THE LEFT TURN
NASCAR: Xfinity 500 preview, picks
It's here, the semi-final race before the championship, the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville. The stakes have never been higher as four drivers will race for a championship at the conclusion. With this track being so narrow, there is a 100 percent chance that we will see a lot of bent fenders at the end of the race. There will be plenty of drama when the smoke clears. The playoff field of eight is as tight as ever, as Ryan Blaney is a single point behind Kyle Busch for the final spot at Phoenix. The rest of the field isn't too far behind either as Martin Truex Jr is three points back and Brad Keselowski is six points out. It is shaping up to be one of the most dramatic races of the season. You won't want to miss it.
The playoff woes continued for some last week at Kansas. Drivers like Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr all had tire troubles that gave them bad results. This is a big reason as to why the points are as close as they are going into this race. This has been the general theme all throughout each round. The only driver who hasn't seemed to have any issues has been Kyle Larson as he went on to his ninth victory of the season.
This has been a special season for Kyle Larson. A lot was made about if he should be able to return after all the self-imposed turmoil of 2020, but he has really made the most of his second chance. This victory last week was his third win in a row and the second time he's reached a streak of three consecutive victories. The only other driver to do it, Dale Earnhardt, in 1987 when he won his third NASCAR championship. This season will go down in history as one of the most dominant seasons the sport has ever seen, and I have to give Kyle a lot of credit. Not just because of his performance on the track, but because of how much he has done to try and make things right after his mistake last season. He has proved that it's never about how you fall, but how you make it better and get back up. I commend him on his efforts.
One driver to look out for this week is the driver with the most to gain and the least to lose, and that's Joey Logano. He currently sits in eighth position 26 points below the cutline. While it isn't technically a must-win situation for Logano, it's pretty close. With his aggressive driving style, more than likely if he is in a position to take someone out for the win this week, he will. We watched him do it back in 2018 after knocking Martin Truex Jr out of the lead in the final corner. In a sense, I can't really blame Logano for the way he drives. He doesn't take any prisoners out there, and I expect it to be much of the same this week. He rolls off fifth come Sunday.
A good none-playoff driver to watch out for this week is Kurt Busch. He's been really good at this track, he's won here twice back in 2002 and 2014. While he's had a lot of duds here over the years, he has found a knack for this racetrack. His time at Ganassi Racing is coming to an end, and what better way for him to cap off his tenure here than a good finish. He will start tenth on Sunday.
The driver that I am picking to win this week is Kyle Busch. In the round of eight, Kyle has been pretty consistent and has stayed in the top ten, but last week at Kansas it all came crumbling down like it usually does. He struggled to find any speed after a flat tire pretty much crippled his day. He was so upset that he was screaming inaudible profanities at the top of his lungs on the radio. As I mentioned earlier, Kyle is a single point ahead of Ryan Blaney for the fourth spot and really benefitted from everyone else's misfortunes, but this week, he should be the car to beat. He's been good at this racetrack with three top fives but has yet to score that first win. This Sunday, that should change. He starts seventh.