THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR heads to the Texas Motor Speedway for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500

Photo via: Wiki Commons.

After much speculation, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Lone Star State for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500. Over the past week there were rumors that NASCAR was going to relocate the race after alleged pressure from the state to cancel. But alas the show goes on and the race will continue. Like the All-Star race, Texas Motor Speedway will also allow fans on the premises as well. This track will more than likely be able to operate at fifty percent capacity so this will likely be the largest crowd since the shutdown. While there is still a lot that is unclear in the world, there will be at least some sense of normalcy come Sunday in the crowd. Hopefully everyone stays safe, wears a mask and follows social distancing guidelines. This could very well be a barometer for future fans in the stands at any point during this season. I hope that all goes well.

Chase Elliott went on to capture his first All-Star race on Wednesday. The race itself was rather lackluster as there wasn't the excitement most fans expected to see. Overall, the reason for this in my opinion was how short the race was, especially the last segment. In the final laps when Kyle Busch was chasing down Elliott, he would get closer and closer but simply didn't have enough laps to run him down and do anything with him. If this race had been fifteen laps longer, there probably would have been a lot more excitement towards the front. In the end, this idea to move the All-Star race to Bristol was well-intentioned but there were a few minor kinks. But overall it was a fairly successful All-Star race.

The one thing I hope they continue to go with in the future is the lights they put underneath the cars, that was incredible. Wouldn't it be awesome to see those at tracks like Daytona? Initially, I was a naysayer when it was announced but after seeing it in action I thought it was awesome! The two things I hope they tweak is that they put the lights on all sides of the cars, and they let the teams dictate what the color is. If they can do that, I think it would be a neat way to promote their sponsors.

As NASCAR tries to navigate its way through this global pandemic, some parts of the schedule still remain unclear as Watkins Glen will cancel their race in August and move the race to the road course at Daytona. This is something that I have been looking forward to seeing for years, and I am glad to see it is finally coming to light. It will be interesting to see how close the cars are when they enter the oval portion of the racetrack and if the leader will be able to pull away unlike what we see at a regular Daytona race. It should be fun to see how this goes. I predict it will be similar to the first race at the oval in Charlotte so you know it will be good. I look forward to seeing the end results come next month and what the future holds for this configuration.

This week, the driver I have winning is Kevin Harvick. As we all know, the 2014 champion has been head and shoulders above everyone this week, and on Sunday we will see much of the same. Since 2017, he's made this track his personal playground. He has three victories in the last six races there and hasn't finished worse than eighth. So to say he has been good there would be an understatement. I look for him to put a beatdown on the field this weekend and capture his fifth victory of the season. Look for Harvick to take his #4 back to victory lane come Sunday.

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Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

With the disappointing loss in extra innings late the night before, the Astros returned to RingCentral Coliseum on Saturday afternoon to try and even the series against the A's, who now owned a 3.5 game lead in the AL West over Houston. Here is a quick rundown of the middle game of the series:

Final Score: A's 3, Astros 1.

Record: 6-8, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Frankie Montas (2-1, 1.57 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Framber Valdez (0-2, 2.04 ERA).

Valdez does his job

Framber Valdez ran into stress early on Saturday, facing trouble in the bottom of the first inning. It started with a leadoff solo home run, putting Oakland up 1-0 before they would record an out. He later allowed back-to-back one-out singles to rack up his pitch count in the frame but would limit the damage to the single run.

He was able to re-focus and settle in during the following innings, getting quick, scoreless innings in the next four. In the bottom of the sixth, a leadoff groundball that likely should have been the first out was instead a single that would come back to bite Houston. That runner stole second and advanced to third on a bad throw, then scored on an RBI-groundout, doubling Oakland's lead to 2-0. Valdez would go one more inning, giving Houston precisely what they needed by helping give their exhausted bullpen a break. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 1 HR.

Houston's offense unable to get anything going

Unfortunately for Houston, Frankie Montas was even more efficient on the other side. Houston was only able to notch two hits against him over seven innings while Montas only had to throw 86 pitches over that span. Oakland would go to their bullpen in the top of the eighth, with the Astros getting just a single in the inning.

Nivaldo Rodriguez would take over for Valdez in the bottom of the eighth and allowed a solo home run to make it 3-0 before completing the inning. Houston would get a leadoff double by Kyle Tucker to start the top of the ninth, and he would come around to score on an RBI-single by Alex Bregman. That's as close as Houston would get, though, as Oakland would finish off the win to secure the series and extend Houston's losing streak to four games.

Up Next: The final game of this series and Houston's nine-game road trip will be on Sunday at 3:10 PM Central. Jesus Luzardo (0-0, 2.31 ERA) will make a start for the A's while Cristian Javier (1-0, 1.42 ERA) will look to continue his success in 2020 for the Astros.

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