From the Marbles - NASCAR

  • After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

    Name: Austin Dillon

    NASCAR Experience: 2011 Camping World Truck Series champion. 2013 Nationwide Series champion. 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion?

    Most recent team: Richard Childress Racing

    Most recent season finish: 20th

    2014 accomplishments: Completed more laps than any other driver in the Cup Series not named Jeff Gordon. Finished fifth at Daytona in July.

    Most memorable moment: Winning the pole for the Daytona 500. You can't forget that the No. 3 was back, could you? And please promise to not tell Ryan Newman about the 500. He's still happy about finishing second and we don't want to rehash that.

    Strengths: Only Greg Biffle has a shot at a three-peat.

    2015 goals: A championship, duh. Look at the pattern. Though a Chase berth would be nice.

    FTM's Take: For the flurry of attention that winning the pole at Daytona received, Dillon settled into relative NASCAR anonymity. And while it was because he didn't have many super-strong runs, it's because he was like his teammates. There were few brutally bad ones either. Maybe there's something in the water at RCR? We should have Carrie Underwood investigate.

    No, it's not realistic that Dillon will win the 2015 title, but if the consistency carries over, there's no reason for Chase hopes to not exist into August. We've seen how avoiding bad finishes can pay off in the Cup Series, and if it's a skill, Dillon's showing that he has it.

    Previous reviews: No. 21 Paul Menard, No. 22 Brian Vickers, No. 23 Marcos Ambrose, No. 24 Martin Truex Jr., No. 25 Tony Stewart, No. 26 Casey Mears, No. 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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!

  • Roush Fenway Racing has found a fourth Xfinity Series driver for 2015.

    The team announced Thursday that Darrell Wallace would drive the No. 6 car in the former Nationwide Series in 2015. Wallace, 21, won four Camping World Truck Series races in 2014 while driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. When he won at Martinsville in 2013, he became the first black driver to win a NASCAR national series race since 1963.

    “We are very excited to bring Bubba Wallace into the Roush Fenway fold,” said team president Steve Newmark. “He is viewed in industry circles as one of the brightest young drivers and I feel that we are very fortunate to be able to bring him on board.  He has a charismatic personality and at the same time has exhibited the ability to win on the race track.  We are looking forward to getting him in our race cars next season.”

    Though he drove for KBM in 2014, Wallace was previously under contract with Joe Gibbs Racing as a developmental driver. At the conclusion of the 2014 season, JGR hadn't announced anything concrete for Wallace other than references to a partial season in the Xfinity Series. Earlier in December, Wallace was granted his release from the team.

    WIth Roush, Wallace will drive with Elliott Sadler, Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed. No sponsorship was revealed with the announcement.

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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!

  • After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

    Name: Paul Menard

    NASCAR Experience: Parts of 12 seasons in the Sprint Cup Series including eight full-time seasons. Brickyard 400 winner.

    Most recent team: Richard Childress Racing

    Most recent season finish: 21st

    2014 accomplishments: Paul Menard doesn't like talking about Paul Menard and talks about Paul Menard in the third person. Brevity is big. Five top fives. Third at Las Vegas. 2011 Brickyard 400 winner.

    Most memorable moment: 2011 Brickyard 400 winner. Was twice in the top 10 in points in 2014. Why do you want all this information?

    Strengths: 2011 Brickyard 400 winner. Last name.

    2015 goals: Attempt to go the entire season without an interview, which may be impossible if the Chase is made. This is a tough potential dilemma.

    FTM's Take: The quietest driver in the Cup Series garage, Menard is not one for many public words. He's got the gig that many of us would love to have. He's self-funded, drives for a good team in the series and stays out of the spotlight. Of course, that's easy to do when you run mid-pack, but there's a lot of something to be said for never making headlines on the down side of the spectrum.

    However, as mentioned in the 2015 goals section of this entry, Menard would have to put himself in the spotlight if he made the Chase. And given the expanded Chase field, it's not a crazy thought. He was 14th in points after Atlanta, but was the fourth driver out on points after Richmond and ended up 22nd. If he stays consistent and more drivers ahead of him win (and maybe even Menard himself wins), who knows?

    Previous reviews: No. 22 Brian Vickers, No. 23 Marcos Ambrose, No. 24 Martin Truex Jr., No. 25 Tony Stewart, No. 26 Casey Mears, No. 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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!

  • In his time on the stand Wednesday, Kurt Busch said he told his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll multiple times to leave his motorhome on the night of September 26.

    Busch testified as part of hearing for a request for protection order Driscoll placed in the wake of her domestic assault allegations against Busch on the Friday night of Dover race weekend. Driscoll alleges that Busch slammed her head into the wall of his motorhome multiple times.

    Busch said those allegations are false.

    From the Wilmington News-Journal via USA Today:

    Busch testified that he had been sleeping the night of Sept. 26 when Driscoll arrived at his motorhome with her then-nine-year-old son, Houston. He says he told her repeatedly to leave, but she kept bringing her son in from another room, saying that Busch needed to tell the boy that the relationship between Busch and Driscoll was over.

    Busch says Driscoll came to his motorhome uninvited and unannounced.

    Busch says while the two were in his bedroom, he again asked her to leave, for what he said was the fifth time. He says he cupped her cheeks in his hands, looked her in the eye and said, "you need to leave." He says he was defusing the situation.

    On Tuesday, Driscoll testified that Busch was struggling with alcoholism and depression and corroborated her claims made in a report to Dover police in November. The allegations are still being investigated.

    Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion, finished 12th in the 2014 standings.

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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!

  • After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

    Name: Brian Vickers

    NASCAR Experience: Seven full-time seasons in the Cup Series, 12 overall. Yes, just turned 31 years old in October. Three wins and the 2003 Nationwide Series title.

    Most recent team: Michael Waltrip Racing

    Most recent season finish: 22nd.

    2014 accomplishments: Second at Daytona in the summer after rain cut short the race and gave Aric Almirola the win and a Chase berth. Finished fourth at Texas and Talladega in the spring.

    Most memorable moment: It's not pretty, but it's the lap two crash at Michigan in June after qualifying 10th.

    Strengths: Three wins have come on a diverse array of tracks (restrictor plate, two-mile track and one-mile track.)

    2015 goals: Recover quickly and get back to the Sprint Cup Series fully healthy.

    FTM's Take: After winning a race while driving part-time for MWR in 2013, Vickers is rewarded with a full-time ride in 2014. And after finishing 22nd, he's now going to miss the beginning of 2015 because of complications from a 2010 heart procedure. That's tough.

    Last year, MWR took a step back when dropping down to two full-time cars. Vickers has shown he can be competitive in the right situation. If MWR and Joe Gibbs Racing can figure out their information sharing, Vickers can be a threat at times when he gets back in the driver's seat.

    Previous reviews: No. 23 Marcos Ambrose, No. 24 Martin Truex Jr., No. 25 Tony Stewart, No. 26 Casey Mears, No. 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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!

  • Patricia Driscoll, the ex-girlfriend of Kurt Busch, testified Tuesday at a hearing regarding her filing of a protection order against the driver.

    In a claim of domestic assault filed in November, Driscoll alleged that Busch grabbed her head and smashed it three times against the wall of his motorhome on September 26. On Tuesday, Driscoll said that Busch had issues with alcoholism and depression while Busch's attorneys refuted everything she said.

    Just take a look at the first three paragraphs from the Delaware News-Journal's recap of the hearing:

    NASCAR driver Kurt Busch was described by his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, as someone struggling with alcoholism and depression the night he erupted into a rage and smashed her face into the bedroom wall of his motorhome.

    Attorneys for Busch described Driscoll as a mercenary who was an unbelievable storyteller, and a public relations professional who was bent on trying to destroy the driver's career.

    "Why don't you just call a press conference and say every bad thing you can about him," said Rusty Hardin, Busch's attorney.

    Driscoll leads the Armed Forces Foundation, a foundation that Busch supported throughout their relationship.

    Attorneys for both parties declined comment after the hearing, according to the News-Journal. In her testimony, Driscoll said that Busch didn't want to extend his two-year contract with Stewart-Haas Racing, the team he joined in 2014. He made the Chase in 2014 but was eliminated after the first round, which ended at Dover.

    Driscoll also said that Busch "was angry that Tony Stewart had killed that kid and ruined his entire career" in reference to the incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on August 9 when Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward.

    The hearing is set to continue Wednesday morning. In November at Homestead, NASCAR CEO Brian France said that the sport would let the legal process take place before deeming if disciplinary action would be necessary against Busch.

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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!

  • Sprint will not return as the primary sponsor of NASCAR's top series upon the conclusion of its current contract at the end of the 2016 season.

    "We are proud of our association with NASCAR's top series but have made the decision not to extend our sponsorship beyond the next two years," Sprint vice president of marketing Steve Gaffney said in a statement. "As we look to the future, Sprint is focused on investing in maintaining a competitive edge and providing consumers with the best value in wireless."

    The company's name had been on NASCAR's Cup Series since 2008 when Sprint and Nextel merged. Nextel took over from Winston as the tobacco company left after the 2003 season. When Nextel entered the series, NASCAR instituted the 10-race Chase format for the championship after crowning the season winner over a full season previously. Given the switch to the winner-take-all final race of the season in the 2014 Chase, it seems unlikely that a new sponsor would also mean a different title format. However, the Chase has been tweaked four times in 11 seasons.

    “NASCAR and Sprint have enjoyed a long and productive partnership that has returned significant value to both parties," NASCAR chief communications officer Brett Jewkes said in a statement. "We understand significant changes within Sprint and the highly competitive business environment it is in has led to a decision not to extend its Cup Series entitlement position following the 2016 season. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a very unique, premium sports marketing platform with strong momentum, so we are very confident of moving forward in 2017 with an outstanding new partner. In the meantime, we look forward to Sprint’s partnership on the best racing series in the world for the next two seasons.”

    NASCAR's original contract with Nextel was for 10 years and $700 million. Sprint then extended the contract for three more seasons.

    NASCAR recently found a new sponsor for the Nationwide Series in Comcast. The No. 2 series will be known as the Xfinity Series starting in 2015. Camping World took over the title sponsorship of the Truck Series in 2009.

    In addition to the change in sponsorship, NASCAR has also seen a shift in its television coverage recently. ESPN and TNT concluded their agreements to broadcast Sprint Cup Series races at the end of 2014. For the next 10 years, Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series races will be split between Fox and NBC properties.

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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!

  • After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

    Name: Marcos Ambrose

    NASCAR Experience: Six full seasons in the Sprint Cup Series and two consecutive wins at Watkins Glen in 2011 and 2012.

    Most recent team: Richard Petty Motorsports.

    Most recent season finish: 23rd.

    2014 accomplishments: Top fives at Bristol and Martinsville to start the season, and eighth at Sonoma and a second at Watkins Glen.

    Most memorable moment: The battle with AJ Allmendinger to try to secure a berth in the Chase. Watch it again, will you?

    Oh, and this, which gave us a teaser of what was to come in the Chase.

    Strengths: This doesn't need to be explained, does it?

    2015 goals: Kick some ass in V8 Supercars.

    FTM's Take: One of the road course drivers in recent memory will be especially missed when the Cup Series heads to Sonoma and Watkins Glen. We'll remember the two wins at Watkins Glen, and we'll remember his misses of other wins too There was the time he stalled the car going uphill at Sonoma. The way his dominance in 2013 was snatched away. The duel with Allmendinger at the end of this year's race.

    But let's flash back to 2012, shall we? What a freaking final lap. This is going to be our favorite memory of Ambrose in the Cup Series.

    Previous reviews: No. 24 Martin Truex Jr., No. 25 Tony Stewart, No. 26 Casey Mears, No. 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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!

  • After doing exit interviews for Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2013, we're turning the tables. We want the drivers to sell themselves. So here are the resumés for all full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers in 2014. Then, at the end, we'll provide a summation of the driver's season in 150 words or less.

    Name: Martin Truex Jr.

    NASCAR Experience: Nine full Sprint Cup Series seasons and two wins. The 2004 and 2005 NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) [Xfinity] Series champion.

    Most recent team: Furniture Row Racing

    Most recent season finish: 24th

    2014 accomplishments: Finished fourth at Kansas in the fall and led a lap at Talladega in the fall. Didn't get hit by a meteor at the beginning of the season when on-track performance started out poorly.

    Most memorable moment: Simply having a full-time ride after NAPA left Michael Waltrip Racing following the race manipulation thing at Richmond last year. Unrelated to performance on the track, it's having longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex back at the track following her August cancer diagnosis.

    Strengths: Won on a road course and a one-mile track and has shown strength at intermediate tracks.

    2015 goals: Try to replicate Furniture Row's 2013 when it made the Chase with Kurt Busch. Get win No. 3.

    FTM's Take: While Furniture Row and Truex were meant for each other for 2014 given their situations entering the season, the results weren't what anyone was expecting. And we don't mean that in a good way. It's crazy to think that Truex led just a single lap and had one top-five finish. Of his nine full-time Sprint Cup seasons, 2014 had his fewest top 10s, laps led and his lowest finish in the standings. But all of that was second to Pollex's cancer diagnosis.

    Simply put, it was a rough season for Truex. With a crowded field ahead, moving up is easier said than done. But Truex should contend for the top 20 next year.

    Previous reviews: No. 25 Tony Stewart, No. 26 Casey Mears, No. 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 28, Danica Patrick, No. 29, Justin Allgaier, No. 30, David Gilliland, No. 31 Cole Whitt, No. 32 David Ragan, No. 33 Michael Annett, No. 34 Reed Sorenson, No. 35 Alex Bowman

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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!

  • Pardon us if you've heard this one before: The eligibility criteria for the Sprint Unlimited is changing.

    Here's how the field will be composed for the Feb. 14, 2015 race:

    • All drivers who made the 2014 Chase are in. There's 16.

    • All drivers who won a pole in 2014 who weren't in the Chase. That gives us seven more drivers.

    • All drivers who competed full-time in 2014 who have previously won a Daytona 500 pole. This fills the field out to 25 with the addition of Danica Patrick and Martin Truex, Jr.

    However, Brian Vickers, a 2014 pole winner, is expected to miss the race because of complications from a 2010 heart procedure. The NASCAR release says a "minimum of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are eligible to participate in the Sprint Unlimited at DIS" and that "any remaining spots will be filled by drivers highest in 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship points who are not already eligible."

    If the race expands to 25 to meet the minimum because of Vickers missing the race, his teammate Clint Bowyer would get in. Bowyer is neither a former race winner of the Unlimited or Daytona 500 pole winner and was 19th in the 2014 points standings. Drivers Nos. 1-18 all are eligible for the race.

    Here is the original field of 25 drivers based off the bullet points above.

    • Kyle Busch
    • Austin Dillon
    • Jeff Gordon
    • David Gilliland
    • Denny Hamlin
    • Kevin Harvick
    • Jimmie Johnson
    • Matt Kenseth
    • Brad Keselowski
    • Kyle Larson
    • Joey Logano
    • Jamie McMurray
    • Brian Scott
    • Tony Stewart
    • Brian Vickers
    • Kurt Busch
    • Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    • Carl Edwards
    • Danica Patrick
    • Greg Biffle
    • Martin Truex Jr.
    • Ryan Newman
    • AJ Allmendinger
    • Kasey Kahne
    • Aric Almirola

    The race will once again be 75 laps. No format for the 75 laps was announced.

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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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