The week in NASCAR

Big race at Texas Motor Speedway this week as season winds down

Big race at Texas Motor Speedway this week as season winds down
Texas Motor Speedway is the site of this week's NASCAR race. Texas Motor Speedway

This weekend the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series heads for the Lone Star state for race two of three in the round of eight. Texas Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile oval located in Justin, Texas(42 miles outside of Dallas). This track was known for LONG green flag runs and pit road strategy but after Speedway Motorsports Incorporated (track owners) and Eddie Gossage (track president) decided to repave and reconfigure this track in 2016, the racing we have seen in the past is now long gone. Look for more passes, Side-by-side racing, and bumping this Sunday.

Last week at Martinsville was one of the most controversial finishes of the season as Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin were involved in a major dust up with two laps to go handing the victory to Kyle Busch. With the victory Busch ensures a spot in the championship race at Homestead in three weeks. While this win takes most of the pressure off, Busch is more than likely still going to be a major force. In his 23 starts at TMS his average finish is 11.74. Since 2015 though his average finish is 6.25 the fifth highest amongst active drivers. While he has only won there once, Busch has led 741 laps and has always been up front towards the end.

Even if Busch is good at this track, look for him to try and get out of Texas without any trouble and save their resources for Homestead.

After last week's NIGHTMARE, Chase Elliott looks to rebound and what better place to do it than at one of his best tracks. Going into next week, Elliott has the fourth highest finishing average amongst active drivers since 2015 at 6.25. Now granted he has only raced there three times but the results have been extremely impressive for the third-year driver. Elliot is 26 points behind Kevin Harvick for the fourth and final spot in the championship four so more than likely the only way to get there is to win one of the next two races. Look for the No. 24 to be up front this week.

My predictions go as followed: this week Kevin Harvick will put it all together to win at Texas, locking him into the final four at Homestead. Harvick is due to win at a track he has run so well at. Since 2015 his average finish has been fifth and the last race he led the second most laps (behind Ryan Blaney) in the race. With all the talk about how good Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson have been at intermediate tracks (Tracks that are 1.5 miles in length) Harvick has flown under the radar but I look for him to finally pull through and beat these two this week.

Other Drivers to look out for are obviously the favorites in Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. Both drivers have performed well here in the past, in fact Johnson has more wins here than anyone with seven. Look for those two to be in the hunt as well.

My dark horse driver this week is Dale Earnhardt Jr. It is no secret that Texas Motor Speedway is a track that holds sentimental value to him. In his first start here in 2000 Earnhardt got his first career win. He led a race high 106 laps and was the dominant car for most of the day seeing how he beat runner-up Jeff Burton by five seconds. While 2017 has been a farewell season Earnhardt and his millions of fans may want to forget, Texas has been one of his better tracks of late seeing how he finished second and third the last two times he has raced here. Could this be the race where he breaks out and gets maybe his final NASCAR victory? While it may look unlikely considering his mediocre average finish of 16.9 this year, if all the stars align I could not think of anywhere more fitting for him to win possibly his last race than the place where he won his first.

Look for the No. 88 to give it one last run for the win at Texas Motor Speedway.

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

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Are they the best duo in the league moving forward? Composite Getty Image.

In the post-Super Bowl analysis, one key observation was … if you want success in today’s NFL, before anything else, you need a great coach and a great quarterback.

Like the Kansas City Chiefs duo of coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“As long as those two are together, the Chiefs will be serious contenders for the Super Bowl.”

If Houston Texans fans weren’t already champing at the bit for the 2024 season to start, this should put them over the moon.

Great coach? Check! Rookie coach DeMeco Ryans brought respectability back to a doddering franchise with a wave of his hand. He took a team that had won 11 games over the past three seasons – combined – and pushed the Texans to a 10-7 regular season record, an AFC South title and a home playoff victory. No wonder he tied Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski for NFL Coach of the Year only to lose the crown based on one measly first-place vote edge to Stefanski. Texans fans were livid. Where’s the My Pillow guy when you need him?

Great quarterback? Check! Rookie C.J. Stroud set the NFL on fire last season, throwing 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions. His accuracy and touch had NFL experts scratching their heads – has there ever been a rookie quarterback to match Stroud’s talent?

Let’s say it’s true, the key to success is having a great coach and great quarterback. The Texans would be a safe investment for the future.

Right now, the NFL is all about the Kansas City Chiefs. Coach Andy Reid is 65 and quarterback Mahomes is 28. They ain’t going anywhere for the next few seasons.

But not far behind in the coach-quarterback theorem are the Texans. DeMeco Ryans is 39 years old. C.J. Stroud is 22.

If you had to rate coach-quarterback combos, who are you taking for the next 10 years? Give me Ryans and Stroud. The Texans future is bright and young. You can’t even say, just wait for them to develop. The Texans are already there. Just wait till next season.

Back on Earth: I’m not comparing Stroud and Mahomes as players. Mahomes is the best, most talented quarterback I’ve ever seen. But it’s fair to compare their statistics from 2023 – and looking at raw numbers, Stroud stands toe-to-toe with Mahomes and had a better year in certain columns, like touchdowns vs. interceptions. Mahomes threw 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season.

Of course statistics are funny numbers. After the Chiefs victory over the 49ers, the networks were comparing Mahomes’ Super Bowl performances against the all-time greats.

It’s a fruitless challenge – comparing Mahomes to, say Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw is not oranges to oranges. The game has changed drastically since Bradshaw was throwing ropes to superstar receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, both of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Bradshaw went 4-0 in Super Bowls. His stats must be elite, right? Not exactly. For his career, which included an MVP season and multiple Pro Bowl selections, Bradshaw completed a paltry 51.9 percent of his passes, a stat that would put him well at the bottom of the barrel in today’s NFL. Even more surprising, he threw 212 touchdowns and 210 interceptions – a ratio that would bench a modern quarterback.

The great Joe Namath? He’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, too. Broadway Joe barely completed half of his passes, a career mark of 50.1 percent. He threw 173 touchdowns and a staggering 220 interceptions. Both numbers would have today’s fans screaming to put in the backup quarterback.

Like Jets fans hooted their quarterback Zach Wilson this year? Wilson was dead last, the lowest-rated quarterback in the entire NFL this season. Here’s how horrible Wilson was – he completed 60.1 percent of his passes in 2023, a significant improvement over Hall of Famers Bradshaw and Namath.

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