THE LEFT TURN

A look ahead at the 2021 NASCAR schedule

Here's what's ahead for NASCAR. Photo via: WikiCommons.

On Wednesday, NASCAR rolled out its 2021 schedule and BOY is it big. There will be several wholesale changes going into next year. It is clear that 2021 will be a new era in NASCAR. In this article I will go over all the major changes and what I like about the new tracks and what I don't like.

  • New tracks: So first and foremost there will be a lot of new tracks on the schedule for the first time in a long time. Those tracks are Nashville Superspeedway, Road America in Wisconsin and Circuit of the Americas in Austin. Overall, I couldn't be more pleased that NASCAR is going to a lot of new venues next season. This has been what NASCAR fans have been asking for. I look forward to seeing how these cars run on these new tracks, especially the track in Austin. This had been rumored for many years and after going to the track a couple of times, I look forward to seeing the cup cars here in 2021. I am also looking forward to seeing Road America as well considering how great the racing has been in the Xfinity Series. All of these new tracks will certainly be a learning experience for each driver
  • New layouts: Aside from new tracks, we will also see a lot of new layouts on some of the old tracks as well. The most notable of changes has to be Bristol as it was announced that next season, the track will be revamped into a dirt track for NASCAR's first dirt race since 1970! This had been a rumor that was picking up steam and was confirmed on Wednesday. Personally, I have no idea how this will work. It is possible for NASCAR to run on dirt as they have been running the trucks at Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway since 2013. Me personally, I am not sure how well this is going to work, will NASCAR run qualifying races? It will be interesting to see what type of format they run with this. Another factor I am looking forward to is the possibility that we may see some Dirt Track regulars run this race. I am cautiously optimistic about this race but it should be fun regardless. Another new layout we will see next season is at the Brickyard as instead of running like the oval like we have seen since 1994, they will run the road course configuration instead. This is something I have been calling for since 2018 when the Charlotte Roval started. I am excited to see how this works out considering the Xfinity cars ran here on the fourth of July this year.
  • The new dates: One thing that will also drastically change next season is the dates the races will be on. Next season, we will see tracks like Texas and Homestead run at a much different time in the season than we are accustomed to. The All-Star Race will also be moved to a new date and a new track as it will be run on June 13th-14th at Texas Motor Speedway. We will also see tracks Atlanta and Darlington get another race as NASCAR tries to return to its roots. I personally am extremely excited to see Darlington get another race back considering it's one of the hardest tracks to run on.
  • The tracks we lost in 2021: With new tracks unfortunately comes the subtraction for some of the old ones. Next season there will be two tracks that NASCAR doesn't return to, those being Chicagoland and Kentucky. It is fairly ironic that these two would get the axe considering they are relatively newer tracks. I feel awful for the people in both of these markets that won't be able to watch a race at their home track and I hope that in some way these tracks can stick around, especially Chicagoland considering the awesome racing we have seen there over the past couple of years.

Next season will be uncharted water for this sport but a change of pace is good. I look forward to seeing what they do going forward in the next few years and seeing if there are any more new tracks that will be added. Here is to a new future in both the real world and in the NASCAR world.

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Houston has lost seven of eight

Mariners ride big fifth inning to series win over Astros

Jake Odorizzi earned his second loss as an Astro Sunday. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

With the losing streak behind them by taking the middle game on Saturday night, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Sunday afternoon to try and make it back-to-back victories to take the series. Instead, they'd suffer their seventh loss in the last eight games.

Final Score: Mariners 7, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 7-8, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ljay Newsome (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-2)

Odorizzi locks in through four while Houston grabs a lead

Jake Odorizzi did not start his afternoon the way he needed to in order to have a good rebound outing compared to his first start. In the 37-pitch first inning, he issued two walks and an RBI-single, putting the Mariners at a significant advantage early. Odorizzi flipped the switch, though, finding a rhythm to retire the next ten batters after that RBI-single to get through four innings with just one run allowed.

Offensively for Houston, they quickly responded to Seattle's run in the first with one of their own in the top of the second, capitalizing on some shoddy defense by Seattle to get Carlos Correa to second to set up an RBI ground-rule double by Aledmys Diaz, tying things up 1-1. It stayed that way until the top of the fifth when a leadoff walk by Chas McCormick would turn into a run after a stolen base and two sacrifice flys to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Mariners explode for four in the fifth

The lead was short-lived, as Seattle would explode in the bottom of the fifth, getting a leadoff single and one-out walk to set up a two-RBI triple by Mitch Haniger to go ahead 3-2. That would prompt Dusty Baker out of the dugout to end Odorizzi's day and move on to Brooks Raley. Raley would not fare any better, giving up a two-run homer to Ty France to extend Seattle's new lead to 5-2. He would finish the inning, putting Odorizzi's line final: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 89 P.

Seattle takes the series

Seattle would strike again in the bottom of the seventh against Joe Smith. After a leadoff walk, the Mariners would get back-to-back one-out RBI-doubles to extend their lead to 7-2. After Smith in the seventh, Peter Solomon would make his major-league debut in the bottom of the eighth and work around a one-out walk for a scoreless inning. Houston would then come up empty in the top of the ninth, dropping the finale and the series to Seattle.

Up Next: The Astros will travel to Denver tonight and get an off day tomorrow. Tuesday night, they'll start a quick two-game set with the Rockies at 7:40 PM Central. Houston currently has Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 5.27 ERA) penciled in as their starter, but with ongoing illness, he has not yet been fully confirmed. For the Rockies, Jon Gray (1-1, 2.87 ERA) is expected to start.

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