From The Marbles
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles4 hrs 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 .
• Brad Keselowski finished third in Sunday’s race at Michigan. Afterwards, his car failed the laser inspection station during NASCAR’s post-race inspection.
Based on precedent, don’t expect the penalty to be meaningful in any way. Matt Kenseth’s car failed post-race laser inspection after he won at New Hampshire in July and received a 15-point penalty. Keselowski will likely receive a similar penalty.
Keselowski is already locked into the Chase by virtue of being a four-time winner in the Cup Series. If the Chase started this week he’d be tied for the top seed with Kyle Busch. Just like with Kenseth’s points penalty, a 15-point penalty will mean absolutely nothing for Keselowski’s Chase. He’ll still be the top seed in the Chase, assuming Busch doesn’t get a fifth win over the next two weeks.
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles6 hrs ago
The fight for the final few Chase spots looks a whole hell of a lot different after Kyle Larson’s victory Sunday at Michigan than it did entering the race.
Larson, who was outside of the Chase via points standings before the race began, became the 13th Sprint Cup winner in 2016. Drivers who win a race in the first 26 races of the season (and are in the top 30 in points) are automatically guaranteed a berth in the 16-driver playoff that starts in three weeks at Chicago.
[Related: Larson gets first Cup Series win]
Since we’re confident you can subtract properly, we don’t need to tell you that the win now means there are just three Chase spots currently available to drivers who haven’t won a race this season.
Sunday’s biggest loser was Ryan Newman. Had Larson finished, say, 10th, Newman would still be provisionally in the Chase. Now, he’s the first driver on the outside looking in and is 15 points behind Jamie McMurray.
This is how the points standings look among drivers without wins:
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles6 hrs ago
Kyle Larson sprinted away from Chase Elliott on the race’s final restart to grab the first Sprint Cup Series win of his career at Michigan on Sunday.
Elliott was the leader on that restart, which came with nine to go. Larson restarted second and both drivers spun their tires severely as they tried to accelerate towards turn 1. Larson found traction first and got ahead of Elliott, who couldn’t close the gap over the race’s final few laps.
“[Brad Keselowski], he pushed me pretty good,” Larson said of the driver who ended up third behind Elliott. “He probably could have pulled underneath me and he stayed with me and got me the lead.”
With the win, Larson jumps into the Chase for the first time. Through his first two full seasons in the Cup Series, the touted 24-year-old had finished 17th and 19th in the Cup standings.
He dedicated the win to Bryan Clauson, a friend and former Chip Ganassi Racing Xfinity Series driver, who died from injuries suffered in a sprint car crash earlier this month in Kansas.
“This one’s for the Clauson family,” Larson said. “We’re really missing Brian. I love you guys, we’re going to miss him.”
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles2 days ago
Can Joey Logano win from the pole again at Michigan?
Logano got his second pole of the season Friday during qualifying for Sunday’s race at Michigan. He started first at the track in June and won the race, leading 138 of the race’s 200 laps.
“I was surprised after the first couple of rounds when we weren’t as fast as the last time we were here,” Logano said about Friday’s three-round qualifying session. “We were eighth going into the final round but great adjustments to find a little bit more speed out of this thing. I was down there waiting and [crew chief Todd Gordon] said, ‘Take it’ So I said, ‘Yeah, I am going to take it.’ So I got pumped up and I had the attitude that we were going to grab it or we were going to crash. It worked out well.”
Sunday’s race at Michigan will use the same lower-downforce rules tweaks that the Cup Series experimented with at the track in June. The reductions in downforce are expected to be used for the entire 2017 season.
Here’s how the field will line up behind Logano.
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles3 days ago
Kasey Kahne was blunt when talking about his struggles on Wednesday.
Kahne’s contract with Hendrick Motorsports runs through 2018 and said that if he’s not competitive by the end of his deal, then it’s time to move on.
“If I haven’t performed by 2018, I need to leave,” Kahne said via USA Today Sports. “It’s pretty simple. So that will have nothing to do with William Byron or anyone else. If I haven’t performed by then, it’s time to go do something different.”
Byron, who has won five races in the Camping World Truck Series this season, signed a contract with Hendrick Motorsports last week. He’ll drive in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports in 2017. There’s no place at HMS for him currently with Kahne, Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson occupying the team’s four Sprint Cup cars.
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles4 days ago
You won’t be seeing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a Sprint Cup car until the Richmond race at the earliest.
Hendrick Motorsports said Wednesday that Earnhardt has not been cleared to resume racing by doctors for at least the next two race weekends. The timeframe includes races at Michigan and Darlington. Junior has missed the previous five races because of a concussion doctors believe was sustained at Michigan in June. Junior didn’t start feeling significant symptoms from the concussion until Kentucky, three races later.
Alex Bowman, who drove for Junior at New Hampshire in the first race he missed, will drive Sunday at Michigan. Jeff Gordon, who has been Earnhardt Jr.’s primary fill-in driver, will drive at Darlington. Gordon can’t race at Michigan on Sunday because of a prior commitment that would prevent him from being at the track on Friday and Saturday.
“We know how hard Dale is working to get back,” HMS owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “He’s following what the doctors are saying, to the letter, and doing exactly what he needs to do. Everyone wants to see him in a race car, but his health is first and foremost. We’re behind him.”
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles5 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to have some fun.
1. Kevin Harvick (LW: 6): Harvick makes a five-spot leap simply because four of the five drivers ahead of him had major issues throughout the race. Hell, so did Denny Hamlin, but we’ll get to him in a second.
Harvick didn’t qualify well (22nd), but that can be attributed to the lack of a qualifying run in practice. He had an incredibly fast car in race trim and when he fell back to second place behind Joey Logano with less than 150 laps to go, it simply felt like a matter of time before Harvick was going to get around Logano and set sail.
This is also a huge boost for the confidence of the No. 4 team. While that may sound crazy, this was a team that was excelling despite mistakes on pit road and other self-inflicted problems. Harvick has been so good that it may be hard to recognize when the team isn’t fully clicking. This is what happens when Harvick and team have a complete race.
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles6 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.
• We’ve enjoyed the races at Bristol Motor Speedway ever since the track was remodeled and the preferred groove moved up near the wall. But we really enjoyed Saturday/Sunday’s race (won by Kevin Harvick) given Bristol’s work on the bottom groove. In collaboration with NASCAR and the driver’s council, the track added a sticky resin substance on the bottom 18 inches or so of the track to make the bottom groove an option.
- Jay Busbee at From The Marbles7 days ago
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 track is the spotter of the 46 and the driver of the 46,” Busch said, referencing Allgaier. “I’m wrecked half a lap and they still hit me.”
- Jay Busbee at From The Marbles8 days ago
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.