THE LEFT TURN

The show goes on in Atlanta for the QuickTrip 500

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

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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Davis Mills has to work to do. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Houston Texans took to the field for their second day of workouts on the field. Here are 11 observations from a shaky offensive day.

1. Mills had a shakier day than his first. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. There were a lot of teachable moments for him in this practice. General manager Nick Caserio said consistency is the biggest thing for him in evaluating a player. Part of the consistency is how often do you make the same mistakes, according to Caserio. Mills has work to do before Monday’s practice.

2. Even with the shaky day, there is still excitement to Mills. Seeing how he bounces back will be big, and the challenge won't be easy as the team will have a padded practice on Monday. Traditionally, defenses are ahead of the offense early in training camp.

3. Nico Collins and Davis Mills weren’t on the same page on Saturday. The two had a few miscommunications that led to some incomplete passes. Mills also came up just a little long on a deep pass to Collins. Later the two hooked up for a nice completion as Collins beat rookie Derek Stingley Jr. but it was not the best day for the two second-year players.

4. There weren’t a lot of receivers getting open today. Brandin Cooks is about the only player who constantly gets open. It led to Davis Mills holding the ball a few times and ultimately deciding to check the ball down. The secondary had a solid day.

5. Lovie Smith said after practice they don’t scheme up a lot of short passes and this team will need to move the ball through the air. He did lament that sometimes you have to take a quick and short gain as an offense. Smith also joked when you don’t like the passing game you can give credit to the coverage.

6. Speaking of the secondary, it featured a lot of Derek Stingley Jr. on Saturday. The first passing drill with the offense against defense saw Stingley Jr. square off with Brandin Cooks. It was again a win for Cooks, but the rookie had some nice moments on the field. Chris Conley also had a nice win against Stingley Jr. in coverage. The Texans have to get their first-round pick acclimated to how they will use him. I will say though that Stingley Jr. makes things look fluid and easy as he moves about the defense.

7. Safety Terrence Brooks has put together a nice couple of days to start training camp. He has had at least one pass break-up in each of the first two days and he has a lot of energy in the secondary. Rookie Jalen Pitre dashed into the backfield sniffing out a toss play showcasing his anticipation.

8. Garret Wallow was a player showing up to camp with high expectations, and he’d earned them. The late-round pick last year had done a great job getting his body in shape, and it feels like he is all over the field. Wallow had a pass break-up Saturday and he is near the top of my list for when the pads come on Monday.

9. Speaking of players who will excite when the pads come on, Kenyon Green is near the top of my list too. The “other” first-round pick for the Texans hasn’t played as much as you would maybe like so far, but he absolutely STONED a defender on a running play. There is work to do, but Green has flashes and in pads, he should flash more.

10. Jerry Hughes is one of the oldest players on the field. You wouldn’t know it though. The veteran has a ton of energy, and he’s very vocal. He easily dismissed Laremy Tunsil for what would have been a sack. Hughes is going to be a necessary contributor to this team in 2022.

11. Jonathan Greenard, Justin Britt, and Kamu Grugier-Hill all practiced after missing time on Friday. Phillip Dorsett has yet to really get involved and Lovie Smith said Dorsett is a little dinged up. The team will practice in pads on Monday for the first time. Jalen Pitre, Kenyon Green, Garret Wallow, Christian Harris, and Roy Lopez are the players I have near the top of my list to keep an eye on as the pads come on.

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