From The Marbles

  • Custer comes in for the form tackle (FS1).
    Custer comes in for the form tackle (FS1).

    While Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman each got points penalties for their cars failing post-race inspection after the Sprint Cup Series’ Southern 500 on Sunday night, two Truck Series drivers who tangled during that afternoon’s race weren’t officially sanctioned by NASCAR.

    Cole Custer and John Hunter Nemechek made contact while racing for the win on the last lap at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. After bumping Custer, Nemechek drove him off the track and the two careened off the wall and through the grass towards the finish line.

    Nemechek was declared the winner because his truck crossed the finish line first. As he was waiting for the checkered flag as NASCAR was reviewing the race results, Custer sprinted at Nemechek and tackled him.

    Read More »from Truck Series drivers Custer and Nemechek not penalized for on and off-track contact
  • Ryan Newman is probably not smiling after his penalty (Getty).
    Ryan Newman is probably not smiling after his penalty (Getty).

    Ryan Newman’s path to the 2016 Chase is much more difficult than it was immediately after Sunday night’s race at Darlington.

    Newman’s car failed post-race laser inspection following his ninth-place finish. NASCAR said Wednesday that Newman and his team would be docked 15 points for the infraction. Newman left Darlington provisionally trailing Jamie McMurray by seven points for the final spot in the Chase via points. That deficit to McMurray is now 22 points after the penalty before the Chase field is set after Saturday night’s race at Richmond.

    Remember, each position is worth a point under NASCAR’s point system. Drivers get a three-point bonus for winning a race, a point for leading a lap and another point for leading the most laps in a given race.

    Thirteen drivers have won races in 2016, leaving three spots in the Chase open on points at Richmond provided a driver already with a win takes the checkered flag Saturday night.

    Read More »from Ryan Newman's deficit to Jamie McMurray now 22 points after penalty
  • Kevin Harvick still leads the pack (Getty).
    Kevin Harvick still leads the pack (Getty).

    Welcome to Power Rankings. As always, Power Rankings are far from a scientific formula. In fact, it’s the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. Direct all your complaints to us at happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com and we’ll try to have some fun.

    1. Kevin Harvick (LW: 1): Harvick dominated Sunday’s race and was understandably unhappy with the way the team struggled on pit road. The lost track position from those struggles cost Harvick the win, as he couldn’t chase down Martin Truex Jr. at the end of the race.

    Should Harvick have called out his pit crew the way he did? Well, better now than in a Chase elimination race when a poor pit crew performance can smash a driver’s championship hopes. Verbal lashings don’t have much practical application themselves, but they can certainly help spur improvement. Harvick was certainly looking for that improvement before the Chase begins in less than two weeks.

    Martin Truex Jr. celebrates at Darlington (Getty).
    Martin Truex Jr. celebrates
    Read More »from Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick loses the race but keeps the top spot here
  • McMurray leads Newman, both here at Phoenix and in the points standings (Getty).
    McMurray leads Newman, both here at Phoenix and in the points standings (Getty).

    Be prepared to watch a lot of comparisons between Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman at Richmond on Saturday night.

    With one race to go before the 2016 Chase starts, McMurray currently occupies the last spot in the Chase field via points. Newman is the first driver out of the Chase and seven points behind McMurray. 13 drivers have wins, so the top three drivers from this table will make it to the Chase assuming a winless driver doesn’t go to victory lane at Richmond.

    [Related: Martin Truex Jr. wins Southern 500]

    10. Chase Elliott, 659 points
    12. Austin Dillon, 651
    13. Jamie McMurray, 642
    14. Ryan Newman, 635
    16. Kasey Kahne, 598

    (No. 11 Jimmie Johnson and No. 15 Kyle Larson both have wins)

    Those point tallies may change before Richmond, however. Both Newman and Larson failed post-race laser inspection Sunday night. We’ve seen points penalties anywhere from 10 (Brad Keselowski after Michigan) to 15 (Matt Kenseth

    Read More »from Chase Watch: Barring Richmond craziness, it's down to McMurray vs. Newman
  • Tony Stewart had a run-in with Brian Scott (Getty Images).
    Tony Stewart had a run-in with Brian Scott (Getty Images).

    Throughout 2016 we may have way too many quick thoughts for our post-race posts. So consider our Takeaways feature to be the home of our random and sometimes intelligent musings. Sometimes the post may have a theme. Sometimes it may just be a mess of unrelated thoughts. Make sure you tweet us your thoughts after the race or email your post-race rants via the link in the signature line below.

    • Is there a challenger to John Hunter Nemechek’s slam of Cole Custer for most egregious wreck of the week in NASCAR?

    If you missed Nemechek’s “pass” of Custer for the win in Sunday’s Truck Series race at MoSport, here it is. Nemechek contended after the race that he didn’t wreck Custer and that “Rubbing is racing.”

    Let’s flash to Sunday night’s Southern 500 at Darlington. Tony Stewart, who had a borderline top-10

    Read More »from Quick takeaways from Darlington: Who was more blatant, Nemechek or Stewart?
  • Martin Truex Jr. led 28 laps Sunday night at Darlington (Getty Images).
    Martin Truex Jr. led 28 laps Sunday night at Darlington (Getty Images).

    Kevin Harvick and his scraped up car was no match for Martin Truex Jr. over the course of the final 20 laps at Darlington.

    Truex got past Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski on the race’s next-to-last restart and sprinted away to the lead. A caution with 18 laps to go bunched the field up one last time, but Harvick couldn’t do anything with Truex over the course of the final 12 laps of the Southern 500.

    There’s no debating that Harvick had the best car over the entire race. He led 214 of the race’s 367 laps. But there’s also no exaggerating that Harvick lost nearly 20 spots on pit road over the course of the race.

    [Related: Quick Takeaways from Darlington]

    The team’s slow pit stops, especially in the last 250 miles, put Harvick at a track position disadvantage. After one slow pit stop, Harvick’s team exchanged air guns with Danica Patrick’s team in an attempt to ensure no further problems would occur.

    “Same old thing.

    Read More »from Martin Truex Jr. wins Southern 500 at Darlington
  • Custer comes in for the form tackle (FS1).
    Custer comes in for the form tackle (FS1).

    John Hunter Nemechek ran Cole Custer off the track for the win in Sunday’s Camping World Truck Series race and Custer responded by tackling Nemechek after the drivers had exited their trucks.

    Nemechek was running second to Custer on the final lap at Candian Tire Motorsports Park and got to his bumper on the final two corners. He nudged Custer at first, but the slight contact wasn’t enough to derail the No. 00 truck enough to give Nemechek a passing opportunity. So Nemechek increased the intensity and flat ran Custer off the road.

    The finish was in question for a few minutes, apparently because the trucks weren’t picked up by the electronic timing lines on the track since they were in the grass. As Nemechek was asking for the checkered flag to celebrate the win, Custer ran after him from pit road and tackled him in

    Read More »from Cole Custer tackles John Hunter Nemechek after getting run off track for the win
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. is planning to return in 2017 (Getty Images).
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. is planning to return in 2017 (Getty Images).

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. was optimistic about his concussion recovery Sunday but conceded that he had no business being in a race car in the near future.

    I think as we continued to go get evaluated we realized that it is going to be a bit more of a process … but I think it’s the right decision considering how I feel personally and physically,” Junior said. “I definitely don’t belong in a race car today by any stretch of the imagination. You don’t know how long this process is going to take and we want to be healthy and able to compete at some point, but also we don’t want to take any risks and re-injury ourselves or put ourselves in a situation where we can basically erase all the hard work that we have done to get better.”

    Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday that Junior would miss the rest of the 2016 season as he recovers from a concussion suffered in a crash earlier this year. The concussion is at least the fourth Junior

    Read More »from Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he 'definitely' doesn't currently belong in a race car
  • DARLINGTON, SC - SEPTEMBER 06: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Mello Yello Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 6, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
    DARLINGTON, SC – SEPTEMBER 06: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Mello Yello Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 6, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

    It’s time for Happy Hour. As always, tweet us your thoughts or shoot us an email at happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com if you want to participate.

    Just a bit delayed this week, but with a good reason. Hurricane Hermine washed out all practice on Friday, so instead of talking about what’s happening on the track, we simply have Happy Hour on the Friday before a three-day weekend.

    It’s impossible to avoid, so you likely know that Darlington is NASCAR’s throwback weekend once again. It’s going to take a bit of adjustment to figure out everyone’s paint schemes for the weekend as most of the field is running a tribute to a team from back in the day.

    Which leads us to ask … which one of the tribute paint schemes is your

    Read More »from Happy Hour: Picking your best throwback schemes for Darlington
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. has missed seven races (Getty).
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. has missed seven races (Getty).

    Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2016 season is over.

    Hendrick Motorsports said Friday that Earnhardt Jr. would miss the rest of the season as he recovers from a concussion doctors believe he sustained at Michigan in June. Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman will fill in for Junior for the remainder of the year.

    “I wish I could return to the No. 88 team this season,” Earnhardt Jr. said in a team statement. “To say I’m disappointed doesn’t begin to describe how I feel, but I know this is the right thing for my long-term health and career. I’m 100 percent focused on my recovery, and I will continue to follow everything the doctors tell me. They’re seeing good progress in my test results, and I’m feeling that progress physically. I plan to be healthy and ready to compete at Daytona in February. I’m working toward that.

    “The support from both inside and outside the race team has been overwhelming. Everyone has been so encouraging and positive, from my

    Read More »from Dale Earnhardt Jr. out for rest of season because of concussion
  • Kevin Harvick has won four poles this year thanks to rain (Getty Images).
    Kevin Harvick has won four poles this year thanks to rain (Getty Images).

    Kevin Harvick is once again the beneficiary of a rained-out qualifying session.

    Since NASCAR decided to axe everything at Darlington Raceway on Friday because of Hurricane Hermine, Saturday’s qualifying session for Sunday night’s Southern 500 was canceled to give teams practice time to prepare for the race.

    It’s Harvick’s fourth rainout pole of the season. He “won” it earlier in the year at Richmond and also started first at Dover and Kentucky because of rain. Cup practice is now scheduled from 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. local time Saturday.

    Here’s how the entire field will line up on Sunday.

    1. Kevin Harvick
    2. Brad Keselowski
    3. Carl Edwards
    4. Kurt Busch
    5. Joey Logano
    6. Kyle Busch
    7. Denny Hamlin
    8. Matt Kenneth
    9. Jimmie Johnson
    10. Matt Kenneth
    11. Chase Elliott
    12. Austin Dillon
    13. Jamie McMurray
    14. Ryan Newman
    15. Jeff Gordon
    16. Kyle Larson
    17. Tony Stewart
    18. Kasey Kahne
    19. Trevor Bayne
    20. Ryan Blaney

    Read More »from Southern 500 qualifying canceled; Kevin Harvick will start first
  • (Getty Images)
    (Getty Images)

    In advance of approaching Hurricane Hermine, NASCAR has canceled Friday’s practice sessions at Darlington Raceway.

    The weather forecast for Sunday night’s Sprint Cup Series Southern 500 looks good, but the track of the storm, which is making landfall on the northern side of Florida’s gulf coast is headed straight through South Carolina on Friday. With the forecast so dire and so much rain expected, NASCAR went ahead and called off Friday’s events before potentially wasting an entire day waiting out the rain.

    Qualifying for the Southern 500 as well as the Xfinity race are scheduled for Saturday. The rain is expected to move out of the area Friday night into Saturday morning, so the majority of the race weekend should not be affected. Hermine was upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane Thursday afternoon.

    NASCAR will release an updated schedule of practices and qualifying for both the Sprint Cup Series and Xfinity Series at a later time.

    – – – – – – –

    Nick Bromberg is

    Read More »from NASCAR cancels Friday racing events at Darlington due to hurricane
  • Brad Keselowski is 10 points lighter (Getty Images).
    Brad Keselowski is 10 points lighter (Getty Images).

    Brad Keselowski and his team lost 10 points on Wednesday after the car’s laser inspection failure following Sunday’s race at Michigan.

    Keselowski has four wins, tied for most in the series with Kyle Busch, and the Chase begins in three races. Given Keselowski is already in the Chase, the point penalty doesn’t harm his standing or his chances for the championship in the slightest. If you care about how it affects Keselowski for the next two races, he’s still in second in the standings and now 35 points back of points leader Kevin Harvick.

    While the points penalty is meaningless, the $10,000 fine given to crew chief Paul Wolfe is in real money.

    The penalty was considered a P2 penalty, a level lower than the post-race penalty given to Matt Kenseth after the July New Hampshire race for his car’s laser inspection failure. Kenseth won that race and got to keep the three Chase bonus points for the win. He was instead penalized 15 points,

    Read More »from Brad Keselowski gets 10-point penalty for Michigan inspection failure
  • RPM's cars are 25th and 33rd in the points standings (Getty).
    RPM’s cars are 25th and 33rd in the points standings (Getty).

    Richard Petty Motorsports is changing personnel in the hopes of a performance boost.

    The team, which has struggled mightily in 2016, said Wednesday morning that competition director Sammy Johns would be replaced on a temporary basis by Philippe Lopez and Scott McDougall.

    “The past several years, we have made significant investments in our organization with the goal of winning races and to compete at a high level on a weekly basis,” RPM CEO Brian Moffitt said in a statement. “We now have direction over our own chassis and bodies and work closely with Ford Performance on technology and engineering. With these investments, unfortunately, we have not seen the on-track results that we expected this season.

    “As we look ahead to 2017, we are taking steps forward to improve our on-track product to better serve our partners and fans. This means analyzing every part of our organization and making adjustments where needed. Sammy Johns

    Read More »from Richard Petty Motorsports replaces competition director
  • (Getty Images)
    (Getty Images)

    Welcome to Power Rankings. As always, Power Rankings are far from a scientific formula. In fact, it’s the perfect blend of analytics and bias against your favorite driver. Direct all your complaints to us at happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com and we’ll try to have some fun.

    1. Kevin Harvick (LW: 1): What, did you think we were going to put Kyle Larson at No. 1 this week? Harvick finished fifth and when you look at the laps-led chart, it was staggeringly even. Harvick led 33 laps, the third most of any driver. Six drivers led 14 or more laps while two other drivers led multiple laps. Sure, Sunday’s race didn’t feature a bunch of two and three-wide racing, but parity up front likely has NASCAR officials smiling.

    2. Brad Keselowski (LW: 4): Keselowski led 14 laps and finished third. 13 of those laps led came during a green-flag run between laps 30 and 119. Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe like playing a different fuel strategy than everyone else, and that was a good idea on

    Read More »from Power Rankings: Harvick holds serve, Larson jumps into the top 12
  • Betty Jane France (L) with children Lesa France Kennedy and Brian France in 2013 (Getty).
    Betty Jane France (R) with children Lesa France Kennedy and Brian France in 2013 (Getty).

    Betty Jane France, the mother of NASCAR CEO Brian France and International Speedway Corp. CEO Lesa France Kennedy, died on Monday according to the sanctioning body. She was 78.

    France was married to Bill France Jr., who succeeded his father as the chairman of NASCAR. Bill France Jr. died in 2007. She was considered by many to be “The First Lady of NASCAR” and NASCAR’s humanitarian award, given annually to a deserving recipient who does exceptional charity work, is named in her honor.

    “Last night, the NASCAR family lost a mother, a grandmother, a friend and the light that guided the sport’s charitable arm,” Brian France said in a statement. “My mother taught us incredible values, that of love, patience, compassion and joy. She embraced life every day, and nothing fueled her passion more than children. Her unmatched efforts in building The NASCAR Foundation improved the lives of millions of children

    Read More »from Betty Jane France, mother of NASCAR CEO, dies
  • Tony Stewart. (AP)
    Tony Stewart. (AP)

    If you’ve been anywhere near a television over the last three days, you’ve seen the story of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the National Anthem prior to a Friday night preseason game.

    “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

    As anyone with a pulse, including Kaepernick himself, could have anticipated from three miles away, the move drew strident outrage from some, grudging acknowledgement of Kaepernick’s rights from others. Kaepernick unleashed an armada of high horses for anyone and everyone to saddle up, and everyone from football coaches to your Facebook friends to, now, NASCAR drivers is taking full advantage.

    Shortly after Kaepernick’s story

    Read More »from Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski respond to Kaepernick story
  • (Getty Images)
    (Getty Images)

    Throughout 2016 we may have way too many quick thoughts for our post-race posts. So consider our Takeaways feature to be the home of our random and sometimes intelligent musings. Sometimes the post may have a theme. Sometimes it may just be a mess of unrelated thoughts. Make sure you tweet us your thoughts after the race or email your post-race rants via the link in the signature line below.

    • Brad Keselowski finished third in Sunday’s race at Michigan. Afterwards, his car failed the laser inspection station during NASCAR’s post-race inspection.

    Based on precedent, don’t expect the penalty to be meaningful in any way. Matt Kenseth’s car failed post-race laser inspection after he won at New Hampshire in July and received a 15-point penalty. Keselowski will likely receive a similar penalty.

    Keselowski is already locked into the Chase by virtue of being a four-time winner in the Cup Series. If the Chase started this week he’d be tied for the top seed with Kyle Busch. Just

    Read More »from Quick takeaways from Michigan: Keselowski's penalty is likely pointless
  • Ryan Newman is now outside of the Chase with two races to go (Getty Imags).
    Ryan Newman is now outside of the Chase with two races to go before it begins (Getty Imags).

    The fight for the final few Chase spots looks a whole hell of a lot different after Kyle Larson’s victory Sunday at Michigan than it did entering the race.

    Larson, who was outside of the Chase via points standings before the race began, became the 13th Sprint Cup winner in 2016. Drivers who win a race in the first 26 races of the season (and are in the top 30 in points) are automatically guaranteed a berth in the 16-driver playoff that starts in three weeks at Chicago.

    [Related: Larson gets first Cup Series win]

    Since we’re confident you can subtract properly, we don’t need to tell you that the win now means there are just three Chase spots currently available to drivers who haven’t won a race this season.

    Sunday’s biggest loser was Ryan Newman. Had Larson finished, say, 10th, Newman would still be provisionally in the Chase. Now, he’s the first driver on the outside looking in and is 15 points

    Read More »from Bubble Watch: Larson's win changes complexion of race for final Chase spots
  • Kyle Larson got his first points win on Sunday (Getty).
    Kyle Larson got his first points win on Sunday (Getty).

    Kyle Larson sprinted away from Chase Elliott on the race’s final restart to grab the first Sprint Cup Series win of his career at Michigan on Sunday.

    Elliott was the leader on that restart, which came with nine to go. Larson restarted second and both drivers spun their tires severely as they tried to accelerate towards turn 1. Larson found traction first and got ahead of Elliott, who couldn’t close the gap over the race’s final few laps.

    “[Brad Keselowski], he pushed me pretty good,” Larson said of the driver who ended up third behind Elliott. “He probably could have pulled underneath me and he stayed with me and got me the lead.”

    With the win, Larson jumps into the Chase for the first time. Through his first two full seasons in the Cup Series, the touted 24-year-old had finished 17th and 19th in the Cup standings.

    He dedicated the win to Bryan Clauson, a friend and former Chip Ganassi Racing Xfinity Series driver, who died from

    Read More »from Kyle Larson gets first Sprint Cup win at Michigan