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 Texans have a big decision to make. Composite image by Jack Brame

The last few weeks have brought us some very interesting episodes of "As Kirby Turns." Cal McNair has admitted he hasn't spoken with Deshaun Watson and has also doubled down on his affinity for Jack Easterby by saying he's staying around. The franchise's only member of their Ring of Honor, Andre Johnson, came completely out of character by tweeting his support for Watson to "stand his ground" in what most assume is his desire to play elsewhere. Newly hired general manager Nick Caserio has the hardest job in the NFL because he's basically a one leg man in a bleep kicking contest. National and local media are all floating rumors and opinions about Watson's status with the team. Meanwhile, Watson himself has been cryptic and hasn't come out and said one thing either way about his status with the team.

My opinion is that he won't be traded and this is his way of using the leverage he has to get some things done his way to ensure more of his career won't be wasted. Once they hire a head coach he approves of and they talk, he'll be back in the fold and blow things over by saying he never demanded a trade and was only upset about some things due to miscommunication. Blah blah blah. However, where there's smoke, there must be fire. I'll examine some pros and cons to a potential trade of Watson.

Bad news first. This franchise has waited its entire existence for a franchise quarterback like Watson. Finally getting one and having to deal him amidst the bumbling owner and charlatan right-hand man would be a big blow to overcome. This coming year is shaping up to be difficult as it is, but doing so with Watson wearing a different jersey could prove to be a near fatal blow. It would take an additional year or so to recover. The only way this timeline is expedited, is if they get a quarterback back in the trade or with one of the draft picks that they feel can be the man moving forward.

The bright side. Watson is this team's most attractive asset as it looks to rebuild. There are teams in the top five of this year's draft who need quarterbacks, and a couple of them have multiple first round picks. The Jets, #2 and #23 overall in the first round this draft, are the most intriguing destination because they may be bad next season with Watson if you get that pick in the trade as well. Throw in Sam Darnold, who's still young and salvageable, and this could be a hard reset that may not take as long. The Dolphins, #3 and #18 overall this draft, also have a lot to offer. Rumor has it Watson would like to go to Miami in a deal that includes Tua Tagovailoa, who was a guy Caserio liked when entering the draft. Again, another potential hard reset that may not take long if either young quarterback pans out. You could also trade back from those top slots to acquire more picks to help fill some of the many holes you have.

I reiterate, I do not believe Watson will be traded. I'm not even sure his no trade clause is applicable since he's still under his rookie contract and his extension hasn't kicked in yet. The new CBA rules call for stiffer penalties for players who refuse to report, so a holdout is highly unlikely. I'll be glad when they hire a coach Watson likes, and we get the happy family press conference introducing him, so this soap opera can move on to its next episode.

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