Soccer: U.S. Women's National Team World Cup Media Day
May 24, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Carli Lloyd , Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe take questions during the U.S. Women’s National Team World Cup media day at Twitter NYC. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

May 24, 2019

By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The 1999 U.S. women’s team may defy comparison in the eyes of many soccer fans but, 20 years after their famous World Cup triumph, the challenges they faced are all too familiar with pay and conditions still at the top of the agenda.

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has boosted the prize money for this year’s women’s World Cup to $30 million but that figure is dwarfed by the roughly $448 million on offer at the men’s tournament in Russia last year.

“For the resources and for the ability that FIFA has to implement that change (more investment), they’re not doing nearly enough,” co-captain Megan Rapinoe said on Friday. “I hope that it’s just so much better (in 20 years) than it is now.”

The success of the 1999 team, playing in front of huge home crowds, turned players like Mia Hamm into household names and inspired a generation of girls and female athletes, even if the promise of widespread gender parity in sports remains elusive.

In March, the U.S. women’s squad sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination, saying the sport’s national organizing body paid them less than the men’s team despite their superior performance and provided them with sub-standard facilities.

Julie Foudy, a midfielder on the 1999 team, told Reuters earlier this week that she was “frustrated” there was still a need to pursue the dispute.

“It’s exhausting to keep fighting that fight and especially (for them) to do it right before a World Cup,” Foudy said.

All 23 members of this year’s squad spoke to the media ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Mexico, part of a farewell series of friendlies ahead of next month’s tournament in France where they will be defending the title they won in 2015.

“I think it’s pretty clear women in sport have not been treated with the same care and financing that men’s sports has,” said Rapinoe.

Despite the frustration over the progress made by the women’s game since the U.S. beat China 5-4 on penalties to win the 1999 World Cup, that triumph continues to resonate.

Co-captain Alex Morgan, who has drawn comparisons to Hamm, said the 1999 team were very influential in her development.

“The ’99ers had a huge impact on me and growing my passion to want to play, and being good friends with a lot of them now, I still draw a lot of inspiration from them,” she said.

The U.S. launch their title defense against Thailand on June 11 in Group F which also features Sweden and Chile.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Source: OANN

NBA: Playoffs-Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks
FILE PHOTO: May 23, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives for the basket as Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) defends in the fourth quarter in game five of the Eastern conference finals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

May 24, 2019

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks went from a 2-0 series lead to a 3-2 deficit and face elimination Saturday in Toronto. The MVP candidate had a message for Milwaukee fans on Thursday night after the Raptors took a third consecutive game in the best-of-seven series.

“We’re not gonna fold,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’re the best team in the league. We’re gonna go in, give it everything we got. We can’t fold. We’re gonna come back to Milwaukee being pissed.”

After the 105-99 loss Thursday in Game 5, Antetokounmpo received treatment for a right ankle injury. He said there was no particular play when his ankle was hurt, but added it wouldn’t be a problem when the team takes on the Raptors in Toronto in Game 6.

“I just want to win,” Antetokounmpo said. “I think we had a chance to win it, but we didn’t. Obviously, I’m pissed. I am not gonna lie to you. We got two more games to go.”

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer took Antetokounmpo out of the game with 1:12 remaining. He said he noticed the injury when Antetokounmpo attempted a backcourt steal against Kawhi Leonard.

Budenholzer said the Bucks will all be ready to roll Saturday.

“I think we talk about the character of the group and the toughness and competitiveness of the group,” Budenholzer said. “It’s first of four. We’ve got to go to Toronto, get a game, and I think the group will be ready. They’ll fill their cup up and be ready to go.”

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
FILE PHOTO: Dec 24, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) and quarterback Dak Prescott (4) run onto the field before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

May 24, 2019

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones remains upbeat about signing quarterback Dak Prescott to a long-term deal after the sides exchanged contract proposals.

Prescott said Thursday his representatives countered the original contract offer from the Cowboys.

“We never really know where we are with anybody until we get one done,” Jones said. “But we’re moving along satisfactorily with all of our contract negotiations.”

Jones told Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin on the Rich Eisen Show in early May that he was confident the deal with Prescott, entering his fourth NFL season, would get done.

“We are sold on Dak,” Jones said. “We do want to have him for the long term. We think he is worthy of investing in for the long term. …

“When you look at the snaps he has had, the situations he has been in and how he has got here and you see he has performed, we see real upside in Dak. You don’t have it all yet. We love the way he logically progresses through a game. You see when the going gets tough when he’s got to come from behind when he turns it loose a little bit. You see him make those plays. He emboldens me to make a deal with him that puts him here for the long term.”

Dallas is installing a tweaked offensive system after Scott Linehan was replaced as coordinator by Kellen Moore. Prescott said he notices changes that are beyond subtle shifts.

“You’ll definitely notice it because we’re presenting it different,” Prescott said. “I can’t tell you we’re gonna have whole new offensive plays and things like that, but they’ll definitely be presented in different ways. And that’ll be a big help for us.”

The Cowboys selected Prescott, a Mississippi State product, in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He has started every game in three seasons, leading the team to 32 wins and two NFC East titles.

Prescott, who turns 26 in July, has completed 66.1 percent of his passes, throwing for 10,876 yards with 67 touchdowns and 25 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600-Qualifying
May 23, 2019; Concord, NC, USA; Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver William Byron (24) celebrates winning the Busch pole during qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

May 24, 2019

CONCORD, N.C. – Brad Keselowski opined on Thursday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway that the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets were the fastest cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage.

Turns out he was right — about one of them, at least.

As twilight approached at the 1.5-mile intermediate track, William Byron turned a lap in 29.440 seconds (183.424 mph) in his No. 24 Chevy to win the pole position for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The 21-year-old Charlotte native earned the distinction as the youngest pole winner in the 60-year history of NASCAR’s longest race — and at Charlotte Motor Speedway, for that matter.

In winning his second Busch Pole Award of the season and the second of his fledgling career, Byron was .057 seconds faster than second-place qualifier Aric Almirola, who turned a lap at 183.069 mph in his No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

“This is a dream come true,” Byron said after watching teammate Alex Bowman fall short as the final driver to make a qualifying run. “Obviously, I grew up in Charlotte and came to this race every year. So it’s a dream come true to qualify on the pole with Hendrick Motorsports just across the street and all the hard work and everybody at Chevrolet giving us fast race cars.

“This is pretty cool. I can’t think of a better way to start the weekend.”

Kyle Busch was third in the fastest Toyota at 182.933 mph. Austin Dillon qualified fourth, followed by Stewart-Haas teammates Kevin Harvick and Daniel Suarez.

Byron is seeking his first Cup victory, but his crew chief, seven-time champion Chad Knaus, has four wins in the Coke 600, and Byron feels their level of communication has been on an upswing.

“Yeah, just the dialog we have in the hauler or transporter or whatever you want to call it,” Byron said. “We go back and forth on communication changes. It’s starting to improve for us, and that’s where the speed is coming from. Also, the cars are getting faster. So this is really exciting.”

Joey Logano was seventh fastest, followed by Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Daniel Hemric, as Ford drivers nailed down six of the top 10 positions on the grid.

Keselowski, who qualified 21st, was slightly off the mark about the other three Hendrick cars. Chase Elliott qualified 12th, Bowman 13th and seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson 15th. Johnson, who has eight victories at Charlotte, hopes to break a winless streak that has reached 71 races.

“There are three of our Hendrick cars right there with us,” Johnson said. “The 24 (Byron) had an incredible lap, so we’ll try to dig in and see just how committed they were to qualifying. I think we were a bit more in a race scenario, the way it looks at my quick glance, but we just have to stick together as a group.

“The fact that three of our cars were there and so close in speed is a great starting spot for all of us. We had a couple of cars that ran good in the All-Star Race (last Saturday) and a couple that didn’t. Mine was one that didn’t. To piggyback on what those guys had going on is the goal for us this weekend, and we’ll see how that translates to the race.”

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying — 60th Annual COCA-COLA 600

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Concord, North Carolina

Thursday, May 23, 2019

1. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 183.424 mph.

2. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 183.069 mph.

3. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 182.933 mph.

4. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 182.766 mph.

5. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 182.741 mph.

6. (41) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 182.710 mph.

7. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 182.679 mph.

8. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 182.667 mph.

9. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 182.661 mph.

10. (8) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 182.506 mph.

11. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 182.414 mph.

12. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 182.346 mph.

13. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 182.322 mph.

14. (19) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 182.297 mph.

15. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 182.131 mph.

16. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 182.082 mph.

17. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 181.830 mph.

18. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford, 181.598 mph.

19. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 181.452 mph.

20. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 181.372 mph.

21. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 181.324 mph.

22. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 181.311 mph.

23. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 181.311 mph.

24. (47) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 180.971 mph.

25. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 180.953 mph.

26. (36) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 180.270 mph.

27. (95) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 180.132 mph.

28. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 180.102 mph.

29. (43) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 179.964 mph.

30. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 179.354 mph.

31. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 178.489 mph.

32. (00) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 177.754 mph.

33. (52) Bayley Currey(i), Ford, 177.416 mph.

34. (96) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 177.223 mph.

35. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 176.667 mph.

36. (53) BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 174.752 mph.

37. (27) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 174.503 mph.

38. (51) Cody Ware(i), Ford, 169.747 mph.

39. (77) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 169.030 mph.

40. (66) Joey Gase(i), Toyota, 168.439 mph.

–By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

Source: OANN

IndyCar: 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500-Practice
May 16, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; NTT IndyCar series driver Marco Andretti stands in his pit box during practice for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

May 23, 2019

By Steve Keating

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) – One family’s curse can be another family’s blessing but for the Andretti clan they are one and the same when it comes to the Indianapolis 500.

For more than five decades the Andrettis, starting with family patriarch Mario, have had a complicated relationship with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).

American motor racing royalty, the Andrettis have ruled over open wheel racing in the United States with a string of victories that have connected generations — father, to son, to grandson.

But for all their success at circuits around the world, Mario Andretti’s Indy 500 victory in 1969 stands alone.

That win 50 years ago this weekend was expected to be the first of many for Mario at the Brickyard.

He had already won a Daytona 500 and in 1978 would claim the Formula One drivers’ title but he would never again roll on to Victory Lane at IMS.

His son Michael, a five-times winner of the Indy 500 as a team owner, tried 16 times as a driver but never chugged from the winner’s quart of milk.

Neither has Mario’s youngest son Jeff, nephew John or grandson Marco, who will carry the family flag into Sunday’s race.

Such has been their cruel misfortune that the thinking is there could be no other explanation for the Andretti heartbreak than a curse.

Exactly what it was that so angered the racing gods, however, is uncertain.

Folklore has it that in 1970 Mario got in the middle of a feud between team owners Andy Granatelli and Clint Brawner. When Andretti sided with Granatelli, Brawner’s wife put a hex on the family promising no Andretti would win the Indianapolis 500 again.

“I never took it seriously, as a matter of fact I don’t endorse it (a curse) whatsoever,” Andretti told Reuters. “When I look at the big picture of what Indy has meant to us, what we have been able to do there, ok we were not able to control certain things that were out of our control but the fact that we led so many laps, between Michael and I especially, they knew we were there.

“Between Michael, Marco and myself we have 16 podiums,” he added. “Indy has done a lot for us so, no not a curse. I say a blessing.”

If the Andrettis are infatuated with the Indy 500 it is because the race has been a shameless flirt.


Certainly the Andrettis have plenty of reasons to feel jilted with Michael and Marco both having posted runner-up results.

Mario reflects on his own bad luck with an “it is what it is” shrug until the controversial 1981 race enters the discussion.

That year, Andretti crossed second but was declared the winner when Bobby Unser was disqualified for an illegal pit stop. Five months later on an appeal Unser was fined $40,000 and reinstated as the winner.

“By the rule book I won that race,” Andretti said. “I would have paid $40,000 all day to cheat 11 cars and cross the finish line first. “

At 79-years-old Andretti, who still takes passengers for two-seater rides around the Brickyard at close to 200 mph, remains the most popular and best known racing driver in the United States.

Fifty years on, his victory still resonate with race fans.

Museums have set up displays to mark the anniversary, a commemorative bronze pin has been stamped and Andretti merchandise is flying off the shelves of specially set up Mario merchandise stores.

Marco Andretti will pay tribute to his grandfather on Sunday by driving a car with the same day-glow red livery Mario used for his memorable 1969 victory.

The only detail yet to be worked out is an Andretti win on Sunday which would be a fairytale bookend to a family dynasty.

“There is something about that place that is so special,” Andretti said. “You would hear my screams wherever you are if Marco wins, I guarantee it.

“This would be the sweetest moment. For what it means and the amount of time that we have devoted to that (the Indy 500) would be the ultimate reward.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Cyclist Lance Armstrong of the US speaks to journalists as he leaves his bus before taking part in Geoff Thomas's 'One Day Ahead' charity event during a stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Muret to Rodez
FILE PHOTO: Cyclist Lance Armstrong of the U.S. speaks to journalists as he leaves his bus before taking part in Geoff Thomas’s ‘One Day Ahead’ charity event during a stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Muret to Rodez, France, July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Fred Lancelot

May 23, 2019

(Reuters) – Former cycling champion Lance Armstrong has said he “wouldn’t change a thing” about the doping that led to him being stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles, according to details of an interview that will air next week on NBCSN.

The network, owned by NBC Sports Group, said on Thursday it would broadcast a 30-minute interview next Wednesday called “Lance Armstrong: Next Stage” in which the 47-year-old American discusses his career and the decisions he made.

“We did what we had to do to win. It wasn’t legal, but I wouldn’t change a thing: whether it’s losing a bunch of money, going from hero to zero,” said Armstrong, who overcame cancer to win the first of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles 20 years ago, said in an excerpt of the interview provided by NBC Sports.

Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles and banned from the sport for life in 2012 after the International Cycling Union ratified the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s sanctions.

The American later admitted to cheating in a January 2013 televised interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Armstrong, once a hero to millions, suffered a spectacular fall from grace that costs him millions of dollars in lawsuits and endorsements.

“I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t change the way I acted. I mean I would, but this is a longer answer,” he said.

“Primarily, I wouldn’t change the lessons that I’ve learned. I don’t learn all the lessons if I don’t act that way. I don’t get investigated and sanctioned if I don’t act the way I acted.

“If I just doped and didn’t say a thing, none of that would have happened. None of it. I was begging for, I was asking for them to come after me. It was an easy target.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Ken Ferris)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: ATP 1000 - Italian Open
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – ATP 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 16, 2019 Taylor Fritz of the U.S. in action during his second round match against Japan’s Kei Nishikori REUTERS/Matteo Ciambelli

May 23, 2019

American Taylor Fritz advanced to his first semifinal of the year, upsetting second-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday in Lyon, France.

The top four seeds all made the quarterfinals of the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon, but only two of them moved on.

Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, the No. 1 seed, posted a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, reversing a result from the 2017 Lyon semifinals.

Fourth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada topped the United States’ Steve Johnson 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, but third-seeded Denis Shapovalov of Canada lost 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4) to France’s Benoit Paire.

Fritz, a 21-year-old California native ranked 46th in the world, is still looking for his first career ATP Tour title. He hit 16 aces against Bautista Agut without a double fault.

Fritz will oppose Paire in the semifinals while Auger-Aliassime will square off with Basilashvili.

Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva

Top-seeded German Alexander Zverev saved a set point in the first set, then went on to pull out a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dellien served for the opening set at 5-3 and was up 40-30 before Zverev began a rally that saw him take that game and the next three. Zverev wound up winning the match in 2 hours, 24 minutes.

Next up for Zverev is Argentina’s Federico Delbonis, who defeated Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6 (5), 7-5.

The other semifinal will feature fifth-seeded Radu Albot of Moldova, who beat Bosnian qualifier Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 7-5, and Nicolas Jarry of Chile, who eliminated Japan’s Taro Daniel 6-1, 7-5.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600-Practice
May 23, 2019; Concord, NC, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott (9) during practice for the Coca-cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

May 23, 2019

For all the deserved attention this Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) receives annually — for its celebration of our country’s military heroes and the challenge of mastering NASCAR’s longest race — it has presented a unique competitive situation for even the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series best.

Eight of the top-16 drivers in the current series standings — Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and Kyle Larson — have never won a regular-season race on the Charlotte oval.

Five more — Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer — have only one Charlotte trophy each despite four championships and 149 race wins among them.

Not only is this race the longest of the season (600 miles — 400 laps), but it has more stages (four) and will be contested under unusual conditions, late afternoon turning into nighttime.

“It’s a hundred miles longer than any other race we run, which provides a challenge in and of itself,” said Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. “On top of that, there is an extra stage, which gives us the opportunity to earn more points.

“The cars have less grip when the sun is out, and they tend to slip and slide a lot more. As the sun goes down, the track gets more grip and we start going faster. That’s one of the very unique things about this race.

“What you have from a drive-ability and balance standpoint from the race car at the beginning of the race is not what you have at the end. You’re trying to figure out what it takes to get your car to win at the end, and you have to be good at all facets because there are a lot of points to be made.”

There have been nine different Coca-Cola 600 winners in the last 10 years — only Kevin Harvick has won the race twice in that span. Austin Dillon earned his first-ever Monster Energy Series win in the 2017 Coca-Cola 600. Kyle Busch got his first-ever series victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway last spring.

Martin Truex Jr. set an amazing mark of dominance, leading 392 of the 400 laps, in the 2016 Coca-Cola 600. And Jimmie Johnson earned a fourth Coca-Cola 600 trophy in 2014 — tops among this week’s field.

The opportunity to win in such a unique, extended format during one of the most celebrated racing weekends of the year is something that makes the drivers even more enthusiastic.

“With it being the 600, I love the tradition of the extra 100 miles and the toll that it puts on the cars, teams and drivers,” Dillon said. “It is genuinely a cool event and one of the marquee races in NASCAR.”

As Dillon indicated, even the talented younger drivers recognize the special circumstance it takes to hoist a trophy in this particular event.

“I think it’s a true test of your fitness level and mental capacity as a driver, not just for the heat but for the endurance it takes,” said Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, who did not finish in his Charlotte 600-mile debut last year.

“Team-wise, there was a stretch for a few years that it was easier to make it 600 miles, but now with the performance as critical as it is, I think the cars are pushed more and the engines are pushed more, making it harder to go the full distance. I think this race really is a test of everything you have as the sport just gets more and more competitive.”


As with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 600-miler, the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 (Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) has proven to be one of the most competitive events on the schedule with six different winners taking the checkered flag in the past six races.

Brad Keselowski won the Xfinity Series race last year over Cole Custer and Christopher Bell — two drivers who ultimately raced for the Xfinity Series championship in 2018 and are setting themselves up for another run at the title this season.

This weekend, Austin Dillon is the only full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver entered in the race. He swept the series Charlotte races in 2015. He and veteran Jeff Green (May 2001 and May 2002) are the only former Charlotte winners in the field.

This weekend marks the 11th race for the Xfinity Series, and an impressive seven races have been won by series regulars, led by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bell (three) and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Custer (two). Both their team owners, coincidentally — Gibbs and Tony Stewart — were voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

Defending series champion Tyler Reddick (the Talladega race winner) leads the points standings by 23 points over Bell. Custer is third, 71 points behind. Austin Cindric (-81) and Justin Allgaier (-114) round out the top five.

–By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: IndyCar: 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500-Qualifying
FILE PHOTO: May 19, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; NTT IndyCar series driver Fernando Alonso fails to qualify for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

May 23, 2019

By Alan Baldwin

MONACO (Reuters) – McLaren boss Zak Brown shouldered the blame on Thursday for the team’s failure to qualify Fernando Alonso for this weekend’s Indianapolis 500 and said he would do things very differently next time.

Speaking to reporters at the Monaco Grand Prix, the American was confident there would be a return to The Brickyard but the post-mortem into what went wrong this year was still being carried out.

Brown said the reasons why McLaren felt they should be at Indianapolis had not changed and highs and lows were part of the sport.

“I think you have to dust yourself off, learn by your mistakes and come back fighting. So that’s what we intend to do,” he said. “To not do something is easy but that’s not what winners do.

“There’s very good reasons why McLaren should be in Indianapolis, it’s a big market and partners want to be there. Our motor business is strong there.”

Spaniard Alonso, a double Formula One champion and Le Mans 24 Hours winner who is chasing the so-called ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’, failed in regular qualifying and then finished fourth in a shootout for the last three grid positions.

A list of errors made by the team emerged subsequently, from having to scrounge a steering wheel at short notice to missing vital track time because the spare car was the wrong shade of orange and was elsewhere being resprayed.

Mechanics even confused inches with centimeters.

Brown said there had been “a lot of mistakes that snowballed”.

Bob Fernley, the man in charge of the McLaren Indy program, left immediately after the failure but Brown said that “ultimately it was a people issue, starting with myself, of not having all the bases covered and we just were unprepared.

“I got a variety of my decisions wrong. I think it would be unfair to blame Bob for us not qualifying. I put that on me because I put the team together.”

He said he had not wanted to cover anything up but some context was needed.

“It’s not like we showed up to the test and went ‘someone forgot the steering wheel’,” he said. “We were going to do our own steering wheel and we didn’t get it done in time. And you need a steering wheel.

“At Cosworth you can buy them off the shelf, they didn’t have any on the shelf. And so I had to pull some favors and (partners) Carlin helped to get us a steering wheel.”

After qualifying was over, there was talk about possibly buying Alonso a place with another team but that was not felt to be the right thing to do.

“When we do it again, I’ll make sure I’ve got all the right people in the right places,” said Brown, adding that the decision to continue would be independent of Alonso’s future.

“We were never doing Indianapolis for Fernando,” he said. “Whether Fernando wanted to drive with us or not wouldn’t drive our decision on whether we go back to Indy or not.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: ATP 1000 - Madrid Open
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – ATP 1000 – Madrid Open – The Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – May 10, 2019 Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his quarter final match against Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka REUTERS/Sergio Perez

May 23, 2019

By Richard Martin

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Rafael Nadal has hit form at the perfect time heading into the French Open after a slow start, by his standards, to the claycourt season caused some to doubt his chances of continuing his vice-like grip on the tournament.

Nadal has made a habit of cleaning up at the warm-up tournaments to Roland Garros, but semi-final defeats in Madrid, Barcelona and Monte Carlo led to a sense that his dominance on clay might be receding.

Yet with the prospect of a record-extending 12th title appearing far from certain, the Spaniard showed rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated with an outstanding 6-0 4-6 6-1 victory over Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open.

Few would now bet against him continuing his dominance on the surface in Paris, where he has only dropped one set since 2016.

Nadal’s rivals will have to hope the King of Clay is shorn of peak fitness.

He had only recently recovered from the knee injury which caused him to retire from Indian Wells, when he lost to Fabio Fognini in straight sets in Monte Carlo, which he described as one of his worst ever displays on clay.

He was in rusty form at the Barcelona Open and fell to another straight sets defeat to Dominic Thiem, who he crushed in the 2018 French Open final, and was beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas when hampered by a stomach bug at the Madrid Open.

He was back to his imperious best in Italy, avenging his defeat to Tsitsipas before whitewashing world number one Djokovic in the opening set for the first time on his way to a first title of the season which is unlikely to be the last.

“I don’t think Rafa needed to win in Rome to prove that he is the toughest guy to beat on clay, but it was a statement for the opponents,” Eurosport tennis expert Alex Corretja told Reuters.

“(It was) like ‘ok, I haven’t won as many tournaments as before during the claycourt season but I’m still the toughest guy to beat’, and for his self-confidence and his rhythm and his movement it was very important that he played Rome and he won…

“And it’s better that he won in Rome rather than win in Monte Carlo. It’s perfect timing, I think he has reached a crescendo in Rome.”

The 17-times Grand Slam champion certainly never doubted himself once he returned to full fitness.

“The most important thing is I feel that I’m playing well and feeling healthy and with the energy I need,” he said.

“If that happens, experience tells me I’m going to fight for titles sooner or later. The main thing for me was recover my level, then the results should be there if that happens.”


(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)

Source: OANN

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