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From The Marbles

Happy Hour: How does the car get in Miles Monster's hand?

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles
Johnson builds on track record with 9th Dover win
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Jimmie Johnson celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race with his wife Chandra, left, and daughters Lydia and Genevieve, right, at Dover International Speedway, Sunday, June 1, 2014, in Dover, Del. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com or @NickBromberg.We'll post them here, have a good time and everyone's happy.

Thursday, Thursday, Thursday. The day the World Cup begins. And the NASCAR World Cup begins Sunday, which is totally more important than the actual World Cup, right?

Anyone else interested to see if the pavement at Michigan will have aged over the past year? Maybe we should invent a track sandblaster to age pavement 20 years in a year without ruining the structural integrity of pavement. Think of how genius that idea would be.

On to the questions.

The Miles the Monster trophy always has the winners die-cast in his hand in victory lane. I've always wondered how prepared they are for the winner. Do they have a die-cast for every driver? Even for the very long shots like a Cole Whitt? And do they ensure they have the die-cast with the paint scheme they are driving that day, even if its a specialty paint scheme? - Tim

I checked with Dover to answer the question, and the short answer is yes, they do have almost every driver's diecast. Here's the long answer.

Since FedEx is a presenting sponsor of the spring race at Dover, the company "delivers" the diecast of the winning car to victory lane at Dover. As the race is going on, the track and Racing Authentics work to narrow down the list of people who are in contention. Then, barring a crazy development in the race, they have a general idea of what diecasts they'll need. Ideally, if it's a one-off paint scheme that wins the race and the diecast is in stock, the track will use that. If Jimmie Johnson had won in, say, a pink car two weeks ago and the diecast wasn't in stock, the track would have used the standard No. 48 diecast.

If by some crazy resason a driver with no merchandise wins, the track has a stock Dover car to use in Miles' hand. But since the trophy was introduced when Ryan Newman won at Dover in 2004, the track has not had to use a generic car.

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With the good run of Kyle Larson this week, it got me thinking…  When was the last time a Rookie of the Year contender won in their rookie season.  I know Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500, but he wasn’t a ROY contender.  I remember Jimmie did it, Tony did it, Carl did it, Kasey did it, but when was the last one?  I can’t recall a season recently where a rookie went on to win. - Brian

The last time a rookie won a race in the Cup Series was 2009, when Joey Logano had his fuel mileage win at New Hampshire. Since then, the Rookies of the Year have been, in order, Kevin Conway, Andy Lally, Stephen Leicht and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (who had a better season in 2013 than he is currently having.)

Larson of course is the easy pick among rookies to win this season, especially given his previous two Nationwide Series wins this year. Austin Dillon has a chance too, but for as consistent as he's been this year, he hasn't been exceptionally fast. He's on a "fuel-mileage win or bust" track at the moment.

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With the way Hendrick Motorsports is having such a consistent year, excluding issues with wrecks.  The 4 drivers are having a really good year.  If the Chase starts the way it is looking, Jr Johnson and Gordon will be the biggest threat to win the championship.  Stewart Haas is having way too much engine trouble.  Gibbs is way too inconsistent to be a threat, Roush is having internal issues with resigning Edwards and Biffle for them to be focused.  Childress is having a turn around season, Waltrip still stinging from Richmond last year, and the young gun Larson, who isn't too bad of a driver but might be too young to  carry his team.  Do you see the same thing so far through the season now? - Matt

Kasey Kahne has shown speed, but he just hasn't had the finishes or the consistent speed that the other three Hendrick cars have had.

Before the season, I thought the biggest threats to Jimmie Johnson would be Harvick, Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch. I still think that's going to be the case. I believe that Joe Gibbs Racing is going to find the speed they've been lacking compared to the Hendrick cars so far, and I think Harvick is having the best problems possible. They don't need to find any speed.

One team that was left out in the question are the Penske cars. If anyone's going to break up that pack of four, I think it's either Logano or Keselowski.

Give me until the end of June, and I think I'll be able to guess. I still have Ambrose in the Chase because of Sonoma and Watkins Glen coming up. I think those two races give us the best shot of a "surprise" Chase driver. I'll also say this, I think Kahne, Kenseth and Stewart get a win this year. I'll say August Pocono for Kahne, Kentucky for Kenseth and Daytona in July for Stewart.

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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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