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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 heads back to Kansas

Alex Bowman/Facebook


NASCAR makes their second trip to Kansas this week for the Hollywood Casino 400. This is the final race in NASCAR's round of 12 as each driver looks to get closer to the semifinal round of eight. The last time the Cup series was here was back in May, Brad Keselowski pulled off the victory in one of the best races of 2019 as he held off a charge from Alex Bowman and Clint Bowyer to claim his second win of the season. When the cup series came here in year's past, this was one of the more calmer races but ever since NASCAR introduced the new Aero Package, the field has been way closer. According to racing-reference, the spring race here had an average of 15 green flag passes per lap. While many fans have been extremely critical of NASCAR's new package, they simply cannot deny how much it has improved the racing on tracks like Kansas and Chicago. It will be interesting to see how much the circumstances of this being an elimination race will raise the urgency come Sunday.

Last week, the finish of Talladega was pushed back a day after rains suspended all on track activity on Sunday. After the conclusion of the first stage, the field was halted for over two hours until race officials decided to call it a day. During the rain delay, Chevrolet executive Jim Campbell called in an impromptu meeting with all of his drivers and demanded they all form a single-file line to help a Chevy win the race. According to driver Corey LaJoie, if drivers didn't comply, they would lose their company car and would lose time on the team's simulator which is a valuable tool for divers to get better at certain tracks. As you can tell, this was not received well by drivers and fans alike. One of the critics of this decision was 1999 Winston Cup Champion Dale Jarrett. When asked about it, he responded by saying "this has no place in NASCAR."And as a lifelong fan and owner of a Chevrolet, I must say that I agree with the critics on this. Working together on tracks like Talladega is one thing but to threaten drivers who don't comply by taking away time on the simulator is incredibly stupid. This is another example of how corporate this sport has become over the years and is simply not a good direction for the sport. As the race went on, it appeared as if the manufacturer was actually hurt by this as their top drivers Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson were all collected in an incident that ended their chances to win and quite possibly might cost Bowman a shot at the championship.

Needless to say, the race went on and featured one of the all-time greatest finishes in NASCAR History as Ryan Blaney was able to pass Ryan Newman in the final hundred yards and win by a margin of 00.7 tenths of a second making it the ninth closest finish in NASCAR History. Overall, this race had everything you would expect in a race at Talladega. It had multiple big crashes (including a flip by Brendan Gaughan), the lead changes and of course to top it all off, a photo finish. This great finish came at a good time for NASCAR considering the race at Dover a week earlier wasn't all that exciting.

Last week's race at Talladega was riddled with playoff implications as all twelve drivers were involved in some sort of incident including race winner Ryan Blaney. Overall, the drivers outside of the top eight are William Byron, Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman. It is going to be extremely difficult for any one of these drivers to get it on points so it is more than likely that they will have to win to get in. When I look at these four drivers, I think all of them have a good shot to win as they have all been fast here.

This leads me to the driver I predict will win come Sunday and that driver is Alex Bowman. This track falls right into his wheel-house, he ran extremely well here as he led 63 laps and came extremely close to winning but had to settle for second place. This was tough for Bowman considering he had finished second three times in a row up to that point. This week, I think that Bowman gets his redemption for the spring race and he does it when he needs it the most to get into the round of 8. Look for Bowman to take the #88 Camaro to victory lane for his second career win.

(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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