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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Houston needs a win to advance

ALWC Game 2 Preview: Astros vs. Twins

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

It took all nine innings, but the Astros rallied late and took Game 1 by a score of 4-1 and are in the driver's seat in this best-of-three series. They'll return to Target Field, home of the Twins, on Wednesday afternoon to try and get the win and advance to the ALDS. Here's what you need to know about Game 2:

Game Facts

When: Wednesday, 12:08 PM Central

Where: Target Field - Minneapolis, Minnesota

TV: ESPN 2

Streaming: ESPN App

Pitching Matchup: Jose Urquidy+ vs. José Berríos.

Series: HOU leads 1-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central) Location Pitching Matchup
Game 1 Astros 4, Twins 1 Target Field, Minneapolis Greinke vs. Maeda
Game 2 Wed 9/30, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis Urquidy+ vs. Berríos
Game 3* Thu 10/1, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis McCullers Jr.+ vs. Pineda+

* If necessary.
+ Projected starters.

Game Storylines

Houston's offense has to get going earlier

The Twins' error in the ninth inning in Game 1 was a gift for the Astros that they were able to take advantage of and score the winning runs. It's unlikely to be handed another chance like that in the postseason, so in Game 2, it's paramount that Houston creates their own opportunities at the plate.

The good news is, every batter in the lineup was able to reach base in the first game, either by hit or walk. However, they would go 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine on base during the game. Because they can't expect to have two pitchers to combine for a one-run game on Wednesday, they will have to carry over the momentum from the end of Game 1 into Game 2 to build a lead their bullpen can carry.

Trust your arms to navigate through

Whether it's Jose Urquidy, who is the likely candidate, or anyone else who ends up starting Wednesday's game, the Astros have to be prepared to have a longer stretch of innings filled by their bullpen. Despite his struggles to end the regular season, Greinke did well only to allow one run to the Twins over his four innings in Game 1.

You should expect a similar outcome in Game 2, where hopefully your starter can hold the Twins at bay for as long as they can before needing to make the change to relievers. It will be interesting to see how Dusty Baker plays that situation, mostly dependent on the score at the time, as he could have someone like Cristian Javier come in for multiple innings. The only thing the Astros shouldn't do is fire too many of their bullets and put their chances in a potential Game 3 at risk.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

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