NASCAR at Dover picks and preview

Kyle Busch was in the news last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads for the Monster Mile this week at Dover. This track is one of the toughest tracks to pass on, considering it’s a single-groove racetrack. Its abrasive surface also raises a challenge. It will be interesting to see what type of tire wear we will see with the new cars. Over the last few years, usually, the racing here is rather clean. In last season's race, the first incident didn’t occur until 176 laps into the race. When the incidents do come, though, they are hard to avoid with the track being as narrow as it is. More than likely, the winner of the race will be the driver that conserves their tires the best. Last season, we saw Kyle Larson lose the race to his teammate Alex Bowman because his tires went away in the end.

Last week, Ross Chastain went on to capture his second victory of 2022 in a thrilling last-lap pass at Talladega. As the field was coming to the checkered flag, Erik Jones went to the outside to try and block Kyle Larson, and Chastain was able to slip by for the victory. It has been a dream season for Chastain and his teammate Daniel Suarez. Both drivers are in the mix for wins every week, If Suarez can get a victory, they will certainly be contenders in the playoffs.

Another driver who deserves some praise is Michael McDowell. After finally breaking the seal last year and capturing that first career win in the Daytona 500, he’s proven that he can run upfront. And he’s shown that over the past two weeks with back-to-back Top 10 finishes. Since 2018, he has provided a sense of stability to this team and while his future at Front-Row Motorsports is unclear, it has been great to see him find success in these last two weeks.

Kyle Busch was in the headlines last week. During the opening weekend media availability, Kyle was asked by Bob Pockrass about the status of his contract for the 2023 season. He responded by saying, “ask Joe Gibbs.” He then talked about if there was any chance he would go to another team, to which he responded, “Probably not.” These comments can either be one of two things. A ploy for Busch to try and pressure his boss to get a deal done, or the beginning of maybe one of the biggest silly season moves in the history of the sport. In the last decade, only Jimmie Johnson has had more success than Busch has. Joe Gibbs Racing would be absolutely insane to let Kyle Busch walk away from everything they have built. This could be an interesting storyline to follow over the next few months.

The driver that I have winning this week is William Byron. Each season, Byron has continued to improve greatly. He’s gone from a fringe playoff contender to a championship favorite. He’s won two races this year, including a victory at Martinsville. This track has been good to Byron, he’s finished in the Top 10 in three of the last four races, including a third-place finish last spring. He will be fast come Sunday.

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It's Draft SZN! Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

On Thursday June 22, the NBA will hold their annual draft. With the Rockets owning the number four overall pick, you'd think things would be looking up for them. However, in a draft where the top three players are all expected to be immediate impact guys, the drop begins where the Rockets are selecting. Armed with some young talent, cap space, and a new head coach, the Rockets are looked at as a team on the rise. But what will help contribute to that rise?

When you have assets, you have options. There are three main options I see here for the Rockets with number four: keep the pick and select the guy you think will work best moving forward; trade up to select the guy they feel they missed out on that isn't a punk Frenchie who dislikes Houston; or trade the pick for an established star. The other option is trading the pick for a good player and a future pick/s. Let's take a look at the options:

Option 1: Keeping the pick means you're drafting the leftovers. Those leftovers start with Amen Thompson. He's the guy I believe can come in and help sooner rather than later. At 6'7 and 215 pounds, he has an NBA body. His skill set can come in handy because he's played point guard. This team could use a true point guard, but Thompson isn't exactly a traditional point. He has the size of a wing player, which allows him to see over the top of the defense. His outside shooting is abysmal and needs a vast improvement. To me, adjusting to life as a pro without his twin brother Ausar, another good draft prospect himself, will be difficult. Overall, I believe he's the guy to take at four if they decide to stay.

Option 2: Trading up to get Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller may prove to be difficult. Both teams picking ahead of the Rockets have their point guards. Charlotte wants to find Lamelo Ball a running mate and have their eyes rumored to be set on Miller. Portland is trying their best to keep Dame Lillard happy. The Rockets would be best served to trade with either team willing to move down for whatever they offer, provided it's worthwhile. Portland was just in the playoffs the last few years and aren't as far out as some would think. They're the ones I'd eye to trade with. Speaking of Portland and Dame…

Option 3: The Rockets need a point guard and Dame may be looking to get out. Help them start their rebuild and bring Dame to Houston. Or, how about the Jaylen Brown rumors? Fred VanVleet has a player option for next season, then becomes an unrestricted free agent. There are a few options of finding veteran help around the league, especially at the point. Problem is, are any of these team willing to take the Rockets' offers? It'd start with number four, and include other assets as well. This option makes sense if the organization believes the roster, with whatever vet addition they make via trade, is playoff ready.

Option 4: The last option I thought about is to trade the pick for a first rounder in next year's draft and a decent player. I see this as a last resort of sorts. But only if they do not feel comfortable with whatever player they may take. That, and if they want to save cap space for next free agency period. Not having a first rounder next year isn't as bad as one might think. The team will need to make the necessary moves this offseason to ensure that won't be an issue next draft. FOMO is real, especially when a team is rebuilding and can't use one of the best/cheapest forms of acquiring top talent.

I talked with my good friend “TC.” The guy loves basketball and even hips me to a bunch of stuff. He wants them to move up in the draft for Scoot or Miller. While he is a James Harden fan, he doesn't necessarily want him back. He wouldn't mind it, but it's not his first option. I've spoken with a lot of native Houstonians about this. They all want a winner sooner than later, but have different philosophies on how to get there. Personally, I say options two and three are my faves. Trade the pick for help, rookie or vet, and go from there. I guess we'll have to wait three more weeks before we find out. Or will we…

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