Kenseth pulls away late to win Cup race at New Hampshire

WHOOPING IT UP: NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth celebrates after winning the New Hampshire 301 auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday in Loudon, N.H. (AP)
Updated 18 July 2016

Kenseth pulls away late to win Cup race at New Hampshire

LOUDON, N.H.: Matt Kenseth pulled away down the stretch to win the Sprint Cup race Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch each led more than 120 laps before fading late, paving the way for Kenseth to win for the second time this season.
Kenseth also won the New Hampshire race last September. He has 38th career victories.
“It was pretty much money all day,” Kenseth said. “We just had to get there.”
NASCAR said Kenseth’s No. 20 Toyota failed the post-race laser inspection system and will be brought to the research and development center in Concord, North Carolina, for more evaluation.
Tony Stewart finished second and strengthened his spot inside the top 30 in the points standings. Stewart has a win this season and needs to secure a spot in the top 30 in points to clinch a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. He entered the race in 30th in his final Cup season.
Joey Logano was third, followed by Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle.
Alex Bowman had a solid day ruined when he hit the wall late and finished 26th driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt was sidelined because he suffered from symptoms of a concussion.
“A lot of attrition there got us in the top five,” Biffle said. “We’ve got just a little bit of work to do to get our cars faster.”
Truex tumbled to 16th when his Toyota suffered a broken shifter and Busch dropped the eighth.
That allowed Kenseth, Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, to cruise to the top and snatch the lead with fellow JGR teammate Denny Hamlin with 30 laps and he drove away on the final restart with 11 to go in the 301-mile race.
But this race could be the one remembered for truly solidifying Stewart in Chase contention. He snapped an 84-race losing streak last month at Sonoma and was fifth last week at Kentucky Speedway. Smoke is heating up this summer and could be racing for a fourth championship in his final NASCAR season.
“Everyone wants this last year to be good,” Stewart said. “Sonoma, I think really helped relax everybody.”
Here are other items of note from Sunday’s race:

Bowman’s run
Bowman enjoyed perhaps the final race of his Sprint Cup career, running inside the top 10 and seemingly in position for his best finish in 72 starts.
But Bowman’s run in the No. 88 Chevrolet ended with a thud when a tire issue slammed his car into the wall and he finished 26th in his first Cup race of the season.
With four-time champion Jeff Gordon set to take the wheel next week if Earnhardt isn’t cleared, Bowman is out of options for the rest of the year.
“The result will not show what a great job @AlexBRacing and the @nationwide88 gang did this weekend. Proud of them guys,” Earnhardt tweeted.
Brad Keselowski failed in his bid to win three races. He followed wins at Daytona International Speedway and Kentucky Speedway with a 15th-place finish on Sunday.

Team owner Rick Hendrick does not think the concussion symptoms that sidelined Earnhardt are career threatening. He hoped to have NASCAR’s most popular driver back in the car next week at the Brickyard.
Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon will come out of retirement and drive the 88 next week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway if Earnhardt does not return. Hendrick says Gordon will likely remain in the car should Earnhardt need an extended absence.
Earnhardt will have more tests early this week. Hendrick Motorsports will likely make a decision on Earnhardt’s availability on Wednesday.

Up next
Kyle Busch heads to the Brickyard as defending winner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

Updated 21 January 2020

Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

  • High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire

CAIRO: There is little doubt that the switch by the Africa Cup of Nations from summer to winter competition will have a big impact on European competitions, with those at the top of the Premier League perhaps most affected.

The confederation confirmed that from 2021 when Cameroon will play host, the tournament will revert back to being played in January and February.

The tournament was moved to a June-July slot for last year’s edition in Egypt, which meant minimal disruption to the European domestic season. But plenty of Premier League managers will be left with problems this time next year, with several stars likely to leave for up to six weeks, including pre-tournament preparations.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp appears to face the biggest headache given that two of his star attacking players, Mohamed Salah from Egypt and Sadio Mane from Senegal, both featured in the African tournament last summer and are almost certain to be involved in the 2021 competition in some capacity.

High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire, while Manchester City will lose Riyad Mahrez should Algeria feature.

Klopp is critical of the decision to move the tournament dates, calling it “a catastrophe.” Salah and Mane’s absence would leave huge gaps in the Liverpool side. There is also Cameroon’s Joel Matip and Guinea’s Naby Keita to worry about. Matip has become solid at the back. Keita, too, would be a loss given his recent resurgence.

The Liverpool manager is upset because last year’s tournament was moved to mid-year to end a long-standing clash between clubs and countries over the release of their players. It was felt that common sense had prevailed when the tournament, which since 1960 had always been held during winter, reverted to summer. African players in western European clubs would no longer find themselves the target of competing claims for their attention every other season, which would benefit the players and their clubs and countries, and lead to fewer squabbles.

But then Cameroon changed its mind about hosting the tournament in summer next year, changing the dates from June and July to between Jan. 6 and Feb. 6. Why? The weather. It’s simply too hot in Cameroon in summer.

Organizers said they had agreed to the change after discussions with player and coach representatives.

But didn’t Cameroon know beforehand that its summers are too hot, too humid and right in the middle of its rainy season? That the country does not enjoy ideal conditions for football in summer could not have taken its organizers by complete surprise.

The situation serves as a vivid reminder of the botch-up of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The host and FIFA decided that the World Cup, which is forever played in summer, would be moved to winter because of Qatar’s oppressive heat — but that decision came only after Qatar won the bid. That change, again, will mean a head-on clash with international tournaments and club competitions.

A football tournament simply cannot keep changing when it will be held as often as people change their socks. This is especially true for the Africa Cup of Nations, which is played every two years.

A major sports tournament must have fixed times. And, to be sure, its organizers should understand that you can’t please everybody. A championship’s times are bound to clash with some tournament or other. The African tournament, for example, will avoid a clash with FIFA’s revamped 24-team Club World Cup to be played in China in June and July 2021. But it cannot but conflict with European leagues. The important thing is to stay the course. Once a date is picked, it should be stuck to like glue.