NASCAR REPORT

NASCAR heads to Wine Country for the Save Mart 350

Photo via: Kylebusch.com


This week, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads for Wine Country in Sonoma California for the Toyota Save Mart 350. This track is the first of three road courses on the schedule. Since 1989, this track has been one of NASCAR's most prolific tracks on the NASCAR racing circuit. This year the track will bring back the "carousel" around corners 4-7 to commemorate this track's rich fifty year history. This decision was met with great praise by fans and drivers alike as it adds a new dimension to the race. The section features an elevation change and plenty of passing zones. This should definitely be the place to watch come Sunday.

While the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series was on an off-week after Joey Logano went on to victory at Michigan, both the Gander Outdoor Truck and Xfinity Series drivers were in Iowa. While rising star Christopher Bell was easily able to race to victory in the Xfinity race, the controversy occurred during the truck race. Early on, Austin Hill and Johnny Sauter were involved in an altercation after Hill hit the right rear quarter panel of Sauter causing him to crash into the wall. During a caution period, Sauter retaliated by T-Boning Hill into the turn two wall. In response to this, NASCAR parked Sauter for the duration of the race.

To add insult to injury, on Tuesday it was announced that he would be suspended for this week's race at Gateway motor speedway. While many people didn't agree with NASCAR's sanctions, I think that it was the right call. What he did was inexcusable, he not only damaged his own truck more but he also nearly ruined Austin's day. While I can understand his frustration, wrecking someone under caution is not a move that will do you many favors with the powers that be. On the bright side, he will not lose his eligibility for the playoffs which would usually happen should a driver be suspension.

After all the dust settled, Ross Chastain went on to win his second race of the season until he failed post-race inspection after his truck was deemed too low. This gave the victory to second place finisher Brett Moffitt who led a grand total of zero laps. It was simply one of the most bizarre weekends in NASCAR history as a precedent has been set for drivers who fail inspection in all three levels of NASCAR. While I hate to see him lose a race in something that he didn't have a lot to do with, it is good to see NASCAR stick by the rules they set at the beginning of the season. It will definitely make drivers and teams think twice before they try and skate by the rules.

The driver that I have winning this week is Kurt Busch. Over the course of Kurt's Hall Of Fame worthy career, he has really evolved into one of the elite road course drivers on the grid. You have to go all the way back to 2014 to find the last time Kurt finished outside of the top ten here. He just seems to know this track inside and out and while there will be a new layout this week, I think he will have no issue figuring out this race track. I look for Busch to continue his stellar 2019 with his first win of the season.

(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 couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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