THE LEFT TURN

Alsco Uniforms 500: More NASCAR midweek racing coming your way

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The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway once again for the Alsco Uniforms 500. This will be the second midweek race of this young 2020 season as the Cup Series continues to roll on. This race will be much different from what we saw on Sunday as it's a much shorter race, so the urgency will be ramped up as they return to their normal three stage format. While at first it has been a bit of an adjustment to see Cup Racing on Wednesdays, this has so far been a home run for NASCAR as viewership among non-race fans continues to grow exponentially.

In the Coke 600, it appeared as if team Hendrick was on their way to another victory as Chase Elliott was driving away in the closing stages, but with two laps to go his teammate William Byron cut down a tire and spun forcing a green white checkered. In a questionable decision, Elliott's Crew-Chief Alan Gustafson decided to bring his driver down pit-road to get tires that left him marred back in traffic and handed the victory to Brad Keselowski. While he did recover to finish in second, this was easily a race he could have won. According to Chase, the caution left the #9 team in a no win situation. If they didn't decide to pit then everyone behind them would have, and if they did, the rest of the field would have stayed out.

Even if I can understand the logic behind it, staying out would have given him the best chance to win considering he had the clean air and only needed to fend off the traffic for two laps. While this one will definitely sting for Chase and his crew, it is a welcome sight to see how well they ran before the unfortunate circumstances. While Chase might have been disappointed, his teammate Jimmie Johnson's night was much worse. Originally, Johnson finished second but after post-race inspection it was determined that the 7-time champion had a rear-end realignment failure. As a result he was disqualified and finished 40th. This is only the second time in NASCAR Cup Series history that a race result has been taken away. Last season, Erik Jones was disqualified at Richmond. It will be a quick turnaround for the team as they look to get back on track on Wednesday.

While Hendrick was licking their wounds, team Penske was celebrating after their driver Brad Keselowski went on to claim his thirty-first career victory. Even though his teammate Joey Logano struggled a bit, both Brad and Ryan Blaney were able to get good results as Blaney was able to rebound for a third-place finish after struggling all throughout the night. While the win for Brad might have come under unusual circumstances, he showed that he was a threat to win as he led twenty-one laps earlier in the race. As we all know, there is much speculation as to where Brad is going to go next season, will he return to the #2 car or will he jump ship and move on to Hendrick motorsports? With this victory, I believe that this could very well restore his confidence back in his team and bring him back. Only time will tell as the 2020 season continues on.

In the pre-season there was a lot of hype and intrigue surrounding this year's rookie class. Drivers Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer and Christopher Bell were highly regarded as the three names that will mold the future of the sport and this week they were all very impressive. Norman Oklahoma native Christopher Bell was able to claim his best finish of 9th after rebounding from a spin earlier in the race. His rival Tyler Reddick was also equally fast as he finished one spot higher in 9th. Both drivers have put together two really great showings as last week at Darlington, Bell was able to finish 11th with Reddick finishing 13th respectably. This year, I believe both drivers are dark-horse candidates to win a race or make the playoffs at least on points.

The third driver of this trio, Cole Custer was able to get a good showing as well as he finished 12th in his Stewart-Haas Mustang. With the equipment he has, everyone has been waiting for the other shoe to drop for him but it just seemed like they couldn't get the results to go their way. I look for him to continue to improve and score more points as he tries to make the playoffs. Last but not least, John-Hunter Nemechek continues to exceed everyone's expectations as he went on to finish in 16th position. After a disappointing performance during the mid-week Darlington race, the second generation driver was able to rebound with another solid top-twenty finish. This young man continues to prove why he is a name to look out for in the future should there be a ride that opens up. This rookie battle will certainly be one of the more intriguing storylines of the season.

The driver that I think will win Wednesday is Kyle Busch. This season has been very controversial for the two-time and defending champion. From wrecking one of NASCAR's most popular drivers to his decision to run in all the races including the ones in the truck and Xfinity series. Busch has been under immense scrutiny by the media and fans alike and surprisingly has yet to win a race this year. While he has great results this year, it hasn't looked like Kyle and his team have had race winning cars, but I think Wednesday will be different for him. He currently has the highest average finish of anyone here since 2018 as he's yet to finish lower than fourth including a win in the 2018 Coke 600. If there is anyone due for a victory, it's him. Plus, it will definitely help considering how much track time he will be getting by running the other two races including the Xfinity race he won on Monday. Look for Rowdy to get the ball rolling and claim another victory at Charlotte.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats)

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In recent reports, there have been multiple rumors that the 76ers could make a push for James Harden if they can sign Mike D' Antoni as their head coach. As the 76ers fired Brett Brown in August, they are now looking for a culture change. So, it won't come as a surprise if the 76ers try to trade Joel Embiid for Harden. Hopefully, Daryl Morey recognizes the talent of Harden and rejects the idea of trading him.

Harden is easily the second greatest Rocket of in franchise history, including being second in scoring. In Harden's eight-year tenure with the Rockets, he has become an NBA MVP, made the All-NBA team seven times, three-time scoring champ, and an eight-time All-Star. Harden's resume with the Rockets is impressive, including going to Western Conference Finals twice. Ever since Harden came to Houston in 2012, he revamped the Rockets' franchise with eight consecutive playoff runs. Before Harden came to the Rockets, this franchise had missed the playoffs three times in a row.

Harden also attracted huge free agents like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook, which helped him succeed in his Rockets tenure. He has made the Rockets an attractive team to play on since being in Houston for eight years.

Even though Harden has been great with the Rockets, he has not reached the Finals yet. That has been the huge question mark on Harden's resume while playing for the Rockets. Honestly, there are certain moments when Harden has disappeared in big games. In 2015 versus the Clippers in Game 6 of the Western Semifinals, Harden shot 5 of 20 from the field, and was benched in the 4th quarter by Kevin McHale, as the Rockets were led by Josh Smith to force a Game 7 in Houston. Also, during the Spurs-Rockets Western Semifinals of 2017, Harden had another disappearance in Game 6. Harden shot 2 of 11 from the field with only 10 points as the Rockets lost to the Spurs 114-75 without Kawhi Leonard.

Despite those two horrible examples, Harden was extremely close in 2018 versus the Warriors but an injury to Paul's hamstring stopped the Rockets' momentum, as they lost in game 7 by missing 22 straight three-pointers. The following year, the Rockets lost to the Warriors again without Kevin Durant because Paul and Harden were not on the same page in the Western Semifinals. Things were not different this year, as the Rockets were overpowered by the Lakers 4-1.

Trading the 32-year-old Harden could be tempting because of the recent playoff failures, but he is a generational player. In the last 5 years, Harden has dominated the NBA with his elite scoring. Harden has averaged over 30 plus points per game in the last three seasons. He is also classified as one of the greatest scorers of all-time behind Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Wilt Chamberlin.

Stephen A. Smith lays out why he thinks Harden is the greatest scorer currently in the NBA in the video below.

James Harden is 'the greatest scorer in the NBA' - Stephen A. | First Take youtu.be

After all the things Harden has accomplished in Houston, is he still untouchable? Honestly, if Harden is traded, the culture for the Rockets will drastically change, especially with new players coming to Houston. In my opinion, Harden and Morey are very close but Morey is blinded by his own decisions because of Harden. Morey built this team around James and does anything to please him. He wanted to keep D'Antoni around because of Harden, which is not helpful for the Rockets. If the Rockets are going to win big, Morey has to be stronger with his own judgement of the team, and not Harden's.

If the Rockets decided to trade James Harden to the 76ers, they could receive Embiid and Josh Richardson, which is still good. The Rockets would get a big man, who is a superstar, and a great wing defender, which gave Harden problems two years when he played for the Heat. This would not be bad decision if the Rockets decided to move on from Harden.

Before Morey decides to pull the trigger, he needs to digest Harden's accolades, including his shortcomings. Hopefully, the right decision is made for the Rockets' organization.

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