2014 marked another change in Chase formats for NASCAR, and our top story of 2014 involves part of the craziness that developed throughout the 10-race run to the championship.
Here’s From the Marbles’ 20 most-popular posts of 2014:
1. Jeff Gordon goes after Brad Keselowski following on-track contact at Texas (Nov. 2): Keselowski’s three-wide move for the lead that cut Gordon’s tire down was our most popular story of the year. It’s a move still debated among NASCAR fans, as it severely hurt Gordon’s chances at advancing to the final round of the Chase at Homestead.
2. Tony Stewart will not race at Watkins Glen; Regan Smith to drive the No. 14 (Aug. 10): This story dominates the rest of our top 10. After striking and killing Kevin Ward Jr. on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, Tony Stewart sat out the Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen the following day. Regan Smith subbed for him and ended up caught up in a crash.
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3. Aunt of Kevin Ward Jr. issues open letter (Sept. 28): The aunt of Ward raised questions of the findings released by an Ontario County (N.Y.) prosecutor during the investigation of the incident between Stewart and Ward. Toxicology reports showed Ward was under the influence of marijuana.
4. Tony Stewart struck and killed driver at New York dirt track (Aug. 9): The story from the night of August 9, when reports emerged that Stewart had hit a driver who had gotten out of his car and confronted him.
5. Kevin Ward Jr. deserves to be known as more than victim in Tony Stewart wreck (Aug. 10): Ward, 20, deserved to be remembered as someone who was chasing his dreams.
6. Kevin Ward Sr: Apparently, Tony Stewart was the only one driving out there who didn’t see him (Aug. 13): Less than a week after the accident, Ward Sr. said Stewart put his son into the wall and didn’t see his son, who had gotten out of his car.
7. Tony Stewart not charged by grand jury in death of Kevin Ward Jr. (Sept. 24): Stewart did not face charges after Ward’s death. An Ontario County (N.Y.) prosecutor said that there was no evidence of aberrational driving from Stewart before he made contact with Ward.
8. Kevin Ward Jr.’s family issues statement saying the matter is not at rest (Sept. 24): Shortly after the decision to not charge Stewart, Ward’s family strongly hinted that future civil action was possible in a statement.
9. Contact with Danica Patrick sends Brad Keselowski spinning into the infield (May 4): Patrick and Keselowski made contact at Talladega, and Keselowski spun out. It was one of ‘dem restrictor plate racin’ deals.
10. Insane fan climbs to top of catch fence during NASCAR race (Sept. 6): During the race at Richmond, the final race before the Chase, a drunk fan climbed atop the fence in turn four. NASCAR had to throw a caution to make sure he got down safely and nothing happened. The question still remains: how the heck did track security not notice him climbing up the fence?
11. Jimmie Johnson tried to put a vise grip on his shifter while driving (Aug. 17)
12. Talladega qualifying was, to put it delicately, a total freaking mess (Oct. 18)
13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets his fourth win of the season at Martinsville (Oct. 26)
14. Tony Stewart delivers emotional three-minute statement about Aug. 9 accident (Aug. 29)
15. Carl Edwards’ front-tire changer shows us the aftermath of taking a lugnut to the face (April 26)
16. NASCAR bans drivers from confronting cars in the aftermath of Stewart/Ward incident (Aug. 15)
17. Kyle Larson did a burnout without a steering wheel after winning his first Nationwide race (March 22)
18. Tony Stewart case going to a grand jury (Sept. 16)
19. Tony Stewart offers first public thoughts after Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy (Aug. 29)
20. Tony Stewart withdraws from dirt track race planned for this weekend (Aug. 11)
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