THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Jockey Made in America 250 preview, picks

Keep an eye on Chase Elliott this weekend. Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images.

For the first time since 1956, the stars of the NASCAR Cup Series head to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin at Road America. Considered by many to be one of the best road courses in the country, this track is over four miles in length with multiple long sweeping straightaways and fourteen corners. Because of its layout, the track is one of the fastest of its kind. One corner to look out for is turn number five. This corner is a blind turn that sits at the exit of a long straightaway towards the end of the race. With a lot of drivers' brakes wearing out, this could be a trouble spot as it has been for in the Xfinity Series races here. This racetrack is a beautiful facility with some of the best fans and the best racing in the world. I am ecstatic to see the Cup Series get a race here.

Last week, Alex Bowman and Kyle Busch went on to claim victory in the Pocono doubleheader. In the first race, teammates Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman battled it out in the closing laps. And it appeared that Larson was on his way to a fourth victory in a row until the final corner when a tire went flat, giving the victory to Bowman. When interviewed, Larson stated there were no tire issues for most of the day and that he believed he ran over debris. This is becoming an issue as we saw complaints of debris at Nashville as well. Let's hope NASCAR can do a better job going forward because it might have cost Larson a victory. Needless to say, he rebounded the next day to finish second, so it wasn't all bad for this year's hottest driver. As I mentioned earlier, Kyle Busch went on to capture his second victory of the season, and he did it using fuel strategy. The most impressive feat is that his car was stuck in fourth gear the whole time, and he was still able to wheel the car to victory.

This week, another major bombshell was dropped upon the NASCAR world. It was announced Wednesday that Justin Marks and Mr. Worldwide himself, Pitbull, would be purchasing Chip Ganassi Racing in 2022. When it was announced that Kaulig Racing would be moving up next season, it left a lot of questions as to what was next for Trackhouse Racing, seeing as they were left without a charter. Everyone figured that they would find a way to stay competitive next season, but NO ONE expected them to buy a whole race team! This all but confirms that next season they will field a second car, but now the question is, who is going to drive it? This will certainly be one of the most sought after seats in the garage area.

As I mentioned earlier, while Kaulig Racing will be moving their Xfinity Series program up to Cup next season, they will also be fielding a Cup car this Sunday with AJ Allmendinger driving. He's going to be one to really look out for this week. There are a handful of drivers in the field that have spent time racing on this track, but none have the experience that he has. Not only has he driven stock cars here, but has also found success in the old Champ-Car Series as he won back in 2006. No one knows this track better than him. If he can stay out of trouble, he will be a contender to win come Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this Sunday is the king of the road himself, Chase Elliott. When the Cup Series heads for a road course, it's tough not to pick him, considering how much success he has accumulated on road courses. He has also been fast here in his limited Xfinity Series starts, as he nearly won back in 2015. I look for Elliott to continue his success that he's been on and capture his seventh road course victory come Sunday.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Deshaun Watson returns to NRG this Sunday. Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey may have pulled up stakes five years ago, but the NFL’s long-delayed freak show is coming to town Sunday at NRG Stadium.

Deshaun Watson, the Houston Texans one-time prodigal son turned accused serial lech, will be at quarterback for the visiting Cleveland Browns. After missing most of the past two years due to a combination of pouting, investigations and punishment over alleged sexual misconduct with dozens of massage therapists, Watson was reinstated to the Browns roster this week after serving an 11-game suspension.

Nothing will ever convince me that the NFL didn’t determine the number of games to sideline Watson so he could return for the Browns 12th game against the Texans in Houston. What's that they say about the alleged suspect always returns to the scene of the alleged crime?

You couldn’t script it any better. Remember, Watson demanded to be traded from the Texans before any masseuses started claiming that Watson acted inappropriately with them. What followed were transcripts of charges and testimony by the women that made Penthouse letters look like Mother Goose nursery rhymes.

Two grand juries failed to indict Watson on any criminal charges and the quarterback settled out of court with most of the accusers. The NFL eventually suspended Watson and ordered him to get counseling and to use only team-approved massage therapists in the future. Watson has complied with the NFL's demands.

So what will happen when Watson takes the field Sunday? It’s likely that the stadium announcer will downplay Watson’s presence. This will mark 700 days since Watson last threw a pass in an NFL regular season game. Will he come out rusty or will seething anger and revenge fuel Watson to his former All-Pro talent? He was the most productive quarterback in the NFL in 2020, his last season of action for the Texans.

While the game won’t be a matchup of Super Bowl contenders, Watson v. Texans will be dripping with controversy and intrigue. Sex sells, and Watson may now be a villain, at least in Houston, whose alleged sexual misbehavior will forever stain his reputation. If the crazy needed a cherry on top, Tony Buzbee, attorney for most of Watson's accusers, has said he will bring 10 of the masseuses to NRG Stadium on Sunday just to … whatever Buzbee thinks that will accomplish. Buzbee is not averse to publicity and this time it's personal.

Watson did nothing to tamp down the controversy surrounding Sunday’s game when he failed to meet the media on Wednesday, the day NFL quarterbacks typically hold a press conference. That might have been a calculated and understandable decision by the Browns. Watson has a history of putting his foot in his mouth by apologizing for his behavior and then seemingly taking it back. He did talk with the media on Thursday but would not address any non-football issues.

If Ringling Bros promised a three-ring event, Sunday's Texans and Browns clash is a no-rings circus. The Texans and Browns are two of only four current NFL teams that have never appeared in a Super Bowl. Stop guessing, the other two teams are the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans are the one and only team that has never even sniffed a conference championship game.

True, Sunday’s game at NRG Stadium is a stinker on paper. The Texans are a dismal 1-9-1, the worst record in the NFL and trending in the wrong direction. The Browns are 4-7, tied for last place in the AFC North.

CBS is treating the game with the lack of respect and importance it deserves. The network will not be sending its No. 1 announce team, Jim Nantz, Tony Romo and Tracy Wolfson, to Houston. Nor will CBS be dispatching its No. 2 team, Ian Eagle, Charles Davis and Evan Washburn. Instead calling the action will be Spero Dedes, Jay Feely and Aditi Kinkhabwala.

On top of that, CBS will air the game only in a small sliver of Southeast Texas plus Lubbock. It will be, by far, the least visible game on CBS’ roadmap of America. Games between the Jets-Vikings, Broncos-Baltimore and Steelers-Falcons will carve up the rest of the country in Sunday’s noon game slot.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome