Archive for category Sports

Martin Truex Jr. Outperforms Kyle Busch At Auto Club Speedway To Win Auto Club 400

By: Hunter Thomas/

FONTANA, Calif. – In the closing laps of Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. battled and outperformed Kyle Busch to capture his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season.

With just 39 laps to go, Truex passed Busch for the race lead, and two laps later, both drivers hit pit road nose-to-tail for the final stops of the afternoon. Busch’s pit crew got him off pit road just ahead of Truex. With just 31 laps remaining, Truex chased down and pulled off the race-winning pass on Busch. Truex, defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, finished out the afternoon leading a race high of 125 of the 200 laps.

“It’s good to be here,” Truex said in Victory Lane. “I am really proud of my team and everybody here. We’ve started the season out strong. Everyone kept asking when we were going to win and we hadn’t won any stages yet. And I said don’t worry, we are close. We just need to figure it out a little bit. And today, what a damn hotrod. This thing was unbelievable. Just thanks to all the guys and everybody at Toyota, TRD, Bass Pro Shops, 5-hour ENERGY, Auto Owners and all of our sponsors and helps supports this deal. It’s a dream come true and this team is unbelievable.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Kevin Harvick Dominates In Las Vegas To Capture 100th NASCAR National Series Win

By: Camille Jones/

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Kevin Harvick sailed off to his second victory of the season in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Harvick led 214 of 267 laps on his way to his 100th win in NASCAR’s top-three series.

Harvick in the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford has seen two dominant performances in three races this season. Harvick’s victory on Sunday comes just one week after his win at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“We have definitely had three good race cars with the Xfinity car and the Cup car and we had a good race car at Daytona as well and got caught up in a wreck,” Harvick said following his win. “As you look at the last two weeks and our 1.5-mile program in general it has been really good since I started here at SHR. They put a lot of effort into everything we do from every standpoint to get these cars going like they are. I have to thank everyone from Stewart-Haas Racing, Gene and Tony, it is fun to have them here when we win. Everybody who helps put this thing on the race track, we couldn’t do it without them. And the fans for coming out to the racetrack today. We really appreciate you all coming out. It is always fun for me to win on the west coast and I didn’t have a lot of luck here until I came to SHR. It is great to win on the west coast for me.”

On Sunday, 42-year-old Harvick added his 39th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win to his 47 wins in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and 14 wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Harvick becomes only the fourth driver in history to capture 100 wins across the NASCAR national series. He joins Richard Petty (200 wins), Kyle Busch (184 wins) and David Pearson (106 wins).  Read the rest of this entry »

Kevin Harvick Wins First Cup Series Race At Atlanta Motor Speedway Since 2001

By: Camille Jones/

HAMPTON, Ga. – Kevin Harvick cruised to victory in Sunday’s rain-delayed Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, 17 years after claiming his first win at the track after taking over the ride of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Harvick paid tribute to Earnhardt by raising three fingers out of his window as he drove around the track celebrating his win in his No. 4 Jimmy Johns Ford. Although Harvick has led 1,152 laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Sunday’s win was his first at the track since his debut start in 2001. Harvick also won the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at the track on Saturday afternoon.

“I’m just so proud of everybody on our team,” Harvick said as he reflected on his victory celebration. “That was the first win in my career and to be able to do that and pay tribute to Dale was pretty cool. I’ve been waiting a long time to do that. We’ve had so many days where we could do that here, but I just want to thank everybody from Stewart-Haas Racing, Jimmy John’s, Busch, Ford, Mobil 1, Outback, Hunt Brothers, Morton Buildings, Textron Off Road, Liftmaster, everybody who puts this car on the race track and for five years it’s been so fast at this particular race track and a lot of other ones. I love racing here and it’s good to be back in Victory Lane finally. It took a while.”

With the threat of rain in the area lingering throughout the entire race, several different strategies unfolded over the course of 325 laps. Harvick stuck to the plan and out-raced the strategy with pure speed and a late caution that reset the field.  Read the rest of this entry »

Austin Dillon Wins Daytona 500 In No. 3 Car 20 Years After Earnhardt’s Historic Victory

By: Camille Jones/

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Twenty years ago, Austin Dillon was a kid celebrating a Daytona 500 win in Victory Lane with Dale Earnhardt Sr. On Sunday while driving Richard Childress Racing’s iconic No. 3 Chevrolet, 27-year-old Dillon held off the field and captured his first Harley J. Earl trophy at Daytona International Speedway.

The 60th running of The Great American Race finished in NASCAR Overtime. On the final lap, Austin Dillon made a late move on Aric Almirola. Dillon had momentum and didn’t slow down when Almirola went to block the race-winning move. Almirola lost control and crashed into the outside wall heading into Turn 3. Dillon held on for his second-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, capturing the third Daytona 500 win for Richard Childress Racing after Kevin Harvick also won the race in 2007 for the team.

“I said my first win I couldn’t beat it, but this does,” said Dillon. “My Grandfather has done everything for me. Everybody knows it. There is a lot of pressure on me to perform because I have had a little bit of everything. But I like that pressure. The same with the No 3. There is a lot of pressure behind that. But I’m willing to take that and go with it. I’m just thankful for all the people that support us along the way. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his family for letting us bring this number back. It comes full circle. I just can’t thank the Lord enough for this opportunity.”

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. finished second in his Daytona 500 debut and only his fifth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start. Wallace’s runner-up effort marked the highest finish by an African American in the Daytona 500 since Wendell Scott finished 13th in 1966. During his post-race press conference, Wallace became emotional after a hug from his mother. Wallace explained what his second-place finish meant while sharing the experience with his family.  Read the rest of this entry »

USC swimmer competes for international recognition

By Sarah Stone

Out of all the obstacles distance swimmer Akram Mahmoud had to overcome when he traveled 6,000 miles to the University of South Carolina, from his home in Cairo, Egypt, culture shock was not one of them.

“I felt like it’s home here, and I was really blessed,” Mahmoud said.

Mahmoud, one of the world’s top performing distance swimmers, and head coach McGee Moody attributed Mahmoud’s ease of transition to his international teammates.

“Having other people on our team that have made that adjustment, that have walked through that process, it definitely has a big impact,” Moody said.

Mahmoud, who began swimming at age 5 and wi

nning international competitions by 15, knew that he wanted to go to swim at a U.S. college. in the United States. The University of South Carolina’s reputation as a top program for distance swimming and international athletes helped him make the decision to head to Columbia.

“We’ve kind of become known worldwide as a program that can develop international students and then provide them the opportunity to go back and compete for their country,” Head Coach McGee Moody said. But there were athletic and academic hurdles to overcome.

He did not join the team until January of his freshman year, which meant he was forced to adapt to a team that had been training for months with one of the most volume-based programs in the nation. Mahmoud also had to adjust to from the long course yards used internationally to the short course yards used only in American swimming.

“It was a little bit hard for me because I have to do a lot of turns since I’m a distance swimmer so it took a long time to make my turns better and adjust for the short course yards,” Mahmoud said.

Many people also doubted the student-athlete’s ability to perform well outside the pool.

“He had a lot of people when he was coming into school here that said, ‘I don’t think we’re going to let him into school because we don’t think he can get it done. We don’t think he can make the grade,’” Moody said.

Mahmoud has earned All-American honors eight times. He has also proved skeptics of his academic performance wrong by getting his name on the list of multiple honor rolls.

Moody believes that Mahmoud is one of the top distance swimmers in the world, but he finds the mindset that inspires this success nearly as impressive.

“He has a huge heart and loves his teammates,” Moody said. “And at the same time, what’s awesome about Akram is he is one of the most fierce competitors that I’ve ever met.”

During last year’s NCAA tournament, Mahmoud was one of four swimmers who broke the American 1650 freestyle record.

“It was an epic race that to this day has never been repeated and probably won’t be for a long time, you walk over to Akram and in that moment the first thing he said to me was ‘I’m sorry coach,’” Moody said. “And I’m sitting there thinking ‘Akram, there’s only two people on the face of this planet that have swam faster than you in the 1650.’ I was like ‘What are you sorry for?’ and he was like ‘Yeah,’ but he goes ‘Those two people swam faster than me in this heat.’”

Mahmoud does not feel satisfied with what he has accomplished so far. Before his time as a Gamecock is over, he hopes to become the only swimmer at the university to win an NCAA title.

Another “first” also motivates Mahmoud. He wants to become the first Egyptian to medal in swimming. The pressure to do well for his family, country and coaches played a large role in Mahmoud’s performance in Rio. Mahmoud qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016, but did not reach the finals. He did, however, meet his hero Michael Phelps.

“That was something I will never forget for the rest of my life,” Mahmoud said.

Over the last year and a half, Mahmoud has worked to become more confident and more experienced before Tokyo. Following graduation this spring, Mahmoud plans to stay in Columbia to train for the Olympic Games in 2020. He also plans to pursue sponsors.

Martin Truex Jr. Wins Ford EcoBoost 400 And Championship At Homestead-Miami

By: Camille Jones/

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Martin Truex Jr. won it all after taking the checkered flag in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, naming him the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion.

Truex’s victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway was his eighth victory of the 2017 season with his Furniture Row Racing No. 78 team that’s based out of Denver, Colorado, the only team based in the Centennial State to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

“It’s just overwhelming,” said Truex. “To think about all the rough days and bad days, the days that couldn’t run 20th, to be here, I never thought this day would come and to be here is so unbelievable.”

Truex added and said, “I can’t event believe it. I can’t believe we got the lead. I can’t believe we kept it. We weren’t the best car all day long. We fought it. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) had some great pit strategy and the caution came at the right time to get us the lead and then they put it in my hands and I had to hang onto it. It’s all I could do to hang onto that thing and find a lane that would work for me and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and the 18 (Kyle Busch) were both better on the long run all day long. I just had to find something at the end and luckily was able to find a lane that was really good for my car, but also bad for them behind me and just worked out.”

The race was an up-and-down event for Truex. His car was fast enough, but he wasn’t making the powerful statement that the No. 78 team usually makes.  Read the rest of this entry »

Matt Kenseth Captures First Win Of 2017 At Phoenix; Brad Keselowski Hangs On For Final Spot In Championship 4

By: Sarah Sedwick/

Matt Kenseth passed Chase Elliott in the closing laps of the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday to earn his first win of the 2017 season. Brad Keselowski held on to capture the final spot in the Championship 4.

Although Kenseth doesn’t currently have a ride for 2018, the veteran driver managed to claim the win at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, which marked his 39th victory in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series. Kenseth, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Circle K Toyota led the race twice for a total of 62 laps en route to his second Phoenix win.

“I never dreamed I’d win one of these races, so obviously I’ve been so incredibly blessed throughout my whole career and I’ve had so many great people work with me – great sponsors, crew chiefs, car owners,” said Kenseth. “I’ve raced against great drivers, so, you know – but last year, we won a couple races and I usually never look at stats and I saw Mark (Martin) had 40 and I was like, ‘I just want to get 40 so I can tie my hero Mark’.”

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin entered the weekend competing for the fourth and final spot in the Championship 4. At Martinsville Speedway in October, Elliott and Hamlin were seen in a heated argument after Hamlin got into the back of Elliott, causing him to spin and pound the wall. Throughout the day on Sunday, both drivers maintained the tension between them because the Playoffs were on the line.

Elliott needed a win to continue and Hamlin needed the sufficient amount of points to advance. Both, Elliott and Hamlin were competitive. Hamlin led for 193 laps, while Elliott only led for 34. Late in Stage 3, the two drivers battled each other hard. While coming out of Turn 4, Elliott got underneath Hamlin and left no room for error. Hamlin bounced off the wall and eventually cut a tire, bringing out the seventh and final caution on lap 276. After Hamlin hit the wall, he realized his chances of claiming the final Championship 4 spot were no more.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: The People’s Champion

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

There’s a giant billboard currently on display at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) proclaiming that “Chase Elliott is the People’s Champion.”

This creative – and largely unsubstantiated, based on the fact that Elliott has won zero NASCAR Cup Series races to date — piece of advertising is the track’s response to a heated post-race exchange between Elliott and Denny Hamlin at Martinsville on Oct 29. Hamlin wrecked Elliott from the lead with two laps remaining, earning the ire of fans and allowing Kyle Busch to claim the checkered flag and a guaranteed spot in the championship final four in the process.

That was quite the triple whammy. Good job, Hamlin.

While fans were probably still trying to exit Martinsville’s parking lots after the race, TMS went to work, taking advantage of this fledgling rivalry. Despite the events at the historic track nicknamed “the Paper Clip,” Hamlin and Elliott remained in the top eight and are still eligible to win the championship. Cue the fireworks; things are only going to get better from here.

TMS’ decision to fan the competitive flames by bestowing the somewhat grandiose “People’s Champion” title on Elliott, in addition to being a fantastic case of deliberate pot-stirring, is really kind of brilliant on a number of levels. Hamlin has earned the reputation of being rather volatile during his racing career, so I’m guessing that seeing his much less experienced competitor being so highly touted isn’t sitting very well.

And Elliott, while wildly popular with fans, still has a lot to prove on the track … winning a race would be a good place to start. Duh.

Taking advantage of controversy to drive ticket sales is hardly a new strategy. Almost two decades ago, the late Jim Hunter, who then served as president of Darlington Raceway, took masterful advantage of what could have been a discouraging situation for a track promoter. Read the rest of this entry »

Martin Truex Jr. Continues NASCAR Playoff Dominance With Kansas Win

By: Hunter Thomas/

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – While racing with heavy hearts for the passing of Furniture Row Racing road-crew fabricator Jim Watson, Martin Truex Jr. piloted the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota to victory on Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Throughout the afternoon, Truex Jr. overcame a restart penalty that was assessed on lap 38 and an unscheduled green flag pit stop for a vibration to capture his seventh Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of 2017. With the win, he becomes the first driver in series history to ever win both Kansas races in a season. He led 91 laps during the 267-lap NASCAR Playoff race.

“Just couldn’t believe some of the things that were happening and thought there was no way that we were going to win that race at some point,” Truex Jr. said. “That first restart violation really caught me by surprise and that hurt, but that wasn’t the last blow we had to take. There was the loose wheel we had to pit for under green and getting a lap down and being able to stay out through that last stage and get that lap back was crucial, without that, we didn’t have a shot. Then we got back mid-pack and had a couple really good restarts to get some track position and then really fought the car through that part of the race and had to make some big adjustments and I felt like at the end we got dialed in pretty good. I’m pretty happy with that.”

Kurt Busch finished second on Sunday after starting 15th in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford. The runner-up finish comes as a sigh of relief for Busch. He hasn’t earned a top-five finish since Richmond in early September. Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Simply Awesome

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Like different types of music, conversations can have their own distinctive rhythm.

I learned this from experience. In any given verbal exchange, the moment the other person knows you have an affiliation with NASCAR – no matter how small — the same two things invariably happen.

First comes the inevitable driver question. There’s a small amount of wiggle room on this one, but ninety-nine percent of the time this blank is filled in with, “Do you know Dale Jr.?”

The next level in this two-step process has a bit more verbal Spandex, stretching to fit the speaker’s dimensions. Usually it’s a suggestion. You know it’s coming, because it’s always prefaced by the query, “You know what NASCAR needs to do?”

I don’t know that, actually, but folks don’t mind one bit offering their opinions to help me figure it out. They have informed me that NASCAR should remove all road courses from the schedule; do away with the current scoring system in favor of “the guy with the most points at the end of the season is the champion, just like the old days” system; throw all the restrictor plates into a box and sell them off for scrap metal; and ban Kyle Busch from racing. In any series. Ever.

There is something to be said for consistency. If you’re forced to address something on a regular basis, it can turn anyone, regardless of age or gender, into a Boy Scout: always prepared.

The problem with thinking that you’re “always” anything, though, is that you never really are. So a couple of days ago, when someone asked me, “You know what NASCAR needs to do?” I mentally readied my defense of road course racing and said, “Nope. Tell me.” Read the rest of this entry »

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ran As Hard As He Could In Final Race At Talladega Superspeedway

By: Sarah Sedwick/

TALLADEGA, Ala. – After what he called a lucky day, Dale Earnhardt Jr. managed to avoid several accidents to finish seventh during his last race at Talladega Superspeedway, a track that has been synonymous with the Earnhardt family.

Sunday’s Alabama 500 marked the first time Earnhardt Jr., driver of Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet, started on the pole in 35 starts at Talladega Superspeedway. During qualifying on Saturday, Earnhardt Jr. reached a top speed of 190.544, which held off Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet by .035 seconds.

Earnhardt Jr. has had a thriving record at Talladega Superspeedway throughout his career. In the early 2000s, he won five races, which included two in the 2002 season. Earnhardt Jr.’s total wins then rose to six in 2015, marking Talladega Superspeedway as holding the most wins of his career at a single track. He holds 12 Top-5 finishes and 17 Top-10 finishes at the track. Overall, he has led 967 total laps at Talladega Superspeedway.

“I just wanted to come in here and be considered talented, but to be great at anything was beyond my imagination,” said Earnhardt Jr. “I appreciate people’s compliments on my plate driving and the success we’ve had at all the plate races.”

Throughout Sunday’s race, Earnhardt Jr. led a total of seven laps. Earnhardt Jr. also received two penalties; one for pitting before pit road was open, right after a major wreck on lap 26, and the other for speeding while entering pit road on lap 52.

As if dealing with penalties weren’t enough, Earnhardt Jr. narrowly escaped four accidents, all in Turn 3.  Read the rest of this entry »

Martin Truex Jr. Wins Bank of America 500 In Overtime Finish At Charlotte

By: Hunter Thomas/

CONCORD, N.C. – Martin Truex Jr. held off the field in NASCAR Overtime at Charlotte Motor Speedway to win the Bank of America 500, the first race of the Round of 12.

Truex Jr. was on his way to the victory, but on lap 327, Kyle Busch brought out the caution for the third time of the afternoon. On the restart, Truex Jr. lined up on the inside with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin to his outside. When the green flag flew, Truex Jr. in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, was able to stay out in front; however, on lap 333, the caution came out for the 10th and final time, when Kurt Busch slid up the track, hit Kyle Larson and spun through Turn 2. On the NASCAR Overtime restart, Truex Jr. got an even better jump on Hamlin and went on to win his sixth race of the season.

“Unbelievable win. Just a total team effort,” Truex Jr. said. “Every single guy – every guy on this team just did a perfect job today and I can’t be more proud of them and at this time of the year is just when you want it to happen. You dream about days like today. I don’t know if we had the best car, but we damn sure go it in victory lane.”

Chase Elliott, who started third on both of the last two restarts, finished second in his Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet. Elliott has now finished second for two consecutive weekends. Last weekend, he nearly won at Dover until Kyle Busch was able to get around him in the final laps. On Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Elliott led 12 laps and ran up front throughout the entire event.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kyle Busch Passes Chase Elliott In Final Laps At Dover To Win 42nd Career Cup Series Race

By: Hunter Thomas/

DOVER, Del. – Chase Elliott was on the verge of his first career victory until Kyle Busch passed him with just two laps to go to win the Apache Warrior 400 presented by Lucas Oil at Dover International Speedway.

Elliott looked as if he was going to cruise to his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet, but after leading 59 consecutive laps, Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota, was able to get the best of Elliott in heavy lapped traffic to take over the race lead in the closing two laps. The win is Busch’s 42nd career series win.

“Just we kept working on it all day long,” Busch said. “We kept making adjustments to it every pit stop, every chance we got and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys did a really, really good job of that and I think the biggest thing there at the end was just having a little bit fewer, fresher lap tires than Chase (Elliott) did and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be enough when I got close. I got within five lengths and I stalled out and I was like, ‘Oh, man, I think that was it,’ you know? But I got back to the top and got enough momentum back rolling. Chase was kind of plugged up with the lap cars in front of him, so I think the lap cars actually helped us with that one, but overall just great day for us.”

Elliott, who although didn’t win the event, led a race high of 138 laps after being out in front of the field on three occasions. With the runner-up finish, Elliott will transfer to the second round of the NASCAR Playoffs.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kyle Busch Dominated the ISM Connect 300 in New Hampshire to Solidify Spot in the Second Round of the Playoffs

By: Sarah Sedwick/

LOUDON, N.H. – Kyle Busch won the ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, after gaining momentum following a multi-car accident.

Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota, won his second consecutive pole of the Playoffs and led a total of 187 laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. After narrowly avoiding a multi-car crash on lap 151, which involved leader, Martin Truex Jr., Busch quickly regained the lead which resulted in a victory at the track. This win was Busch’s third at the track, and it marks the 41st victory of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

“It was just a great day for our team and for the 18 team,” said Busch. “We were able to execute all day long and we did everything right. We did everything we were supposed to do and that’s where you end up when we’re able to do those things. It was a great race up front too, with the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) there. The 20 (Matt Kenseth) was there for a little. I think he was a little better on that long run that one time, but overall, we had some really good short run speed there at the end. We were able to get out front there and kind of set the field because – set the pace – and that was what we needed to do today.”

Kyle Larson, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Target Chevrolet, placed second and posted his fifth top-10 finish in eight races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  The runner-up finish was Larson’s 17th top-10 finish of the season. Larson also ranks second in the Playoff points standings after the race, trailing behind Martin Truex Jr., with a 24-point difference.  Read the rest of this entry »

Martin Truex Jr. Kicks Off the NASCAR Playoffs with a Win at Chicagoland

By: Sarah Sedwick/

JOLIET, Ill. – Martin Truex Jr. clenched his fifth win of the season during the Tale of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday.

Truex claimed the first victory of the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs; however, this win did not come without difficulty. The Furniture Row Racing team overcame a speeding penalty that was assessed on lap 42. Despite the adversity, Truex Jr. worked his way up the leaderboard, where he finished more than six seconds ahead of Chase Elliot, who took second place. Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota led the final 55 laps of the race en route to his 12th victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The win also marked his second at Chicagoland Speedway

“I can’t even tell you how much it means to me,” said Truex Jr. “I’m a much better driver because of (Sherry Pollex), and what she taught me. We’ve learned a lot about life together. We continue to face every challenge head on and not skimp and we live every day just like we want to and we have fun. I’m proud of her and very proud to have the teal and gold in the race car and thankful for the other 28 guys who have done it. I’m thankful for all that and everybody.”

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott wrapped up the Tale of the Turtles 400 with a second-place finish, but he gave his best shot trying to run down Truex Jr. for the lead as the race concluded.
Elliot held the lead for 38 laps, beginning on lap 125, but lost a battle with Kevin Harvick on lap 163, and led for four more laps towards the end of the race. This race marked Elliott’s 15th top-10 finish in 2017.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kyle Larson Wins In Overtime At Richmond; NASCAR Sets The Field For The 2017 Playoffs

By: Camille Jones/

Kyle Larson stole the victory in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 after the race went into NASCAR Overtime at Richmond Raceway. The 16-driver field for the 2017 Playoffs was also set after the checkered flag flew in Virginia.

Larson won the race off of pit road in his Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Target Chevrolet before the final restart, and he held off the field to claim the victory when the caution came out just after he took the white flag. Larson spent much of the race chasing a dominant Martin Truex Jr. who ultimately ended the event in the wall after contact from Denny Hamlin. Truex Jr.’s crash brought out the caution that ended the race and handed Larson his fifth victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“I’ve got the greatest team out here and definitely the best pit crew,” said Larson. “That showed tonight. I can’t thank those guys enough. They were money all night long to gain spots. This win is a huge, congrats to them. The Target Chevy was pretty good all night. The No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) was definitely the best, but I thought I was second best for most of the runs but it came down to the last restart there and I got a good start. I spun my tires pretty bad and I was a little nervous, but we cleared him (Truex Jr) into (Turn) 1 and I was pretty excited about that. So, I can’t thank Target all of our partners enough. I’m really pumped for the Playoffs. We’ve got a great shot at the championship, I feel like, this year. So, I’m looking forward to it.”

Joey Logano finished in the second position. He earned his 12th top-10 finish of the season; however, he needed a win to claim a spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The driver of the Team Penske No. 22 Shell Pennzoil/Red Cross Ford won at Richmond Raceway in the spring, but the win was encumbered due to an issue with the suspension. Logano was one of the Championship 4 that competed for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season, but on Saturday night, his 2017 championship hopes came to an end with the runner-up finish.  Read the rest of this entry »

Rick Ware Racing To Run Clemson University Scheme At Pocono And Darlington Raceway

By: Hunter Thomas/

Rick Ware Racing will run a Clemson University scheme during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Pocono Raceway this weekend and at Darlington Raceway in September.

During the Axalta Presents the Pocono 400, the hood of Cody Ware’s orange and purple No. 51 Chevrolet, will feature the logo celebrating Clemson’s 2016 NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship, while white tiger paws will adorn the sides of the car. Absolutely no funding of Rick Ware Racing’s efforts at Pocono or Darlington are coming from Clemson or its Athletic Department.

“Funding will come from advertisers that want to be a part of this exciting opportunity and from individuals that just want to have their name on the car,” Rick Ware Racing marketing representative, Bryan Clodfelter said. “For $100 individuals can get their name on the car and will have an opportunity to win merchandise and also All-Access NASCAR Hot Pit Passes for Darlington.”

The scheme that the team will compete with at Pocono Raceway this weekend isn’t the first time that there has been a Clemson-themed car run in the series, but it’s the first scheme in NASCAR to completely feature Clemson’s 2016 NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship. Darlington Raceway’s Bojangles Southern 500 weekend in September, is The Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR, and although the scheme has yet to be designed, Rick Ware Racing would like to possibly run a throwback tying in the Clemson Tigers’ 1981 National Championship.  Read the rest of this entry »

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.


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.”