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NASCAR: Dixie Vodka 400 preview and predictions

Image via: WikiCommons.

NASCAR heads to Homestead-Miami this week for the Dixie Vodka 400. This is the first time that the series will hold a race at this track during this time as usually the race here has been the season finale. One thing that will really change the complexity of this race is going to be the weather considering how hot it gets in Florida in June, so the track should be way more slippery and hard to find grip. We will see a lot of cars run around the outside next to the wall as that seems to be the preferred line.

There is a chance of rain this weekend and if the race is to be rained out, there is a good chance we could see the race run Monday considering there is no midweek races in the future. Another major storyline going into this race is that it will be the first to feature fans. It was announced that 1,000 service members and frontline workers will be allowed to attend Sunday's event as they will be spread out around the grandstands. This is a major step for the future and I hope they can find a way to get back to full capacity at some point.

On Wednesday, Martin Truex Jr. went on to capture his 27th career victory. Throughout the night, Truex struggled to find speed and even sustained some damage that had to be repaired. The team continued to work on their car and just kept getting better and better as the night went on and took the lead on lap 375 and never looked back. The race overall was really intriguing as there were so many characters that looked like they were going to win. First, there was Joey Lagano who set the tone early, then Jimmie Johnson had his turn at the front as he led 70 laps before Martin Truex finally took over. A lot of this can be attributed to the omission of practice and qualifying that sort of equaled the playing field. It will be interesting to see how this continues to affect things going forward.

In this race we also saw a lot of great runs from some of the smaller teams as well. The biggest example of this has to be Bubba Wallace. All throughout the day, he showed a lot of promise as he ran in the top five for the better part of the day. While he faded a bit towards the middle of the race, his car got better in the final laps, and he clawed his way back to an eleventh place finish. This team continues to improve week in and week out as last week at Bristol he was able to finish tenth and get himself back into playoff contention.

So as we all know, this past week NASCAR announced that it would be banning the display of the Confederate flag at their race track. I applaud NASCAR for finally showing some backbone and making the right decision even if it wasn't the most popular among some of its toothless fan base. It wasn't just fans that decided they wanted to take their ball and go home as truck series regular Ray Ciccarelli also decided he was going to retire at the end of the season because of this.

While the headline may state that Ciccarelli was a driver, his stats prove otherwise as he much like the Confederacy never won, and hardly even cracked the top ten. Overall, no one notices him when he is on the track and I doubt it will be any different when he doesn't come to Daytona next February. Overall, this flag is an outdated representation of a country that no longer exists and I have no idea why some people want to cling to it so badly. I hope that this decision by NASCAR weeds out a lot of morons, and we can finally move forward.

Moving on, the driver that I have winning this weekend at Homestead is Kyle Busch. Last Wednesday's finish at Martinsville was a disaster for the defending champion as they never could find any speed. He struggled and finished 19th. This week I think Kyle will bounce back. Here at Homestead, Kyle has been the model of consistency as he has won here twice and has finished no worse than 6th. While the circumstances at this track are different, it is still the same track, and he definitely knows how to get around this place. Look for Kyle to get his first win of 2020 come Sunday.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats)

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Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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