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).

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

This week, NASCAR heads for the Bluegrass state for the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Motor Speedway. This track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with tightly banked corners of seventeen and fourteen degrees. Back in 2010, NASCAR announced that it would add this track to the schedule and while it was met with much intrigue then, this track has provided much more tame racing than many would expect. Back in 2015, it was announced that this track would be repaved and reconfigured to fix some of the track's issues with moisture. After this repave, the part of the track that was most affected was turn three. This part of the track is easily the most challenging as there have been multiple incidents on this corner. This should be were all the action is come saturday.

Last week at Daytona,part-time driver Justin Haley pulled off arguably the biggest upset in NASCAR history as he was able to claim his first career win after the rain ended the race prematurely. Driving for newly formed Spire Motorsports, he was able to avoid the big wreck that claimed 18 cars and take the lead right before the rain came. Many would label this victory as a fluke considering he only led one lap but it is important to note that he was running around the lead pack before the last caution.

Another facet fans took issue with was how this team came about in the first place. Back in the off-season, owners TJ Puchyr and Jeff Dickerson purchased the charter from Furniture Row racing and announced that they would be the newest team on the grid. This charter ensured that the team would be assured a spot in each of the thirty-six races in 2019 as opposed to open teams that do not have a charter and are not assured a spot. Many also thought that the team's victory had no bearing on the regular season considering that neither Haley or the team would be eligible for the playoffs. When not racing in the Cup Series, Haley is an Xfinity series regular so that is where he collects his driver points making him only eligible to compete for a championship in that series. Overall, while this wouldn't happen in almost any other circumstance, I think that it is pretty neat to see a new driver go to victory lane for his first win. While I will agree that NASCAR's new charter method is severely flawed in every way, you can't really blame Sprie Motorsports for taking advantage of this and finding success. I wish them the best for the remainder of 2019.

Going into this weekend, the driver that I have winning this weekend is Martin Truex Jr. Over the last two races here, Truex has won both of them. In both of those starts, Truex has lead sixty percent of the laps run here so it's clear this track is basically Truex's playground. While I think that the new aero package may change things up a little bit, I still see Truex winning because of how well he has qualified here as well. Since 2017, he hasn't started worse than second and with Qualifying meaning as much as it does I think he should have no issue with that as well. He will be tough to beat come Saturday night.

(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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