The Left Turn

NASCAR heads to Pocono this week

Ryanblaney.com

NASCAR heads for the tricky triangle this week for the Pocono 400. Located in Long Pond Pennsylvania, this track is NASCAR's most unique on the schedule. This track is 2.5 miles long and is the only track that features only three turns as opposed to four. Another unique aspect is how each corner is banked differently. The one part of the track to look out for though is easily turn two. Nicknamed "the tunnel turn" we have seen so many drivers run into trouble here. Look for this to come up Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr was able to fend off Joey Logano for his third win of the season and his second Coca-Cola 600 victory and overall If you ask me we saw another great race. This event had everything, lots of cautions, tire-ware, lots of passing and even some strategy as well. For the past couple of weeks, NASCAR has really done a good job at improving their product especially on the mile and a half tracks like Charlotte or Kansas. One added factor that might have helped improve things as well was the added traction they have placed around the track; we saw how much it improved racing at Texas Motor Speedway and it looks like it has worked wonders for Charlotte. This week we go to a much different race track than what we have seen but it's good to see the sport take a step in the right direction as we move forward.

The other big story this week was NASCAR's purchase of International Speedway Corp. (ISC for short.) The purchase was made last week for a cool two billion dollars. With the new deal, NASCAR becomes the owner of thirteen race tracks including Daytona and Talladega. This now clears a path for NASCAR to make schedule changes for 2021 and beyond. While it may sound exciting for NASCAR to finally change things up, I can feel for some of the tracks that may lose a race. Let's hope NASCAR is able to do the right thing and find some way to accommodate each race track.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Ryan Blaney. As most NASCAR fans know, this track is where he was able to claim his first career win but ever since then his results have been mixed. In his last three starts here, he has finished in the top 10 once. It's also safe to say that this season hasn't been as good as he would have liked it to be. This week, I think a win will put him back in the hunt. I expect a lot from this young driver this season and has shown flashes that he can win and that will be exactly what he does this Sunday. Look for Blaney to go to victory lane.

Another driver who has really done a great job this year is Chris Buescher. If you have read some of my articles, I have been really high on this driver after how much he has improved his performance towards the closing stages of 2018. Last week he was able to wheel his damaged car to a sixth place finish, this is his second consecutive top ten. While he wasn't on a lot of peoples radar this year, the Prosper Texas native has turned a lot of heads and will definitely be a driver to keep in eye on in the not to distant future. Right now he appears to be in a good position to make a run for the playoffs and now he goes to a track where he also claimed his first career win. Look for the Bushes Baked Beans Camaro to be solid this week.

(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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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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