It's the end of an era as NASCAR heads for Daytona for the final time in July

NASCAR Coke Zero 400 preview

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NASCAR heads for the Sunny beaches of Daytona this week for the Coke Zero 400. This is one of the most prestigious races of the season as it is rich with tradition. When NASCAR comes to Daytona, The racing here as exciting as it gets. You see cars three and four wide and there is always a good chance we will see the big wreck. It should be must see TV come Sunday with NASCAR's new Aero package.

This will be the final time NASCAR races here at this date because someone thought that it would be a good idea to move the Coke Zero 400 to August. Over the course of its 71 year history, NASCAR has really made some bad decisions, from segmented racing, to their extra confusing points system and for me this decision is absolutely criminal. If there is one thing race fans always think of when the Fourth of July comes around, this race is it and for Jim France and the rest of the figure heads at NASCAR to do this they should be ashamed of themselves. This race will be replaced with Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while I have nothing against this track but there is no reason to have a race at this date. I hope in 2021, when NASCAR changes everything up again like they do every other year, they put this race back where it belongs.

Last week at Chicago-land, Alex Bowman was able to hold off Kyle Larson to claim his first career victory. Overall, the race was fairly entertaining. There were plenty of passes all throughout the day and despite a lengthy rain delay, the fans that stuck around were treated to a fantastic conclusion. This victory came at a perfect time for the veteran driver as he is now locked into the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Over the course of his career, Alex has been one of those drivers who had a hard time getting in good equipment because of sponsorship. In 2015, his career was in serious jeopardy after he was released from former team Tommy Baldwin Racing. After nearly a year searching for a ride, he got a call from Dale Earnhardt Jr to drive in his xfinity car at Dover. He would go on to finish third and put the NASCAR world on notice. Things would only get better for him as he would be tapped to replace Earnhardt Jr in the #88 car the following season in 2018. He has really done a great job at getting good results for this team and there are more wins to come here in the future.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Erik Jones. Last season, Jones was able to hold off Martin Truex Jr to claim his first career win, it couldn't have come at a better time for him either as many people were starting to wonder when he would get his first win. As great as 2018 was for him, this year hasn't been so kind to him as he is currently 17th in points and trying to get back into the playoff picture. The speed for him this season has been there and he has been competitive but a lot of different issues have come up that have cost him some good runs. As most NASCAR fans know, there have been many rumors circulating as to what is next for Jones going into the future. Many have wondered if Xfinity series phenom Christopher Bell will take his place in the next year or so. While I like Bell and believe that he will be great in this sport, I think that Erik has done more than enough to earn his spot as he has consistently been fast ever since he arrived at Joe Gibbs Racing last season. If there is any way to silence the critics is to go out and win and that's what I think he will do come Saturday night.

My Dark-horse pick for this weekend is Ryan Preece. It hasn't exactly been a great rookie season for him but Daytona is always one of the great equalizers, plus he finished a career high eighth place when they came here for the 500. Overall, I think he has a lot of talent and will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. I look for him to run well here at Daytona and possibly have a chance at winning.

(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).

THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR goes West for the Pennzoil 400

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This week, the NASCAR Cup Series heads for Las Vegas for the Pennzoil 400. After last week's madness, everyone will get a chance to catch their breath at a much calmer track as Vegas is one of the many mile and a half racetracks on the schedule. All of the three and four wide we saw at Daytona will be much more limited here as we will more than likely see more long green flag runs and less side-by-side racing that we saw in Daytona. The one characteristic about this track that is the most difficult seems to be the entrance to pit-road as a lot of drivers have found themselves getting nabbed for speeding on pit road. Overall, Qualifying will also be important as well should we see what we saw last year as passing should be difficult with this high downforce package. I look for it to be a much more tame race than what we saw in the 500

Last Monday, NASCAR fans witnessed one of the most horrific moments in the sports history. On the final lap, veteran Ryan Newman crashed head-on into the wall and then went upside down on his roof only to be hit driver 's side by Corey Lajoie. and everyone held their breath as we all watched him be extracted from his car and transferred to Halifax medical center. Miraculously, just two days later Ryan was able to walk out of the hospital on his own power with his daughters at his side. While the wreck was awful, the fact that someone could walk away from that shows how far that the sport has come in regards to safety. There is still room for improvement when it comes to the races such as Daytona and Talladega. One solution that popular racing YouTuber David Land had thought up was a limit of overtime attempts on tracks like these considering the race had already gone past its advertised distance. I can empathize with what he is saying, but there have been many instances of races going past their scheduled distance and with no problem so I don't know how much that will help matters. In the end, I am no expert when it comes to the mechanics of these cars and what they can do to help keep them on the ground but overall, I hope that in some way shape or form that the sanctioning body can find a way to stop these cars from going airborne. We will see what they come up with.

While Ryan is recovering, it was announced that Xfinity Series Regular Ross Chastain will fill in. This comes as a surprise considering Chastain's ties to Chevy. This was definitely the right choice though as Ross is one of the most sought after prospects in NASCAR Right now. Last season, he nearly went on to a truck series championship with a truck that wasn't funded as much as some of the others, and he also performed well in his Xfinity series starts by capturing a win at Daytona for Kaulig racing and four top tens. Mind you he had a lot of success with a smaller budget team in JD Motorsports. If given the right opportunity, I truly believe that Ross can really perform well. I look for him to do a great job this weekend at Vegas and even contend for a top ten. Look for the #6 Mustang to run well on Sunday.

The driver that I have going to victory lane this week is Joey Logano. It has been a rough speed-weeks for the 2018 Champion, he has been the sight of much controversy after being involved in multiple pileups in both the Daytona 500 and the Busch Clash. Even his own teammate Brad Keselowski wasn't happy with him as he was caught up in both wrecks caused by his teammate. This week though I think it will be a much different story. Over the course of his last four races here, he has tallied a win and four top tens to go with it. He and his Penske teammates have really put on a clinic here and Sunday should be no different. Look for Logano to claim his first win of 2020 on Sunday.

(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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