SHOWTIME

Who will win top awards this week at the Houston Auto Show?

Courtesy photo.


Courtesy photo.

Mike Herzing is one of three founders of The Texas Motor Press Association.

One of the most anticipated events at the Houston Auto Show: the presentation of the Texas Truck, Car, SUV and CUV of the Year awards. This the "Texas Academy Awards" for the automotive industry, with four winners: Texas Car of the Year, Texas Truck of the Year, Texas SUV of the Year and the Texas Crossover of the Year. Presented by the Texas Motor Press Association, the winners are selected by an elite group of Texas Automotive Journalists.

Seeing a need to support automotive journalists in Texas, The Texas Motor Press Association (TxMPA) is the brainchild of Award-Winning Journalists Michael Herzing, Eileen Falkenberg-Hull and Alan Gell, who formed the organization on behalf of journalists. The organization hosts educational and networking events throughout the year to help members create meaningful, insightful, and informed content that influences the public's buying decisions, appeals to enthusiast interests, and registers with a Texas-based audience and beyond.

TxMPA, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization for automotive industry professionals, has quickly gained the support of some of the industry's foremost automotive journalists, including those from top outlets such Roadshow by CNET, The Drive, SB Nation Radio, American City Business Journals, AutoGuide, Alex on Autos, and Autobytel/Autoweb gained membership. In addition to notable nationwide outlets, TxMPA has members from Texas, the country's largest truck market, including personnel from TxGarage, Outdoor4X magazine, Let's Talk Wheels, iHeartVehicles, KCBQ AM, CarProUSA, and Estate Life Magazines.

Each spring the organization hosts the Texas Off-Road Invitational, an off-roading event where members test drive vehicles in challenging off-road conditions, interview vehicle engineers and product planners, and take a deep dive into the mechanics and design of the vehicles. ATVs and UTVs are welcome at this event. At the end of the Invitational, voting members register their votes for Texas Off-Road Truck of the Year, Texas Off-Road SUV of the Year, Texas Off-Road ATV of the Year, and Texas Off-Road UTV of the Year. The winners are announced that day.

In the late autumn, TxMPA hosts TxTalks, a day of Ted Talk-like speeches and interviews exclusively for members that allows attendees to expand their knowledge in a variety of automotive and professional development topics.

The TxMPA is led by President Michael Herzing, Vice President Eileen Falkenberg-Hull, and a Board of Directors consisting of Alan Gell, Bill Owney, Michael Garfield, and Greg Riley.

Anyone interested in TxMPA membership as an industry, journalist, influencer, or sponsor is encouraged to go to: https://texasmotorpress.com

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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