The Left Turn

NASCAR heads for the Heartland at Kansas Speedway

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This weekend, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads for Kansas Motor Speedway for the Digital-Ally 400. This track is very similar to many of the tracks we see on the schedule, it is a mile and half oval. The track has plenty of lanes to pass which has allowed for a lot of side by side racing. One of the key factors of the race to look out for is fuel mileage. While it may seem like stage racing has nearly eliminated this style of racing, with the amount of long green flag runs we see here at this track I still think it could play a big part in deciding who wins this weekend, look for this to be a major point of contingency on Saturday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr went on to cruise to his second victory of 2019. When the dust settled, MTJ won by a whopping nine seconds over Alex Bowman. This was quite a feat for both Truex and Bowman after both of their qualifying times were disallowed for failing pre-race inspection. After the race, like many other instances this season a lot of the drivers and owners took issue with NASCAR's new rules package here at dover. Easily the biggest critic this week was 2015 champion Kyle Busch. After being asked by NASCAR Journalist Claire B Lang what he thought, He was quoted as saying "Oh the package sucks. No Question about it's terrible." Many people were dismissive of his comments, after all he does have a long history of calling NASCAR out on things like this when he doesn't win. I understand why fans and media members think this is just another case of Kyle being Kyle but, it's important to note that he wasn't the only person saying this. One of NASCAR's elder statesmen Kevin Harvick also talked about how difficult it was to pass and how much NASCAR drivers and owners have tried to offer solutions just to be ignored. I know that these guys do a job where they are paid well and it's something a lot of us wish we could do but I can definitely understand how frustrating it's got to be to continue to provide stable input on how to make the racing better only to be ignored by NASCAR and dismissed by certain media members.

Going into Kansas, Alex Bowman appears to be on a hot-streak with back to back second place finishes. He is the driver that I have going to victory lane this Saturday. For those that know me well enough, Bowman has always been a driver that I have really campaigned for. Ever since he filled in for Dale Jr back in 2016, he was always competitive and a threat to finish in the top 10 and now he has steadily improved to a driver that can contend for victories. While Kansas hasn't been that great of a track for Bowman results wise, I believe that hendrick motorsports has continued to improve week by week after getting that elusive first win at Talladega with Chase Elliot. I think that Alex has really found a rhythm here and is next in line to claim his first career win, look for the showman to go to victory lane come saturday.

Kyle Larson appears to finally found some good luck after last week's third place finish. He will be another driver who will contend this weekend. Over the course of his ten starts here, the results have not been what Larson and his team would want to hang their hats on, only once has he finished top five here and while the finishes haven't been so great it shouldn't be overshadowed that in those ten starts, larson has lead a considerable amount of laps they have just had bad luck happen that derail their day but this weekend, I think they will change that and get another solid finish at Kansas.


(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's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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