NASCAR: Blue Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 preview plus predictions

Photo via:WikiCommons.

Midweek racing makes its return this week as they head for the track they call the paperclip at Martinsville, Virginia for the Blue Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500. This will be the first race in the track's storied history that will be run under the lights. Originally, this was supposed to be the first race back but plans fell through as Virginia's stay at home order was not lifted at the time. It will definitely be a welcomed sight to go back to this track as this has been one of the most anticipated races of the year.

It is a shame that there will be no fans to see it there but when they do, it will definitely be one of the biggest draws of the season. Opened in 1947, this track is one of NASCAR's landmarks. It is 0.526 miles in length making it the smallest track on the schedule. You can rest assured that we will see some bent up bumpers during the races considering that is one of the few ways to pass. I can't wait for this race! It will especially be fun considering this race will be using the original 750 horsepower package that they use at short-tracks. It should be an awesome race!

Last week, Kevin Harvick pretty much dominated en route to his second victory of the season at Atlanta. As a race fan, this was an extremely difficult race to watch. While the racing after the restarts was good, there wasn't very much going on as Kevin Harvick led over 150 laps and won by three seconds. The track's surface is so rough that it makes it difficult to drive on and while most of the time that is good, in this case it was extremely rough on the tires as well. Another facet of the race was the heat and the toll it took on the drivers. When the race was over, Bubba Wallace passed out during his post-race interview.

This was terrifying to watch but after going to the care center the fan favorite was checked and released. This brought questions from fans as to why the race was run in the daytime considering the heat in the deep south and I completely concur with those fans. Overall, there wasn't really any reason why the race couldn't have been run at night when it was much cooler, there weren't any other sporting events going on and running the race in prime-time would have been another great opportunity to bring in a new audience. Let's hope they keep this in mind as they go to Homestead-Miami at the end of the week.

When it was all said and done, the main headline was what happened before the race even started. As everyone in this country knows, there is a lot of racial turmoil because of the police brutality we have seen nationwide. Over the past week, we have seen most athletes take a stand against these heinous crimes committed by those four officers that murdered George Floyd and thankfully NASCAR and their participants have also stepped in and taken a stand as well. At the beginning of the race, Jimmie Johnson and others including Bubba Wallace, Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon and even Dale Earnhardt Jr all recorded a message talking about how they hope to learn from this and do a much better job at how they treat people of color within their sport. The drivers also stopped on the front-stretch before the race to reflect on how they can do better.

Personally, I believe that NASCAR as a sanctioning body has come a long way with social justice, considering how the sport was in the past. While NASCAR and it's dignitaries have improved, it is a shame to say that most of its fan base has not. If you go on any one of NASCAR's social media platforms and see what the majority of NASCAR fans have to say about all this, you would have a pretty good idea of why people think so negatively about our sport and that truly is a shame. This shows the disconnect these morons have with reality, a lot of these people have stated how they are "done with NASCAR because they don't want to hear about it," which I say is the best thing that can ever happen to this sport. The sooner we can get all these idiots out of here the better. I hope that NASCAR and society continues to work hard to bring meaningful change even when all the tension dies down. But overall I am happy to see that the drivers are listening and doing all they can to make a change and stop police brutality and racism.

On a much lighter note, the driver that I have winning this weekend is Jimmie Johnson. As we all know, this has been a track that Johnson has pretty much owned all throughout his career. He has a career-high nine victories here and has the highest active finish among all drivers. I can't think of a better place for the seven-time champion to come out and break his winless streak than at the track he has made his personal playground. With his team getting much better week by week, I believe this will be the race where he breaks through. While he may be starting twenty-first, on a track like this, track position doesn't matter as much as it does at a place like Atlanta or Homestead. Look for the #48 Ally Camaro to come charging through the field and take the checkered flag come Wednesday.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at and the best websites for all NASCAR stats)

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Keep an eye on Tank Dell this Sunday. Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images.

I remember thinking how in the world can these little frail guys survive at the NFL level? I mean, I saw Joe Theismann and Ed McCaffrey's legs snap. Drew Bledsoe got his chest caved in. Seeing 300-plus pound men cry when injured is humbling. So when a guy like Tank Dell comes along, I'm always a bit apprehensive. Especially when they come with a ton of hype.

For every eight to ten big strong players that get hurt, there's one or two little fellas that have relatively healthy careers. The comp that came to mind when looking at Tank was DeSean Jackson. Listed at 5'10 and weighing a heavy 175 pounds, Jackson was arguably the best “small guy” in NFL history. Dell being about two inches shorter and about ten pounds lighter, while also playing a similar role, is in line to be a similarly electrifying type of player. I put my assessment on the line and doubled down with my predictions on what his, and others' season totals will look like last week:

Tank Dell: 68 catches, 1,105 yards and 6 touchdowns- Dell will be a really good slot, but has some outside skills. Namely, his speed. He's more slippery than if Mick had greased that chicken before Rocky tried catching it. I could see his production going up as the season gets longer because Stroud will begin to look for him more and more as they build chemistry. Yes, I know I only have him with six scores. Keep in mind this is a run first offense. At least that's what we can deduce from looking at where it came from in San Francisco.

In his debut game last week vs the Ravens, he notched three catches for 34 yards on four targets. He was tied for third on the team in targets with Noah Brown and Mike Boone. While Robert Woods and Nico Collins were one and two in targets last week, I think Dell will ascend that list starting this week. Word came down that Noah Brown is headed to IR, meaning he'll miss at least the next four weeks. The chemistry he and fellow rookie C.J. Stroud have developed is palpable. From working out together, to attending UH games together, these two seem to have a nice bond already.

Woods is a solid vet two years removed from an ACL injury. Collins was a third rounder with size who hasn't done a whole lot. Dell is easily the most exciting option at receiver this team has. John Metchie III was expected to be the next guy up. Unfortunately, cancer had him take a backseat, until now. Metchie is back at practice this week, so a debut is imminent. He could potentially challenge for more playing time, but it may take him some time to get used to things and get going again.

As far as my statistical prediction for his season, he only needs to average four catches for 67 yards per game, and get a touchdown every two to three games for the remainder of the season. Given Brown being out the next few games, Metchie not quite being up to speed, Woods being an older player on a short-term deal, and Collins not really being what everyone thought he could be, it leaves things wide open for Dell to step up.

Playmakers come in all shapes and sizes. Levon Kirkland was a 300-pound middle linebacker in a 3-4. Doug Flutie led teams to playoff wins as a 5'9 quarterback. In football, size matters. The bigger, stronger guys normally win out. When it comes to receiving and returns, you want speed, quickness, and agility. Dell has that in spades. Add his competitive nature and chemistry with his quarterback and you have a recipe for a star in the making. I know I'm not the only one hoping the Texans continue Tank-ing.

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