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Archive for April 18th, 2017

Memorial Tournament announces 2017 player entries

the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 18, 2017

 

 

Defending Memorial Tournament winner William McGirt joins World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning FedExCup Champion Rory McIlroy to highlight commitments to the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide

Additions of Hideki Matsuyama and David Lingmerth, winners in 2014 and 2015, respectively, give Tournament field its past three winners

Tickets for the 2017 benefit concert and FORE! Miler entries available

Dublin, Ohio – Officials of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide announced today that the Tournament has accepted entries from defending Memorial winner William McGirt, World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning FedExCup Champion Rory McIlroy to compete in the 42nd edition of the prestigious invitational hosted by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus.

 

Also joining the field are Hideki Matsuyama and David Lingmerth, Memorial Tournament winners from 2014 and 2015, respectively.

 

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide is May 30 – June 5 at world-renowned Muirfield Village Golf Club.

 

McGirt, 37, is coming off a career 2016 season. His playoff victory over Jon Curran was his first on the PGA TOUR. He followed with two top-10 finishes in his next five starts for a total of seven on the season, a career best. His 2016 earnings of $3.6 million were also a career high. McGirt has continued to play well during the 2016-2017 campaign with three top-10 finishes, including a T3 at last week’s RBC Heritage. Competing in his first Masters Tournament earlier this month, McGirt played solidly to remain in contention through the first three rounds before a final-round 74 led to a T22 finish. He is currently ranked No. 44 in FedExCup points and in the Official World Golf Ranking. The South Carolina resident will be making his fifth start at the Memorial, where he’ll attempt to be the first player to defend his title since Tiger Woods dominated the event with three straight victories from 1999 – 2001. McGirt’s scoring average at Muirfield Village Golf Club is 71.64 to go with career earnings of $1,580,247.55 in the Memorial Tournament.

Johnson, 32, is coming off a career year on the PGA TOUR. He recorded 15 top-10 finishes over 22 starts, including three wins and his first major championship title at The U.S. Open. Johnson’s stellar season led to a sweep of the PGA TOUR’s post-season competition-based awards. Johnson was a first-time recipient of the Jack Nicklaus Award as the PGA TOUR Player of the year, the Arnold Palmer Award as the TOUR’s leading money-winner with more than $9 million is earnings, and the Byron Nelson Award winner for lowest adjusted scoring average at 69.17. Since recording his first TOUR victory in 2008 at the Turning Stone Resort Championship, Johnson has posted at least one win each season en route to 15 total PGA TOUR victories and $44,378,344 in career earnings. A resident of Myrtle Beach, S.C., Johnson has continued his inspiring play this season with five top-10 finishes in just seven starts, including wins in his last three tournaments, propelling him to the No. 1 ranking in the world for the first time in his career, as well as the No. 1 spot in the FedExCup rankings and the PGA TOUR money list with $5,346,600. Johnson will be making his 10th Memorial start and has career statistics that include earnings of $1,215,201 and a 71.47 scoring average. Johnson finished in third place last year after rounds of 64, 71, 68 and 71.

 

Reigning FedExCup Champion McIlroy will be making his seventh start at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. He has finished inside the top-10 on three occasions, with his best outing coming last year when he tied for fourth place. His scoring average at Muirfield Village Golf Club is 70.77 to go with career earnings of $854,689.50. He posted his lowest 18-hole score at the Memorial in 2014, when he fired a 9-under-par 63 during the first round, in route to a T15 finish. The 28-year-old from Northern Ireland has recorded 13 PGA TOUR victories and garnered $35,489,212 in TOUR earning since turning professional in 2007. The four-time major champion and two-time PGA TOUR Player of the Year has recorded a win in six of the past seven seasons on TOUR, bringing home multiple wins in four of those years (2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016). McIlroy is ranked No. 2 in the world and No. 41 in FedExCup points on strength of an impressive four top-10 finishes in five starts this season.

 

Matsuyama, 25, is coming off a successful 2015-2016 campaign on the PGA TOUR in which he recorded eight top-10 finishes in 23 starts and etched career-bests in earnings ($4,193,954) and the final FedExCup standings (No. 13). He started this season on fire with four top-10 finishes in his first eight starts, including two wins and two second place efforts. His T11 finish at The Masters Tournament was his third consecutive top-15 finish at Augusta. Matsuyama is ranked No. 4 in the world and stands No. 2 in FedExCup points and on the PGA TOUR money list with $4,762,957. Competing in his first Presidents Cup in 2013 at Muirfield Village Golf Club, he went 1-3-1 for the International Team. In 2014, the Sendai, Japan, native became the youngest player to win the Memorial and the first since Roger Maltbie, who won the inaugural event in 1976, to record a victory in his first start at Muirfield Village Golf Club. He finished T5 in defense of his title in 2015 to bring his Tournament earnings to $1,342,300, but he missed the cut last year. His scoring average over 10 rounds at the Memorial is 69.80.

 

Lingmerth, 29, had his best season in 2015 when he defeated 2010 Memorial winner Justin Rose in a playoff for his first win on TOUR and he earned more than $2.7 million. He continued to play well during the 2015-2016 campaign with eight top-25 finishes, including a runner-up effort to Jason Dufner in a playoff at the Career Builder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. Lingmerth is currently ranked No. 170 in FedExCup points and No. 109 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The native of Tranas, Sweden, will be making his fifth start at the Memorial, where he has a scoring average at Muirfield Village Golf Club of 70.81 to go with career earnings of $1,203,925.67 in the Memorial Tournament.

 

In other news, Tournament officials also announced today that tickets for the 2017 benefit concert, IGS Energy Evening with David Gray presented by City of Dublin, and race entries for the FORE! Miler presented by OhioHealth remain available.

 

The 2017 benefit concert, IGS Energy Evening with David Gray presented by City of Dublin, is set to take place Saturday, May 20, at EXPRESS LIVE! in Columbus. The annual charity event, now entering its 11th year, has raised more than $690,000 for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and Nationwide Children’s Hospital alliance in support of the Memorial Tournament Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

 

VIP doors for the benefit concert open at 6 p.m. EDT. Tickets are available at $175 per person or $350 per couple. For more information, please visitwww.mtbenefitconcert.com or call (614) 355-5410.

 

The third annual FORE! Miler presented by OhioHealth will begin at 7 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 25. The race will follow a route that starts and ends at Muirfield Village Golf Club and includes Memorial Drive, Avery Road, Brand Road, Muirfield Drive and Kinross Court. After the race, runners and walkers will enjoy a free Post-Race Party at the Golden Bear Club, an enclosed, climate-controlled venue located between the fairway at Hole No. 10 and the green at No. 14 at Muirfield Village Golf Club. The FORE! Miler is limited to the first 3,000 runners and walkers.

 

Registration for the FORE! Miler is open at www.foremiler.com. Race fees are $50 per person from April 1 through May 22; and $55 per person starting May 23 until sold out. All proceeds from the FORE! Miler benefit Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The race has raised more than $81,000 for Nationwide Children’s since it began in 2015.

Race participants receive an Official FORE! Miler-themed Technical Race Shirt, an Official FORE! Miler-themed Finisher’s Medal, one complimentary Practice Round ticket ($35 value) to the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide (good for any one day, Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, with Wednesday’s ticket including access to the Official Pro-Am and Memorial Honoree Ceremony) and a complimentary adult beverage at the Post-Race Party (21 and over).

 

The 2017 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide is scheduled for May 29 – June 4 at Muirfield Village Golf Club. The public may call the Tournament Ticket Office 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays at 877-MT BADGE (877-682-2343) or visit www.memorialbadges.com to purchase badges. Kids 18 and under can attend for free with a ticketed adult. Daily practice round tickets for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are also available. The cost is $35 and they are valid for all three practice-round days.

 

About the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide is held annually at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. The Tournament, founded and hosted by Jack Nicklaus, is conducted each year with three goals in mind: to honor the memory of individuals living and deceased who have distinguished themselves in the game of golf; to showcase the world’s best golfers competing on one of the most challenging venues in the world for the enjoyment of spectators; and to benefit many Greater Columbus Charities in alliance with the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and numerous other local organizations. For more information, visit www.thememorialtournament.com or call 614-889-6700.

 

 

About Nationwide
Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, commercial, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; banking and mortgages; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.

 

Nationwide, Nationwide is on your side and the Nationwide N and Eagle are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Tom Sprouse; COURTESY MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT COMMUNICATIONS

Chicago Fire’s Nemanja Nikolić named MLS Player of the Week

Nemanja Nikolić 2010 By Pilgab - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https commons.wikimedia.org

NEW YORK(Tuesday, April 18, 2017) – Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolić was voted the Alcatel MLS Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) for the seventh week of the 2017 MLS season.

Nikolić helped extend Chicago’s unbeaten streak to three matches with a brace in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over the New England Revolution at Toyota Park. On the season, the Serbian-born Designated Player has four goals, tied for sixth in MLS. With the victory, Chicago now sits in third place in the Eastern Conference standings with 11 points and a 3-0-1 record at home (3-1-2 overall record).

A member of Hungary’s National Team squad at Euro 2016, Nikolić starred for Chicago on Saturday, putting the Fire ahead 2-0 with a goal in the 47th minute. Nikolić pounced on a deflected shot in the box, scrambling to beat goalkeeper Cody Cropper to the ball and sending a right-footed shot into goal (Watch Goal).

Nikolić would then notch the first multi-goal effort of his MLS career in the 73rd minute to give Chicago a 3-0 advantage. Making a run into the penalty area and sandwiched by a pair of defenders, Nikolić found a perfectly placed pass from David Accam and fired a right-footed shot past a charging Cropper into the back of the net (Watch Goal).

The Chicago Fire return to action this Friday, April 22 when it travels to take on Toronto FC at BMO Field (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN 4/5; MLS Live).

The MLS Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by a panel of journalists from NASR. The group consists of members of print, television, radio and online media.

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY & A COURTESY OF MLS COMMUNICATIONS

Miami names former star Damon Frierson assistant basketball coach

 

Miami Hall-of-Famer will focus on alumni relations and mentoring players


OXFORD, Ohio – Miami University head men’s basketball coach completed his staff on Tuesday with the hiring of Miami Hall-of-Famer Damon Frierson to the position of Assistant to the Head Coach.

 

“It feels great and exciting to be back in Oxford once again and be a part of the Miami coaching staff,” said Frierson. “I am looking forward to working with my longtime friend Jack Owens, the great staff he’s assembled and the current and future RedHawks. Love and Honor!”

Damon Frierson

 

Frierson will handle several tasks for the men’s basketball team. He will be responsible for budget, scheduling and team academics. He will be responsible for the program’s managers and student assistants. Frierson will also be the point person for an increased effort in alumni engagement.

 

A two-time All-MAC selection and the fifth all-time leading scorer for Miami men’s basketball, Frierson propelled the RedHawks to MAC regular-season titles in 1997 and 1999 and a MAC Tournament crown in 1997. Leading Miami to three postseason appearances during his career from 1996-99, he was a key component on one of the greatest NCAA Tournament runs in program history as the 1999 RedHawks reached the Sweet 16. He owns the single-season record for minutes played (1,201) and ranks among MU statistical leaders in seven single-season categories and 12 career lists. Frierson is part of Miami’s top scoring duo with Wally Szczerbiak, finishing his career with 1,644 points.

 

For all of his success with the Red and White, Frierson was inducted into the Miami Hall of Fame as part of the 2015-16 class.

 

“Damon is a longtime friend of mine who will serve as mentor for the guys; he’ll be around on a daily basis,” said Owens. “He’ll be a guy that players can come to with for advice since he’s been in their shoes here.

 

“Also our hope is we can bridge the gap with the alums in some capacity. We would love to bring guys back and Damon is already beginning to work on that. Obviously he was a great player here at Miami and we are thrilled to have him back and ready to engage with our alumni!”

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Michael Roth; COURTESY MIAMI ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

IndyCar heads to Barber Motorsports Park Alabama this weekend

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Fast Facts

Race weekend: Friday, April 21 – Sunday, April 23

Track: Barber Motorsports Park, a 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course (clockwise) in Birmingham, Alabama

Race distance: 90 laps / 207 miles

Entry List: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (PDF)

Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate

Twitter: @BarberMotorPark @IndyCar, #HIGPA, #IndyCar

Event website: www.barbermotorsports.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2016 race winner: Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet)

2016 Verizon P1 Award winner: Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet), 1:06.7262, 124.089 mph

Qualifying lap record: Sebastien Bourdais, 1:06.6001, 124.324 mph, April 23, 2016 (Set in Round 2 of knockout qualifying)

NBCSN race broadcast: Sunday, April 23 (3 p.m. ET, live)

NBCSN qualifying broadcast: Saturday, April 22 (4:30 p.m. ET)

Leigh Diffey will be the play-by-play announcer for NBCSN’s telecast of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller are the pit reporters.

Radio broadcasts: The Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network is led by chief announcer Mark Jaynes, with analyst Davey Hamilton. Turn reporters are Jake Query and Nick Yeoman, with Rob Howden and Michael Young reporting from the pits. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.comindycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Video Streaming: All practice sessions will be available on RaceControl.IndyCar.com and on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar)

INDYCAR Mobile app: Verizon’s INDYCAR Mobile app is available across all carriers. Exclusive features of the app for Verizon Wireless customers will stream live through the app and include enhanced real-time leaderboard and car telemetry; live in-car camera video streaming for select drivers during Verizon IndyCar Series races; live driver and pit crew radio transmissions during races and live Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network audio streaming during all track activities.

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, April 21
10:45-11:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
2:25-3:10 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)

Saturday, April 22
11-11:45 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #3, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
3:15 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (three rounds of Verizon IndyCar Series knockout qualifications), NBCSN (telecast starts at 3:30 p.m.)

Sunday, April 23
9:45-10:15 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series warm-up, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
2 p.m. – Driver Introductions
2 p.m. – NBCSN on air
2:35 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines” command
2:42 p.m. – Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (90 laps/207 miles), NBCSN (live)

Race Notes:

* James Hinchcliffe completed the story of his comeback from serious injury claiming his first win of the season – and first since his 2015 injury – at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 9. The Canadian, who made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut at Barber in 2011, trails four-time Indy car champion Sebastien Bourdais by 19 points for the championship lead heading into this weekend’s race.

* The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be the eighth Verizon IndyCar Series event conducted at Barber Motorsports Park.

* Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud are the only drivers to have won at Barber Motorsports Park. Castroneves won the inaugural race in 2010, Power won the race in 2011 and 2012, Hunter-Reay in 2013 and 2014, Newgarden in 2015 and Pagenaud in 2016.

* Castroneves, Hunter-Reay, Power and Pagenaud are the only drivers to have won the pole position at Barber Motorsports Park. Pagenaud won the pole in 2016. Power claimed the pole position in 2010, 2011 and 2014; Castroneves won the pole in 2012 and 2015 and Hunter-Reay in 2013

* Three drivers have won the race from the pole – Power in 2011, Hunter-Reay in 2013 and Pagenaud in 2016.

* Scott Dixon has finished on the podium in six of his seven previous starts at Barber Motorsports Park – including four runner-up finishes – but he has yet to finish on the top step of the podium at the picturesque road circuit – one of the five tracks on the 2017 schedule where he has raced more than once and hasn’t won. Dixon is fourth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 40 wins.

* Eight drivers have competed in every Indy car race at Barber – Marco Andretti, Castroneves, Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato. All are entered this year.

* Team Penske has four wins at Barber Motorsports Park (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016). Andretti Autosport and Ed Carpenter Racing are the only other teams to win at the track. Andretti Autosport won in 2013 and 2014 with Hunter-Reay. Ed Carpenter Racing won with Newgarden in 2015.

* Rookies Ed Jones and Zach Veach and second-year competitor Spencer Pigot will race Verizon IndyCar Series cars at Barber Motorsports Park for the first time this weekend. Jones and Pigot, the last two Indy Lights champions, have competed at the circuit in the Mazda Road to Indy, as did Veach, who will make his Verizon IndyCar Series debut as a substitute for JR Hildebrand, who sustained a broken bone in his left hand in a last-lap crash April 9 at Long Beach.

* Kanaan seeks to start his 268th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Teammate Dixon has made 209 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the third-longest streak in Indy car racing.

* Castroneves will attempt to make his 330th career Indy car start, which ranks fourth on the all-time list. Kanaan will attempt to make his 329th Indy car start, which is fifth all-time. Both are competing in their 20th season of Indy car racing in 2017.

* Since 2012, the Verizon IndyCar Series has averaged 8.75 different race winners per season, including a record-tying 11 winners in 2014. There were eight different winners in the 16 races of 2016 with an equally tight competition projected for the 2017 season.

* Drivers may engage their “push-to-pass” for a total of 200 seconds during the race, with a maximum duration of 20 seconds for any one activation. The push-to-pass is not available on the initial race start or any restart unless it occurs in the final two laps or three minutes of a timed race. The feature increases the power of the engine by approximately 60 horsepower for 2017.

* The No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda crew of James Hinchcliffe won the Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew will receive its $10,000 award during pre-race festivities at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA PRE-EVENT QUOTES:

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2016 Barber Motorsports Park race winner): “Barber is very unique in many ways. The layout is beautiful with lots of elevation changes, it’s a very challenging track both physically and technically. The site is an actual racing park with the most incredible vintage museum of motorbike and racing cars. We tested there in March and we found answers to a lot of our technical questions. After the first two races, let’s say that the Menards Chevrolet team went through a lot and still managed to bring a lot of points to classify third in the championship. We will continue to keep our heads down and work toward our return to Victory Lane.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m pumped to head back to Barber. It’s where I got my first win in the Verizon IndyCar Series (in 2015) and I’ve done well there. It’s one of the most beautiful and scenic tracks on the circuit, with a vibe all its own. It’s a wide but tricky track with a fun crowd, always ready for great racing. We’re ready to take the Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevy there and build on our performance at Long Beach with the goal of another top five in mind. Momentum and consistency is key in this sport and we want to really just follow that with our program.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet): “Barber is so much fun. It’s a really unique place due to its elevation changes. We had a decent finish in Long Beach after some mechanical things with the car cost us a little, but we are hungry to turn that top 10 into a top-five finish at the next race. We finished seventh at Barber last year and, with the momentum the AAA Chevrolet team is slowly building this season, I know we feel great about heading into Barber with another chance to win.”

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “After testing at Barber not too long ago, it’ll be nice to get back and continue the work we started. I was happy with our car at the end of the test, so I’m really hoping we can have a smooth weekend and get rid of some of the bad luck we’ve had so far. We always get a great crowd in Alabama so I look forward to seeing the turnout again this year.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “I think the whole Arrow Electronics team is really looking forward to Barber this weekend. After two street courses, it’s going to be great to get back to a road course. The test there went pretty well for us; it’s always tough to know where everybody else is running. We’ve had good pace the first two races and we’re really hoping to carry that momentum, especially coming off the win at Long Beach, into this weekend and hopefully keep it rolling for the rest of the season.”

MIKHAEL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “Barber is a very good example of great, classical racing. I like it a lot with all its elevation changes and very technical turns. It’s definitely a very difficult track but also interesting, and I think we are going to do well. I’m really excited to get back there.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “I am really excited to head back to Barber. We scored a podium there in Indy Lights before my rookie (Verizon IndyCar Series) season, and I gained some more experience there last year. It is an amazing track to drive and the grounds remind me of Augusta National Golf Club. I will be looking to grab as many points as I can with the Gallagher team.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): “Barber is demanding. It’s like a little bullring almost. It’s very fast and very high grip. There are both fast and blind corners and it can get narrow in some places as well. The facility itself is one to see. The track has done a great job with the park over the years and it attracts a lot of people, which is great for our sport.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “We’ve had a rough start to our 2017 season, to say the least, so I’m looking forward to heading to Barber this weekend and putting those first two races behind us. The team had a good test day at Barber a few weeks ago and I think we left feeling good about what we needed to do to come back for the race as competitive as possible. We love coming to Barber every year – the place is so well-kept and the track is a lot of fun to drive. It doesn’t hurt that we always have a great fan turnout for that race, either.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “After having a rough go of it at Long Beach, I know the whole Verizon Chevy team is just itching to race at Barber. We’ve won there a couple times and have always finished within the top 10. Qualifying, as usual, is key here and we’ve got a plan in place to help with that. We’ve had good speed in the car in tests and races and now we need to turn that into results. We’re putting Long Beach in the rear-view mirror and head to Barber with a lot of excitement.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Barber is one of my favorite tracks on the INDYCAR calendar. It is a beautiful facility but it is tough both mentally and physically on the drivers. Our test there was productive, so with the changes we’ve made, we think our car will be better and more competitive than we were in the test. We need to continue the momentum from the good result we had in Long Beach.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “Last year was a great race. We got a good start but had a wing part that failed on the second stint that made life difficult when the right front flap fell. Otherwise, I think we would have been even more competitive in the long term. We were able to chase down the leaders, able to get by (Will) Power, Helio (Castroneves) and some of those guys and pull away and chase down (Simon) Pagenaud. Ultimately we had a little contact with him and got by and then just had issues with (Jack) Hawksworth, who was a lapped car. That contact kept us from coming to the stripe and getting a win. Overall, the car felt really good in race trim as it has the last couple of races there. My hope is that this year, we’ll be looking as good as that and have another shot at the win. If the wing part hadn’t failed and the flap hadn’t broken, I feel like we would have been very competitive over the entire course of the race. We would have been looking very good. I would have liked to have cleared Hawksworth quicker and easier. I didn’t force the issue. I didn’t realize Pagenaud was right behind me still and I didn’t force the issue and ultimately it came back to bite us. It was a great battle, a great challenge and right up there with some of my highlights from the 2016 season. Obviously, I was disappointed to not get the victory so perhaps from that standpoint, it wasn’t up there with Texas but it was definitely pretty good. In terms of overall competitiveness at Barber, the team does a pretty good job. We put a good car on the track and we seem to keep the tires underneath us pretty well. I think the tire degradation will be similar this year so we have to do the same thing and try to keep everything in one piece and wear everyone down. That should allow us to run right up front where we feel like we deserve to be.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “I think being in the championship lead is a great story more than anything else, but it doesn’t change anything in our preparation. We’re preparing like any other race, at a track that I very much enjoy driving at and where the gap between the cars is like at Long Beach – very, very, very close. Which is also the beauty of INDYCAR these days. We had a bit of a difficult test at Barber last month where we weren’t very happy with the car and what we tried didn’t quite work. However, we then had a great test at Sonoma that allowed us to try some items for Barber, and we can’t wait to finally try those and see how they work out. Barber is a very demanding track both technically and physically. There are very long corners that are physically demanding. It might not be the most difficult circuit technically, but what makes it difficult is trying to find the right setup on the car. That’s the true test of Barber Motorsports Park. The corners are so long it kind of resembles an oval, where the quality of the car is what makes the difference on the timing sheet. To be able to put in a good time at Barber, your car needs to do what you ask it to.”

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “It’s a perfect start to the season with two top-10 finishes. It’s good to have a lot of momentum for the team and myself going forward. Barber will be the first track that we go to that we’ve actually tested at recently. Obviously, everyone else has also done that, but it gives us more knowledge going in. I think it’s going to be tough. The circuit is one of the hardest on the calendar both physically and technically. There’s a lot of long-duration corners and corners that require a lot of confidence. I qualified on pole for both (Indy Lights) races there last year and won race No. 1 in Indy Lights, so I’ve done well there in the past. I’m confident we can get the car sorted to work our way to the front again. I think my Indy Lights experience should help a lot, at least for track knowledge in certain places like Barber and just in general. The Indy Lights car is always on the edge, it’s a bit more loose and so it makes it, I find, a bit more challenging in the races to be fast throughout the whole race. Whereas in Indy car the cars are more settled. I feel like I have the confidence to push it further towards the limit consistently throughout the race in Indy car because of the experience I had in the Lights car.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I can’t wait to get to Barber Motorsports Park this weekend. It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, the fast corners and steep elevation changes are pretty unique and a lot of fun to drive. Barber has been very good to me in the past so I hope that trend continues this weekend. We’ve had a pretty strong start to the season in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka car and we plan to carry that momentum into this race.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “First and foremost my thoughts are with JR (Hildebrand) and his recovery, that’s the most important part of this. My heart goes out to him as I suffered a broken hand a couple years ago and I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. This isn’t how any driver wants to get his first race but with that said, I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to sub for JR. Ed (Carpenter) gave me my first chance to test an Indy car a few months ago. It’s going to be very special for me to be back in that same car representing Fuzzy’s Vodka at Barber. It’s going to be a lot to take in in a short amount of time, but I’m really excited to do the best I can for the team, as well as JR.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “Barber is a fun track. It has good elevations with beautiful greens and dense woods. Nicely flowing high-speed corners make it quite challenging, and I always enjoy driving there. We had a productive test at this track a few weeks ago, which was a warm day so much more representative of the race weekend than the usual cold spring test. Despite the track being very fast and a great corner combination, it is very difficult to make an overtake. So qualifying will be very important and the speed we showed at test was encouraging. We had a tough weekend at Long Beach so hope everything will go well this weekend.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): “It’s really important that we look to this weekend to rebound from Long Beach. Somehow we are still top 10 in the point standings, and we don’t want to fall any lower. We had a good test at Barber a few weeks back, so we are looking to convert that into a podium or win for the (No.) 27 team.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We have one goal this weekend and that is to get back to our winning ways at Barber. After logging race wins in 2013 and 2014, we’ve spent too much time away from the podium here. The team as a whole has done a great job through the first two rounds of the series when it comes to fielding fast, competitive race cars. Long Beach is yet another race that slipped form our grasp, so we’ll be looking to rebound strong this weekend.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team has been strong at Barber Motorsports Park in the past, and it’s a race I look forward to every year. It’s just so unique. It’s always up and down, literally and figuratively, at Barber – the highs and lows of the elevation plus both high-speed and low-speed corners. Trying to master both is what makes it a challenge and can make or break your weekend. We had really good practice and qualifying sessions in Long Beach, making improvements every time we went out. Sooner or later, our luck will change and things will fall into place. More than anything, I’m ready to reward the (No.) 83 team for all of their hard work day in and day out. As always, we’ll keep our heads down and focused on our own goals.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda): “I’m very excited to get to Barber this weekend. We’ve dealt with our fair share of bad luck already this year, so hopefully we can translate the inherent pace we know we have in the car into a result.”

 

 

RACE PREVIEW WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF INDYCAR COMMUNICATIONS

 

NHL Morning Skate for Tuesday, April 18, 2017: Stanley Cup Playoffs edition

 

MONDAY’S RESULTS
Home Team in Caps
Ottawa 4, BOSTON 3 (OT) – OTT leads 2-1
TORONTO 4, Washington 3 (OT) – TOR leads 2-1
NASHVILLE 3, Chicago 2 (OT) – NSH leads 3-0
Anaheim 5, CALGARY 4 (OT) – ANA leads 3-0

60 IS NOT ENOUGH
All four games contested on Monday required overtime. Elias notes that four games required overtime on the same day for the third time in Stanley Cup Playoffs history (also April 11, 1980 and April 10, 1985).

* Eleven of the first 24 games in the First Round have required overtime (45.8%), with road teams holding a 6-5 edge in those contests. Elias notes that the record for most overtime games in the opening round of the postseason is 17, set during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs (47 games).

* Elias adds that 11 of the 24 games in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs have seen the winning team overcome a deficit, including seven multi-goal comebacks.

DUCKS OVERCOME THREE-GOAL DEFICIT TO TAKE 3-0 SERIES LEAD
Trailing 4-1, Anaheim tallied three times before Corey Perry (1-1—2) scored at 1:30 of overtime to lift the Ducks to their sixth 3-0 series lead in franchise history and first since the 2015 First Round vs. WPG (4-0 series win).

* Elias notes that the Ducks overcame a three-goal deficit to win a playoff game for the first time in franchise history.

* Perry – who skated in his 100th playoff game – notched his second career overtime goal in the postseason (also Game 5 of 2015 SR vs. CGY) and joined Nick BoninoPaul KariyaScott Niedermayer and Petr Sykora as the only players in franchise history to score two playoff overtime goals. Perry (33) also moved within two goals of tying Teemu Selanne (35) for the most in franchise playoff history.

Nate Thompson (1-2—3) registered his first career three-point playoff game, while Shea Theodore (2-0—2) scored his first two career postseason goals. Jonathan Bernier made 16 saves in relief of John Gibson to earn his first career playoff win.

PREDATORS RALLY FOR FIRST 3-0 SERIES LEAD IN FRANCHISE HISTORY
Filip Forsberg scored twice in the third period to erase a 2-0 deficit and Kevin Fialatallied at 16:44 of overtime to power the Predators to their first 3-0 series lead in franchise history.

* Elias notes that the Predators overcame a multi-goal deficit in the third period to win a playoff game for the first time in franchise history.

* Elias adds that Fiala (20 years, 269 days) became the youngest player in franchise history to score an overtime goal in the postseason.

Pekka Rinne (34 saves) surrendered his first goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at 1:05 of the second period to see his shutout streak end at 141:05 – a franchise playoff record.

MAPLE LEAFS TAKE SERIES LEAD WITH COMEBACK WIN IN OVERTIME . . .
Toronto overcame a 3-1 deficit in the second period and Tyler Bozak scored on a power play at 1:37 of overtime to power the Maple Leafs to a 2-1 series lead against the Capitals.

* Elias notes that Bozak became just the third Maple Leafs player in the expansion era (since 1967-68) to score a power-play goal in overtime in the postseason, joining Mats Sundin (Game 2 of 1996 CQF vs. STL) and Mike Gartner (Game 5 of 1996 CQF vs. STL).

* Elias adds that the Maple Leafs overcame a multi-goal deficit to win a playoff game for the first time since Game 3 of the 2003 Conference Quarterfinals vs. PHI, a 4-3 victory in double-overtime.

* The Maple Leafs and Capitals have required overtime in all three games so far this series. The 2017 First Round marks just the second time in Maple Leafs franchise history the first three games of a playoff year have required overtime (also 1933 vs. BOS). The Capitals have only played three consecutive postseason overtime contests one other time in franchise history (Games 2-4, 1993 DSF).

. . . AS THEIR ROOKIES CONTINUE TO CONTRIBUTE
Auston Matthews (1-1—2) and William Nylander each scored their first career playoff goals, becoming the third and fourth Maple Leafs rookies to score in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs (also Kasperi Kapanen and Mitch Marner).

* Elias notes that four different Maple Leafs rookies have scored in a playoff year for the first time since 1947 (Vic LynnHowie MeekerJoe Klukay and Gus Mortson).

* Elias adds that Matthews (19 years, 212 days) became the youngest Maple Leafs player to score in the postseason since Daniel Marois (19 years, 192 days) in Game 5 of the 1988 Division Semifinals at DET.

SENATORS HANG ON, TAKE 2-1 SERIES LEAD
Ottawa surrendered a 3-0 lead in the second period, but Bobby Ryan (1-1—2) scored on a power play at 5:43 of overtime as the Senators won back-to-back postseason overtime games for the first time in franchise history.

.
* Elias notes that the Senators won a playoff game in which they surrendered a three-goal lead for the first time in franchise history.

* Elias adds that Ryan became the third player in franchise history to score a power-play goal in overtime in the postseason, joining Alexei Yashin (Game 3 of 1998 CQF vs. NJD) and Martin Havlat (Game 5 of 2002 CQF at PHI).

Mike Hoffman (2-0—2) opened the scoring with a highlight-reel, one-handed goal off a rink-long saucer pass from Erik Karlsson and added a second to record his first career multi-goal playoff game.

* Karlsson (0-2—2) has collected at least one assist in all three games of the series (0-4—4).

LOOSE PUCKS
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (1-0—1) became the fourth player in franchise history to score 50 career playoff goals, joining Bobby Hull (62), Denis Savard (61) and Stan Mikita (59) . . . Flames forward Sean Monahan (1-1—2) has scored in all three games of Calgary’s series (3-1—4) . . . The NHL announced start times for First Round games on Friday, April 21 . . .  The Hockey Hall of Fame announced that Dave Strader will receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award and Cam Cole will receive the Elmer Ferguson Award during induction weekend in November . . .  Former NHL player Bobby Carpenter and former NWHL player Denna Laing completed the 2017 Boston Marathon . . . Renowned Canadian artist Tony Harris released portraits of Borje Salming and Peter Forsberg as part of the NHL Centennial Celebration . . . ICYMI: Country music star Carrie Underwood (pictured with Nashville Mayor Megan Barrysurprised Predators fans at Bridgestone Arena by performing the Star Spangled Banner prior to Game 3.

SNEAK PEEK AT TUESDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Montreal @ NY Rangers, MTL leads 2-1, 7 p.m., CBC, TVAS, NBCSN, MSG
Pittsburgh @ Columbus, PIT leads 3-0, 7:30 p.m., SN360, TVAS2, CNBC, FS-O, ROOT
Edmonton @ San Jose, EDM leads 2-1, 10 p.m., SN, TVAS, NBCSN, NBCSCA
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PENGUINS LOOK TO BECOME FIRST TEAM TO ADVANCE TO SECOND ROUND
The defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins look to become the first team to advance to the Second Round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs when they visit the Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their First Round Series (PIT leads 3-0). Pittsburgh is aiming for their seventh four-game sweep in franchise history and first since 2009 (vs. CAR in CF).

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PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS; COURTESY NHL MORNING SKATE PUBLICATION

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