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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 NASCAR Report - Daytona 500 preview

NASCAR returns for the 63rd annual Daytona 500

Credit to: https://partyfixx.co/ecategory/daytona-500-tickets-event-guide/ for the photo

The time has finally arrived. After months of preparation, this Sunday the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series takes to the high banks of Daytona for the crown jewel of them all, the Daytona 500. It's a new start and the slate is clean and for two-hundred laps, it's anyone's race.

Over the past three months, there have been a multitude of changes that has shaken up NASCAR's landscape. For starters, NASCAR is under new management in 2019 as former Vice CEO Jim France will take over as acting Chairman and will be in charge of all day to day operations. The first major change he and his staff made this year was the decision to strip the winner if they are to fail post-race inspection. This decision was met with high praise from both fans and journalists alike and for the most part, many would consider this change a step in the right direction. It would appear that France could very well could be the guy that takes the sport and brings it back to prominence in the public eye.

For all of speed-weeks, the big story has been the apparent return to form for Hendrick Motorsports. Last Sunday when it was time to qualify, Hendrick drivers William Byron and Alex Bowman swept the front row to clinch their starting spots in the 500. The team then backed up their dominance of the week with Jimmie Johnson went on to win the rain shortened Advance Auto Parts Clash. After a dismal 2018, many questioned what was wrong with the most prestigious teams in NASCAR but everything appears to be back to normal for this team. Look for this team to be a serious threat for all of 2019.

The driver that I have winning this year is Ryan Blaney. Over the past week, he and his team have not been quite as fast as i would have expected. After a disappointing qualifying effort, some have been quick to write him off but after an impressive showing in the second Can-Am Duel, Blaney and his team showed why you shouldn't sleep on him. While his average finish of 22.38 at the plate tracks hasn't been ideal, it is important to note that in In last year's race, he led a race high 118 laps before he was involved in a multi-car crash with three laps to go. This year, I think he will be vindicated for last season and capture his third career victory in the Great American Race and cement himself as one of the favorites in the run for the championship in 2019.

If you are looking for underdogs for this race, then look no further than Chris Buescher. Coming into this race, he enters at +8800 odds to win which I think is pretty good value considering that last season at Daytona, he finished fifth in both the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400 in July and while he may not have lead any laps those races, he did a good job of keeping his nose clean and got a great result because of it. Overall, despite struggling to find speed in practice or qualifying, he did run well in his Can-Am Duel Race as he finished seventh. Overall, I think that for the most part when it comes down to the end of these races, he always seems to find himself right around the lead pack and if everything could go right and he can make the right move in the draft, we could see the Texas native go to victory lane.

It's shaping up to be an intriguing Daytona 500, and if for any reason you prefer not to hear the television broadcast, you can catch the race live on ESPN 97.5 starting at 12:30 as they bring you flag to flag coverage of the race.

(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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