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Noaker Continues MX-5 Cup Winning Ways

Published in Racing
Friday, 25 September 2020 15:59

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Robert Noaker continued his winning ways at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires victory on Friday.

He held off a late charge from Michael Carter to take his third win of the 2020 season and his third Global Mazda MX-5 Cup win at Mid-Ohio.

A glance of Friday’s race results shows that Noaker started and finished first, but it was not an easy flag-to-flag win. For the first five laps, the top four cars were bumper-to-bumper or door-to-door, scrambling for position. The four eventually settled into a rhythm and pulled away from the rest of the pack.

Noaker and Carter seemed satisfied to run one-two for the middle part of the race, but behind them Selin Rollan and Gresham Wagner were still fighting over third, allowing Noaker and Carter to build a gap.

The battle for the lead re-ignited with two laps to go, when Carter attempted several passes on Noaker. None of them stuck, however, and by the final few corners it was clear that Noaker would be the victor. He crossed the finish line with a .3972-second margin of victory.

“The win definitely wasn’t easy,” said Noaker, who grew his championship advantage as he looks to claim the $200,000 scholarship prize from Mazda. “The car wasn’t completely there for me, but I was able to get it done. Michael [Carter] and I were working together the last 30 minutes, but at the end of any race it’s going to come down to one on one racing. Together, we gapped third and fourth which also helped me win. We of course want wins, but this year it’s just been about getting points.”

With the win, pole position and most laps led, Noaker increased his lead over Carter in the Championship to 20 points.

Carter knows how to win races on the final lap; he did it two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio when he earned his first Global Mazda MX-5 Cup win. He could’t make the same magic happen again this time.

“I slipped up a little coming into the Carousel coming to the white flag,” Carter said. “Robert [Noaker] got away from me in the middle of the race and then I was able to chase him back down. I had a plan and I knew what I needed to do, I just didn’t capitalize. I’m hoping to have a completely different race tomorrow.”

Rollan, who took the final podium spot, would have had the best view in the house of Noaker and Carter’s quarrel if he hadn’t been in an equally tight race with his teammate Wagner. The teammates spent some time working together to stay with the leaders and keep their car temperatures cool, but eventually the friendly teamwork came to an end.

Wagner made his move, but Rollan was ready to defend and held him off in every corner of the final lap.

“You’re walking on a fine line when battling with your teammate; we’re going to have dinner together when we get out of here,” Rollan said. “Having Gresham [Wagner] as a teammate this season has been great. We’re both really fast – and he’s brutally fast – but we both know that we need to help each other out so that we can both finish well. That was probably the best handling car that I have ever had at Mid-Ohio. This is a tough track and I haven’t had much luck here in the past. This is my first podium in, I think, seven tries, so it’s a good feeling to finally get to the front.”

All eyes might have been on the fight at the front, but the race for fifth, sixth and seventh was just as thrilling. Robert Stout led the pack to the checkered flag to take fifth.

“I’ve said it before, the battles that I’ve had for fourth and fifth have been harder than any battles I’ve had for the win in this series,” Stout said. “We only got fifth place, and I expect better, but the team has worked harder than I’ve ever seen coming into this weekend. We went back to the drawing board and really got our program organized, so I’m really proud of the White Racing/Conquest Motorsport crew. That car that we have is capable of running in the front.”

ISMA Supermodifieds Added To Thompson World Series

Published in Racing
Friday, 25 September 2020 16:57

NAPLES, Maine – Officials from the Pro All Stars Series and American-Canadian Tour have announced that the International Supermodified Ass’n will be a part of the 58th Annual World Series Of Speedway Racing at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Oct. 9-11.

The ISMA supermodifieds will compete for 50 laps and will join the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the PASS Super Late Models on the finale day of racing on Oct. 11.

“The ISMA supermodifieds are one of the most exciting divisions in pavement racing and we are happy to bring them back for their traditional visit to Thompson as part of the World Series,” said PASS President Tom Mayberry. “The World Series is one of the biggest weekends of racing in New England and we are really happy to provide such a great card of short track racing to our fans.”

The first ISMA supermodified race to be held at Thompson as part of the World Series was in 1975 and was won by nine-time NASCAR Modified champion Richie Evans. Since ISMA returned to the World Series at Thompson in 2010, names like Chris Perley, Ben Seitz, Dave Shullick Jr. and Jon McKennedy have taken their supermodifieds to victory lane.

Action will begin at Thompson Speedway on Friday, Oct. 9 and will showcase feature races at approximately 6 p.m. for the STAR Late Models, Open Vintage Modifieds, Mini Stocks, STAR Modifieds, and Street Stock Open.

On Saturday, Oct. 10 heat races for PASS Super Late Models and American-Canadian Tour will start at 2 p.m., followed by qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and features for the North East Mini Stock Tour, Pro 4 Modified, NEMA Midgets, ACT Late Model Open, 350 Supermodifieds and Modified Open.

On Sunday, Oct. 11, racing starts at 12:30 p.m. featuring the Sunoco Modifieds, PASS Super Late Models, ISMA Supermodifieds, Limited Sportsman, NEMA Lites, SK Modifieds, and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

Canadiens give D Petry 4-year, $25M extension

Published in Hockey
Friday, 25 September 2020 12:50

The Montreal Canadiens have signed defenseman Jeff Petry to a four-year, $25 million contract extension, general manager Marc Bergevin announced Saturday.

The new deal, which runs through the 2024-25 season, comes after Petry posted 11 goals and 29 assists for his third straight 40-point season. The 32-year-old has led the team in points each season since 2017-18 and had the most hits among the Canadiens this season with 177.

Petry is a 10-year NHL veteran who was a second-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in 2006. He joined the Canadiens via trade in March 2015. He has 184 goals and 253 assists in 680 career games.

Montreal also announced that it signed forward Joseph Blandisi to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700,000 in the NHL and $325,000 in the AHL. Blandisi, a five-year NHL veteran, played in 21 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins this season, posting two goals and three assists.

Braves' Acuna smashes longest homer of season

Published in Breaking News
Friday, 25 September 2020 18:27

Atlanta Braves center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. belted a tape-measure home run that won't soon be forgotten in the first inning Friday against the Boston Red Sox.

Acuna rocked a 495-foot leadoff shot that measured as the longest homer in MLB this season and tied for the fifth-longest in the Statcast Era (since 2015).

Acuna's homer came on a 3-1 count off Chris Mazza. He has 13 home runs this season after hitting 41 last year.

Acuna, the 2018 Rookie of the Year, is batting .257 with 28 RBIs and a .997 OPS.

Information from ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.

Howard takes page from Kobe: 'Job not finished'

Published in Basketball
Friday, 25 September 2020 16:49

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Los Angeles Lakers are one win away from going to the NBA Finals for the first time since Kobe Bryant led them past the Boston Celtics a decade ago.

As such, it was apt when, in describing how the Lakers are tempering their emotions in the moment, Dwight Howard sounded an awful lot like Bryant on Friday.

"Simple," Howard said when asked about his team's mentality heading into Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. "The job is not finished."

In the 2009 Finals, after the Lakers went up 2-0 over Howard's Orlando Magic team, Bryant was asked by a reporter why he wasn't smiling during his postgame news conference. "What's there to be happy about?" Bryant retorted. "The job's not finished. Is the job finished? I don't think so."

The Nuggets team the Lakers are facing has proven to be resilient when on the brink of elimination. Denver trailed the Utah Jazz 3-1 in the first round and won the series. It fell behind 3-1 to the LA Clippers in the conference semifinals and won that series, too. In light of that, Howard says that rather than allowing Denver any daylight, the Lakers have to play like a team that could see its season end Saturday.

"They're going to give us their best shot. They're not going to let up," Howard said. "They're a really good team, very well coached. We understand that. We're one step closer to our dream, so we're not going to take our foot off the gas. I think we're going to bring more intensity than we brought before.

"We have a well-experienced group of guys on our team, even coaches. We understand how important this series is and this game is and that we should treat it like a Game 7 with our intensity and our effort and just play as hard as we can."

As impressive as the Nuggets have been, accounting for two of the 13 3-1 comebacks in league history and becoming the first team to come back from 3-1 twice in one postseason, the Lakers have some closeout history on their side.

LeBron James is 14-0 in his postseason career in series in which his teams go up 3-1, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. Eleven of those series were closed out in Game 5, including two in these playoffs, as the Lakers eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 in the first round and the Houston Rockets in Game 5 in the Western semis.

"Our group's demeanor in all of these playoff games has been to treat every one like a must-win," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Friday. "I would say that same mindset has applied to the close-out games we had against Houston and Portland, and we know those are always the most difficult wins to get in a series, and we expect this to be no different."

The Lakers listed forward Anthony Davis as questionable for Saturday's game because of a sprained ankle. Davis landed awkwardly on the ankle in the fourth quarter of Game 4 but stayed in the game. Earlier Friday, Vogel said Davis was "experiencing some soreness" but would be "good to go" on Saturday.

Padres' Clevinger may miss wild-card round

Published in Baseball
Friday, 25 September 2020 16:40

San Diego Padres right-hander Mike Clevinger is uncertain to pitch in the wild-card round of the playoffs after being diagnosed with an elbow impingement in his throwing arm, according to the team.

Padres general manager A.J. Preller told reporters Friday that they would not rule Clevinger out, but the plan is to wait and see how he feels after receiving a cortisone shot.

Clevinger left his start Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels after one inning and underwent an MRI.

Obtained in a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Indians on Aug. 31, Clevinger is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in four starts since joining the Padres.

The Padres (34-22) already have clinched their first playoff berth since 2006.

Ulster have been hit with a retrospective one-point Pro14 penalty after failing to properly register new fly-half Ian Madigan for two games.

A Pro14 statement said that the club had not "received the correct documentation" from the Rugby Football Union for the former Bristol player.

This concerned the games against Connacht and Leinster in late August.

The matter was reported to the Pro14 before the Pro14 semi-final and final against Edinburgh and Leinster.

Madigan kicked Ulster's last-gasp winning penalty in the semi-final against Edinburgh although the Irish province were well-beaten by Leinster in the Pro14 decider a week later.

"One aware of the breach, the club immediately reported the issue and the player was correctly registered for the games played on 4 September and 12 September. The outcomes of the games had no bearing on the club's progression from the Conference stages," said the Pro14 statement.

"As this was a breach of the tournament participation agreement, it has been treated as an act of misconduct which the club has accepted.

"Pro14 Rugby accepts that this breach was not intentional and occurred due to an administrative error related to the furloughing of staff as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic."

Ulster have also been handed a suspended 10,000 euros fine which will come into effect if the club breaches any further player eligibility clauses during the 2020-21 season.

Scottish Rugby face losses of £30m if supporters are not allowed to return to stadiums soon, says Mark Dodson.

Plans for a phased return of fans to sporting events in Scotland have been paused amid rising coronavirus cases.

"Our current estimate of the impact on Scottish Rugby caused by Covid-19 is £18m," chief executive Dodson said.

"If the restrictions continue until the end of the season the impact increases to £30m. The need for government help is clear."

A small number of fans were allowed to attend Edinburgh's last match of the regular Pro14 season against Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield and two test events with supporters have been held in football's Scottish Premiership.

However, plans to have fans at a further Premiership match last weekend were shelved and the 5 October date set for gradually reintroducing crowds at events was this week delayed. Edinburgh and Glasgow will return to Pro14 action behind closed doors early next month.

Scotland are scheduled to host France and Fiji at Murrayfield in November and hopes are fading fast that any supporters will be inside the stadium, with concern also growing over the viability of having fans at Scotland's three home Six Nations matches in the spring.

"We will require a different set of measures to deal with the situation," explained Dodson.

The chief executive's comments follow cautionary words from his counterpart at World Rugby, Brett Gosper, who said: "It's estimated that the home unions could lose more than £100m if closed doors rugby continues. If things don't start getting better by springtime we are going to be in a more drastic situation."

'Severe consequences'

Word Rugby has advanced some financial support to troubled unions but their funding is expected to run out early next year.

The RFU at Twickenham has warned of "severe consequences for the sport" if venues remain closed, with chief executive Bill Sweeney citing a £122m reduction in revenue and a £46m loss if fans do not return in time for the autumn Tests. If there are still no supporters during the Six Nations, Sweeney estimates a £138m reduction in revenue and a loss of £60m.

His counterpart in Wales, Gareth Davies, is seeking a £20m loan to help Welsh rugby while in Ireland, chief executive Philip Browne has warned "rugby infrastructure built over 150 years is under threat".

Browne added that Ireland's net losses in 2020 will be "catastrophic". He said that if the worst projections are realised next year "the very nature of professional rugby on the island would be under significant threat in 2021".

European Challenge Cup: Bristol 37-20 Bordeaux-Begles (AET)

Published in Rugby
Friday, 25 September 2020 14:42

Bristol needed extra time to make their first-ever European final as they beat Bordeaux 37-20 in the Challenge Cup.

Matthieu Jalibert's try and penalties saw Bordeaux race into a 13-0 lead.

Tries from Steven Luatua and Max Malins put Bristol in control in normal time before Joseph Dweba levelled late on.

With the scores tied at 20-20 after normal time, tries from Piers O'Conor and Malins saw Bristol overcome opponents who were down to 14 men for the extra period after injury.

Bristol will face either Toulon or Leicester in the final on 16 October.

The result means the Bears go one stage further than their previous best in Europe, when they reached the semi-finals of the same competition 20 years ago.

Jalibert stars in exciting first half

In an opening period played at a frenetic pace French fly-half Jalibert was a handful, his jinking runs causing Bristol problems time and again - he impressively put the visitors ahead when he effortlessly side-stepped Max Malins to race in from 40 metres after 11 minutes.

Despite the hosts having powerful runners like Nathan Hughes and Semi Radradra the French defence gave very little to Bristol, forcing them to play mainly in their own half, and when the Bears did break through with Harry Randall, Bordeaux were able to recover and force a turnover on their own line.

Jalibert kicked two penalties in the space of two minutes to open up a gap on the scoreboard, but Bristol hit back with their best move of the half two minutes before the break. Radradra sucked in the defence after an expansive move to create an overlap on the right, which allowed Luatua to go over unchallenged.

Bristol heartache after 13-point comeback

The Bears were dealt a blow less than a minute after the restart when Radradra was sin-binned for a high tackle on Jean-Baptiste Dubie, but the hosts did well to keep control of possession while short-handed and went ahead as Randall's perfectly-weighted grubber kick was pounced on by Malins, who crossed under the posts.

Having got back to 15 players Bristol asserted their control as Hughes had a try ruled out after failing to ground the ball, while Bordeaux appeared to greatly miss their playmaker Jalibert - forced off soon after half-time.

Bordeaux started to tire under increasing Bristol pressure and Callum Sheedy punished them with two quickfire penalties, but South African replacement hooker Dweba was on hand to force his way over from close range after sustained pressure on the Bristol line.

In the final minutes of normal time Bordeaux were dealt what proved to be a fatal blow as number eight Marco Tauleigne came off injured, and having used all their replacements the visitors faced extra time with 14 men.

Bristol blow away Bordeaux

With neither side able to make a decisive score late on the game went to extra time, and O'Conor gave the hosts the perfect start as he jinked in down the left wing from Malins' pass after another piece of Radradra excellence set up the field position.

Five minutes later it was all over - Radradra was key again as his quick pass put Malins in the clear on the right wing after a crossfield move and the full-back dotted down for his second try.

Bordeaux's Lekso Kaulashvili had a try attempt ruled out by the television official on the stroke of half-time in extra time, and when Sheedy kicked a penalty with four minutes left there was no chance of a comeback.

Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam told BBC Radio Bristol:

"I'm very proud of the boys, it's mirrored the growth of the team.

"We put ourselves under a lot of pressure, gave them a 13-point lead, worked our way back, took the lead, gave it up again and then with extra time we came home strong.

"We haven't won it yet, we've given ourselves the best possible opportunity. We've worked hard through the pool games to get these home games, we've got to make sure we do whatever we can to get that trophy for all our supporters.

"I've got to give credit to Bordeaux, that is one tough team, and we can't underestimate how tough that was out there."

Bristol Bears: Malins; Morahan, Radradra, Piutau, Leiua; Sheedy, Randall; Woolmore, Thacker, Sinckler; Holmes, Vui; Luatua (c), Earl, Hughes.

Replacements: Capon, Thomas, Afoa, Joyce, Thomas, Uren, Lloyd, O'Conor.

Bordeaux: Ducuing; Cordero, Dubia, Seuteni, Lam; Jalibert, Lucu; Poirot, Maynadier, Tameifuna; Douglas, Swamp; Woki, Tauleigne, Petti.

Replacements: Dweba, Kaulashvili, Cobilas, Roumat, Lesgourgues, Uberti.

For the latest rugby union news follow @bbcrugbyunionexternal-link on Twitter.

O’Hare Stadium Champion Erik Johnson, 92

Published in Racing
Friday, 25 September 2020 12:05

CHICAGO — One of Chicagoland’s best, Erik Johnson, passed away in Arizona on Sept. 24 at the age of 92.

Johnson was a three-time late model stock car champion at O’Hare Stadium in Schiller Park, Ill., which was located in the shadows of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. He won the titles in 1962, ’67 and ’68 behind the wheel of a potent Martinelli Brothers-owned Chevrolet.

Known for wearing white tennis sneakers, Johnson, who hailed from the north suburban area of Chicago, raced at O’Hare in both modifieds and late models from 1956 until the track closed in 1968. He was the first driver to win 50 late model feature races at the quarter-mile paved speedway, totaling up that amount by 1964. Johnson won just more than 90 feature races at O’Hare, including the track’s O’Hare American 500 in 1966 in a 1964 Chevy convertible. Most of the time, Johnson was driving the red and white Martinelli Brothers entry that carried the No. 7 on its sides with a woman’s leg with a garter inside the number.

Before trying his luck on paved tracks, Johnson raced and won at a number of local dirt tracks including Santa Fe Park Speedway, Wilmot (Wis.) Speedway and on the dirt at Waukegan Speedway. He was a feature inner at Santa Fe in 1954. Johnson wheeled one of Roy and Reno Martinelli’s early racing creations to feature wins in 1955 at Santa Fe and won four more in 1956 and two in 1957 at the Track of Clay. For a time, he was the qualifying record holder for Santa Fe’s half-mile track.

Feature wins at Mance Park Speedway, the Mazon Speed Bowl and Blue Island’s Raceway Park were also part of Johnson’s racing career. Johnson, a crane operator by trade, would have to miss races sometimes because of being out of town on a work project.

After O’Hare Stadium closed, Johnson raced at the newly paved Waukegan Speedway and Rockford Speedway. He won two 100 lappers at Waukegan during the early part of the 1969 season. He finished sixth in the points at Rockford in 1969, winning several feature races after getting a late start.  Johnson closed out his racing career at the Rockford in the early 1970s. He finished in the top 10 in points in 1971 and was a feature winner, making one of his final starts in the track’s National Short Track Championship 200.

Johnson was inducted into the Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2016.

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