Superman Soars to Auto Club Victory

Two forces aligned this past weekend in Fontana, CA, as NASCAR and Warner Bros. studios teamed up to promote the movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. So Superman capturing a heroic, late race win in the Auto Club 400 held at Auto Club Speedway, made an appropriate “Hollywood” ending for Jimmy Johnson and his NO. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
“I told everybody Superman kicked Batman’s butt and it happened”, said Johnson.
The win marked a record 6th overall in the Sprint Cup series for the Southern California native.
“Man, it’s hard to believe. I grew up out in the desert as a desert rat having fun and going to the river a little bit and having some fun over there too,” said Johnson, who resided in El Cajon before shifting East to North Carolina. “To have those early childhood memories kind of shape me into the racer I am today, and to be here in Victory Lane, is pretty awesome.”
Johnson only led 26 laps on Sunday as Kevin Harvick looked to steal the day with a dominating car and by leading 142 of the 205 laps. It was during those 5 overtime laps that things fell apart for the driver of the NO. 4 Jimmy John’s sponsored ride.
Kyle Busch had a tire explode on lap 198 which caused a late caution and resulted in the overtime. In OT, Denny Hamlin led laps 201-202 before Harvick went back out front a lap later. Johnson took the point on lap 204 and soared to victory in heroic fashion.
His Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., drove the Batman themed car, but his weekend was less than spectacular. The NO. 88 team struggled most of the weekend trying to get the car comfortable for Dale Jr. He would finish the race in 11th place.

Race Top 10 Results:
1. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
2. Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
3. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
4. Joey Logano Team Penske Ford
5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford
6. Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
7. Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
8. AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
9. Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford
10. Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Photos: all photos by Kevin C Cox

Cactus Kevin Wins Again

The NASCAR Sprint Cup series race at Phoenix International Raceway produced somewhat predictable results, with Kevin Harvick escaping with .01 second win over Carl Edwards. It was the closest finish ever in NASCAR racing at PIR.
Harvick and Edwards played bumper cars twice on the final lap before Harvick won the drag race to the finish line on Sunday.
“I ran into him about as hard as I thought I could without wrecking him, and it ended up being a drag race,” Edwards said. “It was kind of fun coming to the line because I thought, ‘Man, I got him,’ and then he ‘doored’ me real hard and then he got a little run and then I tried to ‘door’ him and slow him down, but it just didn’t work.”
The win marked Harvick’s record eighth NASCAR Sprint Cup victory overall in the desert, and his fifth win out of the last six races.
Good Sam 500 Unofficial Top 5 Running Order:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Carl Edwards
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Kyle Busch
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In the XFINITY race on Saturday, Kyle Busch made it 3 in a row for the season, cruising to another victory in Avondale, Arizona. Busch followed up on wins in Las Vegas, and Atlanta by leading 175 of 200 laps on the mile oval to win for the record 79th time in the second-tier series.
“It’s just a knack for this place, I guess,” Busch said. “We’ve been off a little bit on the (Sprint) Cup side for years, but this year we seem to be a lot better, and last year we improved a lot. But the Xfinity program has always been good.”
Each of the Joe Gibbs Racing organization drivers have had an excellent start to the 2016 season. Pole winner Erik Jones, and Daniel Suárez lead Busch in qualifying, and finished 1-2-3, with Jones and Suárez trailing Busch to the finish line by 2.285 and 9.980 seconds, respectively.
In the past three weeks, Busch has led 493 of 563 laps.

Weekend Photos: all photos by Kevin C Cox

White’s Departure Signals New Falcons Era

When the Atlanta Falcons parted ways with pro bowl wide receiver Roddy White last week, it left defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux as the sole remaining member of the franchise’s 2005 draft class and roster.

White, the 27th overall pick in the first round out of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, started 8 games in his rookie season for the 8-8 Falcons. In addition to White and Babineaux, the Falcons drafted Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo linebacker Jordan Beck, Florida State defensive end Chauncey Davis, Southern Miss linebacker Michael Boley, Tennessee Tech offensive tackle Frank Omiyale, Michigan State running back DeAndra Cobb, and South Carolina defensive tackle Darrell Shropshire.

Cobb was the first casualty after seeing action in only three games and garnering zero stats. The former Spartan latched on with the Jacksonville Jaguars but was released a few weeks before the season ended.

Shropshire, Omiyale, and Beck were shown the door after the 2006 season. Beck, a third-round pick, hung around the league for another season with Denver, while Shropshire, the seventh rounder, played his next series of downs in the Arena Football League. Fifth round draft pick, Omiyale, played ten more seasons with the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, and finally with the Seattle Seahawks. His final game with the Seahawks was a 30-28 playoff loss to the team that drafted him.

Two years later, Atlanta sent Michael Boley packing. It is fairly well known that the Falcons don’t tolerate drama. In 2008, Boley was charged but not convicted of domestic violence against his wife. He signed with the New York Giants in 2009 and was a member of the 2011 Super Bowl team. In 2013, three days after being released by the Giants, the troubled linebacker entered a plea agreement for child abuse for charges stemming from a 2011 complaint filed by his wife in Alabama. Boley played his final season in unspectacular fashion starting only one game for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013.

Fourth-rounder Chauncey Davis lasted through six training camps before getting the ax in 2011. Davis was caught up in the numbers game (too many players – not enough money) and let go in favor of newly signed free agent Ray Edwards. The highly touted former Minnesota Vikings defensive end didn’t finish out the season.

White leaves with a few franchise records under his belt that includes receiving yards (10, 863) and touchdown receptions (63). He also leaves after drawing attention to himself on two occasions. White drew both frowns and applause after revealing a “Free Mike Vick” shirt during a post-touchdown celebration in a game against the New Orleans Saints on December 10, 2007. This year it was Falcons fans wearing “Free Roddy” shirts in reference to the criticism of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s exclusion of the wide receiver from the offensive plays.

While the team denies White’s release was connected to the wide receiver speaking out about Shanahan, one can’t help but look back at the coordinator’s history. Donovan McNabb criticized Shanahan after being benched due to “stamina-related” performance in the final two minutes of a game. Remember he was benched for Rex Grossman…Rex ‘I can’t believe he’s that bad’ Grossman. McNabb’s benching made about as much sense as the Falcons offense not taking advantage of White’s talents, especially considering the Falcons lost 4 games by fewer than 5 points.

CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora wrote an article concerning Shanahan’s final season with the Redskins and controversy with quarterback Robert Griffin III that was positively telling. Quotes like “As a former member of the organization put it: “Kyle bitches about everything, and then his father has to fix it. He bitches about the food in the cafeteria, he bitches about the field, he bitches about the equipment. He complains and then Mike takes care of it. Kyle is a big problem there. He is not well liked” makes one wonder why the coordinator has been so highly sought after. RGIII has continued to struggle and is believed, by many, to be on his way out of Washington. Whatever the case when the Falcons hold mini-camp after the draft Shanahan will still be a member of the coaching staff and White will be on another team or contemplating life after football.

Is this business with Shanahan a trend or merely a coincidence?

Roddy over the years












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