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).

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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