Archive for category Sports

Ed Pompa Goes #ALLIN With Clemson Car In Bama At Talladega Superspeedway

By Hunter Thomas

Fast Track Racing’s Ed Pompa will feature the Clemson Tigers on his No. 10 Chevrolet this weekend in Crimson Tide Country at Talladega Superspeedway during the ARCA Racing Series General Tire 200 on Friday.

Back in January, the Clemson University football team defeated the University of Alabama, 35-31 in the College Football Playoff National Championship. The football title was Clemson’s first since 1981. On Friday, Pompa’s race car will be wrapped in bright orange and purple as he hits the track for the second time this season.

“Before the season started, I decided to wrap the superspeedway car in Clemson colors for Daytona and Talladega,” Pompa said. “ASM Graphics did an amazing job of designing and installing the ‘Clemson’ wrap. My son Jeff graduated from Clemson in 2012, so they received a bunch of my racing funds as tuition. I had a plan to auction off the hood from the Daytona car for charity. Now, the plan is to auction off the hood from the Daytona car and the Talladega car. Andy Hillenburg (Fast Track Racing team owner) has agreed to donate the Daytona hood to the Clemson Foundation, and the Talladega hood to The Double H Ranch. There are huge details related to these auctions being finalized, which I hope to be able to announce by race day.

“I’m sure the purple and orange car will bring out some animated response from the Alabama race fans, but it’s all in good fun. Might need a police escort to get out of the track!” Read the rest of this entry »

This one’s ‘Four’ the fans

Senior guard Justin McKie holds up the East Regional Champions trophy
after South Carolina’s win over Florida. McKie scored three points in 13 minutes against the Gators.

By Micaela Wendell, Joe Crevier and Collyn Taylor
Carolina Reporter

“Fi-nal Four! Fi-nal Four!” The chants by deliriously happy South Carolina fans rose higher and higher Sunday as the men’s basketball team arrived home after its historic Elite Eight win over the Florida Gators.

Gamecock fans young and old showed up to welcome the players home. Festive flags and costumes dotted the buzzing pool of garnet and black as revelers awaited the team’s scheduled 10 p.m.

Senior business student Josh Birkbeck said watching his Gamecocks advance to the Final Four was a dream come true and he’s glad he stayed in Columbia to enjoy the victory with his fellow students.

arrival outside of the Colonial Life Arena.

The welcome party capped a day of exuberant celebrations of ecstatic USC students jumping into the Thomas Cooper Library fountain and storming the streets of Five Points following the 77-70 victory. Images of the celebration flooded social media.

Murphy Cook, a fourth-year experimental psychology student, didn’t think she would experience a party of such epic proportions while at USC.

“When I came for freshman orientation, they were saying when things get exciting people jump in the fountain, and I was like, ‘Well, that’s never going to happen while I’m here,’” she said. “And it did.”

Cook brought her dog, Bogey, to Colonial Life Arena and dressed him in his own Gamecock gear to share the school spirit and excitement.

“This is the best thing that’s happened since I’ve been here,” she said.

Columbia fans of all ages gathered outside Colonial Life Arena Sunday night to welcome home the Gamecocks and head coach Frank Martin fresh off their Elite 8 victory in New York City Sunday afternoon.

Josh Birkbeck watched the fateful game in Five Points and saw firsthand just how cocky fans got in their post-game celebrations.

“There were people taking running jumps into the fountain, and I saw two dudes walking down the street with a couch to burn,” he said. “Our recliner is definitely going up in flames when we win on Saturday.”

The commotion outside Colonial Life Arena drew families, students and more to try to catch a glimpse of the team. While much of the crowd squeezed itself into the courtyard by the glass doors for a front-row view, other fans climbed onto low walls and took turns sitting on shoulders.

USC student Matthew Weathersby left his job at a local wing bar to watch the Gamecocks return. He dressed as a chicken because he was “just fillin’ in for Cocky.”

Phones popped up from the tight crowd like periscopes to capture precious live stream moments and Snapchats. Those who arrived a little later found spots on the Discovery parking garage, and a few drones captured a sky view of the excitement.

Matthew Weathersby had his own bird’s-eye view from the ground, as he showed up dressed as a chicken with a Final Four sign in hand. His manager at a local wing bar let him leave work early for the win.

“I’m just fillin’ in for Cocky until he gets back from New York,” the 20-year-old transfer student said. “I don’t plan to steal his position!”

As the clock passed 10 p.m., USC President Harris Pastides took the podium to keep the crowd’s energy high. But once it hit 11 p.m. with no sign of the team, people started to leave. The cheers became less frequent, and open pockets formed in the once-impenetrable crowd.

Ten minutes later, cheers erupted from the front doors of Colonial Life Arena, and a stampede of fans from the outskirts of the crowd rushed in to finally see the team. After Pastides and athletic director Ray Tanner spoke, men’s basketball coach Frank Martin finally addressed the fans.

“How ‘bout them Gamecocks?” Martin asked. Fans cheered, screamed and tossed spurs as high as they could reach. “I can’t tell you how exciting it is to come home and see you great fans. Thank you so much … I couldn’t be prouder of this group.”

Senior guard Duane Notice also expressed his gratitude for the fans.

“Through our ups and downs, you’ve been here for a long time,” he said. “We play for you guys.”

Senior guard Duane Notice only scored six points in 38 minutes of play against Florida, but delivered the game-clinching dunk with 11 seconds left. Notice told the Gamecocks fans “We play for you guys.”

Scott Newman had been waiting decades for this milestone in the program. He watched the game against the Gators at his brother’s house, and the win was an emotional one for them both.

“We’re longtime Gamecock fans. I saw John Roche play right over there,” Newman said, referencing the NBA player’s time at the Carolina Coliseum in the 1960s and 1970s. “I never thought we’d get to the Final Four. This is special.”

Newman admitted that while the older fans were a bit outnumbered by the younger ones, it was still a time no Gamecock men’s basketball fan will forget anytime soon.

“This is magical. These guys are having the best days of their lives. This is great,” he said.

Drummer Pete McMahon brought his cowbell to the rally and began a “Go Gamecocks” chant while the crowd awaited the team’s arrival.

After the event — which included numerous chants to cancel class the next day — some students were ready to head down to Five Points to keep the celebrations going. But for many of those who had been partying all day for the Gamecocks, it was time to head home.

“It’s been a long day,” said Kristina Johnson, a 21-year-old nursing student.

Other Gamecocks were already making plans for Saturday’s game in Phoenix, Arizona, against Gonzaga.

“I bet tickets are gonna be like $400,” Adam Coulter, a fourth-year business student, said. “But my parents said they’d hook me up because the Gamecocks in the Final Four is once-in-a-lifetime chance.”

Bodybuilding: More than steroids and protein powder

Marina Hoffmann, trainer at MÜV Fitness in Forest Acres and bodybuilder, said one of her favorite workouts is rear cable delt flies, which tones the back and triceps.

Former solider, now bodybuilder Matthew Headdon said an exercise as simple as pullups is essential for core strength, as well as upper body strength.

Marina Hoffmann is currently training for a bodybuilding competition, which consists of a three-day cycle of back, legs and shoulders.

By Joseph Crevier

Bodybuilding dates back to the days of the Greek philosopher Socrates, when strength and physique were viewed as almost godlike features.

It’s no coincidence statues of Greek Gods like Zeus and Poseidon are so sculpted – strength equaled power.

But that doesn’t hold true today. Bodybuilding has become a niche sport that often gets a bad rap from outsiders who don’t understand it.

“If your network or family around you don’t understand, it could be a lonely world because as you get closer to the show, every minute of your day is calculated,” said former USC football player and bodybuilder Rob Kean.

Bodybuilding is a lifestyle. It’s not easy. People do it for all sorts of reasons. For Kean, the competitive nature that he developed in his college football days  pushed him toward bodybuilding.

Pete DeAnda ventured into bodybuilding for a different reason.

“I think because I was a chubby kid, it made me self-conscious, so I started training and got interested in how nutrition and weight training can change your body drastically,” said DeAnda, CEO of Nutrition Zone supplement stores in New Jersey.

Whatever one’s reasoning is for bodybuilding, the sport boils down to two main factors: diet and training.

Bulking and cutting

If you ask any bodybuilder, they’ll tell you that lifting isn’t the hardest part, it’s the dieting. A bodybuilder’s diet is extremely structured and varies depending on his or her goals.

An active participant in bodybuilding competitions has a bulking season and a cutting season. While bulking, a male bodybuilder could consume as many as six or seven thousand calories per day, depending on their body type.

Kean, who has a ectomorph body type, struggles to put on muscle mass and maintain his weight.

“Somebody with my body type, if you really want to get big, you probably want to do a tour of drive-thru windows,” he said.

This is called a dirty bulk, meaning the source of calories comes from foods high in fats and calories like a fast food burger and fries. Those with an endomorph or mesomorph body type lean toward a clean bulk with one or two cheat days per week. A clean bulk is utilized to avoid bloating and swelling throughout the body.

An ectomorph typically has smaller joints and is naturally thin and lanky. Kean said there’s probably less than 20 true ectomorphs in the sport of bodybuilding on a national level today, as the sport is best suited for endomorphs and higher-end mesomorphs who are naturally built bigger.

When a competition is approaching, though, bodybuilders begin to cut fat and calories about 16 weeks out, although that time period varies by the individual. During this period, caloric intake decreases, while the bodybuilder still eats around seven meals per day.

Matthew Headdon, a trainer at MUV Fitness in Forest Acres, who has participated in competitions, said he would eat a meal consisting of chicken, shrimp, rice and zucchini in the beginning stages of a cutting period, slowly cycling out the carbohydrates as the weeks progressed. Headdon said as the competition approached, his carbohydrate intake would dip to below 50 grams per day, causing the muscles to flatten as water is pumped out.

“It’s all about the food; it’s everybody’s weakness,” Headdon said.

For women, dieting is even more important during this stage. Women burn fat more slowly than men, so their diet must be even stricter. MUV Fitness trainer Marina Hoffmann is weeks away from a competition and has already begun cutting out carbohydrates and fats completely.

Hoffmann relies on five cups of coffee per day and energy drinks during this period, as carbohydrates and fats are the bodies normal source of energy. This is an agonizing time for bodybuilders, summing up their emotions during it as ‘hangry,” a combination of hunger and anger.

Alcohol is also off limits for a bodybuilder looking to put on muscle, according to Headdon.

“Alcohol is estrogenic, it drops your testosterone and it also stops protein synthesis, so all that protein you’re taking in isn’t doing anything,” Headdon said.

This type of dieting is not the healthiest, but it’s not really intended to be.

“Jay Cutler will tell you ‘bodybuilding is not about health,’ it’s about aesthetics,” Headdon said.

Cutler is perhaps the most renowned modern-day bodybuilder, winning the Mr. Olympia title four times in five years.

Training…

What’s bodybuilding without the training?

Like the diet aspect, training contains two main categories: cardio and weight training. The emphasis on these two aspects vary based on the individual’s body type and what point they’re at in the process.

Kean dispelled the stereotype that bodybuilders spend hours every day lifting weights. In fact, it’s the opposite. Kean said he spends about 45 minutes to an hour in the gym each day actually lifting weights.

“I try to get the craziest pump I possibly can,” he said. “The magic’s happening when you’re at home laying on the couch.”

Blood is pumped into the muscles when training, bringing the nutrients from any food and supplements along with it, which are then absorbed when the workout is completed. Kean finds that less rest between sets leads to a better pump, resulting in a short, high-intensity workout.

A workout popular in the weightlifting community is the five-by-five. This means five sets of five reps at a heavy weight. This technique is utilized mostly during bulking season because it adds strength fast and is most useful with core exercises like deadlifts, squats and bench presses.

These exercises also “fry fat” because of their intensity, according to Headdon, and are vital for male bodybuilders, as they boost testosterone levels. Headdon cut off 5.5 percent body fat in five weeks without cardio, simply by mixing these exercises into his daily routines.

It’s not as simple for female bodybuilders, however.

“The females that do true bodybuilding have to work that much harder,” Headdon said. “Female bodybuilding is pretty freakin’ rad because their bodies don’t want to hold muscle.”

And Hoffmann confirmed that point. She said her daily routine consists of a morning hour of cardio, followed by a training session, then another hour of cardio at night.

The heaviest lifting for a bodybuilder is during the bulking stage, while cardio and reps are increased during the cutting period.

Of course, every bodybuilder is different and their routine will vary. But the one constant in bodybuilding is the process. Bodybuilders say they dedicate their lives to their craft and push their physical and mental limits every single day.

“It’s definitely not a bottle of steroids and a couple workouts, there’s so much more to it,” Kean said.

And for those who challenge that opinion, Kean has one answer, “come join me for a couple days.”

Brad Keselowski Takes Advantage Of Harvick’s Mishap To Win At Atlanta

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

HAMPTON, Ga. – In a race that was dominated by Kevin Harvick, Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski was able to overcome adversity to win the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

A costly speeding penalty on pit road with just 14 laps to go cost Harvick the race. The driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford led a race high of 292 laps, and he also won the first two stages, but when the final caution of the afternoon came due to Austin Dillon stalling on the track, Harvick was forced to surrender the lead to Kyle Larson and restart at the tail end of the field.

“I was going too fast on pit road apparently,” said Harvick after the race. “I really hate it for everybody on this Jimmy John’s Ford. They put a great car under me, and we did everything that I thought we needed to do. I knew that I needed to be close to pit road speed because we were having trouble getting out of the box, but I didn’t think that I was pushing it that close, but it gets to bouncing there, and you can’t really tell where you’re at, and that’s why there are so many pit road speeding penalties here because you have to run it so close, and I was too fast.”

Kyle Larson was scored the leader on the restart with 11 laps to go, but with just six laps remaining, he was passed by Keselowski in the No. 2 Autotrader Ford. Larson kept Keselowski in sight, but he was unable to get back around him. Keselowski went on to win his first race of the season while claiming the second victory for Ford Performance in 2017.

“Well, you know, wins are always special, but early in the season they’re really good,” Keselowski said. “You just can’t take any wins for granted. I know I don’t. I always feel like before a race, you obviously always want to win, and you always wonder yourself when your last win is going to be, and I’m not anywhere near retirement age, but you still think about those things and you think about how tough it just is to win at this level and how lucky you are to have a team to win.”

Although Keselowski flew by Larson in the closing laps to win, he had struggles of his own throughout the 325-lap race. In Stage 2, Keselowski had two unscheduled pit stops. The first stop was for a tire issue during green flag conditions, and the second was due to a loose lug nuts following a pit stop.

Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Keselowski’s team said, “Yeah, well, it was definitely a long day, and we had our fair share of issues and adversity we had to overcome with the tire trouble there mid‑part of the race with the right front coming apart, and then we had to come back down at one point for some lug nuts on the left rear. But Brad just drove a smart race.

“I mean, it’s all about managing your tires and taking care of your car. It’s such a long race here, and it’s easy to get down when we have issues like we did, but he stayed focused all day and was able to get us back in position there at the end, and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) was definitely strong, but we felt like we weren’t far behind, and when he had his issue there at the end, we were able to capitalize on it.”

Larson was trying to capture his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, and he was just six laps from doing so, but Keselowski just had the faster car. In the closing laps, Larson moved to the high side of the track to try and find more speed, but his Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Target Chevrolet couldn’t find enough grip to hold on for the win.

“Yeah, I mean, I can make the high line work at most tracks,” Larson said. “Here at Atlanta, I don’t do a good enough job up top. That’s why I try to commit myself to the bottom throughout the race. There when I restarted the leader after our Christmas present we got there, and Brad lined up behind me, I knew he was going to be the one to beat. The solid runner-up finish marks Larson’s second top-10 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He finished eighth back in 2014.

“I’d spent a lot of time around him throughout the race, especially on the short runs he was better than I was, and he would always pass me in (Turns) 1 and 2. I knew I was going to have to try and take his line away. I tried a few times, and he finally kind of guessed where I was going right one lap and got to my inside.”

Despite being caught speeding on pit road on lap 36 and 89, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth was able to recover for an impressive third-place finish. The driver of the No. 20 DeWalt Flexvolt Toyota now has 17 career top-10 finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“Yeah, it was a good comeback,” Kenseth said. “It was an uphill battle all day. For some reason, our speed was off on pit road and we got two penalties there that put us behind and just the cautions fell and everything and it took all day to get our laps and get back in position, so everything kind of when our way at the end, except for that outside restart hurt us, but we had a good car and glad we got a decent result.”

Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five. On lap 212, Elliott was caught speeding on pit road, so a top-five finish was quite a comeback for the driver of the No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet. Atlanta Motor Speedway is Elliott’s home track. He grew up in Dawsonville, Georgia that is about two hours away from Atlanta Motor Speedway by car.

“Our car was really good,” Elliott said. “I don’t think Kevin’s (Harvick) car was any better than ours. I think he was just doing a little better job driving than I was and being consistent and doing a good job around the bottom and conserving his tires and still running fast. Something for me to try to improve on coming back. I think we made a big step into being able to keep up with him. We just need a little more.”

Rounding out the top-10 on Sunday was Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr. Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray.

Throughout the afternoon, there were only six cautions and none of them were for multi-car accidents. The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 saw nine lead changes among five drivers.

With a ninth-place finish, Harvick now leads his teammate, Kurt Busch by four points in the standings. Keselowski’s win catapults him to third, just six points back from the lead. Elliott is fourth, eight points back and Logano rounds out the top-five, 10 points behind Harvick.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will head to the West Coast for the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 12. Live coverage of the third race of the season will broadcast on FOX at 3:30 p.m. ET.

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

Gary Ledbetter Jr. Wins Back-To-Back MASS Races At Dillon Motor Speedway

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

DILLON, S.C. – Gary Ledbetter Jr. led all but four laps on Saturday to capture his second Mid Atlantic Street Stock (MASS) win of the season at Dillon Motor Speedway.

Ledbetter Jr. started on the pole for the 75-lap race, and he led until the midway break on lap 40. When the field went back to green to start the second half of the race, Ledbetter didn’t get going on the restart, and Sonny Schoffen, who had been running second all afternoon was able to move into the top spot; however, the caution immediately came out after John Guker spun in Turn 1.

Schoffen was once again able to get out in front of the field when the race went back to green. Ledbetter Jr. ran down Schoffen and passed him for the lead on lap 45. Ledbetter Jr. never looked back as he captured the trophy and the $1,000 purse. He won MASS’ first race of the season, the New Year’s BASH back in January, and on Saturday, he won the second series event of the 2017 season.

Ricky Locklair Jr. blew an engine on Saturday prior to the race, but his team was able to install a new engine before the green flag flew. Locklair Jr. started from the rear of the field, but he was able to battle back for an impressive third-place finish.

Wayne Locklair and Curtis Peeples finished fourth and fifth. Danny Brewer, AJ Hyatt, Ron Flynn, Chuck Isom and John Guker rounded out the top-10.

The March BASH only saw two other cautions aside from the halfway mark and Guker’s spin following the break.

On lap 57, Danny Brewer brought out the caution, when he stalled in Turn 3. Brewer’s throttle hung, and he had to shut the car off.

The final caution of the race came out two laps later, when Ricky Locklair Sr. hit the wall and stalled on the frontstretch. Locklair Sr. retired from the event and finished 12th.

Greg Peterson dominated to win the $600-to win Charger/Challenger feature. Finishing second was Matt Rogers. JR Moore completed the top-three.

Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com | Greg Peterson and crew celebrate after winning the Charger/Challenger feature at Dillon Motor Speedway.

AJ Sanders won the Pro Cylinder feature on Saturday. He took home the trophy and the $600 purse. Kris Hetu finished second, followed by Brandon Clements. Austin Cates and Barry Wilson rounded out the top-five.

The Banger FWD feature kept the fans on their feet as Kris Hetu and Ryan Walsh battled hard throughout the feature. Hetu edged Walsh in an epic photo finish; however, the two drivers were just racing for fun. According to Dillon Motor Speedway rules, drivers who race in higher divisions can’t be scored during a Banger FWD race. As a result, Roy Marley who was right behind Hetu and Walsh was declared the winner. Robert Koons, Tony Parker, Tracy Schoffen and Glenn Peterson completed the top-five.

Dillon Motor Speedway will host the Chilling and Grilling Open House on Saturday, March 11. The free event will feature food, a swap meet, race car rides for the kids, jump castles and an open practice session for competitors.

The speedway’s next race will be held on Saturday, March 18, when the Vintage Car Nationals and the Carolina Eastern Mini Cup Association (CEMCA) visit the track. Drivers from Canada and Florida are expected to make the trip to compete.

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

MASS Street Stock National $1000 To Win

  1. Gary Ledbetter, Jr. 48
  2. Sonny Schoffen 75
  3. Ricky Locklair, Jr. 12
  4. Wayne Locklair 56
  5. Curtis Peeples 42
  6. Danny Brewer 4
  7. AJ Hyatt 27
  8. Ron Flynn 66
  9. Chuck Isom 12
  10. John Guker 56
  11. Kevin Ellis 33
  12. Ricky Locklair 50
  13. Kyle Lynch 16
  14. Jeff Melton 6
  15. Greg Barnette 8
  16. James Horner 21

Pro 4 Cylinders $600 To Win

  1. AJ Sanders 24
  2. Kris Hetu 01
  3. Brandon Clements 53
  4. Austin Cates 44
  5. Barry Wilson 7
  6. Phillip Duffy 27w

Chargers/ Challengers $600 To Win

  1. Greg Peterson 22
  2. Matt Rogers 13
  3. JR Moore 23
  4. Michael Contarino 18

Bangers FWD

  1. Roy Marley 7
  2. Robert Koons 22
  3. Tony Parker 11
  4. Tracy Schoffen 75
  5. Glenn Peterson 17
  6. 70
  7. Grayson Carroll 44
  8. Santana Davis 5
  9. Matt Carter 00
  10. John Hladik 13
  11. Kris Hetu 01
  12. Ryan Walsh 87

Gamecock softball excited for potential deep postseason run

By Collyn Taylor
Carolina Reporter

Courtesy South Carolina Media Relations | Head coach Beverly Smith coaches her team pregame. In her seventh season at South Carolina, she says this is the best team she’s had.

The South Carolina softball team is tired of traveling to Tallahassee, Florida.

The Gamecocks have made the postseason four-straight seasons, and three of those years they were shipped down Interstate 95 to play in a four-team regional hosted by Florida State. Both years, they didn’t make it out of the regional.

“People have asked me if I’ve bought any property there yet,” head coach Beverly Smith said, laughing. “But we scheduled Florida State here on our bye weekend, so they have to come here for a change.”

The Gamecocks are trying to avoid hitting the road for regionals, trying to stay home for the first round of the NCAA Tournament and host three other teams with the winner of the regional advancing to the Super Regional round.

Smith, who’s coaching her seventh season in Columbia, has never hosted a regional in four postseason appearances. She hopes that changes this year.

“The way that I’ve put our schedule together, that’s my intention,” she said. “If we have the kind of season I think we can, I think I’ve put us in a position where we could potentially host. That’s certainly our goal to have the postseason here in front of the Gamecock fans and at our home field.”

The Gamecocks haven’t advanced to the Super Regionals since 2007, the same year they last held a regional at home.

Courtesy South Carolina Media Relations | Nickie Blue delivers a pitch during a game. The senior pitcher said her goal in her final season at South Carolina is to take her team to the next level, which could include hosting a regional.

“Hosting regionals would be a huge advantage for us,” senior pitcher Nickie Blue said. “Home-field advantage is something you can’t deny, so being able to host a regional and the first round of the NCAA Tournament would be a huge boost for our team.”

The regionals for NCAA softball start May 19.

And through the first 16 games of the season, the Gamecocks are putting themselves in a good position to be one of the 16 teams playing at home during the opening weekend of the tournament.

They are 14-2 and are ranked No. 32 in the USA Today poll and No. 33 by ESPN.com. They’ve also won 14 of their first 16 for back-to-back seasons.

“This is definitely the best team I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Smith said. “We keep moving up on the chart, but it’s the way they put in the work and the culture they’ve created here. I think a lot of those things have led to our success on the field.”

It’s a far cry from the program Smith inherited when she took over and went 26-30 in her first season. She has increased her win total every year at South Carolina except for last season, when she won 38 games, the same amount she did in 2015.

The steady rise has been in part because of Blue and senior infielder Kaylea Snaer, who both arrived in the same year with the mindset of changing the mentality of the program.

Blue led the SEC in saves her freshman year and leads the team this year with seven wins. She also has a team-best 1.28 ERA. Snaer has started all 16 games this season, and she’s second among starters with a .533 slugging percentage.

“They’ve really shouldered a lot of the load through their career; that’s why we recruited them to be there,” Smith said. “They were both recruited under the pretense of changing the

program.”

The Gamecocks travel to California this weekend for the Judi Garman Classic and will play Northwestern, Indiana, No. 20 Arizona State, No. 7 UCLA and Long Beach State.

Graphic by Jeffrey Griffin | The Gamecocks will travel this weekend to the Judi Garman Classic, which hosts teams from around the country.

Six players on the team will return home to California, which delights the coach. Blue, a Colorado-native, will get to spend time with her family, who is driving from the Denver area.

“It’ll be nice to literally see them (her teammates) in (Fullerton) and how comfortable they are,” Blue said. “The thing I think I’ll like the most is seeing them relax at their home and then turning on their competitiveness to win the games we do have.”

They’ll return from the trip west and delve straight into conference play, traveling to Tennessee the following weekend. They will have to battle Florida and Alabama, two softball powerhouses that have won national titles in the past five years.

Smith said her team has a good mentality heading into a tough conference slate, especially against those two teams, and knows her team is talented enough to compete against the Gators and Tide and could play well enough to host a regional.

“Every single year that I’ve been here I felt like we could compete with those teams, but I think this year we truly believe it,” Blue said. “I think it’s in our mentality that we are in the SEC, you know?”

So you want to run a marathon: Training and fueling your body

There is a wide veriety of running shoes that cater to the many foot types, from the stable runner to the flat-footed runner.

By Parks Beson
Carolina Reporter

So you want to run a marathon.

Many people do and many people begin with no knowledge of how to train for the 26.2-mile trek. Every elite runner has been there. Dr. Ward Katsanis remembers when he was a novice on the marathon scene.

“Although it was my first marathon I adhered to the slow steady increase in mileage to avoid injury,” Katsanis said. The challenge was learning to hydrate and eat throughout.”

For the 53-year-old doctor, husband and father, the training began in 1993 when he was just 29 years old.

“The one thing I regret not knowing before that first race was to use more Vaseline and to put Band-Aids on my nipples. Boy, that hurts.”

Mind games

Between his demanding works as a gynecologic oncologist in Charleston, Katsanis still finds time to run each day. Marathon training, along with any run, starts with making time to run and just doing it, he said.

It is tough to remember every race after all those years, but Katsanis calculates that he has run 15 marathons over the two decades. in total. Each of them, he said, proved to be a mental challenge.

Cloudy days and cool temperatures are best for elite runners.

Along the 26.2 mile route during his first marathon, Katsanis had trouble and doubts around the 16th mile.

“Around the 16th and 17th mile is where I start to struggle a little bit and where I start to battle against my mind,” Katsanis said. “My mind is telling me to stop but I got to keep pressing on. After mile 18, I start counting down the miles in my head. I’ve never run a marathon that didn’t have me going against my mind.”

For him, Katsanis said that the marathon starts months before the first mile, with intensive.

“A lot of training and conditioning goes into marathons,” Katsanis said.  Twenty-minute runs turn into runs that can last three to four hours, starting early in the morning at 5:30 am.

All of these runs are not the same, according to Katsanis, with varying speed and difficulty. Katsanis says that there are three kinds of runs that should be touched on during training, building up to running close to the mileage that is the marathon.

“So you got three runs during your training period. You got your short runs, fartliks, and long runs,” he said. “Short runs, meaning running a little under your maximum miles for the week, a long run, usually one day where you run the maximum amount of miles for a run that week. A fartlik, f-a-r-t-l-i-k, is a run where you try to get faster for every mile that you run for that day.”

All this training for a four-hour run and a beer at the end. But Katsanis loves the feeling of crossing the finish line.

“It is a great accomplishment, the sense of achievement is huge,” said Katsanis. “Friends and family have supported you and helped you train, but at the end of the day, no one ran the race but you.”

A fit sole and healthy food

Grant Gibbs, a 20-year-old from the University of South Carolina, trains for his half marathon at 7 a.m.

Grant Gibbs, junior public relations major at the University of South Carolina, began his running career in high school. There he ran with his cross-country team and ran a half marathon coming out of high school.

Even though he hasn’t ran in the granddaddy of races, Gibbs that his training is similar to that of the marathon runner.

“Training for a half marathon is similar in the sense that you have to be physically and mentally in shape. You have to watch what you eat and eat a lot of it, because of the amount of calories that you are burning,” he said. “As long as you can push yourself over 10 miles regularly, you can run a half marathon.

 

A half marathon is 13.1 miles, because it is – you guessed it – half a marathon. Usually, a runner will attempt to run a half marathon before he or she tackles the full 26 miles.

A look at Gibbs’ training schedule

Running every day with the team took a toll on his sole – his shoe’s sole to be exact. Gibbs says that one of the most important aspects to training is finding the right kind of shoe for your feet. Gibbs says, for him, it is more about comfort and features than style and cost for him.

“I just got my shoes off of Amazon but it is very significant that you find shoes that are adaptable to your feet, Gibbs said. “People often try to buy the most expensive running shoes with a lot of support, but actually the better running shoes are the ones with less support and additional features because they allow you to run more naturally. You run best when your feet are in a more natural state.”

While mind and external body are important factors in the journey for the hardware at the end of the marathon, the internal body should be taken care of too.

Matt Bernthal, a University of South Carolina sports and management professor, knows about the importance of dieting and eating healthy.

“I don’t eat junk food, by any means. If I snack, it’s usually fruit or a Cliff bar,” Bernthal said. “What you eat right after you run is very important. Whatever I eat right after needs to be flushed to a four to one, carb to protein ratio. Egg sandwich on wheat toast or peanut butter on toast with a one percent chocolate milk is a good snack.”

 

Bernthal says that between dieting and training, running has become a lifestyle, with his family supporting and encouraging him along the way.

Columbia’s Riverfront Park is a popular paved 5-mile path along the Congaree River. It is used by walkers and joggers to train for big runs.

“My life hasn’t really changed because I already eat healthy and try to stay in shape,” Bernthal said. We try not to eat too much junk food and my family has always been active. They are fine with all the running that I do.”

This lifestyle is not one to be taken lightly, Bernthal said. At times, the time and effort that he puts into a marathon has made him feel like he does not have a life. This makes the decision of what distance to run a lot easier.

“The line when debating whether to train for a half marathon or a marathon is that you can train for a half marathon and still have a life,” Bernthal said. “If you are training for a marathon, there is a lot more time commitment involved and you are doing a lot more to your body.”

Both the half marathon and marathon take time and effort for the runners and the people supporting them.

Diet and exercise is very important as well as being in a healthy mental state throughout the training. It is a long journey and a big goal to achieve, taking a combination of body, soul, and mind.

But the end result is one that Katsanis can sum up easily.

“Either you did or you didn’t, and I did.”

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson / Photos Included, Courtesy, SCPA

Spartanburg Day’s Williamson Building Legacy

By Jacob Wilson

Record setting junior Zion Williamson and the Spartanburg Day School Griffins are in the hunt for a second consecutive South Carolina Independent School Association State Championship. 
Williamson, who needed just 34 points to grab the South Carolina High School single season scoring record, scored 38 points against Northside Christian Academy (Lexington, SC) at Sumter Civic Center in the South Carolina Independent School Association State Tournament last Saturday to set a new state high school record for scoring. 
The Griffins square off against Pee Dee in the second round of the Class 2A SCISA Tournament at Sumter Civic Center. With a victory, Spartanburg Day advances to a third round matchup on Thursday.
If the Griffins can collect a victory on Thursday, they will compete for the SCISA championship on Saturday at the Sumter Civic Center. Williamson led Spartanburg-Day to an 80-57 victory over Bethesda-Academy in last year’s title game. 
Williamson is looking to add another trophy to his long list of accomplishments. The junior chalked a record breaking 27th 30-point game of the season with his 37 point effort against Oakbrook Prep on Valentine’s Day. 
Denmark-Olar’s Larry Davis, who also held the single-season scoring record, chalked up 26 30-point games in 1991. 
“Zion is a basketball player that plays the game the right way,” said Spartanburg Day coach Lee Sartor. “Even though he can do some amazing things with the basketball, he shares the ball with his teammates.
He has a chance to do what a lot of us dream we could do. He understands that. He is a tremendous basketball player, but he is an even better person.”
“I have a strong love and passion for the game,” Williamson said. “I am just happy to be able to play basketball. 
I thank God for the athleticism that he gave me. I just love the game of basketball and love to make the crowd smile.”
The 6’7’’, 220 pound junior, who is currently ranked No. 2 overall in his class by ESPN, has chalked up ove gained national attention for his highlight reel dunks.  
NBA All-Stars like Jermaine O’Neal (Eau Claire), Ray Allen (Hillcrest), Kevin Garnett (Mauldin) , Alex English (Dreher), and Pete Maravich (D.W. Daniel) all played high school ball in South Carolina. 
However, those great players did not grow up in the era of social media or YouTube. 
“Social media has changed the whole feel of play,” said Williamson’s step-father Lee Anderson. “We purposely kept him out of major events.
He was in training and we knew that this day would eventually come. We saw kids that were ranked really high in the country his age. I told him that ‘You are better than these kids. When you get into ninth grade, we will show the world that you’re better than those kids.’”
Anderson said that Williamson showed out in a tournament in Atlanta the summer before his ninth grade year. 
“From that moment, his name has been in the spotlight,” Anderson said. “When we were growing up, we didn’t have social media. 
A reporter posted that he was the best ninth grader in the country. Social media has played a big role in getting his name out there.”
One of WIlliamson’s highlight clips has eclipsed the 1 million view mark. 
His Instagram account has exploded. In August of 2016, the junior had 3,500 followers. As of February 10, Williamson has over 235,000 followers. 
One of his followers Drake, Williamson’s favorite rapper, even sported a Spartanburg Day School number 12 jersey on instagram on January 15. Williamson has also received phone calls from several NBA players including James Harden and Dwight Howard. 
The junior also earned No. 1 in ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 Plays for his dunk on Friday, December 10 against Ben Lippen.
The junior’s meteoric rise to fame has been well documented. Williamson started working for this fame when he was five years old. 
“He came to me when he was five years old and told me that he wanted to play college basketball,” said Anderson, who played basketball at Clemson University. “I said son ‘I played at the Division 1 level and it is tough. If that is what you want to do, I will teach you how to play the game. But only if that is what you want to do.’ He said ‘Yes sir.’ “
“We would wake up at 5 am in the morning and go to the park,” Anderson said. “There were a couple of mornings where I’d get lazy and wouldn’t want to get up. 
He would be in my room at 5 am and say ‘Dad, I thought we were supposed to go to the gym.’ And I thought woah, this kid is serious. I realized at that time that he was serious so I needed to be serious.” 
Williamson spent his summers in the gym playing the game he loved.
“In the summer, he would be in the gym from 9 am to 5 pm,” said Anderson. “Every single day.” 
“Zion is a well-rounded player,” Sartor said. “He has worked hard on his strengths and weaknesses.”
With a rare combination of size and ball handling ability, Williamson has drawn interest from the national media, scouts, and the most prominent college coaches in the country. 
Two basketball hall of fame coaches Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski have made the trek from Chapel Hill and Durham, respectively, to see Williamson play live.
In a game against Shannon Forest on February 10, Williamson grabbed a steal, dribbled down the court, and nailed a reverse 360 dunk. 
“He has the size of a post player and the agility of a guard,” said Sartor. “That is just unusual. 
People are surprised that he is so big, strong, and quick and fast.”

Trent Owens Joins JTG Daugherty Racing To Serve As Crew Chief For Chris Buescher

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

Trent Owens will call the shots atop the pit box for Chris Buescher and JTG Daugherty Racing’s No. 37 team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series during the 2017 season.

Owens began the new job on Monday, just two days before his 42nd birthday. He’s making the move to JTG Daugherty Racing after spending the last three seasons at Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM). The opportunity at JTG Daugherty Racing marks the Darlington, South Carolina native’s second opportunity in NASCAR’s premier series.

“I was just really looking for another opportunity to get back onto the pit box at the Cup level, and JTG (Daugherty Racing) expanded to a second team with Chris Buescher, and fortunately for me, they called,” Owens said. “I did the interview process, and I got the job and started yesterday. I’m really looking forward to getting in here and seeing what this place is about, learning their system, trying to adapt and then working with the alliance with Richard Childress Racing, which they have. Everything looks promising, and I’m ready to get to Daytona, but I’m probably going to do some preparation before we start that.”

Since 2014, Owens has served as the crew chief for Aric Almirola and Richard Petty Motorsports’ No 43 entry. Owens earned a win at Daytona International Speedway, as well as five top-five and 14 top-10 finishes while working with Almirola.

“I felt like when I started at RPM in ’14, we had an up and down season,” Owens said. “We did get the victory, and we had some great runs, but we didn’t have the consistency that we needed. Going into ’15, I felt like we gained and found that consistency and just had a really, really – if you look at the stats, a really solid season for the size of the race team that it is. Again in ’16, we decided to try and take more on our own and do our chassis. We just got a little behind, and we couldn’t really catch back up.”

Owens’ last race on top of the pit box during the 2016 season was at Richmond International Raceway’s Federated Auto Parts 400 in September. After capturing a 17th place finish in the last race before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Owens was replaced by Drew Blickensderfer. The team finished out the year 26th in the point standings. Back in December, Richard Petty Motorsports announced that the team was downsizing from a two-car team to just a single-car effort in 2017.

“When performance is down and things are suffering, I understand that my job position is one they take a look at, and the change happened, and it’s in the past,” Owens said. “I’ll take what I learned from that experience, which is a great experience, and take some of the mistakes that I feel like I may have made too and improve on that here at JTG and just move forward.”

On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, JTG Daugherty Racing announced that the single-car team would be adding an additional team with driver, Chris Buescher. The Texas native will be a teammate with AJ Allmendinger, who pilots the No. 47 Chevrolet. The good news for Owens and Buescher is that their new team will be using a charter that was vacated by Roush Fenway Racing’s (RFR) No. 16 team. That means JTG Daugherty Racing will have a guaranteed spot in every race this upcoming season for both of their teams.

“It always feels good to be guaranteed in the race,” Owens said. “That pressure having to qualify for these races at this level is pretty intense. I didn’t want to go through what those guys at the Wood Brothers (Racing) had to go through most of the time. It’s not always just about speed, you know rain-outs and so forth, and things like that can get you out of the race. Definitely having the charter is a plus. It’s just weight off your shoulders when you go to any race.”

Trent Owens has a lot to look forward to in 2017. Chris Buescher is coming off the best season of his career. The 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion earned his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win with Front Row Motorsports in 2016 during the rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway in August. The win and a top-30 spot in the standings following Richmond International Raceway’s September race, catapulted Buescher into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He finished out the year 16th in the point standings with a win, two top-five and two top-10 finishes.

“I’ve spent some time with Chris, just because we were somewhat allianced with the RFR organization,” Owens said. “I’ll spend a little bit more time with him, because he’s going to be my driver, but yea, I think he ran very well, probably better than some anticipated last year. I think that towards the end of the season, he drove as competitive as anyone. I think getting into these race cars, you know AJ and the 47 crowd, they had an excellent finish to the season and a lot of speed in their race cars. I think that Chris is going to really excel behind the seat, and I can’t wait to work with him and to work on these race cars.”

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

Joey Logano Joins Championship 4 With Phoenix Win; Kyle Busch Advances With Runner-Up Finish

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

AVONDALE, Ariz. – In a wild NASCAR Overtime finish on Sunday, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch raced their way into the Championship 4 after claiming the top-two spots in the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Heading into this weekend’s race in Phoenix, the only drivers who knew they were going to compete for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway were Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. As for the other six drivers remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, they’d have to race their way in on Sunday.

Matt Kenseth was about to seal the deal and race his way into the Chase, but with just two laps to go, Michael McDowell brought out the caution after blowing a tire and crashing in Turn 3. With the entire season on the line, the field restarted, and it was Kenseth hard into the outside wall in Turn 1 after contact with Alex Bowman. When the field dove into Turn 1, Kyle Busch got into the back of Bowman, sending him deeper into the first corner and into Kenseth.

After the race, Busch said, “I got a little bit better restart than the 88 (Alex Bowman) did and I felt like I had a run on him and had enough that I got to the inside and if he chopped me he was going to get wrecked and that’s what happened, but it carried on into the 20 (Matt Kenseth) and essentially I guess I wrecked a teammate. It’s so frustrating and aggravating and I feel horrible about it. It’s a shame to see it come down like that.”

At the time of entry into Turn 1, Kenseth’s spotter, Chris Osborne cleared Kenseth to move to the bottom, but with Bowman having the extra speed from the contact with Busch, the door closed very quickly. As a result, Kenseth went from possibly winning and advancing, to finishing 21st and losing out on the 2016 championship.

Kenseth said, “I don’t know, the 88 was laying way, way back for that restart, more than a car would so I got going early on purpose and I looked at him at the start-finish line and I thought we were doing okay and I looked back and it looked like he had a little run on me, maybe not and shortly thereafter Chris cleared me so with the glare I started looking to the corner to approach the corner and I got turned out of the way. He hollered ‘inside’ at the same time I got turned towards the fence so I really don’t know what happened. I was just going off the information I had to try to get the best corner I could and lead more laps.”

Following the race, Alex Bowman, who piloted the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS to a sixth place finish said, “Restarts with three to go at the Cup level. I mean, that’s what happens. We’re all here to win races and doing everything we can to win races. I don’t think Kyle wrecked Matt. I don’t think I wrecked Matt. I think the situation, it just all ‑‑ it all happened like that. It’s unfortunate. But I don’t think you can really place the blame on one person. It just sucks for Matt.

“I don’t know Matt. He’s probably really mad at me right now I’d imagine, but hopefully we can move past it and race clean at Homestead.”

On the final restart of the day, Kyle Busch lined up on the inside with Joey Logano on his outside. Logano was able to clear Busch as they entered Turn 1, and the driver of the Team Penske No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion never looked back to earn his third win of the season and his 17th career victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“This feels so good,” said Logano in Victory Lane. “I’ve never felt this good about a win before. There was so much on the line and everyone brings their A-game when it comes to winning championships and this team did it. Man, this feels so good. I had a good restart there at the end and holding off Kyle to try to get this thing into Miami. We’re racing for a championship now.  We did exactly what we had to do. We’ve got to go to Homestead and do the same thing. I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”

Kyle Busch had to hold off Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick, who was also trying to race his way into the Chase. The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry was able to do so and hold on for a solid runner-up finish. Busch will now head to Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend trying to defend the series championship. Last year, Busch won the season finale to earn his first series title.

“We haven’t showed our strength here in a few weeks, but we’ve showed consistency,” Busch said. “I’m hoping that this consistency is what shows our strength next week. We always talk about in this sport how top-10s lead to top-fives and top-fives lead to wins. Eventually we’re going to keep finishing in the top-five and we just had three top-fives in a row. It could be more than that, that’s what it was in this round – a fifth, a fifth and a second was as sporty as we could do and we move on. Hopefully Homestead is a little better.”

Joey Logano and Kyle Busch will now join Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards in the Championship 4. The drivers, who were eliminated from the Chase on Sunday were Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr.

As for Sunday’s finishing order, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Paul Menard.

Throughout the Can-Am 500, there were eight lead changes among five drivers. Bowman led a race high of 194 laps. Logano led the second most after being out in front of the field for 58 laps. The race also saw nine cautions for 53 laps.

The final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the 2016 season will be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, November 20. The Ford EcoBoost 400 will broadcast live on NBC and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2:30 p.m. ET.

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.