THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: The Geico 500 goes down this Sunday at Talladega

Photo via: WikiCommons.

The time is here. NASCAR heads to the world-famous Talladega Superspeedway for the Geico 500. This track is easily the biggest and baddest racetrack on the face of the planet. Coming into this weekend, the drivers will not have any practice or qualifying sessions so it will be interesting how this changes things. NASCAR will also be implementing more safety regulations including extra roll bars, and they will also be cutting back on horsepower from 550 to 510. The reason for these changes was to try to prevent an accident like we saw at Daytona with Ryan Newman. This could very well mean a much different race on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the race.

We will also be seeing fans this weekend as it was announced a few weeks ago that Talladega will allow up to 5,000 spectators including limited camping. While it isn't exactly the full crowds we typically see here, it will be a relief to see at least some normalcy. Last week, Denny Hamlin went on to claim his 40th career victory after fending off Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney. It appeared as if Elliott was on his way to victory until he approached the lapped car of Joey Logano. With Logano still mad about his run-in with Chase at Bristol, he didn't make it easy on Elliott as he held him up and all through the backstretch clearing a path for Denny to take the lead. When the dust settled and Logano was asked about it in a NASCAR Sirius interview, Logano responded by saying "you think I am going to make his life easy after two weeks ago?"

Overall, I have to commend him on how he got back at Elliott. There weren't any wrecked race cars and when it was over, Elliott still had a chance to win. I would like to think that after this, the beef is over, but we will have to see in the coming weeks what's next between these two. While Hamlin was the winner, the story of the race had to be Tyler Redick. The rookie driver went on to claim his first top five finish of the season and his third top ten of the season. This young man has proven that he can run with the best of them week in and week out and what makes it all the more impressive is that his average starting position is 21.4. To see him charge all the way through the pack has been one of the most exciting things about this season. He has rejuvenated this race team and I would not be surprised if he was to win a race this season. Look for Reddick in the #8 Camaro to be a threat.

Another driver who has really been doing a great job these past couple of weeks has been Michael McDowell. The journeyman driver has finished both fourteenth and fifteenth in the last two weeks at Homestead and Martinsville. McDowell has done a great job over the past few weeks and appears to be in position to have another good run this weekend at Talladega considering how good he is at plate tracks. I look for McDowell to be a dark horse contender for a win this week, but the driver that I have winning is Ryan Newman. As we all know, tracks like Talladega and Daytona have been awful to him. He has been involved in some of the worst wrecks on tracks like these, including his vicious crash at Daytona in February. But this week, I think things will be different.

After all, he does have the highest average finish among all drivers on these types of tracks and has been a football field away from winning here twice. Seeing Newman win here would be one of the biggest feel-good stories not just of this year, but in NASCAR's history and I think the veteran will get it done come Sunday. Look for Newman to come back and find redemption and win his first race since 2017.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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