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NASCAR heads for Richmond Raceway for its first night race of 2019

Kylebusch.com


This Saturday, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads for Richmond Raceway for the first night race of 2019. This track is a 0.75 D-shaped oval and is the second of back-to-back short track races for the series. The track is one of the more spacious of the short track group as the track has multiple groves to pass on so there should be plenty of side-by-side racing come race-day and don't be surprised if someone uses their bumper to get by someone for the win like we saw back in 2016 with Kyle Busch and his former teammate Carl Edwards.

Last week, Kyle Busch came back from a crash in the early stages to win his third race of the season. This race was one of the most entertaining of the season as both Kyle and his brother Kurt battled all throughout the closing laps but unfortunately The big story of the weekend, was not the great race that we saw. Come Monday all NASCAR fans wanted to talk about was how there were"empty seats" in the grandstands. While I can understand how a lot of fans are scorning the new direction of the sport and some of their complaints are valid but I don't think that this should overshadow what a great race we saw Sunday. Overall, while yes NASCAR is in a slump right now, but it doesn't help matters for some "fans" to continue to talk about how the sport is "dying" and A lot of the times, these people don't even offer any solutions either, they just talk about how bad the sport is doing and relive the glory days and that helps no one. Needless to say, I think we can all agree though that there needs to be serious changes made to help NASCAR get to where it needs to be and there are a whole laundry list of things that can be tweaked. One thing is the schedule could use some changes; there are tracks new to this series that fans might be interested in seeing like Circuit Of The Americas or a short track like Iowa Speedway. There have been grumblings of a massive overhaul come 2021 so I hope that this can drum up some more interest in the sport.

Going into this week, no driver has been on a hotter streak than Kyle Busch. As I stated earlier, last week at Bristol he won his third race of 2019; not only has he been winning races left and right but he has been consistently up front as well. He has finished in the top 10 in all eight races in 2019, something only Terry Labonte has done all the way back in 1992 and unfortunately for the competition, Richmond Raceway is a track he has thrived on ever since he started driving stock cars; in fact he got his first NASCAR Xfinity victory at this track all the way back in 2004. This track just seems to cater to Kyle's driving style and he should have no trouble contending for the victory come Saturday.

The driver that I have winning this week is not Kyle Busch though because I am taking the elder of the two in Kurt Busch to win this week. This year, the driver they call the outlaw has really shined and while he hasn't won a race yet, I think this week is the week. Over the course of his nearly 21 years in racing at this track, he has definitely had his ups downs here but he has found success. He was able to win here back in 2015 and all the way back in 2005 so it's clear that he knows how to run at this track. Not only is he coming to a track that he is good at, but he is riding a wave of momentum as he has finished six of the eight races this year in the top 10 and has easily been the fastest Chevy in the field. I look for Kurt to win his first of many in 2019 as he looks to contend for a championship in what very well could be his final season in NASCAR.

(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).(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).

THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR at Bristol preview

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images


This week NASCAR heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Bass Pro Shops Night race. With the playoffs approaching this is definitely one of the wildcard races that can truly make or break a driver's chances of getting into the playoffs. Nicknamed the last great colosseum, Bristol Motor speedway is one of NASCAR's most iconic race tracks on the schedule as it's close quarters racing has always been a big hit among fans. The track is an half-mile oval with 22 degrees of banking like you would see at a much bigger racetrack. While the track has been widened over the years, it is still common practice to see drivers use their bumpers to knock someone out of the way. It should be must-see TV come Saturday night.

Last week, Kevin Harvick was able to rebound after a flat tire and win Michigan. This was the second time in two years that Harvick was able to win Michigan's fall race as he was able to save just enough fuel to get his Mobile one Mustang to victory lane. The race was fairly tame compared to what we have seen over the past two months but it was still a fairly intriguing event. Like we usually see at this track, fuel strategy was the deciding factor in who finished were. In the closing laps, both Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano ran out of fuel as they ran second and third eliminating them from victory. Some of the good stories we saw out of last week's race was how great of a run Ryan Preece had as he was able to claim an impressive seventh place finish. This is the rookie's third top ten of the season as he was able to drive all the way up from 29th to finish where he did. Overall, this has been a difficult season for him but if he can continue to improve like he did last week at Michigan, he should have a bright future in this sport.

It appears as if NASCAR's famed "silly season" is upon as drivers look to secure a ride for next year. The first domino to fall is Matt DiBendetto as it was announced that he will not be returning to the #95 Toyota for Leavine Family Racing. This comes as a bit of a surprise considering how well he has done in this car. This season he has four top 10 finishes and two top fives and was definitely gaining ground so it is sad to see a good driver lose his ride. The driver that will move up and take his place appears to be rookie driver Christopher Bell. While he has remained quiet about what he will be doing next season, it would be safe to assume that he will be next in line to drive this car considering car owner Bob Leavine's relationship with Joe Gibbs. As much as I hate to see Matt lost his place, I think that it is a far cry to say Bell doesn't deserve to be Cup racing. This young driver has been lighting it up in the Xfinity series and I think he will translate well in 2020. As far as it goes for DiBenedetto, he isn't without options. With Toyota's newest crop of young drivers such as Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliand being a few years from being ready to be in the cup series, it wouldn't be a bad idea for Matt to scale down into the Xfinity series for a year or two driving for Gibbs. I think this could help his career as here he will be able to compete for a championship besides you never know what other opportunities could arise in the not to distant future.

Coming into Bristol, the driver that I have winning is Kyle Larson. In interviews and on social media, Larson has called this track his favorite and it makes a lot of sense considering how good his results have been. Larson currently has an average finish here of 7.50, the third highest amongst active drivers.This track almost perfectly complements his driving style considering the best line to run around here is the outside and if you have watched him race, you can tell that's his preferred line. This track also being a short-track really plays a lot into why he has been so good here as well considering he has been racing at tracks just like them around the country when he races his dirt car. Over the years, he has always been close here but this week I think he gets it done and gets his first win of 2019.

(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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