Sunday, March 18, 2018

NCAA Tournament Regional Mixlr Announcing Schedule

It has been a wild NCAA Tournament. No, I really mean wild. I mean, in all caps, WILD. A one seed lost in the First Round, another in the Second. The best way I can put it, the Nevada Wolf Pack and the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers are going to play in a game in which the winner will advance to the Elite Eight. In that same regional, we don't have a single top four seed. That's the first time that's happened. Ever. The West Region had both it's one and two seeds lose in the second round, one in blowout fashion. And oh yeah, Syracuse is making another deep run when they didn't even deserve to make the Tournament, but then again, that happens every other year it seems. So anyway, let's get to what's happening on Mixlr this weekend.

Thursday, March 22nd
S7 Nevada vs. S11 Loyola-Chicago
7pm on Wellington Sports Radio with Pierre Moss
W3 Michigan vs. W7 Texas A&M
7:30pm on Ultimate Sports Radio Network with Matthew Owens
S5 Kentucky vs. S9 Kansas State
9:30pm on WSR with Calvin Vandergrift
W4 Gonzaga vs. W9 Florida State
10pm on USRN with Seth Eaves

Friday, March 23rd
MW1 Kansas vs. MW5 Clemson
7pm on USRN with Matthew Owens
E1 Villanova vs. E5 West Virginia
7:30pm on WSR with Pierre Moss
MW2 Duke vs. MW11 Syracuse
9:30pm on USRN with Matthew Owens
E2 Purdue vs. E3 Texas Tech
10pm on WSR with Calvin Vandergrift

Saturday, March 24th
South Regional Final: Nevada/Loyola Chicago vs. Kentucky/Kansas State
TBA Time on WSR with Calvin Vandergrift
West Regional Final: Michigan/Texas A&M vs. Gonzaga/Florida State
TBA Time on USRN with Seth Eaves

Sunday, March 25th
East Regional Final: Villanova/West Virginia vs. Purdue/Texas Tech
TBA Time on WSR with Pierre Moss
Mid-West Regional Final: Kansas/Clemson vs. Duke/Syracuse
TBA Time on USRN with Matthew Owens

Make sure to tune in:
USRN: http://mixlr.com/ultimate-sports-radio-network/
WSR: http://mixlr.com/wellington-sports-radio/


Saturday, March 17, 2018

NCAA Tournament Second Round Mixlr Announcing Schedule

The field of sixty four has been trimmed to thirty two and we are close to it being dwindled down to just sixteen. Our coverage of the NCAA Tournament on Mixlr.com continues Sunday with the final day of Second Round action, and here's our network and announcing schedule.

E2 Purdue vs. E10 Butler
12pm on USRN with Seth Eaves
MW3 Michigan State vs. MW11 Syracuse
2:30pm on WSR with Pierre Moss
W2 North Carolina vs. W7 Texas A&M
5pm on USRN with Matthew Owens
S9 Kansas State vs. S16 UMBC
7:45pm on USRN with Matthew Owens
E5 West Virginia vs. E13 Marshall
9:30pm on WSR with Seth Eaves

Additionally, on Monday there will be a Second Round NCAA Women's Basketball game on USRN with Matthew Owens with the game's matchup still to be determined.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

NCAA Tournament First Round Mixlr Announcing Schedule

The NCAA Tournament is here and we will have a ton of action for you live on the Ultimate Sports Radio Network and our family of networks on Mixlr.com. Our four networks (USRN, Wellington Sports Radio, UNB! Network and GEN Network) will be bringing you live calls of multiple games throughout the tournament. How to listen? Here's the links to each of our networks:

Ultimate Sports Radio Network: http://mixlr.com/ultimate-sports-radio-network/

Wellington Sports Radio: http://mixlr.com/wellington-sports-radio/

UNB! Network: http://mixlr.com/unbnetwork/

GEN Network: http://mixlr.com/gen-network/

And here's a look at our broadcast schedule for the first two days of the NCAA Tournament:

Thursday, March 15th
MW7 Rhode Island vs. MW10 Oklahoma
12pm on USRN with Matthew Owens
W4 Gonzaga vs. W13 UNC-Greensboro
1:15pm on WSR with Calvin Vandergrift
W5 Ohio State vs. W12 South Dakota State
3:45pm on USRN with Seth Eaves
MW8 Seton Hall vs. MW9 North Carolina State
4:15pm on WSR with Pierre Moss
S5 Kentucky vs. S12 Davidson
7pm on USRN with Matthew Owens
W6 Houston vs. W11 San Diego State
7:15pm on GEN with Joey Gucciardo
E3 Texas Tech vs. E14 Stephen F. Austin
7:15pm on UNB with Seth Eaves
S4 Arizona vs. S13 Buffalo
9:30pm on GEN with Calvin Vandergrift
E6 Florida vs. E11 St. Bonaventure
9:45pm on USRN with Matthew Owens

Friday, March 16th
W7 Texas A&M vs. W10 Providence
12pm on WSR with Matthew Owens
E7 Arkansas vs. E10 Butler
3pm on WSR with Pierre Moss
E5 West Virginia vs. E12 Murray State
3:45pm on USRN with Calvin Vandergrift
S7 Nevada vs. S10 Texas
4:15pm on GEN with Seth Eaves
W1 Xavier vs. W16 North Carolina Central OR Texas Southern
7:15pm on GEN with Joey Gucciardo
MW4 Auburn vs. MW13 Charleston
7:15pm on USRN with Seth Eaves
W8 Missouri vs. W9 Florida State
9:45pm on USRN with Seth Eaves
MW5 Clemson vs. MW12 New Mexico State
9:45pm on UNB with Calvin Vandergrift

Second Round matchups and announcers will be announced late Friday night.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Wozniacki beats Halep to win 1st major at Australian Open

By JOHN PYE
AP Sports Writer

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- For all her success in tennis, from holding the No. 1 ranking for more than a year to winning 27 titles, one question had plagued Caroline Wozniacki's career.

Did she have what it takes to win a major?

It took 43 Grand Slam tournaments and two failed attempts in finals before Wozniacki ended her drought with a 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4 win over top-seeded Simona Halep in the Australian Open final on Saturday night.

Only three woman have taken longer to achieve their major breakthrough, a list topped by 2015 U.S. Open winner Flavia Pennetta (49).

"One of the most positive things about all of this - I'm never going to get that question again," the 27-year-old Wozniacki said as she clung to the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. "I'm just waiting for the question `When are you going to win the second one?'"

So more than eight years after appearing in her first Grand Slam final at the 2009 U.S. Open - a straight sets loss to Kim Clijsters - Wozniacki has finally erased the "but never won a major" footnote on her resume.

"Obviously adding a Grand Slam to my CV is what caps it off ... shows my whole career as a whole," Wozniacki said.

She'll also regain the top ranking next week for the first time in six years - beating Serena Williams' record of 5 years, 29 days between stints at No. 1 on the women's tour - in another benefit of beating the top-seeded Halep.

Wozniacki lost two U.S. Open finals - in `09 and 2014 - and Halep lost two French Open finals before their meeting at Melbourne Park.

It set up a first major final in the Open era between players ranked No. 1 and 2 who had never won a Grand Slam title.

Also, it was the first time that both Australian Open finalists had saved match points en route to the final.

In Halep's case, she was the first player who had saved match points in multiple matches. She saved triple match point in the third set to beat Laura Davis 15-13 in the third set of her third-round match. She also saved match points in her semifinal against Angelique Kerber.

Wozniacki saved match points in her second-round win over Jana Fett and said from then on she was "playing with the house money."

So both players rolled the dice in the 2-hour, 49-minute final, which featured long, absorbing rallies, some gritty defense, a combined 65 clean winners and 10 service breaks.

"I know that today is a tough day," said Wozniacki, acknowledging Halep's quest for a major. "I'm sorry I had to win today but I'm sure we'll have many matches in the future. Incredible match, incredible fight. And again, I'm sorry."

Halep was playing with an injured left ankle, needed treatment for dizziness in the second set and had rallied from a break down in the third set to lead 4-3 when Wozniacki took a medical time out to have her left knee taped. In the end, she just ran out of steam.

"It's not easy to talk now," Halep said. "It's been a great tournament for me. Sad that I couldn't make it the third time, maybe the fourth time will be with luck."

"I can still smile. I cried, but now I'm smiling,"

Wozniacki is the third first-time major winner in the four Grand Slam tournaments since Serena Williams won the 2017 Australian Open.

Williams chose not to defend the title after taking time out following the birth of her first child in September.

She didn't watch the game, saying she gets too nervous, but Williams tweeted to congratulate her good friend Wozniacki.

"New number one and aussie open champ. So awesome. So happy. Are those tears? Yup they are. From a year ago to today I'm so proud my friend so proud."

Wozniaki had never won a set in a major final until she went on a roll late in the opening tiebreaker, having wasted a chance to serve for the set at 5-3.

Halep rallied in the second, on either side of treatment from the trainer for her blood pressure to be checked amid the hot and humid conditions.

The players had a 10-minute break between the second and third sets, and Wozniacki come out quickly with an early break.

But Halep rallied again and, after an exchange of service breaks, she was leading 4-3 in the third when Wozniacki called for a medical timeout.

The momentum shifted again, and Wozniacki set up championship point on Halep's serve by retrieving and scrambling and eventually timing a forehand winner to finish off a stunning rally.

"That was a crazy point," Wozniacki said. "We both played very well. I had that backhand cross-court. I knew at that point I have to hit it hard, I have to just go for it cross-court. I was like, `Wow, that's a great shot.'"

On match point, Halep stayed on the attack and Wozniacki tried to play deep, even framing some shots, before the Romanian netted backhand.

"When I saw that ball go into the net," Wozniacki said, "it was crazy emotional."

She attributed it all to the comeback in the second round, when she was staring at another early exit.

"From being almost out of the tournament to sitting here with the Australian Open trophy, it's amazing," Wozniacki said. "It's been quite a turnaround. Something I'm very proud of."

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Venturini Motorsports’ Teammates Natalie Decker and Leilani Münter Ready for Spotlight in ARCA Racing Series Opener at Daytona

CONCORD, NC – Get ready Daytona, ARCA drivers Natalie Decker and Leilani Münter are coming to town and they’re not coming quietly.

Fueled with a strong desire to succeed, captivating personalities and overwhelming popularity among their fan base, the combination of Decker and Münter pack a powerful punch.

Driving for long-time ARCA Racing Series fixture Venturini Motorsports, female teammates Natalie Decker and Leilani Münter are set to take flight in next month’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season opening Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway February 10.

The lure of winning on racing’s biggest stage is every driver’s dream. But for these two women the thought of out-dueling a field of 40-drivers and capturing Daytona glory is more than just a dream – it’s a chance to make history.

As the only women entered in ARCA’s premier race, Decker and Münter stand out among a crowded garage bidding to become the first female winner in the series’ storied 65-year history.

“Every driver dreams of racing and winning at Daytona. This is exactly what I've been dreaming of since I started racing karts as a kid,” says 20-year old ARCA driver Natalie Decker. “I’m living my dream. Everyone in the garage are chasing the same goal. As far I’m concerned all drivers are created equal – we all share the same racing DNA. Once I put on my helmet I’m no different than anyone else.”

Aiming for a championship run in the ARCA Series this season Decker will make her Daytona debut in February. Earlier this month during open testing at Daytona’s famed track the Eagle River, WI native topped single car practice runs behind the wheel of her No.25 Venturini Motorsports – N29 Capital Partners Toyota entry.

Fully aware of the sports' history, Decker’s teammate, Leilani Münter, offers similar sentiments about creating headlines at Daytona.

“It’s all about breaking a glass ceiling,” says Leilani. “We’re not the first and won’t be the last female racers with a chance to win at this level. Obviously winning Daytona would be incredible and life-changing for me but it’s bigger than that - no women driver has ever won in the ARCA series or any of NASCAR’s top three series’ for that matter. The conversation should not be if it will happen, it’s about when it will happen.”

Known best for her environmental voice, Leilani will drive the No.20 Vegan Strong car during her sixth start at Daytona and tenth overall career ARCA start since 2010. Last season driving for Venturini Motorsports at Daytona Münter had a fantastic run going, running as high as fourth in the final stages of the race. With just 15-laps to go, running sixth, Leilani took heavy contact from another car as they raced down the backstretch - ending her chances.

Don’t miss Decker and Munter as they join the a stacked field during the 55th running of the Daytona ARCA 200 from Daytona International Speedway Saturday, Feb. 10 with live, flag-to-flag coverage aired on the Ultimate Sports Radio Network beginning at 4pm EST.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Transcript: Teleconference With 2018 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Inductee Ken Squier

An interview with:
KEN SQUIER

THE MODERATOR:  Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference.  We are joined today by legends of our sport who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame next Friday.
            We'll start with Ken Squier.  Thank you so much for joining us today.  With the induction ceremony a week away, I'm sure your speech is in a good place.  Maybe kick us off with what are some of the highlights you plan to touch on in your speech come next Friday.
            KEN SQUIER:  Well, I guess as much as anything, the standard of the five people who are represented in the Hall of Fame this year, and the consequence of that combination of people that is a bit different than what it has been in the past.
            I'm really excited about it for Red Byron, who I truly believe is one of the most misunderstood heroes of that time period.  I'm thrilled that I'm one of the ones that will join him in the Hall of Fame.
            As far as I was concerned, from the outset, Red Byron should have been there.  But that's what it's all about, because it's voted by the peers.  So many are younger than the generation that Red Byron came from and when he won the title in 1948.  History has been rectified a bit.  I'm thrilled about that.
            THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Ken.  I think we can open it up to some questions.

            Q.  Ken, in 1979, ABC had already been doing flag-to-flag coverage of the Indy 500 for seven years.  How hard was it for you to sell CBS on the same thing with the '79 Daytona 500, which turned out to be a benchmark in many ways?
            KEN SQUIER: 
It was a matter of introducing people from Manhattan into the scope of American stockcar racing.  In the bread basket of America, that was the name of the tune that turned people on the most at that time.
            No one really understood that.  All you city guys, you had it down as to what was sport and what was not.  Usually it came out that the stockcar racing is defined as a good race around the block with a few exciting moments in it.
            Having them, CBS, take an interest in it, we did a group of races before we ever did the Daytona 500, and they did it so well.  It was like everything the network did in those days.  They spent the time, spent the energy, forethought to really put together what it was about.  This was a new page.
            We had done races.  We had done them live.  The Great American Race was one unto itself.  It really represented the face of the entire stockcar sport.  After a little match was touched, they got onto it.  Bob Wesler (phonetic) at those times, early times, in the late '70s, went down and took a peek.  He said, Yup, that's the right deal.  We'll begin to think about how we could do it and do it better.

            Q.  I remember when CBS ran its last Daytona 500, one of the things that you talked about was how big you thought and how big Bill France Sr. thought the sport would become because of that television participation.
            KEN SQUIER:
  Bill France thought big all the time.  That never changed (laughter).
            He was one of the most innovative and incredible people in the history of American sport, as far as I'm concerned.  Got thrown out of Indianapolis, tossed out the door.  Those stockcar guys, what a crowd that was.  He went home to Daytona Beach and said, I'll fix that.  He did.  He built that two-and-a-half mile track, got the investors.  He was brilliant enough to get the backing of the people that changed people's minds.  Fellows like the New York Times became hot on his list.  It wasn't just the racing newspapers, the rag trade, it was top to bottom that this was the opportunity for this sport to blossom.  Bill took full advantage.

            Q.  Ken, I was wondering what you see as the biggest impact of Ray Evernham, who is being inducted in the class with you?
            KEN SQUIER: 
Well, he's one of those people that has grown up in it.  He's come through all the various divisions of NASCAR.  He turned out to be a pretty good announcer.
            His background is deep.  He is totally dedicated.  I don't know what more you can add to that.  After all, he started at Belmar, Wall Stadium down in New Jersey.  He carried on and found ways.  He's a guy of principle.  He found a way to continue to develop his ability to do things in racing.  He was one of those people that was going to be needed, and needed badly, who not only understood how to put some pieces and parts together, but he also was a good manager of people.  That was a whole part of the act.
            A lot of those early days of stockcar racing, you got the neighbors to come help.  If you were lucky, you were the Wood Brothers in Virginia with a bunch of cousins, a nice barn they could build a car in, they were in business.
            That changed.  It changed so dramatically.  It needed the kind of people that Evernham represented.  Wherever he went, whatever he did, he just kept growing on it.  It wasn't something that he was born with, a natural thing to do.  It was something that he really dedicated himself to.
            When he and Jeff Gordon got together, that was some of the magic in that period, in the early ['90s].

            Q.  Ken, I think you get credited for coming up with the phrase 'The Great American Race' to describe the Daytona 500.  What were some of the origins, and how did that phrase come about?
            KEN SQUIER: 
Well, France Sr. had me down there from the '60s.  Daytona always stood out separately, individually, for one thing, the time of year, because most racetracks in America were closed.  It was the gathering of the tribes in Daytona Beach, which went all the way back to the turn of the century, when Henry Ford, the Chevrolet brothers, all of that tribe went down there.  They raced down that hard-packed beach.  That never stopped.  One way or another, they continued to go down there in the month of February and toast a few of their friends from the past and turn some wheels.
            That Spirit of Daytona is more prevalent than any other when you talk about tracks and parts of the country.  In my mind, it needed something that set it aside.  Indianapolis was always the greatest spectacle in sports.  Indeed, it was.
            But what was Daytona?  Well, it was All-American stockcars in those days, and pretty much the neighbors sounded like your neighbors, particularly if you came from a small town.  What would come to mind?  I fooled around with that for a long time.
            I was in Australia doing a show.  They had a great race over there.  It was a long one, it was a dinger, and it was a national holiday.  On the way home, I thought, God, that's what Daytona is.  It's The Great American Race.
            I got chewed up pretty good about that.  Hadn't I ever heard of Indy?  I sure as the dickens had.  This was coming from a different place.  Sure enough in 1958, when those three cars came across wheel-to-wheel at the end of 500 miles, that was The Great American Race.

            Q.  Ken, if I'm remembering correctly, you were pretty heavily involved in the development of some of the first in-car cameras.  How did all that happen from your perspective?
            KEN SQUIER: 
Went over to Sydney, Australia, to do a bodybuilding program in the Sydney Opera House.  Naturally I got chatting with the folks from TV down there.  They were telling me about these cameras they had.  We had already done two or three years of actively trying to do things at CBS with in-car cameras, which incidentally I feel was as important as nearly anything, not quite as important as the '79 race, but the idea that you could take what most people considered a reality sport, and a calamity one, you could actually get inside the car and ride with the fella or lady, and experience what they experienced.
            I thought that did as much as anything.  Cale Yarborough has full credit.  Well, Benny Parsons originally.  My God, I think he drove to third or fifth the year he carried it.  All of them were concerned about it.  You talk about balance, how important it is in the car.  Crew chiefs, they were snake bit about that thing.
            The Australians had developed a camera that would turn 360 degrees.  They could look out the front, look out the back, look out the side, and look at the guy's feet when he was pedaling along in the thing.  It was just the kind of thing that America needed to see.  You could talk about being 200 miles an hour, but until you actually set beside Cale Yarborough and were going 200 miles, it was just a name, a number, and nothing more.  That changed all that.
            I'll tell you a great story.  Cale Yarborough, the first year he ran it, that was the year I believe of the 200-mile-an-hour lap, did it right, then showed you what happened if you did it wrong, slid down the front straightaway on his roof.  He was excited about the concept of being able to do stuff from inside the car.  Of course, everybody knows he's a little crazy anyway (laughter).
            He said, You know, I'll do that on one condition.  I can describe the start of the race.
            Whoa, wait a minute.  In those days, if you'd done anything with Formula One, that was sacrosanct.  You didn't talk to the driver before he climbed in and settled down to go.  And Cale said, Yeah, I could go.  Well, we didn't have time for it then, nor place for it because there was consideration, and serious, about what would happen if Cale put it on his ear.
            We ran that first race.  There actually was audio from his car.  It was the sound of the car.  Got down toward showtime, the finish, the audio guy, who was one of the brilliant people from CBS in those days, said, We're developing a problem here.  We've got a harmonic, and I can't find it.  It just keeps coming.  Every time this car goes up on that 31-degree banking, we can't hear anything but this ZZZZ going around the track.  That was high harmonic.  It took them about 15 minutes to realize that the sound they were hearing was that of Cale Yarborough describing each lap when he got down and bore down, hammered down on the high banks.  He would take a deep breath, then he would exhale.  We heard it all around the world.  It was a bit of a mystery, but not a mystery if you knew Cale Yarborough.

            Q.  So much has been said and written about that '79 finish.  I think Cale still thinks he was in the right.  Donnie still thinks he was in the right.  What is your view of that?  Is one more at fault than the other for what happened?
            KEN SQUIER: 
No, no.  If you read Donnie's book, I thought he did a pretty good job with that.  They were racers.  Here is the point:  They were short track racers.  They were used to that kind of in-your-door, side-by-side, you ain't rubbing, you ain't racing kind of stuff.  When it come down to it, they both came down from two laps down, made it up, and there they were scrapping to win, their Kentucky Derby, whatever you will.
            So they were on each other, both as determined as any race drivers that ever walked the face of the earth.  They were not going to give it up.  There you saw the result.  It was a very dramatic moment.
            Then we had to search around and find third, fourth and fifth.  They were running tail to tail about 12 seconds back.  It just built into an incredible finish, along with weather conditions in the east, and the whole sense of drama of that race.
            Cale and Donnie were knocked out early, spun down into the first and second turn.  Everybody pretty much thought, Well, that's the end of their day.  No, not with those guys.  If that car would run, and run well, they'd put it right back into contention.  Indeed, they did.

            Q.  Ken, this is the 20th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt's lone Daytona 500 win.  You had the opportunity to be in Victory Lane and interview him in that special moment.  I'm wondering, of the things that you did particularly on air, where does that rank in your highlights?  What are the special moments that still stand out of being in Victory Lane at Daytona in 1998 with Dale Earnhardt, the only time he was there for the 500?
            KEN SQUIER:
  Well, he was there more than anyone else as far as pulling into Victory Lane.  But the one that kept escaping him was that one, the 500.  He was determined to win it.
            Just how emotional he could be, pretty much always hide it.  But you couldn't hide that.  Everything that he thought about all of his life was winning the Daytona 500.  That represented to him the top of the mountain.  That was it.  Heretofore, he was just Sisyphus, rolling the rock up the mountain.  It rolled back on top of him a lot of times when it came to the Daytona 500.
            It was an accomplishment that I don't think many people could understand.  Anyone who's run second, third, fourth, fifth, that kind of thing, and tried so hard, come up short for one reason or another, I think they would understand it.  But in Earnhardt's case, that determination and that fixation, he never backed out.  He was there to the finish every time, including the year that he passed away, crashed up there in turn three.  He was still going.
            I've often thought, particularly about Dale, that when he saw his car with young Waltrip driving, Michael, and his son wheel-to-wheel, battling it out, I often thought that was the one time perhaps that he wasn't on the floor and just holding that car up, balancing it on every end of the track, being satisfied he'd won it, and there was his son battling one of his cars.  What a moment that must have been for him.
            He was back there with his pals, Sterling Marlin, that crowd.  They were all guys that had grown old together, racing together.  I just can't imagine what it was like for him when he poured down into turn three and had the sense that, Hey, either his team or his son was on their way in the Daytona 500.

            Q.  Any other special memories of being with Dale in Victory Lane in that 1998 Daytona 500 because of all the things that he went through, like you talked about?  Obviously you got that opportunity to be there where so many people would have loved to be able to be a part of that moment.
            KEN SQUIER: 
You know, that's such a good question.  I can't give you an answer.  I need to go back and look at that thing again.  You're right, it was the moment.
            No, I didn't do well by you in trying to remind myself of that.  I'll have to look at some notes.  I bet I didn't have it down.

            Q.  Ken, I was hoping you could maybe share with us what you consider to be the greatest media advancement in covering NASCAR racing now.
            KEN SQUIER:
  Where we are today?

            Q.  Yes.  From what you've seen through all the years, your involvement in the sport, what do you think is something you either thought, I can't believe this happened, this is such a fantastic thing?  What makes you impressed?
            KEN SQUIER: 
I guess what's most impressive - this sounds pretty silly - but it's the competition.  Take that back to Mike Helton.  When he came in there in the 1990s, was such a good human being, was so fair, but was so determined that he was going to keep that thing on the straight and narrow.  Now, you're dealing with 40 cars in a race, and everyone has an opinion on how to read that rule book.  He survived that.
            What you have today, that is the fruit of it.  It's pretty good tasting.  The competition is close, and the cars are better, and they are safer.  But the safety was never a factor in those early days.  I mean, it was racing, and everybody understood it, that it was dangerous.  They advanced the safety.  They advanced the cars.  They advanced all the parts and pieces that go into those things.  I think that, as you watch these races today, and particularly the stage racing, I wasn't very happy about that when they were going to do that.  I love the stage idea.  I had some other ideas about how they should do it.
            But what they did was they added the intensity with which those guys can compete, for all of them, to every lap.  In the old days, it wasn't that way.  There were guys out there having a heck of a good time, but they weren't driving as hard as they could because they could not, they should not.  They didn't have a nickel to put together on a lot of those cars when the race was over, but they'd given it a good shot.  The economics of it were such that they had to race within their means.  That's gone away.
            When we see them out there today racing, it's a whole different world than the world I live in.  That's not to say that those days with Pearson and Cale and Richard and the Allisons, all that crowd, weren't great races, great personalities.  But today what they have effected in NASCAR is a form of racing in which you have to be part of it, you have to be able to stay the course under the incredible pressure that they exert on each other.  We see the crisis and chaos when just one guy puts a wheel out of line midway through an event.
            That kind of thing, I thought, would buoy the whole sport up again.  It hasn't come to pass yet, but I've got to think that as time goes on it will help NASCAR and racing to be understood for what it is, because it sure is different.
            THE MODERATOR:  Thank you so much, Ken, for your time, the great stories and great answers today.  Good luck in the next week and a half.  I bet you're all wrapped up on your speech.
            KEN SQUIER:  Speech?  There's a speech involved in this thing?  All they said was I had to show up for dinner at all those things and get the chicken (laughter).
            THE MODERATOR:  Thank you so much.


FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

No. 4 Alabama dominates No. 1 Clemson 24-6 in Sugar Bowl

By PAUL NEWBERRY
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Nick Saban is back in his comfort zone.

Let others run up the points. He’ll take a defensive slugfest every time.

Especially when it gives Alabama another shot at a national title.

In a game where every yard was a struggle, the Crimson Tide defenders took matters into their own hands. They accounted for a pair of touchdowns just 13 seconds apart in the third quarter to turn an offensive slog into a 24-6 rout of defending national champion Clemson in the Sugar Bowl semifinal game Monday night.

“This game was about our identity as a team,” Saban said. “I don’t think anybody would doubt our relentless attitude out there. We had a warrior-like mentality.”

He was clearly pleased.

Sure, it was quite a contrast to the first two meetings in the Alabama-Clemson trilogy, both high-scoring classics with the national title on the line , not to mention the Rose Bowl semifinal that preceded it. Georgia knocked off Oklahoma 54-48 in a double-overtime thriller that wasn’t decided until the Alabama was on its second possession in the Big Easy.

There would be no drama in the nightcap. With Deshaun Watson off to the NFL, top-ranked Clemson (12-2) simply had no answer for the Tide’s latest group of defensive standouts, setting up an all-Southeastern Conference showdown for the national title — with Saban matched against his former defensive coordinator, Georgia coach Kirby Smart.

“I’m proud of the job he’s done,” Saban said. “I’m sure it will be a great football game.”

Leading only 10-6 after a turnover to start the second half handed Clemson a field goal, the fourth-ranked Tide (12-1) quickly snuffed out any thoughts of a repeat title for the Tigers.

It began with 308-pound defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne picking off a wobbly pass after besieged Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant was hit as he threw. Payne rumbled 21 yards on the return, shedding one would-be tackler with a deft open-field move and drawing a 15-yard personal foul penalty when he was finally dragged down with a horse collar tackle.

After Alabama drove to a first down at the Clemson 1, Payne re-entered the game — presumably to add another big body for blocking purposes. Instead, he slipped open near the right pylon on a play fake and hauled in a touchdown pass, even managing to get both feet down before the celebration commenced beyond the sideline.

“I’ve got gold hands,” quipped Payne, who was picked as the game’s defensive MVP.

A bit shell-shocked by that turn of events, Clemson was thoroughly demoralized after its next offensive play. Bryant’s pass deflected off the hands of Deon Cain and was intercepted by linebacker Mack Wilson, who returned it 18 yards for another TD.

They could’ve called it right then.

“Just incredibly disappointed in our performance,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “But congratulations to Alabama. They were the better team today. No doubt about it.”

The Tide, which began the season in Atlanta beating Florida State , will return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium next Monday night to face No. 3 Georgia and give Saban a shot at his sixth title, which would match Bear Bryant.

Saban has four championships in the last eight years at Alabama, along with a BCS title at LSU during the 2003 season.

This is eerily reminiscent of Alabama’s run to the 2011 championship, another season when the Tide didn’t even win its own division or play for the SEC title. That year, Saban’s team lost at home to LSU during the regular season but got a second chance against the top-ranked Tigers with the biggest prize on the line — in the Sugar Bowl, no less.

On that night in the Big Easy, Alabama defense didn’t allow LSU to cross midfield until the closing minutes of a suffocating 21-0 victory. This defensive performance was nearly as impressive.

Clemson was held to 188 yards — 260 yards below its season average — and never reached the end zone. Bryant was sacked five times and the Tigers were held to 64 yards on the ground.

Alabama played it tough right to the end, denying Clemson on a fourth-down pass into the end zone with just over a minute remaining.

Clearly, the Tide was still ticked off about the way last season ended, giving up a TD pass with 1 second remaining to hand Clemson the national title.

“This,” Saban said, “was a little bit personal for us.”

SILENT RENFROW

Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow was known as the Tide Killer.

Not this time.

After hauling in four TD passes in the last two national championship games — including, of course, the title winner a year ago — Renfrow was held to just 31 yards on five receptions. All of his catches came in fourth quarter with Alabama comfortably ahead.

“From the opening kickoff, they hit us in the mouth,” Renfrow said.

THE TAKEAWAY

Alabama: The Tide’s defense against Georgia’s offense will be an especially intriguing matchup given the way the semifinal games played out. One thing to keep an eye on: Anfernee Jennings was helped off with a sprained knee late in the game after recording a sack and three tackles for losses, another potential blow to the Tide’s already beleaguered linebacker corps.

Clemson: The Tigers looked at this game as a chance to show they had surpassed Alabama as college football’s most dominant program. Sorry, the Tide is still king.

“We’ll be back,” Swinney vowed.

UP NEXT

Alabama: A national championship game to end the season for the third year in a row and sixth time in the last nine seasons.

Clemson: Opens the 2018 season Sept. 1 by hosting FCS school Furman.