The Sunday Before Memorial Day is the Best Day in Sports

As Sunday grows closer, I have been giving a lot of thought to just how special the day before Memorial Day is. It is unlike anything in sports. It is an opportunity to give the spotlight to events that are almost always overlooked by Americans, and that is the day when the top three divisions in all of motorsports hold their crown jewel races. Formula One has the Monaco Grand Prix, IndyCar has the Indianapolis 500, and NASCAR has the Coca-Cola 600. They all take place on this special day. Nearly 15 hours of exciting racing from the morning until the evening and here are the reasons why each race is special and should be watched across the country.

Monaco Grand Prix

The pristine location of Monaco is enough to sell the visuals of this special race. Bordered by France and the Mediterranean Sea, the minuscule country plays host to the race that is seen as the most important in all of Formula One and one of the main events of the year in all of racing. The course is known for its tight corners and narrow straightaways to make demands harder for drivers. The circuit also passes by the famous harbor where two cars have fallen into the race’s history. The tunnel creates a sharp contrast between daylight and darkness that is unique to Monaco and not an obstacle on any other circuit in the world. The best part about the event is that it takes place during the morning in the United States. Wake up, eat your breakfast, and turn on ESPN to kick off the best day in sports with the Monaco Grand Prix.

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Indianapolis 500

Immediately after the Monaco Grand Prix concludes, flip over to NBC for the fastest sporting event in the world, the Indianapolis 500. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, otherwise known as the Brickyard, plays host to 33 drivers vying for a chance to kiss the bricks, drink the milk, and be immortalized as an Indy 500 champion. What other event is there in the world where you can watch cars hit 240 miles per hour in straightaways and 230 miles per hour in corners? None of them. Even as just a fan of the sport with nothing on the line, it is hard not to watch this race without white knuckles due to the fact that a single inch of a mistake could lead to disaster. The drafting that leads to passes in the straightaways is some of the most blood-pumping, adrenaline-rushing moments that you will experience in your life. This is the only race where you could see cars fly 20-25 feet in the air, thanks to the speeds and the lightness of the cars or see a driver with a big lead crash in the final corner of the final lap as is what happened to J.R. Hildebrand back at the 2011 Indy 500 race. You never know what can happen in this race and is why your eyes need to be on the Indy 500 in four days.

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Coca-Cola 600

The biggest endurance test of the year for NASCAR takes place at Charlotte Motor Speedway as 40 drivers will go around the 1.5-mile circuit for 400 high-octane laps. The Coke 600 gives fans and the country a chance to pay respect to the military and to honor the nation that protects its freedom for citizens. The cars are given military or USA-themed paint schemes. Some cars will be decked out completely in camouflage while other cars will be showing off the iconic red, white, and blue colors of the American Flag. The race will begin at sunset and end under the lights, which will challenge the drivers and crews to make the proper adjustments to find the right setup that will make the car work when the track is hot and slick to when the track is cooler and has more grip. It is a race of patience and knowing when to push your car as many engines have blown and many fuel tanks have been emptied before the race ends ruining a driver’s day. More eyes will be on this race than ever before as fans and media alike will be interested in how the aero package changes the racing over the four-plus hours that the race takes. Will long green flag runs spread the field out like a normal race? Will the cars run close together like at Kansas? Will it be easier or harder to make clean passes? So many variables are yet to be answered, which is why there is no better way to end your Sunday than with the Coca-Cola 600.

2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, Charlotte
Nigel Kinrade/NKP

How to Watch

Coverage for the Monaco Grand Prix will be on ESPN, beginning at 6:05 am PT/9:05 am ET. Coverage for the Indianapolis 500 will be on NBC, beginning at 8:00 am PT/11:00 am ET with the pre-race show. Race coverage begins at 9:00 am PT/12:00 pm ET also on NBC. Coverage for the Coca-Cola 600 will be on FOX, beginning at 3:00pm PT/6:00 pm ET.

Whether you are a racing fan or not, if you enjoy entertainment and sports, your eyes need to be on all three of these great races. The narrative that all racing is boring needs to be broken and the nation can change that by giving motorsports a chance. Watch it, learn from the commentators, and just embrace something new. Let’s go racing, ladies and gentlemen!

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Cup Series preview: Kansas

Tonight is the Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway. It is the 12th race of the 2019 season and the 2nd night race of the year. This will be the first night race that will display the full aero package meant to keep the cars closer together and emphasize drafting. We could finally get what NASCAR has been looking for all year long as the cold air will allow high grip, making drivers be able to hold down the throttle longer in the corners. Temperatures are expected to be in the 50s for the entire race and there is even a slight threat of rain but it should miss the track.

Kevin Harvick is on the pole and he is seeking his first win of the season. He has not struggled when it comes to finishing but Stewart-Haas as a team expects wins and the team has not done that yet this year, but they have a great chance with Harvick and Clint Bowyer starting on the front row. Unfortunately for them, Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez failed inspection and will have to start at the back of the field with Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, and others. These penalties will move William Byron, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Erik Jones, Bubba Wallace, and the Busch brothers up four starting positions.

Speaking of Bubba Wallace, his best starting position of the season should give him a shot of positivity as he recently opened up about battling depression. He has been dealing with some personal issues and it does not help that he is struggled with Richard Petty Motorsports since joining the team at the start of the 2018 season. Through 11 races this year, Wallace has no top 5s or top 10s, 2 DNFs, and an average finish of 26.9 with his best finish coming at Martinsville where he finished 17th. With a top-10 starting spot tonight, Bubba looks for his best finish of the season.

With many drivers moving to the back of the field due to failing inspection, it will be interesting to see how they move their way up to the front in what drivers, media, and fans are expecting to be a pack-heavy race with lots of drafting. We have seen glimpses of what NASCAR wants at tracks like Atlanta and Texas, but the package overall just has not provided the excitement that was expected so far. That could turn around tonight at Kansas.

My pick: Kevin Harvick

Dark Horse: William Byron

TV: FS1, Radio: MRN

Time: 7:30 pm ET

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NASCAR Images

Weekend Preview(April 13-14th)

The Masters(all-day, Saturday and Sunday on CBS)

  • This will be a very intriguing cut and a must-watch for the weekend as Adam Scott, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Rickie Fowler are all within four shots of each other for the lead.
  • You can watch both the third and fourth rounds of the 2019 Masters on CBS

 

UFC 236(Saturday, ESPN+ PPV at 10:00 pm ET, Prelims on ESPN at 8:00 pm ET, early prelims on ESPN+ at 6:15 pm ET )

  • Max Holloway vs. Dustin Poirier for the Interim Lightweight Championship. This could end up being one of the wildest fights in the history of the UFC as both Poirier and Holloway love to throw down and they are very technical on the feet. Both men also have a solid ground game too, so it is anybody’s guess on where this fight ends up. The winner will most likely fight the actual champ, Khabib Nurmagomedov, later this year, maybe September in Abu Dhabi?? My pick: Holloway via 4th round TKO
  • Kelvin Gastelum vs. Israel Adesanya for the Interim Middleweight Championship. This fight was made after MW champ, Robert Whittaker had to pull out of a scheduled fight against Gastelum on the day of UFC 234. Adesanya defeated Anderson Silva in the main event of that card to earn this title shot. Adesanya is an undefeated 16-0 in his MMA career while Gastelum is 15-3(1 NC) with notable wins over Michael Bisping and Jacare Souza. My pick: Adesanya via unanimous decision.
  • Other fights to watch: Anders vs. Rountree Jr., Jouban vs. Grant, St. Preux vs. Krylov, Reis vs. Pantoja, Millender vs. Muhammad, Jackson vs. Soukamthath
  • The PPV will air exclusively on the ESPN+ streaming service. You will have to pay $4.99 for the service before you purchase the PPV, which is $59.99.

NBA Playoffs begin

  • The first round of the NBA playoffs kicks off this Saturday and Sunday.
  • Full Schedule
    • Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers(Game 1, Saturday, 2:30 pm ET, ESPN)
    • Orlando Magic vs. Toronto Raptors(Game 1, Saturday, 5:00 pm ET, ESPN)
    • Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors(Game 1, Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, ABC)
    • San Antonio Spurs vs. Denver Nuggets(Game 1, Saturday, 10:30 pm ET, ESPN)
    • Indiana Pacers vs. Boston Celtics(Game 1, Sunday, 1:00 pm ET, TNT)
    • Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Portland Trail Blazers(Game 1, Sunday, 3:30 pm ET, ABC)
    • Detroit Pistons vs. Milwaukee Bucks(Game 1, Sunday, 7:00 pm ET, TNT)
    • Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets(Game 1, Sunday, 9:30 pm ET, TNT)

Stanley Cup Playoffs continue

  • Full Schedule
    • Carolina Hurricanes vs. Washington Capitals(Game 2, Saturday, 3:00 pm ET, NBC, WSH leads series 1-0)
    • Dallas Stars vs. Nashville Predators(Game 2, Saturday, 6:00 pm ET, CNBC, DAL leads series 1-0)
    • Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins(Game 2, Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, NBC, TOR leads series 1-0)
    • Colorado Avalanche vs. Calgary Flames(Game 2, Saturday, 10:30 pm ET, NBCSN, CGY leads series 1-0)
    • New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins(Game 3, Sunday, 12:00 pm ET, NBC, NYI leads series 2-0)
    • Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets(Game 3, Sunday, 7:00 pm ET, NBCSN, CBJ leads series 2-0)
    • Winnipeg Jets vs. St. Louis Blues(Game 3, Sunday, 7:30 pm ET, CNBC, STL leads series 2-0)
    • San Jose Sharks vs. Vegas Golden Knights(Game 3, Sunday, 10:00 pm ET, NBCSN, Series tied 1-1)

NASCAR Cup Series at Richmond Raceway(Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, FOX)

  • Kevin Harvick is on the pole with Erik Jones joining him on the front row.
  • Kyle Busch swept the races at Richmond last year and will look for his 3rd straight at the track and his 4th win of the season as he starts 5th tomorrow night
  • Martin Truex Jr. starts 6th and will look for his 1st career Cup win at a short track
  • Chevy has yet to win this season, but has four drivers starting in the top 10(Kurt Busch, Elliott, Austin Dillon, Johnson)
  • My pick: Kyle Busch

NCAA Ice Hockey Championship(Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, ESPN2)

  • Massachusetts vs. Minnesota-Duluth
  • Duluth looks to go back-to-back as they play in their 3rd straight national championship game
  • UMass seeks its first championship in school history
  • Prediction: UMass 2 – Minnesota-Duluth 4

Clarissa Shields vs. Christina Hammer(Saturday, 9:10 pm ET, Showtime)

  • The unified middleweight champion, Clarissa Shields, comes into the fight with a record of 8-0 with 2 KOs and is a must-watch as being a pioneer for making women’s boxing be aired on a major boxing network.
  • Christina Hammer is 24-0 with 11 KOs and could give Shields the fight of her life.
  • My pick: Shields via TKO in 8th round

IndyCar Long Beach Grand Prix(Sunday, 4:42 pm ET, NBCSN)

  • One of the marquee races of the IndyCar season goes down this Sunday from the streets of Long Beach, California.
  • My pick: Will Power

F1 Chinese Grand Prix(Sunday, 2:20 am ET, ESPN2)

  • One of the most exciting tracks on the world circuit is in Shanghai and should add on to the wildness that has already occurred early on in the F1 season.
  • My pick: Valtteri Bottas

Coachella Weekend 1(Streaming on YouTube)

  • Notable Saturday performers
    • Mac DeMarco(8:10-9:00 pm ET)
    • SiR(9:10-9:55 pm ET)
    • Virgil Abloh(9:20-10:10 pm ET)
    • Weezer(11:35 pm-12:25 am ET)
    • Juice WRLD(11:45 pm-12:35 am ET)
    • Billie Eilish(12:35-1:40 am ET)
    • Wiz Khalifa(1:05-1:55 am ET)
    • Tame Impala(1:35 am ET)
    • Little Simz(2:00 am ET)
    • Kid Cudi(2:55 am ET)
  • Notable Sunday performers
    • Rico Nasty(6:30-7:10 pm ET)
    • Pusha T(7:15-8:05 pm ET)
    • Lizzo(8:45-9:30 pm ET)
    • Playboy Carti(8:45-9:35 pm ET)
    • Blood Orange(9:10-10:00 pm ET)
    • YG(10:00-10:50 pm ET)
    • H.E.R.(12:30-1:30 am ET)
    • Ariana Grande(1:30 am ET)
    • Kaytranada(1:55 am ET)

Enjoy this wild and busy weekend!