THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR heads to Delaware for the Dover 400

Jerry Markland/Getty Images


This week, NASCAR heads for the monster mile in Dover Delaware for the first race in NASCAR's round of 12. Like we saw last time we were here, this race will feature NASCAR's 750 horsepower package and considering its length so we should see similar racing to what we have seen in years past. Back in May when the Cup series was here last, Martin Truex Jr went on to lead 132 laps and win by a blistering nine and a half seconds over Alex Bowman. As of late, the fall race here has either been really tame where one car dominates or fairly intriguing towards the end where the leader finds a way to mess up and someone we maybe didn't expect comes away with the win. Last season, we saw Kevin Harvick lead over 200 laps but after a bad pit-stop Harvick would have to settle for a sixth place finish. The winner of the race was Chase Elliott as he would only lead the final eleven laps and would move on to the next round. Look for this to come up as there is a lot on the line for the 12 drivers remaining in the playoffs. Another reason why it is important to try and run well here is what lies ahead next week at Talladega and as any NASCAR fan knows, anything can go wrong can at Talladega so it will be especially urgent for these drivers to eliminate any possibilities and put as much cushion between them and the cutline.

Last week, Chase Elliott made one of the most incredible comebacks in NASCAR history and went on to claim his sixth career victory. This came after he missed turn one completely and took a detour into the tire barrier. Amazingly he was able to come back from being a lap down to pass Kevin Harvick for the victory. While Elliott had the race covered in the final laps, the battle came down to the drivers who were trying to advance to the next round. While Alex Bowman and Ryan Newman were nearly 10 seconds apart on the track, in points it would come down to the final two laps as Newman was a single point to the good and looked to be in the driver's seat to continue his incredible season but after missing the backstretch chicane, Newman was assessed a drive-through penalty that would cost him everything and relegate him back to 32nd. This would provide a clear path for Alex Bowman to capture the 12th and final spot in the round of 12 after he would also bounce back from three accidents to finish second.

Unfortunately for Bowman, this comeback would be overshadowed by what took place on lap 43 when he decided he would intentionally wreck Darrell Wallace Jr exiting the backstretch chicane. Throughout the race, both Wallace and Bowman got together multiple times including on the opening lap. This caused Wallace to repeatedly flip Bowman off out the window and as we could all see, Alex was none to pleased by this gesture. After the race, Darrell met Alex who was slouched over his car being "attended to" by medical staff after a long race and would throw a full bottle of water in his face. This would send NASCAR's twitter into a frenzy. Many fans called for a fine for Wallace and even went as far as calling for him to be suspended. While I don't agree with Wallace's motives and think it was ridiculous to throw water on someone, thinking someone should be suspended for this is extremely stupid. This is coming from a fan-base where most long for the "good ole days" that week after week sit behind their twitter and ask where all the conflict and personality went but then when they finally see it, they want to sit here and complain about how "it wasn't the right time" for Wallace to go and confront Bowman. Was it the right time for Cale Yarborough to hit Bobby Allison in the face with his helmet back in 1979 at Daytona? No but that is what made NASCAR so entertaining and always will.

The favorite coming into this race has to be the guy who won here last and that's Martin Truex Jr. It's safe to anytime they go to Dover, Truex is easily the guy to watch for considering how well he always runs there. As I wrote earlier, the New Jersey native has won at this track three times and has 15 top 10 finishes here over his 27 races he has run. I look for Truex to be a contender come sunday.

The driver that I predict will win on Sunday is Daniel Suarez. While this may seem like a bold prediction to some, this has been a track that he has excelled at ever since his rookie season in 2017. In his five starts here, only once has he finished outside of the top 10 and even then he finished 11th. There has been much speculation as to what is next for Suarez and many wonder if he will return to Stewart-Haas Racing next season and while It he wasn't able to qualify for the playoffs, he has put together some of the best runs of his career including a fourth place finish at Michigan. I think that Suarez will surprise a lot of people and capture his first career win and erase any doubt that he belongs where he is in the Cup Series.


(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 heads back to Kansas

Alex Bowman/Facebook


NASCAR makes their second trip to Kansas this week for the Hollywood Casino 400. This is the final race in NASCAR's round of 12 as each driver looks to get closer to the semifinal round of eight. The last time the Cup series was here was back in May, Brad Keselowski pulled off the victory in one of the best races of 2019 as he held off a charge from Alex Bowman and Clint Bowyer to claim his second win of the season. When the cup series came here in year's past, this was one of the more calmer races but ever since NASCAR introduced the new Aero Package, the field has been way closer. According to racing-reference, the spring race here had an average of 15 green flag passes per lap. While many fans have been extremely critical of NASCAR's new package, they simply cannot deny how much it has improved the racing on tracks like Kansas and Chicago. It will be interesting to see how much the circumstances of this being an elimination race will raise the urgency come Sunday.

Last week, the finish of Talladega was pushed back a day after rains suspended all on track activity on Sunday. After the conclusion of the first stage, the field was halted for over two hours until race officials decided to call it a day. During the rain delay, Chevrolet executive Jim Campbell called in an impromptu meeting with all of his drivers and demanded they all form a single-file line to help a Chevy win the race. According to driver Corey LaJoie, if drivers didn't comply, they would lose their company car and would lose time on the team's simulator which is a valuable tool for divers to get better at certain tracks. As you can tell, this was not received well by drivers and fans alike. One of the critics of this decision was 1999 Winston Cup Champion Dale Jarrett. When asked about it, he responded by saying "this has no place in NASCAR."And as a lifelong fan and owner of a Chevrolet, I must say that I agree with the critics on this. Working together on tracks like Talladega is one thing but to threaten drivers who don't comply by taking away time on the simulator is incredibly stupid. This is another example of how corporate this sport has become over the years and is simply not a good direction for the sport. As the race went on, it appeared as if the manufacturer was actually hurt by this as their top drivers Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson were all collected in an incident that ended their chances to win and quite possibly might cost Bowman a shot at the championship.

Needless to say, the race went on and featured one of the all-time greatest finishes in NASCAR History as Ryan Blaney was able to pass Ryan Newman in the final hundred yards and win by a margin of 00.7 tenths of a second making it the ninth closest finish in NASCAR History. Overall, this race had everything you would expect in a race at Talladega. It had multiple big crashes (including a flip by Brendan Gaughan), the lead changes and of course to top it all off, a photo finish. This great finish came at a good time for NASCAR considering the race at Dover a week earlier wasn't all that exciting.

Last week's race at Talladega was riddled with playoff implications as all twelve drivers were involved in some sort of incident including race winner Ryan Blaney. Overall, the drivers outside of the top eight are William Byron, Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman. It is going to be extremely difficult for any one of these drivers to get it on points so it is more than likely that they will have to win to get in. When I look at these four drivers, I think all of them have a good shot to win as they have all been fast here.

This leads me to the driver I predict will win come Sunday and that driver is Alex Bowman. This track falls right into his wheel-house, he ran extremely well here as he led 63 laps and came extremely close to winning but had to settle for second place. This was tough for Bowman considering he had finished second three times in a row up to that point. This week, I think that Bowman gets his redemption for the spring race and he does it when he needs it the most to get into the round of 8. Look for Bowman to take the #88 Camaro to victory lane for his second career win.

(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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