From The Marbles
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles1 day 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 Marbles1 day 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 Marbles3 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 Marbles4 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 Marbles4 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 Marbles5 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.
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles6 days ago
There’s no official word on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s status for Michigan, but it’s clear that Jeff Gordon won’t be driving in his place if Junior can’t go.
Gordon told NBC Sports that he wouldn’t be subbing for Junior next weekend if necessary because of a prior commitment. Gordon said he was pretty sure Alex Bowman, who subbed for Junior at New Hampshire while Gordon was on vacation in France, would be the substitute driver if Junior isn’t cleared.
“I didn’t know I was going to be doing all of this,” Gordon said.
Junior is still rehabbing from a concussion doctors believe he suffered at Michigan. He raced at Sonoma, Daytona and Kentucky before he started feeling symptoms. He’s missed races at New Hampshire, Indianapolis, Pocono and Watkins Glen.
Gordon is making his 801st career start Saturday night at Bristol. He qualified 11th. If Junior returns at or after Michigan for Darlington, Bristol could be the final race of Gordon’s career.
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles6 days ago
A race after sweeping the pole positions at the Sprint Cup Series’ road courses, Carl Edwards swept the poles at Bristol.
Edwards turned the fastest lap of Friday’s qualifying session for Saturday night’s race at Bristol for his fifth pole of the season. Edwards won the pole for the Cup race at Watkins Glen two weeks ago and also has won poles at Sonoma and Texas this season.
His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin qualified second and Kyle Busch qualified third. Matt Kenseth was fifth and Martin Truex Jr., driving for technically-aligned Furniture Row Racing, qualified seventh. It’s a pretty safe bet the Joe Gibbs Racing cars are (unsurprisingly) going to be the cars to beat during Saturday’s race.
We’ll also see if Saturday night’s race is setting up for domination by Edwards. He led 276 laps at Bristol in the spring as he won his first race of the season. Bristol has changed since then; the track has added a sealer at the bottom of the track along with other modifications to attempt to make the lower groove more competitive. While those changes may impact the type of racing Saturday night, they sure didn’t slow JGR down.
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles8 days ago
William Byron is moving up to the Xfinity Series in 2017.
Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday it had signed Byron, the winningest driver in the Camping World Truck Series this season, to a contract. Byron, 18, will drive for JR Motorsports in 2017 in the Xfinity Series.
“William is a special person and a special talent,” Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “It’s been impressive to watch him come up through the ranks and have success at every level. What he’s already accomplished this season has been remarkable. On top of all his ability, he’s a terrific young man from a great family, and we think he has a very bright future with our organization.”
Byron currently drives the No. 9 truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He has five wins in 2016; no other driver has more than two. Byron leads the points standings by 37 points over Daniel Hemric. His five wins are a Truck Series rookie record and there are still nine races left in the season.
His rise through NASCAR is nothing short of meteoric. Byron first started driving in 2012 at 15 and drove the previous two seasons for JR Motorsports’ late-model team.
- Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles15 days ago
Bryan Clauson’s family said five people were able to benefit from Clauson’s organs following the driver’s death Sunday evening.
Clauson, 27, died a day after he was injured in a sprint car crash in Belleview, Kansas. Clauson’s car flipped multiple times and was struck while it was upside down on the ground. Clauson was airlifted to a hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, after the crash.
His family revealed it found out about his registration as an organ donor while waiting at the hospital.
One of the gifts that Bryan gave us while we sat next to him praying for some good news, was the moment we found out that he was an organ donor. It shouldn’t have surprised us. All of us have felt Bryan’s generosity throughout his life. The gift of life is the most amazing gesture and Bryan will live on not only through us and all the people he touched along the way, but from the lucky individuals that will benefit from Bryan making a decision to be a donor.