NASCAR heads for Bristol for the second short track race of the season.

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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).

NASCAR heads to Michigan for the FireKeepers 400

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This week, NASCAR heads to Michigan for the FireKeepers 400. This is one of the biggest tracks on the circuit as it is exactly two miles in length and has wide 18 degree banking in the corners making it one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. With the track being as wide as it is, we should be able to see a lot of green flag runs that could very well bring for more pit road strategy.

Like last week at Pocono, it will be crucial for these drivers to make no mistakes in pit road if they want any chance at victory.

Of course the main point of intrigue this week is how these cars will respond to NASCAR's new rules package. It seems like every week, there is always a question about how these cars are going to run. Overall, it would appear that no one has any idea what's going to happen this week. We very well could see a big pack of cars that run together in a draft or we could see the field get spread out like we have been seeing at tracks like this. As important as this rules package is, many drivers and fans are growing tired of talking about it. When last week's winner Kyle Busch was asked how he would rate it, he responded by saying "STOP ASKING ME PACKAGE QUESTIONS! I'M DONE ANSWERING THEM!"

While many people didn't appreciate his attitude towards the question, I think that he is right for the most part about how difficult it is to race under these new guidelines on tracks like Pocono. Last week's race was not good as there was no passing. Kyle Busch lead a good majority of the laps and when it was all said and done the whole field was two or three seconds apart. Now in a 36 race season, I understand that there are going to be races like this, it has been like that since the sport began but NASCAR has continued to talk about how much closer the racing would be under these new rules and a lot of the time most people have been disappointed. It will be interesting to see how it works this week at a similar track in Michigan.

The driver that I have winning this week is Kevin Harvick. While it may sound like I am picking a favorite here, This season has been somewhat of a disappointment for these guys. While they are fifth in the standings and are doing a good job of collecting points, he has yet to win a race this season. While they have had the speed and have been able to run around the top five, they just have not been able to seal the deal. In his five years with Stewart-Haas Racing, this is the longest Harvick has gone without a win. By anyone else's standards, they would kill to have a season like this but for Harvick, I know that he is not happy with where they are right now so I look for them to come to Michigan and finally get their first win of 2019.

Another driver I see doing well this week is Austin Dillion. Despite his issues in the past couple of weeks at Charlotte and Pocono, he has shown good speed this season as he has been able to run around the top 15. Now if you look at the stat sheet, it would tell you that Dillion has struggled here but over the last couple of races at the track, he has steadily improved. In last year's Fall race here, he was able to finish fourth in one of his better races of 2018. It should be a bounce back week for Dillion as he looks to get back in the hunt to make the playoffs.

(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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