THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR hits the road at Watkins Glen

Joey Logano. Getty Images.

This week, The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads for the finger lakes in Watkins Glen New York. This track is one of the three road courses on the schedule and if you ask me, easily the most exciting. Ever since the dramatic last lap duel between Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski in both 2011 and 2012, this track has not had one bad finish. Besides the obvious Daytona or Talladega, this track poses the biggest chance for a first-time winner. Since 2010, there have been three first time winners including last season when Chase Elliott claimed his first win. This should be a can't miss race for any hardcore race fan.

Last week, Denny Hamlin went on to claim his third victory of 2019 after he was able to save enough fuel to hold off his teammates Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr. This was Joe Gibbs racing's second 1-2-3 finish of 2019. This was another one of the many races that really ramped up in the final laps. While it appeared as if it was going to come down Hamlin, Jones and Harvick a caution came out after Josh Bilicki broke a driveshaft and stalled. This type of outcome seems to be a trend as it has happened so many times in the past few weeks and it isn't the worst thing for NASCAR right now. While watching the first two stages of the race is essential, everyone comes to see the closing stages of a race when the intensity heats up and lately even if it was unintentional these finishes have been incredible. It should be fun to watch during the remainder of the season.

The Jimmie Johnson saga continues as this week it was announced that he would hire a new crew-chief in Clif Daniels. This doesn't necessarily come as a surprise as Johnson has continued to struggle performance wise with his former Crew-Chief Kevin Meendering. Overall, I think that Kevin could be a good crew chief but the pressure might have been too much for him. Coming into 2019, Meendering was making his debut at crew-chief in the cup series as he worked for JR Motorsports with Elliott Sadler from 2016 to 2019 when he relieved Chad Kanaus. He was fairly successful in his efforts after he was able to guide Sadler to two championship races at Homestead in 2016 and 2017. In time, I think he will find his way back onto a pit-box in the Cup series, maybe some more time as an engineer or possibly crew-chiefing back in the Xfinity series will help him when he gets back whenever that may be. As for the guy they tapped to replace him, I think Daniels can definitely come in and help fix things from a technical standpoint as he has been an engineer at Hendrick since 2015, it should be interesting to see how this team progresses.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Joey Logano. While it has been a struggle for him here in the past few years, this Sunday should be different; besides what a lot of people forget is that last season, Logano could have been a major contender if he wasn't involved in a first lap crash as he started the race in sixth. This is a track that Joey knows how to get around considering he won here back in 2015. This race also plays into pit strategy as well and for my money, crew-chief Todd Gordon is one of the best race strategists in NASCAR. I look for him to claim his third win of 2019.

(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).

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans outmatched when it counts against Steelers

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Another game, another loss for the Texans. This time it was only a seven point loss to the Steelers as they fell 28-21 in Pittsburgh. This time around, Bill O'Brien looked to be on his game as far as decision-making was concerned. However, there is still room for improvement.

One thing that I did appreciate that O'Brien did was have trust in the offensive line. The Steelers pass rush could be problematic, but their defense overall is very stout. That's how they were able to nearly make the playoffs last year with a Duck at quarterback. While the Texans did give up five sacks, they weren't all due to poor offensive line play. The Texans lost 33 yards on those five sacks. Tytus Howard and Zach Fulton handled themselves fairly well after looking like turnstiles the first two games. O'Brien called longer developing pass plays and play action in spite of this and it paid off with Deshaun Watson and his receivers putting up 264 yards in the air.

There also wasn't an instance of Bumbling Bill this game. At the end of the first half, there was a minute and fourteen seconds left. The Texans were down 17-14 and had all three timeouts with the ball on their 25-yard line. Classic Bumbling Bill situation right? Wrong! Not only was the play-calling on point, but the players executed and the timeout situation was handled perfectly. First timeout was used after getting to midfield with 47 seconds left. Timeout number two was used after a 20 yard gain after the previous play. A 15 yard gain later to the Steeler 14-yard line and timeout number three was used with 28 seconds left. This set up perfectly for them to call a multitude of plays. They only needed one as Watson found Will Fuller in the end zone on a jump ball in which Fuller rose up and was physical enough to grab the ball over the defender. They went up 21-17 at the half.

Bill O'Brien's teams were 37-3 when leading at halftime. I say "were" because they lost this one after not scoring a single point in the second half. This was more on the defense not being able to fight its way out of a wet paper bag, and a lack of execution by the offense. Specifically, the run defense has been atrocious and Watson either needs quicker reads or to stop holding onto the ball so long by making quicker decisions. That's on coaching to put players in positions to succeed, but also the players to execute.

Ultimately, this was on O'Brien the general manager more than O'Brien the coach. This roster is woefully outmatched. The only time an outmatched roster can compete consistently is in college football with a wacky offense. It just doesn't happen in the NFL. Hey, at least Bumbling Bill didn't rear his butt chin today. Today's Culture Map play call menu was brought to you by Pour Behavior. I suggest getting over there and checking out their daily specials.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome