From The Marbles

  • The busiest spot at Daytona was the infield care center

    Jay Busbee at From The Marbles 8 hrs ago

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    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. stood next to a steel-railed barrier, trying to make sense of a Daytona week that had begun with such promise and ended halfway through the Daytona 500 with a sudden shearing of sheet metal.

    Earnhardt stood near Daytona International Speedway’s infield care center, one of the first drivers of the 2017 season to undergo NASCAR’s new mandatory safety protocols. And as he was breaking down his race, analyzing what went wrong, and thanking the fans, he had to lean hard into the fence, because an ambulance carrying his teammate Jimmie Johnson was trying to squeeze past him.

    It was just before 5 p.m. Eastern, and a strange parade of NASCAR’s best and brightest from the track to the care center was just beginning.

    All too often, safety advances in motorsports come as a result of tragedy. This time around, NASCAR was proactive rather than reactive. And the Daytona 500 provided the new protocol’s first real-time test.

    Other drivers offered a different view, preferring to err on the side of caution.

  • Stages jumble up strategy throughout Daytona 500

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 8 hrs ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR’s new stage format was evident very early in Sunday’s Daytona 500 when the Toyotas of Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing hit pit road on Lap 18.

    NASCAR is dividing all of its races into three segments in 2017. The segments for the Daytona 500 were 60, 60 and 80 laps respectively. The idea with the segments – which award points – is to incentivize drivers to race harder in the early parts of races and give Fox and NBC time to show commercials without missing any action.

    [Related: Kurt Busch wins Daytona 500]

    With teams able to go more than 40 laps on a tank of fuel at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, there was no reason to pit so early barring a problem in the 2016 Daytona 500. But this year, it was advantageous. At least for Kyle Busch.

    Because of the known caution on Lap 60, the Toyota teams wanted to be the first cars on pit road. Pitting on Lap 18 allowed them to make it to the end of the first segment on fuel and, potentially, stay on the lead lap at one of the biggest tracks in NASCAR.

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  • Kurt Busch wins wreck-filled Daytona 500 with last-lap pass

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 10 hrs ago

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    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kurt Busch won the Daytona 500 with a last-lap pass of Kyle Larson, giving new NASCAR Cup Series title sponsor Monster Energy a serendipitous start to its relationship with the sport.

    Busch passed Larson in Turns 1 and 2 on the final lap. Not long after Busch passed Larson, Larson’s car ran out of fuel and faded to the back.

    ““There is nothing predictable about this race anymore and the more years that have gone by that I didn’t win I kept trying to go back to patterns that I had seen in the past,” the 38-year-old Busch said in victory lane. “My mirror fell off with 30 laps to go and I couldn’t even see out the back. And I thought that was an omen. Throw caution to the wind. The more unpredictability that keeps unfolding at the Daytona 500, I predicted it.”

    Ryan Blaney, who gave Busch the winning push past Larson, finished second, while AJ Allmendinger was third.

    Unofficially, just five of the 40 cars that started the race were able to avoid an accident altogether and just 12 cars were in the main pack with 10 laps to go.

    Busch was not one of those five drivers without damage, as his right front was significantly wounded.

  • Kyle Busch wrecks out of Daytona, rips Goodyear tires

    Jay Busbee at From The Marbles 12 hrs ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch’s day at the Daytona 500 went from sublime to ruined in a matter of minutes. Forty-six laps after winning NASCAR’s first-ever race stage, Busch wrecked out of the race, victim of a blown tire. And after climbing from the ruins of his car, Busch didn’t waste time leveling blame.

    “Goodyear tires just suck,” Busch told a handful of reporters in the garage.

    Busch’s wreck collected fellow Toyota driver Erik Jones and teammate Matt Kenseth, as well as fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. Busch said he’d felt a rear tire losing air prior to the wreck, and soon afterward, he was in the wall. One driver’s splitter ended up embedded in the wall, causing a 17-minute red flag after the wreck.

    “Obviously,” Busch told a TV audience, “Goodyear tires aren’t very good at holding air.”

    This wasn’t a sudden development; according to Busch, tires had been a problem all week, from practice to the preseason Clash to the field-setting Duels. “Every time we put a set on they vibrated. Every single time,” Busch said, adding with dripping sarcasm, “So, they’re great.”

  • Rob Gronkowski had a very nice time at the Daytona 500

    Jay Busbee at From The Marbles 13 hrs ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — New England Patriots tight end and tailgate-in-human-form Rob Gronkowski is in Florida for the Daytona 500, and he’s enjoying himself immensely as a guest of both NASCAR and Monster Energy:

    Catching up with Rob Gronkowski, who is at his first Daytona 500, and is, of course, hanging with the Monster Girls. pic.twitter.com/KtcfIMLr1n

    — Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) February 26, 2017

    It’s the 59th annual running of the Daytona 500, and Yahoo Sports’ own Nick Bromberg decided to ask Gronkowski if he was already making plans for the one ten years from now…

    An hour later, Gronk did the “grid walk”—a walk-and-talk interview segment out amongst the cars and drivers preparing to run the race. And while fellow Fox Sports commentator Michael Waltrip interviewed drivers, Gronkowski went all in with the Monster Girls:

    — FOX SPORTS: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 26, 2017

    “I am hardcore,” Ashley replied, smoothly dodging the question. “I like to go as fast as possible.”

  • Big wrecks in first stage of Daytona Xfinity race involve 27 of race's 40 cars

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 1 day ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Just 13 cars avoided two massive crashes in the first 30 laps of Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Daytona.

    The first big crash came on lap 23 when Scott Lagasse got into the back of Tyler Reddick and turned Reddick into the wall on the backstretch. Somehow, the wreck continued into turn 3 as cars kept piling in from the back of the pack.

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    The sequel to the lap 23 wreck was even worse. On lap 29, two laps after the race resumed after the crash, another massive wreck happened when Daniel Hemric’s car skated into Justin Allgaier’s.

    Allgaier’s car made contact with Brandon Jones, whose car smashed viciously into the outside wall. Daniel Suarez also hit the wall head-on in the accident.

    Thankfully, all drivers involved in the accident were OK. The two red flags following both accidents meant the 30-lap stage took 90 minutes. The entire 120-lap race took less than two hours in 2016.

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  • 'Daddy, you were flying like a feather': What it's like to flip a truck at 190 mph

    Jay Busbee at From The Marbles 1 day ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Every so often, Matt Crafton has a bad day at the office. But unlike you or me, where a bad day might involve coffee spilled in your lap or a phone dropped on the sidewalk, for Matt Crafton, a bad day involves getting upside down at 190 miles an hour.

    Scene: Friday evening, Daytona International Speedway. The final lap of the Truck Series’ NextEra Energy Resources 250. Matt Crafton, the two-time Truck Series champion, is leading the race, just three turns from shaking off nearly two decades’ worth of frustration at Daytona.

    And then … chaos.

    A wreck behind him suddenly leaped forward and bit him, sending Crafton’s race hopes, as well as his truck, up in smoke. The video of Crafton’s truck spiraling into the sky, then landing back right-side-up, made the rounds of social media, and with good reason: this is a cinematic wreck, one where cars scatter like toys thrown by an angry toddler.

    We wondered, what’s it like to endure one of these wrecks, where everything in your world flips literally upside down? So we reached out to Crafton on Saturday morning and got the rundown. Think you’re tough? Take a ride with Matt and see.

  • Man wanted for murder in Texas arrested after going to Daytona 'for the races'

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 1 day ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A man wanted for murder in Texas apparently wanted to spend his potential final moments as a free person at Daytona International Speedway.

    Joe Earl Smith is accused of killing his uncle over a property dispute in Marion County, Texas. He was arrested in Daytona Beach Shores on Thursday and told authorities that he was in town to attend the events of Speedweeks at Daytona. Though, as the Daytona Beach News-Journal notes, it’s unclear if he ever got to fulfill his desire of seeing racing at the track.

    Smith also made it pretty easy for authorities to find him. His family told investigators in Texas that he was likely headed in the direction of NASCAR’s opening weekend. That put authorities on alert in Volusia County and he was found sleeping in his SUV.

    “He was parked in the lot right next to City Hall so he made it easy for us,” Fowler said.

    Fowler said officers recognized Smith’s 1993 Explorer from the descriptions given in an alert by Volusia County sheriff’s dispatch on Thursday afternoon

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  • Nature's Bakery makes Michael Jordan analogy in Danica Patrick counterclaim

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 1 day ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Nature’s Bakery alleges Danica Patrick’s agreement with a nutritional supplement company conflicted with the company’s agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing, and is grounds for immediate termination.

    The company filed its counterclaims to Stewart-Haas Racing’s breach of contract lawsuit Friday. Nature’s Bakery alleges in the 58-page filing that SHR didn’t inform the team of a personal services deal Patrick has with Six Star Nutrition when pitching Patrick’s NASCAR sponsorships to the company before the deal was signed.

    Nature’s Bakery believes that since Six Star products include protein bars in the “on the go” snack category, Patrick’s deal with the company conflicted with her role as a spokesperson for the fig bar and brownie maker.

    “It was as if Michael Jordan decided to wear adidas while being paid by Nike,” the suit said.

    Oh lookie what I found here in small town Vermont!!! @naturesbakery

    A post shared by Danica Patrick (@danicapatrick) on Jun 15, 2016 at 4:41pm PDT

    Let's do some yoga @the_southern_yogi! @naturesbakery #healthylifestyle

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  • Sometimes you have to slow down to win the Daytona 500

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 1 day ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — As he surged ahead of Martin Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth faded away in his rear view mirror on the final lap of the 2016 Daytona 500, Denny Hamlin touched his brake pedal.

    Yes, with seconds left in the race – and the Daytona 500 at stake – Hamlin made a conscious decision to slow his car down. He knew he had to give Truex a head start in the sprint to the finish. It was the only way he had a shot to win the race.

    “It sounds counter-intuitive when you see the finish line and you’re hitting the brake, but I knew I needed to be behind him about 300 yards before the start-finish to be ahead of him by the time of the start-finish,” Hamlin told Yahoo Sports.

    So Hamlin grazed the brake pedal enough to pull his front bumper right behind Truex’s right front tire.

    “That was the most optimum place to be on his car,” Hamlin said.

    The move worked out – barely – as Hamlin’s car surged forward at the last possible instant and beat Truex’s car to the line by 12 inches.

    And sometimes those moves are done blindly. While legend is that Earnhardt could see the air and the draft to pass his competitors, today’s Cup Series drivers have to feel the air to win.

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