Chase Elliott won Thursday night in the rain-delayed event at Charlotte Motor Speedway to close a brutal 12 days for NASCAR. The event, postponed Wednesday night, was the fourth Cup race since the series resumed racing May 17.
Elliott had two frustrating losses in that span, including defeat Sunday night in the Coca-Cola 600 when a caution flew two laps from the finish with Elliott leading.
Elliott’s frustration began last week — three Cup races ago — when he was trying to race for the lead at Darlington Raceway and was wrecked by Kyle Busch.
Then he had the 600 checkered flag in site until a caution caused by his own teammate. Elliott pitted from the lead, took four tires and couldn’t get back to the front in the two-lap overtime sprint.
There was little suspense in this one. Elliott reeled in Kevin Harvick with 27 laps remaining and closed out the victory. Elliott also won the Truck Series race Tuesday night at Charlotte to give him a pair of victories in a four-race stretch at the track a few minutes away from Hendrick Motorsports headquarters.
Denny Hamlin finished second in a Toyota with three crew members sitting at home under suspension for an infraction Sunday night. His crew chief, car chief and engineer earned automatic four-race suspensions when a piece of tungsten fell off Hamlin’s car on a pace lap.
Ryan Blaney was third in a Ford for Team Penske, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for JTG-Daughtery Racing, a tremendous boost after a bad resumption of the season. Stenhouse wrecked on the first lap of the first race and finished last, then was 25th and 24th before Thursday.
Elliott’s victory was the first for a Chevrolet driver in NASCAR’s return to Cup racing. Harvick won the first race back in a Ford, Hamlin won the second race in a Toyota and Brad Keselowski won the 600 in a Ford.
NASCAR next goes to Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee on Sunday for a fifth Cup race in 15 days as the series attempts to reschedule eight events in a frantic stretch of racing through Southern states.
Kids will be back on campuses in the fall and there will be a college football season.
Bob Ausmussen is a veteran sportswriter for the Champaign News-Gazette and covers Illinois sports. He believes there will be school in the fall and there will be college football but there won't be traditional class sizes and crowds at games.
Ausmussen says travel for games will get tricky because of restrictions in some states but not others. He believes all the major conferences need to get together and figure out what they want to do.
Illinois football and men's basketball squads will return to campus next week. Illinois football is set to open their season September 4 against Illinois State at Memorial Stadium. No indication has been made that non-conference games are in any jeopardy of not being played.
Many Division I athletic departments are announcing now they will be getting their fall sports athletes on campus in the coming weeks as they prepare for the upcoming sports season.
However, in central Illinois, D-III ADs tell Regional Radio News they are concerned if their student-athletes are unable to return to campus for sports in the fall, they may not come back to school at all. Mark Wagner is the athletic director at Illinois Wesleyan University and hopes for a lot of their athletes, they would see the bigger picture beyond being able to or not being able to compete in sports.
Dr. Craig White is the athletic director at Millikin University in Decatur and fears if they don't have sports up and going in the fall, their students will find alternate plans and not return to Millikin.
Both say they are confident fall sports will happen, but it will likely have a different feel than normal. They are also monitoring how other states handle their returns to campus for their athletes.
Chase Elliott snapped Kyle Busch’s seven-race Truck Series winning streak and collected a $100,000 bounty at Charlotte Motor Speedway before imitating Busch’s victory celebration after the race by bowing to the camera.
Kevin Harvick pledged before the race to donate $50,000 to Covid-19 relief for any full-time Cup driver who finished ahead of Busch. Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Gander RV & Outdoors, which sponsors the Truck Series, agreed to match Harvick’s pledge, bringing the total to $100,000 for pandemic relief. Elliott, John Hunter Nemechek and Brennan Poole were the three full-time Cup drivers eligible to collect the bounty.
The win comes six days after Busch wrecked Elliott in a Cup Series race at Darlington and two days after Elliott’s costly decision to pit late in the Coca-Cola 600, opened the door for Brad Keselowski to steal an almost certain win from him had the race stayed green.
It was Elliott’s first Truck Series race since 2017 when he won at Martinsville.
He said he wanted to race at Charlotte just to beat Busch.
Zane Smith finished third and Brett Moffitt was fourth in the first truck race since Feb. 21.
Busch had won 57 Truck Series races entering the night, the most of any driver in history, and appeared to be the favorite. But he could never chase down Elliott on a long green flag stretch to close the race, getting no closer than 0.3 seconds of the leader.
Busch started 16th and quickly made a move to sixth place before splitter issues forced him to pit and dropped him back to 33rd place. But the winner of 210 races across NASCAR’s three top series quickly moved back into contention with a strong second stage and took the lead on lap 69.
But when Busch pitted with 34 laps to go it dropped him all the way back to 23rd and he could never regain the lead. Busch said the problem involved some front travel limiters that prevent the splitter from crashing to the ground.
This was Busch’s third race in three nights. He followed up a fourth-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday by winning the Xfinity Series race on Monday in overtime after passing Austin Cindric on the final lap.
For Elliott, the win ended a string of bad luck and should help his confidence heading into the second Cup race in four days at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday night.
With no fans in attendance at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Monday night due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kyle Busch passed on the tradition after driving past Austin Cindric on the final lap of overtime to claim his 97th career Xfinity Series win.
After a crash involving several cars sent the race into overtime, Cindric had a great restart in overtime and overtook Busch for the lead starting from the inside lane. But Busch battled back, driving by Cindric on the backstretch of the final lap and holding on to win 18th overall race at CMS.
Busch has won 210 races overall across NASCAR’s top three series, the most of any driver.
Daniel Hemric edged Cindric for second. Cindric finished third followed by Ross Chastain and Justin Allgaier.
Busch appeared in control for most of the race winning the first two stages, but was assessed a speeding penalty on pit row with 38 laps to go, dropping him to 10th place.
He battled back through the field with the help of a series of strong restarts on the six cautions over the final 45 laps.
Busch drove a No. 54 Toyota sponsored by the Appalachian State University class of 2020.
Busch is in the midst of running all seven races in 11 days at Darlington and Charlotte since NASCAR returned to action after being sidelined for two months because of the coronavirus.
It was a tough night for Darlington winner Chase Briscoe, who finished 20th.
Briscoe, who was looking for his third Xfinity Series win of the season, drew penalties for an uncontrolled tire and speeding on pit road and then sustained damage to his car after hitting the wall with 45 laps to go when Timmy Hill’s engine blew up. Things went from bad to worse when he suffered damage to the right front of his car with 28 laps to go.
Jeffrey Earnhardt pulled out of his pits too early and wound up turning a lap with a jack wedged under his car.
It was the second of four races in four days at the 1 1/2-mile track at Charlotte.
Brad Keselowski won the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night in overtime after a late caution flag cost Chase Elliott an almost certain victory. The Truck Series returns to the track for the first time in more than three months on Tuesday night, followed by another Cup race on Wednesday.
Brad Keselowski is the 2020 Coca-Cola 600 winner after snatching victory following a caution with two laps left that sent the race into overtime.
Chase Elliott led much of the way down the stretch but elected to head to pit road before the restart and the move ultimately cost him the race when Keselowski and eight others chose to stay on the track. Elliott wound up finishing third behind Jimmie Johnson, who was three-tenths of a second behind Keselowski. Johnson's Cup Series winless drought is now at 102 races.
Worse still for Johnson, around two hours after the finish of the race his Chevrolet failed the post-race inspection and he was disqualified.
Keselowski told network reporters that he and the No. 2 team had to grind out this win after making unapproved adjustments to the car following qualifying and having to start the race at the back of the field.
For Elliott, it's a second consecutive tough ending to a Cup Series race. In the second race at Darlington last week, Kyle Busch wrecked Elliott while he was running second with 28 laps to go.
Elliott had an angry response to Busch on the track, but the two later put the incident to bed. This week though, it was something that the No. 9 team was in control of at the end of the race.
Following Keselowski, Elliott and Johnson were Ryan Blaney in fourth and Kyle Busch in fifth.
Alex Bowman had a very strong race early on, winning Stages 1 and 2 before Joey Logano won Stage 3.
The Cup Series is back under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Alsco Uniforms 500 on May 27. That race will be run over 500 kilometers.
Chase Briscoe was grateful to bring a moment or two of happiness to wife Marissa in the worst week of their lives.
It was Tuesday, during a 12-week exam, that they learned that their expected child — they only learned Monday that it was a girl — had no fetal heartbeat.
Two days later, Briscoe won the Xfinity Series’ return to action when he held off Kyle Busch at Darlington Raceway.
Briscoe joined his wife’s appointment on a video call from the infield at Darlington, awaiting the rain-delayed race’s orginal start time. He and Marissa shared their news on Instagram on Wednesday, hoping it might help others cope with similar tragedies.
His story will reach so many more after the victory Thursday.
Briscoe said he never seriously considered pulling out of the competition, that racing might be “therapuetic” in the series’ first event since March 7 in Phoenix due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Briscoe used two strong restarts and a quick pit stop to finish on top. He got the lead out of the pits during the final caution, then pulled away from Busch and Justin Allgaier on the subsequent restart with seven laps to go for his fourth career win and second this season.
Busch seemed to have the race in hand as he took the second stage in a dominant showing. But he was called for speeding in the pits and ordered to the back of the 39-car field.
But Busch was there to challenge Briscoe at the end, the cars touching off the final turn before Briscoe crossed the finish line in front by 0.08 seconds.
Allgaier was third, Austin Cindric fourth, and Noah Gragson, the pole-sitter who won the first stage, was fifth.
For Busch, it was another error that cost him a win at Darlington. In the NASCAR Cup Series race Wednesday night, he clipped Chase Elliott late to cause a spin — Elliott waited and extended his middle finger at Busch — and finished second to Joe Gibbs teammate Denny Hamlin.
After the delay Tuesday because of rain, more storms delayed the planned noon start for another 4½ hours.
NASCAR’s Cup Series had a successful return at Darlington with two races.
Kevin Harvick earned his 50th Cup win when he took Sunday’s race, the first for the series in 10 weeks while Hamlin won a rain-shortened race Wednesday night, the first time the series ran on that day since 1984.
Millikin Athletic Director Dr. Craig White says kids need to be in school in the fall and they need to be playing sports.
Dr. White fears if kids are not back in school in the fall and competing in sports, they may not return to school at all. He says they are watching how other states are handling the return of sports.
According to Dr. White, schedules for the fall sports season are set and reporting dates for athletes are in place. He is optimistic there is plenty of time before decisions have to be made and that should allow for time to learn more about the coronavirus.
Dr. White is optimistic the data surrounding the coronavirus shows younger people are not as adversely impacted by older individuals. He is encouraging their athletes to stay positive and be ready to get back to competing.
What if some regions of the state are ready to reopen for school in the fall and some are not? What does that mean for the IHSA?
The IHSA’s Craig Anderson hopes the IHSA Board will have some more clarity on the issue at its June 15th meeting.
The IHSA hoping for a return to play in the fall, but a lot of questions remain unanswered. A number of options are being considered, even the possibility of flipping fall and spring seasons says the organization’s, Craig Anderson.
The state of Ohio has also mentioned flipping fall and spring seasons.
Packers star Aaron Rodgers acknowledges Green Bay drafting a quarterback in the first round surprised him and complicated his hopes of playing his entire career with the same team.
The Packers traded up four spots in the first round last month to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love with the 26th overall pick. The move has raised speculation about Rodgers’ long-term future in Green Bay, no matter how much team officials emphasized afterward that the two-time MVP remains the clear-cut starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.
Rodgers said Friday in a conference call that marked his first public comments on the Packers’ draft, quote - “I think the general reaction at first was surprise, like many people. “Obviously I’m not going to say that I was, you know, thrilled by the pick necessarily, but the organization is thinking not only about the present but about the future. And I respect that.”
The 36-year-old Rodgers has been with the Packers since they selected him with the 24th overall selection in 2005. Former Packers quarterback Brett Favre predicted on “The Rich Eisen Show” earlier this month that Rodgers would finish his career somewhere other than Green Bay.
Rodgers, who owns the best career passer rating in NFL history, has four years remaining on his contract after signing a four-year, $134 million extension in August 2018 that included more than $100 million in guaranteed money.
Rodgers also expressed confidence in his team’s receiving corps after the Packers made the surprising decision not to draft any wideouts. Davante Adams was the only Packer to catch as many as 50 passes or accumulate as many as 500 yards receiving last season.
Rodgers finished 12th in passer rating and 21st in completion percentage last year, but still threw 26 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. The Packers went 13-3, won the NFC North title, but the season ended with a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers _their third NFC championship game defeat in the last six years.
Rodgers spent his first three NFL seasons backing up Favre before earning the starting spot in 2007, a move that led to Favre’s exit from Green Bay. Favre was 35 when the Packers drafted Rodgers.
The difference is that Favre openly pondered retirement at the time the Packers drafted Rodgers, and Rodgers has talked about how he wants to play several more years.
Rodgers says he’s always had good relationships with his backup quarterbacks and expects a similar dynamic with Love. He said he’s had “some great conversations” with Love and noted they have something in common as players who weren’t heavily recruited out of high school.
Michael McCaskey, who led the Chicago Bears for nearly three decades following the death of his grandfather George Halas, died Saturday after a lengthy battle with cancer, the team said. He was 76.
A Yale graduate and the oldest of Ed and team matriarch Virginia McCaskey’s 11 children, Michael joined the family business in 1983 as president and CEO following the death of Halas, a founding father of the NFL and the franchise. He succeeded Ed McCaskey as chairman in 1999 and remained in that role until brother George McCaskey took over in 2011.
The Bears made 12 playoff appearances and captured their lone Super Bowl title during Michael McCaskey’s tenure leading the franchise. He was chosen NFL Executive of the Year by his peers following the 1985 championship season.
McCaskey served on several NFL committees. He was also instrumental in the Bears moving their headquarters from the original Halas Hall at Lake Forest College to a state-of-the-art home nearby in 1997, giving them an indoor practice facility on their own campus.
McCaskey co-founded in 2005 the Bears’ charitable foundation, which has granted over $21 million to more than 100 agencies in the Chicago area focusing on education, youth athletics, medical research and health awareness.
He was also a member of the NFL’s Long Range Planning Committee, Expansion Committee, Stadium Committee and Finance Committee.
McCaskey spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching science, English and music to junior high students in Ethiopia. He earned a doctorate in in business from Case Western Reserve University in 1972 and taught organizational behavior and management courses at UCLA for three years before joining the faculty of the Harvard Business School.
The grandstands were completely empty. There wasn’t a single tailgate inside the track. Everyone wore face coverings — some with the team logos, others opting for plain disposable medical masks.
It was nothing close to the corporate sponsorship, pomp and patriotic traveling circus that symbolizes NASCAR.
But when the engines fired at Darlington Raceway following a 10-week layoff during the coronavirus pandemic, it turned into a regular old race.
Kevin Harvick beat Alex Bowman to win NASCAR’s first race back, a spectacle closely watched to see if the largest motorsports series in the United States could successfully return to the track.
It was a crucial gamble for NASCAR, which had to get back to the track to stave off financial ruin. With races on hold, no money was coming into the sport whatsoever and the NASCAR business model can not sustain the lack of revenue.
NASCAR developed a health plan approved by officials in both South Carolina and North Carolina and scheduled seven races over the next 11 days at two tracks. As other states began to open, the series tacked more races to fill the calendar with 20 events across seven Southern states between now and June 21. There will be no spectators at least through that date.
This first event was called the “The Real Heroes 400” and dedicated to health care workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The names of health care workers across the country were substituted for the drivers’ name above the door on each of the 40 cars.
Bowman, who signed a one-year contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports on Saturday, was second. Kurt Busch, winner of the closest finish in Darlington history, was third for Ganassi.
Chase Elliott gave Hendrick two cars in the top-four. Denny Hamlin was the highest-finishing Toyota driver at fifth for Joe Gibbs Racing, one spot ahead of teammate Martin Truex Jr.
Tyler Reddick, a rookie with Richard Childres Racing, was seventh at “The Track Too Tough To Tame.”
Erik Jones, the winner of the Southern 500 here last September, was eighth and John Hunter Nemechek was the second rookie inside the top-10 at one of the most technical tracks on the circuit. It was the first top-10 for Front Row Motorsports on a track other than a superspeedway in three years.
It was the 50th career victory for Harvick, in a Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing. A previous winner at Darlington, Harvick led 159 of the 293 laps.
Harvick tied Hall of Famers Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett for 12th on NASCAR’s all-time wins list.
Rory McIlroy delivered the money shot Sunday as live golf returned to television for a Skins game that revealed plenty of rust and raised more than $5 million for COVID-19 relief funds.
McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, who had not won a skin since the sixth hole, had a chance to win the final six skins worth $1.1 million on the final hole at Seminole in the TaylorMade Driving Relief exhibition. Both missed and they returned to the par-3 17th for a closest-to-the-pin contest.
From a forward tee at 120 yards, Matthew Wolff was 18 feet below the hole. His partner, Rickie Fowler, missed the green. Johnson found a bunker. Down to the last shot, McIlroy barely stayed on the shelf left of the pin, measured at 13 feet.
Wolff, the 21-year-old Californian with big game and plenty of swagger, earned $450,000 toward relief funds by having the longest drives on two par 5s — 356 yards on No. 2 and 368 yards on No. 14.
Fowler’s seven birdies were worth $270,000 in a separate fund from Farmers Insurance, while McIlroy made four birdies in regulation worth $175,000 and Wolff had three birdies for $135,000. Johnson, who showed the most rust, had two birdies for $75,000.
PGA Tour Charities allowed for online donations during the telecast, raising more than $1 million. The donations will continue until Tuesday. When the exhibition ended, more than $5.5 million had been pledged, starting with the $3 million guarantee from UnitedHeath Group.
Players carried their own bags.
Television had a skeleton crew on the grounds — the play-by-play and analysts were 200 miles away in St. Augustine, Florida, while host Mike Tirico was at his home office in Michigan. The match went over four hours, primarily because players were at times held in place to give the six TV cameras time to get in position on the next hole.
Fowler played the best golf and staked his side to the lead with four birdies in a six-hole stretch around the turn, including a 20-footer on No. 11 that was worth two skins at $200,000. He raised his finger and McIlroy said, “Did you hear all those cheers?” There were no fans, and fewer than 50 people were at Seminole. All were tested for the new coronavirus.
The last live competition on TV was March 12, the first round of The Players Championship. It was canceled the next day, along with other tournaments that either were scrapped or postponed.
Next up is another exhibition match on May 24 down the road at Medalist, where Tiger Woods plays when home. Woods and Peyton Manning will face Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in a match billed as “Champions for Charity” that will raise $10 million for COVID-19 relief efforts.
The real show is to return on June 11 with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. The tour has said it will not allow fans for at least a month, and perhaps longer depending on it goes. Players will have access to charter flights and a designated hotel.
The NCAA put all spring sports on hold this year due to the coronavirus pandemic - but what will the fall look like?
Illinois State University athletic director Larry Lyons says those conversations are starting on a national level. In particular, people are wondering will football start on time.
Some other sports hoping for a normal return this fall include volleyball, soccer, and cross country. As for fans in the stands, Lyons says only time will tell.
The Chicago Bears have declined their fifth-year option for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky for the 2021 season. The NFL Network first reported the decision.
The move is hardly a surprise considering the way Trubisky struggled in his third season since the Bears drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick. His yards (3,138), completion rate (63.2%), touchdowns (17) and rating (83) all dropped from the previous year.
The Bears acquired 2018 Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles from Jacksonville in March and plan to hold an open competition for the starting job.
General manager Ryan Pace largely staked his reputation to Trubisky when he traded up a spot with San Francisco to draft him ahead of Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Houston’s Deshaun Watson. While Mahomes and Watson have emerged as two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, Trubisky has mixed promising flashes with too many poor decisions and throws. And he is facing a murky future in Chicago.
The Bears went 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years last season after winning the NFC North at 12-4. Though their defense continued to excel, their offense ranked among the worst in the NFL.
Chicago lacked playmakers to complement receiver Allen Robinson and got little production from its tight ends. It addressed that issue by signing five-time Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham in March and drafting Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet in the second round last month.