THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR visits Pocono Raceway for a doubleheader this weekend

NASCAR visits Pocono Raceway for a doubleheader this weekend
Double the fun this weekend! Photo via Wiki Commons.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Tricky Triangle this week for a doubleheader. The rules of last season will apply to this season as well as there will be two races, one on Saturday afternoon and one on Sunday afternoon. Also the inversion rule will apply as well as the first place car on Saturday will swap places with the twentieth place car starting on the pole for Sunday's race. This will be the first time that Pocono has hosted fans since 2019, so it will certainly be a delight to have a full house back at the races.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning his third race in a row at Nashville. It seems like there is no one that can stop him as he has not only won but led the most laps in all three of his wins. He continues to send a message that he is the class of the field.

While Larson was in his own zip code, there were a few drivers that were not so lucky, some of those drivers being the Penske teammates of Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney. Overall while Blaney showed speed early, a brake issue put him in the wall ending his day. Keselowski on the other hand was just slow all throughout the day. While Joey Logano was able to salvage a decent tenth place finish, it was a forgettable day for the Penske Fords. It seems like they have been off the pace lately, while yes no one has had anything for Larson and the Hendrick cars, it seems like they are a step behind. While all three are locked into the playoffs, they will definitely need to pick up the pace.

The big headline this week was the addition of Kaulig Racing for 2022. Their current Xfinity drivers, Justin Haley and AJ Allmendinger will be promoted with Haley running full-time and Allmendinger running select races. This is certainly another great sign for the sport as it continues to grow. The team will purchase both their charters from Spire Motorsports. With this acquisition, newly formed Trackhouse racing will lose their charter and become an open team. Even though not much will change on the surface for this team, there will be a big discrepancy in revenue. Team owner Justin Marks stated that nothing will change next season and they will continue to run full time. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out over the course of the next few weeks.

As I mentioned earlier, Kyle Larson is in the midst of one of the most dominant stretches that we have seen in quite some time. He will be heavily favored this week, but he will have his work cut out for him if he wants to win four in a row as this track has been one where he hasn't had the best results. In his past three races here, he has finished outside of the top twenty twice. There is a silver lining though, in his last start here two seasons ago he was able to score a solid fifth place finish, and a runner-up finish one year earlier. Look for him to be in contention to win one if not both races this weekend.

The drivers that I have winning this weekend are Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. Both of these drivers have a winning pedigree here, as they both have a combined four victories. They also have the advantage of a good track position on Saturday, as they both start third and fifth. Both drivers have a lot of good momentum going into this week. Busch has been the only guy who can keep with Larson, and Harvick is coming off a top five last week. Look for both drivers to be fast this weekend.

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Braves beat Houston in extra innings, 5-4. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Marcell Ozuna hit his major league-leading eighth homer and Orlando Arcia’s RBI single in the 10th inning lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

It completes a three-game sweep of the struggling Astros and is Atlanta’s fourth straight victory.

The Braves scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie it at 4-4. Michael Harris II started the 10th as the automatic runner on second and there was one out in the inning when Seth Martinez (1-1) intentionally walked Matt Olson.

Ozuna lined out to right field to send Harris to third base. Arcia then singled on a ground ball to left field to score Harris and put the Braves on top.

Pinch-runner Jake Meyers was on second when Kyle Tucker walked with no outs in the 10th. Meyers moved to third on a fly out by Yainer Diaz but Jeremy Peña grounded into a double play to end it.

A.J. Minter (3-1) got the last two outs of the ninth for the win and Raisel Iglesias earned his fifth save.

Reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. added his first homer of the season to help the Braves to the victory. Ozuna also leads the majors with 23 RBIs and he extended his hitting streak to 16 games, which ties his career best and is the longest active streak in the majors.

Yordan Alvarez and Mauricio Dubón both homered for the Astros, who fell to 6-14 and are last in the AL West.

There was one out in the first when Alvarez connected on his homer to the seats in left field to put Houston up 1-0.

Ozuna opened the second with his 432-foot shot to left field, which bounced off the wall and tied the game.

Acuña put the Braves up 2-1 when he sent the first pitch of the fifth inning to straightaway center field.

The Astros tied it on an RBI single by Alex Bregman in the fifth and Kyle Tucker’s RBI double came next to put the Astros up 3-2.

Dubón hit his first home run of the year off Jesse Chavez to start Houston’s sixth and push the lead to 4-2.

Harris singled to start the seventh before a ground-rule double by Austin Riley. Olson reached, and Harris scored on a fielding error by first baseman José Abreu when he couldn’t grab a routine ground ball.

There was one out in the inning when Riley scored on a sacrifice fly by Arcia to tie it at 4-all.

Houston starter J.P. France allowed four hits and two runs in five innings.

Max Fried gave up seven hits and three runs in five innings.

UP NEXT

Braves: Atlanta is off Thursday before opening a series against Texas on Friday night with LHP Chris Sale (1-1, 4.58 ERA) on the mound.

Astros: Houston is also off Thursday before ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night against Washington. The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder.

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