From The Marbles

  • 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
  • Jones has 12 wins in the Xfinity and Truck Series (Getty).
    Jones has 12 wins in the Xfinity and Truck Series (Getty).

    Erik Jones has a Sprint Cup ride for the 2017 season.

    Furniture Row announced Sunday that Jones would drive a second car for the team next season. Jones will pilot the No. 77 car, a number below the No. 78 Martin Truex Jr. drives for the team.

    “I just can’t believe this is really happening,” Jones said in a statement. “We have been talking about Cup racing for a while, but to actually make the announcement is surreal. This is every young driver’s dream, to be with a manufacturer like Toyota, an organization like Furniture Row with its successful technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, and an incredible sponsor like 5-hour ENERGY who is so well known for promoting its racing program. They have given me a life-changing opportunity and my mission is to make each of them proud.”

    Jones is also getting an established Cup Series sponsor. The team said 5-Hour Energy, which has sponsored Clint Bowyer since entering the sport when

    Read More »from Erik Jones to drive 2nd car for Furniture Row in 2017
  • Carl Edwards has four poles in 2016 (Getty).
    Carl Edwards has four poles in 2016 (Getty).

    Carl Edwards is the road course qualifying ace of 2016.

    Edwards got the pole for Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen. Edwards beat out Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart and teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch for the top spot. And it makes it a clean sweep of road course pole positions for Edwards as he won the pole in June at Sonoma.

    Edwards, who won at Sonoma in 2014, has never won at Watkins Glen.

    Sunday’s race should be different than ones previously held at Watkins Glen. The track has been repaved since the 2015 race and the combination of the new pavement and harder tire on the cars creates a different aspect. Teams were finding out the tire could get faster with more laps in practice and qualifying, meaning tires will definitely not be at a premium during the race.

    Look for most every team to work the race backwards and pit as early as possible for their final pit stops of the race. Pitting for fresh tires will not outweigh track position.

    Edwards

    Read More »from Carl Edwards wins pole for Watkins Glen
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. came to spend time with his team at Watkins Glen on Friday (Getty).
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. came to spend time with his team at Watkins Glen on Friday (Getty).

    In his first public appearance since he was sidelined because of the effects of a concussion, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said there was no hard timeline for his return to the Sprint Cup Series because of the nature of his injury.

    Junior has missed three races after suffering a concussion from a crash at Michigan in June. Junior drove three races after the Michigan crash but started experiencing delayed-onset symptoms at Kentucky.

    “You just don’t know when the symptoms will stop,” Junior said Friday. “Every day I am doing these exercises to sort of retrain the brain to fix the issues that I have with the balance and to gain stability.  It will fix itself when it decides to. There is no common history that will tell you that ‘man, this is going to last a month’, or this is going to last … and I’ve talked to other people with this history that didn’t last this long.  That is why it is frustrating. My past

    Read More »from No timetable for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s return to Cup Series
  • Richard Childress will be inducted into the NASCAR HOF in 2017 (Getty).
    Richard Childress will be inducted into the NASCAR HOF in 2017 (Getty).

    Earnhardt Childress Racing Technologies is now a complete subsidiary of Richard Childress Racing.

    RCR announced the deal Friday. The team combined its racing engine efforts with Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2007 to form a sole engine supplier for both teams. The move isn’t entirely surprising as Teresa Earnhardt, the widow of Dale Earnhardt and the CEO of DEI, has moved away from racing. The ECR name will not change as part of the agreement.

    DEI morphed multiple times during after the engine partnership. The team merged with Ginn Racing in 2007 and eventually with Chip Ganassi in 2008 to form Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Dale Earnhardt Jr. left DEI after the 2007 season and joined Hendrick Motorsports.

    EGR became Chip Ganassi Racing in 2014 when Ganassi said he had purchased Earnhardt’s stake in the team.

    RCR fields ECR engines in its cars in the Sprint Cup Series and Xfinity Series. The engine shop also produces engines

    Read More »from RCR now has complete ownership of ECR engine production
  • Truex has nine top 10s in 21 races this year (Getty).
    Truex has nine top 10s in 21 races this year (Getty).

    Martin Truex Jr. is staying at Furniture Row Racing.

    That sentence really isn’t breaking news. It was no secret that Truex wanted to come back to the team and that Furniture Row wanted Truex in the car after this season, when his contract expired. Now, their future partnership is official.

    The team announced Thursday that Truex had signed a two-year contract extension. Bass Pro Shops will also up its ante of races from 12 to 16 races in each of the next two seasons.

    “The signing of Martin Truex Jr. to a new contract and Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats adding more races to its primary sponsorship package are signs of strength and confidence for the future of Furniture Row Racing,” FRR president Joe Garone said in a statement. “Martin has proved over and over that he is one of the blue chip drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and we are elated that he will continue to drive our No. 78 Toyota.”

    Truex joined the team after the 2013

    Read More »from Martin Truex Jr. signs contract extension with Furniture Row
  • GettyImages-585100176

    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.

    Watkins Glen should be a fascinating race Sunday. And not just because it’s final road course race of the season.

    The track has new pavement, and while we’re familiar with how new pavement affects the racing on high-speed ovals, it’s still an unknown how it will affect the racing at a road course.

    The track will be faster, and generally faster doesn’t mean better racing. Will that hold true at the Glen? We certainly hope not, given how awesome the racing has been at the track. And hopefully it’ll be a two-groove racetrack too. It’ll be no fun if turn 1 isn’t the passing zone it normally is.

    Oh, and a friendly reminder that Sunday’s race will be on USA because of NBC’s Olympic coverage. Please, don’t complain about the different channel. USA has a wider distribution than NBCSN and the Olympics take priority over NASCAR.

    If you haven’t seen it

    Read More »from Happy Hour: Buescher's win, attendance talk again and more
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss at least five races after his concussion (Getty Images).
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss at least five races after his concussion (Getty Images).

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss at least two more Sprint Cup Series races because of a concussion

    Hendrick Motorsports said Tuesday that Jeff Gordon would fill in at Watkins Glen on Sunday and at Bristol on Aug. 20. Junior said on his podcast Monday that his balance was “up and down” and he was still dealing with vision issues, comments that made it seem unlikely he’d be able to race in the near future.

    Junior met with doctors on Tuesday to get an update on his progress.

    “We have a break in the schedule after Watkins Glen, so the extra week of recovery time will certainly be a benefit,” team owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “Dale will be back when he’s ready, and we’re looking forward to that happening, but the priority continues to be his health and well-being. We’ll keep our focus on that and let the doctors guide us.”

    Read More »from Jeff Gordon will fill in at Watkins Glen and Bristol for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • (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): Pocono was a weird race so full warning, this is going to be a weird set of Power Rankings. It’s hard to make judgments on a race that would have been a straight-up fight over the last 20 or so laps had the race gone back green. And it was apparent that most everyone outside of Chris Buescher and Regan Smith thought the fog would pass. Busch finished ninth. We’re not putting much stock in that.

    2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 2): Harvick finished fourth, and would have likely been battling with the man right below him in this week’s rankings for the win had the race been restarted. Buescher and Smith would have had to pit, leaving Harvick and Brad Keselowski to restart the race on the first row.

    Read More »from Power Rankings: Trying to make order of an odd race
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. has missed three races in 2016 (Getty Images).
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. has missed three races in 2016 (Getty Images).

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. is still struggling with his balance and gaze stability at times as he continues his treatment protocol from what his team has termed concussion-like symptoms.

    Earnhardt Jr. talked about his treatment at length on his Dirty Mo podcast released Monday after the race at Pocono. It was the third race Junior has missed following concussion concerns. Jeff Gordon, who has filled in for Junior the past two races, finished 27th.

    “There are days when I feel like the balance is better, and then there’s certainly moments when it’s not,” Junior, who is meeting with five doctors Tuesday, said. “I’m sleeping a whole lot more, maybe a lot harder than I did before which is to be expected. My doctors don’t want me sleeping too much which is commonly what you hear.”

    Junior also said he felt the balance and vision issues were tied together.

    “The balance is up and down. The main issue I have is called ‘gaze stability.’ And

    Read More »from Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Balance is 'up and down,' dealing with sight issues