Archive for November, 2009

PostHeaderIcon Danica underwhelms with ‘announcement,’ but there’s more …

We really should know better by now. When Danica Patrick promised a "major announcement" Monday morning on Good Morning America, we were all thinking it would have something to do with NASCAR. Would she finally end this two-step of leaked rumors and silence and commit to racing with JR Motorsports?

Um … no.

The "big announcement" turned out to be the fact that she would be rocking the GoDaddy logo on her Indy ride full-time next year. Danica made the announcement via an unveiling of the car at right live on GMA, in between your local weather and tips for keeping within your budget this holiday season. In other words, exactly the kind of place you’d expect to find race fans.

But, yes, I tuned in, and this makes me guilty. So now I’m bringing the rest of you down with me. (Also announced: the formalization of a contract with Andretti Racing, a deal that had been first announced sometime back during the Clinton administration, or so it seems.)

Still, dig a little deeper and there are some potential possibilities. Sirius Speedway is reporting that Danica will drive a JR Motorsports Chevrolet "in a clandestine test session at Daytona International Speedway within the next two weeks." Make of that what you will, but any time the word "clandestine" is involved, we’re all over it.  (Hat tip: The Daly Planet.)

More news — actually, any news — as it develops.

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PostHeaderIcon Quick Pole For You – What was the biggest NASCAR story this season?

Based on the email I got from my last post, I’ll put this out to you as a poll.  Why people email me instead of posting a comment is beyond me though – is it not easier to comment than to email?

What do you think was the biggest story in NASCAR this year?

  2 votes | Results

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PostHeaderIcon Quick Review of Some of This Year’s Most Talked About NASCAR Stories


Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson holds his Tiffany-made Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup trophy 103 floors and 1,454 feet above Manhattan on Tuesday — Jimmie Johnson Day — in New York City. (Photo Credit: Empire State Building)  via

Another NASCAR season is in the record books and Jimmie Johnson is left at the top of the heap.  Not only is Johnson a four –time winner of NASCAR’s biggest title, but he won all four in consecutive years.


Only three other drivers (Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr., and Jeff Gordon) have ever won 4 or more Championships but none of them have ever done it in four straight years.


 What an amazing feat that Johnson and his crew have accomplished by winning their record setting 4th championship in a row – we witnessed history in the making this year that’s for sure.

Other big stories this NASCAR season included Tony Stewart’s break-out performance as an Owner/Driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s lack-luster performance, the ‘Big Ones’ at Talladega, and Mark Martin’s almost-Championship drive.

Tony Stewart started this year as a new car owner driving for himself with expectations of maybe making it into the Chase and maybe even being in contention for a win or two at the end of it.  Well his performance this year was of Championship caliber heading into the last ten races of the season.


 Stewart led the points for a good part of the season and notched himself 4 wins and 15 top 5 finishes on his way to 7th place in the standings.  Stewart was also NASCAR’s 2nd largest winnings earner with just over $6.8 million won.


One person who didn’t perform up to expectations this year was Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Certainly Earnhardt had higher expectations for himself and his team, as did his fans, and car owner Rick Hendrick.  Junior’s frustration over his year was seen in interviews late in the season which sparked an out-cry from his fans who never really have witnessed a slump such as this in Junior’s career – although I see it more as bad luck rather than a slump.


Junior’s driving ability hasn’t changed, and his team doesn’t have bad equipment either, but he has been the victim of some bad luck on the track and off; I mean his crew was involved in a car accident on the way to the track on race day while they were in Phoenix.  I don’t care who you are that has got to play on your mind just a little bit for the rest of the day.  And that was the way Junior’s season went.


Speaking of driving ability, it doesn’t matter how good you are once the ‘Big One’ happens at Talladega as you are more than likely to get caught up in it somehow.  Carl Edwards went for a huge scary ride back in the spring and then Ryan Newman and Mark Martin had somewhat less scary flips but still breath holding none-the-less in the fall.  What is the answer to stop these types of accidents?  It varies between drivers and so-called NASCAR experts, but to me if they have to slow down in the corners they’ll be less likely to get air-borne when they touch.  The only way to do make them slow down is to get rid of the banking in the corners.


You know it was that flip that probably caused Mark Martin the chance for the Championship.  I know, Johnson had issues at Texas and Martin made up a bunch of ground, but imagine how much better it would have been if Martin wasn’t in that accident at Talladega and finished in the top 10?  He had Johnson mired in the back of the field with two laps left and he was looking at a possible top 5 finish if the cards played out right.  Personally I think it was this race that caused Martin his chance at his first Cup.  It was the first time he ever flipped a car too.


Martin still had a stellar year and certainly would have won the Championship if it weren’t for the rock solid performance of his teammate Johnson.


Once again Martin is left saying, “Wait until Next year” and given the performance of his team this year I can’t wait for next year because I honestly think Martin will win his first ever Sprint Cup Championship in 2010.

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PostHeaderIcon Best of the decade: The top 10 NASCAR stories of the 2000s

We’re at the end of the 2000s, and we’re taking a look back at the top stories, events, drivers and moments of the last decade. It was a time of change in NASCAR, a time when the regional sport blew up nationally, but change always comes with a price. Today, the top stories of the decade.

1. Death of Dale Earnhardt. It was almost Shakespearean in its drama and tragedy. On the very day NASCAR began its major new television deal, its most famous star died in the final lap of the Daytona 500, blocking for his son and teammate. Earnhardt’s death and resultant outpouring of grief instantly transformed the sport, vaulting it to untouched heights of popularity and awareness. Sadly, you can now divide NASCAR into pre- and post-Daytona 2001.

2. The introduction of the Chase. Looking for a way to maximize end-of-season excitement, NASCAR rolled out the Chase for the Cup in 2004. And initially, it seemed brilliant; the Chase was in doubt until the final turn of the 2004 race in Homestead. But the points reset has caused controversy, as has the fact that one guy has been more successful at it than anyone else.

3. Jimmie Johnson‘s four-peat. Nobody in NASCAR history has ever won four titles in a row, and Johnson has done so in dominant fashion. Love him, hate him or disregard him, but Johnson is one of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history, and he’s at the top of his game right now.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. leaves DEI. The other shoe dropping from the passing of the Intimidator came six years later, when Dale Earnhardt Jr. packed up and left the company that bore his name following an ugly, protracted fight with his stepmother Theresa. Going to Hendrick was supposed to mean Earnhardt would become a worldwide superstar with the best equipment in the sport. So far it hasn’t worked out that way.

5. The debut of the Car of Tomorrow. Earnhardt’s death spurred a raft of safety improvements, including track barriers and in-car head restraint devices, but the most significant was the Car of Tomorrow. Rolled out as a safer alternative to previous vehicles, as well as a more cost-effective approach that narrowed the range of engineering tinkering, the Car debuted in 2007 and was formally introduced in 2008. Its blocky structure and narrow engineering possibilities led to complaints from both fans and drivers.

6. The arrival of Toyota in NASCAR. NASCAR has always been a uniquely American sport, so when Toyota entered the sport in the mid-2000s, starting with lower-level series, the howls of protest started. Never mind that much of Toyota’s work is done in the United States, or that many "American" manufacturers do work overseas, or that other foreign manufacturers have been in NASCAR before; the perceived "invasion" of Toyota set many fans on edge. And when Joe Gibbs Racing switched from Chevy to Toyota and kept winning, that seemed both an assault and a betrayal. The foreign-car issue seems to be fading with all but the hardcores, but it’s still out there. 

7. The cresting of NASCAR’s popularity? NASCAR exploded so quickly in popularity — you’ve heard the "second most popular sport in America" factoid a thousand times — that there had to be a pullback. The combination of a bad economy and gripes about the on-track product led to declining attendance at races, and thousands of "the sky is falling" articles. Is the worst over?

8. NASCAR’s landmark television deal. Just two weeks before
the turn of the millennium, NASCAR struck a six-year, $2.4 billion deal
to put the sport on three separate networks. The centralized television
deal brought the sport to more viewers than ever before, but also –
say it with me — spurred controversy among longtime fans. 

9. The debut of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. NASCAR’s Hall of Fame, to open in Charlotte in 2010, will be a landmark for the sport, a place where the history and grandeur of NASCAR can be formally celebrated. And naturally, its opening will come with controversy — two Frances and no David Pearson in the inaugural class? Really? — but if it didn’t have people griping, it wouldn’t be NASCAR.

10. Death of Adam Petty. At 19 years old, Adam Petty was NASCAR’s next younghope, the fourth generation of Pettys to race in NASCAR. He was slated to run in the Winston Cup series in 2001. But in May 200 during a practice session for the Busch series in New Hampshire, his throttle stuck and Petty hit the wall, dying instantly. It was a wrenching tragedy for the whole sport, and in Adam’s honor his father Kyle has begun the Victory Junction Gang charity, one of NASCAR’s best-known charities.

All right, your turn. What did we miss? What else belongs on this list? Have your say!

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PostHeaderIcon Happy Thanksgiving from The Marbles!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from all of us here at Yahoo! Sports and The Marbles! Hope it’s a safe and happy one. We’re taking Thursday off, but we’ll be back on starting Friday. (And if you’re looking for a little something to read from me over the holidays, why not click here?)

Image from teh alwayz funneh LOLNASCAR

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PostHeaderIcon Racing for a Cure

          Ok everyone, I am sorry I haven’t been on lately. I have been working over 18 hours a day on the sponsor hunt.    But I am here now and have a few things to post. I want to start of by saying thank you to 4 ever 3 you are one awesome individual. All of the things you have done to help me is amazing and I will never be able to thank you enough.

I want to update everyone on the things we are working on for our Race for a Cure in 2010.  We are in talks with the Susan G Komen Foundation and Children’s Cancer Research Fund  to partner with us and raise money for cancer research. We have put together a few programs to raise over 10 Million dollars for cancer research. We are looking for sponsors to get us on the track next year so we can make it happen. I made the decision also that I am going to donate all of my winning to cancer research. We are going to be doing weekly radio and television update about our cause and our donations.

I also want to let everyone know we have partnered with Hinchman Race Wear. Hinchman is going to supply us with all of our custom uniforms for 2010. Hinchman is a great company and have been making uniforms for over 80 years. You can visit there web-site at Hicnhman is the inavator of race uniforms.

We also have speedlox coming on board to help us in our cause of Racing for a Cure. Speedlox is manufactured by Phenix Industries. Speedlox won the New Product of the Year Award for performance Racing Category  at Sema.
Speedlox is the next generation in race plumbing and safety. You can visit there web-site at

 We will continue hunting for a primary sponsor to get us on  the track in 2010 so we can do everything possible to help find a cure for cancer. We will be promoting our sponsors and our cause ever chance we can. We have put things in place that have never been offered by a race team to help our sponsors with media attention and raise awareness and funds for cancer.

If anyone is interested feel free to contact us at anytime.


Welcome to the next generation in race plumbing and safety.

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Welcome to the next generation in race plumbing and safety.

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PostHeaderIcon What are you thankful for in NASCAR this year?

It’s Thanksgiving, and we’re thankful for many things around here — turkey-induced naps, weekday football, and intelligent fellow bloggers. Biting off our buddy ‘Duk’s post over at Big League Stew, we’ve created a space for you to offer up what you’re thankful for in NASCAR. Tailgates? The smell of oil in the morning? Catastrophic wrecks where everyone walks away? Whatever you’re thankful for, here’s your chance to let the world know.

Here’s how this works. You can comment in the comment box below, though that’s moderated and your post won’t appear instantly. Or you can go through Twitter and post your thanks with the hashtag #marblesthanks, and they’ll show up below. 

Have a happy and safe holiday, and we’ll see you right back here soon!

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PostHeaderIcon From the Couch: Finding entertainment where there isn’t any

You know how you knew that Homestead was an important race? Both Sprint Cup Smiley Girls were there. Not just the one, but the two! Beat still, my heart.

Despite their presence, which smacked of unbridled excitement and general eminence (bof’em, for crying out loud!), it was déjà vu all over again.

Yes, as prognosticated by many in the sport, and as with roughly 30 other races this year, Scott Speed totally nailed that first Lucky Dog of the race. It’s not often that you get to see history – Speed started second – like that. I feel privileged to have witnessed it.

Actually, the race was entertaining, despite the simple truth that it was over before it began (though Dr. Punch sure tried his finest to convince us otherwise). I rather enjoyed the accordion rear-ender wreck on pit road. That was a sure sign that the driver’s were already on break.

My buddy Chad did this one time, wrecking six cars in front of him, totaling his completely boss Chevrolet Citation. Chad is the same guy who once got pulled over for a DUI when he wasn’t drunk. Chad worked in a coal mine on the graveyard shift, and on this particular morning, he forgot a change of clothes, fell asleep at the wheel on his way home (hence the stop), and had to perform his DUI tests in his boxers with carbon soot all over his face. The best part was that his mom, who was on her way to work, drove by as he was heel-toeing the line. (Hey, what’s my son doing pulled over in his underwear with blackface on?)

So, yeah, that wreck was probably more entertaining for me than you.

Anyway, JPM and Stewart also put on a good show. JPM proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that he is an idiot. I’d rather be responsible for collecting Jeremy Mayfield‘s next urine test than be on Stewart’s bad side. He owned a monkey once for God’s sake. You know who owns monkeys? Crazy people, that’s who. And crazy always trumps idiot. How do you think Obama got elected?

And Gordo? Fastest Pit Crew of the Year! Now that was fulfilling, you know, as a Gordon fan. And by fulfilling I mean that it made me want to throw something heavy, preferably with a large glass component, ideally with a cathode ray tube, off of a small roof onto large pavement (timeouts just aren’t doing it for me anymore). It made me want to choke Letarte (which would require both a ladder and a belt, but I might be able to pull it off with the proper guise).

The fastest pit crew of the year? What? Was it based on a degree of difficulty scale? Because yeah, they did a great job if you factor in the fact that they had to perform a spring rubber and three wedge adjustments on every stop this year.

But either way, suck on that JJ. Call me when you have four Cup trophies AND a FPCY on the mantel, then we’ll talk about the greatest of all time. Umkay?

Of course, despite his loss in the FPCY race, JJ deserves loads of credit. If there was ever any doubt that he is a tremendously skilled driver, he squelched it with his post-Cup victory lane burnout. Let’s reset the scene: national television, victory lane after a historical fourth consecutive Cup, fans lining both sides of the lane, a flag in his left hand. So, low stakes. And what does he do? He gooses it all the way down the lane, smoking and spinning the tires. Carl Edwards needed a fence to stay off the fans. JJ did it one handed.

Finally, I cannot forget my neighbors, as they, too, always make for an entertaining race. My neighbors, you see, have "the dish." We live in the boonies, and my wife and I don’t have a satellite, and so my neighbors kindly record every race and allow us to crash their living room weekly. For this reason, and many more, I love them.

But the real beauty of our neighborhood is that you’ll never know what you’ll get. Typically it’s me chugging Budweiser while spitting incoherent invective Letarte’s way. Sometimes it’s Steve swilling Black Velvet and busting on Fords. And sometimes it’s Pam downing red wine and wondering aloud why people back into parking spaces.

But this weekend, and fitting for fall and the season’s finale, it was the constant drone of an industrial grinder. It was meat processing time, and in the background of this year’s race, with a light snow falling outside and fire crackling in the fireplace, Bambi had lost to the man and was, literally, mincemeat.

For the competition, this was a fitting end to JJ’s fourth straight title.

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PostHeaderIcon Best of the decade: The 10 best drivers of the 2000s

As the decade of the 2000s draws to a close, we’re looking back at the greatest NASCAR moments, events and stories of the last 10 years. We begin with the most successful drivers of the decade — bearing in mind, we’re ranking them on what they’ve done this decade, not before that. And yes, you already know who’s #1.

1. Jimmie Johnson: Like you expected anything different. Four championships, 47 wins and 180 top-10 finishes over just nine years. He’s staked out one of the most dominant stretches of success in NASCAR history … and the scary thing is, he may be in the middle of it, not at the end.

2. Tony Stewart: Were it not for Johnson, Stewart would be the runaway driver of the decade. With two championships, 34 wins and 209 top-10s, Stewart was already money, but making the jump to team ownership and staying strong as ever? Unbelievable.

3. Jeff Gordon: The difference between Stewart and Gordon is razor-thin on this list, but Stewart gets the nod because of his two championships. In the 2000s, Gordon has only one. But he’s also finished in the top 10 for nine of the decade’s 10 years, along the way picking up 33 wins and 217 top-10 finishes over 358 races. That’ll work.

4. Kurt Busch: He’s pinballed between excellence and mediocrity, but when he’s been good, he’s been very, very good — one Sprint Cup championship, four top-ten seasonal finishes, 20 wins, 136 top-10s. Imagine how good he’d be if he could make friends. 

5. Kyle Busch: The highest-ranked non-Sprint Cup champion on this list, he’s got 62 wins across all three major series. He’s
said his goal is to get 200 wins over all three, and considering the
fact that he’s 24, would you bet against it happening? Once he calms
down and races consistently, he’ll be one of the all-timers. 

6. Bobby Labonte: He led off the decade with a championship, which is a nice way to start but unfortunately means there’s only one way to go. Still, he’s notched 8 wins and 101 top 10s over the decade, and if he had been in better equipment over the last couple years, that total would be much higher.

7. Matt Kenseth: The 2003 Sprint Cup champion, though it’s not his fault he won the Cup while winning only a single race. In the decade, he’s had 18 wins and 172 top-10s over 358 races.

8. Mark Martin: Had he not flirted with retirement toward the middle part of the decade, he’d be much higher on this list. But six top-10 seasonal finishes, including two second-places, combined with nine wins and 159 top-10s put him solidly in the conversation for the top drivers of the 2000s

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 18 wins and 141 top-10s over 358 races, and for a time he was right there in the mix for a championship, ranking in the top 10 four times from 2001-2006. He’s fallen off the pace just a wee bit.

10. Carl Edwards: In 193 races, he’s got 16 wins, 61 top-5s and 99 top-10s. He had a severe dropoff this year, but he’s one of the best in the sport and should be very close to the top on the list of the 2010s’ best.

All right, your turn. Who else belongs on this list? Rusty Wallace, Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle just missed the cut; do they belong? Who’s too high or too low? Have your say!

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PostHeaderIcon Join us for the Marbles’ Chat, Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET

Don’t go bailing on NASCAR just yet, and don’t go digging into the turkey, either. We’ve got one more chat before the holiday. Join us on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Eastern for a little NASCAR yappin’ before Thanksgiving. We’ll supply the turkey; you bring a side to share. See you here!

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