From The Marbles

  • 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 you watched the race or are a semi-regular NASCAR fan, you likely knew that Sunday's Michigan race featured rules to lower the downforce on the cars even further.

    Drivers were overwhelmingly positive about the Atlanta earlier this season; the first with the revised 2016 rules in effect. With even less downforce than they had at Atlanta, were drivers as effusive after the race Sunday? Let's take a look.

    “I am not sure the new package was everything we wanted it to be but it is a step in the right direction as far as putting the drivers in control of the racing but not in reducing the aero stuff

    Read More »from Quick Takeaways from Michigan: Gauging the rules reaction
  • If you're an aspiring driver learning how to excel on restarts, make sure you study the hell out of Joey Logano's win at Michigan on Sunday.

    Logano led 138 of 200 laps thanks to his incredible restarts throughout the entire race. Yes, Logano had the track position on the restarts, but his acceleration relative to the rest of the field was impeccable.

    It's hard to catch a driver when you don't get an opportunity to pass him and Logano didn't give anyone any opportunities. How did he do it? Well, he wasn't too keen on giving anyone any ideas after the race.

    “I think we got lucky I guess," Logano said. "I don’t know. There is a lot of thought that goes into restarts with this race team, from every angle. It all kind of came together.”

    Logano started first and didn't stray from the front of the field in the 62 laps he didn't lead. It's his first points win since Talladega in the fall of 2015, though he won the All-Star Race in May, beating teammate Brad Keselowski to the finish line.

    Read More »from Joey Logano dominates restarts, wins at Michigan
  • Josef Newgarden fractured his right collar bone and suffered a fracture in his right hand in a scary crash at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

    Newgarden's car got flipped over on its side after an impact from Conor Daly and the wall. Newgarden's car then hit the wall a second time -- this time with the top side of the car as his head was perilously close to both the track surface and the wall.

    Safety workers helped Newgarden from his car after the accident but he collapsed to the ground once he stepped out of the cockpit. From there he was loaded into a waiting ambulance via a backboard.

    The wreck will certainly incite further discussions on the necessity of cockpit protection for IndyCar drivers. The series didn't make any changes to the cockpit designs following the death of Justin Wilson in 2015. Wilson was struck in the helmet by a

    Read More »from Top side of Josef Newgarden's car hits wall in massive crash
  • Daniel Suarez has his first NASCAR win.

    The Mexican-born driver passed teammate Kyle Busch over the final three miles of Saturday's Xfinity Series race at Michigan to become the first Mexican driver to win a race in NASCAR's top three national series.

    Suarez, 24, semi-joked when he got to victory lane that he didn't know what to say in either English or Spanish.

    After running two Xfinity Series races and a Camping World Truck Series race in 2014, Suarez ran his first full season in the Xfinity Series last year for Joe Gibbs Racing. He also participated in 13 Truck Series races and had 15 top-five and 28 top-10 finishes in those 46 events.

    Given Suarez's performance as a rookie in 2015 and JGR's dominance in the Xfinity Series, a win didn't seem out of the question in 2016. And he made it happen over the final 30 laps of the race as his car had long-run speed that others didn't. Suarez came from outside the top five on the final restart and picked off cars one-by-one until he got to

    Read More »from Daniel Suarez gets first win by passing Kyle Busch
  • Joey Logano will start on the front row for the second-straight week.

    Logano posted the fastest lap in the final two rounds of qualifying at Michigan on Friday and will start first for Sunday's race. Logano beat out Martin Truex Jr. and Tony Stewart for the top spot. Logano started second to teammate Brad Keselowski at Pocono.

    The Michigan race is the first of two races this season where NASCAR is enforcing rules that lower the downforce on cars; the front splitters are smaller and the spoilers are shorter. The rear skew rules that were in effect for the All-Star Race are also in effect at Michigan.

    The goal is to slow the cars down in the corners and make for more passing opportunities. Slow is relative at Michigan. Logano turned a lap of 199.557 MPH in the final round. The speed is approximately 2 MPH slower than last June's pole speed, though speeds during Friday's practice came close to last year's qualifying number.

    Friday's practice, however, was held under cloudy skies while

    Read More »from Joey Logano wins pole at Michigan
  • A groundhog flummoxed Michigan International Speedway workers who tried to get it off the track during Xfinity Series practice Friday afternoon.

    The practice session was halted for the groundhog and track workers went to remove it. They chased it around the track for a bit and (temporarily) captured it. As three workers were walking the groundhog towards the infield, it made an escape and the chase was on again.

    We have to give the groundhog some serious credit for knowing what to do. Taking shelter under the safety trucks was a good idea, though Michigan safety workers could have been a bit inhumane and simply used the truck as a method of capture.

    After running out from under the truck, the groundhog was cornered near the wall where it was ultimately put into a large trash drum.

    A groundhog infiltrated Cup Series practice at Pocono in 2012 and its time on the track didn't end nearly as

    Read More »from Xfinity Series practice halted for groundhog on the track (Video)
  • Given one of his crew chiefs was suspended Wednesday by NASCAR, team owner Chip Ganassi may be a bit biased. But it's hard not to agree with his point about the absurdity of lug nuts being a dominant topic throughout the 2016 season.

    Ganassi made the following comments on SiriusXM's NASCAR channel Wednesday evening. NASCAR suspended Kyle Larson's crew chief Chad Johnston for a race earlier in the day after the No. 42 car didn't have all of its 20 lug nuts tight in post-race lug nut checks.

    “I just think the whole lug nut thing is a silly thing,’’ Ganassi said via NASCAR Talk. “We’re in a major sport that on any given weekend we have over 100,000 people that show up and watch and it’s the most-watched sport on television sometimes on the weekend and we’re sitting here talking about lug nuts. Are you kidding me? Please.

    “They need to move the conversation. I’m saying NASCAR needs to move the conversation to something a little more relevant than lug nuts.’’

    The conversation about lug

    Read More »from Chip Ganassi thinks this lug nut stuff is a bunch of silliness
  • Another week, another lug nut penalty.

    Kyle Larson's crew chief Chad Johnston is suspended for Sunday's race at Michigan and was fined $20,000 fo violating Sections 12-1; 10.11.3.4 a; 12.5.3.4.1 p of the NASCAR rule book. Those sections refer to loose lug nuts after the race.

    The team is not appealing Johnston's suspension.

    Johnston is the fourth crew chief suspended for a race after NASCAR mandated post-race lug nut checks in the wake of Tony Stewart's comments about the sanctioning body's lack of enforcement. Kyle Busch's crew chief Adam Stevens was suspended after Kansas and Kurt Busch crew chief Tony Gibson and AJ Allmendinger crew chief Randall Burnett were suspended following Charlotte. Kurt Busch won Monday's race at Pocono without Gibson.

    As expected, Brad Keselowski's team didn't receive any penalties after the hip check from a crew member to the side of the car during Monday's race. Keselowski's car passed inspection after the race and

    Read More »from Kyle Larson's crew chief suspended for Michigan race
  • Brad Keselowski certainly has an interesting case for having independent voices involved in NASCAR's television coverage.

    Keselowski finished third in Monday's race at Pocono after he got an early-race penalty after his crew was caught denting the right side of his car during a pit stop. NASCAR has cracked down on teams slamming the sides of the cars to create more aerodynamic side-force to help with corner speed.

    [Related: Kurt Busch wins at Pocono]

    As the race progressed, the NASCAR on Fox booth consisting of former drivers Jeff Gordon and Darrell Waltrip and play-by-play announcer Mike Joy referenced Keselowski's win at Las Vegas where the broadcast had footage of a crew member doing something similar. Keselowski didn't get a penalty at Vegas.

    “That’s because Jeff Gordon is in the booth,” Keselowski told reporters (via USA Today) of the reference to the Las Vegas pit stop. “They need to get some people in the booth who aren’t inbred to the sport and own teams and have internal

    Read More »from Keselowski makes case for TV impartiality after Gordon's comments
  • 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.

    • Chase Elliott learned Monday how one ill-timed attempted pass can demolish your chances for a win.

    Elliott might have had the best car Monday afternoon, leading 51 laps and putting himself in a position to be the first rookie to win at Pocono since Denny Hamlin did in 2006.

    [Related: Kurt Busch wins at Pocono]

    But Elliott immediately mentioned the move he attempted on Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 33 laps to go as a mistake he made that cost himself the race. Elliott was looking to pass Junior for the lead and got too aggressive in turn 2. The move meant he slid up the track and also slowed Junior,

    Read More »from Quick takeaways from Pocono: Chase Elliott laments one that got away
  • Kurt Busch has been having one of the best seasons of anyone in the Sprint Cup Series in 2016. He just didn't have a signature moment to go along with that excellence.

    Busch now has two of those moments, as he went from third-to-first in one pass and saved enough fuel to hold off Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski to win Monday's rain-delayed race at Pocono.

    [Related: Quick Takeaways from Pocono]

    After the race went green with 35 laps to go, many teams were in need of some fuel conservation. Busch was one of those drivers who needed to save some gas, so over the final laps of the race he used the clutch through the corners to idle the engine.

    And while that tactic allowed Busch to save fuel, he was able to still hit his marks and not slow down significantly in the corners. Over the final 10 laps of the race, Junior, who was told he had enough gas to make it to the finish, couldn't get within a second of Busch.

    But Busch had to first get the lead. That process happened shortly after

    Read More »from Kurt Busch saves enough fuel, wins at Pocono
  • Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono will be run on Monday.

    Persistent rain -- or "weather" in NASCAR terms -- meant NASCAR and Pocono Raceway couldn't make any reasonable attempts to dry the track throughout the day and Sunday's 400-mile race will start at Noon ET on Monday.

    The race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano will start on the front row.

    Saturday's Xfinity Series race was called after 53 laps because of rain and Friday's practice session was shortened because of rain as well. Cup Series teams were able to qualify on Friday afternoon and practice Saturday morning before the afternoon round of rain hit.

    - - - - - - -

    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!

    Read More »from Pocono race postponed until Monday
  • The first Xfinity Series race at Pocono might have predictably been dominated by the strongest teams on the circuit and cut short by rain, but it gave us our first serious driver-on-driver word crime of the season.

    Ryan Sieg went after Ryan Reed, both verbally and apparently physically as well on Saturday. Sieg crashed because of contact with Reed and then a little bit later, Reed's car smashed into the wall, likely because of the damage he sustained from contact with Sieg.

    After the race was halted on lap 53 for rain, Sieg went to find Reed and, according to Motorsport.com, "pushing and shoving" ensued as the crews got involved. Here's what Sieg said about Reed. And damn, you can almost see the frustration pouring out of the words.

    "(Reed) kept jabbing off with his mouth so I figured I'd shut it up for him."

    He added, "You can't race the kid, he's got a lot of money and he's got a Roush car, but he can't drive it. Just an idiot. Everywhere he goes, it seems like he's always in a

    Read More »from Ryan Sieg harshly questions Ryan Reed's driving skills after crash
  • The Team Penske cars will be leading the field to green at Pocono on Sunday.

    Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano posted the two fastest speeds of the final round of Friday's qualifying session and will start on the front row on Sunday. It's the first career pole at Pocono for Keselowski and his 12th-career top starting spot. It's the sixth time Logano has started on the front row in 2016.

    Denny Hamlin also continued his streak of qualifying for the final round of qualifying in every race this season. Hamlin starts 10th, third of four Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas. All four Gibbs cars qualified for the final round along with three Stewart-Haas Racing cars, the two Team Penske cars and three cars from Hendrick Motorsports.

    Here's the full lineup:

    1. Brad Keselowski
    2. Joey Logano
    3. Matt Kenseth
    4. Kevin Harvick
    5. Carl Edwards
    6. Tony Stewart
    7. Jimmie Johnson
    8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    9. Kurt Busch
    10. Denny Hamlin
    11. Kasey Kahne
    12. Kyle Busch
    13. Chase Elliott
    14. Ryan Blaney
    15. Greg Biffle
    16. Aric Almirola

    Read More »from Team Penske sweeps front row in Pocono qualifying
  • Look at that, Brad Keselowski agrees with us.

    After Sunday's Coca-Cola 600, we advocated for the permanent implementation of the rear skew changes NASCAR made for the cars at the All-Star Race. The sanctioning body took away the chassis-shifting teams are able to do on the back of the car for increased sideforce. The neutrality meant cars had to slow down more in the corners.

    And, as you know, more throttle-off time means more passing opportunities. And, generally speaking, slower lap times equal better racing. Friday, Keselowski said the All-Star skew changes "should immediately be implemented everywhere."

    "I know there are a lot of technical terms in those updates that are maybe hard to understand but I think the basic explanation is that those updates or rules updates are meant to take aerodynamic performance away from the car," Keselowski said. "That is exactly what the skew does. It adds five or 10-percent aero potential in the car and in doing so dramatically increases the wake

    Read More »from Brad Keselowski wants rear skew taken away from cars immediately
  • There's no denying Roush Fenway Racing's three teams have performed better in 2016. Though, as Greg Biffle notes, the team isn't the force that it once was in the Cup Series.

    Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is 18th in the standings while Trevor Bayne is 19th. Biffle is currently 23rd. Yeah, like we said, not a force. But consider last year when Biffle finished 20th, Stenhouse was 25th and Bayne was 29th. Progress can't come all at once.

    “Compared to last year it is a huge improvement," Biffle said Friday. "It is reason to celebrate and go on vacation. But where we are at compared to our competition is not so much reason to celebrate yet because we are running between 10th and 15th and we want to be better than that.

    "All of our cars really have. The 6 and 17 and 16 have all competitively on the track if you take an average of the race we are running in 10th-15th spot. We want to be better than that. We have to get to where we can run in the top-10. That is a huge task ... But if you compare it

    Read More »from Greg Biffle not content with progress Roush has made in 2016
  • 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.

    This weekend marks the first Xfinity Series race at Pocono. We can't say we've got high hopes for the event. As we've said before, parity is not the Xfinity Series' strong suit, so going to a track where horsepower is at a premium isn't going to make things any better.

    Pocono has three distinct turns (stop us if you've heard that before), but it compares most closely with Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And we all know how (not) great the Xfinity races at Indianapolis have been since the series moved there from Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2012.

    Oh, Kyle Busch was fastest in first practice Thursday afternoon. Yeah, it's going to be one of those afternoons. Go to the pool if the weather is nice. Record the race so you can fast-forward if necessary.

    Read More »from Happy Hour: Feel the excitement for the Xfinity Series at Pocono
  • Three crew chiefs have been suspended for violations found after the Coca-Cola 600.

    Brian Pattie, Greg Biffle's crew chief, has been suspended two races for violating Sections 12-1; 20.4.1; 20.4.2 a,b,c; 12.5.3.4.1 c of the NASCAR rule book. Biffle has also been docked 15 points.

    Randall Burnett, the crew chief for AJ Allmendinger, has been suspended a race for violating Sections 12-1; 10.11.3.4 a; 12.5.3.4.1 p of the NASCAR rule book while Tony Gibson, the crew chief for Kurt Busch, is suspended a race for violations against Sections 12-1; 10.11.3.4 a.

    Oh, you probably want to know what the penalties are, don't you? According to the NASCAR rule book, Pattie's violation regards car body manipulations and is a P3 penalty under the banner of "unauthorized installation of additional components or modification of existing components not in conformance with the NASCAR rules which affect the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle (e.g. deck lid, rocker panels, quarter panels, doors, side

    Read More »from 3 crew chiefs suspended for Coca-Cola 600 violations
  • Jeb Burton is without a ride in the Xfinity Series.

    Richard Petty Motorsports announced that it had suspended its No. 43 Xfinity Series team because of financial issues and missed payments by team sponsor J. Streicher. Burton, who competed for part of the 2015 season in the Sprint Cup Series, joined the team before the beginning of the season and had planned to run for the Xfinity Series title.

    "This is an unfortunate situation," RPM CEO Brian Moffitt said in a statement. "We make commitments to both our employees and vendors that are based on sponsor commitments, and we take those commitments seriously. We will pursue every avenue to ensure the contractual obligations between RPM and our sponsor are met. We'll take each week as it comes and do our best to get the No. 43 Ford Mustang on track as much as possible this season."

    According to J. Streicher's website, the company's "objective is to be the DMM

    Read More »from Richard Petty Motorsports halts Xfinity team citing missed payments
  • 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. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 6): You can't not be No. 1 after you lead 588 of 600 miles. It's just not possible. OK, we're making this rule up because we didn't think it needed to exist. So you can say our Power Rankings guidelines are a bit like NASCAR's All-Star Race officiating. 

    On a serious note, what Truex and his Furniture Row team did to everyone else Sunday night was pretty damn impressive. But this is NASCAR, a sport where secrets aren't secret for very long. And keep in mind that the Chase has five 1.5-mile tracks. 

    2. Kevin Harvick (LW: 3): First runner-up to Truex isn't an embarrassing finish. And Harvick said he was happy with the way his team bounced back to grab best in

    Read More »from Power Rankings: Truex has to be No. 1 after the 600