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The NASCAR report: Penzoil 400 preview in Las Vegas

The Monster Energy Cup returns to Las Vegas. Getty Images

This Sunday, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series makes its return to Sin City for the Penzoil 400. This begins their "West Coast swing" as they go to Phoenix next week and to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. the next. This is the part of the season where we truly begin to see who is for real and who is just a flash in the pan. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is another half-mile oval, but this track has character. At this track there are plenty of places to pass, but that doesn't mean we still don't see some beatin' and bangin' on and off the track. Last year Kyle Busch and Joey Logano had to be separated after Busch approached Logano and hit him in the face.

The track has also produced some of the most exciting finishes to date. Last year Brad Keselowski was two laps away from victory until an electrical issue dropped him to fourth, handing the victory to eventual champion Martin Truex, Jr. Three years earlier in 2014 Keselowski  was in the complete opposite position when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was leading the race but on the final lap, Jr. ran out of gas on the backstretch handing the victory to Keselowski, so it is fair to say the track is just as unpredictable as the city it's located in so on that note here are my predictions for the Penzoil 400:

The favorite going into this week would obviously be Keselowski. As I have mentioned above, the man has been up front here when it has counted and was also victorious in 2016 when he beat out Busch in the final six laps. While he is easily the chic pick for this race, I am going to go in a different direction, I think that this week Kyle Larson will come out on top. While yes, over his four starts at the track he has had a 15.75 average finish, I don't believe that they is indicative of how well he has been running beforehand. This track has not been kind to Larson in the past even in his time in the Xfinity series, when in 2013 he was leading early in the race before he was turned by Trevor Bayne.

The bad luck also extended to the Cup side as well, only gaining one top five last year when he finished second but this year I think it will all turn around for the 42 crew. This track caters to Kyle's driving style; he usually drives all the way up near the wall and with some of the passes we have seen here that should be perfect for him. My dark horse for this weekend's race is Ryan Blaney. While yes, he has been far from an underdog this season seeing how he is second in points currently, but he is still at 18/1 odds to win the race and has not been listed as one of the favorites to win. Blaney has run exceptionally well here. While he has only run here twice, in those two races he has finished sixth and seventh, so it is fair to say that this is one of his best race tracks. Look for Blaney to be up front for this week as he tries to navigate his Ford to victory lane.

Overall, in my opinion Las Vegas is always one my favorite races to watch and with nothing but sunshine in the weather forecast (unlike last week) I can't wait to see who comes out on top. This is going to be a race you won't want to miss.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at and the best website for all NASCAR stats).

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It's Draft SZN! Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

On Thursday June 22, the NBA will hold their annual draft. With the Rockets owning the number four overall pick, you'd think things would be looking up for them. However, in a draft where the top three players are all expected to be immediate impact guys, the drop begins where the Rockets are selecting. Armed with some young talent, cap space, and a new head coach, the Rockets are looked at as a team on the rise. But what will help contribute to that rise?

When you have assets, you have options. There are three main options I see here for the Rockets with number four: keep the pick and select the guy you think will work best moving forward; trade up to select the guy they feel they missed out on that isn't a punk Frenchie who dislikes Houston; or trade the pick for an established star. The other option is trading the pick for a good player and a future pick/s. Let's take a look at the options:

Option 1: Keeping the pick means you're drafting the leftovers. Those leftovers start with Amen Thompson. He's the guy I believe can come in and help sooner rather than later. At 6'7 and 215 pounds, he has an NBA body. His skill set can come in handy because he's played point guard. This team could use a true point guard, but Thompson isn't exactly a traditional point. He has the size of a wing player, which allows him to see over the top of the defense. His outside shooting is abysmal and needs a vast improvement. To me, adjusting to life as a pro without his twin brother Ausar, another good draft prospect himself, will be difficult. Overall, I believe he's the guy to take at four if they decide to stay.

Option 2: Trading up to get Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller may prove to be difficult. Both teams picking ahead of the Rockets have their point guards. Charlotte wants to find Lamelo Ball a running mate and have their eyes rumored to be set on Miller. Portland is trying their best to keep Dame Lillard happy. The Rockets would be best served to trade with either team willing to move down for whatever they offer, provided it's worthwhile. Portland was just in the playoffs the last few years and aren't as far out as some would think. They're the ones I'd eye to trade with. Speaking of Portland and Dame…

Option 3: The Rockets need a point guard and Dame may be looking to get out. Help them start their rebuild and bring Dame to Houston. Or, how about the Jaylen Brown rumors? Fred VanVleet has a player option for next season, then becomes an unrestricted free agent. There are a few options of finding veteran help around the league, especially at the point. Problem is, are any of these team willing to take the Rockets' offers? It'd start with number four, and include other assets as well. This option makes sense if the organization believes the roster, with whatever vet addition they make via trade, is playoff ready.

Option 4: The last option I thought about is to trade the pick for a first rounder in next year's draft and a decent player. I see this as a last resort of sorts. But only if they do not feel comfortable with whatever player they may take. That, and if they want to save cap space for next free agency period. Not having a first rounder next year isn't as bad as one might think. The team will need to make the necessary moves this offseason to ensure that won't be an issue next draft. FOMO is real, especially when a team is rebuilding and can't use one of the best/cheapest forms of acquiring top talent.

I talked with my good friend “TC.” The guy loves basketball and even hips me to a bunch of stuff. He wants them to move up in the draft for Scoot or Miller. While he is a James Harden fan, he doesn't necessarily want him back. He wouldn't mind it, but it's not his first option. I've spoken with a lot of native Houstonians about this. They all want a winner sooner than later, but have different philosophies on how to get there. Personally, I say options two and three are my faves. Trade the pick for help, rookie or vet, and go from there. I guess we'll have to wait three more weeks before we find out. Or will we…

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