THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR rolls the dice in Vegas this weekend

All bets are off in Vegas. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Las Vegas this Sunday for the South Point 400. This track is one of the many mile and a half bullrings that we see on the NASCAR schedule. It is known for how hard it is to get on to pit road so look for the possibility of speeding penalties. Another thing to look out for is the heat. As we all know it gets hot in Las Vegas in September, this will make the track much more slippery and there is a good chance that there will be tire problems. It should be a good race though, and I am looking forward to seeing who moves on as the round of 12 begins.

Last week, Kevin Harvick went on to his ninth victory of 2020 as he continues to tear through competition. In the closing laps he and Kyle Busch battled it out in one of the best races we have seen all year. The race was different from what we usually see at Bristol as there weren't very many wrecks and there were a lot of cars that went a lap down as there were only six cars on the lead lap. A few people were critical of the racing last week which personally I didn't understand. This race had everything you would want it to, two of the best drivers in the sport going for the win.

There was news a plenty this week in the NASCAR world. It all started on Tuesday when it was announced that Ross Chastain would take over the #42 Camaro for Chip Ganassi in 2021. This doesn't come as too much of a surprise as he had driven for them in the Xfinity Series. He was lauded as the early candidate when Larson was suspended and many were surprised when he wasn't named the replacement for this year. But in the end, it all came full circle and the driver we all thought would get the ride ended up with it. Personally, I like this move. Ross has more than proved he is capable of running up front and winning in the Xfinity Series and now he is going to get the opportunity of a lifetime in decent equipment.

The other big headline this week was the announcement that Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan would be purchasing the Germain Racing charter and starting their own team in 2021 with Bubba Wallace as the driver. This is a HUGE deal for NASCAR as arguably one of the most recognizable brands in the world is coming on board. These rumors had been persistent over the last few weeks and many questioned the validity of the reports until it was confirmed on Tuesday that this was happening. More than likely what we will see with this new team is that they will receive cars from the former Levaine Family Racing team and technical support from Joe Gibbs Racing. This will also be the first time that a driver will own a team while driving for another team since Dale Earnhardt did it when he owned DEI and drove for Richard Childress. This will certainly be a huge boost for Bubba as he will now get the funding he deserves. Look out for this team going into the future.

As the week went on the rumors got even crazier as it was reported by Adam Stern that NASCAR and Bristol Motor Speedway were in talks to run a dirt race! This was a huge surprise to me as there was hardly anything to suggest this was even an idea. This truly came out of nowhere. This isn't really all that new to the track as it hosted a World of Outlaws race back in 2000 but never has there been a full-on stock car race on the dirt there. It will be interesting to see if this comes to fruition in the next few weeks.

The driver that I have winning this week at Vegas is Brad Keselowski. Over the last few times they have been coming to this track, he has been nearly untouchable. He has four top fives, six top tens and a victory back in 2018. His lowest finish here has been seventh! He has just been phenomenal here and I look for that to continue. This would be big for Brad if he can win considering that would put him through to the next round, and he won't have to worry so much about the unknown next week at Talladega. I look for Brad to take his Mustang to victory lane come Sunday.

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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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