Pineda tossed for pine tar; Red Sox beat Yanks 5-1 (Yahoo Sports) - Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected for using a foreign substance less than two weeks after appearing to get away with it in another game against Boston, and the Red Sox beat New York 5-1 on Wednesday night. The right-hander was thrown out in the second inning when plate umpire Gerry Davis found a shiny substance on the right side of Pineda's neck after Red Sox manager John Farrell asked him to check. Pineda walked from the mound without protest. ''Our awareness was heightened, given what we had seen in the past.'' Pineda (2-2) had nothing on the right side of his neck in a photo of him on the mound in his tough first inning, when four of the first six batters reached on hits. Mavs roll past Spurs 113-92, even series at 1-1 (Yahoo Sports) - SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Monta Ellis scored 21 points and the Dallas Mavericks rolled to a 113-92 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night, snapping a 10-game skid against the Spurs and evening their first-round series at a game apiece. Dubinsky, Foligno lift CBJ to 1st home playoff win (Yahoo Sports) - Brandon Dubinsky scored with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Nick Foligno's wrist shot just inside the blue line 2:49 into the extra session gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. The Blue Jackets overcame a 3-0 deficit for their first home playoff victory in the franchise's 13 seasons, sending the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Saturday night tied 2-2. Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz, James Neal scored in a span of 5:01 of the first period to stake the Penguins to a 3-0 lead. Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97 (Yahoo Sports) - LeBron James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and the Miami Heat held on to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 101-97 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series. Dwyane Wade scored 15 points, and had a steal in the final seconds to help seal the win for Miami. Mario Chalmers added 11 for the Heat. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 22 points for Charlotte, which got 18 points and 13 rebounds from Al Jefferson, who played through a left plantar fascia strain and shot 9 for 23 from the floor. Wild's Matt Cooke gets 7-game suspension from NHL (Yahoo Sports) - ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota Wild left wing Matt Cooke has been suspended for seven games by the NHL for a knee-to-knee hit that injured Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie. Blues C Backes scratched for Game 4 (Yahoo Sports) - St. Louis center David Backes was scratched Wednesday night for Game 4 of the Blues' first-round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks due to an upper-body injury. Backes did not participate in St. Louis' morning skate, but coach Ken Hitchcock did not rule him out for the game. The final word came when Backes was on the list of scratches on the pregame roster report. Forward Brenden Morrow also was scratched after Hitchcock said earlier in the day that he would miss the rest of the series. Yanks pitcher Pineda ejected for substance on neck (Yahoo Sports) - New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected from a game against the Boston Red Sox in the second inning Wednesday night after umpires found a foreign substance on his neck. Pineda's ejection occurred 13 days after the right-hander had brown goo on the lower part of the palm of his pitching hand during a 4-1 win over Boston at Yankee Stadium. But with two outs, no runners and a 1-2 count on Grady Sizemore on Wednesday, Farrell left the dugout to talk with plate umpire Gerry Davis, who went to the mound. Davis touched the right side of the pitcher's neck with his index finger then ejected Pineda as other umpires and Yankee infielders stood nearby. Seahawks to open NFL season vs. Packers (Yahoo Sports) - NEW YORK (AP) -- As Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks get to kick off the NFL's regular season by hosting the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 4. Ducks without captain Getzlaf, Selanne in Game 4 (Yahoo Sports) - DALLAS (AP) -- Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf is out of Game 4 against the Dallas Stars because of an upper-body injury. Padres' Josh Johnson to undergo 2nd elbow surgery (Yahoo Sports) - San Diego Padres starter Josh Johnson is scheduled to undergo elbow ligament-replacement surgery for the second time and will miss the entire season. He strained his elbow during spring training and the Padres initially thought he would be out about one month. He was examined after the lastest setback by Dr. James Andrews, who performed Tommy John surgery on Johnson in 2007. You know Josh Johnson has been banged up the last couple of years.

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Thanks to some help from Dale Junior, Robert Griffin III to drive pace car at Richmond [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 23, 2014, 10:11 am]
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had an idea for Richmond International Raceway's race on Saturday and the track decided to use it. In March, Junior suggested on Twitter that Robert Griffin III, the quarterback of his favorite team, the Washington Redskins, should be involved in the pre-race ceremonies for the race. After all, Washington D.C. isn't too far from Richmond, Va. And now Griffin is involved. The track announced Wednesday that Griffin would drive the pace car before Saturday night's race. When Junior pitched the idea, the president of Richmond, Dennis Bickmeier immediately responded with the pace car idea. But unlike some Twitter ideas that never get carried over to real life, this one did. It probably helped that Griffin immediately responded too. Love to have him involved with something at the race. We have options! Think he can wheel the pace car @DaleJr @RIRInsider @RGIII @NASCAR— Dennis Bickmeier (@RIRprez) March 24, 2014 I'm sure the fans here can persuade him to make the trip. @RIRprez @RGIII @FOXSports @RIRInsider @NASCAR— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) March 24, 2014 “@DaleJr: I'm sure the fans here can persuade him to make the trip. @RIRprez @RGIII @FOXSports @RIRInsider @NASCAR” I'm game brother — Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) March 24, 2014 And now, exactly a month later, it's a reality. After much obsession over the health of Griffin's surgically-repaired right knee throughout the 2013 season, this is one arena that no one has to worry about it in as Griffin is now more than 15 months removed from LCL and ACL surgery. In 2010, Denny Hamlin raced with a torn ACL and even had surgery during hte middle of season. 19 days after the surgery he won at Texas. Griffin's appearance at Richmond is also a counter-move to Jason Witten's presence at Texas earlier in April. Witten was scheduled to drive the pace car at Texas Motor Speedway. North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora also drove the pace car at Martinsville while Tennessee coach Butch Jones and Vir

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Texas car has found its final resting place in his car graveyard [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 22, 2014, 3:34 pm]
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car graveyard has a new inhabitant. Junior tweeted Tuesday that his charred Texas car would be joining the car graveyard on his property where it will sit forever in the woods. Ol Texas mud run fireball is at the farm ready for the crash cemetery. #junkcollector pic.twitter.com/T81OSamKER — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) April 22, 2014 We took a look at the graveyard in 2012 after we found out Juan Pablo Montoya's jet dryer car ended up there. Will Power's car from the massive Las Vegas crash that claimed the life of Dan Wheldon is there too. At Texas, Junior clipped the infield grass on the 13th lap of the race and lost control of his car. It caught on fire after he hit the outside wall. The fire was massive because of the amount of fuel Earnhardt Jr. still had left in his tank. We wonder if Junior has a ceremony for each time he lays a car to rest in the woods. We would if we had a car graveyard and would even add a customized eulogy for each car we put to rest. - - - - - - - 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

Power Rankings: We're ordering the first eight races of the year. What's the best? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 22, 2014, 11:39 am]
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. But since the Sprint Cup Series was off over Easter, we're going to change things up a little bit this week. Instead of ordering drivers, we're going to rank the first eight races of the Sprint Cup Series season. Let's get after it, shall we? 1. Daytona: Restrictor plate races are always going to have an edge in watchability simply because of the nature of them. And rain delays aside, it was an intense Daytona 500. The first laps after the racing resumed under the lights Saturday night was incredibly intense and unlike the 2013 Daytona 500, it didn't feel like drivers were unable to make a pass. Oh, and that guy Junior won the race, though any "Junior effect" hasn't culminated in a springboard effect for NASCAR popularity like some theorized. 2. Bristol: Another rain-delayed race? Yep. We're taking rain out of the equation in these rankings and focusing squarely on the racing. And when it comes to Bristol, we're also taking mistakes from the flagstand out of it too. (Side note: Does anyone else want NASCAR to use the F1 mistake as a marketing angle? "See, someone else did it!") Bristol, much like the race directly below it, had quality side-by-side racing, twists and turns involving multiple leaders of the race and tire strategy which gave Carl Edwards the win. It's not the racing that's keeping people away from Bristol Motor Speedway. It's something else. 3. California: Far and away the best intermediate track race of the season, the California race would have been fascinating if it wasn't for the tire failures that plagued many throughout the race. But the presence of those failures added an edge to the race. Who was next? Was it going to be Jimmie Johnson? (Yes.) Was Jeff Gordon going to win

Swan Racing, currently fielding cars for Whitt and Kligerman, looking at NASCAR future [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 17, 2014, 1:23 pm]
Swan Racing said Thursday that the team was "exploring every available option" after a tough start for the team's two cars in 2014. Parker Kligerman and Cole Whitt drive for Swan and have struggled this season. Whitt is 34th in the Sprint Cup Series points standings while Kligerman in 38th. "The team has been unable to secure the kind of sponsorship required to effectively operate the team," the statement said. "As a result, the team management is exploring every available option. We hope to be in position to provide a detailed update in the near future." Brandon Davis, owner of Swan Energy, bought the team in 2012 and after parting ways with David Stremme in 2013, started putting younger drivers in the seat of the No. 30 for the rest of the season. After Whitt and Kligerman both drove for Swan down the stretch, Davis expanded to two cars for 2014. It hasn't been an easy road. Kligerman has four DNFs this season and Whitt crashed out of the Daytona 500 as well. The team signed a sponsorship deal with 50 Cent's SMS Audio before the season, but it's for a limited number of races. Swan Energy has been listed as the primary sponsor on each car for four races this season, meaning the team has run without a primary sponsor half the time. Anthony Marlowe, a minority owner in the team, tweeted Thursday that he was going to do everything in his power to keep Whitt on track for the entire season. My mission is to ensure @ColeWhitt races in every #NASCAR Sprint Cup event this season.— Anthony Marlowe (@AnthonyMarlowe) April 17, 2014 - - - - - - - Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @NickBromberg

Martin Truex Jr. didn't anticipate the start to the season he's having [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 16, 2014, 2:32 pm]
Through eight races, Martin Truex Jr. is 28th in the points standings and has just two top-20 finishes. Did he ever envision the season could start the way it did? "I didn't, I'll be honest with you," Truex said Tuesday while participating in a tire test at Kansas Speedway. "We've been running – the car's been fast. Man, we've had everything you can imagine bad happen to us." Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch are also below 20th in the points standings, but the sting of their poor starts and bad luck have been eased by wins and likely Chase qualification. Truex doesn't have that luxury at the moment. At the season-opening Daytona 500, he lost an engine and finished 43rd. While restrictor plate engine failures are fluky, the following seven races have made Truex's look like a sign of what was to come with his new team before the season's first off week. "It's just been one of those seasons," Truex said. "The other night (at Darlington) we blew a tire for no reason at all and we were running good. A lot of crazy stuff has happened. At California we wrecked in practice because we blew a tire and we had a backup car that was really fast and in the race and I ran 23 laps and hit a piece of debris that absolutely destroyed the nose of the car. So it's like one of these days I'm waiting for a meteor to hit the car, come out of the sky and hit it. It's been one of those kinds of starts." While the meteor seems farfetched, if Truex's current rate of misfortune keeps up it may be possible. In addition to Daytona, California and Darlington, he crashed at Martinsville and Bristol. He joined Furniture Row for the 2014 season in the final weeks of 2013 after Truex lost his ride at Michael Waltrip Racing when longtime sponsor NAPA left the team. Truex was coming off what was a Chase berth until his team was penalized for the Richmond race manipulation scandal and Furniture Row was following up on its first Chase berth. It was a partnership that, while inevitable because of the lack o

Jeff Gordon's daughter strapped into a quarter-midget on Tuesday [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 16, 2014, 9:55 am]
Jeff Gordon said his daughter's start in racing was coming soon. Apparently soon meant Tuesday. Gordon tweeted a photo of his six-year-old daughter Ella in a quarter-midget race car for the first time. Ella driving a quarter midget for the first time today. The smile says it all. pic.twitter.com/T0ajPbFQTS — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) April 15, 2014 In an interview with Larry King before the race at Auto Club Speedway in March, Gordon said he wasn't sure how much his daughter would take to driving.  "I don't know how much she's really going to take to it because she doesn't seem to have that passion for racing, but we'll see, and I think she should definitely get the opportunity to get behind the wheel." Gordon said at the time.  Judging by the look on her face Tuesday, Ella Gordon might be hooked. Chase Elliott may have to watch his back soon, there could be an even younger hotshot offspring of a Sprint Cup champion making waves. - - - - - - - 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

Jeff Gordon's daughter strapped in to a quarter-midget on Tuesday [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 16, 2014, 9:55 am]
Jeff Gordon said his daughter's start in racing was coming soon. Apparently soon meant Tuesday. Gordon tweeted a photo of his six-year-old daughter Ella in a quarter-midget race car for the first time. Ella driving a quarter midget for the first time today. The smile says it all. pic.twitter.com/T0ajPbFQTS— Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) April 15, 2014 In an interview with Larry King before the race at Auto Club Speedway in March, Gordon said he wasn't sure how much his daughter would take to driving.  "I don't know how much she's really going to take to it because she doesn't seem to have that passion for racing, but we'll see, and I think she should definitely get the opportunity to get behind the wheel." Gordon said at the time.  Judging by the look on her face Tuesday, Ella Gordon might be hooked. Chase Elliott may have to watch his back soon, there could be an even younger hotshot offspring of a Sprint Cup champion making waves. - - - - - - - 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

Power Rankings: After his second win, Harvick is back in the fray but Gordon is still tops [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 15, 2014, 3:11 pm]
Our Power Rankings are far from a scientific formula. In fact, it's the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. And you think we dislike your favorite driver, so it makes sense, right? Direct all your complaints to us at happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com. No. 1 Jeff Gordon (LW: 1): Gordon gets to keep this spot by virtue of his seventh place finish Saturday night though it could have been better. Gordon was plagued with another case of the dreaded Gordon Restarts at Darlington. On the next-to-last restart, Gordon, who was fifth, slipped heading into turn one and the drivers behind him attempted to take advantage, leading to contact between Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch. No. 2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (LW: 5): If Junior had four tires he might have been able to hold off Kevin Harvick. But we're also not going to pretend it's a plausible scenario either. If Junior had four tires, he's probably not in front of Harvick to begin with. If Junior and crew chief Steve Letarte had been the only ones to take two tires, the strategy call would certainly be seen as a product of the new Chase by some. Thankfully, they weren't the only group to do it, and the discussion about the impact of the Chase format was nonexistent. No. 3 Jimmie Johnson (LW: 4): Even though Jimmie Johnson won the 2013 Daytona 500 for a second time in February, he's still somehow winless this season? Have we harped on the winless streak enough? Can we even call it a winning streak? Look, Johnson is going to get a win and he's going to get a win soon. It's not even close to time to panic. It just may not happen at Richmond, a track where Johnson has struggled at recently. No. 4 Matt Kenseth (LW: 6): Kenseth moves to fourth by finishing fourth. He's also on a 2014 winless streak too (oh no!) and it will be interesting to see which one of Johnson and Kenseth wins first. He was sixth and seventh at Richmond last year, so he may have the edge there. At Talladega and Kansas, it's a tossup. When one

So how many tweets did Bubba Wallace get for Bubba Watson's Masters win? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 14, 2014, 10:16 am]
People can be easily confused. Just look at the number of people who thought Jimmie Johnson won the rain-delayed 2014 Daytona 500 when Fox was showing the 2013 Daytona 500 to fill time in February. Did the confusion happen again on Sunday with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Bubba Wallace and Masters champion Bubba Watson? Watson won 2014's first golf major by three strokes Sunday, prompting this tweet by Wallace, NASCAR driver. Hell yeah I won the masters!!!!!!!....???? Wrong bubba peeps. Can't even break 100!— Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) April 13, 2014 Did a ton of people congratulate Wallace on the Masters? Well, based off a search of Wallace's mentions on Twitter, no. He got just one, and it looks to be a sarcastic congratulatory tweet. Could John have been confused and really thought it was Wallace at Augusta National Golf Club? Sure, it's possible. But with the usage of caps and the kudos to IndyCar driver Mike Conway winning at Long Beach, we're not going to bet on it. (And of course, the congratulatory tweets took off after Wallace's tweet.) It's also entirely possible that Wallace could have gotten some congratulatory texts and messages via another medium as well. But we're also guessing that's not likely. If people who would know him well enough to contact him another way were confused, surely that confusion would have spread to Twitter, right? We're not faulting Wallace for making the joke, we appreciate Daytona mixup references, and we're now wondering who the best golfer among NASCAR drivers is. But rest easy, this wasn't even close to the level of Twitter racing confusion we experienced eight weeks ago. - - - - - - - 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

Jimmie Johnson finished third at Darlington after an inauspicious beginning to the race [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 12, 2014, 10:09 pm]
Jimmie Johnson's car was just flat out not good in the early stages of Saturday night's race at Darlington. And yet he still finished third. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus were briefly befuddled with the handling of the No. 48. Johnson didn't qualify well on Friday, but instead of deliberately carving his way through the field from the drop of the green flag, he was as stagnant as two-month-old pond water. At one point while the sun was still up he was racing Josh Wise and Parker Kligerman for 28th spot. No offense to either Wise or Kligerman, but it doesn't happen to often that the six-time champion is racing them for position. But after some adjustments, Johnson was quickly on his way to the front. He broke into the top 10, and then the top five, and was then second to eventual race-winner Kevin Harvick as the laps counted down. When the caution flag came out with 10 laps to go, Knaus and Johnson decided to go for track position and beat Harvick, who was taking four tires, out of the pits. It almost worked. Johnson had the lead when the green flag waved, but wasn't able to hold on to it. "I thought we had a shot at a win," Johnson said after the race. "I think if things stayed green after our last pit stop, we had a good chance at it, good shot at it. I'm happy with Chad's decision to go with two, and there were enough cars that took two that it gave us a little bit of a cushion, maybe enough of a cushion to make it four or five laps there." "(It was a) solid performance, granted we struggled in qualifying.  We struggled the first run or two of the race, but we got the car turning for me and came to life and really did it the old‑fashioned way and kind of drove up through the field before the last pit stop, so proud of the hard work." Had the race stayed green after the restart with five laps to go, Johnson would have likely been in victory lane. But two caution flags came after it, giving Harvick the opportunity to capitalize with his fresher tires. As the

Kevin Harvick dominates and takes lead at white flag for win at Darlington [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 12, 2014, 9:12 pm]
For a few brief moments Saturday night, pit strategy looked like it was going to swipe a win from Kevin Harvick. But after his Stewart-Haas teammate Kurt Busch crashed on the backstretch to set up a second green-white-checker finish, Harvick had just one car to pass for the win. And he got it done, blowing past Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the white flag waved to win at Darlington. Harvick had the race's strongest car by far, leading 239 of the race's 374 laps after starting on the pole. He was out front with 10 laps to go when Joey Logano's smoking car caused a caution. The field headed to pit road and Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers took four tires. However, four cars ahead of them took two tires. When the race went green with five laps to go, Harvick was pinned to the inside and the four cars ahead of him pulled ahead.. Time was running out, but a caution flag flew with three laps to go saved him. When it came out, Harvick was fourth, meaning he was on the second row for the ensuing restart, a row ahead of where he was previously. Then, a half-lap after that restart, Busch crashed on the backstretch after a bump from Clint Bowyer. When Busch smacked the wall, Harvick was in second. With no cars in front of him and Junior on two fresh tires to his inside, Harvick just needed to pick a spot to make a pass when the race went green again. "I needed those green-white-checkers," Harvick said. "The last one is the one I probably needed the most just for the fact that I was able to get really good restarts and able to time the restarts really well. And those guys had older tires and were spinning the tires." He made the pass in turns three and four, accelerating around Junior on the high side. "He had the best car and the best tires," Junior said. "I wasn't looking in the mirror, I couldn't tell where anyone was, but (spotter T.J. Majors) said he was coming and so I maybe should have run the top there in three and four and made him run the bottom to come around ... but w

Kevin Harvick wins pole for Southern 500 at Darlington [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 11, 2014, 5:19 pm]
Kevin Harvick is starting one spot better than he did at Texas. A week after starting second, Harvick has the pole for Saturday night's Southern 500 at Darlington. He starts alongside Joey Logano, who once again continued Team Penske's good run of qualifying. Logano led a Ford brigade in the top five too. The first five starters are rounded out by Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski. Defending Darlington winner Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson didn't make it out of the first round of qualifying and into the top-24. After starting second last week, Harvick had an engine expire in the early stages of Monday's race and finished 42nd. He's 26th in the standings despite a win at Phoenix thanks to a myriad of issues.   - - - - - - - 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

Gene Haas has officially received his Formula 1 license [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 11, 2014, 12:14 pm]
Just like Bernie Ecclestone said at Bahrain, Gene Haas is able to go Formula 1 racing. Haas confirmed that he had received his team license to be on the F1 grid in 2015. Haas is a co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing with Tony Stewart. "Obviously, we're extremely pleased to have been granted a Formula One license by the FIA," He said in a statement. "It's an exciting time for me, Haas Automation and anyone who wanted to see an American team return to Formula One. Now, the really hard work begins. It's a challenge we embrace as we work to put cars on the grid. I want to thank the FIA for this opportunity and the diligence everyone put forth to see our license application come to fruition." The statement nails it. Now that the team has the license, it's just the beginning. You're allowed to have some skepticism after the failings of USF1 to get to the Formula 1 grid in 2010. There was a lot of optimism surrounding the team's launch and possibility, but the optimism never materialized into reality. With Haas's track record in NASCAR, there's a greater chance of success. But remember, this is F1. The big-talking Ecclestone, the boss of F1, said Haas may need $1 billion over four years of racing. Whether it's Bernie being Bernie or a realistic number, we'll find out if Haas gets on the grid. But the mere mention of dollar amounts that large is proof this is no small undertaking. - - - - - - - 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

Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon pancaked the wall during practice at Darlington [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 11, 2014, 11:56 am]
Kyle Larson went to a backup car after bashing into the wall off of turn two during Friday's first practice session at Darlington. Austin Dillon did the same thing, but he didn't hit the wall as hard. While the right side of his car was pancaked, it wasn't to the extent of Larson's. Don't let the title of the video fool you. These were not Darlington stripes. These were almost accidents. After Larson hit the wall, NASCAR even threw a caution to check the track for debris. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman hit the wall too, but not as severely as the other two drivers. Theirs were probably the closest to a Darlington stripe, a sight we'll see a lot on Saturday night. - - - - - - - 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

Matt Kenseth says he's (sort of) watching the points standings [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 10, 2014, 4:20 pm]
Matt Kenseth is winless. Through seven Sprint Cup Series races, it's hardly a shocking statement. Jimmie Johnson is winless too. So is Tony Stewart. And Jeff Gordon. Kasey Kahne, too. But with seven different winners in the first seven Sprint Cup Series races, it may be jarring to some to see Kenseth's name not on the list after he won seven races last year. However, when you look through the list of seven winners, there aren't any surprises. It's not like someone has jumped up and snagged an unexpected win or two unless you thought Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in the midst of another four-year winless streak. Kenseth isn't surprised either. “I can’t say I’m totally shocked, I think whenever you throw a pretty big rules change at everybody some people are going to pick up on it sooner than others," he said Thursday. "I think it always spreads the field out a little bit because some guys are going to hit it and some guys are going to miss it and I think that always creates passing and mixes the field up and makes the racing more interesting in my mind. I think that everybody every week is probably gaining on it and the field is going to get closer together as we keep rolling through the year here.  It’s been interesting because there’s been a lot of different winners and been some guys that have won a lot that haven’t won yet.” He won last year's race at Darlington after taking the lead after a late restart. It was his third win of the year, though Darlington was the 11th race of the season in 2013 and not the eighth. Even as he's winless this season, he's higher in the points standings now than he was at this point a year ago. However, Kenseth said he isn't staring at the standings. It's more of a quick look. "I don’t know about close attention, you always kind of know where you’re at once the week is over you maybe glance at the standings," Kenseth said. "They always park in order of points so when you show up parked the next week you kind of know wher

Happy Hour: SAFER (again), Harvick and some ridiculousness [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 10, 2014, 11:49 am]
Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com or @NickBromberg.We'll post them here, have a good time and everyone's happy. It's Darlington week! I love the track's uniqueness, even as races can tend to go on and on for four hours. It's an endurance race, not a sprint, and it's fun to see cars with torn up right sides at the end of the night. I realize it's a short week with a Monday race going into a Saturday race, but it feels even shorter than that. It was nice of NASCAR to make sure we could all watch the final round of the Masters and the Long Beach Grand Prix uninterrupted. OK, so maybe I'll be one of the few people watching both races Sunday afternoon, but I'm looking forward to IndyCar and the Cup Series not running at the same time this week. Let's get to it. When you think about the amount of money that had to be spent to install SAFER barriers at every track on the Cup schedule between 2002 and 2005. It makes "cost" being used a reason for sections, like the 100ft+/- area Dale Junior impacted Monday, still existing inexcusable. - Darrell Inexcusable is about the only way to put it. I'm baffled why this still hasn't been taken care of from NASCAR's side. Tracks aren't going to spend money for things that aren't mandated. But we're now to the point where someone needs to make a public stand and say his or her track will have every exposed wall (save for pit road) covered by SAFER barrier. It'd be a great announcement of common sense. Junior's accident is also magnified by the money that Texas Motor Speedway poured into the Big Hoss TV. Are we still talking about this if he crashed into that same uncovered section at Charlotte? Definitely. But when you have tangible proof that a track has the money to spend on a luxury like a a TV, you know SAFER everywhere is possible. And guess what? SAFER barrier isn't a luxury at this point. Come on NASCAR, you can do yourself a

Power Rankings: Where does Joey Logano fit in? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 8, 2014, 3:14 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. Jeff Gordon (LW: 4): We'll start by saying that Gordon assumes the top spot this week by process of elimination. There's really no one else who you could put here, sans for Joey Logano, and he's already made a nice enough leap. But we're also not going to let the "last man standing" idea diminish the race that Gordon had Monday. His car was fast the entire weekend, he just wasn't race-winning fast, though he did his best to fight off Logano for the lead as the white flag flew. If more people would have gone for two tires, Gordon might have been in victory lane. 2. Joey Logano (LW: 9): Logano assumed the lead of Monday's race on lap 225 and just drove away from the field. If Gordon or someone else would have taken the checkered flag after the green-white-checker finish was set up by Kurt Busch's tire incident, it would have deprived Logano of a win he looked all but certain to get. Which seems pretty similar to Gordon at California, no? And as you see endlessly this week that seven different drivers have won the first seven races, ask yourself something: did you expect any of the seven winners to not win this year? 3. Carl Edwards (LW: 2): Did you know that Edwards went a lap down twice over the last half of the race? After starting fifth, Edwards' car tailed off considerably and he got the Lucky Dog over the final two caution flags. That allowed him to finish 14th and ahead of four other drivers on the lead lap. The bizarre Roush issue of one driver and one driver only succeeding continued as well too. Greg Biffle was strong and ran in the top 10 all day while Edwards faltered and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was an absolute nonfactor. 4. Jimmie Johnson (LW: 3): Johnson gets to drop just one spot here

Another race, another DNF for Kevin Harvick after he loses an engine at Texas [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 7, 2014, 3:27 pm]
FORT WORTH, Texas – It's been the ultimate boom-or-bust season for Kevin Harvick. Or to use another cliche, we can call it a roller-coaster season. Either way, there's been a peak and a lot of valleys. He was fast again on Monday in the Duck Commander 500. Fast for the laps he was on track, anyway. After qualifying second, Harvick was running right with race leader and teammate Tony Stewart when the engine on his No. 4 car expired. The day was over and Harvick had completed 28 of the race's 334 laps. "Something happened with the engine," Harvick said. "The Jimmy John's Chevrolet was really fast. It’s frustrating. I don’t know what else I can say." Harvick ended up 42nd. Crew chief Rodney Childers' initial diagnosis was an oil pump that got knocked loose. Looks like something knocked the oil pump belt off it and then blew up about a 1/2lap later. Craziest crap ever… — Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) April 7, 2014 Harvick won the second race of the season at Phoenix and finished seventh last week at Martinsville. But after the engine failure at Texas, he's either had a crash or an equipment malfunction in the other five races. He's currently 26th in the points standings. Harvick is in a similar situation to teammate Kurt Busch, who is 25th in the standings. Busch had tire issues at Texas on Sunday and was the cause of three different caution flags because of them. Because of the new win-and-you're-essentially-in points format for the Chase, Harvick and Busch don't need to panic at all. Remember, drivers with a win are eligible if they're in the top 30 in points. The two have had a myriad of issues throughout the first seven races and Harvick is still 31 points ahead of 31st place. If things are as far south as Chile right now, it'd have to be downright Antarctican for either of them to miss the Chase in the very likely in the very-likely case that 16 or less drivers win a race. It's simply implausible. The simple fact of qualification doesn't make everyt

Joey Logano regains lead on a green-white-checker finish to win at Texas [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 7, 2014, 2:34 pm]
FORT WORTH, Texas – Joey Logano was headed to the win of Monday's rain-delayed Duck Commander 500. Or so he thought, anyway. He had a lead of over one second through turn four on the penultimate lap. The white flag was in his sights. And then the yellow flag was. It was time for a green-white-checker finish. After Logano took four tires when the field headed towards the pits, he left in third place, behind Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers. The win was suddenly not looking so assured. It was when he passed Gordon. After getting by Vickers on what was officially the next-to-last lap of the race, Logano made his move for the win at the white flag and pulled away from Gordon to take the checkered flag. He just needed to drive another six laps for that victory. "Talk about a lot of emotions, you feel like you're about to win the race and then the caution comes out when you're about to take the white and you're like 'You've got to be kidding me,'" Logano said. The caution was for Kurt Busch, who had a flat tire in turn two. Busch avoided the wall there, but then his left-rear tire shredded apart as he headed towards the pits in turns three and four and spewed foam and tire pieces all over the track. Had Gordon's two-tire strategy call been successful and he held on to the lead, it would have been quite the turnabout from California. Two weeks ago, Gordon was leading there and heading to the white flag when Clint Bowyer spun. Gordon took four tires on pit road and never got close to the lead again. But unlike California, only Gordon and Vickers took two tires. Logano, who easily had the best car over the race's final third, only had to contend with a single row of cars ahead of him. He took the lead for the first time on a lap 225 restart and save for two rounds of green-flag pit stops, never relinquished it until the final caution flag. After a bizarre first 40 laps, the race, which was postponed from Sunday afternoon, had a much calmer bent. The first 10 laps were under c

Dale Earnhardt Jr. crashes and his car catches on fire on lap 13 of Duck Commander 500 [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 7, 2014, 11:12 am]
FORT WORTH, Texas – The Duck Commander 500 was green for less than three laps before Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in the wall and his car was on fire. Junior looked to the inside of Aric Almirola along the frontstretch of Texas Motor Speedway and got his left front tire into the infield grass. The move to the grass jarred Earnhardt's car and ripped up the front end of it, shooting him into the outside wall, where his car subsequently caught fire after impact. After he was released from the infield care center, Junior said he simply made a mistake and didn't see the infield grass. Because of the angle of the posts on the right-front of the car, driver and NBC analyst Jeff Burton said it could be hard to see the infield. His car also hit the wall in a section of outside barrier at Texas that's not covered by SAFER barrier to help absorb impact. The SAFER barrier along the frontstretch ended past the point of Junior's impact, while the turn one section hadn't started yet. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it needs to be repeated; SAFER barriers should be mandatory on every outside and inside wall where possible. The monstrous impact contributed to the fire, which was enhanced because of a full fuel load. While Junior's crash came on lap 13, it was only the third lap of green flag competition. After the track was damp because of rains on Sunday, Monday's rain-delayed race started with the first 10 laps under caution to ensure the track was dry. If Junior's team can't fix the damage to his car, it'll be the first time he hasn't finished a race this season. Including his win in the season-opening Daytona 500, he has four top 10s through first six races - - - - - - - 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





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