Nick Bromberg

  • Happy Hour: It's never going to only be about the racing

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 1 day ago

    As inspection has dominated the first two weeks of the 2016 Chase, a common refrain is hope that the focus in the NASCAR world will go back to the racing on the track.

    If only it was that simple.

    Just Thursday NASCAR issued a rules update defining what an encumbered finish is. The word “encumbered” entered the NASCAR lexicon before the Chase when the sanctioning body said severe penalties would jeopardize a team’s chances at using a win for Chase advancement.

    An encumbered finish doesn’t take the win away, however. It simply means that if a team wins a race but receives a lug nut or laser inspection penalty (or any other severe penalty) worthy of an encumbered finish, the win does not count for the next round of the Chase. A points penalty is also added, meaning the team will be in a severe hole trying to move forward.

    The win, while still existing in the box scores and in the location of the trophy at the winning team’s residence, still happens. It’s just meaningless with an encumbered finish. It’s probably the closest we’ll get to NASCAR taking a win away without actually taking a win away.

    @NickBromberg Dover Chaos. I want Spring 2.0

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  • Tony Stewart: 'I can't make a difference anymore' finding speed as a driver

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 2 days ago

    It’s no secret Tony Stewart isn’t a fan of the evolution of the cars in the Sprint Cup Series. As front splitters have been added to cars and aerodynamic downforce has increased in importance, Stewart has lamented the equipment shift.

    Sunday, Stewart was frustrated with his car and an inability to make a move through the field. He finished a lap down in 23rd and enters the final race of the first round of the Chase outside the top 12. If Stewart isn’t one of the top 12 drivers in the standings after Sunday’s race at Dover, he’s not moving on in the playoffs.

    Stewart explained his frustration Wednesday. And no, the frustration doesn’t simply stem from New Hampshire. From USA Today:

    “When we come off the truck, we fight the same thing for three days and there’s nothing I can do to fix it,” he said. “And that’s part of what’s so frustrating for me as a driver and part of the reason I’m ready to do something different.

    So would Stewart like to lobby NASCAR for a change in the rules to help the situation?

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  • Kyle Busch takes championship visit to White House

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 2 days ago

    Kyle Busch got to meet with President Barack Obama on Wednesday to celebrate his 2015 Sprint Cup Series championship.

    The trip comes between the Sprint Cup Series’ races at New Hampshire and Dover, which is less than 100 miles from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    In his remarks about Busch, Obama noted Busch’s comeback from the broken leg and foot he suffered in February at Daytona to return and qualify for the Chase. Busch won the final race of the Chase to take the championship over Kevin Harvick, who won the title in 2014.

    Busch and the team presented Obama with a signed helmet.

    “I think there were some people who thought we were going to see a Bush back here in the White House this year,” Obama joked about the possibility of former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s attempt to run for president. “But they didn’t know it was going to be Kyle. “Especially after he broke his leg and his foot at Daytona, and missed the first three months of the season.

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  • Power Rankings: Should Truex or Harvick occupy the top spot?

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 3 days ago

    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: 4): We’re going with recency and rewarding Harvick for the New Hampshire win. Harvick’s move from starting 19th to the win was the most spots anyone gained throughout the entirety of Sunday’s race. And it also avenged his losing moment from 2015 when he ran out of gas while racing Kenseth for the win late in the race.

    The win also solidifies Harvick as the top non-Toyota contender for the championship. He entered the Chase with that status and the first two races of the playoffs have done nothing to dissuade anyone from that thought.

    2. Martin Truex Jr. (LW: 2): Truex’s mistimed restart on the next-to-last restart ultimately cost him a chance at the win and led to a seventh-place finish. But after winning at Chicago the driver of the No. 78 could afford to take restart gambles. When you’re moving on in the Chase you can try a lot of different things.

    Dropped Out: Jamie McMurray

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  • Takeaways from New Hampshire: That race was not sublime

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 5 days ago

    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.

    • The craziness that wasn’t, well, crazy to expect Sunday never materialized. The New Hampshire race was pretty straightforward.

    There wasn’t a crazy moment that hurt or benefited a Chase driver. Fourteen of the Chase’s 16 drivers finished in the top 20; 13 of 16 started there. There wasn’t much movement.

    The biggest mover was Austin Dillon, who finished 16th after starting 19th. The lack of movement was evident throughout the top 20. 17 of the drivers who started in the top 20 finished there and Paul Menard (who started 14th) was the highest-qualifying driver to finish outside the top 20.

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  • Kevin Harvick passes Matt Kenseth for New Hampshire win

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 5 days ago

    Sunday’s race at New Hampshire came down to Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick again. And this time Harvick was the one entering victory lane.

    Harvick passed Kenseth with five laps to go off the race’s final restart and pulled away over the final two laps to lock himself in the second round of the Chase. A win in each of the Chase’s first three rounds gives a driver an automatic berth into the next round.

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    The two dueled for the lead late at New Hampshire last year and Harvick ran out of fuel a week after crashing out at Chicago thanks to a cut tire. The fuel gamble meant Harvick was forced to go to Dover, the final race of the first round, needing a win to advance. He got that win and ended up making the Chase’s final round.

    And now with the New Hampshire win, there’s not nearly the pressure at Dover this year as there was in 2015.

    “One of our main goals this year was to not stress ourselves out so bad,” Harvick said. “The performance of the car and the things we’re doing are good enough to be competitive and we just need to not make mistakes and go from there.”

    “I got beat through [turns] 1 and 2 and it was over.”

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  • Carl Edwards wins pole at New Hampshire for third time in four races

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 7 days ago

    Carl Edwards and his team have discovered the secret to qualifying well at New Hampshire.

    Edwards will start Sunday’s race at the 1-mile track on the pole for the third time in four races after posting the fastest lap in the third round of Friday’s qualifying session. Edwards swept the pole positions in 2015 at New Hampshire and finished fifth and seventh in those two races.

    His fast lap beat out last week’s winner Martin Truex Jr., who qualified second. Counting Truex, whose team has an alliance with Edwards’ Joe Gibbs Racing, JGR-equipped Toyotas all qualified in the top 12. Denny Hamlin will start fifth, Matt Kenseth eighth and Kyle Busch 12th.

    It’s the sixth pole of Edwards’ 2016 season. It doubles his previous career record of three poles in a season (set three different times).

    10 of the 16 Chase drivers made it to the final round and 14 advanced to the second round of qualifying. The two Chase drivers that didn’t get out of the first round were Austin Dillon and Chris Buescher. Dillon crashed his primary car in qualifying and was forced to qualify with a backup car.

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  • Matt Kenseth OK with inspection rules change but wishes it was made earlier

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 7 days ago

    Matt Kenseth sees why NASCAR made the changes it did to the penalty structure surrounding laser inspection but would have liked to see the change made before the Chase began.

    NASCAR said Wednesday there would be no more minor penalties for teams whose cars fail laser inspection on the rear of the car. Both Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr.’s cars failed inspection by a slight amount after Sunday’s race at Chicago and NASCAR made the decision to penalize neither team after coming to the realization Johnson’s penalty would be much more impactful than Truex’s because Truex won the race.

    “I’m okay with the rules being changes going forward. I’m always okay with whatever they want to come up with as rules as long as we all know what they are ahead of time and we all know what the penalties are ahead of time for breaking those rules.”

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  • Happy Hour: All your laser inspection talk in one place

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 8 days ago

    Welcome to Happy Hour. Feel free to tweet or email us your NASCAR thoughts and questions throughout the week.

    Unsurprisingly, this week’s mailbag focuses around the laser inspection failures that happened after Sunday’s race at Chicago and NASCAR’s decision to not penalize Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson after their cars failed inspection.

    There’s no need for a long intro this week. We’re getting right to it.

    @NickBromberg Do changing rules after 1st CHASE race lead us down rd of #NASCAR changing rules MID-RACE? To me, penalties should have stuck

    — Racer #24 (@Racer24) September 22, 2016

    If you were living under a NASCAR rock on Wednesday, you missed that NASCAR will no longer penalize teams for a minor laser inspection fraction after the conundrum it found itself in after Sunday’s race. Both race-winner Truex and 12th-place finisher Johnson had their cars fail inspection by a minor amount.

    There are now no more minor penalties. You either lose 35 points and/or the win or you pass inspection.

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  • Looking at the Xfinity and Truck Series Chase fields

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 8 days ago

    Welcome to our Chase-dominated world.

    No, we’re not talking about Chase Elliott, though he could be dominating NASCAR at some point in the near future. We’re referencing the Chase format in the Xfinity Series and the Truck Series. Both series are veering from the season-long points format for the first time, meaning the championship in NASCAR’s top three series will all be decided with a winner-take-all race at Homestead in November.

    XFINITY SERIES

    Chase format: 12 drivers, seven races, three rounds. Four drivers are eliminated each round, leaving four drivers to compete for the championship at Homestead.

    The Drivers:

    Erik Jones (4 wins) Elliott Sadler (2 wins) Daniel Suarez (1 win) Justin Allgaier Ty Dillon Brendan Gaughan Brennan Poole Brandon Jones Bubba Wallace Ryan Reed Ryan Sieg Blake Koch

    The Races:

    Kentucky Dover Charlotte

    Kansas Texas Phoenix

    Homestead

    The Xfinity Chase is diluted. Reed, Sieg and Koch have a combined nine top-10 finishes in the first 26 races of the season. Wallace, meanwhile, has 8, and everyone above him has more than that.

    Champion: Erik Jones

    CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

    The Drivers:

    The Races:

    New Hampshire Las Vegas Talladega

    Martinsville Texas Phoenix

    Homestead