THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR goes All-Star racing in the Lone Star State

NASCAR goes All-Star racing in the Lone Star State
NASCAR comes to Texas this weekend. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time in NASCAR history, Texas Motor Speedway plays host to NASCAR's annual All-Star Race. This race will feature each winner from 2020 and 2021 plus past champions and past All-Star Race winners. As we all know, this is where the sport pulls out all the stops and really tries a lot of new things. Some of them work, a lot of them don't. This week will be no different as there will be a myriad of changes. The biggest change of note is NASCAR's reduction on horsepower. Now I know there is a lot of gloom and doom in that sentence but to play devil's advocate here, I really think that this can bunch the cars up a whole lot more than what we see on an average Sunday. It should be a wild weekend when the green flag drops.

The format for the All-Star Race is vastly different from what we see on a typical race-day. First and foremost, before the main event as usual there will be a qualifying race for the drivers who have yet to win from 2019-2021. This race is known as the All-Star Open, some of the notable names that will be in this race are Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace, Daniel Suarez and Tyler Reddick. The race will consist of three segments, with the first two being twenty laps and then a ten lap dash at the end. The winners of each segment move on to the main event. This race is usually pretty crazy considering how much is on the line.

Another interesting aspect of this race is the fan vote. This grants the final starting spot to the driver who has the most votes on NASCAR's website. This will be a very competitive race with many drivers who can win. The three that really stand out are Tyler Reddick, Matt DiBenedetto and Ross Chastain. All three drivers have been in the top five this year in contention to win a race, so those are the drivers to look out for to race their way in. The favorite to win the fan vote has to be Bubba Wallace. Although unpopular among some of the more unsavory characters in this sport, he has a lot of people that are behind him. And while he will also be a threat to win one of the segments, I think he can fall back on the fan vote. It will be interesting to see how it all works out.

After the open comes the main event, the NASCAR All-Star Race. The format for the race this year is one of the most confusing yet as there will be SIX SEGMENTS! Including an invert at the end of each segment and a thirty-thousand dollar reward for the fastest pit crew at the end of the final segment. The first four will consist of fifteen laps. Segment five will be different as they will run thirty laps with a mandatory pit-stop at the conclusion. When it's all said and done, the sixth and final segment will be ten laps for $1,000,000. It seems every year this race gets more and more confusing to the viewer and the drivers themselves. Let's hope next season is easier to understand.

The driver I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been a dream season for him as he's now won three races after taking the field to school last week at Sonoma. And with all the success this year, why stop now? Besides, he will be starting on the pole after the field was set by a random draw this week, so he already has the track position on everyone else. That will be a big momentum boost and while the inversion of the top eight to twelve cars won't let him run away, we have seen it time and time again how good he is at driving through the field. Look for Larson to continue his hot streak and score the big bucks this week at Texas Motor Speedway.

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Astros drop the series to the Angels. Composite Getty Image.

Rookie Kyren Paris hit a two-run shot for his first major league home run and Tyler Anderson pitched eight strong innings to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 2-1 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

The Angels took two of three games from the Astros to give them three straight road series wins in a single season for the first time since 2019.

Anderson (5-4) allowed six hits and one run in his third consecutive win, which came in his longest start of the season. Luis García struck out two in a scoreless ninth for his third save.

Mickey Moniak walked with one out in the fifth inning before Paris launched an off-speed pitch from Hunter Brown (1-5) off the wall in left-center field to make it 2-0.

Jake Meyers opened the bottom of the inning with a walk before scoring on Mauricio Dubón’s double to the corner of left field to cut the lead to 1. But Dubón was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.

Meyers and Dubón hit consecutive singles with two outs in the seventh and Meyers advanced to third on the play after an error by left fielder Taylor Ward. Anderson escaped the jam when Victor Caratini grounded into a force out to end the inning.

Brown gave up two hits and two runs while walking three in six innings.

Paris walked with one out in the third and advanced to third on a single by Nolan Schanuel. Luis Rengifo hit a grounder to Jose Altuve and his throw home was just in time for Caratini to tag a sliding Paris at the plate.

The Angels challenged the call, but it was upheld.

Houston’s Jeremy Peñahit a ball that bounced off the wall in left field with two outs in the fourth that initially was called a homer. But umpires reviewed the call, and it was changed to a double.

Los Angeles shortstop Zach Neto left the game with two outs in the sixth inning with right elbow soreness. Luis Guillorme entered the game to play second base and Paris moved from second to shortstop to replace Neto.

ABREU’S NEXT STEP

Struggling first baseman José Abreu is scheduled to play two games for Triple-A Sugar Land this weekend before returning to the Astros. The move comes less than a month after the 2020 AL MVP agreed to be optioned to the minors to work on his swing.

Abreu batted .099 with just one extra-base hit and three RBIs in 22 games this season before his demotion.

Manager Joe Espada said the Astros want Abreu to play a full nine innings in the games this weekend to prepare for his return to the majors.

UP NEXT

Angels: Los Angeles is off Thursday before hosting Cleveland in the opener of a three-game series Friday night, when LHP Patrick Sandoval (2-6, 4.59 ERA) opposes LHP Logan Allen (5-2, 4.91).

Astros: Houston is also off Thursday before opening a series at Oakland on Friday night with Justin Verlander (2-2, 3.97) on the mound. The Athletics haven’t named their starter.

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