From The Marbles

  • Matt DiBenedetto and David Ragan won't drive for BK Racing in 2017

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 16 hrs ago

    BK Racing will have new full-time drivers next season.

    The team confirmed that Matt DiBenedetto and David Ragan wouldn’t be returning in 2017. DiBenedetto tweeted Thursday that he wouldn’t drive for the team for a second full season.

    Ragan finished 33rd in the 2016 standings in his first year with the team. He joined BK after leaving Front Row Motorsports after the 2015 season. He made appearances for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015 as a substitute driver for Kyle Busch while Busch was recovering from injuries suffered in February at Daytona.

    Ron Devine, BK Racing statement regarding @DavidRagan.#NASCAR

    — BK Racing (@BKRacing_2383) December 9, 2016

    He finished 6th at Bristol in the spring, his career-best finish and BK Racing’s best-ever finish.

    — BK Racing (@BKRacing_2383) December 9, 2016

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  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. confident he isn't at increased risk for another concussion

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 19 hrs ago

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. said the rehabilitation he’s gone through after suffering a concussion over the summer means he isn’t at an increased risk for another one once he resumes racing in 2017.

    Junior has beenmedically cleared to rejoin the Sprint Cup Seriesin 2017 after missing the final 18 races of the 2016 season. He struggled with symptoms including vision stability and his equilibrium while recovering from the concussion he suffered when his car hit the wall at Michigan.

    The concussion was the second known one Junior suffered in the past four years. He missed two races in 2012 after he sustained a concussion in a test session after his car blew a tire and smacked into the wall.

    The symptoms Junior faced during 2016 were delayed — he initially believed he was having sinus trouble — and he admitted he had moments where he doubted he’d be able to race again.

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  • He's back: Dale Earnhardt Jr. medically cleared to drive in 2017

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 1 day ago

    Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s return to the Sprint Cup Series in 2017 is all but official.

    Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday that Junior had been medically cleared to compete next season. Junior missed the last half of the 2016 season because of a concussion suffered at Michigan in June.

    Junior missed every race after Kentucky — where he initially thought he was suffering sinus issues — and had been dealing with balance and vision problems after the concussion.

    He was cleared by doctors following a five-hour test session at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday.

    “I feel great, and I’m excited to officially be back,” Earnhardt said in a statement. “I expected things to go really well yesterday, and that’s exactly what happened. Actually getting in a race car was an important final step, and it gives me a ton of confidence going into 2017. Thanks to the staff at Darlington for hosting our team and to NASCAR for giving us the opportunity to put a car on the track. I’ll do more testing in January to help knock the rust off. When it’s time to go to Daytona, I’ll be ready.”

    Junior was voted NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for a 14th-straight time in 2016 despite his lengthy absence.

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  • HScott Motorsports shuttering operations for the near future

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 4 days ago

    After the departures of drivers Michael Annett and Clint Bowyer to other teams for the 2017 season, HScott Motorsports won’t be competing in NASCAR for the upcoming season.

    The team announced the decision Monday. With no drivers or sponsors lined up for a season that begins in less than 100 days, the news wasn’t incredibly surprising.

    “Over the past several months I considered a number of options for moving forward with the team. Regrettably there are no viable sponsor/driver options immediately available to allow the team to participate in 2017,” team owner Harry Scott said.

    Annett is set to drive for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series next season while Bowyer is replacing Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing. HSM expanded to two teams to accommodate both drivers in 2016 after fielding a single car for Justin Allgaier in 2014 and 2015.

    In three-plus seasons in the Cup Series, HSM cars made 189 starts and had four top 10s. Three of those came via Bowyer, who had his worst season ever. He was 27th in the points standings while Annett was 36th.

    The team announced last week that it had settled the lawsuit Bowyer filed regarding missed payments.

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  • 2016 Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg decides to retire

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 7 days ago

    Nico Rosberg is ending his Formula 1 career with a title.

    Rosberg announced Friday that he was going to retire. He won his first world championship on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, clinching the title by finishing second behind race-winner Lewis Hamilton.

    “When I won the race in Suzuka, from the moment when the destiny of the title was in my own hands, the big pressure started and I began to think about ending my racing career if I became World Champion,” Rosberg said in a statement he posted to social media. “On Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, I knew that it could be my last race and that feeling cleared my head before the start. I wanted to enjoy every part of the experience, knowing it might be the last time… and then the lights went out and I had the most intense 55 laps of my life. I took my decision on Monday evening. After reflecting for a day, the first people I told were [wife] Vivian and George Nolte, followed by [Mercedes-Benz Motorsport chief Toto Wolff].”

    2016 was Rosberg’s 11th season in Formula 1. He joined Mercedes in 2010 and won his first of 23 races in 2012 at China.

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  • NASCAR makes push for younger demographic with Monster sponsorship

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 8 days ago

    It didn’t take long to discover the demographic NASCAR wants to court with the announcement of Monster Energy as the new Cup Series sponsor.

    “The reality for how impactful they are and what they can do differently is obviously they’re an edgy brand,” Brian France said in response to the first question about Monster’s expanded relationship with NASCAR. “They’re a fun brand. They get at a millenial audience in a different way clearly than we’ve ever been associated with, particularly at this level, and they know what they’re doing.”

    It’s probably a safe assumption no one in NASCAR ever publicly called outgoing sponsor Sprint “edgy” and “fun.” Monster replaces Sprint after the telecommunications company declined to renew its sponsorship of NASCAR’s No. 1 series following the conclusion of the 2016 season.

    Say goodbye to Sprint yellow and hello to Monster green. And, if France’s comments are any indication, promotion of “fun.”

    We wonder just how much big moments will be manufactured and (over)emphasized at the expense of authentic competition.

    Not long after Hall mentioned the company’s “girls,” the sponsorship announcement ended with two Monster Girls around four middle-aged white men.

  • Monster Energy to replace Sprint as NASCAR's top sponsor

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 8 days ago

    Monster Energy is NASCAR’s replacement for Sprint.

    NASCAR made the new sponsor announcement official Thursday in Las Vegas as the Sprint Cup will be replaced with Monster Energy. Sprint’s deal to sponsor NASCAR’s top series expired after the 2016 season.

    It appears the word “Cup” will no longer be affiliated with the series — at least by the looks of the NASCAR press release, which referred to the Cup Series as the “NASCAR premier series.” That’s not a surprise based off a report from Sports Business Daily earlier in the week as well as the jokes that would undoubtedly ensue with the “Monster Cup.”

    According to NASCAR CEO Brian France, an official name for the series has not been decided.

    Monster Energy currently sponsors the No. 41 car of Kurt Busch as well as the Monster Energy Supercross Series. The appeal of supercross to younger fans is something NASCAR wanted to tap into as its fanbase is one of the oldest among all major sports.

    France used the words “dynamic” and “edgy” to describe Monster and quickly noted the company’s appeal to millennials in the press conference announcing the sponsorship.

    Monster will also sponsor the All-Star Race at Charlotte in May.

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  • Jeff Gordon to drive in 2017 Rolex 24

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 8 days ago

    Jeff Gordon will make his second Rolex 24 start in January.

    The four-time Sprint Cup Series champion will drive for Wayne Taylor Racing in the season-opening IMSA sports-car race at Daytona International Speedway Jan. 28-29. Gordon will team with Max Angelelli, Jordan Taylor and Ricky Taylor.

    Gordon, 45, drove in the 2007 race alongside Wayne Taylor, Angelelli and Jan Magnussen and the team finished third.

    “I really enjoyed racing in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2007 with Max, Wayne and Jan,” Gordon said in a statement. “When I announced I would no longer be competing full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, my hope was that I would get an opportunity like this to compete again in such a prestigious event – with Konica Minolta and Wayne Taylor Racing – with the hopes of winning it this time. I know that Ricky and Jordan are super-fast, and I believe it will be a very strong combination.”

    After retiring following the 2015 season, Gordon spent the first half of the season as a broadcaster for Fox and then drove eight races in the second-half of the season as a substitute for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 car.

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  • Preseason Daytona exhibition race once again bearing the 'Clash' name

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 9 days ago

    The Clash is back. The race name, not the band.

    Daytona International Speedway announced Wednesday that the Feb. 18 preseason exhibition race — most recently the Sprint Unlimited — held the weekend before the Daytona 500 will now be titled “The Clash at Daytona.”

    The race does not have a title sponsor, perhaps because there’s no Cup Series title sponsor as of yet. Sprint had sponsored the race ever since Budweiser moved its Daytona sponsorship from the race to the qualifying races for the Daytona 500 in 2013.

    2016 pole winners, drivers who have won the exhibition race previously, Daytona 500 pole winners and all drivers from the 2016 Chase that don’t fit into the previous three criteria are eligible for the race.

    As of now, the field would include Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Carl Edwards, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. (2016 pole winners), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Clash winner), Danica Patrick (Daytona 500 pole winner), Chris Buescher, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray (Chase drivers).

    The 2017 race will be a two-segment 75-lap event.

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  • Could NASCAR be dropping the 'Cup Series' moniker in 2017 and beyond?

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 9 days ago

    Is the era of the Cup Series over?

    According to a Sports Business Daily report, NASCAR has approached potential sponsors for the now-former Sprint Cup Series by referring to the top level as the “premier series.” NASCAR’s No. 1 series has been referred to as the Cup Series since 1971 when Winston became the series’ title sponsor.

    The word “Cup” stayed in the name when Nextel took over for Winston after the 2003 season. Sprint’s final year as the Cup Series sponsor was 2016 and the sanctioning body has not announced a new title sponsor for 2017 and beyond.

    From SBD:

    In at least some sales pitches, NASCAR has referred to the Cup Series as its “premier series” with no reference to the word “Cup,“ which would represent a notable brand change if it comes to fruition. Whether NASCAR had pitched any companies on a deal that would keep “Cup” included was unclear.

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