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NASCAR: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 preview and predictions

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Hampton, Georgia for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Originally this race was slated to be run in March as the teams were all set to go at the racetrack but it was discovered that a track attendant had tested positive for coronavirus and the race was cancelled. While there was a plan in place to complete the race without fans and without practice and qualifying, those were quickly scrapped and the race was cancelled. It will be good to see the race finally get made up as NASCAR returns slightly to normal. In this race it will be expected that we see a lot of cars that are spread out all around the track, similarly to what we saw at Charlotte. With this track having a much rougher surface though, there will definitely be a more difficult path to victory lane.

Last week, Brad Keselowski captured his thirty-second career victory after getting around the crashing cars of Joey Logano and Chase Elliott in turns three and four with three laps to go. He was able to fend off Clint Bowyer for his second win of the season. After the race, Elliott and Logano were involved in a somewhat heated discussion. When it was all settled, Logano was none too pleased with Elliott and his reluctance to own up to the incident, which he didn't. It was fairly odd seeing the most popular driver in the sport in Chase Elliott make not only the mistake of wrecking Logano, but to not own up to it and apologize. Especially considering how many times he has been run over during the course of his four-year career. It will be interesting to see if this escalates going forward.

Needless to say, Brad Keselowski was more than likely one of the few drivers out there that was happy with the way things ended as he once again found himself in the right place at the right time for the second time in 2020 as he went on to capture another victory. Even though it was sort of a slow start for the Michigander, Brad has really come alive in these last few weeks. While the circumstances might have seemed lucky, he has been almost flawless ever since the return from break. Aside from a thirteenth place finish at Darlington, Brad has yet to finish outside of the top ten. He is beginning to establish himself as a real threat for the title. I look for Brad to be one to watch on Sunday as well considering he has won two of the last three races here.

The big headline this week was the announcement that NASCAR will be returning to Nashville Superspeedway next season. This came as a surprise considering the hype surrounding neighboring track the Nashville Fairgrounds. There was talk that the sport would return to the legendary short-track and it is still entirely possible as NASCAR hopes that ticket sales for the race at the Superspeedway can help fund the renovations needed to bring the sport to the short-track. Over the course of its history, Nashville Superspeedway has only held races for the truck and Xfinity series and will now host cup races for the first time.

While the people of Nashville will certainly be happy to see a race back in their area, it comes at a price as Dover International Raceway will lose one of its dates. This could become common practice for a lot of tracks that have two dates as more than likely Nashville won't be the only new track on the schedule next season. Overall, I am extremely surprised that this track is getting the call up to the Cup Series considering there hasn't been a race there since 2011. But it will be good to see NASCAR get back to one of it's most popular markets and hopefully in the future we can potentially see a double header with the short-track. I look forward to seeing what the new tracks will be in July when NASCAR makes the announcement.

The driver I have winning this week is Clint Bowyer. Over the last few weeks, Bowyer has been extremely fast but something has happened that has ruined his day. After last week's second place finish at Bristol, I think that Clint Bowyer is due for a victory. As we all know, there is a lot of speculation going around about Clint's future in the sport, many already have him transitioning to the booth next season at Fox with Jeff Gordon and Mike Joy. I believe there is still some wins on the table for this veteran and this track would make the most sense for one. Over the last two races there, Bowyer has an average finish of fourth place, so we know he can run up front. Another thing to look out for is where Bowyer will be starting come Sunday as he rolls off fifth. At a place like Atlanta, track position is key, and he will have that working to his advantage. I look for Bowyer to take the #14 Rush Trucking Mustang back to victory lane and finally ending his winless streak.

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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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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