THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR goes West for the Pennzoil 400

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This week, the NASCAR Cup Series heads for Las Vegas for the Pennzoil 400. After last week's madness, everyone will get a chance to catch their breath at a much calmer track as Vegas is one of the many mile and a half racetracks on the schedule. All of the three and four wide we saw at Daytona will be much more limited here as we will more than likely see more long green flag runs and less side-by-side racing that we saw in Daytona. The one characteristic about this track that is the most difficult seems to be the entrance to pit-road as a lot of drivers have found themselves getting nabbed for speeding on pit road. Overall, Qualifying will also be important as well should we see what we saw last year as passing should be difficult with this high downforce package. I look for it to be a much more tame race than what we saw in the 500

Last Monday, NASCAR fans witnessed one of the most horrific moments in the sports history. On the final lap, veteran Ryan Newman crashed head-on into the wall and then went upside down on his roof only to be hit driver 's side by Corey Lajoie. and everyone held their breath as we all watched him be extracted from his car and transferred to Halifax medical center. Miraculously, just two days later Ryan was able to walk out of the hospital on his own power with his daughters at his side. While the wreck was awful, the fact that someone could walk away from that shows how far that the sport has come in regards to safety. There is still room for improvement when it comes to the races such as Daytona and Talladega. One solution that popular racing YouTuber David Land had thought up was a limit of overtime attempts on tracks like these considering the race had already gone past its advertised distance. I can empathize with what he is saying, but there have been many instances of races going past their scheduled distance and with no problem so I don't know how much that will help matters. In the end, I am no expert when it comes to the mechanics of these cars and what they can do to help keep them on the ground but overall, I hope that in some way shape or form that the sanctioning body can find a way to stop these cars from going airborne. We will see what they come up with.

While Ryan is recovering, it was announced that Xfinity Series Regular Ross Chastain will fill in. This comes as a surprise considering Chastain's ties to Chevy. This was definitely the right choice though as Ross is one of the most sought after prospects in NASCAR Right now. Last season, he nearly went on to a truck series championship with a truck that wasn't funded as much as some of the others, and he also performed well in his Xfinity series starts by capturing a win at Daytona for Kaulig racing and four top tens. Mind you he had a lot of success with a smaller budget team in JD Motorsports. If given the right opportunity, I truly believe that Ross can really perform well. I look for him to do a great job this weekend at Vegas and even contend for a top ten. Look for the #6 Mustang to run well on Sunday.

The driver that I have going to victory lane this week is Joey Logano. It has been a rough speed-weeks for the 2018 Champion, he has been the sight of much controversy after being involved in multiple pileups in both the Daytona 500 and the Busch Clash. Even his own teammate Brad Keselowski wasn't happy with him as he was caught up in both wrecks caused by his teammate. This week though I think it will be a much different story. Over the course of his last four races here, he has tallied a win and four top tens to go with it. He and his Penske teammates have really put on a clinic here and Sunday should be no different. Look for Logano to claim his first win of 2020 on 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).

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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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