From The Marbles

  • Season-opening Daytona exhibition race officially the 'Advance Auto Parts Clash'

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 2 days ago

    The unofficial first race of the Cup Series season has another new name.

    Daytona International Speedway said Wednesday that the Clash, the exhibition race that kicks off Speedweeks every year at Daytona, would be sponsored by Advance Auto Parts. The race, formerly the Sprint Unlimited, didn’t have a sponsor following the departure of Sprint as the title sponsor for the Cup Series.

    Monster Energy, the new Cup Series sponsor, didn’t pick up the rights to the race when its sponsor deal was announced in December.

    The addition of Advance Auto Parts gives the Feb. 18 event another name in its (semi) illustrious history.

    1979-1997: Busch Clash 1998-2000: Bud Shootout 2001-20012: Budweiser Shootout 2013-2016: Sprint Unlimited 2017-?: Advance Auto Parts Clash

    Junior will be replaced in the race by Alex Bowman, who won the pole at Phoenix in Junior’s No. 88 car last year. Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart are also eligible to run in the race but Stewart is retired and Biffle doesn’t have a ride for 2017.

    Hamlin won the race in 2016 and became the first driver since Dale Jarrett in 2000 to follow up a Clash win with a Daytona 500 win.

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  • Carl Edwards' move opens opportunity for Daniel Suarez

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 8 days ago

    The plan was originally for Daniel Suarez to defend his Xfinity Series championship in 2017.

    Plans change.

    Carl Edwards’ decision to step away from NASCAR in 2017 means Suarez won’t have the opportunity to become the first back-to-back Xfinity champion since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Instead, he’ll be going for a Chase berth in the Cup Series in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 19 car.

    Suarez said he found out about his promotion for this season while having lunch with his girlfriend and her parents. After realizing the calls he was getting were important, he stepped away from the table for a while. Then was sworn to secrecy when he got back.

    “And then when I came back, Silvia and her parents, they were asking me what was going on because I came back with a smile like this.  So they were asking me what was going on.  Well, really I wasn’t able to say anything, so I didn’t say anything.”

    Suarez became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR race — and subsequently a NASCAR championship — in 2016. Now he’ll be the first Mexican driver to compete full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

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  • Impossible to argue with Carl Edwards' reasons for stepping aside

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 9 days ago

    Carl Edwards became emotional once during his press conference Wednesday to explain why he’s stepping away from the Cup Series in 2017.

    The moment came when the Missouri native was told of the way NBC Sports described his midwestern sensibilities and upbringing. Edwards, perhaps the most private driver in the Cup Series, fought back tears and turned his head away briefly from those assembled in attendance.

    “I just want to be a good person,” he said.

    It’s a phrase we can all live by. And it’s also one that Edwards has clearly tried to abide by for his teams and sponsors since his entrance into the Cup Series in 2004.

    The 28-time winner has been constantly careful of the image he represents for his brands and teams. Any press conference about Edwards and his lifestyle almost always included a reference to longtime sponsor Subway.

    Edwards always gave considered, if not not terribly revealing, answers to questions. He was the one driver who always took his sunglasses off for a TV interview before or during practice and qualifying.

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  • Healthy and satisfied with his career, Carl Edwards walks away from NASCAR

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 9 days ago

    Carl Edwards said three main factors contributed to his sudden departure from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

    Edwards, who declined to use the word “retire” throughout his press conference Tuesday, confirmed that he wouldn’t be driving full-time in the Cup Series in 2017. He’ll be replaced by Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez in the No. 19 car.

    Edwards’ decision to walk away from one of the most competitive rides in the Cup Series less than two months from the beginning of the 2017 season took many by surprise. But watching Edwards discuss his reasons for leaving, it was apparent that he’d given the decision countless hours of brainpower.

    – A 28-time winner in the Cup Series. Edwards said he’s satisfied with his career, even though he doesn’t have a Cup title or a Daytona 500 win. Edwards has come oh-so-close to two championships, including crashing out while leading on a late restart in November at Homestead.

    “You guys know that I don’t race just for the trophies,” Edwards said. “This has been a neat journey for me and something that I’ve been rewarded by the challenges.”

    – And Edwards said he’s happy to walk away from driving full-time while completely healthy.

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  • Carl Edwards will not race in 2017 to pursue other interests

    Jay Busbee at From The Marbles 10 days ago

    Carl Edwards, the 37-year-old driver who was only ten laps from a NASCAR championship just two months ago, will be retiring effective immediately, and will not race in 2017, according to a report in Fox Sports. The report, citing multiple sources and backed up with corroborating reports, indicates that Edwards will retire to pursue interests outside of racing.

    Joe Gibbs Racing will hold a press conference Wednesday, at which it is expected to announce that Daniel Suarez, the reigning Xfinity Cup champion, will take over Edwards’ seat in the No. 19 Arris Toyota.

    Edwards broke into NASCAR’s top series in 2004 when he began driving the No. 99 for Roush Fenway. He jumped to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015. Over 445 starts, Edwards won 28 races and 22 poles, placing in the top 10 in almost exactly half (220) of his races. He finished in the top 10 in eight of his 12 full seasons behind the wheel.

  • Toyota unveils new Cup car for 2017

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 11 days ago

    The Toyota Camry will have a different look in 2017.

    Toyota officially unveiled the 2018 Toyota Camry passenger car on Monday and along with it, showed off the redesigned Camry that will compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

    “The collaboration between Calty Design Group and TRD has produced a NASCAR Camry that showcases aggressive styling that is sure to turn heads on the race track and among our fans in Toyota showrooms across the country,” Toyota vice president of marketing Ed Laukes said in a statement. “Reimagining both the Camry race car and its production counterpart has been a tremendous undertaking and our goal has been to maintain parallel design characteristics so our fans can enjoy driving a Camry that closely resembles the one their favorite NASCAR driver races each weekend.”

    The official release of the new Camry comes as Chevrolet confirmed it will discontinue production of the Chevy SS at the end of the year. The SS, of course, is the car that Chevy Cup teams run. So Chevrolet teams will need to find a new car model to run in 2018.

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  • Texas Motor Speedway to lower banking in turns 1 and 2 in repave

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 14 days ago

    Texas Motor Speedway will flatten out turns 1 and 2 when the track gets repaved before the April 9 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

    The track announced the unsurprising repaving project Friday. TMS’ weathered surface had led to major drainage problems and significant weather delays. Weepers — water coming to the track surface from underneath — meant last fall’s race at the track was delayed until the evening hours and subsequently rain-shortened.

    The track’s corners are currently banked at 24 degrees. Turns 3 and 4 will keep that banking while turns 1 and 2 will be flattened out to 20 degrees. According to a track release, the new asphalt will be laid over the existing pavement.

    Improved drainage along the frontstretch and backstretch will also be installed.

    Atlanta Motor Speedway announced earlier in the week that its surface would be repaved after its race in March. Kentucky Speedway, a track also owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. (the owner of TMS and AMS), changed the banking in its corners when it repaved before the 2016 season. The banking was increased in turns 1 and 2 to 17 degrees while 3 and 4 remained 14 degrees.

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  • Michael McDowell will drive No. 95 car full-time in 2017

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 15 days ago

    Michael McDowell will have a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride for the first time in his career.

    Leavine Family Racing said Thursday that McDowell would drive its No. 95 car for all 36 races in 2017. McDowell drove 31 of 36 races for the team in 2016 and had two top-10 finishes.

    McDowell spent 29 of those 31 races in the No. 95 car while Ty Dillon drove seven races for the team. In the season-opening Daytona 500 and the final race of the season at Homestead, McDowell drove a second entry for the team. The Homestead race in the No. 59 car tied McDowell’s best finish of the season (10th).

    Dillon will drive full-time for Germain Racing in 2017. Todd Parrott, McDowell’s crew chief for the final seven races of 2016, will return in the same capacity.

    “With both Michael and Todd returning to the team this season we are looking to maintain the consistency we found towards the end of last year and continue to push forward and build off the positive momentum,” team vice president Jeremy Lange said in a statement. “We had great performances on the track last year and we’re hoping that continuing in that direction will lead to more sponsorships for the team.”

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  • Kevin Harvick to serve as analyst for eight lower-tier races for Fox in 2017

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 16 days ago

    Kevin Harvick could eventually be following Jeff Gordon to the broadcast booth full-time after he’s done driving.

    Harvick will serve as an analyst for eight Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races in 2017 for Fox Sports. He’ll be part of a rotating cast of current drivers who will serve as guest analysts throughout the season. Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski and Danica Patrick also spent time in the booth during Fox races last year.

    “I really enjoy calling races,” Harvick said in a Fox release.  “I enjoy the perspective of sitting up there and trying to figure out what’s going on. I also want to be a part of watching these young guys come up through the NASCAR Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series and have the experience of having been in the booth when they raced because, ultimately, it’s something I want to do down the road when I’m done driving.”

    Harvick will be in the booth for the season-opening Xfinity race at Daytona for the third-straight season. He’ll also be in the booth at Eldora for the dirt truck race at the track owned by Tony Stewart, his Cup Series team owner.

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  • Atlanta to be repaved after Cup Series race in March

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 17 days ago

    One of the oldest surfaces in NASCAR is being repaved.

    Atlanta Motor Speedway said Tuesday it would be resurfacing the 1.54-mile track after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the track in March.

    A track release said the new surface would be laid down atop the current surface, which has been used since it was put down in 1997 and is the second-oldest in the Cup Series. The track said it wouldn’t be making any modifications to the banking in the corners, which is 24 degrees. Intermediate tracks like Homestead, Las Vegas and Kansas have added progressive banking in the corners — where the top groove is slightly more banked than the bottom — during their repaves in recent years.

    One of the selling points of Atlanta has been the age of the pavement, which quickly wears out tires and provides multiple grooves of racing. But repaves are inevitable, and this was a decision that was coming sooner rather than later. Texas Motor Speedway, another track with a 15+-year old surface, will also likely be repaved sometime soon.

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