1. Power hopes to solidify title hopes at Sonoma: Will Power arrives at Sonoma Raceway boasting three victories and three pole starts on the 2.385-mile road course in the past four years.
With that history and a 39-point championship advantage, the Team Penske driver should be brimming with confidence entering the 85-lap GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 24 – the penultimate race of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.
“Sonoma is just a very technical racetrack. It’s a place where you have to really hit your marks and be precise. For whatever reason that fits my driving style perfectly,” said Power, who was runner-up to then-teammate Ryan Briscoe in the 2012 race. “Plus, I’ve been fortunate to drive really good Verizon Chevrolets while at Team Penske. That always helps. After the test at Sonoma a couple of weeks ago, it seems like we’ll have another fast one this weekend.”
Power has totaled a field-high 362 points on the 11 road/street circuits and 240 points in the five oval races (teammate Juan Pablo Montoya leads with 275 points).
“Certainly we are in a good position going into the last two weeks of the season. We have a lot of confidence in our ability as a team at Sonoma and Auto Club Speedway, but there is still over 150 points on the table with Fontana being a double-points race,” Power added.
“Our path is easier now, but it’s by no means easy.”
His mental ease would be soothed by leaving some baggage at the natural-terrain circuit on the way to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., for the Aug. 30 MAVTV 500 finale.
Power was atop the 2010 and 2012 standings with two races to go and finished second in the championship both years. In fact, the driver who has led the championship with two to go has failed to close in five of the past eight seasons. Sam Hornish Jr. (2006), Scott Dixon (2008) and Dario Franchitti (2011) are the exceptions.
Six drivers are eligible for the series title, and anyone enters the MAVTV 500 more than 88 points arrears is eliminated.
“I think you have to turn up to every track, doesn’t matter what it is, and know that you have a chance to win,” said Power after his Milwaukee victory Aug. 17. “I just think that’s how you become a champion. I’m very determined for that to happen this year.”
Power teammate Helio Castroneves, who has finished second or third in five of his 12 full Verizon IndyCar Series seasons, is second in the standings. Simon Pagenaud is 92 points back, followed by 2012 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay (-108), Montoya (-114) and 2013 champion Scott Dixon (-130).
How the title contenders have fared at Sonoma Raceway
*Will Power, No. 12 Team Penske – Three wins and second place, three poles in five starts.
*Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske – One win, five top-five finishes in nine starts.
*Simon Pagenaud, No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports – One top-five finish in three starts.
*Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport – No top-five finishes in seven starts.
*Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 2 Verizon Team Penske – First IndyCar start; won 2007 NASCAR race.
Championship with two races left the past five years
2013: Leader – Helio Castroneves (513). Second – Scott Dixon (-8). Third – Simon Pagenaud (-50)
Champion and final margin – Dixon by 27 points over Castroneves
2012: Leader – Will Power (422). Second – Ryan Hunter-Reay (-26). Third – Helio Castroneves (-41)
Champion and final margin – Hunter-Reay by 3 points over Power
2011: Leader – Dario Franchitti (507). Second – Will Power (-5). Third – Scott Dixon )-77)
Champion and final margin – Franchitti by 18 points over Power
2010: Leader - Will Power (552). Second – Dario Franchitti (-17). Third – Scott Dixon (-83).
Champion and final margin – Franchitti by 5 points over Power
2009: Leader - Ryan Briscoe (550). Second – Dario Franchitti (-25). Third – Scott Dixon (-33)
Champion and final margin – Franchitti by 11 points over Dixon
2. No. 12 Verizon Team Penske crew earns performance award: The No. 12 Verizon Team Penske crew won the Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award during the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest with a total pit lane time of 76.775 seconds as driver Will Power won for the third time this season.
It is the team’s fifth award this season, and the fifth overall for Team Penske. The Verizon Team Penske crew will receive their $10,000 award during pre-race festivities at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 24.
3. Hornish joins NBCSN booth at Sonoma: Sam Hornish Jr. says he’s a “bigger fan” of IndyCar racing now than when he was competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series, which will provide an interesting backdrop when the three-time series champion joins the NBCSN telecast for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma this weekend.
Hornish, who competed in three Verizon IndyCar Series races on the challenging California road course, will provide commentary along with another Indy car champion, Paul Tracy.
Brian Till is the lead announcer for the live race (4 p.m. ET Aug. 24) and qualifying (7:30 p.m. ET Aug. 23) telecasts.
It will be the initial IndyCar broadcast for Hornish, who has contributed to NBCSN’s “NASCAR America” this year and previously contributed to NASCAR Nationwide Series practice and qualifying telecasts on FOX Sports 1 and “SpeedCenter” on SPEED (the predecessor to FOX Sports 1).
“(NBCSN does) a really good job of keeping it fresh with Townsend (Bell) and Paul,” said Hornish, who caught up with Till during the NASCAR Nationwide Series race last weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. “With Paul and me, there’s a lot of knowledge of racing that will go into it. I still have a lot of feelings that the IndyCar guys feel as far as the pressures in the championship, keeping emotions in check and what you want out of the race. I think that’s one of the things had makes me credible is still living the life of a professional race car driver.”
Hornish, who won Verizon IndyCar Series titles in 2001 and 2002 for Panther Racing and ’06 with Team Penske, is competing in a limited Nationwide Series schedule this season. In seven starts, he has a victory at Iowa Speedway and three other top-five finishes for Joe Gibbs Racing. He was the series’ championship runner-up in 2013.
“This is an opportunity to get my feet wet,” said Hornish, who earned 19 victories among 47 podium finishes in 116 races over eight seasons. “You also walk that fine line of when are you more the TV guy than you are the actual driver. While I really enjoy what I’m doing, I’m looking forward to getting back to an IndyCar race.”
4. Of note: The three Mazda Road to Indy Series will conclude their 2014 season with doubleheader events at Sonoma Raceway. Three drivers – Florian Latorre and Jake Eidson of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing and R.C. Enerson of Team E – could win the USF2000 title; either Spencer Pigot of Juncos Racing or Scott Hargrove of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing will be crowned the Pro Mazda champion; while Gabby Chaves of Belardi Auto Racing, Zach Veach of Andretti Autosport and Jack Harvey of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports are the contenders for the Indy Lights title … Power, the championship points front-runner, has an average finish of 1.25 in his past four races at Sonoma Raceway. He hasn’t qualified lower than third in his five races. … Verizon IndyCar Series drivers will visit the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., this week.
The next Verizon IndyCar Series event is the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. The race will be televised live at 4 p.m. (ET) by the NBCSN (Local Cable providers, Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640/1640) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network (Local affiliates, XM 209 and Sirius 213), the Verizon INDYCAR 14 App and www.indycar.com.
PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Mike Kitchel; COURTESY INDYCAR PUBLIC RELATIONS
COLUMBIA, S.C. (August 21, 2014) – A hot and muggy afternoon on the first day of
fall semester classes greeted the South Carolina football team as they worked
out for about two hours at the Bluff Road practice fields.
Running back Mike Davis returned to practice on Thursday, but offensive lineman
Cody Waldrop remains sidelined with a sore oblique muscle.
“Cody Waldrop will be back Saturday morning,” predicted offensive line coach
Shawn Elliott. With Waldrop sidelined, Will Sport has been playing right guard
with Clayton Stadnik at center. “When Cody gets back, Cody will go to right
guard and get some reps there. Will Sport has done a really good job,” continued
Elliott. “He’s had as good of camp as anybody we’ve had up front for us. He was
in the mix to play the center position. Will could probably start at center for
us. He’s had a really good camp. He’s come a long way, one of the more improved
players we’ve had since spring. He’s carried it on this summer and into fall
camp. I’m pleased with him.”
Defensively, the Gamecocks have put most of their gameplan in for Texas A&M.
“The concern is making sure that we all know what we’re doing and we play fast
next Thursday,” said defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. “We started preparing
for A&M about four days ago, so we’ve shown them just about 98 percent of the
stuff that they do and we’re getting familiar with it.”
Coach Ward has been impressed by linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams, who is
expected to see significant playing time this season, but he is not the only one
who has caught the defensive coordinator’s eye. “We’ve got a lot of freshman
that have been impressive, especially for all the stuff we do on defense. We’ve
got a lot of young guys that came into college ready to play.”
The Gamecocks will take Friday off before beginning game week preparations for
Texas A&M on Saturday.
PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY & A COURTESY OF SOUTH CAROLINA MEDIA RELATIONS
@RazorbackFB: Practice Report – Aug. 21
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The University of Arkansas secondary had one of their better practices of fall camp, as they collected five interceptions in a span of two drills to highlight Thursday’s practice.
Junior Jared Collins led the way for the Razorback secondary by picking off two passes in an intrasquad drill. The drill paid off later in the day, as the first team defense succeeded in the two-minute drill, as Rohan Gaines picked off a third-down-pass.
Venue: Indoor and Outdoor Practice Fields
Highlights: The defense dominated in team drills, as they accounted for four interceptions in simulated game situations … Senior safety Alan Turner got the string of picks started by out-jumping a receiver and snatching the ball high in the air before it could reach the intended target’s hands … Sophomore Jared Collins collected a pair of interceptions by perfectly reading the quarterback’s eyes twice and jumping the route to make an easy pick on both occasions … Fellow sophomore corner D.J. Dean concluded the drill with a pick of his own by making a shoelace-catch … The practice moved inside as both the first team offense and defense took turns in the two-minute drill with simulated crowd noise … Brandon Allen went 3-for-3, highlighted by a long-distance connection with Keon Hatcher, who made a leaping grab over a defender to get his team in field goal range. Allen directed his team downfield and successfully killed the clock with a second remaining to complete the team’s adjective for the drill …The first team defense also had a successful two-minute drill, as junior safety Rohan Gaines ended the practice with an interception on third down.
Quote of the Day: “Really, when you talk about our units, it’s got to be a cohesive group. Whether it’s the offensive line working together or the defensive line working together.” Defensive Coordinator Robb Smith on team strength.
Linebacker Tiquention Coleman (TQCole6) on preparing for the season opener against Auburn: “We’ve prepared for Auburn well. They have a fast-paced style, but their game play is pretty simple. We just have to be disciplined and do our jobs.”
Defensive End JaMichael Winston (@jwinston8) on playing with teammates who also started in 2012: “It’s nice to have those guys on the field with you. Just knowing that you all came in together, we’ve already got that comradery.”
Linebacker Brooks Ellis (@brooksellis51) on how he feels going into this season in comparison to last year: “I’m so much more prepared. I feel more mature and ready for the season. I can’t wait for next Saturday.”
News and Notes:
- Season tickets for the 2014 football season are now on sale starting at $300. Tickets for both Fayetteville and Little Rock games may be purchased by contacting the UA Ticket Office at 1-800-982-HOGS (4647).
- The 2014 Football Kickoff Luncheon, presented by URETEK Capital will be held on Aug. 22 at noon at the NWA Convention Center in Springdale, Ark. The doors will open at 11:15 a.m., and general admission tickets are $25 each. A reserved table for eight, with two seats for student-athletes or football personnel, is $300. To purchase tickets, please call 1-800-982-HOGS
Up Next: The Razorbacks will have a simulated game Friday as part of practice.
Follow Live: For complete coverage of Arkansas football throughout fall camp, follow @RazorbackFB on Twitter.
Kickoff: The Razorbacks open the season with a Southeastern Conference contest at Auburn University on Aug. 30. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium and will be televised on the SEC Network.
– ArkansasRazorbacks.com || On Twitter @ArkRazorbacks || Facebook.com/ArkansasRazorbacks –
PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY David Beall; COURTESY ARKANSAS MEDIA RELATIONS
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Five Razorbacks were named to the 2014 Preseason Coaches All-SEC Football Teams, the conference announced today. Senior defensive end Trey Flowers headlined the group, earning Preseason All-SEC first team recognition.
Sophomore running back Alex Collins and senior kicker/punter Sam Irwin-Hill were each named Preseason All-SEC second team. Junior running back Jonathan Williams and sophomore tight end Hunter Henry were named Preseason All-SEC third team.
Flowers continues to collect preseason honors. The Huntsville, Alabama. native has been named to the watch lists for the Nagurski, Bednarik, Hendricks and Lombardi Awards. Flowers also earned Preseason All-American fourth team honors from Phil Steele and Preseason All-SEC second team recognition from the media. The senior captain leads all active SEC players with 32 career tackles for loss and was a second team All-SEC performer in 2013, collecting 44 tackles, including 13.5 for loss with 5.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, one interception, two pass breakups and five quarterback hurries.
Collins enters the 2014 season as the reigning Associated Press SEC Freshman of the Year after rushing for 1,026 yards on 190 carries (5.4 avg.) last season. His rushing total was the most by an Arkansas freshman since Darren McFadden rushed for 1,113 yards in 2005. Collins has been named to the Doak Walker and Maxwell Award watch lists.
Irwin-Hill had the longest punt in the SEC last season with a 79 yard bomb against South Carolina. The Bendingo, Australia native averaged 44.3 yards per punt in 2013 and successfully completed two trick plays. At Rutgers, he completed a 24-yard pass for a first down and against No. 1 Alabama he rushed for 12 yards to convert a fake punt into a first down. The senior was a candidate for the Ray Guy Award last season and was recently named to the 2014 watch list.
Williams joined Collins on both the Doak Walker and Maxwell Award watch lists entering the 2014 season. The junior rushed for 900 yards and four touchdowns in 2013, including 151 rushing yards in the season-opener vs. Louisiana. Williams also earned Preseason All-SEC second team honors from Phil Steele this offseason.
Henry was a Freshman All-American and earned All-SEC second team honors last season after catching 28 passes for 409 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie campaign. The sophomore showcased his great size and athleticism by hauling in two touchdowns in a near upset at No. 15 LSU. He has been named to the John Mackey Award watch list and earned Phil SteelePreseason All-SEC second team acclaim.
The Razorbacks will open the 2014-15 season on the road at Auburn on August 30 at 3 p.m., and will be broadcasted on the SEC Network.
For more information on Arkansas Football, follow @RazorbackFB on Twitter.
– ArkansasRazorbacks.com || On Twitter @ArkRazorbacks || Facebook.com/ArkansasRazorbacks –
PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Brett Brecheisen; COURTESY ARKANSAS MEDIA RELATIONS
Big Ten season tips off with five games on Dec. 28
ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten announced the 2014-15 women’s basketball conference schedule and the format for the 2015 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday. This year’s schedule begins on Sunday, Dec. 28, and will culminate on Sunday, March 1, followed by the Big Ten Tournament from March 4-8.
The first day of the conference season is highlighted with five matchups on Sunday, Dec. 28. Reigning Big Ten co-champions Michigan State and Penn State will face off with Northwestern and Iowa, respectively, while Illinois plays host to Purdue, Michigan travels to Wisconsin and Rutgers plays at Indiana in the Scarlet Knights’ first Big Ten contest. On Monday, Dec. 29, defending Big Ten Tournament Champion Nebraska will face Minnesota and 2014 NCAA Final Four participant Maryland opens its first Big Ten campaign by hosting Ohio State.
The conference schedule will feature games on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, while four Big Ten contests will appear on Tuesdays during the season. Over the 64 days of conference play, each team will have five home-and-away series and eight single-play opponents.
The Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will be held at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., and will feature a five-day format for the first time in conference history. All 14 teams will advance to the tournament, with two first-round games slated for Wednesday, March 4. The No. 12 seed will face the No. 13 seed, while the No. 11 seed will take on the No. 14 seed. The top four teams will receive first and second round byes and advance to the quarterfinals on Friday, March 6, with the tournament title game contested on Sunday, March 8.
Times and television designations for the conference season and the Big Ten Tournament will be announced at a later date.
PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Katie Kane; COURTESY BIG 10 COMMUNICATIONS