Archive for the ‘From the Marbles’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Create-a-caption: Which car should we watch out for again?

Boy, if only there were some kind of way to determine where Brad Keselowski was on the track at any given time. Something like a large floating arrow … Anyway, have fun with this one, folks. High degree of difficulty after our recent easy pink Kyle one.

After the jump, the easy pink Kyle one.

Dick Smothers:
The funny thing is not the ridiculous firesuits that Kyle’s team is
wearing, but that is sporting a picture of Carl Edwards on his car.

With full apologies to the guys of Monty Python:
I’m a driver, and I’m okay.
I’ll work all night and I slept all day.
I’ll drive my laps. I eat my lunch.
I sit down in the lavatory.
When “Sam” wants to, I take her out
for nice things and drink tea.
I’ll drive my laps. I skip and jump.
I like to doodle flowers.
I put on women’s clothing
And hang around in bars.
I’ll drive my laps. I’d wear her heels,
But don’t you fret
This is just the start of a deal
With Victoria’s Secret.

Nathan B:
Crew chief: “Who doesn’t love love? I don’t FREAKIN’ love love, you jackholes!”

And everybody back away from frank very slowly:
That freakin KRY-BABY-KYLE-PUSS even his tears are PINK when he KRY’S
bogger eaten moroon. gu gu ga ga freak of nature
hahahahhahahahahaahahahaha loser

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PostHeaderIcon Mark Webber deals severe blow to Lewis Hamilton’s F1 title hopes

Maybe Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton decided to one up Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick? Ah, who are we kidding. They probably don’t even watch NASCAR.

While Harvick and Hamlin made contact in practice, Webber and Hamilton — the drivers running 1-2 in the F1 points standings — made contact in the race. And it cost Hamilton dearly.

Going into Singapore, Webber and Hamilton were separated by five points. Webber’s already been in the middle of some controversy this season for an incident involving front wings with his teammate Sebastian Vettel and also went airborne at Valencia. You probably know Hamilton more for his girlfriend (the Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger) even though he may be the most popular driver in the world. (Yes, believe it or not, it’s not Dale Earnhardt Jr.)

(As an aside, if you watch one F1 race all year, Singapore is definitely on the short list. The race is run downtown at night and it’s absolutely stunning. It’s basically the Monaco race run eight hours later in the day and minus the incredible wealth)

After a pit stop, Hamilton had run down Webber and made a move to the outside entering turn 7 when Webber was held up by a lapped car. As Hamilton moved to clear Webber, Webber held his line and Webber’s right front popped Hamilton’s left rear in the apex of the corner.

Somewhat miraculously, the shot was clean enough for Webber that he was able to continue without damage but it broke the suspension on Hamilton’s car, knocking him out of the race.

From our friends at Eurosport:

"I saw Mark made a mistake and got caught up with a backmarker so I was in a position to slipstream him … going into turn seven," said Hamilton, who won in Singapore last year.

"I thought I was enough past him, I couldn’t see him and turned in and tried to leave enough room on the inside and the next thing I know I got hit.

"I think it’s a racing incident. I came out a bit unfortunate but that’s racing."

In the last race, the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton had to retire after an incident in turn 1.

Webber, the points leader, finished third and by virtue of the incident, extended his points lead over Hamilton to 20. Race winner Fernando Alonso leapfrogged Hamilton in the points standings and is now second, 11 points behind Webber.

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PostHeaderIcon Chase Breakdown: Jimmie Johnson is back in the mix

Here is a quick look at how the 12 Chase drivers fared in Race No. 2 of the Chase at Dover International Speedway:

1. Denny Hamlin — Finished 9th: Pegged Dover as the track he just needed to get through, and he did. Now the pressure is really on. If he expects to be good at Kansas, he must prove it. (-)

2. Jimmie Johnson — Finished 1st: Have we not learned anything over the last four years? Whenever it looks like Johnson is down, expect him to end the day in victory lane. (-35 points)

3. Kyle Busch — Finished 6th: He hasn’t been spectacular, but he’s been solid. If he can get on one of his hot streaks, he’ll be dangerous. (-45 points)

4. Kurt Busch — Finished 4th: Lost his cool for a moment when he got caught speeding on pit road. That cost him points, but give him credit for rebounding in a big way. (-59 points)

5. Kevin Harvick — Finished 15th: He’s still in the hunt, but if he’s not going to win a race in the Chase, he’ll need to be in the top five, not top 15. (-65 points)

6. Carl Edwards — Finished 5th: Like Harvick, he’s just sort of hanging around right now. Kansas will be a litmus test for his title hopes. (-73 points)

7. Jeff Burton — Finished 2nd: Lost about 50 points when he ran out of gas at New Hampshire. If he’d been able to make it to the end there, he’d be second in the standings. (-80 points)

8. Jeff Gordon — Finished 11th: More of the same for Gordon, who made a run to the front midway through the race only to fade at the end. (-83 points)

9. Greg Biffle — Finished 19th: Dover was supposed to be a good track for Biffle, so consider this an opportunity lost. He’s in a must-win situation heading to Kansas. (-140 points)

10. Tony Stewart — Finished 21st: Minimized some of the damage of a speeding penalty on pit road. Still, that’s two mistakes in two races, and that’s not going to cut it. (-162 points)

11. Matt Kenseth — Finished 18th: Just playing out the string at this point. Just getting an invitation to the champion’s banquet – only 10 are invited – is the goal now. (-165 points)

12. Clint Bowyer — Finished 25th: It’s all in the hands of the appeal board now. If he gets his 150 points back, he’ll be 85 points down. Not great, but better than where he is now. (-235 points)

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PostHeaderIcon Kyle Busch sets single-season Nationwide victory record

Kyle Busch dominated Saturday’s Nationwide race at Dover to break the single-season record for wins in the Nationwide Series.

Busch tied Sam Ard’s record of 10 races in a season with his win at Bristol and led 192 of the Dover race’s 200 laps. Busch took the lead on lap four from his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano and only lost it when Ryan Newman stayed out while the rest of the field pitted.

Despite running only 22 of the 27 races on the Nationwide schedule, the 11 victories have put Busch in third place in the Nationwide standings, 500 points behind Brad Keselowski. Given Busch’s success, had he run the full schedule, it’s all but certain that he would be the points leader.

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PostHeaderIcon Harvick sticks up for Bowyer, tags Hamlin on the track

Kevin Harvick clearly heard the criticism Denny Hamlin leveled Friday at Clint Bowyer and Richard Childress Racing in general, because just a few minutes into Sprint Cup practice Saturday afternoon Harvick gave Hamlin several love taps on the track at Dover International Speedway. The confrontation carried into the garage, where Hamlin and Harvick, Bowyer’s teammate, are parked right next to each other.

The two exchanged words, Harvick getting into Hamlin’s face and things got serious enough for Cup Series director John Darby to get in the middle.

The situation has its roots in the Friday morning media sessions. Bowyer, speaking for the first time since NASCAR slammed him with a 150-point penalty after his race-winning car at New Hampshire failed inspection, claimed his innocence, saying NASCAR was out to get him. An hour or so later, Hamlin said that’s bull, but didn’t stop there.

"You can talk about how small the thing was off and you can really try to say that 60-thousandths didn’t help him perform any better — that is a crock," Hamlin said.

"NASCAR has been very, very lenient I feel like on this car and they’ve given those guys chances," he continued. "It’s not Richmond. I think that they should just be happy that they’re in the Chase at this point. They were warned and they were warned before Richmond. Everyone in the garage knows that. They’re the ones who wanted to press the issue and get all they could to make sure they got in the Chase. They got in it and then they were busted. They kept going with it."

And Hamlin kept going.

"In the garage, everyone has known it for months. It’s not two weeks old. This is something that’s been going on for months. [Bowyer's team has] been warned for a long time, way before Richmond. This is not something that, ‘Oh man, they just told us halfway after Richmond and going into Loudon that our car’s wrong.’ They knew it was wrong way before that, and I felt like they just &mndash; they wanted to get everything they could. What did they have to lose really? You almost can’t fault them for that."

When asked to respond to Hamlin’s accusations, team owner Richard Childress declined.

"I would be bad to say what I really want to say," he said. "Bite your lip."

Hamlin clearly got the worst of Saturday’s exchange with Harvick. The right-rear of Hamlin’s No. 11 car was damaged, costing him about 30 minutes of practice time while his team made repairs.

We’ll see how this plays out going forward, but it’s clear that Hamlin, the points leader, has created an unnecessary distraction en route to trying to win his first Cup title.

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PostHeaderIcon Denny Hamlin unleashes barrage of criticism at Bowyer’s team

And now it gets a bit more interesting in the Clint Bowyer saga. After a performance in which Bowyer appeared to make a rather effective case for being wronged by NASCAR, Denny Hamlin took the stage in the media center to offer a somewhat different opinion:

Some highlights of Hamlin’s diatribe:

"In the garage, everyone has known it for months — it’s not two weeks
old. This is something that’s been going on for months. They’ve [the
No. 33 team] been warned for a long time, way before Richmond. They
knew it was wrong way before [New Hampshire] and I felt like they
wanted to get everything they could. What did they have to lose,
really? You almost can’t fault them for that."

"The car that I had in Atlanta [was] towed all the way in and the tow
truck destroyed the trunk. We never replaced one thing
on the tail of this car and it just went through inspection fine. My
car went through way more destruction than [Bowyer's] did just getting
a simple push and my car is fine."

"I’m not too discouraged with what we ended up with [at Loudon]. But I
know we were the fastest legal car."

Wow. So, yeah — it looks like all this took another step upward. So, how does your opinion change of BowyerGate with Hamlin’s words?

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PostHeaderIcon Clint Bowyer’s statement: ‘I’m angry about the whole thing’

Friday morning at Dover, Clint Bowyer took the unusual step of absolutely unloading on NASCAR for their ruling on his Loudon car, a decision that cost him 150 points and likely any shot at the championship. It was a remarkable tirade, and you can’t read this and come away without any questions about how BowyerGate was handled. Here’s the complete text of Bowyer’s initial statement:

"You always want to win races. You’re veryproud to win races and I’m still proud of that win. I don’t believethat we did anything wrong. I guess I’ll go on record and say that,first and foremost, in my opinion. I want my fans to know that. Thereis a lot of integrity that goes into this sport. I’m damn proud ofbeing a part of this sport. I love this sport and I wouldn’t cheat towin a race in this sport. We have a lot more integrity for myself andour race team at RCR. Hopefully I only have to do this once. I woke upabout 6 o’clock this morning, which is uncharacteristic for me. I justgrabbed a notebook and wanted to make some notes. You know, for myselfand for you guys. I know a lot of you guys have a lot of questions;trust me; there are a hell of a lot of questions that I have too. AndI’m going to go through them. I like to have facts when something likethis comes down. I’ve got a timeline of facts.

Read the facts below.

"I’m going to start with number one: We werewarned after Richmond that the car was too close to tolerances. Numbertwo: We were told by NASCAR they were taking the car after NewHampshire, no matter what; first or 43rd. Number three: The carpassed pre and post-race inspections at the race track. Number four:Monday, the rumors started about all this and in my opinion, forcedNASCAR’s hand to do something about it. Number five: Wednesday came andit was a 150-point fine. And the sixth thing, and at least an answer,you know, I’m looking for answers too. There are several things but oneof them is a two-ton wrecker pushed me to victory lane.

"I’m going to elaborate on them. I think thefirst one (is) we were warned that both sides of the car were highafter Richmond. Both sides. After the race in New Hampshire, after itgot back to the Tech Center or whatever they call that place, just theleft side was high. I think this shows that we definitely had it fixed;something within that race happened.

"Number two: after being told that they weretaking the car, we made double-sure before it went to New Hampshirethat that car was right. Who in their right mind, knowing that they’regoing to take that car, wouldn’t have made triple sure that thing wasright before it went to the race track? I could have hit the wall doinga burnout, I could have done a lot of things that other drivers havedone and that other teams have done in a post-race celebration thisyear. I didn’t. We didn’t want to push that in NASCAR’s face. Weappreciated them warning us on the fact and we tried to fix thesituation. They told us about that situation Wednesday. Wednesday thecar leaves. We had about two hours to jump on that car and make surethat thing was right.

"And number three:  The car passed pre andpost-race inspection, and three days later get such a huge fine? Theytake the car apart, completely apart to measure this thing and in myopinion that’s not the way the car was raced on the race track. I thinkthat’s something to be said.

"Number four: Once the rumors started itwasn’t long before the penalty. I think NASCAR has a lot of problemswith a lot of cars on the race track being out of the box and I thinkthey needed to set an example with something.

"Number five: I don’t think the penalty fitsthe crime. Sixty-thousandths of an inch, folks. Grab a quarter out ofyour pocket (holds up a quarter). That’s sixty-five thousandths of aninch thick. Less than the thickness of that quarter right thereresulted in a 150-point fine. Before or after this, grab that and askyourself if that was a performance-enhancing thing right there.

"And the last thing, my question is, is itpossible that a two-ton wrecker could bend the quarter panel of thisthing sixty thousandths of an inch? You have to ask yourself that. Igot hit during the race, turned a couple of times; racing is tough. Nowif this thing was knocked out a half of an inch, I could see somethingbeing made. But if it passed the height sticks afterwards, the veryheight sticks the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin)did not pass, then miraculously enough when that same pit crew pushedit back around after 20 minutes it passed, that was pretty amazing. Youknow it passed those same sticks.

"And, you know, my dad owns a towingbusiness and has since I was born in 1979. I know a little somethingabout wreckers. About 15 years ago they took them push bumpers off thefront of them for this very reason. I remember back when people used tocome (during) a snow storm and (say) please, push me out of the snowbank. You push them out of the snow bank and two days later they’d showup with a body shop bill in their hand, wanting you to pay the bodyshop bill for the damage you did to the back of their car. This couldhappen. That’s the only question I had for you guys (media) is to askyourselves if it is possible for that to happen. That’s all I’ve got tosay."

Bowyer went on to express regret that this situation has taken the attention off the work of his team and the cars of teammates Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton. And clearly, this is not over. After reading this, your thoughts?

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PostHeaderIcon Gather ’round and stop crying, NASCAR fans. All is still OK.

All right, NASCAR fans. Time for what our grandparents used to call a come-to-Jesus moment.

Clint Bowyer has been nailed with penalties that have, for all intents and purposes, demolished his Chase hopes. Maybe he and the #33 team cheated in their setup of the car, and maybe they didn’t. The end result is the same; it’s only a question of whether you feel bad for Bowyer or not.

Oh, but that hasn’t stopped a very loud segment of the NASCAR fanbase from screaming that Bowyer’s penalty is definitive proof that NASCAR is fixed, that the Chase stinks, that NASCAR wants Jimmie Johnson to win a fifth title, that nothing about this sport has ever been the same since they stopped driving on sand.

There’s a state of mind called "confirmational bias," and it envelops a segment of NASCAR fandom like kudzu. Confirmational bias is basically this: you have an established mindset, and you give weight to everything that confirms that mindset and dismiss everything that runs counter to it.

So if you think that NASCAR is rigged and Jimmie Johnson is a cheater who’s allowed to prosper by NASCAR, if you think the Chase is a horrible abomination with no possible good qualities, no amount of facts are going to shake your mind. Jimmie Johnson loses a race? That’s because they don’t want it to look suspicious! The drivers themselves say they’re fine with the Chase as long as everyone runs under the same rules? They have to say that or they’ll be forced out of the sport! The media speaks positively of Johnson, or doesn’t buy into the "NASCAR is worse than it’s ever been" nonsense? How much is NASCAR paying you, Busbee? Jimmie Johnson actually wins a race? SEE? See what we’ve been saying? It’s all true!

Look, I get the desire to hang onto the past. I really do. When I was a wee lad, somebody pressed a copy of Van Halen I into my hands — no, not in the crib; I’m not that young — and imprinted me with a fanatical devotion to Eddie Van Halen that lasts to this very day. I still listen to and love new music, but The Hold Steady and Mastodon still don’t match up, in my mind, to "Unchained" or "Eruption."

But here’s the thing. As good as that old Van Halen stuff is, it’s also horribly dated. I love listening to it now and then, but not to the exclusion of anything new. That kind of myopia stunts your brain and makes you miss out on what’s happening now, which can be as good as the old days and maybe, possibly, even better.

The Chase is here. It’s not a perfect system, but absolutely no system that has to meet all the many needs of 21st-century NASCAR – fan-friendly, driver-friendly, sponsor-friendly — could be. NASCAR has some huge flaws, but focusing only on those blinds you to the very good racing still happening almost every week on the track.

NASCAR is different from when you first became a fan. Maybe it’s better, maybe it’s worse. But it’s different. Deal with that. Find the good that’s there, and if you can’t do that, hit the bricks. No need to keep telling the rest of us how upset you are. We get it.

Either buck up and recognize that times have changed, or move on down the road. We’ve got nine races in a wide-open Chase to run, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

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PostHeaderIcon Clint Bowyer served with crippling penalty for Loudon infractions

When the hammer drops in NASCAR, it drops hard and without mercy.

Wednesday afternoon, NASCAR levied points penalties and fines against the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing team that may, for all intents and purposes, eliminate Clint Bowyer from Chase contention.

For apparent alterations made to the rear of the vehicle used in Sunday’s win at Loudon, Bowyer was penalized 150 points and Richard Childress was penalized 150 owner points. Crew chief Shane Wilson was also suspended for six races and fined $150,000.

Despite the penalties, Bowyer will keep the win from Sunday’s race. The penalty knocks Bowyer from second in the points standings, 35 points behind Denny Hamlin, to 12th, last place in the Chase and 185 points behind Hamlin.

The car passed its initial inspection at New Hampshire on Sunday, but was taken by NASCAR back to its North Carolina research and development center. It was there that NASCAR ruled that the rear end of the car had been manipulated by Richard Childress Racing.

Earlier Wednesday, AP/Yahoo! Sports’ Jenna Fryer reported that NASCAR was taking a closer look at Bowyer’s New Hampshire car, a day after Fryer reported that NASCAR had warned RCR about Bowyer’s Richmond car.

In a statement, Childress fired back at NASCAR, saying that the rear of the car was less than 1/16th of an inch outside the range of engineering tolerance. While crews can make numerous minor alterations to a car in order to improve its handling or fuel mileage, it’s not yet clear what advantage the alterations to the rear of the 33 would have provided Bowyer. And that, in itself, is reason enough for Childress to question why the team would take such a risk.

"We feel certain that the cause of the car being out of tolerance by sixty thousandths of an inch, less than 1/16 of an inch, happened as a result of the wrecker hitting the rear bumper when it pushed the car into winner’s circle," Childress said in the statement. (For comparison’s sake, a fingernail is about forty thousandths of an inch thick.)

"The rear bumper was also hit on the cool down lap by other drivers congratulating Clint on his victory. That’s the only logical way that the left-rear of the car was found to be high at the tech center. We will appeal NASCAR’s ruling and take it all the way to the NASCAR commissioner for a final ruling, if need be."

After Sunday’s race, Wilson said that the team’s status as the 12th seed at the start of the Chase was "going to allow us to race a lot looser than some people." Now, that quote may have another meaning besides fuel mileage. Bowyer won Sunday’s race after Tony Stewart ran out of gas as he approached the white flag. Bowyer and Stewart had last pitted on lap 208 of the 300-lap race.

If his appeals are unsuccessful, Bowyer now faces a near-impossible task to climb back into the Chase, snuffing out what had been an unexpectedly hopeful time for the entire 33 team.

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PostHeaderIcon New documentary ‘Petty Blue’ now out on DVD

There’s no name in racing that has anywhere near the reach of Petty. And this week sees the release of the DVD of "Petty Blue," a comprehensive look at the four generations of Pettys — Lee, Richard, Kyle and Adam — who all competed in NASCAR. Here, dig on a preview:

Petty Blue was produced in a joint effort between NASCAR Media and CMT Media Group, the folks responsible for the previous documentaries "Dale" and "The Ride of Their Lives."

Narrated by Kevin Costner, the documentary was made with the Pettys’ complete cooperation. The title refers to that famous color blend that was created by accident and became a worldwide symbol. Special features include interviews with David Pearson, Bobby Allison and many others. 

The DVD is on sale now for $19.99, and if you’re too cheap to buy it, you can see it on CMT on October 8. It’s well worth catching. 

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