience. If that does carry over to 2015, he may not be a threat for the Chase, but he may not be the lowest-ranked Hendrick powered-and-supplied car either.

Previous reviews: No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 9, 2014, 6:40 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: David Gilliland

NASCAR Experience: Nine seasons in the Sprint Cup Series, including seven full-time stints. Responsible for the greatest Nationwide Series upset in recent history.

Most recent team: Front Row Motorsports

Most recent season finish: 30th

2014 accomplishments: Scored a pole at Daytona in July. So what if rain canceled the final two rounds of the qualifying session? It's still a pole. Let's not talk about the result of the race, however. Only top 20 of the season came at Pocono. Had a lot of other near-misses outside of the top 20 though.

Most memorable moment: This still counts even if it's referenced above, right?

Strengths: Road courses and restrictor plates. All four career top-five finishes in the Cup Series have come at Sonoma, Talladega and Daytona.

2015 goals: Make start No. 300 and run another full season in the Sprint Cup Series. And grab another top-five finish at a plate track or road course.

FTM's Take: With the rumors of Cole Whitt to Front Row Motorsports, is there room for both Gilliland and Ragan at the team? Gilliland has done an exceptional job of staying in the Cup Series after that 2006 Nationwide win got him a shot in Cup that didn't exactly work out for the best. If he's around in 2015, expect some more of the same.

Previous reviews: No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 9, 2014, 5:55 pm

Darrell Wallace will have a new team in 2015 after he was granted his release by Joe Gibbs Racing.

Per the Sporting News, Roush Fenway Racing is the leading suitor for Wallace. While Joe Gibbs Racing officials had said that Wallace would be in the team's fold for 2015 and his schedule would likely include Xfinity Series races, no official plans for Wallace's future with the team had been announced.

Wallace won four races in the Camping World Truck Series in 2014 and became the first black driver to win a NASCAR national series race since Wendell Scott in 1963 when he won at Martinsville in October of 2013.

One of his four 2014 wins was again at Martinsville in driving a Wendell Scott tribute truck. The truck was painted to honor Scott, who was recently inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Wallace's number in the race was 34 for Scott instead of his usual 54.

Wallace drove for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series but with sponsorship struggles and Busch's three trucks filled for 2015, a part-time schedule in NASCAR's second-tier series was looking likely. Now, if he moves on to another team like Roush, he'll probably have a full-time ride.

"In this day and age it's so hard to get the right sponsorship and to get full‑time stuff, Wallace said after winning at Homeastead in the final race of the truck series season. "Racers – as racer, we just want to race, no matter what it is, if it's boxcars or in the Sprint Cup Series.  We want to race, and I'll take what I can get.  I can only go out there and continue to run up front, lead laps, and win races.  If something doesn't come out of that, then dad has got to come up and fill out an application for him."

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

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: December 8, 2014, 5:50 pm

Miss Kevin Harvick's speech from the Sprint Cup Series banquet? We understand if you did. His speech was televised late on Friday night and you might have had other plans.

So we've got you covered right here. Here's Harvick from the stage in Las Vegas, where he was celebrating his 2014 Sprint Cup Series title.

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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: December 6, 2014, 6:41 pm

Three of Joe Gibbs Racing's four Sprint Cup Series teams in 2015 will have new crew chief-driver pairings.

As the team expands to four cars next year, changes were expected with the addition of Carl Edwards to the JGR driver lineup. And Edwards' crew chief will be Darian Grubb, who served as the crew chief for Denny Hamlin from 2012-2014.

Denny Hamlin's new crew chief will be Dave Rogers, who has been Kyle Busch's crew chief since the final three races of the 2009 season. Busch's new crew chief is Adam Stevens, who previously served as the crew chief on JGR's No. 54 Nationwide Series team. Busch drove a majority of Nationwide races in the No. 54.

The pairing of Jason Ratcliff and Matt Kenseth is the only crew chief-driver combination that's unchanged. Kenseth and Ratcliff have been together since the 2003 champion arrived at JGR before the 2013 season.

“With the expansion of our NASCAR Sprint Cup Series operations to four teams next year with the addition of Carl Edwards, we have been able to take a step back and evaluate each of our teams and make decisions that we feel are best for our organization long term,” JGR president J.D. Gibbs said in a team statement.

“Like Jason and Dave previously, Adam has clearly proven that he is ready to move into the Cup Series and we feel that his familiarity with Kyle provides the opportunity for us to make that move now. We think pairing Dave with Denny and Darian with Carl will also make each team stronger heading into next season. Jason and Matt came together quickly and we felt it was in the best interest of the 20 team to keep it as is."

Busch and Rogers won 13 races together and finished 10th in the 2014 standings. Grubb and Hamlin won seven races in three years and finished third in the 2014 points after a seventh-place finish at Homestead.

After winning seven races a year ago and finishing second to Jimmie Johnson in the standings, Kenseth was winless and finished seventh.

Because of Stevens' move to the Cup Series, the new crew chief on the No. 54 in what's now the Xfinity Series is Chris Gayle. Eric Phillips will crew chief Daniel Suarez's No. 18 Xfinity Series entry and Mike Wheeler replaces Kevin Kidd atop the pit box of the Xfinity Series No. 20 car. Kidd moved over to Roush Fenway Racing for the 2014 season to be the team manager.

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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: December 4, 2014, 5:49 pm

Cole Pearn will be Martin Truex Jr.'s crew chief in 2015.

Furniture Row Racing announced Pearn's new position Wednesday. He's replacing Todd Berrier, who the team says has been offered a "key position" to remain at Furniture Row.

Pearn, 32, was previously Truex's lead engineer.

“In an effort to continue to move the team forward we feel the personnel changes and new additions will yield positive results on the race track,” Furniture Row general manager Joe Garone said in a statement. “Cole has played a vital role in our growth. The well-rounded skill sets that be brings to the table in his new position as crew chief will he instrumental in our commitment to once again become a Chase participant. As a former racer and an experienced engineer, Cole has a thorough understanding of what it takes to bring us to that level.”

Truex and team struggled in 2014, though they showed improved performance towards the end of the season.

Truex ended up 24th in the standings and had six top-15 finishes in the final 10 races of the season. In 2013, Furniture Row made the Chase with Kurt Busch, who went to Stewart-Haas Racing for 2014.

Before joining FRR, Truex was at Michael Waltrip Racing. He won at Sonoma in 2013 and Dover in 2007 for Dale Earnhardt Inc.

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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: December 3, 2014, 9:12 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Cole Whitt

NASCAR Experience: A full season in the Sprint Cup Series and parts of three others plus Nationwide experience, most notably with JR Motorsports. Also ran a full season in the Truck Series in 2011.

Most recent team: BK Racing

Most recent season finish: 31st

2014 accomplishments: Best finish was at Talladega in the fall. Backed that 15th up with an 18th at Martinsville the next week, posting back-to-back top 20s for the first time. Also finished 18th at Auto Club Speedway and 21st at Talladega in the spring.

Most memorable moment: Surviving the fall of Swan Racing. Swan started the season with two cars, but after folding, was able to find a ride with BK Racing for the rest of the year and ended up the best-performing driver on the team.

Strengths: The ability to survive in the sport and did the JR Motorsports thing come up?

2015 goals: Keep plugging and break into the top 30. And high-level sponsorship would be good too.

FTM's Take: Does anyone remember Whitt's 2011 full-season run in the Truck Series? That was helped by Red Bull, and while Whitt latched on to JR Motorsports for 2012 after Red Bull left NASCAR, it's been a struggle since he didn't have a ride at JRM because of a lack of sponsorship. Whitt has driven for five Sprint Cup Series teams since first getting a ride at the end of 2011. Is Front Row his sixth?

Previous reviews: No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 3, 2014, 5:45 pm

Brad Keselowski's truck team didn't turn a profit in 2014.

The 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion said Tuesday that his Camping World Truck Series team lost $1 million in 2014. Brad Keselowski Racing fielded two trucks in 2014, one for Ryan Blaney and another driven primarily by Tyler Reddick and was also driven by Joey Logano and Keselowski.

Keselowski made the remarks at the Sports Business Journal Motorsports Marketing forum in Las Vegas ahead of Friday's Sprint Cup Series banquet.

From MRN:

“It’s really simple, you’ve got to cut costs and raise more revenue,’’ he told Motor Racing Network. “It’s easier said than done. It’s all hands on deck to make that happen. I worry all the time about it.

“I sat in meetings before I came here this week talking about it, trying to decide where we’re at, what’s acceptable for a loss. I’d like to be able to pay every one of my employees 60-70 grand a year with full benefits ... but if the business goes sour because of that that’s not really going to work. 

“I’d love to be able to have my Trucks in the wind tunnel every week, and I’d love to be able to have a bunch of things for competition that it’s going to take, but it would just run the business broke. 

“I’m not interested in being involved in the Truck Series if I don’t feel like we can be competitive. My breaking point is two areas - it’s going broke and not being competitive. We have to walk that line every day with every decision we make.’’

It's not the first time Keselowski has mentioned the fact that his team isn't profitable. In July, on ESPN's Marty and McGee podcast, Keselowski also talked about his truck team's numbers and mentioned the $1 million loss.

Keselowski's teams finished third and sixth in the owner's points standings in 2014. And his comments are continued cause for concern in the long-term health of the Truck Series

An easy solution, on the surface anyway, would be for Keselowski to run more races himself. As a Cup champion, he is easily marketable, and, logically, more valuable to sponsors. But Keselowski said he's limiting himself to three races in 2015.

The limit, while a noble endeavor and something not to be quibbled with, makes it a tough proposition to make money. When combined with prize money, the sponsorship revenue for a less-known driver clearly doesn't match up to the costs required to field a competitive team. And for people who love racing and winning, it's a tough dilemma. What's more important, winning or breaking even?

Keselowski, like Kyle Busch, is in a great position relative to others because of his financial ability from his NASCAR career. Others, especially those trying to break into NASCAR, simply don't have the assets required to be able to lose money while attempting to run competitively.

But even for wealthy Cup drivers, it's not a good long-term strategy.

Something has to change in the Truck Series, but what will it be? Truck counts dwindled in 2014 and will likely stay at the same levels in 2015. There's a distinct competitive imbalance as 24 trucks competed in all 22 races last season and 9 of them finished more than 300 points behind the No. 51 truck, which owned the title.

Can NASCAR implement cost-limiting procedures above and beyond the limitations of pit crew members? We don't profess to have the fix, but common sense knows that for the long-term health of the series, there needs to be viable ways to be successful both on the track and financially.

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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: December 3, 2014, 3:37 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: David Ragan

NASCAR Experience: 290 starts in the Sprint Cup Series over nine seasons plus over 100 starts in the Nationwide Series.

Most recent team: Front Row Motorsports

Most recent season finish: 32nd

2014 accomplishments: Got a top 10 at Martinsville in the fall and finished in the top 20 at both Pocono races. Completed 600 miles more than in 2013.

Most memorable moment: Remember the Talladega win in 2013? How could you forget? That win meant an an automatic bid to the Sprint All-Star Race in May.

Oh, and the ability to go places in a firesuit.

@DavidRagan made a pit stop at @pizzahut during the rain delay. The @FrontRowNASCAR r getting hungry. #Daytona500 pic.twitter.com/qNzKY7ke1v

— Jacquelyn Ragan (@JacquelynRagan) February 23, 2014

Strengths: Has proven mettle on restrictor plate tracks with two career Sprint Cup Series wins. Still under 30 years old and will be entering 10th Sprint Cup Series season in 2015.

2015 goals: Get into the top 25 in points and finish in the top 10 at more than one race for a potential opportunity at a bigger team again. Replicate Talladega 2013 if possible. If not possible, watch replays of Talladega 2013 on an endless loop.

FTM's Take: While Ragan did complete more miles in 2014, he had five fewer lead lap finishes and the top 10 at Martinsville was a strategy move that worked out. He also dropped from 28th in the standings in 2013. While Front Row will never be near the top of the Ford heap, Ragan needs to bump his performance in 2015 if he's to be considered for a mid-level ride in the future.

Previous reviews: No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 3, 2014, 2:45 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Michael Annett

NASCAR Experience: One full year in the Sprint Cup Series and five-plus seasons in the Nationwide Series

Most recent team: Tommy Baldwin Racing

Most recent season finish: 33rd

2014 accomplishments: Finished 16th at Talladega in the spring and got top-20 finishes at Auto Club, Pocono and Kentucky. Just missed finishing in the top 20 at Atlanta and Texas. Had six lead lap finishes for a team that had one full-time sponsor between two cars.

Most memorable moment: Making the final round of qualifying at Talladega in the fall and qualifying 10th. Unfortunately, that didn't translate to a good finish as a crash resulted in a 37th-place finish. But that's why restrictor plate racing is called roulette, right?

Strengths: Sponsor relations and outperformed teammate with significant Cup experience in rookie season.

2015 goals: Turn a top-20 into a top-10 and finish on the lead lap 10 or more times. Outperform teammate once again.

FTM's Take: Annett's path to the Cup Series has been a patient one. He raced in ARCA for parts of three seasons before moving to the Nationwide Series and then the Cup Series. However, his last national series win came in ARCA in 2008. With the continued fraud allegations against Pilot, Annett's sponsor, it's fair to wonder if Annett will be on the outside looking in if Pilot has to drop its NASCAR sponsorship in the future.

Previous reviews: No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 2, 2014, 8:27 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Reed Sorenson

NASCAR Experience: Over 400 starts in the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series, including 225 at NASCAR's highest level.

Most recent team: Tommy Baldwin Racing

Most recent season finish: 34th

2014 accomplishments: Finished 16th at the Daytona 500 and 14th at Talladega in the fall. Had a seven-race stretch from Pocono to Chicago with no finishes outside the top 30. And a continued presence in the Sprint Cup Series over the past five seasons is an accomplishment, right?

Most memorable moment: Qualifying for the fall race at Talladega after Joe Nemechek's car failed inspection in the most bizarre qualifying session of the year.

Strengths: The ability to stay in the Cup Series and keep the car in one piece. The only two 2014 events that ended in crashes were restrictor plate races. Oh, and once showed enough promise to run for Chip Ganassi and won four events in the Nationwide Series, most recently in 2011.

2015 goals: Get the kids to eat free in 2015. With no top-10 finishes in 2014 with Golden Corral under the hood, many children didn't get to experience the wonders that is a free buffet that includes a chocolate wonderfall to dip meatloaf in.

FTM's Take: We include Sorenson's staying power as a compliment. Looking at his birthday may be staggering to some NASCAR fans – he turns 29 in April. It speaks to Tommy Baldwin's commitment that he ran Sorenson unsponsored in some races in 2014, but that lack of funding limits Sorenson's ceiling, which, if past results are true, isn't at the top of the Sprint Cup Series.

Previous reviews: No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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: December 1, 2014, 11:48 pm

After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

Name: Alex Bowman

NASCAR Experience: 39 Nationwide Series starts, 36 Sprint Cup Series starts

Most recent team: BK Racing

Most recent season finish: 35th

2014 accomplishments: Gained valuable experience in first full-season in the Sprint Cup Series after driving for RAB Racing in the Nationwide Series in 2013. Was running at the finish in 30 of 36 Sprint Cup Series races with a highest finish of 13th at the July Daytona race. Highest non-restrictor plate finish was 22nd at Fontana in April, one of only three lead-lap finishes all season.

Most memorable moment: Well, there's this:

Strengths: Just 21, there's a lot of time ahead. Can qualify up front when given fast equipment. Had two poles in the Nationwide Series in 2013 and qualified in the top 10 twice in three starts for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series in 2014.

2015 goals: Another full-time ride in the Cup Series with the chance to run at the lead lap more often. A good Xfinity Series opportunity to run for wins will also be considered.

FTM's Take: Bowman was the lowest-ranking of all the drivers who ran 36 races in 2014. But there's something to be said for keeping your ride all year and the fact that Bowman made it through his first full season on an underfunded team. He's not ready for a major-caliber ride in the Cup Series, but there's nothing wrong with another year or two of running every 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: December 1, 2014, 5:05 pm

BK Racing minority owner Anthony Marlowe apologized for a tweet he made about Cole Whitt, who drove for the team in 2014.

Marlowe referenced Whitt driving the No. 34 for Front Row next season. David Ragan drove the No. 34 in 2014 and won in the car last year at Talladega. On Wednesday, FRM issued a statement that said it expected Ragan back in the No. 34 car in 2015.

“I did not intend for it to make national news,” Marlowe told Motorsports Talk “Aside from it being smart alecky, it was just a tweet congratulating a friend, and current supplier of driver services on his ride for next year.

“We could have had someone else drive the 26 car this year at BKR, but my new partners and I felt (Whitt) deserved a full season after his past NASCAR teams were not committed to him for the long term, along with his auspicious start to the 2014 season. That mission was accomplished.

“Additionally, we offered Cole (and it has been on the table since July) a multi-year option contract in the Cup series. Needless to say, I wish he would have stuck around and built this franchise with us over the years, but he obviously has and/or somehow created a better opportunity somewhere else.”

“I should have left the number 34 out of it (the tweet). Although I am fairly confident based on my multiple sources that he (Whitt) is going to Front Row, not all of those sources have been so sure it is the 34 car.

“Regardless if time tells us any of this is true or not, I feel like I owe David Ragan an apology. He is a Cup winner and seemingly great guy. I sincerely regret him being pulled into this.”

Marlowe said he believes Whitt is heading to FRM but that he should have left the number out of the tweet entirely. Whitt joined BK Racing after Swan Racing folded in the spring of 2014. Whitt was driving for Swan with Parker Kligerman, who was without a ride after the team shut down.

David Gilliland also drove for Front Row in 2014 in the No. 38 car. In addition to fielding a car for Whitt last season, BK also fielded a car for Alex Bowman as well as the no. 83 with multiple drivers.

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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 28, 2014, 7:34 pm

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We wanted to take some time and go through things that we were thankful for in 2014 when it came to racing. Think we're missing something? Add it in the comments below.

• Madison Rising's incredlbly horrible national anthem at Daytona before the first Nationwide race of the season.

• Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s immediate Twitter excellence. The man tweets like a thoughtful human being, and that's a monstrous compliment for someone of his status.

• The overreactions to the new-format implications of Junior's fuel gamble at Las Vegas. We can all go back and shake our heads at all of it, right?

• The rain that saved a potential green-white-checker restart at Bristol as a result of the accidental caution lights.

• The feud between Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski at Martinsville. It was a moment of good old-fashioned hate, and it didn't end in fisticuffs or continuous wrecking of racecars as Busch won the race and made the Chase.

• The turnaround that Auto Club Speedway has made from a track that lost a Chase race to one that's revered by many for its multiple grooves and tire wear.

• Keselowski's idea to overhaul the Sprint Cup schedule. While we know the schedule won't suddenly look different, big ideas may be necessary for small changes.

• Formula 1's act of sympathy towards NASCAR for the Bristol malfunction.

• While we don't condone punching in the slightest, we appreciate that Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears gave us an appetizer of the ridiculousness that was to come in the Chase.

• Kurt Busch's preparation and effort in his Memorial Day double attempt.

• The craziness of this crash at Bowman-Gray Stadium and that there were no injuries from it.

• That Cup drivers aren't fans of the numerous commercial breaks during NASCAR races either.

• The fantastic racing between AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose for the win at Watkins Glen. Finishes at the Glen won't be the same without Ambrose in NASCAR any longer.

• The fighting spirit Sherry Pollex, the girlfriend of Martin Truex Jr., has shown as she's battled ovarian cancer. The same goes for Fox's Steve Byrnes and NASCAR.com's Holly Cain. We're rooting for you all.

• Jimmie Johnson's MacGyver skills.

• That the crazy Richmond fence-climbing fan didn't fall.

• Keselowski's pass for the win at Chicago.

• Clint Bowyer's exuberance about becoming a father. Oh, and the fact that he got a flamethrower as a baby gift.

• Milka Duno's presence in NASCAR, which gives us hope that we too can become NASCAR drivers with the right financial backer.

• Brett Favre's odd birthday poem to Earnhardt Jr.

• Keselowski's move against Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson for the win at Texas. We're omitting what happened on pit road, but no matter your reaction to it, that move was why we all love and watch NASCAR, right?

• The brilliance each of the four championship drivers showed at Homestead. What happened that Sunday when all were in the top five at one point is something that may never happen again. Appreciate it and cherish it.

• And speaking of appreciating and cherishing, that goes for you. Thanks to you. It's been a wild ride this year and thanks for joining us. We're looking forward to enjoying the offseason and whatever 2015 brings.

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 26, 2014, 2:51 pm

Lewis Hamilton got his 11th win of the season Sunday at Abu Dhabi and clinched the 2014 Formula 1 championship.

The points leader entering the race, Hamilton needed to finish second if teammate Nico Rosberg won the race to clinch the title. But as the race unfolded, Rosberg faded from the front and Hamilton would have been the champion had he cruised home in fifth or pushed for the win.

He pushed for the win.

Rosberg, who started on the pole, had a terrible start and it allowed Hamilton, who started second, to sprint away into the first corner with the lead. Rosberg never got close again, and a brake issue derailed any chances he had of finishing the race in the points. As Rosberg's car slowed over the last half of the race, he ended up 14th and a lap behind Hamilton.

After Rosberg's issues, Hamilton was told to conserve the car as he could coast to the finish ahead of Rosberg to guarantee the title. He did so for a bit, briefly giving up the lead to Felipe Massa after a pit stop. But before Massa pitted for the final time, Hamilton ran his fastest laps of the race. The cushion he built with the fast laps and the time Massa lost on the stop was enough to hold off the Williams driver for the win.

The title is Hamilton's second of his career. He won his first in 2008 in a driving rainstorm at Brazil, snatching positions at the end to finish fifth and a point ahead of Massa, the race winner, in the season standings.

Mercedes won 16 of the season's 19 races as Rosberg had five victories. Daniel Ricciardo, in his first season at Red Bull Renault, won the other three. Mercedes also won 18 of the season's 19 poles. The only one team Mercedes didn't win was at Austria, where Massa, in a Mercedes-powered car, got the top starting spot.

Sunday's race was also the last for some stars of Formula 1 at their current teams. Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel is moving from Red Bull Renault to Ferrari for 2015 to be teammates with Kimi Raikkonen. Two-time champion Fernando Alonso is leaving Ferrari and likely headed to McLaren, where he'll drive for the team as it switches to Honda from Mercedes power. It's currently unknown whether his teammate will be Kevin Magnusson or 2009 champion Jenson Button, who both drove for McLaren this season.

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 23, 2014, 3:04 pm

Kasey Kahne is staying at Hendrick Motorsports through 2018.

The team announced Thursday that Kahne signed a three-year contract extension. His contract was set to expire at the end of the 2015 season.

“I’ve found a home at Hendrick Motorsports,” Kahne said in a team statement. “We have incredible people and partners supporting us, and I couldn’t be more excited about the direction we’re headed as a team and a company. It’s the right place for me, and I’m looking forward to being here for a long time.”

The announcement comes a day after Hendrick announced that Keith Rodden, a former engineer for Kahne and Jamie McMurray's crew chief in 2014, would be Kahne's crew chief in 2015. He replaces long-time Kahne crew chief Kenny Francis who moved to a newly-created technical director position at Hendrick.

While the contract looks to secure Kahne's future, it undoubtedly will raise questions about another Hendrick driver's future prospects in Chase Elliott, the 2014 Nationwide Series champion. With Kahne's contract expiring at the end of next season, there was wonder if Elliott would move to the No. 5 in 2016 after spending another season in the soon-to-be Xfinity Series.

Since it's at the four-car cap, Hendrick cannot expand to add a fifth car for Elliott. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports, the team Elliott drives for in NASCAR's No. 2 series, can't move to Cup as long as Earnhardt Jr. is driving for Hendrick Motorsports.

Kahne joined Hendrick in 2012 after the team announced it had signed him in 2010 and he spent a transitional year at Red Bull Racing. In three years at Hendrick Motorsports he has five wins and 26 top 10s.

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 20, 2014, 2:46 pm

Kenny Francis will be moving to a different role at Hendrick Motorsports, paving the way for Keith Rodden to become Kasey Kahne's crew chief in 2015.

The team announced that Francis would become its technical director, a new position within the organization. Rodden, a former engineer on the No. 5 team, served as Jamie McMurray's crew chief in 2014.

“This is a great opportunity for both guys, and it will strengthen our overall organization,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “With the new rules for next year, it’s more important than ever to have a strong vehicle development program. Unifying those efforts for the first time under Kenny’s guidance will be critical to our success. It plays to his experience as a leader, innovative engineer and race-winning crew chief. He’s just tailor-made for it."

Francis was Kahne's crew chief in 2014 and has been his crew chief since the final race of the 2005 season. 16 of Kahne's 17 career wins have come with Francis atop the pit box, and the two have been together as Kahne's driven the No. 9, No. 4 and No. 5 cars for Evernham/Richard Petty Motorsports, Red Bull Racing and Hendrick.

However, Kahne was the slowest and most inconsistent member of Hendrick Motorsports in 2014. While he won at Atlanta to make the Chase, he had just three top fives and 11 top 10s. He was eliminated from the Chase in the second round.

Rodden left the team to crew chief McMurray in 2014 after serving as Kahne's lead engineer for two seasons. Together, the two won the Sprint All-Star Race in May, though since it's not a points race, the win didn't get McMurray into the Chase. And while Kahne made the Chase, McMurray had more top fives (seven), top 10s (13) and laps led (368 to 218).

McMurray's new crew chief will be Matt McCall, another former team engineer. McCall spent 2014 as the lead engineer on Ryan Newman's team. Newman finished second to Kevin Harvick at Homestead and second in the Chase.

“We are very pleased to add a crew chief like Matt to what we feel is a team and program that is certainly on the rise and feel that he can take it to the next level," Chip Ganassi said in a statement. "Matt brings a lot to the table that we are thrilled to have. He has been a successful race engineer for the No. 31 team and has the added experience of being a driver, which we feel will add to his success in leading the No. 1 team. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will mesh very well with Jamie and the whole team."

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 19, 2014, 2:12 pm

Kyle Busch would like to see the cars of Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing work together in a similar fashion to the cars from Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing.

SHR gets its chassis and engines from Hendrick and while JGR and MWR use the same Toyota engines, they don't work toegether closely on chassis and engineering.

From MRN:

“We need to have an affiliation,’’ Busch said during a luncheon before Monday night’s Nationwide and Camping World Truck banquet. “It would be nice if MWR ... made us all eight. It would be better for all of us. There’s a couple of reasons that we’re fighting internally why we’re not mingling with those guys quite yet, but hopefully that gets resolved here soon.’’

Busch described the information shared between Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing as “informal. It’s like ... “Hey we’re running these four springs and bars and shocks,’ but in reality what’s your pivots, what’s this, what’s that, what’s everything else?’’

After winning the Sprint Cup Series championship Sunday night Kevin Harvick talked not only of the advice he got from co-owner Tony Stewart and Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson, but the way the two teams worked together sharing data.

This season, Busch and Denny Hamlin were the only Toyota drivers to win a race. And they each won one. Matt Kenseth went winless, and so did the MWR drivers of Brian Vickers and Clint Bowyer.

Toyota redesigned the 2015 Camry street car, and those visual changes will be reflected in the 2015 Cup cars. Toyota tested the new car at Auto Club Speedway. The two main Toyota teams working closer together could help get the new car up to speed (or build an advantage) quicker than both working somewhat independently of each other.

Plus, Joe Gibbs Racing is adding a fourth car next season for Carl Edwards. The team has been at three full-time cars since 2005.

"It was a good test," Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson said Saturday. "Certainly it's just one datapoint.  There were only four cars on the racetrack.  I think we're all anxiously anticipating how the new car with the different downforce and certainly a little bit less under the hood is going to react.  I think we need a few more cars out on the racetrack to really figure that out, so we're going to‑‑ we've got another test coming up after the banquet week, and then we'll put the cars on the racetrack in Daytona next year"

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 18, 2014, 8:53 pm

MIAMI, Fla. – As Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag for his first Sprint Cup Series championship on Sunday night, Stewart-Haas Racing became the only team in the Sprint Cup Series to field three Cup champions.

With the addition of Harvick and Kurt Busch, the 2004 champion, to the SHR lineup in 2014, there were numerous questions about how the newly-expanded four-car team would be compatible with each other. If outright dysfunction and struggles for all four drivers seemed like the worst-case scenario, a Cup title was the best case.

"Do you think we're crazy now?" SHR co-owner Tony Stewart rhetorically asked when the myriad of preseason possibilities was brought up Sunday night.

"Don't underestimate why we think the way we think is the moral to the story," Stewart said. "You guys are pretty smart, but we're smarter."

And even now, it's possible to underestimate Stewart-Haas. While the team was celebrating its second title, this was far from an A+ season for SHR and its teams. Improvement is a scary thought for the rest of the field.

While Harvick won five races and might have been the fastest car throughout the entire season, outside of what happened in August at a sprint car track in upstate New York, Stewart, a three-time champion, flat struggled this season. Not only did he break a streak of 15 straight seasons with a win in 2014, he had just three top-fives and seven top-10s, by far the lowest total of his career.

Busch won at Martinsville and showed flashes of the speed that Harvick did. However, he had 10 finishes of 30th or worse. The inconsistency necessitated a crew swap at the end of the year. Tony Gibson, Danica Patrick's crew chief at the start of 2014, moved over with the rest of the No. 10 team to crew for Busch. Daniel Knost, who started the season with Busch, took the No. 41 team over to Patrick.

In the final three races of the year, Busch qualified for each race in the top 10 and finished no lower than 11th. He started Sunday's season finale in second.

"I felt like we put down a really great lap and to do it with Tony Gibson and this new group of guys in our third race together is great," Busch said after qualifying Friday. "It shows all the signs are pointed in the right direction for next season.”

Stewart told the Associated Press that he's not done winning championships. With the new rules package taking away downforce from the cars and his continued recovery from the broken leg he suffered in August 2013, it's reasonable to expect he'll win a race and make the Chase. The same goes for Busch if he and Gibson can keep the speed they found at the beginning of the season and turn it into consistency.

The expected bouncebacks beg the question; is Stewart-Haas the best-positioned four-car team in the Sprint Cup Series over the next few seasons?

While Hendrick Motorsports may boast more championships (10) than SHR thanks to Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, two different SHR teams have won titles over the last five seasons. Joe Gibbs Racing has just one title-winning driver on its roster in Matt Kenseth, but it has the deepest roster of drivers in the series with the addition of Carl Edwards in 2015.

But, as we've seen with Stewart-Haas, teams can experience growing pains when expanding an operation. JGR is moving from three cars to four next season and doesn't have the access to the amount of data the Hendrick and Stewart-Haas cars do.

In his post-race press conference, Harvick talked glowingly of the way Hendrick and SHR (which gets its chassis and engines from HMS) worked together, saying he's never seen anything like it.

"It's like nobody questions anything about, we're sharing this or we're talking about that, so that part has been pretty awesome," Harvick said.

If you're ranking the three teams, you can make a compelling case for any of the six possible orders. Yeah, SHR may ultimately be an extension of an eight-car Hendrick operation, but don't be surprised if it gets another championship or two before HMS does.

"I think [competition director] Greg Zipadelli does a great job of managing people, and I think‑‑ racing is kind of a creative sport," SHR co-owner Gene Haas said. "If you clamp down on people, you don't get what you want.  We kind of let people go in their own direction.  I'm really amazed at how well Kevin and Rodney have done, and we will keep tweaking things until we get other teams to do better.  But it's more of kind of a recipe of the way we do things that's different than every other race team.

"You win a championship once, maybe you call it a fluke, but if you do it the second time, I think we've got something.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but there's something there that works.  And whatever it is, I think Rodney and Kevin have alluded to it, just being brand‑new guys here that it's an easy place to work.  Things get done, people like working with each other, and for the most part, I think we're a very productive group at Stewart‑Haas Racing."

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 17, 2014, 10:00 pm

 Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin.HOMESTEAD, Fla. – When you're in the championship hunt, it's a good idea to surround yourself with those who've been there before.  So when Michael Jordan wanted to come to Homestead-Miami Speedway to support Denny Hamlin, well, it was an easy answer

"He asked for tickets," Hamlin said after the race. "I told him we could handle that."

Hamlin is part of Jordan's "Jordan Brand" stable, wearing the "Jumpman" logo on his firesuit. Jordan decided to check up on his investment by visiting Homestead with an entourage of friends. "He's a race fan.  He is a huge race fan," Hamlin said. "He brought a big group with him, and he's talking about how he's converted all these people into being race fans."

Jordan was present throughout the race, visible in Hamlin's pit box in the minutes before the green flag. Unfortunately, Jordan wasn't able to bring enough of the championship mojo to the FedEx 11 team. Hamlin ran strong but faded late, not unlike the 1998 Utah Jazz, and so Jordan was left consoling Hamlin afterward:

 

"Wish we could have been celebrating with him," Hamlin said. "I wish I could have had one ring to his six or so, but we'll have to wait another year for that."

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: November 17, 2014, 5:19 am

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (right) talks with Jimmie Johnson during practice for the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (USA TODAY Sports)HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson once shared a couple of couches in a game room, too poor to afford places of their own. This week, they shared the secrets that made them both champions.

Harvick won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship on Sunday night, and one of his closest advisers in the hunt for the title was Johnson, winner of six Cups. The two have deep roots together, going back to California by way of fellow driver Ron Hornaday's game room in Charlotte.

Harvick grew up in Bakersfield and Johnson in El Cajon, a couple of California kids in a sport whose center was three time zones east. In the late 1990s, both moved to North Carolina and hooked up with Ron Hornaday, Johnson trying to drive American Speed Association cars, Harvick trying to catch on in NASCAR's truck series.

Hornaday regularly offered drivers a free-rent, free-groceries couch while they tried to figure out exactly how badly they wanted to be drivers. "Camp Hornaday," Johnson called it, and both he and Harvick spent several months there.

"There are a lot of stories Jimmie and I could share," Harvick said of Camp Hornaday back in 2002, "but none that would probably make it in the newspaper." (You can tell it was 2002 by the use of the term "newspaper.")

Within a few years, both would find themselves at NASCAR's epicenter, Harvick as the driver to take over at Richard Childress Racing after Dale Earnhardt died, Johnson as the soon-to-be-six-time champion. Harvick came close to a championship, most notably in 2010 when he had an outside chance to beat Johnson, but until this year, potential never translated to performance.

This year, however, the roles reversed; Harvick was strong the entire year, while Johnson enjoyed only fits and starts of success with long dry spells between. After the season's penultimate race at Phoenix, Johnson turned his attention to Harvick, working to get his old couchmate the championship.

"Jimmie Johnson was a huge help," Harvick said on Sunday night, his firesuit still soaked with Budweiser. "He'd show up in the trailer after every practice and called and texted to Rodney (Childers, Harvick's crew chief) and myself. You pull the data up, and I was making some pretty huge mistakes. So that eased my mind going into the day."

Harvick also had the luxury of relying on another champion: Tony Stewart, his team owner. "Between these two," Harvick said, "between [Johnson] and Tony, it's a lot to lean on, and I'm pretty fortunate."

"When you get down to these (championship) scenarios, you're happy for the guys that are in this position, and you're going to give those guys advice," Stewart said. "They may not be a part of your program, and if you don't have a dog in the fight, you're still going to help somebody out and you're still going to offer your advice and your experience to them."

The results were clear, as was the lineage. Harvick combined the losing-doesn't-happen attitude of Stewart with the precision of Johnson to develop a race team that was the clear favorite heading into Homestead. Everything worked exactly as it was supposed to,

"You get to these seven days," Stewart said, "and having your friends and having that advice and people that you know, your equals, having that advice from them, sometimes that's just the calm voice or word that you need to get through the day."

Hornaday may or may not still have those old couches. If he does, he might even get some calls from some established drivers. Whatever works, right?

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: November 17, 2014, 2:50 am

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – As Tony Stewart celebrated his second Sprint Cup Series championship as an owner, a streak of his as a driver had just ended.

Stewart, who entered the Sprint Cup Series in 1999, had won a race in every season in his Cup career. He needed a win in Sunday's race at Homestead to extend the streak to 16 years with a win.

He got the opposite of a win. He finished last, and the streak ended at 15 years, while Kevin Harvick, who joined Stewart-Haas Racing won the race and the 2014 Sprint Cup.

"This is great, especially with a great friend of mine like Kevin Harvick, to come together and in our first year accomplish a championship together," Stewart said. "It doesn't make up for a bad year. I mean, I've had a terrible year but this makes the end of November great."

On Sunday, Stewart qualified poorly and wasn't competitive all day. He broke into the top 10 after the first caution flag with a two-tire pit stop. But not long after restarting eighth, he was in 29th spot. Soon he went a lap down.

Then he was in the garage. Something had punctured a hole in the front of his car and raised the engine temperatures to unsustainable levels. Stewart parked the car.

Stewart's first win was on September 11 of his rookie season at Richmond and he led 333 of the race's 400 laps. Since then, he's won three championships and had 47 more wins, the last of which came at Dover in June of 2013.

Since the Dover win, Stewart's life has been tumultuous. He broke his leg in a sprint car accident in August 2013 and missed the rest of the season. He returned in 2014 but struggled, posting six top 10s in the first 21 races of the season.

Then, on August 9, Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward while racing in a sprint car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park the night before the Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen. As law enforcement investigated the incident – Stewart was ultimately not charged with a crime – and Stewart grieved, he sat out three races.

When he returned to the Cup Series, he got a waiver from NASCAR that would have put him in the Chase if he won one of the remaining two races before the Chase. He didn't, and didn't get another top 10 until Martinsville, where he finished fourth.

In an interview with the Associated Press before the race, Stewart said he was sad that the streak could end but he wasn't done winning championships. On Sunday, he said the evening wasn't about him.

"It's not about me right now," Stewart said. "It's about us as a group. It's about everybody at Stewart-haas Racing. You know, you learn when you're in these situations that it's about a larger group of people and a bigger picture that's in play. I'm grateful that I ahve a co-owner and co-workers and teammates that are such great people that no matter what's been thrown at us the last year and a half that this organization was able to thrive and continue to prosper and be successful through this."

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 17, 2014, 2:31 am

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – As soon as Joey Logano's car fell off the jack during a pit stop with less than 20 laps to go in Sunday's Ford 400, his chances of winning the Sprint Cup title disappeared.

Logano was already running fourth out of the four drivers racing for the championship, but was in the top 10 when he came to pit road for four tires. But as his crew swung to change the tires on the left side of his car, the car dropped to the ground and the crew struggled to get it lifted back up to put the new tires on.

Logano fell to 21st. It was simply too many spots to make up in too few laps.

"I did not have good emotions in the car. I was pretty pissed off if that is an emotion," Logano said. You knew your chances went down a lot. I didn't say it was over. We didn't give up. At that point I was trying to pass as many cars as we could and really hoped those guys wrecked each other. That is all I had going for me at that point. When you are that far back, 24th or 25th, you can't make that up with 12 to go or whatever it was."

Logano ended up 16th.

If the old Chase was in effect -- with points tallied over 10 races and the driver with the most points after Homestead is the winner -- Logano would have won the championship by seven points over race and title-winner Kevin Harvick.

Throughout 2014. Logano was one of the series' most consistent drivers. He had the second-best average finish and won five races, one more than Jeff Gordon, the only driver with a better average finish, and second-most in the series to teammate Brad Keselowski. Not only did he win races, but he avoided bad finishes in the second half of the season.

"Yeah, I am proud of (his team) but it hard to be proud right now after coming home wherever we finished in this race..." Logano said soon after exiting his car. "You don't get shots at championships very often. Hopefully we get another next year. This car had a lot of wins and a lot of top fives and it doesn't mean a thing."

His Homestead finish of 16th was the worst of his Chase. Only Jimmie Johnson (three times) and Brad Keselowski have won Chase championships without having a lower finish than Logano's worst in 2014.

But the format's different. His worst finish of the Chase came at the absolute worst time.

"It has been a spectacular year," Logano said. I have a biased opinion right now and I am probably too close to the fire to comment much on how it went. As the car that scored more points than anyone in the Chase it is hard to say you are in love with (the new format) but I think it was a good thing for the sport and the race was exciting today."

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 17, 2014, 1:00 am

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Ryan Newman's best finish of the season was ultimately one spot short of a championship.

Newman restarted Sunday's race at Homestead in second and that's where he finished as he was unable to chase down Kevin Harvick, who won the race and the 2014 Sprint Cup Series championship.

Newman made it to second place after a two-tire pit stop during a caution before the race restarted with 15 laps to go. The move for track position worked, as Newman was the second car off pit road and restarted fourth.

A move by Jeff Gordon to pit during the race's penultimate caution put Newman in second for the final two restarts, but he wasn't able to get the lead.

Newman admitted thinking about attempting a move on Harvick similar to the one he made on Kyle Larson at Phoenix. Last week, Newman flat-footed his car into the final two turns and drove it as low as he could. He drove up into Larson, moving the rookie out of the way and into the wall. The pass gave Newman 11th place and made him eligible at Homestead for the title.

But on Sunday night, he simply wasn't close enough to Harvick on the last lap. When Newman had taken two tires, Harvick took four. The fresher tires helped Harvick get the lead before the final restart and rocket away over the final three laps.

"But in the end, I just got down underneath [Harvick] and he was close enough to me, took some of the air away from me," Newman said about the final restart. "I could have kept it wide open and washed up into him and it wasn't the right move. It wasn't what I would have wanted him to do to me."

"If we were close enough on the last lap, it might have been a different game, but it wasn't. I slipped off of turn four coming to the white and at that point it was pretty much over."

Coming into Homestead, Newman's best finish of the year was third, where he finished at Kentucky and Martinsville. He was basically a walking contradiction to how NASCAR's new format was marketed. While winning was supposedly emphasized more than ever, Newman was the tortoise to the multiple race-winning hares.

While he didn't have the outright speed that other drivers had at times this season, he was able to avoid devastating finishes and the recipe got him to the final race.

However, as the race played out in the late laps, it was evident Newman would have had to win the race to win the championship. Without the last two cautions, he was in a great position to do so. But as the field kept getting bunched up, Harvick's fresher tires were a too big of an advantage.

"But the game-changer for us, I think, really was the one caution that was before Gordon pitted that I think Denny was leading, and we were in a better situation than they were on tires," Newman said. "We had rights and they had stayed out, which I think was the right call for them at the time had the race gone green. But it had a couple late race cautions ..."

"We came back for the entire season to make our best finish our last finish. It is disappointing, don't get me wrong, but there's no point in being a sore loser. It's some motiviation, some momentum for the offseason to get started for Daytona and just look forward to the opportunity for next year.

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 17, 2014, 12:37 am

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - NASCAR promised drama in its newest incarnation of the Chase, and Sunday's season-ending EcoBoost 400 delivered exactly that, beyond any of the sport's wildest dreams.

Kevin Harvick held off a powerful charge from his three challengers, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, winning the season finale to claim the 2014 Sprint Cup championship in definitive fashion.

"I really don't know what to say," Harvick said after getting out of his car, celebrating with his team. "It's really special for everybody."

NASCAR created the new Chase in advance of the 2014 season with the express intent of creating a so-called “Game 7 moment” – everything on the line, win-or-go-home, Hail Mary, you get the idea. The new Chase is thus a Frankenstein’s monster built from the parts of other championships: the NCAA’s college hoops bracket, the World Series’ Game 7 dramatics, the Super Bowl’s grand pomposity.

The new Chase would feature 16 drivers. The field would winnow down over the course of 10 races, with four drivers being eliminated every three races. The season would conclude with a four-driver winner-take-all race in Homestead.

Kevin Harvick raises his trophy as he celebrates after winning the 2014 Sprint Cup championship. (AP)Fans complained of gimmickry and confusion, saying that the new Chase cheapened a championship, complaints that – since we’re fundamentally talking about a game here – smacked of Batman fans complaining about the latest movie version.

Here’s the thing, though: it worked to perfection. NASCAR created a route to a championship that was like a rickety bridge over a chasm: faster, more direct, but far riskier. And people fought like hell to get across that bridge before it snapped.

[Related: Final 2014 Sprint Cup standings]

In the end, it will crown a champion who deserved to win. Harvick led more laps than anyone this season – by a long shot – and won five races, second only to Brad Keselowski's six.

The Chase began with 16 drivers, 13 of whom had won a race. The final three -- Newman, Matt Kenseth, and Greg Biffle – got in because they had totaled the highest points through the season without winning a race. The first three races of the Chase ran as expected, with Biffle, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and AJ Allmendinger getting the axe.

It was in the second elimination that the story ratcheted up another level.

A three-race advance-or-fall segment isn’t enough time to allow for any poor finishes, and that led to tempers exploding. In Charlotte, Keselowski felt Kenseth had wronged him late in the race. Keselowski drove his car into Kenseth’s just after the race; Hamlin and non-Chaser Tony Stewart responded by thumping Keselowski’s No. 2 with their own cars; and Kenseth finished the deal with a dive-off-the-top-rope headlock of Keselowski between haulers. The crews fought, NASCAR made national morning-show headlines, and everyone except Keselowski proclaimed their satisfaction with how the Chase was proceeding.

Keselowski came into Talladega, the final race of the second round, needing a victory to advance. Amazingly, he got it. However, this was where the curtain fell for several of NASCAR’s biggest names: Jimmie Johnson; Dale Earnhardt Jr.; Kasey Kahne; and Kyle Busch, the victim of the Chase’s worst luck when a wreck between non-Chasers knocked him out.

And then there were eight, and NASCAR’s Chase achieved full liftoff. At Texas, Keselowski went for a late-race pass on Gordon, who bumped Keselowski's No. 2 and slid into the wall, finishing in what would turn out to be a Chase-killing 29th place. Gordon and Keselowski jawed a bit after the race, their crews amped, and then Harvick threw a Molotov cocktail on the pool of gasoline, shoving Keselowski and setting off a 50-person fight in the pits.

Once again, NASCAR made national headlines, though the question of whether these were the kinds of headlines NASCAR needed grew louder.

In the final race of the third round, Harvick needed a victory and got it, crowding out Keselowski, Kenseth, and Carl Edwards. Hamlin and Logano advanced on points. That left Jeff Gordon racing Newman for the final spot, and here’s how close it was: Gordon crossed the finish line eligible for the championship, but well behind him, in the final turn of the final lap, Newman bumped Kyle Larson aside to gain one spot – just enough to bump Gordon out.

Dramatic? Hell yes. Legitimate? Well … there’s the rub.

Your championship four thus consisted of Harvick and Logano, two of the most dominant drivers of the entire season; Hamlin, who had won one race back in May; and Newman, who had zero wins and only four top-five finishes.

The conventional wisdom held, then, that this was a match between Harvick and Logano, with Hamlin and Newman being lucky to get invites to the party. Harvick held the edge in both momentum and attitude, although Logano had boasted the stronger overall year.

For much of the race, conventional wisdom indeed held true. Harvick led the majority of the laps measured against his three championship rivals, followed by Logano and Hamlin. Newman, as expected, trailed the three, though not by nearly as much as expected. Indeed, Gordon seemed to be the only driver who could regularly run with the Chasers, who front-loaded the very top of the field. 

More than 10 cautions packed and re-packed the field, but it was a crucial caution with less than 20 laps remaining that changed the entire complexion of the race. In for tires, Logano's car fell off the jack, sending him from the top 5 all the way back to 29th and effectively ending his championship hopes. Hamlin and crew chief Darian Grubb made a gutsy call to stay out on old tires.

Another caution led to a restart with nine laps remaining, and that restart saw Hamlin and Newman starting side by side on the front row, with Harvick right behind. Hamlin got the stronger start, and Harvick worked his way up to second place behind Hamlin. Harvick worked his way around Hamlin when yet another caution hit, leaving the championship cars to restart 1-2-3, Harvick-Newman-Hamlin, with just four laps remaining.

On the final restart, Hamlin had trouble, dropping off the championship pace. And on the final lap, Newman couldn't quite catch Harvick, who won his first Sprint Cup championship. 

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

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: November 16, 2014, 11:47 pm
Nov 16, 2014; Homestead, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin during the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - When the sun went down at Homestead Miami Speedway, Denny Hamlin found another level of speed. But then, just as quickly, it was gone, and with it Hamlin's best chance at a championship.

Hamlin enters every season as a decent dark-horse bet to win a championship, but it's been four years since he was a serious threat. Four years ago in advance of the Homestead season finale, Hamlin saw his best chance to win a championship evaporate beneath the wheels of Jimmie Johnson's relentless 48.

It's taken four years, a bit of luck, and a lot of consistency, but Hamlin once again returned to the ranks of legit championship competitors this year by making the field of the championship finale. He'd begun the year strong, winning all the preliminary Speedweeks events and finishing second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Daytona 500.

Hamlin missed one race when an eye infection, later revealed to be a piece of metal, then won his lone race of the year at Talladega. That put him in position to make the Chase, nine consistent but largely below-the-radar Chase races put him in position to challenge for the championship, and sunset at Homestead put him in position to win it.

As the day grew darker and the track grew cooler, Hamlin found a decided advantage over Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman, his rivals for the Cup. Inside 20 laps remaining, however, darkness fell faster than Hamlin could drive.

"I thought our car really came into its own as soon as it went dark, and I thought we had the best car, and we just struggled with restart speed," Hamlin said after the race. "Kind of the theme of the year ... we don't have the all-out speed that those guys have, and with that, it put me in some tough spots on restarts."

In the end, Hamlin simply couldn't keep up with Harvick, or Newman for that matter, and slid all the way to seventh.

"There's not one thing I would have done different," Hamlin said afterward. "We brought a car that was capable of winning. I just don't know how to express it enough. Sometimes breaks go your way, sometimes they don't."

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

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: November 16, 2014, 11:27 pm

Matt Crafton took his second-straight Camping World Truck Series championship Friday with a 9th-place finish in the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Crafton entered the race needing to finish 21st or better to win the title as he had a 25-point lead over second-place Ryan Blaney. Blaney finished fifth.

Last year, en route to his first title, Crafton had one win and 19 top-10 finishes. This year, Crafton won two races – Martinsville and Texas – and had 17 top 10s. Crafton is also the first driver to win consecutive Truck Series titles and the fourth driver to have multiple truck titles.

Bubba Wallace won the race, his fourth race win of the season. Kyle Busch finished fourth in the No. 51 truck and won the owner's title for his team, Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Crafton, who drives for ThorSport Racing, drives a Toyota. KBM fields Toyotas. Combined, Toyotas won 18 of 22 Truck Series races this season.

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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, 2014, 1:07 am

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Jeff Gordon won the pole for Sunday's final race of the Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead and Kevin Harvick was the fastest qualifier of the four drivers racing for the Cup title.

Harvick qualified fifth, ahead of Denny Hamlin, who was eighth and Joey Logano, who qualified ninth. All three drivers made the third and final round of qualifying. The fourth driver, Ryan Newman, didn't make it out of the second round and will start 21st.

Harvick may be the favorite for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series title because of his success at Homestead and his speed at 1.5-mile tracks this season. Harvick has made 13 starts at Homestead and has finished outside the top 10 just twice and never outside the top 20. In 10 races at 1.5-mile tracks this year, Harvick has led laps in nine of them.

He also provided the most entertainment of the post-qualifying news conference. Harvick was the final driver into the media center and instead of waiting to take the podium with Newman, Harvick strode up to the stage and sat next to his "buddy" Logano, who responded with a "What's up, friend?"

Harvick and Logano had fun little back-and-forth Wednesday night at the Chase media day.

Hamlin won last year's race at Homestead when he wasn't a member of the Chase after missing time because of a back injury. Hamlin also won in 2009 at Homestead and has five top 10s in nine starts.

If Harvick isn't the favorite, Logano is. Logano has an average finish of 6.5 at 1.5-mile tracks this season and two wins, though his Homestead stats aren't the best. Last year, in his first year at Team Penske, he finished eighth, his best Homestead finish.

Newman has made 12 starts at Homestead. His average finish is 17th, which is where he finished last year in his final race for Stewart-Haas Racing before moving over to Richard Childress Racing in 2014. His best Homestead finish is third, which came in 2012.

Kurt Busch will start alongside Gordon on the front row. Matt Kenseth starts third while Brad Keselowski starts fourth.

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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, 2014, 12:47 am

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Unsurprisingly, NASCAR chairman Brian France said Friday that he's happy with the new Chase format in the Sprint Cup Series and that if any changes are going to be made to the Chase for 2015, they will be modest.

"I would say very modest, modest to zero," France said. "We reserve the right if there's a modest thing that we might make an adjustment on, but like I said, it's exceeded what I had hoped for, and it's done precisely what we thought we wanted to do, which was recalibrate competition, or winning rather, and still have a strong place for consistency and all the rest, but recalibrate that balance. It's only year one, but clearly we're on our way."

NASCAR's 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup was instituted in 2004. Since its inception, it's undergone multiple changes including the size of the Chase field and the criteria for qualification. The format has been changed every 2.75 years. If NASCAR wanted to make a change, while it'd look a sudden one, it wouldn't be entirely out of the norm.

If you've been following the Chase closely, you'd likely think any possible changes would involve winning given the extreme marketing push surrounding the importance of winning this season and winless Ryan Newman's presence among the four drivers eligible to win the title at Homestead on Sunday.

However, don't look for winning to become mandatory for a driver to be a champion.

"What I mean, though, is any format that we've ever had always has the possibility that somebody might win the championship without winning an event," France said. "Short of us, which we're not going to do, making it a hard prerequisite that you have to win a race to qualify. We don't think that takes it out of balance frankly.  And so I think it's great.  We have three drivers who competed and won; you've got one that didn't.  I do think whoever comes out as champion on Sunday probably needs to think about winning the race. I'd be surprised if one of those four drivers can get out of here with a championship, and what we've seen, if you go through past years, of how those teams will be elevating their game against everybody else no matter what people say ‑‑ you go back to Tony Stewart a few years ago, you go back to Jimmie Johnson when he needed to do what he needed to do or anybody else, those will be the teams, and they were last weekend in Phoenix, too, by the way, those will be the teams that will be running up front most of the day."

France is entirely correct; winless champions have always been an unlikely possibility in all of NASCAR's formats given the way that the points system is structured, especially after it was redone in 2011. But the disconnect comes because of the winning push.

It's why, if NASCAR wants to make "modest" changes to the Chase, we'd suggest letting drivers carry the bonus points from wins in a round of the Chase to the next. While drivers get three extra points for every win in the first 26 races to start the Chase, the points are reset at the beginning of rounds two, three and four. In addition to guaranteeing advancement, three extra points could help a driver advance to the next round.

And no, we're not suggesting this change because it would have affected the 2014 Chase. Jeff Gordon didn't win in the second round and would still have been eliminated by Newman at Phoenix.

Or, if immodest changes would be possible, making the points system more top-heavy would reward drivers who finish at or near the front all season. In the current structure, a driver receives an extra point for each position higher he or she finishes. In the top 10, the gap could be two or three points a position, with five or 10 bonus points given to a race winner instead of the three given at the end of the race now that bumps the winner's total from a minimum of 44 to 47.

That way, drivers could still be rewarded for consistent finishes and every position on the track would still matter in terms of points, but the impact of excellence would be heightened, making the push of winning more like truthtelling and less like carnival barking.

Will those somewhat-striking changes happen? Probably not. But given that the Chase has changed so frequently in its brief tenure already, modifications of some sort are likely coming sooner rather than later.

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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, 2014, 9:13 pm

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) sent NASCAR and Stewart-Haas Racing a letter calling for Kurt Busch's suspension in the wake of a domestic violence allegation against him.

Last week, the Dover (Del.) Police Department said it was investigating Busch after Patricia Driscoll, Busch's ex-girlfriend, claimed he had assaulted her. In Driscoll's claim, she said Busch smashed her head against the wall of his motorhome three times on September 26 after a poor qualifying effort at Bristol. The two had broken up the week before.

Busch's lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has called the accusations a fabrication. Busch has not been charged in relation to the incident and has not been interviewed yet as police continue the investigation.

SI.com first wrote about the letter. From SI:

“But despite the severity of the criminal allegations against Mr. Busch,” Speier writes, “I am disappointed to see that NASCAR and Stewart-Haas Racing have not taken any action. Your response to these serious allegations has been totally inadequate.”

The adequate response, according to Speier, would be a suspension and a new NASCAR policy about domestic violence. Travis Kvapil was not disciplined by NASCAR after he was accused of domestic violence and placed on probation.

Speier takes issue with the fact that NASCAR neither suspended Busch nor parked driver Travis Kvapil in October of 2013 after Kvapil was accused of pulling his wife by the hair into a bedroom at their Mooresville, N.C., home and hitting her in the head when she resisted. (Kvapil was placed on two years probation and compelled to perform community service in exchange for a deferred prosecution agreement.) “It calls into question the enforcement policies exercised by NASCAR,” Speier writes. Rather than wait for Dover police to complete its investigation, she urges NASCAR and SHR to “suspend Mr. Busch from his weekend’s Championship and adopt a policy going forward in all domestic violence cases to suspend drivers until criminal proceedings end or there is a clear lack of evidence.”

Speier has also asked to be looped into the internal investigations of NASCAR and SHR, and for “a history of sanctions levied by NASCAR and racing teams for domestic violence incidents brought to your attention over the last five years.”

On Friday, NASCAR CEO Brian France was asked about Speier's letter. In the wake of the NFL's handling of the Ray Rice situation, Speier asked for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to resign.

"What's not lost on us by any stretch is the rightful heightened awarenes on domestic abuse and violence and so you can expect our policies to reflect the understandable awareness that that's not going to be tolerated," France said.

"The past of how any league might have handled some of this is one thing. It's pretty clear when you see what's happening around the country and in some of the other leagues that our policy will reflect the significance and importance that it should."

France also said that NASCAR wouldn't step in and punish Busch, if necessary, until the investigation was complete. Last weekend at Phoenix, Stewart-Haas co-owner Gene Haas said he wasn't going to pull Busch from the car. Stewart-Haas Racing issued a statement Friday that it's watching the situation and Busch has "vehemently denied" the accusations.

"Well, two things," France said. "One is there are charges that are levied against, in this case, a driver, and then there is a judicial hearing of some sort that would come after that. We're not even at the first stop yet.  That's going to happen when and if charges are filed, and if charges are filed, that will change our equation, and we will look at that. As I said earlier on, we realize the heightened awareness of this important topic, and our policies will reflect that as we go down – they'll reflect how serious it is.  You know us well enough to know when we say that, we mean it, and we'll figure it out. But we ought to have a process that gets to the bottom of the facts before anybody does anything."

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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, 2014, 5:34 pm

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

Welcome to the final race of the year. Does it feel at all that the year has flown by? If it does, don't worry, we'll be in Daytona soon enough and wondering where the heck the offseason went.

Here's what the points standings would look like entering the race with the old Chase. It'd be Joey Logano's title to lose, which possibly explains why Kevin Harvick was antagonizing him last night. Logano took it about the best way he could, and judging by his reactions, it's doubtful Harvick's comments affected him at all.

1. Joey Logano, 2,368
2. Kevin Harvick, 2,342
3. Brad Keselowski, 2,320
4. Jeff Gordon, 2,312
5. Ryan Newman, 2,311
6. Matt Kenseth, 2,296
7. Denny Hamlin, 2,293
8. Kyle Busch, 2,280
9. Carl Edwards, 2,278
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,271
11. AJ Allmendinger, 2,256
12. Jimmie Johnson, 2,239
13. Greg Biffle, 2,245
14. Kurt Busch, 2,229
15. Kasey Kahne, 2,202
16. Aric Almirola, 2,170

The stone-facedness of the drivers during the press conference Wednesday night was a little odd. It almost felt at times like it was an interrogation. Sure, Harvick was having some fun, but he had his best poker face on. When the drivers were paraded out on stage in front of the assembled media and cameras before they sat down at the podium, if you would have photoshopped in a jail booking room background they would not have looked out of place in the slightest.

Things lightened up when each driver had his one-on-one sessions, but the stares, especially at the beginning, were impossible to ignore.

Ryan Newman was one of the four at Wednesday's gathering and we all know how he got there by now, right? Let's start off with some Newman reaction.

What Ryan did in Phoenix was completely different than what Brad did at Texas: Brad took out a chase contender and out of contention before the eliminator round. Gordon lost a minimum of 26 spots. Brad was the cause of the 24 not advancing. Ryan bumped a fellow racer into the wall in the last corner of the eliminator round to advance to the final 4. His fellow racer lost 2 spots. Ryan was sorry and would explain to Larson and Larson understood the position he was in and understood. Brad didn’t want to talk or explain his action and basically blew his competitor off. After all was said and done Brad wouldn’t have advanced unless he won Phoenix.

Bottom line is Newman is respected and explained his actions to his fellow driver and the media. Brad basically told his fellow driver to pound sand and he is who he is and won’t change his driving habits or his attitude ... YOU GET RESPECT WHEN YOU EARN AND GIVE RESPECT. If every driver drove like Brad did in Texas we would have 30 or 40 cautions a race and a lot of banged up race cars. If you want demolition derby go to your local track!! - Steve

Steve, you're right, what Newman did was totally different than Keselowski did. Nor am I sure how it can be any better.

What Keselowski did at Texas was make an aggressive move for the win, and a move that was necessary under the circumstances. Was there a chance of contact? Yes. Was there the intention of Gordon having a cut tire or going into the wall? Not sure.

Newman flat made a video game move. And, yes, it too was necessary under the circumstances. But with Newman, the way he drove into Larson ensured Larson would slide out of the groove and into the wall, giving Newman the spot.

That's where I draw the line. I don't fault Newman for making the move at all. But the environment of NASCAR and the new Chase allowed it. In the ever-ambiguous "Boys have at it" era, there was little to no chance of Newman getting a penalty, especially since the move created the drama at Phoenix that NASCAR's system was designed to do.

And, simply put, the video game move is more of a demolition derby move that Keselowski's. If every driver drove like Newman did in Phoenix we would have 30 or 40 cautions a race and a lot of banged up race cars. See what I did there?

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I can’t believe that there are people who actually like this year’s chase format. Having a driver like Jeff Gordon not being able to drive for a championship is unbelievable! NASCAR is not football, basketball, or hockey. If Nascar wants to follow their playoff system then follow it completely. All contenders that are not in the “playoffs” go home for the season. I’m sure that would sell a lot of tickets. Who cares about consistency throughout the season, just win one race and you know you’re in. Once the “playoffs” start just ride around like Newman did, never competing for a win. It will really be hilarious if Gordon win and Newman finish second next week. The driver who never won a race being crowned champion while the driver who had the most total points for the season won’t even be acknowledged. What a joke! - William

Nascar has made Sprint Cup a crapshoot. Gordon, Brad, Johnson and Little E have 17 wins combined. Newman has none & Hamlin didn't even race a full schedule. How is Nascar going to hold fans when one race decides progressing & 3 of 4 drivers are in must win position. 3 doesnt go into one. Suspense wins. - Timothy.

I do agree about the point of suspense winning. Anyone lauding the format for the drama it's creating needs to realize that the lauding isn't necessarily a compliment but rather a statement of fact. The Chase system is producing what it is designed to do. The upside is the goal.

The best teams in other sports are eliminated early all the time. I'm not sure that's the best argument, especially because it was applicable under the old Chase too. But I totally understand the frustration of a one-win and no-win driver in the final round of the Chase given the incredible and overbearing emphasis on winning by NASCAR and partners this season.

While a Newman title would be perfectly logical when you dive down into the points system, it's a walking marketing contradiction.

@NickBromberg Can we please stop the winning is the most important thing? Or award a higher points bonus to winner?

— Nathan Caldwell (@nathanc82) November 13, 2014

I'm all for giving the winners of races more points, as I've said before in this space. But, again, should NASCAR really be changing this format just one year into what everyone associated with the sport claims is a fantastic system? The Chase already changes every 2.75 years, should the average go down even further, even if it's a necessary move to marry reality with the ideal public relations perception? It may be a necessary move, but it could come at a significant credibility cost.

Also, on the points format note, look for a modest proposal on Friday. I've got ideas, and that's dangerous.

@NickBromberg Controversy, tempers, cliffhangers, your take on first 9 races. Will title be won by racing on track, or on pit strategy?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) November 13, 2014

The word "execution" was heavily emphasized on Wednesday night, and it included having a fast car, good restarts and no mistakes on pit road. I think the latter two are more important than the first one.

While long green flag run speed will be important, we know that in the current Cup Series, the cost of a pit road mistake can be astronomical. So can the cost of a poor restart. While you can make up spots on restarts and spots on pit road, you can lose them a lot faster with dropped lugnuts, unsecure tires, penalties, or any number of different mistakes. Especially as we get late in the race as we've seen the propensity for late-race cautions increase this season.

Sunday's Cup champion may not have had a flawless race, but it'll be a race that had the smallest mistake. We saw how tough it was for Logano and Hamlin to fight through traffic at Phoenix last week after a penalty (Logano) and a flat tire (Hamlin). Having the fastest car on track is only good for so much if there's a big mistake.

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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, 2014, 8:20 pm

MIAMI, Fla., – While each of the four drivers competing for NASCAR's Sprint Cup on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be a first-time champion if he wins the title, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick are no strangers to the media festivities that precede the final race of the season.

In 2010, Harvick and Hamlin were present with Jimmie Johnson. Then, Hamlin was clinging to a 15-point lead (old format) over Johnson and Harvick was 46 points back. Both Harvick and Johnson spent the session putting the pressure on Hamlin, who had just squandered at least 18 points to Johnson the previous race at Phoenix.

Wednesday, Harvick was having some stone-faced fun again. But while Hamlin was stationed to Harvick's right, it was the driver on his left, Joey Logano, whom Harvick directed his comments toward.

As Logano was addressing how the four drivers plan to race each other for the title (there were no promises of fender-banging from any of the drivers), Harvick brought up Logano's performance at Talladega.

Logano threw a key block on the last lap at Talladega to help keep Harvick away from the lead and teammate Brad Keselowski in it. Keselowski won the race and advanced to the third round of the Chase. Had Harvick won, Keselowski would have been eliminated.

"I thought you were going to say you were going to send Brad out there to be a moving chicane like you were at Talladega," Harvick said.

Logano, perhaps expecting Harvick's antagonization, laughed it off and answered promptly.

"I don't know what you're talking about, Kevin," Logano responded.

"Maybe you should ask Roger," Harvick said, referring to Team Penske owner Roger Penske.

"He's not here right now," Logano answered.

After the exchange, Ryan Newman, the other title contender, (semi?) jokingly asked if he could answer the question.

Because the four drivers are battling heads-up for the championship and the highest-finishing driver wins the title, there is a chance that teammates of the drivers in contention could play a role with strategy, or make it harder for a title-eligible driver to complete a pass.

When asked if he was joking with Logano about Talladega, Harvick said he wasn't and then expounded when asked about the teammate variable. Harvick will have teammates, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick and team co-owner Stewart in the race. Logano has Keselowski, Hamlin has Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth and Newman has Austin Dillon and Paul Menard.

"You know, we've had this conversation in our shop, and it's just a race, because I believe – and I think Tony Stewart believes and all the management believes that in the end, trying to do those things like at Talladega, karma catches up with you," Harvick said. "I'm a firm believer in karma. At some point it comes full circle."

In 2010, the talk about Hamlin might have gotten to him, though he said Wednesday it didn't. At one point four years ago, he even made a comment about how awkward it was.

Logano wasn't fazed, laughing about it again after the news conference while in his breakout session.

"I actually kind of think it's a compliment," Logano said. "Because if you think about it, I'm up here with three of the best drivers here and teams. And that's really cool. It's a privilege to be here. And then to have one of them nervous about you means even more. I'm not here to play head games, I'm here to win a race, and he can play around as much as he wants. I'm having fun with this."

Hamlin was happy to stay away from the fray.

"I think everyone knew that was coming, probably," Hamlin said. "Joey's the new guy, he's the young guy, and obviously he's got a great shot at a championship. And everyone's going to look for every advantage that they can get, whether it be coincidence or not that the person kind of poking fun is the person that gets under the other person's skin.

"You know, Kevin didn't beat me in 2010. I finished second to Jimmie. Jimmie wasn't necessarily the one prodding. I think it's more coincidence than anything, but you knew that Kevin was going to have a little fun out there, and obviously he's got some bad blood it looks like with some of the Penske guys anyway, so I'll just let all that play out and we'll just go out there and have fun and see what happens."

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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, 2014, 1:37 am

ESPN's NASCAR team.On Sunday, ESPN will broadcast the last race of the 2014 season, which will also be the last race of ESPN's contract. Next year, Fox and NBC will handle all NASCAR duties, and ESPN will move on to hardwood and grass rather than concrete and asphalt.

ESPN is the 800-pound gorilla in the broadcast sports space, and the fact that it will no longer telecast NASCAR will have a significant impact on the sport's coverage. Rich Feinberg, ESPN vice president of production addressed fans' initial concerns that the sport would be pushed to the sidelines since ESPN no longer has a financial stake in its promotion: "I don't think you'll see much of a change," he said. "We obviously won't be doing the races, but in terms of serving the interests of fans with our news and information coverage, we're full steam ahead." He noted that ESPN has signed several of its NASCAR regulars to new deals.

Earlier this week, ESPN regulars took a moment to discuss their favorite memories of broadcasting NASCAR and took a little pride in their work.

"I have to say, Alan Kulwicki's championship win in that final race when he pulled into victory lane in 1992 in Atlanta, pulled there into the start‑finish line to be interviewed, and Richard Petty's last race, that's one of those moments I'll never forget," Dr. Jerry Punch said. "Alan driving the 'Underbird,' the young man who came from Wisconsin with, as we said back in those days, a pickup truck and a pocketful of dreams and chased his dream and became a NASCAR champion with very few resources. It was a day in which Davey Allison could have won it, Bill Elliott could have won it, and either one of those would have been great stories, but Kulwicki wins it and then we do the interview, and I turn and my producer in my earpiece says, 'Now turn and say something, because we're going to introduce Richard Petty.'  So I turned and introduced Richard Petty, and his rebuilt damaged race car comes out of the garage in Atlanta and makes one final lap and then comes down pit road ... and I interview Richard, and I caught myself because he gets out of the car, and for the first time I saw tears in his eyes and going down his cheek, and they were on my cheeks because I realized how special that moment was.  It just doesn't get much better than that."

Feinberg pointed out that ESPN offered both technical and conceptual innovations that have since become standard. "For us to be able to, throughout the Chase, show the second half of all Chase races, essentially the playoffs and the championship, without ever going to a full‑screen commercial week in and week out I think is an excellent example of how ESPN has tried to maintain its commitment, not only to NASCAR but to our fans in general," he said. 

"Taking the on board cameras high def, taking the cameras where you can see two different views coming out of a car at the same time instead of just one," Allen Bestwick said. "That was not a cheap undertaking and it was not an easy one, but it was something that our company undertook and made successful."

Leave it to Rusty Wallace, though, to put a bow on it all. "We're all a close family," he said of the ESPN crew. "We all get along good.  We've all had our bumps in the road.  We've all learned, and I wish we were continuing on, but we're not."

ESPN signs off after Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400.

____
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 12, 2014, 3:23 pm

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

1. Kevin Harvick (LW: 5): Is it us, or is Harvick's performance at Phoenix not getting enough clutchiness run as Brad Keselowski's win at Talladega? Our theory is because Talladega can be such a crapshoot while Harvick was expected to run well at Phoenix given the way he's dominatd the track recently. And boy, was his run on Sunday a piece of domination. Harvick will likely have one of the two fastest cars among the four title contenders on Sunday, it's now a matter of if something will go wrong given the craziness that's happened to Harvick this year. And if Harvick is fast and does have an issue, Homestead will incredibly overshadow the awesomeness of Phoenix.

2. Joey Logano (LW: 1): Logano, much like Denny Hamlin, had a pit road issue that knocked him back in the pack. And they both were incredibly fluky. In Logano's case, he left his pit stall while the gas can was still engaged and it skidded across the line of his pit stall and into another one. Logano was penalized for equipment leaving his pit stall. He eventually went a lap down but got it back and fought back to finish sixth. No worse than second-favorite at Homestead, right?

3. Denny Hamlin (LW: 3): Hamlin's issue was even higher up the fluky scale from Logano's. After a pit stop early in the race, Hamlin had to come back in after a rear tire was completely falt. He restarted at the end of the field and was stuck in traffic, falling a lap down as well. He spent more time than Logano a lap down, but he ended up finishing a place better on the track in fifth. If you're a Hamlin fan, we don't blame you for having dejá vu thoughts about Phoenix 2010 before Hamlin made his way back to the lead lap.

4. Ryan Newman (LW: 4): A pass for 11th place has gotten Newman to this point, and it's going to be looked at as a pass that possibly sets the standard for a title. Will one of the four drivers be willing to do that to each other to get the title in the late laps on Sunday? And before you think what Newman did was similar to Carl Edwards on Jimmie Johnson in 2008 at Kansas, remember that Edwards was the one bouncing off the wall. Bouncing yourself off the wall going for a win is different than bouncing another driver off the wall.

But bottom line, and something we'll probably extrapolate on later in the week: If you're going to blame something for what Newman did Sunday in passing Kyle Larson, blame the environment. Don't blame Newman.

5. Jeff Gordon (LW: 4): Had Jeff Gordon led a lap on Sunday he would have avoided his fate. Well, it's not that simple. There's a chance that Newman plays defense a lot more against Marcos Ambrose and Larson knowing he needs to finish 10th. And while it may seem hard to fathom that Gordon finished second twice in three races and missed the final cut, remember, it's simply how the points system is structured.

6. Brad Keselowski (LW: 6): Keselowski finished third and fourth in the third round and suffered the same fate as Gordon. And as Keselowski sits on six wins, the only chance of the winningest driver winning the title is if Logano wins the race on Sunday. It's common knowledge that there have been numerous NASCAR champions who didn't win the most races in a season. It just seems incredibly incongruous that a driver with fewer top fives than Keselowski has wins is racing for the title in a season in which winning was supposed to take on such great importance.

7. Matt Kenseth (LW: 7): Kenseth and Gordon can commiserate about how bad Texas was to their Chase chances. And while Kenseth would have made the final four without a win (unless he won Phoenix), it's our guess he wouldn't be viewed the way Newman's candidacy for the title is being viewed. Kenseth is fourth in the series in top fives and third in top 10s. Newman is tied for 15th and tied for 11th.

8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 8): Our eighth-place driver stays in eighth after finishing eighth. In the No. 88 car. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF THAT HAPPENING? (They aren't calculable because these rankings are incredibly arbitrary) If we were going to bet on two non-Chase teams going for the strategy play late in the race to grab a win, we'd choose Earnhardt Jr. and Steve Letarte and the No. 14 team and Tony Stewart. If Stewart doesn't win at Homestead, it'll be the first Cup season of his career that he hasn't won in.

9. Carl Edwards (LW: 9): You quickly become an afterthought if you struggle. Edwards was just not fast through the three races of the third round. This comment by Edwards summed up Phoenix nicely:

"Yeah, we tried every trick that we could," Edwards said. "We just didn’t have a lot of speed all weekend. The car actually drove pretty decently at the end, so I thought Jimmy did a great job with it. We just didn’t have enough speed, so that’s how it goes.”

10. Kyle Larson (LW: 12): Want to know what Larson thought about Newman's move? Here's what he said in a statement to MRN:

"Coming to the finish, there were a lot of cars racing really hard. I knew (Newman) was right around me and knew he needed to gain some spots to keep from getting eliminated from the Chase.  

“It's a little upsetting he pushed me up to the wall, but I completely understand the situation he was in and can't fault him for being aggressive there. I think a lot of drivers out here would have done something similar if they were in that position."

11. Kyle Busch (LW: 10): We're dropping Busch a spot after his spin and then shearing by Clint Bowyer's car. Bowyer simply hit him at a perfect angle to rip the front end off Busch's car. Busch finished 34th. And thanks to NASCAR resetting all Chase-eliminated drivers back to the same points system, Busch is ahead of Edwards even despite the bad Phoenix finish.

12. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 9): Phoenix is a yo-yo for Jimmie Johnson. In 2010, he took advantage of Denny Hamlin's fuel strategy, stretched his fuel and won. In 2012, he lost a tire and hit the wall, paving the way for Brad Keselowski to win the title. In 2013, Matt Kenseth struggled, which made Johnson's Homestead race a coronation. In 2014? Well, Johnson was in the wall again, a week after winning at Texas.

Lucky Dog: Was Sunday the final time Marcos Ambrose finishes in the top 10 in the Cup Series?

The DNF: Austin Dillon completed 283 of 312 laps. It's the smallest percentage of laps Dillon has completed in a race all season.

Dropped out: None

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

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 11, 2014, 6:08 pm

Through the first nine races of NASCAR's new elimination Chase format, we've learned that if you can't win, you need to avoid bad finishes.

On Sunday at Phoenix, Jeff Gordon finished second. Brad Keselowski finished third. Matt Kenseth finished fourth. Yet they all missed out on the cut-off for the Sprint Cup Series title that will be decided next week at Homestead as race-winner Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman will be racing for the championship.

The best finisher of the four on Nov. 16 will win the title.

But best finishes weren't a good barometer of success in the third round of the Chase. Here are the top finishes of the eight drivers alive for the championship entering Phoenix:

Harvick: 1st (Phoenix)
Newman: 3rd (Martinsville)
Logano: 5th (Martinsville)
Hamlin: 5th (Phoenix)
Gordon: 2nd (Martinsville, Phoenix)
Keselowski: 3rd (Texas)
Kenseth: 3rd (Phoenix)
Carl Edwards: 9th (Texas)

Yes, three of the drivers who missed the cut had finishes in the three-race round as good or better than three of the drivers who made the cut. Winning hasn't been everything through the first three rounds of the Chase. Avoiding bad finishes was, though it did help if you won.

And the standings above aren't a typo either. Gordon had two second-place finishes in the three races. It's just that the replayed-at-every-opportunity incident with Keselowski at Texas dropped him to 29th place that race and created a deficit that ended up being insurmountable. With the way that the other seven Chase drivers finished at Phoenix, Gordon had to win the race to advance.

Keselowski's punishment came at Martinsville, when he had a rear-gear issue and finished 31st. Like Harvick, he was essentially in a win-and-in scenario at Phoenix. Fourth place did him no good.

For Kenseth, Texas was the tipping point. A poor pit stop relegated him to the back of the pack and created a track position deficit that was impossible to make up. Despite finishing sixth at Martinsville and third on Sunday, the 25th-place run was too tall to overcome.

And we'll go ahead and mention Edwards in this column, though he didn't show the speed that his three peers who missed the final cut did. Even at Texas, where he recorded his best finish, he went a lap down twice.

Logano won races in the first two rounds and had the same speed throughout the third round but didn't have a win to show for it. His worst finish of the third round was 12th at Texas, which came after a pit stop gone bad with faulty lugnut glue and a spin for a flat tire.

Harvick was the epitome of a win helping erase a bad finish in a round. He finished 33rd at Martinsville and would not have made the final four on points given how the race played out. However, since winners in a round advance to the next round, Harvick's win moved him on.

Hamlin and Newman, well, they made it on the avoidance of bad finishes. Neither driver had the speed that Logano or Harvick did through the last three races, but Hamlin complemented the fifth place on Sunday with eighth and 10th-place finishes.

In addition to his third at Martinsville, Newman finished 15th at Texas and 11th at Phoenix. And if Harvick is the epitome of a win erasing a bad finish to guarantee a title berth, Newman's entire season has been a beautiful example of racing consistency to counter a lack of outright speed.

Newman has just four top-five finishes through the season's 35 races and third is his highest finish. He's led 41 laps all season; the most he's led in a single race is 10. That was at Talladega three weeks ago. His top-10 statistics aren't staggering either. Newman has 15 top 10s, good for 11th in the series. But he has just two finishes lower than 24th throughout the entire season.

How has that paid off? In NASCAR's new points format, which has been in effect since 2011, last place pays a single point, or 1/47th the points that winning a race (and leading a lap) does. Under the old system, last was worth 34 points, or roughly 1/6th of the 190 or 195 points a winner received for winning a race.

In NASCAR's current format, the points ratios in the top 20 are roughly the same. Tenth-place finishers receive roughly 72 percent of the points that winners do. In the old system, it was 70 percent. But you see where the ratios start to change as you go down the standings. A driver finishing 20th today receives approximately 51 percent of the points (24) a winner does. In the old system, it was about 54 percent (103).

The ratios only get worse from there.

In the old 10-race, straight-up Chase, drivers had a greater opportunity to bounce back or build a cushion. In a three-race sample, there simply isn't much time to do that. Just ask Gordon, Kenseth and Keselowski.

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

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 10, 2014, 1:24 am

Kevin Harvick got his third-straight win at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, and it's a win that gives him a chance to run for the Sprint Cup Series title.

Harvick's win guaranteed him a spot in NASCAR's final four to race for the championship on Sunday, Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The three other drivers joining Harvick are Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman, who made a banzai last lap pass to sneak in ahead of Jeff Gordon.

Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards were eliminated from the Chase.

While Harvick sprinted away with the lead of the race from Gordon with 12 laps to go after the race's final restart, Newman lost two spots. It put him in a tie with Gordon for the final spot to advance to Homestead, assuming Harvick would win the race and Logano and Hamlin would maintain their positions.

Because of Gordon's second-place finish in the first race of the third round at Martinsville two weeks ago, he had the tiebreaker. Newman had to finish a point ahead of Gordon, and to do it, he needed to pass Kyle Larson for 11th on the final lap.

Newman drove his car into turn three and four onto the apron as far as he could and his car slid up into Larson's. Larson's car slid up out of the groove and into the wall. Newman had the spot on the track and a chance to race for the championship.

"I just gave it my all and they paved (the apron) I guess for a reason," Newman said. "And they didn't make any rules that said we couldn't use it. A great team effort today. We did not have the race car, we had horrible restarts, I did not have track position with this Cat Mining Chevrolet when we needed to but in the end we fought back hard."

"Did what we had to. As clean as I possibly could. I wasn't proud of it, but I'll do what I got to to make it to this next round. That little boy has got a lot of things coming in this sport and he used me up at Eldora in a truck race a couple years ago, so from my standpoint I call it even. I think if he was in my position, he would have done the same thing."

After climbing from his car, Gordon expounded on the merits of clean racing. Last week, Gordon went from second to 29th at Texas after contact with Brad Keselowski while racing for the lead late in the race. Sunday, he was eliminated when Newman used Larson as a buffer.

"That's disappointing. We've got a lot to hold our heads up high about, the way that we raced this race, the whole Chase and the season. We raced hard, we raced together as a team, but I hope we taught somebody that you can race clean and still go out there and give it your best. That you don't have to go out there and wreck people to make it in the Chase or win the championship."

"I'm afraid if it was that ugly these last couple weeks it's going to get really ugly next week."

Gordon simply didn't have a chance to make a move on Harvick for the win. The gap Harvick had on Gordon in the final laps never closed, and it was fitting. Harvick was by far the day's most dominant driver. He led the most laps and was nearly untouchable.

"I guess that's what it feels like to hit a walk-off in the extra innings there," Harvick said.

The dominance was an incredibly good thing, too. Harvick entered the day eighth among the eight drivers vying for the final four spots and because none of the eight had porous finishes, had Harvick finished second, he wouldn't have made it to Homestead eligible for the title.

"I could tell that we were probably going to have to win because everyone was running up in the front of the pack that we were racing against," Harvick said. "So that was our goal coming in here and that's really the goal every time you come to 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 9, 2014, 11:58 pm

Gene Haas, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, said Sunday that he won't remove Kurt Busch from his No. 41 car.

Busch's ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, has accused Busch of domestic assault at a race weekend in Dover, Del., at the end of September. Driscoll filed a claim with the Dover Police Department earlier in the week. In the claim, she says Busch slammed her head into the wall of his motorhome. According to the AP, the couple had broken up a week before.

Busch's lawyer has called Driscoll's claims a fabrication.

From USA Today:

"He'll be in the car until someone else pulls him out," Haas told a small group of reporters before the Phoenix race. "I'm not pulling him out."

Haas' company, Haas Automation, is the sponsor of Busch's car and will continue to be on the hood during the investigation, he said.

"I think we're just going to let the police department do their job and try not to say anything that would compromise that," he said. "We want an unbiased investigation and we'll see how it all plays out."

Is Haas worried about what the investigation might find?

"The facts I know, I'm not concerned about it," he said.

The self-sponsorship angle of Busch's car is important. With Haas providing not only the team but the financial backing, there is limited outside influence to remove Busch from the car. He was also the impetus for bringing Busch to SHR and expanding the team to four cars.

Haas is familiar with the legal system himself. He was arrested for tax evasion in 2006 and as part of a plea deal, pled guilty to a felony charge of tax evasion. He was sentenced to two years in prison and served 16 months before being released on probation.

Busch is currently 14th in the Sprint Cup Series points standings entering Sunday's race at Phoenix. He qualified for the Chase thanks to a spring win at Martinsville but was eliminated 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 9, 2014, 8:17 pm

Chase Elliott is a NASCAR champion.

The 18-year-old son of fomer NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott clinched the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series title at Phoenix on Saturday. He heads into the final race on November 15 at Homestead with a margin of more than a race (52 points) on second place Regan Smith.

Driving for JR Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team, Elliott finished fifth on Saturday. In 2014, his first full year in the Nationwide Series, Elliott has won three races and has 26 top 10s in 32 races. He's the youngest champion in NASCAR national series history.

His first win came at Texas in the spring and he won the next race at Darlington. His third win came at Chicago in the summer. Chase and Bill are the fifth father-son combination to each win NASCAR titles.

@chaseelliott and @BillElliott9 are fifth father son to win @NASCAR touring series championship with Pettys Pearsons Earnhardts & Jarretts

— Winston Kelley (@WinstonKelley) November 8, 2014

Elliott, who is signed as a developmental driver for Hendrick Motorsports, will stay in what will be the Xfinity Series in 2015. Hendrick has all four cars filled in the Sprint Cup Series for 2015 in Junior, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne.

However, Elliott will have a new crew chief next year. His crew chief Greg Ives is moving to atop Junior's pit box for the 2015 season. Junior's current crew chief, Steve Letarte, is moving to the broadcast booth for NBC Sports next year.

The race at Phoenix was won by Brad Keselowski on a last-lap pass of Kyle Busch. The pass was set up by a green-white-checker restart due to a questionable caution for Alex Bowman's car being out of fuel.

Bowman's car slowed on the penultimate lap and he had plenty of momentum to make it to pit road safely, but NASCAR threw the caution flag as Busch, who had a very comfortable lead, was not far from the white flag. Had the caution come out after Busch had started his final lap, the race would have been over.

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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, 2014, 11:41 pm

NASCAR was forced to end Friday's Camping World Truck Series race early after the lights went out at Phoenix International Raceway.

A massive power failure hit the region and delayed the race for over an hour because the track was on backup power and the entire track wasn't lit properly. Power was restored for the 150-lap race to start, but it went out again with 24 laps to go and NASCAR and the the track decided to end the race in case another failure happened again.

"We are extremely disappointed that tonight's race was delayed and ultimately shortened by failures in the local power grid," a track statement said. "We want to thank the devoted race fans who stayed throughout the race, however PIR and NASCAR both agreed that it was in the best interest of the drivers to call an end to the race after the second power outage, as safety of the competitors is paramount. While we appreciate the efforts of APS and its repair crews to restore service as quickly as possible, having to end the race prematurely is not the experience that our fans expect and deserve."

Erik Jones, the leader at the time of the failure with 24 laps to go, won the race. It's his third win in 12 starts this season and earlier Friday, Kyle Busch Motorsports announced that Jones, 18, would run full-time in the series in 2015.

Matt Crafton has a 25-point lead over Ryan Blaney as the series heads to Homestead for the final race of the season on November 14.

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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, 2014, 7:35 pm

Kevin Harvick said Friday that he didn't realize his shove of Brad Keselowski was going to start a fracas.

Jeff Gordon confronted Keselowski after the race following a three-wide move that Keselowski made. The move, which was for the lead late in the race, cut Gordon's left-rear tire down after he and Keselowski made contact.

Gordon was trying to get to Keselowski, but was blocked by members of Keselowski's team as he attempted to talk with him. As Keselowski was on the outside of the group of people, Harvick pushed him towards Gordon, who reached for Keselowski's collar. A melee ensued.

"I have been in that situation with [Keselowski] before," Harvick said. "For me it is like the week of two totally opposite situations. I have no problem with the way Brad races. I think he races hard. I think that is what we are all supposed to do and in those positions you would probably do the same thing yourself."

"But, I think that the problem that I have with it I have been in that situation with him before and have him turn his back on me and just walk off. I don’t think that is the appropriate way to handle those types of situations. It just kind of rubbed me the wrong way and I reacted and obviously didn’t really realize that it was going to ignite that."

While Harvick said Friday he had no problem with the way Brad races, he had the following response when asked Sunday if he would make the same attempt for the lead that Keselowski did:

"Yeah, I couldn't run over [Gordon] or [Jimmie Johnson] like that," Harvick said.

Harvick's shove started a viral meme (though, doesn't everything start a meme these days?) called #Harvicking. He's not necessarily proud of the way the shove took off online and referenced the contact he and Matt Kenseth had at Martinsville the week before Texas.

“I think in the end, you guys know, I love the controversy," Harvick said. "But I think in the end the difficult part for me is to go home and realize that one day you are going to have to answer those questions to your son. It’s definitely two different sides and how you have to look at it and how you have to approach it. 

"I think you look at Martinsville and how that situation was handled,  I have a lot of respect for Matt (Kenseth) and what he does on the race track. You leave the track and you talk about things and you figure out what went wrong and how to handle things moving forward.  There is just never that opportunity really presented with Brad and I think that is what frustrates me. I’m not going to speak for everybody else.”

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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, 2014, 10:01 pm

Kurt Busch is being investigated by the Dover, (Del.) Police Department for allegations of domestic assault.

Busch's ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, filed the claims Nov. 5, according to the police department. Per court documents obtained by the AP, Driscoll said the alleged assault happened on Friday, Sept. 26. The Sprint Cup Series was in Dover that weekend and Busch was eliminated from the Chase after the race on Sunday, Sept. 28.

The Dover PD issued a statement confirming the investigation Friday.

From the AP:

The documents, filed Wednesday, say Busch was despondent the night of Sept. 26 after his poor performance at the qualifying race.

"He was verbally abusive to her and said he wished he had a gun so that he could kill himself," the documents say.

Driscoll said Busch, 36, called her names and accused her of "having spies everywhere and having a camera on the bus to watch him." He then jumped up, grabbed her face and smashed her head three times against the wall next to the bed, the documents say.

The AP story says that Busch and Driscoll had ended their relationship, which began in 2011, approximately a week earlier. Driscoll also says in her claim that she ran from Busch's motorhome, where the alleged incident occurred, and went to a nearby bus.

She is also seeking a protection order against Busch and requesting that he receive a psychiatric evaluation. A hearing is set for Dec. 2.

Through a statement from attorney Rusty Hardin, Busch denies the allegations and said they were a complete fabrication. Hardin has represented Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and former MLB pitcher Roger Clemens.

"The Dover Police Department has been informed that Mr. Busch will fully cooperate with their investigation and he expects to be vindicated when the entire truth of the situation comes to light," Hardin's statement said. "This allegation is a complete fabrication by a woman who has refused to accept the end of a relationship and Mr. Busch vehemently denies her allegations in every respect. At this time we intend to have no further comment in the media out of respect for the Dover Police Department's desire to conduct a thorough investigation without a media circus."

Stewart-Haas Racing, Busch's team, said it was gathering facts Friday afternoon before Hardin's statement was issued after the first practice session of the day.

“This is an allegation Stewart-Haas Racing takes very seriously, but we’re still gathering all of the facts," Not in position to comment.

— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) November 7, 2014

NASCAR also issued a statement.

NASCAR issued the following statement from Brett Jewkes, NASCAR Senior VP and Chief Communications Officer. pic.twitter.com/PvYmkXhRi4

— #MyChaseNation (@NASCAR) November 7, 2014

After finishing eighth at Texas last week, Busch is 14th in the Sprint Cup Series standings. Before the race at Texas, Stewart-Haas Racing switched the teams of he and teammate Danica Patrick in an effort to prepare for 2015.

The Cup Series races at Phoenix on Sunday. In 2005, Busch was suspended for the final two races of the year while at Roush Racing following a driving incident while leaving the track. Busch was ultimately cited for reckless driving. Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, was set to leave Roush at the end of the season and join Team Penske for 2006.

In 2011, after an outburst towards an ESPN reporter at the final race of the season, Busch said he began working with a sports psychologist.

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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, 2014, 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, have a good time and everyone's happy.

Welcome to the second of our two Happy Hours this week. Had we combined your non-fight questions and our normal standings feature into one mailbag, it would have been brutally long. So we broke it up into two.

Here are this week's old Chase standings. Because of his issues late in the race, Joey Logano's lead is not a full race heading into Phoenix, but he could still clinch before Homestead.

1. Joey Logano, 2,329
2. Kevin Harvick, 2,294
3. Brad Keselowski, 2,280
4. Ryan Newman, 2,278
5. Jeff Gordon, 2,270
5. Kyle Busch, 2,270
7. Matt Kenseth, 2,255
8. Denny Hamlin, 2,253
9. Carl Edwards, 2,249
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,234
10. Jimmie Johnson, 2,234
12. AJ Allmendinger, 2,228
13. Greg Biffle, 2,209
14. Kurt Busch, 2,192
15. Kasey Kahne, 2,179
16. Aric Almirola, 2,144

Now, let's start this version with some Chase tweaks, shall we?

Here is a suggestion to improve the playoff format. It may have been suggested before but maybe not. The regular season is 32 races. The playoff is four races. To qualify for the playoffs a driver needs to win three or more races during the regular season. Three bonus points per win are carried into the playoffs. Highest point total in the four playoff races among qualified drivers wins the championship. Do you think this is a good idea? - Noon

I've expressed my dislike of short sample sizes before, so I'm not sure I'd be a fan of a four-race Chase, unless it was diverse and included a short track, intermediate track and superspeedway. I do like the bonus point idea, and, like I've said before, wish the wins in each round carried over. (Though if they did, the points race for Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski isn't much different. They'd still trail at their current deficits because Joey Logano also had a win in the second round.)

@NickBromberg Would NASCAR tweek the points system in the off season if we end up having a winless champion this year? #WinningIsEverything

— Chris Nulty (@RealChrisNulty) November 6, 2014

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Sorry for the screaming. But... oh man, can you imagine tweaks to the Chase after a year? While I could want them in a perfect world, when you've already changed the playoff format every 2.75 years, you have to get close to the average, even if the champion is not the desired result.

If you like marketing pretzels, you're rooting for neither Matt Kenseth or Ryan Newman to win at Phoenix on Sunday, but for both to advance. Newman is the craziest. Kenseth has 12 top fives. Newman has four. He's tied for 15th in the Cup Series in top fives with Paul Menard. 15th! And he's one race away from racing for the championship.

In any potential pushes for Ryan Newman before Homestead, expect to see the word "consistency" a lot, but the absence of "points racing" will be conspicuous. Remember y'all, points racing is dead and with the new championship format, it's pointless. (Yes, we can argue about what the concept of what "points racing" actually is, but you get the point.)

@NickBromberg Been to any interesting sports events lately? Will non chaser "teammates" be rolling roadblocks to support their guys Sunday?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) November 6, 2014

I've been spoiled in October and November. I'll fully admit it. It's my favorite sports time of the year usually, but it's been wild this year and I can't cherish it enough.

Going to Circuit of the Americas and seeing Formula 1 cars up close and in person for the first time was awesome. While the series doesn't have the history for me of IndyCar racing and NASCAR (I can remember the first Indianapolis 500 I watched in full and the first Daytona 500 I watched in full with ease), I've been more and more fascinated with it every year.

I think the teammate angle is what we have to look out for on Sunday if we're looking for any revenge or similar storylines. I don't think drivers in contention for a title are going to go do something supid to settle a grudge and risk their championship hopes. Will they have someone else? Probably not, but if you're going to do something at Phoenix, you're going to have someone not in title contention do it.

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

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 6, 2014, 9:03 pm

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

And welcome to this week's Happy Hour. It's a special edition of Happy Hour this week as we'll have two versions. In this one, it's the cleanest and (sometimes) most sensical emails we received amidst the substantial feedback we got from Sunday to Tuesday about the Texas pit road melee.

In our other version we'll talk about anything and everything that isn't associated with the fracas. That way you can read both if you like or if you're sick of the fighting, you can skip to the other stuff or vice versa. Seems logical, right?

If you've been living under a rock, four crew members were suspended for their roles in the incident. Three are on Jeff Gordon's team. One is on Kasey Kahne's. Drivers were not penalized.

We'll start this Happy Hour with people who were furious about the incident.

Other than Joey he has no respect in the garage.  Nobody will disagree he is not a good driver, that’s a given.  When you take somebody out by SLAMMING into them and if you actually take time to watch the video of that and not the video of the fight he SLAMMED into him where it would take out the valve stem and you can bet he knew it.  Sorry I love Nascar but Nascar had a talk with Earnhardt and Darryl Waltrip about the sport being able to carry on without either of them perhaps it is time for that chat with Brad.  You can write what you want Nick but the other drivers will not put up with it. I will wager that Brad will not win the championship even if somebody has to take a suspension over it.  He is despised, not disliked. - Jim

Once again Brad shows his willingness to wreck anyone at any time.  He is a dirty driver and the media keeps taking his side and saying “just racing”. In all my years watching NASCAR I don’t recall a driver employing such tactics, even Sr. wasn’t as obviously trying to wreck his competitors to secure his victory, he had some class at least. This has been going on since his first victory at Dega when he wrecked Edwards rather than take the second place finish he had earned. - Ron

And here are the emails where people weren't so mad.

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I'm not sure what everyone else saw, but I saw Keslowski doing the exact same thing Gordon would have done when that gap appeared, he went to pass same as Gordon would have. So why'd Gordon and his crew go all crazy? Because it was Keslowski that snuck through that gap or because he just got bettered and knew it? - David

I watched the G-W-C three or four times, and Gordon came down on BK.  Gordon defended but he pulled down and BK is not going to stop trying to win.  This is competition, this is for all the marbles.  This is a driver who is paid to win.  He holds no prisoners, he goes to win.  People don't like BK.  Did people like the Intimidator?  It's to early to compare BK to Dale, but I love watching BK do everything he can to win.
I will support BK until he does a bone-head, then will ask.  Right now, he is paid to win.  There are many of my contacts who agree;  only a few disagree.  It's called winning, not dancing. - Jim

Nick, great article.  I thought the move on the track by the 2 was a great move, you could see him sitting on the 48's corner anticipating the 24 to move up the hill to get a run. Like him or not BK drives with heart and passion and I want that in my driver and my race team. Everyone seems to forget  he won his chmpionship with a broken leg. Did I mention I'm a Jeff Gordon fan?

Jeff No. 5 is not going to be gifted to you bud, it will be need to best racing of your life. Watch the tape you left the door wide open and chose the wrong lane if it wasn't the 2 hitting the gap it would have been the 4. - Damian

It's not a spoiler if you read what I wrote on Sunday evening, but the latter three emails are the ones I agree with in the tale of two extremes. Keselowski was going for the win and I feel this is an instance where his reputation precedes him.

After the race, Kevin Harvick said he wouldn't have made the move Keselowski did, so you can't say every other driver in the garage would have gone for it. But I think we can safely say that Keselowski wouldn't be the only driver to make that move in that position. And if another driver had done it, would Gordon be so angry?

Mind you, Gordon had every right to be furious about what happened. His race and possibly the Chase was tossed aside with that cut tire. But, again, given Keselowski's reputation and the fact that he was in a kerfuffle with Matt Kenseth just a few weeks prior, you know the recent history was weighing in Gordon's mind. Hell, earlier in the race when Keselowski had not pitted and gotten the lead, Gordon talked on his radio about Keselowski mirror-driving to keep Gordon in second.

Ultimately, if every driver raced the same way, NASCAR would be bland, don't you think? The pit road stuff aside, it's fun to debate the merits of a freaking three-wide move for the lead with less than 10 laps to go. It's just unfortunate that you can't think about the move and the what-ifs without immediately thinking about the skirmish.

And speaking of the skirmish itself, let's talk about that now.

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Why are they guys not put in jail for fighting.  This is classified as an assault, I think the law needs to get involved and arrest all involved.  Don’t mess with Texas…don’t mean (crap) when the fight at NASCAR….If I was fighting with another individual, would I get arrested or get a pat on the back.- Vernon

What's with the jail stuff? Don't we already realize the precedent that has been set when it comes to sports fights? No one involved in the fray was going to press charges and no authority figures were going to step in without that impetus to press charges themselves.

Do I feel that fighting is stupid? Yeah, I do. NASCAR teams acting like toddlers is briefly entertaining but ultimately fruitless. Except for the NASCAR Foundation. It's now $185,000 richer.

I'll continue my thoughts below after this wonderful email.

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Wish you would have been in the middle of the fight and taken a beat down to rattle your brain into reality. Fighting after a race is great for the sport and always has been, especially with the boredom suffered through the last few years. It's the same at our local tracks and sells tickets in case you've been under a rock. If you don't know anything about racing, stick to writing in your ladies home journal with your dress on. - Neil

Ignoring the blatant sexism in this email, how can anyone be so certain that fighting is good for NASCAR? Yes, the sport started its popularity boom in 1979 because of a fight at Daytona, but the fight at Daytona was also driver-on-driver. It was distinctly different than the ridiculousness we saw on Sunday.

But types of fights aside, NASCAR is also a totally different sport than it was in 1979. And you will find people that say it's for the better and others that say its for the worse. But a fight bringing your very niche sport national attention and placing it on the sports landscape is different than a fight making your national but-not-always mainstream sport fodder for outlets that don't normally cover you to dissect.

Oh, and if we could be so quick to say that fighting was good for NASCAR, wouldn't the television ratings for Talladega have been up and not down 600,000 viewers than the year before? It was the race after Charlotte. And if people tuned in because of the fight, well, it was at the expense of other viewers.

I also don't want to dwell heavily on this, but I feel that my tweet from earlier in the week also has bearing to this discussion.

The idea that Keselowski had to "man up" by being in an altercation really bothers me. Not wanting to fight doesn't make you less of a man.

— Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) November 3, 2014

Again, Gordon had every right to be mad. But because of the presence of Keselowski's crew members (which Gordon knew would be there) there were very good chances it wasn't going to be a fight until Kevin Harvick shoved Keselowski. And, after the skirmish, Harvick said: "If you're going to race like that, you're going to have to man up at some point. I mean, he's done it several times.  Can't just turn around and let everybody fight all the time without you in there. Have to stand up for your actions at some point yourself."

But what is standing up for your actions? Gordon talked to Keselowski, and as Gordon kept trying to get closer and closer, Keselowski moved back. He didn't walk or run away, he simply didn't want any part of a fight. What's wrong with that, especially when considering the events that led to the anger?

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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, 2014, 8:41 pm

Four crew members, including three from Jeff Gordon's team, were suspended and fined for their actions during the fracas following the Texas race on Sunday stemming from contact between Brad Keselowski and Gordon.

Neither Gordon or Keselowski, nor Kevin Harvick, the driver who pushed Keselowski to incite the melee, were penalized.

After Keselowski and Gordon made contact that gave Gordon a flat tire, Gordon confronted Keselowski on pit road after the race in the midst of many crew members. Once Harvick pushed Keselowski, Gordon reached for the 2012 champion and a fight ensued, with crew members jumping in and throwing punches.

Jeremy Fuller, the rear-tire changer for Kahne's car, Jason Ingle, the engine tuner for Gordon's car and Dwayne Doucette, a mechanic for Gordon's car, were suspended for six points races and each fined $25,000 for their role in the brawl. According to a NASCAR release, the three violated rule 12-1, Actions detrimental to stock car racing and 12-4.9, Behavioral penalty -- involved in a post-race physical altercation with a driver on pit road.

You can see Fuller (in the Great Clips uniform) in the video above reaching to punch Keselowski over other people with approximately 48 second remaining.

Dean Mozingo, the hauler driver for Gordon, was found in violation of the two rules as well and suspended three races and fined $10,000.

In addition to the crew suspensions, Kenny Francis, the crew chief for Kahne, and Alan Gustafson, the crew chief for Gordon, were each fined $50,000 and placed on probation for six races because according to 9-4A, the crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of his team members.

“While the intensity and emotions are high as we continue through the final rounds of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the actions that we saw from several crew members Sunday following the race at Texas are unacceptable,” NASCAR senior vice president of competition and racing development Robin Pemberton said in a statement. “We reviewed the content that was available to us of the post-race incident along pit road, and identified several crew members who crossed the line with their actions, specifically punching others.”

“We therefore have penalized four crew members as well as their crew chiefs, as they ultimately are responsible for members of their team per the NASCAR rule book. A NASCAR championship is at stake, but we can’t allow behavior that crosses the line to go unchecked, particularly when it puts others in harm’s way.”

It's not surprising that Gordon and Keselowski were not punished. Based off of the footage, they look like they were swallowed up in the mess of people more than anything. Of the three, Harvick was the most likely to be suspended because of the shove. But as this Washington Post piece published Tuesday notes, with NASCAR's promotion of Harvick's shove, the competition side of the sanctioning body was in a tough spot if there was a penalty.

The incident was the second altercation in four weeks after Keselowski was grabbed from behind by Matt Kenseth at Charlotte. After that incident, which ended with a mess of crew members in a pack between two haulers, the only penalties given out were to Keselowski and Denny Hamlin for their actions with their cars after 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!

Follow @NickBromberg

Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: November 4, 2014, 10:58 pm

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