INTERVIEW

Q&A with NASCAR owner Bob Leavine

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Today, I was lucky enough to talk to the owner of the Leavine Family Racing team, Bob Levaine. We talked about how his team got their start back in 2011 and what kind of expectations Bob and his wife Sharon have after forming a new partnership with Joe Gibbs racing.

Q: So overall, You guys are still a relatively new team, starting back in 2011. Can you give us a little bit of a background about the beginning and what kind of drew you to NASCAR?

Leavaine: Well it has really been an interesting cycle, In the first five years we were just part-time and I got into it to help our first driver David Starr and of course with me being as competitive as I am, I really liked it so we brought in Scott Speed to drive for us our second year and then Michael McDowell for our first full time season and it has just kind of went from there.

Q: There were some new changes this year to NASCAR; one of the changes that many have been critical of has been the new qualifying format. Overall are you guys happy with some of the tweaks we saw NASCAR announced earlier this week?

Leavaine: What they did requires more oversight, but in the end It's still going to come down to the draft and if it comes down to the luck of the draw. I would prefer with what we were doing before with single car runs because a lot of these teams work too hard and spend a lot of money for qualifying and they don't get the lap they deserve.

Q: So there have been some major changes including moving the finale to ISM Raceway and moving Daytona to the final race of the regular season. Overall are there any changes you would like to see NASCAR make when it comes to scheduling?

Leavaine: If I was going to do anything with the schedule why not let them run the road course at Indy? I think that is really cool course and I think that a lot of the fans would come. It would be something different like with what we saw in Charlotte so that would be one of the things I would like to do. Also, I'd like to see them rotate their season finale and maybe make them bid on like they do the Super Bowl.

Q: And Finally I have to ask the question a lot of people have been wondering, with this new alliance with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing, is there a possibility of expansion at LFR in the near future?

Leavine: Yes. Absolutely. We were going to run two cars for this year with Daniel Suarez and a driver we selected but that didn't work out but overall, I am happy with how everything turned out. I am glad we got Matt DiBenedetto because he wanted to come here but yes we are working on expanding for 2020 right now. It's just a matter of sponsorship because we can put the people on it and we have the organization and Toyota Racing Development will support that so yes we are working to expand.

You can hear the whole interview below.

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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