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Detroit Sports

Elliott Expects To Be In Contention Every Race

Chase Elliott has been tantalizingly close to winning NASCAR races so many times it’s hard for him not to be disappointed.

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 20: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, stands on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 20, 2020 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Sure, Elliott understands he can’t win them all, but he has flirted with victory in four of the five Cup races since NASCAR resumed competition May 17 following a 10-week shutdown for the coronavirus pandemic.

His return has been a roller-coaster ride that saw him drive off with just one victory, a Thursday night race at Charlotte Motor Speedway last week, to break up the string of close calls.

“There’s a handful of drivers and teams who we know have a shot to win every single week,” Elliott said Tuesday in a Zoom call with reporters. “And there’s no reason why we can’t be among that group. That’s our goal and I think if you’re in that position enough, it’ll go your way plenty and you’ll get your fair share.”

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 24: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports team expects to be in contention every race and believes that shouldn’t change Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

He was pushing for the lead at Darlington Raceway when Kyle Busch wrecked him. He was about to win the Coca-Cola 600 until a caution with two laps remaining jumbled the finish. Elliott pitted from the lead, took four tires and couldn’t get back to the front in the two-lap overtime sprint. He did win a $100,000 bounty by beating Kyle Busch in a Truck Series race at Charlotte and followed it with a win in the Cup race.

The near-misses haven’t shaken the confidence for Elliott or crew chief Alan Gustafson.

“I think you have to be a little bit hard-headed to do this job, and you have to find a way to improve, and just you have to kind of shake it off,” Gustafson said after Elliott won at Charlotte. “Professional sports are super fickle, and one day you’re good and one day you’re terrible, and you just get used to that.”

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 17: Crew chief Alan Gustafson stands on the grid during the NASCAR Cup Series The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 17, 2020 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Elliott took the momentum from his Charlotte win to Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday and was again in contention for a victory. But he and Joey Logano tangled on the track with just over a lap remaining that caused both to crash. Logano gave Elliott a long stare on pit road that lacked some of the drama with no fans on the scene to react.

“I talked to Joey after the race face-to-face like it should be,” Elliott said..

Regardless of the missed opportunities or bad breaks, he’s third in the Cup series standings with four top-five finishes through nine races. Elliott is keeping that fast start in perspective but still feels like he can contend for a series championship.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 26: Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 iRacing Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“This is a 38-race season, and we have to keep that up to really be a contender,” he said. I think we can do it, but until you go out there and achieve that it really doesn’t matter.”

It’s been anything but a normal season so far amid the pandemic. Races have been held without fans and with condensed one-day schedules. Elliott likes the new itinerary, saying “over time we’ve overcomplicated weekend schedules and practiced entirely too much.

“I know a lot of that’s money-driven, and I get it,” he said. “As our popularity grew over a period of time, tracks and things tried to get all they could get. I understand that, but I think a lot of us we’ve got to get back to our roots.”

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 28: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, speaks to the media in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

He’s not alone in that sentiment. Brad Keselowski, the winner of two of the races Elliott lost, said this schedule cuts costs and benefits the more experienced drivers.

Added Logano: “We are race car drivers, not practice car drivers.”

Racing without fans, Elliott had the strange experience of climbing out of his car following the victory only to find nobody with whom to celebrate.

He gets the restlessness of fans who want to resume attending races.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 28: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, speaks to the media in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“I think that NASCAR deserves some credit, and I think they’ve done a really good job to this point of getting back racing in a safe manner,” Elliott said. “I think they’re just taking this next step cautiously. We’re back racing, we’re on TV. You can watch the race. Let’s not take too many steps forward and get a slap on the wrist for something that maybe we shouldn’t be doing right now.”

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Cup Series Set For 2021 Return To Nashville

It’s music to NASCAR’s ears: the stock car series is set to return to Nashville, Tennessee in 2021.

LEBANON, TN – JULY 23: Carl Edwards, driver of the #60 Fastenal Ford, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Federated Auto Parts 300 at Nashville Superspeedway on July 23, 2011 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Nashville Superspeedway will hold a Cup race for the first time next season, ending NASCAR’s decade-long absence from the track. The Nashville track is owned by Dover Motorsports, Inc., which has held Cup race weekends each year since 1969. Dover will give up one of its dates and move it to Nashville for an expected late June 2021 race weekend.

Nashville Superspeedway held Xfinity and Truck events from 2001 until 2011.

The idea to return NASCAR to Nashville took root after a successful blowout last December for its season-ending awards celebration. There were burnouts on Broadway, a party with country music star and NASCAR fan Blake Shelton and a NASCAR-themed night at the Grand Ole Opry. Buoyed by the excitement, Dover started discussions with NASCAR and its TV broadcast partners about running a race at the Superspeedway.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 04: Kurt Busch performs a burnout during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Burnouts on Broadway on December 04, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

“Especially after the awards banquet, it was, how do we get to Nashville as soon as we possibly can?” Dover CEO Mike Tatoian told The Associated Press. “It made it a fairly easy discussion that it was through Dover Motorsports.”

The 1.33-mile concrete track was built in 2001 by Dover Motorsports and hosted NASCAR and IndyCar events until 2011. The track is situated on approximately 1,000 acres just outside Nashville, and currently has 25,000 permanent grandstand seats and lights for night racing.

There’s plenty of work ahead: Tatoian said giving the track a modern makeover would cost at least $8 million to $10 million and he’d like to fit capacity at the 25,000-50,000 mark.

He also expected to hire a full-time staff that will operate independently of Dover. NASCAR eyed a date of June 20, 2021.

LEBANON, TN – JULY 23: A general view during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Federated Auto Parts 300 at Nashville Superspeedway on July 23, 2011 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tatoian said he’s hopeful the Truck, second-tier Xfinity Series and IndyCar could again find a home on the Nashville schedule.

Dover tried to cash in on the NASCAR boon of the late 1990s and early 2000s and had invested at one point more than $100 million in building the Nashville track to go with Dover and in its portfolio and tracks it owned in the St. Louis and Memphis areas.

“The thought at the time 20-something years ago was that if NASCAR was going to have an expansion, which at the time was the right time to be thinking, we wanted to claim those markets,” Tatoian said. “It didn’t happen. It just never lent itself to move one of our races at that time. So in 2011, after 10 or 11 years of operating, we decided it was time to shutter the operation. But we held onto it, fortuitously, just in case there was ever an opportunity in the future to do what we’re doing now.”

LEBANON, TN – JULY 23: Carl Edwards, driver of the #60 Fastenal Ford, races down the fronstretch during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Federated Auto Parts 300 at Nashville Superspeedway on July 23, 2011 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Dover has sold nearly 300 acres of property near Nashville Superspeedway since 2018 for nearly $10 million.

The shift to Tennessee is one of the first major signs that NASCAR truly intends to shake up its traditionally stale schedule. The sanctioning body is expected to make significant changes to its 2021 schedule, which could include more short tracks, mid-week races and doubleheaders.

The industry got an unexpected preview of what could lie ahead when the coronavirus pandemic forced a massive shakeup to this season’s schedule. NASCAR has already run five Cup events since the season resumed May 17.

DOVER, DELAWARE – OCTOBER 06: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, takes the green flag to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on October 06, 2019 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Dover, the site of two NASCAR weekends each year since 1971, was scheduled to hold a race in May this season until the coronavirus pandemic forced a postponement. Dover is expected to run Cup races on Aug. 22 and 23.

“It looks more and more like we’ll be hosting a doubleheader,” Tatoian said. “That’s a strong scenario and that’s what we’re focused on.”

Dover is scheduled to keep a May date in 2021. Tatoian said the potential of Dover losing a race had Nashville did not work was never discussed.

LEBANON, TN – JULY 23: Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, and Elliott Sadler, driver of the #2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet, lead the field into turn three during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Federated Auto Parts 300 at Nashville Superspeedway on July 23, 2011 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The Cup Series ran 42 times at the old Fairgrounds from 1958 through 1984, and the lower-level Xfinity and Truck Series last raced there in 2000. NASCAR also used to host an annual “Sound and Speed” event that mixed its stars and country artists at events around Nashville until 2010.

Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano are among the drivers who won races at the Superspeedway.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


NWSL Players Association Vice President Rachel Corsie On Challenge Cup: ‘It’s Extremely Exciting’

(CBSNewYork/CBS Local)- The National Women’s Soccer League will likely be the first major professional sports league to return to play on U.S. soil when it kicks off the 25-game Challenge Cup tournament June 27 on CBS.

The league announced its plan for return last week when it unveiled the Challenge Cup format with the league’s nine teams heading to Utah to play out the 25-game tournament there. Players Association Vice President and defender for Utah Royals FC Rachel Corsie says she’s pumped to have a plan in place for the league’s return.

“I think it’s extremely exciting. A lot of the news recently hasn’t had much of a positive spin. I think this is certainly something that we’re clinging to as motivation and encouragement,” said Corsie in an interview with CBS New York’s Steve Overmyer. “I think the big focus throughout all of this has been the player’s safety and the well-being of everybody involved. I think that it’s a really powerful message that we’ve made a plan with everyone involved. There’s been a lot of input from everybody really that is involved in this.”

Corsie went on to say that she was happy to see the league and clubs work with the players in order to come up with a scenario that would allow for play this summer.

“We’re in a fortunate position, that the league worked extremely hard with all of the clubs and the clubs found something that they felt there were able to progress with,” said Corsie. “There has been a huge number of conversations happening over the past few weeks to make sure that every possibility and scenario is being considered. It’s great that there’s been something that has been formally put on the table and we’re able to look forward to.”

As part of the plan, no fans will be allowed to attend the games, and the league has an extensive protocol in place in the eventuality that one of the players or staff involved comes down with COVID-19.

“The medical task force and the league have worked really hard to lay out all of the possibilities,” said Corsie. “There’s really extensive protocol. That’s on the website and that has been explained to all of the clubs. It’s been explained to all of the players. There has been a huge amount of investment and time put in to making sure the players are prioritized and making sure everyone who is participating feels really comfortable and safe.”

The tournament’s opener and the championship game will air live on CBS while all 25 games will also stream on the CBS All Access platform.


NASCAR Fans Might Not Be Far Behind

There is finally a break in this weird, new world of NASCAR after nine races over 16 days in three different states.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – MAY 31: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski lucked into a pair of wins, new favorite son Chase Elliott lost three races (but won one), and Kyle Busch ticked off his haters simply by being himself.

Some rain interruptions aside, the racing has been good. The series is starting to find a rhythm and the storylines are strong. Even seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson has come close to winning his first race in more than three years.

But all is not entirely well.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – MAY 31: A general view of cars racing during the NASCAR Cup Series Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

A sport that prides itself on the access to its drivers is racing at empty tracks, most evident Sunday at cavernous Bristol Motor Speedway. The Tennessee bullring known as “The Last Great Colosseum” can hold about 140,000 fans and once boasted a 55-race sellout streak spanning 28 years.

It was jarringly empty on a spectacular day for racing Sunday. When Elliott and Joey Logano tangled on the track with just over a lap remaining — and when Logano gave Elliott a long stare on pit road — it was eerily silent.

In the old days, before the pandemic, the crowd would have been hysterical. In the new normal, the two drivers put on their mandatory face masks and had a peaceful discussion in front of dreary, gray grandstands.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – MAY 31: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, talks with Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, after the NASCAR Cup Series Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“It’s kind of like, well, I guess we’ll go home,” runner-up Clint Bowyer said of the anticlimactic post-race dramatics. “I’m ready to have fans back. I think it’s time.”

Local tracks around the country have allowed spectators for at least the last two weekends. NASCAR, when it announced its second stretch of races through June 21 in Alabama, said the events would be without fans.

The pressure will grow to get fans back in the stands, particularly as more and more local tracks open the gates with their governors’ OK. If fans can attend South Alabama Speedway in Ozark, why can’t they go to the big show at Talladega Superspeedway in three weeks?

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – OCTOBER 14: A general view of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 14, 2019 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

NASCAR has touted a health plan it was confident could get the teams back to the track and so far it has worked. No driver has failed the temperature checks required to enter the facilities so far. But it has been barely two weeks since Darlington Raceway hosted the first race back so it’s far too early to know if the plan is perfect.

Masks are still required and teams have been good sports about following the rules. But it’s going to get hotter and the days are long and the masks are going to become a nuisance. Social distancing is for the most part followed, but awareness is fading and teams were in clusters along pit road waiting for the Bristol race to start.

NASCAR already made a huge decision to get back to business after postponing eight Cup Series races. Now it will face another in deciding if the comeback is complete and fans can return.

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 17: NASCAR team spotters look on from the grandstands during the NASCAR Cup Series The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 17, 2020 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The push for spectators is understandable because access is a cornerstone of racing’s popularity. The common fan can sit in the stands and eavesdrop on drivers via radio. They can camp in the infield with friends and sometimes run into their favorite driver out on a golf cart checking out the party scene. The lucky ones score a pit pass and get a front-row seat to every turn of a wrench or tire change.

The atmosphere is a corporate sponsor’s dream as executives, guests and clients get VIP treatment at the traveling circus. Right now, there is no essential need for a team owner to be at the track, so most don’t bother.

It’s not an ideal model and NASCAR executive Steve O’Donnell felt it Sunday. He said on Twitter that the action-packed ending was missing crowd reactions: “Nothing better than seeing the most passionate fans in sports at the track. When we get back in the Fall I hope it is a sellout!”

AVONDALE, ARIZONA – MARCH 08: Fans cheer during pre-race activities to the NASCAR Cup Series FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 08, 2020 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

NASCAR has a few days off between Monday night’s Xfinity Series race and the Truck Series race Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The teams need the time to regroup, though the drivers are fine and seem to love the current one-day shows.

NASCAR officials, though, won’t get a break. They are facing hard decisions on how quickly to get back to the old days. One hopes those decisions won’t be made on false confidence.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Gragson Crashes Allgaier To Win Xfinity Race At Bristol

Noah Gragson squeezed past JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier with four laps remaining, a move that caused Allgaier to crash, and Gragson held on at Bristol Motor Speedway for his second win of the season.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – JUNE 01: Noah Gragson, driver of the #9 Plan B Sales Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Cheddar’s 300 presented by Alsco at Bristol Motor Speedway on June 01, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Gragson also won the season-opening race at Daytona to begin his second year with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s race team. Gragson was winless in 2019 in his first full season in NASCAR’s second-tier series.

His victory Monday night was set up by a caution with 13 laps remaining that wiped away Allgaier’s lead. The Chevrolet teammates lined up side-by-side for the restart with seven laps remaining but Allgaier cleared him on the restart.

Gragson chased him and as he passed Allgaier for the lead, Allgaier wiggled into the wall and crashed for a caution.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – JUNE 01: Noah Gragson, driver of the #9 Plan B Sales Chevrolet, speaks to the media after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Cheddar’s 300 presented by Alsco at Bristol Motor Speedway on June 01, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

“I really apologize to Justin and the (number) 7 team, that’s not how I want to race,” Gragson said. “I saw a position open up, he kind of slipped off the bottom and I tried to slip to the bottom and I just got too loose.

“This track is like ice right now. We are slipping and sliding.”

Gragson had to race Chase Briscoe and Brandon Jones in a two-lap overtime finish but beat them both to claim the checkered flag. Gragson climbed the fence at empty Bristol in celebration.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – JUNE 01: Noah Gragson, driver of the #9 Plan B Sales Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Cheddar’s 300 presented by Alsco at Bristol Motor Speedway on June 01, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

He joined Briscoe as the only driver with two Xfinity Series victories this year and praised crew chief David Elenz for sticking with him and helping him improve at Bristol. He had one top-10 in two Xfinity races at Bristol last year, and one top-10 in a pair of visits to the bullring in the Truck Series in 2018.

“I was terrible here in trucks and Xfinity,” Gragson said. “My crew chief believed in me and he wanted me to come back and run with them and Dave Elenz is the man.”

Allgaier led a race-high 156 laps but finished 18th after the wreck.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – JUNE 01: Justin Allgaier, driver of the #7 Suave Men Chevrolet, walks of the track after an incident in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Cheddar’s 300 presented by Alsco at Bristol Motor Speedway on June 01, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“I’m more mad at myself for making a mistake and getting off the bottom,” Allgaier said. “But, yeah, we got wrecked.”

Briscoe, who beat Kyle Busch to win at Darlington two weeks ago, finished second in a Ford.

Jones and Harrison Burton were third and fourth in a pair of Toyota’s. The top four are eligible to race for a $100,000 bonus Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Myatt Snyder rounded out the top-five.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Keselowski In The Right Place At The Right Time Again

Brad Keselowski has a new crew and is fighting for a new contract at Team Penske. His confidence is still intact and he’s convinced he can compete for a championship this year.

Being in the right place at the right time is helping.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – MAY 31: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Keselowski inherited his second win in a week when the leaders crashed in front of him with a lap remaining Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway. He won the Coca-Cola 600 seven nights ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway when a caution with two laps remaining helped him get to victory lane.

“I felt like I was in Las Vegas,” Keselowski said about the Bristol win. “I went from having a bad hand to a full house real quick.”

The victory dropped into Keselowski’s lap when Chase Elliott and Joey Logano collided as they raced for the win. Keselowski was third with a lap and a turn remaining when the opportunity opened. Logano cleared Elliott for the lead with three to go, but Elliott stalked him while seeking his second win in three days.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – MAY 31: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford,and Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, crash during the NASCAR Cup Series Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

They made contact in the fourth turn and drifted into the wall as Keselowski slid past. He had just one trip around the 0.533-mile concrete bullring to close the victory.

“We were in position and able to strike when it counted,” Keselowski said. “Joey and Chase got together there. I don’t know what all caused it, but we were just in a position to strike and here we are in victory lane.”

Keselowski, hoping to get an extension with Team Penske, won the 600 when a caution with two to go snatched the win from Elliott. Keselowski inherited the lead when Elliott pitted.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – MAY 31: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Keselowski held on for that victory at Elliott’s expense and now is the first driver to win multiple races in the five Cup events since NASCAR resumed May 17.

“There’s so much going on in the world, I am just thankful I get to be a race car driver and do this,” Keselowski said after giving Ford its third win in five races.

Logano finished 21st and Elliott was 22nd.

Logano stared Elliott down as the two climbed from their cars but Elliott never looked in his direction. After Logano had retrieved his mandatory face mask, he approached Elliott for a brief conversation.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – MAY 31: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, talks with Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, after the NASCAR Cup Series Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“He wrecked me,” Logano said. “A simple apology … be a man and say ‘My bad.’ I had to force an apology, which to me is just childish.”

Elliott did take the blame after the talk.

“Awww, just going for the win,” Elliott said. “I’ll certainly take the blame. I just got loose and got into him.”

Clint Bowyer was second for his best finish in a year and a 1-2 finish for Ford and lamented how quiet it was after NASCAR’s fifth event without fans. The track is built like an arena, referred to as “The Last Great Colosseum” and can hold about 140,000 spectators.

“It’s starting to bother me,” Bowyer said. “We are seeing other racing going on with fans in the stands and a place like Bristol, it’s the first time I really felt like ‘Man, it’s empty.’ You can feel the vibe.”

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – MAY 31: A general view of cars racing during the NASCAR Cup Series Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The silence was most notable after Elliott and Logano had their incident.

“This place would have been standing on end, erupted,” Bowyer said. “Now it’s just like ‘OK, let’s go home.’ I’m ready for fans.”

Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was third in a Chevrolet and once again showed he’s close to snapping his 104-race losing streak. Johnson led laps in NASCAR’s first race back after a 10-week shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic and was second in the Coca-Cola 600 before his finish was disqualified for failing inspection.

Kyle Busch and Erik Jones rounded out the top-five in a pair of Toyota’s for Joe Gibbs Racing. Denny Hamlin, another JGR driver, seemed to be poised for the win until a lapped car-clogged the track, Hamlin went too high to make the pass and Logano and Elliott squeezed past.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – MAY 31: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Hamlin then wrecked for the 17th caution of the race. It set up a final five-lap sequence.

“So much beating and banging,” Keselowski said. “We’ve all been cooped up in our houses for too long. Everybody is mad at everybody.”

Ryan Blaney had a strong car early and led 60 laps but crashed while chasing teammate Keselowski for the lead in the second stage. Blaney seemed to get too high on the track, wiggled into the wall, and then was hit by Ty Dillon.

Blaney went to Bristol coming off back-to-back third-place finishes but wound up last.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – MAY 31: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Richmond Ford, pits after a spin impact during the NASCAR Cup Series Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

“I didn’t think I was that high and all of a sudden I hit a slick spot,” Blaney said. “I thought we were going to be OK and then we got destroyed about six seconds later. That’s just Bristol.”

It was another rough race for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who rebounded from three poor finishes with a fourth-place Thursday night at Charlotte. He was running decently near the end of the stage until contact from Johnson triggered a multi-car accident and knocked four drivers, Stenhouse included, out of the race.

“We just got crashed,” said Stenhouse, who wrecked on the first lap of NASCAR’s first race back. “It was a bummer. I felt like we had a really good shot at racing them for the win.”

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Yzerman-Led Red Wings Rebuild On Long-Term Plan

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is sticking to his rebuilding plan, which includes not making a coaching change or attempting to pull off a splash in free agency.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – JUNE 22: (L-R) Steve Yzerman and Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings attends the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Yzerman is not interested in short-term fixes such as firing coach Jeff Blashill or outspending other NHL teams to add available veterans on the open market.

As painful as the retooling process has been in the Motor City, the Hall of Fame player is committed to doing what he thinks is best to help the franchise eventually add to its collection of 11 Stanley Cups.

“It’s going to take time,” Yzerman said.

Red Wings fans have heard that refrain often in recent years.

TORONTO, ON – NOVEMBER 13: Steve Yzerman speaks with the media on the red carpet prior to the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Brookfield Place on November 13, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Former general manager Ken Holland was preaching patience before, during, and after his final seasons in charge of Detroit’s front office.

After one year of trying to turn around the franchise he led to three Stanley Cups as a player, Yzerman sounds a lot like Holland, one of his mentors, as he reiterates that faring well in the draft and developing homegrown players is the key to success.

The Red Wings’ latest miserable season came to an abrupt end on Tuesday when the NHL abandoned the rest of the regular season because of the coronavirus pandemic. The league plans to hold a 24-team playoff if it is able to resume play and Detroit’s once-proud team was not even close to making the cut in the expanded field.

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 12: Head Equipment Manager Paul Boyer of the Detroit Red Wings rolls equipment bags down the hall after the Detroit Red Wings against the Washington Capitals game was postponed due to the coronavirus at Capital One Arena on March 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today the NHL announced is has suspended their season due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus (COVID-19) with hopes of returning. The NHL currently joins the NBA, MLS, as well as, other sporting events and leagues around the world suspending play because of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) at Capital One Arena on March 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The Red Wings had a league-low 17 wins in their 71-game season. They trailed every team in the league by at least 23 points and finished 61 points behind the NHL-leading Boston Bruins.

Detroit has not earned a spot in the playoffs since 2016 when it capped a run of 25 consecutive postseason appearances.

The Red Wings’ four-year postseason drought is their longest since a five-year run without a shot to win the Cup from 1979-83.

“You have to use this as fuel,” center Dylan Larkin said.

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 21: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings argues his penalty at 17:30 of the third period against the New York Islanders at the NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on February 21, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Red Wings 4-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

RUSTY RED WINGS:

Detroit has not played a hockey game since March 10 and no one knows when the 2020-21 season will begin. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, NHL teams don’t have offseason workouts and that’s a source of concern for Detroit’s players, coaches, and management.

“It could be up to nine months without hockey,” center Luke Glendening said.

KEY PIECES:

The Red Wings plan to keep a pair of promising players, forwards Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha, instead of potentially letting them develop into stars on other teams.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – FEBRUARY 18: Tyler Bertuzzi #59 of the Detroit Red Wings takes a second period shot next to Nick Cousins #21 of the Montreal Canadiens at Little Caesars Arena on February 18, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 4-3. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

“We’re not going to let them go anywhere,” Yzerman said. “We’ll get deals done. I can’t tell you that a week from now or sometime in the offseason. … the question is for how long and for how much.”

LEADERSHIP PLAN:

Larkin will likely be named captain during the offseason, giving the team a one-ice leader for the first time since Henrik Zetterberg retired prior to the 2018-19 season.

“The plan is to name a captain, prior to the start of the next season,” Yzerman said.

If Larkin gets to wear a “C” on his sweater with a winged wheel, he said it would be one of the greatest honors of his life.

“It’s something I would never imagined growing up as a kid in Detroit,” he said.

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – JANUARY 14: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the New York Islanders at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on January 14, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Red Wings 8-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

BLASH IS BACK:

Yzerman said Blashill will be behind the bench next season, even with a record 41 games under .500 over five years in Detroit.

“It certainly means a lot,” Blashill said.

Holland gave Blashill a two-year extension in 2019, keeping him under contract through the 2021-22 season, and Yzerman has decided to retain him for a second straight year.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Chase Elliott Gets Overdue Cup Victory

Chase Elliott’s streak of bitter defeats in NASCAR’s frantic first push of rescheduled races finally ended with his first Cup victory of the season.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 28: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Elliott won Thursday night in the rain-delayed event at Charlotte Motor Speedway to close a brutal 12 days for NASCAR. The event, postponed Wednesday night, was the fourth Cup race since the series resumed racing May 17.

Elliott had two frustrating losses in that span, including defeat Sunday night in the Coca-Cola 600 when a caution flew two laps from the finish with Elliott leading.

“Man, it’s been a tough week for sure,” Elliott said. “We’ve had some tough losses but that deal on Sunday night was a heart-breaker.”

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 28: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, speaks to the media in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Elliott’s frustration began last week — three Cup races ago — when he was trying to race for the lead at Darlington Raceway and was wrecked by Kyle Busch.

Then he had the 600 checkered flag in site until a caution caused by his own teammate. Elliott pitted from the lead, took four tires and couldn’t get back to the front in the two-lap overtime sprint.

There was little suspense in this one. Elliott reeled in Kevin Harvick with 27 laps remaining and closed out the victory. Elliott also won the Truck Series race Tuesday night at Charlotte to give him a pair of victories in a four-race stretch at the track a few minutes away from Hendrick Motorsports headquarters.

“It’s not the Coke 600, but any win in the Cup series is really hard to get,” Elliott said. “I just really appreciate everybody at Hendrick Motorsports across the street here. Everybody’s been working really hard.”

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 28: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, speaks to the media in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Elliott was charging hard on Harvick with about 35 laps remaining when he asked if he had enough fuel to make it to the finish. Crew chief Alan Gustafson replied, “Yup. Go hard.”

Elliott did just that. But after passing Harvick, with nothing but clear track in front of him, Elliott couldn’t help but feel haunted by Sunday night.

“I was just waiting for the caution to come out,” he said. “If the caution didn’t come out, I was thinking I was probably going to break something or I was going to crash. After the last couple of weeks, surely it was going to go green until the end.

“Hopefully we’re back on the right path.”

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 28: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Cup Series Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin finished second in a Toyota with three crew members sitting at home under suspension for an infraction Sunday night. His crew chief, car chief, and engineer earned automatic four-race suspensions when a piece of tungsten fell off Hamlin’s car on a pace lap.

Because NASCAR is holding all its events as one day shows without qualifying or practice, Hamlin said his Joe Gibbs Racing team was able to push through the upheaval.

“The one day format makes it easier for us,” Hamlin said. “If we had qualifying it would definitely hurt. But under these circumstances that we are in it doesn’t hurt that bad.”

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 24: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 DEX Imaging Ford, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney was third in a Ford for Team Penske, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for JTG-Daughtery Racing, a tremendous boost after a bad resumption of the season. Stenhouse wrecked on the first lap of the first race and finished last, then was 25th and 24th before Thursday.

Blaney, who is one of Elliott’s closest friends, has been hosting NASCAR’s most popular driver as the sport has raced four times in five nights at Charlotte. He said Elliott was able to refocus on the Truck Series race after losing the 600, then after beating Busch to earn a $100,000 bounty, Elliott shifted his attention to the Cup race.

“We talked about the race and that is just bad luck. He has had a lot of back luck,” Blaney said. “With the 600, that stunk for him. We talked about it that night but he was ready for the Trucks race. We did talk and there were a couple of hours of it. But he moved on and showed he could win two in a row.”

Hamlin thought all the focus on Elliott’s losses was overblown.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 28: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx SupportSmall Toyota, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“Sometimes cautions are not going to fall your way,” Hamlin said. “I think everyone feels bad because it is Chase and everyone loves him.”

Asked if he felt sorry for Elliott, Hamlin answered with a definitive “No.”

Elliott’s victory was the first for a Chevrolet driver in NASCAR’s return to Cup racing. Harvick won the first race back in a Ford, Hamlin won the second race in a Toyota and Brad Keselowski won the 600 in a Ford.

But Elliott and his Hendrick teammates have been very strong since the series came back from a 10-week shutdown for the coronavirus pandemic. Elliott, Alex Bowman, William Byron, and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson have all led laps — a huge boost for a team that has been rebuilding for much of the last three seasons.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 28: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The rescheduled Thursday event was disrupted by lightning and rain for nearly 75 minutes after 30 laps had been completed.

NASCAR next goes to Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee on Sunday for a fifth Cup race in 15 days as the series attempts to reschedule eight events in a frantic stretch of racing through Southern states.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Red Wings Coach Jeff Blashill Keeping His Job

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is keeping coach Jeff Blashill despite another lackluster season.

GLENDALE, AZ – OCTOBER 12: Head coach Jeff Blashill of the Detroit Red Wings looks over his bench during the third period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 12, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Red Wings defeated the Coyotes 4-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Yzerman told reporters on Wednesday his previously announced plans to keep Blashill behind the bench have not changed. Blashill’s record over five seasons in Detroit is 153-194-52.

The NHL abandoned the rest of the regular season on Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic. It plans to hold a 24-team playoff if the league is able to resume play.

Detroit had a league-low 17 wins in its 71-game season. Every team in the NHL had at least 23 more points than the Red Wings, and the NHL-best Boston Bruins had 61 more points.

NEWARK, NJ – DECEMBER 27: Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill gives players direction during the third period against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 27, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Red WIngs 3-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The decision to go straight to the playoffs ended the season for the Red Wings along with Buffalo, New Jersey, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Ottawa.

Yzerman decided to keep Blashill last year when the Hall of Fame player returned to Detroit. He was supportive of him throughout another rebuilding season.

Former Red Wings general manager Ken Holland gave Blashill a two-year extension in 2019, keeping him under contract through the 2021-22 season.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


NASCAR Cup Race In Charlotte Rained Out

Rain washed out the Cup Series race Wednesday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway — a slight break for NASCAR teams taxed by a grueling return to racing.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 24: Cars sit covered on pit road during a rain delay during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)v

The race was rescheduled for Thursday night at 7 p.m., which in turn forced NASCAR to move the Xfinity Series race scheduled for Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway. The turnaround time is too difficult for broadcast partner Fox Sports to leave Charlotte and quickly rebuild its setup in Tennessee under social distancing guidelines.

The Xfinity Series race will instead be run Monday night, a day after the Cup Series.

NASCAR’s first wave of races in its comeback totaled seven national events over 11 days. The second consecutive Wednesday night race would have been the fourth for the elite Cup Series since May 17. That span included Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600, which went to 607.5 miles in overtime and was the longest event in NASCAR history.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 24: The NASCAR Track Drying Team works to dry the track to restart the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The rain allowed for an additional day of rest to the drivers, particularly Kyle Busch and Timmy Hill, who entered all seven of the first set of races.

The starting order for the second Cup race at Charlotte this week was set based on the finishing order of the Coca-Cola 600 but with an inversion. Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman will start from the pole, while Coca-Cola 600 winner Brad Keselowski will start 20th.

Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson will start last because his car was disqualified in post-race inspection after he finished second.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


‘I Feel Physically Like The Best I’ve Ever Felt,’ Says WWE NXT’s Tommaso Ciampa

(CBSNewYork/CBS Local) — Tommaso Ciampa wasn’t looking for a fight with a behemoth. He had already gotten his fill of working with oversized gladiators in the ring when Karrion Kross came calling.

Ciampa was coming off of the latest — and perhaps final — battle in a long-running feud with former tag team partner Johnny Gargano when all 6 feet 4 inches and 265 pounds of Kross burst onto the NXT stage. Although Ciampa wasn’t eyeing this particular fight, the NXT creative team had different ideas. Now he finds himself in the unenviable position of rolling out the welcome mat for the newest member of the NXT roster. That’s not to say he’s running from a challenge. Quite the opposite, actually.

The new feud is giving Ciampa an opportunity to freshen up his character and hit the reset button after a memorable run against Gargano. Their feud will be used as the measuring stick for anything they do moving forward. Fair or not, no matter who they each wrestle their matches will be compared to the series of five-star clashes they strung together over the years.

Coming off such high acclaim, it’s natural for someone to question whether they still have the same passion for their career as they once did. The good news for Ciampa is that this feud with Kross will provide him that answer.

Their match will be one of the featured attractions on June 7 when NXT breathes new life into a quarter-century-old pay-per-view concept for NXT TakeOver: In Your House. Just being on the card will rejuvenate Ciampa, who grew up watching his idols compete in the original series produced by WWE beginning in 1995.

The In Your House concept is being revived as the company’s loyal fans have been sheltering in place for more than two months as the coronavirus rages outside their doors. The brand has not held a pay-per-view event since February’s NXT TakeOver: Portland where Ciampa unsuccessfully challenged Adam Cole for the NXT Championship. COVID-19 restrictions forced WWE to pull the plug on TakeOver: Tampa that was to take place the night before WrestleMania.

Since then, fans have been chomping at the bit for the return of NXT to pay-per-view and what many consider to be the most exciting action under the WWE umbrella.

But before the next chapter in the TakeOver saga can be written, there is still unfinished business to be taken care of on NXT. This week will see the fallout from another fractured tag team as Matt Riddle faces his short-lived partner Timothy Thatcher in a cage with WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle set to referee in what promises to be a bruising contest.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Ciampa to get his thoughts on working with Kross, an update on his health, the changes being made to the Raw and SmackDown television tapings, and whether the same strategy might add a level of excitement to NXT broadcasts.

>>READ: Latest from the world of Pro Wrestling

Kross had made a name for himself prior to coming to NXT and was known among more die-hard fans who watch promotions other than WWE. Is it easier to have a guy who has somewhat of a following coming in, or is it more difficult because there’s a little bit of a backstory that can be challenging to be told?

I’ll tell you that based on his first entrance, I don’t think it matters if you knew who he was. You saw that first entrance, and that presentation, and the ‘wow’ factor is there. The ‘it’ factor is all over the dude, and same with Scarlet. I think in his situation, I don’t know if it mattered. The dude is a monster. He’s got a look. He’s got great music, unbelievable song. I don’t know who came up with that, but it’s great. It reminds me a lot of Aleistar Black, when he made his debut or Shinsuke Nakamura. Immediately I go, ‘Okay. This is the main-event player.’

Is this a guy that you kind of lobbied to work with knowing that he was coming in?

Absolutely not. No, no, no. He’s 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds. I had my share with AOP. Fanfare, I think is what led to this more so than anything. When the rumors were that he was headed to NXT, I was getting a lot of tweets and Instagrams and all that. The social media was going crazy about seeing the two of us head-to-head.

I think for him, it’s pretty simple. It’s clear who some of the top guys are in NXT. I’m clearly one of them, and he wanted to make a statement, so he attacks some of the top guys. So I think more so than anything, it was a combination of fans wanting to see it as a pseudo dream match and him wanting to make an immediate impact and name for himself.

Do you think it’s important that you have this ‘pseudo dream match’ coming off of your feud with Johnny Gargano? The whole series with you and Johnny has been incredibly well received, and now you’ve got something else big to move forward to rather than just having two people randomly thrown together.

It feels very organic and natural in some weird sense. I feel like I do my best work when I am put into scenarios where there’s some in-depth story to be told. For instance, when Johnny and I tagged versus Mustache Mountain, it was a super fun time. I loved the match and all that. But one-offs for me is what they are. I like it when you can kind of sink your teeth into something. So in that scenario, it’s great for me, because obviously Kross is a completely different opponent than Johnny. It’s a whole different type of matchup. It’s a whole different style. It’s a whole different presentation. And it’s something that I think people are excited for.

And it kind of freshens me up in a little bit of a way too. It forces me to… Not that I was losing any sort of passion or losing any drive, but it definitely — when you see the new guy come in and he’s hungry — it does force you to look in the mirror and say, ‘Okay, am I what I was two, three, four years ago? Do I still have that same itch that he has?’ Because you make it to the top of the NXT mountain, and now here’s a guy who hasn’t sniffed it, but boy does he hunger for it. So it’s a very different dynamic that has… Yeah I could feel people are excited for it, and it’s forced my hand, to dig down deep a little bit.

Is it fair that people are going to judge basically your entire body of work moving forward against what you had with Johnny?

I don’t know that I’ve ever thought of that. I don’t know if that’s the thing though. And the only reason I say this is because when I think of [Triple H] and [Shawn Michaels], I never watched Hunter versus Taker, or Shawn versus Taker, or them versus any of their other opponents and thought like, ‘Oh yeah, but it’s not Hunter and Shawn.’ I think it’s what starts to create a legacy in a way. It’s how a guy adapts and how a guy gets into all these different situations and performs and continues to build his resume.

So that’s the challenge that I have. That’s the test that I put myself through is that I just don’t want people to ever say, ‘Oh yeah, he had these great matches with Johnny Gargano.’ I want them to be able to say, ‘Oh yeah, then there was that double team dream match. There was that Adam Cole match. That Aleister Black match. That Karrion Kross match.’ I just want them to be able to rattle off that he went through the best of the best and found ways to have chemistry with all of them, or bring out their best or bring out a different side of them.

As you’re stepping forward into this new challenge, how are you feeling health-wise? How’s the neck?

I feel great because I don’t wrestle anymore. It sounds so crazy, but sometimes I have trouble remembering. I think the match with Johnny was my last match. I’m pretty sure. It feels like that was forever ago. I think it was over two months ago now.

I feel physically like the best I’ve ever felt. … All I’m doing is training at home. I’m sleeping in my own bed. I’m not traveling. So physically I feel on top of the world, but with that said, I’m sure Karrion Kross does too. You know, when he wrestles, he wrestles for 30 seconds, so I don’t know that that’s going to be an advantage unfortunately.

Your next match, is at TakeOver: In Your House. What was your initial reaction when you learned that that old pay-per-view concept was being pulled off of the shelf, and dusted off, and being given new life?

It’s the best, right? It’s one of my favorite parts of this whole NXT thing. I always tell people, when I was a kid, there was four pay-per-views a year, and everything had three-month builds, and it was just the best thing ever. That’s my wrestling. It was like, if there was a way for it to go back to that, oh my God, I would be so happy. And that’s what NXT has provided. It’s this slower storytelling and these big four TakeOvers.

When In Your House became a thing when I was a kid, it was just the coolest ever and people are winning houses. … So when NXT is bringing out the old-school graphics, the only thing I’m wondering is if somehow we could have that old In Your House set. That’s all just the fan in me. I’m literally doing what, 10 or 12-year-old me was watching, and going crazy about on the couch. So that is very, very cool.

I don’t know why, but something about wrestling Karrion Kross is perfect for it. It’s very strange because, not that he is a mid-90’s character, but he’s definitely not your typical five-star indie guy. He is more of the throwback. He’s a big dude who passes the airport test, and everybody sees him and knows [he’s someone].

You mentioned the crowds not being there. On Raw we saw things being changed up a little bit and some trainees filling up ringside, and we saw the plexiglass. How do you think that just even having that type of crowd there affects the overall feel of the show? Does it kind of give it some more life to it?

I was visiting my brother in North Carolina and driving home, so I didn’t see it. The plexiglass sounds a lot like NHL to me. I don’t know. I just feel like there’s no rights and wrongs. It doesn’t feel like there’s any right or wrong to anything. Everybody’s just trying. We’re just trying to give the best product we can give while abiding by guidelines, and keeping people safe and healthy, and giving people the next thing in entertainment. So I don’t know what’s right or wrong.

You know, cinematic sounds really cool. Too much cinematic seems bad. It’s crazy to me. It’s just like, they don’t have really long matches. It’s just, there’s so many directions, and there’s just, at the end of the day, it’s exactly what wrestling is. It’s flavors and ice cream and opinions. And I think some people are going to be like, ‘oh yeah, this is great.’ And other people that are going to be like, ‘oh no, I don’t like this because I saw Shotzi [Blackheart], and she shouldn’t be there.’

I don’t know that I have a strong enough opinion either way. I get what we’re trying to do. We’re just trying to provide people with some sort of entertainment, and live content, and escape from what’s going on. …  Having people who are on NXT, if I’m being completely honest with you, I don’t think that sounds like a good idea. I wouldn’t expect to see people from Raw or SmackDown in the NXT crowd come Wednesday night. And I don’t think you should see any NXT talent in the crowd come Monday night or Friday night. It doesn’t seem right.

[Performance Center] guys, people who are students trying to figure this out? Sure. That makes perfect sense to me. You want to put them through the COVID test and all that, and give them that experience? That’s great. But people who we’re trying to build as Superstars, maybe we just keep them in front of the camera.

Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.

Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.


Elliott Collects $100,000 Bounty

Chase Elliott gained a measure of revenge against Kyle Busch on Tuesday night — and then let him know about it.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 26: Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 iRacing Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Elliott snapped Busch’s seven-race Truck Series winning streak and collected a $100,000 bounty at Charlotte Motor Speedway before imitating Busch’s victory celebration after the race by bowing to the camera.

“Hopefully nobody gets their feelings hurt over it,” Elliott chuckled.

Busch appeared noticeably upset after the race, but it had nothing to do with the bow.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 26: Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Cessna Toyota, exits his truck after the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

He cursed in an interview with Fox after the race.

The interview wasn’t aired live, but Busch said “it sucks when you start the race with broken pieces after you’ve been sitting for six months. There’s going to be some (expletive) talking when I get home.”

Busch was upset over a splitter problem that caused problems for his No. 51 Toyota all night long.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 26: Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Cessna Toyota, drives during the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Later, on a Zoom call, he was informed about Elliott’s bow.

“Imitation is the strongest form of flattery or whatever it is. But, hmmm, that’s cute,” Busch said sarcastically.

“It was a spur of the moment thing,” Elliott said. “I thought we had so much fun with this with Kevin (Harvick) putting up the money and Kyle was a good sport. It’s not a dig at anybody. It’s just having fun. It was about beating him and we did and had some fun with it.”

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 26: Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 iRacing Chevrolet, celebrates winning the the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 as Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Cessna Toyota, exits his truck at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Harvick pledged before the race to donate $50,000 to Covid-19 relief for any full-time Cup driver who finished ahead of Busch. Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Gander RV & Outdoors, which sponsors the Truck Series, agreed to match Harvick’s pledge, bringing the total to $100,000 for pandemic relief. Elliott, John Hunter Nemechek, and Brennan Poole were the three full-time Cup drivers eligible to collect the bounty.

The win comes six days after Busch wrecked Elliott in a Cup Series race at Darlington and two days after Elliott’s costly decision to pit late in the Coca-Cola 600, opened the door for Brad Keselowski to steal an almost certain win from him had the race stayed green.

“It doesn’t make up for Sunday but it was still a really good night,” Elliott said.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 26: Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 iRacing Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

It was Elliott’s first Truck Series race since 2017 when he won at Martinsville.

He said he wanted to race at Charlotte just to beat Busch.

“It was about beating Kyle and we did that so I guess I can quit now,” Elliott said.

Zane Smith finished third and Brett Moffitt was fourth in the first truck race since Feb. 21.

Busch had won 57 Truck Series races entering the night, the most of any driver in history, and appeared to be the favorite. But he could never chase down Elliott on a long green flag stretch to close the race, getting no closer than 0.3 seconds of the leader.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 26: Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 iRacing Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Busch started 16th and quickly made a move to sixth place before splitter issues forced him to pit and dropped him back to 33rd place. But the winner of 210 races across NASCAR’s three top series quickly moved back into contention with a strong second stage and took the lead on lap 69.

But when Busch pitted with 34 laps to go it dropped him all the way back to 23rd and he could never regain the lead. Busch said the problem involved some front travel limiters that prevent the splitter from crashing to the ground.

He said “they just broke. First lap.”

Busch called the problems self-inflicted.

“Threw it away,” Busch said. “Had six months to prepare and screwed it up.”

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 26: Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Cessna Toyota, exits his truck after the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

This was Busch’s third race in three nights. He followed up a fourth-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday by winning the Xfinity Series race on Monday in overtime after passing Austin Cindric on the final lap.

For Elliott, the win ended a string of bad luck and should help his confidence heading into the second Cup race in four days at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday night.

“It was certainly was rewarding,” Elliott said. “But it doesn’t fix the last two races on the Cup side. Those were really important for everyday life and this doesn’t fix that.”

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Trainer Bob Baffert Has Two Horses Fail Drug Tests

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two horses from the barn of two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert have tested positive for a banned substance, according to published reports.

 

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – MAY 02: Kentucky Derby Trainer Bob Baffert looks on during morning workouts in preparation for the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

 

The New York Times and Louisville Courier-Journal on Tuesday cited unidentified sources in reporting the positive tests occurred during the recent meet at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.

According to the Times, one of the horses to test positive was Charlatan, an undefeated colt considered to be a top contender for the Belmont Stakes on June 20. That race will open this year’s Triple Crown series, which has been rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Charlatan won a split-division of the Arkansas Derby on May 2.

 

ELMONT, NY – JUNE 09: Jockey Mike Smith and Bob Baffert during the post parade the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. Justify becomes the thirteenth Triple Crown winner and the first since American Pharoah in 2015. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

 

The Times reported Baffert’s other horse to test positive is Gamine, a 3-year-old filly who won at Oaklawn on the same day. The newspaper said both horses tested positive for lidocaine, a regulated anesthetic widely used in equine medicine.

Lidocaine is considered a Class 2 drug by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, and use of it carries a penalty of a 15- to 60-day suspension and a fine of $500 to $1,000 for a first offense, The Times said.

Without mitigating circumstances, a horse would be disqualified and forfeit its purse. Charlatan earned $300,000 for first place in the Arkansas Derby.

“The rules of the Arkansas Racing Commission mandate confidentiality concerning any investigation into an alleged rule violation until there is a written decision of the Stewards,” Baffert said in a written statement. “I am extremely disappointed that, in this instance, the Commission has not followed its own rules on confidentiality.

 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 28: Trainer Bob Baffert joins horse racing industry workers call to re-open Santa Anita Track in front of the offices of the Board of Supervisors of Los Angeles on April 28, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Members of the horse racing industry gathered to persuade the Board of Supervisors to let racing resume at Santa Anita Park. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

 

“I am hoping for an expedited investigation and look forward to being able to speak soon about any written decision of the Stewards, if and when it becomes necessary and I’m allowed to under the Commission’s confidentiality rules,” he said.

Reached by text Tuesday night, Baffert told The Associated Press he didn’t want to comment beyond his statement. Asked how premature it is to leak an initial test before a second test is conducted, Baffert said, “I think it’s a great question that someone besides me should answer.”

Baffert has requested a second round of testing on his horses’ samples, which he is allowed to do, according to the Times.

 

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – MAY 02: Kentucky Derby trainer
walks back to the barn after morning workouts in preparation for the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

 

Charlatan is ranked fourth on the qualifying points leaderboard for the Kentucky Derby, a race Baffert has won five times. It has been rescheduled for Sept. 5.

No one at the Arkansas Racing Commission was reachable after hours Tuesday night.

 

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Can Virtual Reality Help Sports Fans Experience Game Day In A Post COVID-19 World?

(CBS Local/CBSLA)- “If I really do want to establish a feeling that I’m there, then there needs to be some capacity for me to make a decision to move myself forwards, backwards, around and in doing that, for there to be a response. The responsiveness and that resonance has to be established and maintained in order for it to feel like a live event.”- Jessica Brillhart, Director of USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies MxR (mixed reality) Lab.

What will sports, and sports fandom, look like in a post COVID-19 world? While states across America and countries around the world continue to re-open, large gatherings remain a non-starter. The sports events and live concerts of old, in which tens or hundreds of thousands of fans all crowded into a stadium, appear a long ways off.

At the moment, that’s just fine, with fans eager to see live action, even if it means empty stadiums with just the players on the field. But, at a certain point, the live broadcast of a game with no fans can seem eerie or not quite complete. One needs to only look so far as John Ourand’s recent piece for the Sports Business Journal discussing network executives wanting to pipe in crowd noise to their broadcasts.

In searching for that stadium atmosphere experience, is it possible that virtual reality could fill the void?

“There’s a lot of broadcasts and clubs that have already experimented with VR already particularly clubs like Manchester City* and Juventus for example,” said Dr. Alex Fenton, a lecturer in Digital Business at the University of Salford Business School in the United Kingdom. “City and Juventus created apps within Oculus. And then the broadcasters like Sky (Sports) and Netflix are offering VR experiences. These seem to be a value added to the subscription rather than paying for standalone matches.”

In the U.S., the Minnesota Vikings created their own app, “Vikings VR” within the Oculus store a few years ago to give their fans that additional perspective. But, the headsets, while helpful for gaming and some interactive experiences, are likely out of reach for the everyday sports consumer. Prices start at around $200 and go up from there depending on the model. But, they’re not the only way to get the experience of a stadium or game in a virtual environment.

Jessica Brillhart, the Director of USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies MxR Lab, points to audio AR (augmented reality) as a way to bridge the gap for fans unable to make it to the arena who still want a gameday experience. Prior to joining USC’s MxR lab, Brillhart’s Vrai Pictures debuted a spatial audio platform called Traverse at South by Southwest in 2019 that allowed users to move around a space in which a mix of the Elvis Presley song “Power of My Love” played from various viewpoints. As a user moved around the space, getting closer to, or further away from, different parts of Presley’s band, the volume and sounds they heard emulated what it would be like walking around the studio while the song was recorded.

You can see how that kind of experience would be translatable to sports. Brillhart points out that players could be mic’ed up, in a similar way they are now, but then mapped to the room the fan is in allowing them as they use the app to move towards or away from different players on points of the field. Or, in another case, sports leagues could take the number of people watching their stream and use that data to deliver a soundscape that emulates what it would sound like in a stadium filled with that many people.

“You can know with any sort of live stream, how many people are watching and say 10,000 people are watching a particular game. Knowing that data then increases the level of the crowd by x-amount,” said Brillhart. “So you actually hear a realistic interpretation of the data of the amount of people that are there. You’re finding new ways of thinking about what an audience is.”

Imagine for a minute, you are in your favorite team’s home stadium. The sounds that come with that, from the shouting of the program vendor (programs, get your programs here!) to the growing tension in the crowd as a near scoring opportunity unfolds, could all be theoretically programmed within an app to augment the viewing experience. And all that the consumer would need is a phone and a pair of headphones.

In a similar vein, Beyond Sports, a virtual reality company based in the Netherlands, is closing in on debuting an app that would allow fans to design their own viewing experience down to allowing them to insert a virtual avatar of themselves into the virtual world.

“I think what will change after COVID is that there is also a new generation stepping up as in Gen Z’s turn is up and they will start spending money on sports. I think the biggest gamechanger will be in that. It’s not just that coronavirus happened to them, it’s that they just like to consume sports completely different than the generation before them. I think that’s what we’re tapping into rather than just having a VR experience,” said Sander Schouten, CEO and Co-Founder of Beyond Sports. “Basically what we’re going to launch soon here in Holland and then spread out over the world is we’re going to have virtual worlds where you can interact, engage with in a different way, tailor made for a Gen Z environment. Meaning, if you want to be the star of the show, you just add your own virtual character with your own face into that environment and then you can share it as if you made that final shot to win the game.”

Schouten’s company is focused on gearing its soon to launch app to the Gen Z experience, but they are also in the virtual reality space from a broadcast perspective. They’ve worked with Sky Sports and NBC Sports, among others, on presenting new viewpoints and perspectives to the viewers that allow for a greater appreciation of the speed of the action on the field.

Thinking about new ways of engaging the audience is something that Dr. Fenton and his colleague, Professor Andy Miah, Chair in Science Communication and Future Media at the University of Salford, have thought a lot about. For Miah, the current crisis has him wondering if the relationship between fans and their favorite players/sports will change in new ways.

“How do you make sure people feel like they’re enjoying themselves, having an experience that is worthwhile? And that they’re happy to certainly pay for it clearly, but keep coming back to at least,” said Miah. “I suppose we can see a lot of how this works in Formula E racing, it’s quite instructive with the idea of fan boosts. If you’re a spectator of Formula E racing, you can cheer for the driver you think is the best and the ones that receive the biggest cheer will receive a performance boost inside the car. It’s really fascinating to me in this time is how this challenging situation could give rise to a completely different relationship between the athlete and the spectator.”

We have seen examples of that already in the various esports tournaments that leagues have been putting on to entertain fans in their absence. The NBA and ESPN held the 2K League with NBA players. In Europe, there was the Quarantine Cup, featuring soccer stars of various clubs playing in a FIFA 20 tournament to determine a champion.

But, part of the experience that still needs to be worked on is the social aspect. As a fan, attending a game can be as much about the tailgate or the pre-game festivities as it is the play on the field. How does VR capture that? It’s a tougher nut to crack.

“It’s a tricky situation where can you ever truly replicate the exact stadium environment? There is the whole pre-game thing when you’re walking to the stadium and, depending on the age, you have a couple of drinks. You go, you have the stadium experience in the stadium and go through all of these motions. Can you actually have the same thing,” asked Konstantin Dieterle, head of business development for Beyond Sports. “Or is it something where you don’t try to just copy it, or can you give them a story where it is, ‘hey this is something additional.’ That’s something that we’re trying to do. It’s not just, ‘hey here is the substitute, put on the VR headset and it’s like it is in the stadium’ because, in the end, it’s not really going to be the same.”

Dr. Fenton agrees, saying that while there is some experimentation with VR experiences, it tends to be more as an additional experience to the normal presentation.

“The technology is not quite here yet but it might be something where you have the next version of Google Glass where you have holograms in an augmented reality experience,” said Dr. Fenton. “But I don’t think the technology is quite there yet where you would be able to sell season tickets or individual tickets in a VR experience.”

Professor Miah agrees, though he points out, like the folks at Beyond Sports, it’s worth considering what the next generation of sports fans is going to want from their viewing experience in the process.

“The experience of being in a stadium is a multi-sensorial experience where your attention is able to wander in different directions. I think VR is an alternative experience certainly,” said Miah. “I think that one of the things we need to consider is not so much what today’s spectator enjoys or sees as their traditional game experience but, the kind of habits that are being developed by younger people who are the next generation of spectators. I think we can see that there is an expectation for their to be a digital offer around sports. Just going and watching isn’t enough. People feel they want to share and are involved to some extent.”

As with most real world problems, there is no one perfect solution. But, a combination of these technologies can give us an insight into what the future for fans may be.

“I’m of the belief that the highest fidelity visual representation, while great, isn’t necessarily what we’re trying to get at which is the feeling of the presence of someone else. I think the presence of another person isn’t as photorealistic as we think it is, it’s more in the energy, the sounds, the way they resonate with you there’s a lot of stuff going on,” said Brillhart. “There’s something there where audio as the general fan’s way of getting into things, the box seats as something more high tech. You could also leverage things like web VR or even on your phone incorporate different views. It’s going to be a play of a couple different technologies, but they have to be accessible and they have to be low barrier for entry.”

(*a previous version of this piece mistakenly identified Manchester United rather than Manchester City here. The issue has been corrected.)


NASCAR Champ Busch Supports Mandatory Masks For Admission

Kyle Busch says he supports wearing a mask in public so “we all can take care of our neighbor” amid the coronavirus pandemic, a rare instance of the two-time NASCAR champion wading into a social issue.

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 17: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota, waits on pit road prior to the NASCAR Cup Series The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 17, 2020 in Darlington, South Carolina. NASCAR resumes the season after the nationwide lockdown due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The reigning Cup champion rarely speaks on non-racing issues, but Busch entered the debate after images from short tracks over the weekend showed packed grandstands with little social distancing and few people wearing masks.

Busch retweeted a photo from South Alabama Speedway in Ozark, Alabama, and added his own message Sunday before the Coca-Cola 600. He applauded fans for supporting their local short tracks but suggested mandatory masks for admission for “healthier practices.”

The responses were mixed, not unexpected when it comes to the most polarizing driver in NASCAR. Busch is beloved by his “Rowdy Nation” base but loathed by others for his overwhelming success and confident, sometimes confrontational manner.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 25: Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 App State Class of 2020 Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

After winning the Xfinity Series race Monday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway — his 97th career victory in that series — Busch was asked why he stepped into the debate on mask usage.

“With where we’re at today, people are saying that masks don’t mean anything,” Busch said. “I still think there’s a sense of human hygiene and taking care of your neighbor. You go to a racetrack and you cough because you get water down the wrong pipe or whatever it might be, or if you sneeze or whatever, at least you are keeping some of that to yourself rather than just spraying, right?”

Busch added he doesn’t think masks can fully stop the spread of the coronavirus but believes they are useful when social distancing can’t be practiced. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 25: Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 App State Class of 2020 Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“I saw the grandstands packed and just figured, ‘Hey, you know, we all can take care of our neighbor,'” he said. “That’s just kind of my idea. It’s arguable whether or not they really work. I just think it’s common courtesy.”

Under the health plan NASCAR is using since resuming its season on May 17, masks are required for all personnel on track property. Spectators are currently not permitted and NASCAR does not expect that to change through Talladega on June 21, which is as far as the schedule has been revised to date.

Everyone permitted to attend a race is on a pre-approved list and must pass through a health screening area before they can enter the venue. Masks must be worn starting at the health screening area, and NASCAR has said anyone not following guidelines is subject to a $50,000 fine and removal from the property.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 25: Signage informing the public that the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be closed to fans and guests due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on May 25, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

There have been no flagrant violations, but fans did note that Busch and Chase Elliott were not wearing masks or socially distancing when Busch briefly consoled Elliott on pit road moments after Elliott had lost the 600. In that instance, both had just removed their helmets and climbed from their cars and neither had yet retrieved his mask.

Since NASCAR’s return, Busch has worn a variety of colorful masks that often pair with his firesuit. His mask Tuesday night at Charlotte had the Appalachian State logo as he honored the 2020 graduating class. The North Carolina college was also featured on his winning car.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 25: Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 App State Class of 2020 Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

On the track, Busch finally got to victory lane with the win in his fifth race since he returned from the 10-week shutdown. He entered all seven of the races NASCAR announced in its first revised schedule, a span that concludes Wednesday night with the fourth Cup race in 11 days.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Tom Gores And Pistons Begin Search For General Manager

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Pistons are beginning a search for a candidate who could became the team’s general manager, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

 

DETROIT, MI – JUNE 20: Dwane Casey (L) poses with Tom Gores (C) owner of the Detroit Pistons and Ed Stefanski (R) senior adviser at Little Caesars Arena on June 20, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the team had not announced its plans. Ed Stefanski, a senior advisor to owner Tom Gores, has been running basketball operations for the Pistons and will remain as the team’s top basketball executive. Detroit is moving toward adding a general manager to the front office as well.

The GM spot for the Pistons has been vacant since the team overhauled its front office two years ago. Stan Van Gundy had been the team’s coach and team president, with Jeff Bower serving as GM. After the Pistons moved on from Van Gundy in 2018, Stefanski took over the front office and Dwane Casey became the coach.

 

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 21: Alec Gores, Kelly Noonan Gores and Tom Gores attend Book Launch Party For Kelly Noonan Gores’ “Heal” at Spring Place on October 21, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

 

Detroit hired Malik Rose as an assistant general manager in 2018, but there has been no official GM.

The Pistons made the playoffs last season but were 20-46 in 2019-20 when the season was suspended because of the coronavirus.

 

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 


World TeamTennis Plans To Have Fans

If World TeamTennis gets its way, Grand Slam champions Sofia Kenin and Sloane Stephens could be among the first tennis players to compete in front of fans after the coronavirus pandemic prompted lockdowns around the globe.

DOHA, QATAR – FEBRUARY 23: Sofia Kenin of USA speaks to the media during Day 1 of the WTA Qatar Total Open 2020 at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex on February 23, 2020 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

WTT said Tuesday it is planning to allow up to 500 spectators at each of its outdoor matches during a three-week season from July 12 to Aug. 2 at a resort in West Virginia.

The league also announced an increase in total prize money to $5 million this year, $1.5 million more than for its 2019 season.

All tennis events sanctioned by the ATP, WTA, and International Tennis Federation are on hold until at least late July because of the COVID-19 outbreak. That includes the French Open, which was supposed to have started its 15-day main draw Sunday but was postponed until September, and Wimbledon, which was canceled outright for the first time in 75 years.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 20: Sloane Stephens of the United States plays a forehand during her Women’s Singles first round match against Shuai Zhang of China on day one of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 20, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

But WTT is not affiliated with those tours — no ATP or WTA ranking points are available for its matches — and does not need to abide by their decisions about when it is OK to compete.

Because of the pandemic, World TeamTennis is bringing all nine of its teams to one site — The Greenbriar in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia — instead of having matches played around the United States.

And unlike smaller exhibition tennis events around the world that have been staged without any fans present, WTT intends to sell tickets for about one-sixth of a 3,000-seat outdoor stadium.

EVERETT, WASHINGTON – FEBRUARY 07: Sofia Kenin of the United States plays a forehand against Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia during the 2020 Fed Cup qualifier between USA and Latvia at Angel of the Winds Arena on February 07, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

There also will be an indoor court set up in case it is needed; spectators will not be allowed to watch there.

WTT CEO Carlos Silva said in a recent interview he has been monitoring other sports events taking place to see how they handled health protocols, including UFC fights and NASCAR racing. Neither of those sports allowed spectators at their returns to action this month.

Among the players the WTT said will participate in its matches are Kenin, who won the Australian Open in January, before sanctioned tennis was suspended because of the virus in March; Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up; and twins Bob and Mike Bryan, who have won 16 Grand Slam titles in men’s doubles as a team.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Stay Home Stay Safe Has Spawned New Batch Of Guinness World Records

Usain Bolt ran the 100 meters in 9.58 seconds. Dr. Vikas Saini recently put on 10 socks in an official time of 9.23.

Both have the same title: world record holder.

 

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 14: Usain Bolt of Jamaica wins the Men’s 100m Final on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

 

From sock feats to fancy footwork using rolls of toilet paper, records are still being set even with many sports on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. Guinness World Records receives about 1,000 applications each month from would-be record breakers throughout North America. The company has long been known as the keeper of accomplishments ranging from the fascinating (longest fingernails) to the far-out ( most body piercings ) and of course the “give-it-a-whirl” possibilities (walking on hands, anyone?).

But their recent online challenges have been soaring in popularity with many sheltering at home. Wind up as the top leapfrogger, pyramid can-stacker or one-handed, crisscross LEGO builder and, if adjudicated, earn the label: “Guinness World Records title holder.”

 

 

379848 03: Robert Estrada and others maneuver a tortilla into place October 8, 2000 as they make an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest three-layered enchilada in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The enchilada measured about 10 feet in diameter and weighed more than 800 pounds. It took about three hours to make. They used 750 lbs of stone ground corn for the three tortillas, 175 gallons of vegetable oil, 75 gallons of red chile sauce, 175 pounds of grated cheese and 50 lbs of chopped onion. It needs to be reviewed by Guinness World Record before it can get registered as the worlds largest. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers)

 

“We’re inside, but we still want to be able to inspire creativity, lift people’s spirits and just continue to provide an outlet for people to learn about and explore world records,” records manager Chrissy Fernandez said.

The online challenges are designed to be performed with minimal equipment and in a way to adhere to stay-at-home mandates. There are also kid-friendly contests.

As for the book, who didn’t scroll through the pages growing up in search of records to possibly attempt? The Guinness database contains more than 50,000 unique marks. A sampling:

 

 

People dressed as Smurfs (‘Schtroumpfs’ in French), a Belgian comic franchise centered on a fictional colony of small, blue, human-like creatures who live in mushroom-shaped houses in the forest, attend a world record gathering of Smurfs on March 7, 2020, in Landerneau, western France. (Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP) (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images)

 

— The fastest hole of golf by an individual is listed at 1 minute, 29.62 seconds.

— The quickest time to run the 100-meter hurdles while wearing swim fins is 14.82 seconds for a male and 18.523 for a female.

— The most basketball bounces in one minute: 656 (using two basketballs).

The notion of collecting intriguing records was put in motion by Sir Hugh Beaver in the 1950s  when he was managing director of Guinness Brewery. As the story goes: He was attending a shooting party in Ireland when he and his companions began to squabble over Europe’s fastest game bird. There was no quick way to solve the dispute.

 

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA: Sri Lankan Gamini Wasantha Kumara, 39, lifts a 50-kilo bag of sugar with his teeth 10 August 1999 in an attempt to enter the Guinness book of World Records by lifting 50 bags, each weighing 50 kilos, at a railway warehouse in the capital Colombo. He earlier pulled a 200-tonne train with his teeth and hopes to enter the record books with his new feat. AFP PHOTO Sena VIDANAGAMA (AFP PHOTO) (Photo credit should read SENA VIDANAGAMA/AFP via Getty Images)

 

 

He asked twins Norris and Ross McWhirter, who were fact-finding researchers, to compile a record book featuring topics that would help solve bar debates.

The first volume was published in 1955 and by 1964 a million copies had been sold. Later, a TV series was added.

Guinness also features a Hall of Fame. Among the inductees was Robert Wadlow, the world’s tallest man who was measured at 8 feet, 11.1 inches (2.72 meters) in 1940. Another Hall of Famer is Lee Redmond, whose fingernails famously measured more than 28 feet (8.65 meters).

In a typical year, Guinness receives about 47,000 record inquiries from 178 countries. Of those, around 8,000 are approved.

 

 

The young farmer Aleksandar Tanic shows the hottest pepper in Serbia on December 3, 2019 that he produces in the southern Serbian town of Niska Banja. – December snow flurries in Serbia haven’t stopped Aleksandar Tanic from cultivating his red-hot crop: the crinkly chili peppers that are considered the spiciest on the planet. At the base of a mountain in southern Serbia, Tanic plucks a handful of red, yellow and orange peppers from rows of leafy vines inside a greenhouse whose roof is blanketed in a layer of snow. Among them is the chubby and gnarled Carolina Reaper, considered to be the hottest pepper in the world according to the Guinness World Records. (Photo by Vladimir Zivojinovic / AFP) (Photo by VLADIMIR ZIVOJINOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

 

David Rush of Boise, Idaho, recently became the record holder through the online challenge in the category of “fastest to put on 10 T-Shirts.” His winning time was 15.61 seconds. He practiced so much he bruised his wrist from knocking it against his head.

Rush is no stranger to world records. He already holds many marks, including most juggling catches on a unicycle while blindfolded (30), longest duration balancing a bicycle on his chin (6 minutes, 1.07 seconds) and most baseball bat spins in a minute (94).

“I loved watching the specials on TV and thumbing through the book occasionally,” said Rush, who’s a senior product manager at a technology company. “I was fascinated by it and would be like, ‘Hey, I wish I could do that.'”

Jed Hockin is renowned for his soccer skills and trick-shot artistry. Last month, he set a record by juggling a roll of toilet paper with his foot as part of an online challenge. This was his fourth Guinness record.

 

 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 21: GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® Adjudicator Philip Robertson inspects boxes before Xiaomi breaks the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title with 703 participants for Most People Unboxing Simultaneously at Oculus Plaza WTC on December 21, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/Getty Images for Xiaomi)

 

Next on his radar: Most soccer (football) touches in an hour. The mark stands at 11,901.

“I am looking to break heaps more Guinness World Records,” Hockin wrote in an email from Toowoomba, Australia.

Then there’s Saini, who proved lightning quick while putting on 10 different socks as he sat on the floor in his home in India. His strategy: Have fun with it.

“Amazing in the sense that it was not thought even in the dreams that on one fine morning I will be having such a prestigious title for exercising (a) tiny effort,” Saini wrote in an email.

His burst of speed with socks made him appreciate the quickness of Bolt all the more. The iconic sprinter from Jamaica lowered his 100 time to 9.58 at the 2009 world championships.

“We can’t imagine the all-out effort made by him,” Saini wrote.

 

 

A baker or chef prepares an approximatively 6.5-km long cake to break the Guinness World Record for the longest cake, in Thrissur in south Indian state of Kerala on January 15, 2020. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP) (Photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Guinness officials have noticed more record attempts from homes and gardens. They’ve received applications for records ranging from “most sticky notes stuck on the body in 30 seconds” to “tallest cotton plant” to “most jumping jacks in one minute.”

Fernandez is among the Guinness records managers tasked with authenticating world marks.

Last fall, she attended record attempts by the Harlem Globetrotters. The legendary exhibition basketball squad set six marks that day, including farthest behind-the-back shot and most bounced basketball figure-eight maneuvers blindfolded in one minute.

These days, records are corroborated online.

“We’re just adapting (record breaking) to this time,” Fernandez explained. “We want to keep people engaged and having fun because being inside can be a little boring.”

 

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Busch Passes Cindric In OT

Kyle Busch normally celebrates his victories by climbing on top of his race car and bowing to the crowd.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 25: Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 App State Class of 2020 Toyota, exits the car after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

But with no fans in attendance at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Monday night due to the coronavirus pandemic, Busch passed on the tradition after driving past Austin Cindric on the final lap of overtime to claim his 97th career Xfinity Series win.

“It kinda felt a little odd,” Busch said. “I guess I could have bowed to the camera.”

After a crash involving several cars sent the race into overtime, Cindric had a great restart in overtime and overtook Busch for the lead starting from the inside lane. But Busch battled back, driving by Cindric on the backstretch of the final lap and holding on to win 18th overall race at CMS.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 25: Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 App State Class of 2020 Toyota, leads Austin Cindric, driver of the #22 Snap-on Tools Ford, during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“I thought choosing the outside was the right way but obviously it wasn’t. I don’t know,” Busch said. “Those guys put up a whale of a fight tonight on restarts. I guess I’m not good at it anymore.”

Cindric thought he had Busch beat.

“To almost beat one of the best in the business on worse tires, I never lifted, I never lifted until I knew I was done,” Cindric said. “I wanted to win so bad.”

Busch has won 210 races overall across NASCAR’s top three series, the most of any driver.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 25: Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 App State Class of 2020 Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Daniel Hemric edged Cindric for second. Cindric finished third followed by Ross Chastain and Justin Allgaier.

Busch appeared in control for most of the race-winning the first two stages but was assessed a speeding penalty on pit row with 38 laps to go, dropping him to 10th place.

But Busch was far from done.

He battled back through the field with the help of a series of strong restarts on the six cautions over the final 45 laps.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 25: Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 App State Class of 2020 Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Busch recaptured the lead with 10 laps to go, but nearly gave it all away in overtime.

“I was surprised (Cindric) got as good of a launch as he did,” Busch said. “On that restart he passed me and I was like, ‘Oh man I don’t know if I can get back to him,” Busch said. But Cindric got a little loose between turns one and two and Busch was able to make a pass.

Busch drove a No. 54 Toyota sponsored by the Appalachian State University class of 2020.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 25: Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 App State Class of 2020 Toyota, speaks to the media after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“Hopefully this will lift your spirits, we won one for you,” Busch said to the App State students who didn’t get to have a traditional graduation ceremony due to the coronavirus.

Busch is in the midst of running all seven races in 11 days at Darlington and Charlotte since NASCAR returned to action after being sidelined for two months because of the coronavirus.

It was a tough night for Darlington winner Chase Briscoe, who finished 20th.

Briscoe, who was looking for his third Xfinity Series win of the season, drew penalties for an uncontrolled tire and speeding on pit road and then sustained damage to his car after hitting the wall with 45 laps to go when Timmy Hill’s engine blew up. Things went from bad to worse when he suffered damage to the right front of his car with 28 laps to go.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 25: Cars race during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Jeffrey Earnhardt pulled out of his pits too early and wound up turning a lap with a jack wedged under his car.

It was the second of four races in four days at the 1 1/2-mile track at Charlotte.

Brad Keselowski won the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night in overtime after a late caution flag cost Chase Elliott an almost certain victory. The Truck Series returns to the track for the first time in more than three months on Tuesday night, followed by another Cup race on Wednesday.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


CBS Sports To Highlight Unforgettable Sports Stories With New ’60 Minutes Sports: Timeless Stories’ Series

(CBS Local)- CBS Sports announced Tuesday that it is collaborating with CBS News on a new six-part series featuring some of the most unforgettable sports stories and interviews of the last 10 years.

The series, titled 60 Minutes Sports: Timeless Stories, will air each of the next three weekends on CBS beginning on Saturday, May 30 at 1:30 pm EST/PST.

Included in the six episodes are two classic interviews that originally aired on 60 Minutes. One features LeBron James in 2009 just prior to his rise to superstardom and the other is a sitdown with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees from just after the team’s Super Bowl XLIV win. In that interview Brees details how he helped the city recover post Hurricane Katrina.

The series is hosted by The NFL Today host James Brown and features three in-depth stories in each episode. Below is a list of episode descriptions and air dates. A preview of the series can be seen here:

CBS Sports looks back at unforgettable stories with 60 MINUTES SPORTS: TIMELESS STORIES.

18 stories from 60 Minutes Sports. 6 episodes.

Begins May 30 on CBS.https://t.co/1R1on3KEf4 pic.twitter.com/7poJPwWvkd

— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) May 26, 2020

EPISODE 1: Saturday, May 30 at 1:30 PM, ET 

Modern Gladiators

A look at the violent sport of “Florentine Football,” which combines soccer, rugby, football and bare-knuckle brawling. (Original air date: Dec. 1, 2015)

Revolution in Iran

Katayoun Khosrowyar or “Kat” is an American expat who, along with others, has grown and developed women’s soccer in Iran through activism and coaching its future stars. (Original air date: Dec. 6, 2016)

Hurling

The Irish game of hurling is a national past time that combines the skills of baseball, hockey, lacrosse and rugby in what some have termed a cross between “sport and murder.” (Original air date: Oct. 6, 2015)

EPISODE 2: Sunday, May 31 at 1:30 PM, ET

LeBron

A 24-year-old LeBron James, before he became a global icon for a generation of sports fans. (Original air date on 60 MINUTES: March 29, 2009; re-aired on 60 MINUTES SPORTS: July 3, 2013)

Sneakerheads

Professional athletes and tastemakers like Kevin Durant, CC Sabathia and Victor Cruz were key figures in driving the $20 billion industry and secondary market of sneakers to the forefront. (Original air date: June 3, 2015)

The Teacher

Morgan Wootten’s long and successful career as a high school basketball coach is revered in the sports community by the likes of Mike Krzyzewski, Red Auerbach and John Wooden. (Original air date: April 1, 2015)

EPISODE 3: Saturday, June 6 at 1:30 PM, ET

Alone on the Wall

Before he was the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary, Lara Logan interviews Alex Honnold, the freestyle solo climber as he prepares to scale a 1,600-foot rock wall. (Original air date on 60 MINUTES: Oct. 2, 2011; re-aired on 60 MINUTES SPORTS: Jan. 9, 2013)

The Ride of His Life

Legendary surfer Garrett McNamara takes Anderson Cooper into the waters off Portugal in search of the coveted 100-foot wave. (Original air date: March 6, 2013)

Birdmen

Extreme athletes don wing-suits, jump off mountaintops and fly down at roughly 140 miles-per-hour. (Original air date on 60 MINUTES: Oct. 11, 2009; re-aired on 60 MINUTES SPORTS: June 5, 2013)

EPISODE 4: Sunday, June 7 at 1:30 PM, E

The Most Dangerous Eight Seconds

The popular Professional Bull Riding Tour is home to the most thrilling and dangerous eight seconds you’ll ever see, as its riders attempt to hold onto a bucking 2,000-pound bull. (Original air date: Feb. 3, 2015)

Boys of Summer

The Cape Cod Baseball League is the summer home to some of the best college baseball players and draws the attention of Major League Baseball’s top scouts. (Original air date: May 6, 2015)

Harry

Harvard Crew Coach Harry Parker reflects on his 51-season career while preparing a group of rowers and fighting his last race: against cancer. (Original air date: Sept. 4, 2013)

EPISODE 5: Saturday, June 13 at 1:30 PM, ET

Cool Brees

A classic interview with Drew Brees following the Saints’ win in Super Bowl XLIV and how the rising superstar helped the city of New Orleans recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. (Original air date on 60 MINUTES: Sept. 26, 2010)

Michigan’s Secret Weapon

Superstar quarterback Tom Brady, Heisman winner Desmond Howard and some of the University of Michigan’s biggest athletes credit a behind-the-scenes counselor named Greg Harden for their success. (Original air date: March 5, 2014)

The Nomads

The untold story of a remarkable group of African-American men barred from all-white country clubs and public courses in the 1950s creates a social club still inspiring generations of golfers. (Original air date: March 7, 2017)

EPISODE 6: Sunday, June 14 at 2:00 PM, ET

Darts Wonderland

Enter the world of professional darts where matches broadcast in over 100 countries. (Original air date: May 1, 2013

Baseball Island

James Brown investigates how the tiny Dutch Territory of Curacao – home of Andruw Jones and Didi Gregorius – has become a hotbed farm system for Major League Baseball talent. (Original air date: Oct. 6, 2015)

Pete Dye

Meet the man whose golf course designs have drawn the attention of the PGA TOUR, the man whose name is synonymous with difficult: the legendary Pete Dye. (Original air date: April 3, 2013)


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