THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR takes its talents to South Beach: Dixie Vodka 400 preview, picks

William Byron looks like a good bet this weekend. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to South Beach this week for race two of the Round of 8. As we get closer and closer to the end of the season, the urgency is beginning to ramp up as a chance to race for a championship is on the line. This track is a high-banked mile and a half with plenty of places to pass. The preferred line has to be the outside. We will see many drivers running around the wall trying to find grip. It will also be the first time these cars race at Homestead.

Last week at Vegas, Joey Logano went on to score his fourth win of 2022 and clinch his spot in the championship race at Phoenix. Throughout the weekend, Logano was consistently the fastest car. In the closing laps, he would track down Ross Chastain and make the race-winning pass with 3 laps to go. Going into these final three races, Logano has to be the favorite to win the championship. In the past 15 races, he has scored seven top-10s, and five top-5s and has led 416 laps. He’ll be the car to beat over the next three weeks.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the biggest story in motor racing this week, Bubba Wallace has been suspended for this week after crashing Kyle Larson. He will be replaced by John Hunter Nemechek. Early in the race, Kyle Larson charged the corner in turn 3 and collided with Bubba Wallace. After this, Wallace would go postal and decide to hit the right rear of Larson turning him into the 20. After the wreck, Bubba would then go and practically attack Larson on the front stretch. When asked why he did what he did, he would say “that the car was broken, so he couldn’t turn,” which was clearly a lie. As I watched this happen live, I was extremely disappointed in Wallace for this. Over the course of his career, I have defended him through thick and thin and admittedly have become a fan of the driver. What he did was absolutely despicable. With all of these drivers including his teammate getting injured this year, for him to do this puts a black eye on all the improvements he’s made. Luckily, he was only suspended for one race, as he could have been suspended for much more. A day later, he apologized via social media. Let’s hope he will be able to learn from this and continue to improve. This suspension sets a precedent for anyone else who thinks about wrecking someone in that fashion.

On the other end of the spectrum, one driver who has been really on a roll has been Ross Chastain. It has been a career year for the former watermelon farmer, but he’s had some bumps in the road. He’s had run-ins with Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, and even Kimi Raikkonen. Since then, though, he has turned it around as his driving style has become much cleaner. I look for him to be a contender at Homestead

The driver I have winning this weekend is William Byron. Over the last six races, Byron has scored an average finish of 9.5 with three top-10s and 52 laps led. While he hasn’t been in contention to win races this year like we all would have expected, he has kept his nose clean and has proven himself as a championship contender. This week, the 24 team is going back to the track where they won at last year. I look for Byron to punch his ticket to the championship race come Sunday.

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Deshaun Watson will make his Cleveland Browns debut this Sunday against his former team at NRG Stadium. Watson has completed his suspension from the NFL for alleged sexual misconduct with dozens of massage therapists, and this Sunday will be the first game he has played in 700 days.

The Browns sit at 4-7 hoping Watson will be the spark the team needs to stack some wins and get into the Wild Card race. The Texans are still searching for their second win of the season, and many believe the team will be hiring another head coach come January.

With this in mind, who has the worst reputation? The Texans or Deshaun Watson?

It seems like an easy answer with Watson's legal troubles, but upon further review, the answer has to be the Texans. The Texans have hired two consecutive coaches that no other NFL team even interviewed. It seems like no quality candidates have any interest in coaching the Texans. Watson, however, had teams lining up for his services when the Texans decided to trade him.

Be sure to check out the video above as we dive into this topic and make a convincing case, as crazy as it sounds, that Watson is perceived to have a better reputation.

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