The Left Turn

NASCAR heads for the windy city

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This weekend, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads for the high banks of Chicago for it's TheHouse.com400. Opened in 2001, Chicagoland is still one of NASCAR's newest tracks on the schedule. With the addition of the new rules package, the racing here at this track could very well be similar to the racing we saw earlier this year at Kansas due to the tracks being so similar.

Last season, this race featured one of the most memorable finishes in NASCAR history after Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson took part in one of the fiercest battles in history and for that reason, this race has been circled on the calendar for many drivers since testing. Darrell Wallace Jr. stated on Twitter that both this track and Kansas should be the ones to watch.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr went on to claim his fourth win of 2019 after thoroughly dominating Sonoma. He has continued to assert himself as the best driver at this racetrack as he has now won here three times. While it may have looked easy, the closing laps were no Sunday drive for the 2017 champion. he had to fend off his main rival and teammate Kyle Busch. When it was all said and done, the race was nothing really to write home about as he was able to drive away from everyone like he has been able to do all season. It will be interesting to see if there is a turnaround in this week's race.

One of the feel good stories of the week was the emergence of Matt DiBenndeto and Leavine Family Racing. He and his crew were able to claim their career best finish in fourth. It was truly a great site to see this team find success on a track as challenging as Sonoma. This finish was no fluke either as Matt ran around the top ten for the better part of the day. This couldn't have come at a better time as there has been many questions about what is next for this fourth year driver. Hopefully this run can be the catalyst for more success for this Texas run team. Owner Bob Leavine and his wife Sharon have been doing an exceptional job at getting this program to where it needs to be not only on the track but off it as well. Of all the other team owners, few have been as cordial and transparent with their fans like they have. It is good to see that this team is making headway.

The driver I have winning this weekend is Kyle Larson. As mentioned earlier, Larson appeared to have victory in his grasp last season until contact sent him into a spin. This is a track that he has done well at. In his four starts here, he has finished outside of the top 10 one time. This season, racing here will be much different. A lot of Kyle's results will be based on where he qualifies. This has been an area that he has excelled. I think with a good qualifying effort, Larson will be hard to beat here. Look for him to claim his first win of 2019.

(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).

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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