NASCAR at Kansas: Picks and preview

Kyle Larson is the driver to watch this week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

This Sunday, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway for the Advent Health 400. This track is a 1.5-mile Tri-oval similar to what we see in Las Vegas. There is rain in the forecast this week for the race but, it should clear up in time before the race starts. Despite the unlikeliness of the race being delayed, it is important to note that the racetrack will be vastly different with the rubber being washed off, this could create a problem with grip. This race is usually rather clean as there has been an average of about three to four cautions for incidents (not counting the stage breaks), so it would suffice to say that there will be plenty of strategies to come into play this weekend.

Last weekend, Joey Logano went on to win at Darlington in quite a controversial fashion. With two laps to go, entering turn three, Logano booted William Byron from the lead. After the contact, Byron would hit the wall breaking the “Toelength” on the back of the racecar causing him to lose control and drop to a disappointing 13th place. Logano’s move was extremely unpopular and Byron was incensed after the race. During his post-race interview, Byron said “He’s just an idiot, he does this all the time. He doesn’t even try to pass you, he just runs over you.” Team Chairman Jeff Gordon weighed in as well “You have come to expect it from him, but he’s got a payback coming from Byron.” In response, Joey mentioned how Byron squeezed him into the wall on the last restart, so the move was in retaliation. Personally, the Bump and Run have been prevalent in the sport for many years. We have seen the greats like Dale Earnhardt and Kyle Busch make moves like this all the time. What made this so malicious was the way Logano didn’t even attempt to make a clean pass on Byron. For instance, take Ross Chastain and his move on AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman at COTA. While on merit, it was the same move that Logano made. Chastain had raced both drivers relatively clean until Allmendinger moved him out of the way earlier in the lap. It will be interesting to see if Byron ever repays the favor and where he will do it. This weekend at Kansas may not be the right place, but further down the line, I wouldn’t expect Logano will forget about Darlington.

It was another great result for Ricky Stenhouse Jr as he finished 8th, this is his second consecutive top ten finish. This team is continuing to prove themselves as possible playoff contenders despite their rough start to the season. It’s going to be an uphill battle for these guys, but I am liking what I have seen from this race team.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Larson. Larson has been flying under the radar since his win at Auto Club Speedway, but despite all that, he is still consistently in the top five each week. Last week was a bit of an outlier for Larson. To start the race, he was in the top three and battling with Kyle Busch until a spin in turn four would set the tone for the rest of the race. The spin would damage his motor and cause him to fall out of the race. If there is any track where he could turn it around though, it’s at Kansas. In the past four races here, he has led 29.8 percent of the laps ran and won here last fall. I look for Larson to capture his second win of 2022 come Sunday.

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The Texans host the Steelers at NRG this Sunday. Composite Getty Image.

What: Texans vs. Steelers

When: 10/1 12pm CST kickoff

Where: Houston, TX NRG Stadium

TV/Radio: KHOU-TV, KILT-Radio

Betting Lines: Steelers -2.5 (-120), O/U 42 (-110) *As of this writing

The Watt Brother Bowl takes place on Sunday. I'm calling it that because the Texans are honoring their all-time great J.J. while they're playing his younger brother and current hell raising edge rusher for the Steelers T.J. The Steelers have won four of the last five matchups vs. the Texans by an average score of 28-17. The biggest difference is that the Steelers have a second year starter at quarterback in Kenny Pickett, and the Texans have a rookie in C.J. Stroud. When you look at the two quarterbacks, both organizations have full faith in each guy. Both teams have tried to build a defense to help their young signal callers. Both are still trying to surround their franchise guys with weapons.

When the Steelers have the ball: Here's a game where Will Anderson Jr can make headway as a proven EDGE. Stacking consistent performances together and helping your team win games by making winning plays. It helps that Pickett has tiny hands. This was a knock on him during draft season last year. Hand size for a quarterback impacts grip. That can not only impact accuracy, but it could make it easier to strip the ball from him.

While he doesn't have the weapons to torch this defense, Pickett does hand the ball off to Najee Harris who's more than capable. Averaging only 67 yards rushing as a team can't be taken lightly. Denzel Perryman is expected to miss the game Sunday, so hopefully that won't help jumpstart the Steelers' run game. The Texans defense will have to key in on the run, given that they average giving up 117 a game on the ground. Those aforementioned weapons may not be scary, but the injuries to the defensive backs has hurt. Tavierre Thomas is expected to miss the game recovering from hand surgery. Jimmie Ward coming back last week showed what happens when they have a top safety back there, especially when the pass rush is turning up. Hopefully, the Texans can capitalize again this week, with safety Jalen Pitre expected to return to action.

When the Texans have the ball: Good luck stopping Tank Dell and Stroud! These guys have already established themselves as a formidable duo three games into their careers. A great way to get that connection going is to pound the rock. The Steelers are giving up over 150 yards on the ground per game so far this season. That's also a good way to keep T.J. at bay while J.J. watches. With Laremy Tunsil and Josh Jones both expected to miss the game, here are the offensive line starters: Austin Deculus, Kendrick Green, Jarrett Patterson, Shaq Mason, and George Fant.

Making the younger Watt brother slow down a bit instead of going balls to the wall after Stroud because a run could be coming will help the pass game tremendously. Stroud will have to continue to make quick decisions, but even quicker this game. I wouldn't be surprised to see his first pick of his career here, given the pressure he's most likely to be under. Especially when your offensive line starters were mostly all backups to begin this season.

Outcome: I failed to place a money line bet on the Texans last week because the game started and the live bet wasn't as profitable. I wanted to take a chance on them given their recent record against the Jags. Looking at their last five vs. the Steelers, one would say why make that bet this week? It's because I believe in Stroud more than I believe in Pickett. While T.J. Watt is a different kind of monster, Will Anderson Jr is on his way to becoming something special. Texans win/cover, and hit the over, but barely: Texans 24, Steelers 20.

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