THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR Can-Am 500 preview

Kevin Harvick is the story this week. Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series heads for ISM Raceway in Avondale, Arizona for this week’s Can-Am 500. This race is probably the third most important race of the season behind the Daytona 500 and next week’s season finale at Homestead. This is the race that decides who gets to run for a title, and who goes home empty handed.

Earlier this year, the track announced extensive renovations which include a more fan accessible garage area, a new scoring pylon and a reconfiguration of the track including the start/finish line which has been relocated to the back straight away. The placement is similar to Talladega start finish line which is in virtually the same location. The new layout will provide a whole new element to the race and will change the way drivers attempt to pass on Sunday.

Last week, Kevin Harvick cruised to his eightieth win of the season after sweeping both stages and leading 177 laps. At the time, this victory punched Harvick's ticket to Miami and race for his second championship but on Wednesday, it was announced that he would be docked forty points and his Texas victory was “encumbered” meaning his victory at Texas is null and void when it comes to going to Homestead. He also loses his championship winning crew-chief Rodney Childress for the remainder of the season. Now while all of the benefits that come with the victory have been revoked, it is important to note that Harvick is still credited in the record books with the victory at Texas Motor Speedway. He keeps the trophy and the winnings from the victory.

It was discovered that the team made illegal modifications to their spoiler; the violation was found at NASCAR’s Research and Development center. Even though he was essentially stripped of his victory, he still enters this week’s race three points above fifth place. This can be attributed to the massive amounts of playoff and stage points he has amassed all throughout the 2018 regular season.

With the penalty, this has sparked a debate amongst NASCAR’s water cooler. Should penalties be harsher when it comes to rules violations like these? If so what sanctions should NASCAR take to insure that drivers learn their lesson? Many fans believe that if it is discovered that a car fails inspection, the driver should have to concede their trophy, race winnings and points to the guy who finished second.  This is the debate that has been discussed for many years, after multiple drivers have failed inspection over the course of NASCAR's history. When asked about it for next season, NASCAR Spokesman Scott Miller stated they are considering harsher penalties including vacating wins. More than likely, I don’t foresee them doing this because of all of the sponsors that they have to keep happy and they would probably not be pleased if their driver is stripped of the victory. We should get an announcement about this in the off-season at some time and it should be interesting to see what is next.

While the penalties don’t change the order, the walls around Harvick are now more narrow than ever. He enters this weekend three points ahead of his teammate Kurt Busch, seventeen points ahead of Chase Elliott and 35 points and 51 points ahead of his other teammates Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola.   Harvick will definitely have drive on the defensive to make sure he’s not only ahead of Busch but that he keeps the other four drivers behind him out of victory lane considering a win clinches their ticket to Homestead.

Despite all of the turmoil this week, Harvick is still the odds on favorite to win this race come Sunday. Over the course of each of the track on the schedule, no one has dominated at ISM raceway like Harvick has. Of his 31 starts here, he has won here an astounding nine times! No one in the history of the track's 30-year history has more wins than he does. This week he will be even more difficult to beat considering he now has extra motivation to go out and prove that winning at Texas  was not a fluke due to the rules violations. I look for Harvick to be a near lock to at least be in the top five this weekend. Barring an accident, he is simply too good at this track to not go out and be a contender. Look for Harvick to claim win number 10 come 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).

 

 

Courtesy photo

Ever since I was a young man, I have always had a major interest in car racing. I don't know what it was that drew me to the sport but I have always loved it. Back when I was younger, while other kids loved watching cartoons and animaes, I was different. What I watched was a VHS copy of ESPN's CART year in review from 1996. Every day, I sat next to the TV and memorized all of the finishes and the winners of the races. From that point on, I knew I was an Indycar fan for life. While I was watching the greats like Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser and Alex Zanardi, I promised myself that I would get to ride in an Indycar and now thanks to the great people at Sportsmap and Giant Noise, on Thursday March 21 I got to fulfill a dream of a lifetime.

For some of the people that don't know me, growing up I had a lot of trouble socially. While I didn't necessarily have a hard time talking to people, keeping them around was a whole different story. I struggled with paying attention to other people when talking to them because I could only think about one thing and usually that was racing,

This was especially difficult in my early years of elementary school. Due to my lack of attention span, my parents (especially my mom) did all they could to try and help me have a better time in school. They took me to psychiatrists and I was placed on multiple medications to no avail. In 2002 I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism. This was very difficult for me because I was treated differently than anyone else by everyone at my schools due to my disorder. I was placed in smaller classes where the work I had to do seemed to be much less than anyone else. I felt horrible and I felt like I wasn't as smart or as normal as anyone else around me.

The one thing that helped me get through it though was my dream to hopefully ride in one of the indycar's that I watched so much of growing up. At a young age, I always told everyone I knew that one day, I was going to ride in a race-car and while there were many drivers that I told people I was going to ride with, one of the many names I mentioned was racing legend Mario Andretti. Flash forward many years later that time came. After getting into one of the fire suits and putting on one of their helmets I was summoned to which car I would ride in and guess who happened to be driving? Mario Andretti! When I strapped into the car while at that moment I couldn't believe that I had made it, I always knew that if I worked hard, met the right people and never gave up I would be able to achieve the dream I had hoped for and overall, riding in the car was one of the most incredible things to ever have happened to me!

As cliche as it sounds, life is a lot like racing in a way. No matter the obstacle, everyone has to keep going towards the checkered flag. Also like in racing It's essential to have a great team around you and I could not be more grateful for the people I met here at SportsMap, ESPN 97.5 and Giant noise. The people who did the most for me though where my mom,dad and my late grandmother. They did everything in their power to get me to where I am at today while they could have easily told me that there were other careers I should go into they always believed that I could cover motorsports. At the end of the day like in racing, there will always be minor setbacks but as long as you believe that you can win, you will find a way. Don't ever give up on the things you want to do.

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