From The Marbles

  • Are Team Penske's Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski the early Daytona 500 favorites?

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 4 hrs ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Teams haven’t done anything other than qualifying runs with their Daytona 500 cars and yet it may be easy find a couple of favorites for Sunday’s race.

    “I would definitely point towards to the Fords and Penske,” Kevin Harvick said.

    Harvick is referring to teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Logano won last week’s exhibition Clash race after Keselowski collided with leader Denny Hamlin on the final lap of the race. Keselowski — thanks to a push from Logano — went to pass Hamlin, who made a very late block and allowed Logano to fly past.

    Keselowski and Logano have won four of the eight points-paying restrictor plate races since 2015. That past history, Jamie McMurray said, is what makes them a favorite before Thursday night’s Duel qualifying races.

    “But, the two Penske cars were already there because they have run well for the last two years at every plate race,” McMurray said. “They’ve been fast. So, before we got here, we knew they were going to be fast.”

    And while Logano and Keselowski have had great equipment in those races, of course, but they haven’t been up front by accident.

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  • Danica Patrick believes she's suffered multiple concussions in her racing career

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 7 hrs ago

    DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Danica Patrick said she could relate to Dale Earnhardt Jr. when he said he’d suffered numerous concussions throughout his time as a driver.

    “I’ve had concussions,” Patrick said. “Every time you crash you have a concussion on a varying degree, I’m sure. So when he said something about having 12 concussions I was like, ‘Oh, I’m sure I’ve had 12 concussions.’”

    Earnhardt Jr. is making his return to the Cup Series in 2017 after missing the second half of 2016 because of concussions sustained over the summer. Junior has discussed his transparency during his recovery process numerous times and Patrick said that openness has helped raise the level of awareness in the garage.

    “Now, I don’t think anyone else has as much luxury sponsorship-wise as Dale Jr. probably does to be able to just get out of the car like that, but it also is coming from a big-name driver that is setting the standard for well-being and it’s admirable,” Patrick said. “I think we like to sweep it all under the rug as drivers like we feel fine and nothing is wrong, but it’s our life.”

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  • Bold idea: NASCAR should have made the first stages of races shorter

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 11 hrs ago

    When NASCAR released the lengths of stagesfor all of its Cup Series races last week, it was clear the lengths of the first two segments were designed to avoid fuel mileage racing within the segments. It’s not the most thrilling of visuals to see a driver pragmatically save fuel to make it to the end of a stage and collect bonus points while other faster cars have to pit for fuel.

    So it’s totally understandable why the sanctioning body extended the lengths of segments 1 and 2 in all 36 Cup races to make sure that everyone will have to pit within a segment. With the first two segments of the Daytona 500 encompassing 60 laps each, drivers will have to stop with approximately 20 laps left in a segment.

    But what if NASCAR had gone the other way and shortened each of the first two segments to make sure that drivers could make it to the end of the stage without pitting? Would the format create more compelling racing? We think so.

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  • If Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins a Cup Series title, he's retiring at the banquet

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 1 day ago

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t putting a date on any retirement plans. Though a Cup Series championship could hasten his departure from the driver’s seat.

    In a wide-ranging interview on the Dan Patrick Show Tuesday, the 42-year-old Earnhardt Jr. said if he won his first series title he’d retire while accepting the trophy for the championship at the Cup Series banquet.

    “If I won the championship on the stage in Vegas, hell yeah,” Junior said with a laugh. “Probably. Wouldn’t it be the best way to go out? On top?”

    When Patrick mentioned the rarity of people, like Peyton Manning, retiring after a title, Junior responded with a “No, but it’s rare anyone wins a championship at 43 years old.”

    Junior’s future has been one of the most discussed topics heading into 2017. He missed half of the 2016 season because of concussion issues and 2017 is the final year of his current contract with Hendrick Motorsports. He’s told the team that he wants to wait a couple months about discussing a contract extension so that he can make sure he’s in position to be able to continue with the team.

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  • People injured at Volusia Speedway when sprint car flips over fence (Video)

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 2 days ago

    UPDATE: 2 p.m. ET

    Per a statement from DirtCar Nationals, one of the injured people was Justin Allgaier’s sprint car crew chief Kelly Kovski.

    Kovski is listed in stable condition at Halifax Health and Allgaier will not compete in any DirtCar Nationals events the rest of the season.

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    Three people were taken to the hospital Sunday night after a sprint car flipped over a fence on the exit of turn 2 at Volusia Speedway Park near Daytona Beach in De Leon Springs, Florida. The incident happened during a World of Outlaws session.

    The car was driven by Dale Blaney, the brother of former NASCAR driver Dave Blaney and the uncle of current No. 21 driver Ryan Blaney. Dale Blaney’s car turned coming off turn 2 and, after contact with other cars, catapulted into a group of fans that were watching the race outside the backstretch.

    The Volusia County Sheriff said three people had been taken to Halifax Health Medical Center — the hospital across from Daytona International Speedway — and two were trauma patients. None of the drivers in the incident were injured.

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  • Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to start on front row for Daytona 500

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 3 days ago

    Chase Elliott is a repeat Daytona 500 pole winner. And he’ll be joined on the front row for the Feb. 26 race by his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    Right after Earnhardt Jr. went to the top spot in the final round of Sunday’s qualifying session Elliott, the last driver on the track, topped Junior’s lap to win the pole and guarantee an all-Hendrick Motorsports front row for the 500.

    “I think the guys [on the No. 88 team] are a little bit disappointed,” Junior said. “They really wanted to get the pole. I’m disappointed too, but am absolutely thrilled to have an all-Hendrick Motorsports front row. And we’ll work on the balance practice a lot this week and make sure it’s a good handling car for the race.”

    Elliott is the first driver to win consecutive poles for the 500 since Ken Schrader won three-straight pole positions in 1988-1990. And while it’s the second-straight pole for Elliott, it’s the third-straight for the No. 24 team. Jeff Gordon qualified first for the 2015 Daytona 500. Elliott replaced Gordon in the No. 24 car in 2016 after Gordon retired.

    That means D.J. Kennington, Reed Sorenson, Timmy Hill and Joey Gase will race Thursday night for the final two berths in the Daytona 500.

  • Takeaways from the Clash: Concussion testing isn't really mandatory

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 3 days ago

    Welcome to the 2017 season and welcome back to our post-race takeaways column. Per usual, we’ll have some random thoughts to espouse after Cup Series races and this column will be the landing spot for them. Let’s go through what we learned during Sunday’s Clash.

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    • We discovered Sunday during the Advance Auto Parts Clash that NASCAR’s new concussion testing policy isn’t mandatory for all drivers that make trips to the infield care center.

    NASCAR announced this week that it had instituted a standard concussion test for driverswho head to the infield care center after crashing. But after Kurt Busch became the first NASCAR driver to crash in 2017 after his car went head-on into the wall, Busch exited the care center without a concussion test.

    [Related: Joey Logano wins Clash as drivers ahead of him make contact]

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  • Joey Logano wins Clash as Hamlin and Keselowski make contact on final lap

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 3 days ago

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    Joey Logano benefited from contact between Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski on the final lap to go from third to first and win the Advance Auto Parts Clash exhibition race at Daytona.

    Logano and Keselowski carved their way through the field over the last five laps of the race and were nose-to-tail heading into turn 1 on the final lap. As Keselowski closed in on Hamlin, the race leader, the No. 2 dove to the inside of Hamlin via a push from Logano in turns 1 and 2 in an attempt to take the lead. Hamlin, likely being aggressive because the race doesn’t pay any points, blocked Keselowski and the two made contact.

    That left the high side wide open for Logano, who sailed past the two damaged cars and had no one close enough to challenge for the win. Kyle Busch finished second while Alex Bowman was third and Danica Patrick was fourth. While Keselowski’s car made it to the finish, Hamlin’s car went spinning and he stopped on the backstretch.

    The race was delayed from Saturday night because of rain and the rain delay perhaps gave us a better idea of what we’ll see in next Sunday’s Daytona 500 because of the similar daytime conditions.

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  • Preseason exhibition Clash race postponed to Sunday

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 4 days ago

    The unofficial first race of the 2017 Cup Series season has been delayed.

    Rain forced the postponement of Saturday night’s Advance Auto Parts Clash to Sunday. The race will begin at 11:30 a.m. ET and be televised on Fox Sports 1.

    The 75-lap race serves as a teaser for the Daytona 500, the biggest event in NASCAR. The 2017 edition of the race features 17 drivers; those who qualified for the 2016 Chase, those who won a pole in 2016 and previous Daytona 500 pole winners. The starting lineup for the field was set by random draw and Brad Keselowski will start on the pole.

    The postponement of the Clash means that it’ll be run just prior to pole qualifying for the Daytona 500. Qualifying for the front row of the Feb. 26 race will be run Sunday afternoon.

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    Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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  • 2017 Preview: Jimmie Johnson leads our projected final four of drivers

    Nick Bromberg at From The Marbles 4 days ago

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    You could probably figure out from the rest of our countdown as to who the top four drivers would be in our 2017 projections. Now it’s time to list those drivers in a projected order. And there’s a gr-eight chance the defending champion is No. 1.

    4. Denny Hamlin: Perhaps the new playoff format will be Hamlin’s catalyst for a championship.

    Hamlin has frequently lamented his bad luck in previous Chases, and has even gone so far as to use the term “Denny Hamlin luck.” And while the three-race rounds in the NASCAR playoffs are ripe for randomness, the carryover of bonus points should serve Hamlin well.

    As bonus points are added to the first three rounds, Hamlin (and everyone else) has a cushion for a blown engine or an untimely crash.

    3. Kevin Harvick: There will inevitably be hiccups in Stewart-Haas Racing’s transition to Ford, but it’s hard to imagine that they’ll affect Harvick and his team enough to prevent them from being excellent once again.

    And if they do, there’s 26 races before the playoffs to figure any issues out.

    Johnson is going to break his tie with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. It’s just a matter of when.

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