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This week, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads for Thunder Valley at Bristol Motor Speedway. This is the first of Bristol's two races in 2019. This track is one of the hottest tickets in NASCAR and it has some of the highest banking on the schedule. For a track the size of Bristol, the banking makes for some of the best racing all season. The term "the Bristol stomp" may have originated as a popular dance craze from the song by The Dovells back in the 60's but here it is a reality. While there is limited space to pass, the best way to get around someone here would be to knock them out of the way. This has been a way of life for this track ever since its inception into the NASCAR schedule all the way back in 1961 and this week should be no different.
Last week, Denny Hamlin was able to hang on and claim his second win of 2019 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race had many intriguing moments all throughout the day. Overall, there were 26 lead changes. This comes as a breath of fresh air seeing how critical many fans and drivers have been of this 21 year old track over the last few years. One of the main headlines of this race was the apparent resurgence of seven time champion Jimmie Johnson. After winning the pole on Friday, he went on to lead 60 laps and claim a fifth place finish. While it wasn't a win this team seems to be on the verge of finding their rhythm especially with Dover (Johnson's best track) coming in the not too distant future.
On Thursday, It was announced that longtime Broadcaster and NASCAR Hall of fame member Darrell Waltrip will call it a career when Fox ends it's coverage of NASCAR in June. This was first reported on by polarizing journalist Jenna Fryer. She wrote an article earlier this week talking about how a change will benefit the coverage that Fox puts out. Some of the terms she used to describe Waltrip's commentary were "stale." She also took issue with him talking too much about the "good ole days." of when he raced as well. This article did not sit well with most of NASCAR's community. Drivers like Kenny Wallace called her article "degrading" to the NASCAR legend. In the grand scheme of things, DW is an icon to this sport. He blazed the trail for a lot of drivers to go into broadcasting after their careers were over, and if there has been one thing that doesn't go over well with the NASCAR faithful, it's to be critical of one of the sport's heroes. At the end of the day, While it may have not been Fryer's intent to "degrade" Waltrip, I think overall she could have used better verbiage to describe Waltrip's commentary style. When all is said in done though, this sport would not be what it is today without DW's contributions on and off the track. I for one will miss hearing him in the booth in 2020 and wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.
The driver to watch this weekend at Bristol has to be Kyle Larson. Over his career, Larson's results here have been up in down but every time we have seen him run at this track, he has always been a contender to win. I see him finally breaking through this week and conquering this track that has been so difficult on him in the past. If he is to win, this would come at the best time possible considering this has been a seemingly difficult track for the young driver. Look for Larson to take his Camaro to victory lane.
(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).(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).
As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.
Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).
Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.
But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.
Cristian Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. He acknowledged that some of his struggles last year could be attributed to some extra weight he was carrying around in addition to the already-documented mechanical flaws he had.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 22, 2024
In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.
Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.
The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.