THE LEFT TURN

The show goes on in Atlanta for the QuickTrip 500

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The show goes on this weekend as NASCAR heads for Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500. As everyone knows, the world is in a crisis right now with the Corona-virus and with the NBA, MLB, MLS and the NCAA all canceling events, the question then became what was next for NASCAR. On Thursday it was announced that both races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead Miami will be run as planned without fans. Of the 24 years that I have been on earth, this is something that I have never seen before in my life. Right now with all that is going on with people's livelihood at stake, a NASCAR race is secondary. I hope that everyone out there that is taking the time to read this article is well and remains healthy. With all of the bad news out there, I do take comfort in knowing that my favorite sport will be running this week but my heart breaks for everyone that planned for months to make it down there to Atlanta and watch. I would imagine that there will be a lot more attention on the sport considering it will be one of the only major events happening. This track has provided many classic moments over the course of it's 60 year tenure on the schedule and this week, I think there is a good chance we see another classic finish. There is however a chance of rain in the forecast though so that could also be another factor come sunday.

While the Cup cars will run on Sunday, one of the big headlines this week is the truck race that will be run on Saturday. Two weeks ago at Vegas, Kyle Busch went on to claim his 57th career victory after he thoroughly destroyed the field. This prompted driver Kyle Larson to go on twitter and suggest that Busch cherry-picks the races in the truck series that he wants to run and goes out and dominates. This led Kevin Harvick to offer up $50,000 to any Cup regular that can go out and beat him. After seeing this owner of Gander Outdoor's (the title sponsor of the truck series) offered $50,000 of his own to the bounty. The rules are that drivers won't have to win the race to claim the money just finish ahead of Busch and they also can't wreck him either otherwise they will not be eligible to claim the money. While the added drama will definitely bring a lot more attention to the race, I have to say it's rather quaint to see a lot of fans get excited when most of them were calling for Cup drivers not to race in the lower leagues. Regardless, just as a race fan I will be interested to see if any of these drivers can step up and beat one of the best drivers around. This "bounty" doesn't just extend to Cup regulars either as the Haulmark trailer company also offered $50,000 to any truck series regular that can beat Kyle Busch as well. The rules are that drivers won't have to win the race to claim the money just finish ahead of Busch. It should be one of the better truck races of the season.

The driver that I have winning the race on Sunday is Martin Truex Jr. As we all know, 2020 has not been a kind season to the 2017 champion as he has ran into his fair share of trouble. At Las Vegas he seemed to have a race winning car before cutting down a tire and crashing then last week at Phoenix he was involved in a late race crash with Aric Almirola. He has an abysmal average finish of 24.5 but that shouldn't indicate how fast he has been this season and if he can just get luck on his side, I really think he is going to win a lot of races this season. I look for Truex to really be a contender come Sunday to finally break the cycle and get his first win of the season

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

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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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