From The Marbles

  • 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
  • Joey Logano led 138 laps in winning at Michigan in June (Getty Images)
    Joey Logano led 138 laps in winning at Michigan in June (Getty Images)

    Can Joey Logano win from the pole again at Michigan?

    Logano got his second pole of the season Friday during qualifying for Sunday’s race at Michigan. He started first at the track in June and won the race, leading 138 of the race’s 200 laps.

    “I was surprised after the first couple of rounds when we weren’t as fast as the last time we were here,” Logano said about Friday’s three-round qualifying session. “We were eighth going into the final round but great adjustments to find a little bit more speed out of this thing. I was down there waiting and [crew chief Todd Gordon] said, ‘Take it’ So I said, ‘Yeah, I am going to take it.’ So I got pumped up and I had the attitude that we were going to grab it or we were going to crash. It worked out well.”

    Sunday’s race at Michigan will use the same lower-downforce rules tweaks that the Cup Series experimented with at the track in June. The reductions in downforce are expected

    Read More »from Joey Logano sweeps top starting spots at Michigan
  • Kahne is currently 18th in the points standings (Getty Images).
    Kahne is currently 18th in the points standings (Getty Images).

    Kasey Kahne was blunt when talking about his struggles on Wednesday.

    Kahne’s contract with Hendrick Motorsports runs through 2018 and said that if he’s not competitive by the end of his deal, then it’s time to move on.

    “If I haven’t performed by 2018, I need to leave,” Kahne said via USA Today Sports. “It’s pretty simple. So that will have nothing to do with William Byron or anyone else. If I haven’t performed by then, it’s time to go do something different.”

    Byron, who has won five races in the Camping World Truck Series this season, signed a contract with Hendrick Motorsports last week. He’ll drive in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports in 2017. There’s no place at HMS for him currently with Kahne, Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson occupying the team’s four Sprint Cup cars.

    Kahne is currently outside the Chase for the Sprint Cup. If he doesn’t get a win over the next three races or miraculously

    Read More »from Kasey Kahne: I need to leave if I'm not performing by 2018
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have missed at least seven races in 2016 (Getty Images).
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have missed A Minimum of seven races in 2016 (Getty Images).

    You won’t be seeing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a Sprint Cup car until the Richmond race at the earliest.

    Hendrick Motorsports said Wednesday that Earnhardt has not been cleared to resume racing by doctors for at least the next two race weekends. The timeframe includes races at Michigan and Darlington. Junior has missed the previous five races because of a concussion doctors believe was sustained at Michigan in June. Junior didn’t start feeling significant symptoms from the concussion until Kentucky, three races later.

    Alex Bowman, who drove for Junior at New Hampshire in the first race he missed, will drive Sunday at Michigan. Jeff Gordon, who has been Earnhardt Jr.’s primary fill-in driver, will drive at Darlington. Gordon can’t race at Michigan on Sunday because of a prior commitment that would prevent him from being at the track on Friday and Saturday.

    “We know how hard Dale is working to get back,” HMS

    Read More »from Dale Earnhardt Jr. out at least two more races; Bowman and Gordon to sub
  • (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: 6): Harvick makes a five-spot leap simply because four of the five drivers ahead of him had major issues throughout the race. Hell, so did Denny Hamlin, but we’ll get to him in a second.

    Harvick didn’t qualify well (22nd), but that can be attributed to the lack of a qualifying run in practice. He had an incredibly fast car in race trim and when he fell back to second place behind Joey Logano with less than 150 laps to go, it simply felt like a matter of time before Harvick was going to get around Logano and set sail.

    This is also a huge boost for the confidence of the No. 4 team. While that may sound crazy, this was a team that was excelling despite mistakes on pit road and other

    Read More »from Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick capitalizes on misfortune above, moves to No. 1
  • Kevin Harvick won Sunday's race (Getty Images)
    Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s race (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.

    • We’ve enjoyed the races at Bristol Motor Speedway ever since the track was remodeled and the preferred groove moved up near the wall. But we really enjoyed Saturday/Sunday’s race (won by Kevin Harvick) given Bristol’s work on the bottom groove. In collaboration with NASCAR and the driver’s council, the track added a sticky resin substance on the bottom 18 inches or so of the track to make the bottom groove an option.

    You likely noticed the dark strip along the bottom of the track and the fact that many drivers took the low groove immediately after

    Read More »from Delayed Bristol takeaways: The prep on the lower groove worked
  • Rain at Bristol altered the entire race. (Getty Images)
    Rain at Bristol altered the entire race. (Getty Images)

    We won’t say that weather owned the weekend at Bristol, we’ll just put it this way: after rain delays of nearly 24 full hours, Kevin Harvick won the race, but Mother Nature has claimed a berth in the Chase.

    The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol started 50 minutes late on Saturday night, and completed only 48 laps through two rain delays before being pushed to Sunday afternoon. Rain delayed the restart of the rain-delayed race, and with 67 laps left … you guessed it, more rain.

    The result was a race that felt disjointed, lacking both consistency and momentum. And when the most dominant car in the race gave up the ghost two-thirds in, that only added to the chaos. On lap 359, some as-yet-unidentified part broke beneath Kyle Busch’s car, sending him spinning up the track. All would have been well had Justin Allgaier not piled straight into Busch, ending Kyle’s day at 256 laps led.

    “The person that’s the biggest moron on the

    Read More »from 24 hours at Bristol end with a Kevin Harvick victory
  • Crews cover cars under rain at Bristol. (AP)
    Crews cover cars under rain at Bristol. (AP)

    Well, they tried. NASCAR took a good run at running its famous Bristol night race, but apparently Mother Nature preferred to watch the Olympics or something, because cars clocked barely 10 percent of the regulation 500 laps on the board before rains washed out the evening.

    The race will now continue starting at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. The race will air on CNBC.

    Rains delayed the start of the race by 50 minutes. Rains called a 90-minute halt to the racing just 39 laps in. And rains pelted the track moments before a 10-lap caution run was about to go green. With the final rain delay slated to last well into the small hours of the morning, plus track drying time, officials pulled the plug on the night’s racing shortly before 11:30 p.m. Eastern.

    Kyle Busch was leading the race at the time of the rain delay, followed by Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney. Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top 5.

    ____
    Jay

    Read More »from Rain forces delay of Bristol night race to Sunday
  • Jeff Gordon is making his 801st start on Saturday (AP).
    Jeff Gordon is making his 801st start on Saturday (AP).

    There’s no official word on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s status for Michigan, but it’s clear that Jeff Gordon won’t be driving in his place if Junior can’t go.

    Gordon told NBC Sports that he wouldn’t be subbing for Junior next weekend if necessary because of a prior commitment. Gordon said he was pretty sure Alex Bowman, who subbed for Junior at New Hampshire while Gordon was on vacation in France, would be the substitute driver if Junior isn’t cleared.

    “I didn’t know I was going to be doing all of this,” Gordon said.

    Junior is still rehabbing from a concussion doctors believe he suffered at Michigan. He raced at Sonoma, Daytona and Kentucky before he started feeling symptoms. He’s missed races at New Hampshire, Indianapolis, Pocono and Watkins Glen.

    Gordon is making his 801st career start Saturday night at Bristol. He qualified 11th. If Junior returns at or after Michigan for Darlington, Bristol could be the final race of Gordon’s career.

    Read More »from Jeff Gordon won't sub if needed for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Michigan
  • Carl Edwards got his fifth pole of the season at Bristol on Friday (AP).
    Carl Edwards got his fifth pole of the season at Bristol on Friday (AP).

    A race after sweeping the pole positions at the Sprint Cup Series’ road courses, Carl Edwards swept the poles at Bristol.

    Edwards turned the fastest lap of Friday’s qualifying session for Saturday night’s race at Bristol for his fifth pole of the season. Edwards won the pole for the Cup race at Watkins Glen two weeks ago and also has won poles at Sonoma and Texas this season.

    His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin qualified second and Kyle Busch qualified third. Matt Kenseth was fifth and Martin Truex Jr., driving for technically-aligned Furniture Row Racing, qualified seventh. It’s a pretty safe bet the Joe Gibbs Racing cars are (unsurprisingly) going to be the cars to beat during Saturday’s race.

    We’ll also see if Saturday night’s race is setting up for domination by Edwards. He led 276 laps at Bristol in the spring as he won his first race of the season. Bristol has changed since then; the track has added a

    Read More »from Carl Edwards wins pole as JGR cars all qualify in top 5
  • William Byron has five truck wins in 2016 and leads the points standings (Getty).
    William Byron has five truck wins in 2016 and leads the points standings (Getty).

    William Byron is moving up to the Xfinity Series in 2017.

    Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday it had signed Byron, the winningest driver in the Camping World Truck Series this season, to a contract. Byron, 18, will drive for JR Motorsports in 2017 in the Xfinity Series.

    “William is a special person and a special talent,” Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “It’s been impressive to watch him come up through the ranks and have success at every level. What he’s already accomplished this season has been remarkable. On top of all his ability, he’s a terrific young man from a great family, and we think he has a very bright future with our organization.”

    Byron currently drives the No. 9 truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He has five wins in 2016; no other driver has more than two. Byron leads the points standings by 37 points over Daniel Hemric. His five wins are a Truck Series rookie record and there are still

    Read More »from William Byron signs contract with Hendrick, will run Xfinity in 2017
  • (Getty Images)
    (Getty Images)

    Bryan Clauson’s family said five people were able to benefit from Clauson’s organs following the driver’s death Sunday evening.

    Clauson, 27, died a day after he was injured in a sprint car crash in Belleview, Kansas. Clauson’s car flipped multiple times and was struck while it was upside down on the ground. Clauson was airlifted to a hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, after the crash.

    His family revealed it found out about his registration as an organ donor while waiting at the hospital.

    One of the gifts that Bryan gave us while we sat next to him praying for some good news, was the moment we found out that he was an organ donor. It shouldn’t have surprised us. All of us have felt Bryan’s generosity throughout his life. The gift of life is the most amazing gesture and Bryan will live on not only through us and all the people he touched along the way, but from the lucky individuals that will benefit from Bryan making a decision to be a donor.

    It was not lost on our family as

    Read More »from Family: Bryan Clauson's organs were donated to five people
  • (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. Kyle Busch (LW: 1): Busch had one of the fastest cars throughout the entire race and had a shot at the race win before his little off-corner excursion with Brad Keselowski in turn 1 with nine laps to go.  Busch finished behind the next four drivers behind him in this week’s rankings, but it’s hard to bump him from the top spot given how he spent the majority of the day near the front of the field.

    2. Brad Keselowski (LW: 3): Hey, we used the word bump in Busch’s paragraph. What a transition. It’s both possible to think that Keselowski screwed up bumping Martin Truex Jr. in the race’s final corner – he admitted as much – and that any visceral reaction (outside of the No. 78 camp) to the bump is overblown.

    Read More »from Power Rankings: Did Brad Keselowski bump Kyle Busch out of No. 1?
  • Clauson has competed in the last two Indianapolis 500s (Getty Images).
    Clauson has competed in the last two Indianapolis 500s (Getty Images).

    UPDATED 9 a.m. ET Monday

    Former NASCAR driver Bryan Clauson, 27, died Sunday night after sustaining injuries in a midget sprint car crash at Belleview High Banks Speedway Fairgrounds in Kansas on Saturday.

    Clauson, leading the race at the time, flipped multiple times while coming on lapped traffic. Not long after his car stopped flipping, another car ran into Clauson’s car as it was upside down.

    His family issued a statement about his passing Monday morning. Clauson, a native of Noblesville, Indiana, is survived by his parents and his fiancé.

    Last night, the 7th of August, we said goodbye to our son, my fiancé, our friend, Bryan Clauson. He was surrounded by family and friends and we were grateful that we could experience his final moments with him.

    Our Bryan fought to the end with the same desire that he demonstrated behind the wheel of all the various race cars he would park in victory lane. However, we were more

    Read More »from Bryan Clauson dies following injuries suffered in sprint car wreck
  • GettyImages-587126348

    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.

    • If Kyle Larson misses the Chase by less than 25 points, Watkins Glen and AJ Allmendinger’s bumper will be the reason why.

    Allmendinger bumped Larson as the two were racing for what would have been fourth in the final corner of Sunday’s race, won by Denny Hamlin.

    Allmendinger cut lower than Larson as the two approached the wrecked car of Martin Truex Jr. Allmendinger clipped Larson in the right-rear and sent the driver of the No. 42 sliding head-on into the inside wall.

    “I can’t [say] sorry enough,” Allmendinger said. “It doesn’t help the case, I spun him out.  I didn’t mean to spin him out. The

    Read More »from Quick takeaways from Watkins Glen: Larson's Chase hopes fade by 25 points
  • Denny Hamlin got his second win of the season on Sunday (Getty).
    Denny Hamlin got his second win of the season on Sunday (Getty).

    Denny Hamlin closed the deal he couldn’t at Sonoma on Sunday at Watkins Glen, holding off Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski for his first Sprint Cup Series road course win.

    Hamlin tool the lead with nine laps to go thanks to a crazy scene with leaders Kyle Busch and Keselowski. Both cars went wide off the 90-degree turn 1 and opened the door for Hamlin to sneak through. As Hamlin took the lead, two cars in the back of the pack spun around and caused a caution.

    Hamlin was the leader as the caution came out and held the lead for the rest of the race. He gingerly climbed from his car after the race because he said he’d been experiencing back spasms all day.

    Truex ended up eighth despite being second on the final corner. He went wide off turn 10 and as he tried to set up Hamlin for a pass off turn 11, he got bumped by Keselowski. Keselowski took fault for the accident and said he anticipated Truex bumping Hamlin in the low

    Read More »from Denny Hamlin wins at Watkins Glen
  • (Getty Images)
    (Getty Images)

    Derrike Cope’s car had a massive explosion during Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen.

    Cope was experiencing brake issues during the race and was coasting around the track. His car came to a stop in the shortcut part of the inner loop at the road course. It then went kablooie.

    The explosion was so odd that NASCAR said after the race that it would be taking Cope’s car back for further investigation. Sunday, the team said the brake issue had led to the right-front tire to explode.

    The explosion, presumably, was from the tire getting too hot.

    Cope, the 1990 Daytona 500 winner, runs his own low-budget team in the Xfinity Series. He’s competed in 16 of 20 races this year with a best finish of 27th at Atlanta.

    – – – – – – –

    Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles

    Read More »from Team says tire caused Derrike Cope's car's crazy explosion at Watkins Glen