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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This week, NASCAR heads for Sin City in Las Vegas for the South Point 400. This is the opening round of NASCAR's version of the playoffs. Sixteen drivers will come to Vegas with a chance to move on and continue their path to a championship. Located just outside Downtown, This track is a mile and a half oval that includes twenty degrees in banking, usually with the Las Vegas heat, the track's surface becomes much more slick. This caused many tire issues last season that took out many contenders including Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott. With temps as high as 100 degrees on Sunday, this should be a factor to watch for.

Last week, Kevin Harvick put a beat-down on the field to go on and win his second Brickyard 400 and his third win of the season. Harvick led a race high 118 laps and was never really challenged until the closing stages after a battle with Joey Logano on a restart in the final few laps. The race was marred by many spectacular crashes including Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones as Brad hit a tire barrier at over 170 miles per hour causing the car to come to a dead-stop instantly. Luckily, no one involved was injured. Overall, many of the contenders were caught up in accidents including teammates Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch. When the smoke cleared, there were also some drivers who had great results including Darrell Wallace Jr who came home third. This was Bubba's best finish since last year's Daytona 500. While many will attribute attrition to why he ran so well it is important to note that he ran around the top 10 for much of the race.

For much of the season, NASCAR's greatest driver Jimmie Johnson has been in the spotlight but for all the wrong reasons and unfortunately this continued at Indy after he was eliminated from playoff contention when he was swept up in a multi car wreck on lap 108. This ends a 14 year streak of Johnson making NASCAR's postseason. While 2019 has been a dreadful year for him, Johnson has been adamant that he crew-chief Cliff Daniels are not done and will be much better come next season. If I could compare this to any other major sport, I would say it is close to what happened with LeBron James missing the playoffs this season with the Lakers. For both athletes, while things may be hard now I think they will be better next season as they both make moves to improve their teams. It will be interesting to watch seven time champion try and play spoiler to help his teammates Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and William Byron compete for a championship.

The NASCAR world was met with some good news this week as well as it was announced that fan favorite Matt DiBenedetto will drive for the Wood Brothers in 2020 in the #21 Menards Ford Mustang, the ride will include resources from Penske racing. The move was met with much surprise as it was announced Tuesday on the Wood Brothers Twitter page. The team's current driver, Paul Menard announced his retirement at the end of the 2019 season. While he won't be racing, Menard and his sponsor of the same name will remain with the team as Paul was gracious enough to suggest they hire DiBenedetto after he had many great results this season driving for Bob Leavine. Even though he will not return to full-time racing in NASCAR, he will continue to race on a part time basis more than likely for Penske racing's Xfinity team. In the grand scheme of things, many people have criticized Paul for his avenue into the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, the one thing people can't say is he and his family haven't done a lot for the sport. While many sponsors have left, Menard and his bright yellow paint scheme have always been around to keep a lot of these competitive teams going, I have to thank Paul for everything he has done for this sport and while his career wasn't perfect he wasn't such a bad race car driver either, he will always be remembered for his victory in the 2011 Brickyard 400 (ironically enough) and qualifying for the chase back in 2014. He will be missed come Sundays on the track

The driver that I have winning this week is Martin Truex Jr. This season, Truex has been fast at times but surprisingly he has kind of flown under the radar when compared to his teammates. While he still has four wins, he's been in a bit of a slump over the past two weeks. At both Indy and Bristol, he has finished 15th and 27th. The results have kind of taken the radar off the 2017 champion but I think this race is where he gets back into the swing of things. Over the last couple races here, Truex has the second highest average finish has led 23 percent of the laps completed. Come Sunday when the green flag drops, Truex and his Camry should be hard to beat.

(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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