Jesse Love wins Xfinity Series race at Talladega, full results and race recap

Jesse Love wins the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. Check out the full results, race recap from Talladega!

The NASCAR Xfinity Series arrived at Talladega Superspeedway and put on a show. [autotag]Jesse Love[/autotag] won the Xfinity Series race at Talladega for his first career victory in NASCAR’s top levels. Love held off the pack with drivers who usually don’t run up front finishing behind him. The No. 2 car stretched it on fuel for a 50-plus lap run.

Love’s victory at Talladega represents redemption, as the No. 2 car ran out of fuel after dominating the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier in the year. Now, the 19-year-old driver is a winner in the Xfinity Series. Love won Stage 1, while his teammate Austin Hill won Stage 2. The Richard Childress Racing drivers had the best cars all day.

Following the event in Alabama, Love can call himself a NASCAR winner. If Richard Childress Racing can show this type of speed moving forward, Love will have an excellent opportunity to replicate this success at a superspeedway track later in the season.

Ag-Pro 300 finishing order:

  1. No. 2 Jesse Love
  2. No. 98 Riley Herbst
  3. No. 5 Anthony Alfredo
  4. No. 42 Leland Honeyman
  5. No. 44 Brennan Poole
  6. No. 18 Sheldon Creed
  7. No. 45 Caesar Bacarella
  8. No. 38 Matt DiBenedetto
  9. No. 27 Jeb Burton
  10. No. 00 Cole Custer
  11. No. 14 Mason Massey
  12. No. 15 Hailie Deegan
  13. No. 28 Kyle Sieg
  14. No. 21 Austin Hill
  15. No. 19 Taylor Gray
  16. No. 92 Josh Bilicki
  17. No. 39 Ryan Sieg
  18. No. 35 Joey Gase
  19. No. 16 A.J. Allmendinger
  20. No. 11 Josh Williams
  21. No. 8 Sammy Smith
  22. No. 97 Shane van Gisbergen
  23. No. 29 Blaine Perkins
  24. No. 66 David Starr
  25. No. 81 Chandler Smith
  26. No. 43 Ryan Ellis
  27. No. 91 Kyle Weatherman
  28. No. 4 Dawson Cram
  29. No. 48 Parker Kligerman
  30. No. 31 Parker Retzlaff
  31. No. 32 Jordan Anderson
  32. No. 07 Patrick Emerling
  33. No. 9 Brandon Jones
  34. No. 20 Ryan Truex
  35. No. 51 Jeremy Clements
  36. No. 1 Sam Mayer
  37. No. 26 Jeffrey Earnhardt
  38. No. 7 Justin Allgaier

Talladega the best chance to turn season around for Busch and RCR

Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is a chance for many in the NASCAR Cup Series field to turn things around with one race, which is good news for defending winner Kyle Busch. Busch is expected to be a factor, as superspeedway events have …

Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is a chance for many in the NASCAR Cup Series field to turn things around with one race, which is good news for defending winner Kyle Busch.

Busch is expected to be a factor, as superspeedway events have been a strength of the team. The two-time series champion had one of the best opportunities of his career to win the Daytona 500 for the first time last season before he prevailed at Talladega two months later. Busch has led laps in eight of his nine superspeedway races driving the No. 8 Chevrolet.

“It’s [an opportunity race] for everybody, right?” Busch said after qualifying fourth. “But I think it is for us as well, too, just having good stuff at these places. It seems the cars have an easier time or a better opportunity of making something [happen] on their own than where I previously was.”

Busch credited Richard Childress Racing and ECR engines for building fast race cars. That means it’s “fun” for Busch to visit the superspeedway venues of Daytona, Atlanta, and Talladega and know he’s got a shot at victory.

Sunday’s race (3 p.m. ET, Fox) will be the 31st start since Busch and his team last went to victory lane. The triumph in St. Louis in early June was the third win in his first season driving for Childress, but it’s been a battle since then. He finished 20th or worse in five of the final 10 races and finished 14th in the standings.

A quarter of the season is complete, and Busch is 16th in the standings with no stage wins and 26 stage points. He earned his third top-10 finish a week ago at Texas Motor Speedway.

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“Obviously we have not been anywhere where we need to be this year,” crew chief Randall Burnett told NASCAR.com last weekend. “We started off and had some speed the first couple of races, but it’s been a downward slide for us since then, so we’re going to keep working on it. Everybody at RCR and ECR is working really hard; we’ve got a long way to go to get to where we need to be, especially with Kyle, and to get this No. 8 car back up front.”

Busch has led 63 laps in nine races, the bulk coming in the first three races at Daytona, Atlanta and Las Vegas. In that stretch, he finished 12th, third and 26th. Then came a three-week stretch where a 22nd-place finish was Busch’s best effort. He has not led since Bristol Motor Speedway last month.

The inconsistency led Busch to describe his season a few weeks ago as “a lot of missed potential.” Although there have been times that he felt his cars have had good speed, there have been numerous things that have hindered the results.

As it stands – and there are 16 races remaining in the regular season, including Talladega — Busch is near the bubble spot on the playoff grid. He’s never missed the postseason in the elimination era.

“The points will take care of themselves if you run better and run well and can get stage points and get good finishes,” Busch said of his points position. “We obviously haven’t been doing that lately, and I presume we’re lower than we want to be, but that’s just the nature of what we got right now.”

Jamal Murray thinks Denver Nuggets can repeat as champions

Jamal Murray is confident in the Denver Nuggets chances at repeating as champions.

Former Kentucky Wildcat and NBA Champion Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets gave an interview before playing LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

In a spirited press conference following the Denver Nuggets’ practice before the playoffs, Jamal Murray expressed confidence in his team’s ability to repeat as champions. Reflecting on the day’s practice, Murray highlighted the team’s focused intent and strong rookie performances, setting a positive tone for their playoff aspirations.

As the conversation shifted towards the playoff battle ahead, particularly against the Lakers, Murray emphasized the heightened competition and his personal readiness to elevate his game during the postseason. The video captures Murray’s optimism and leadership as he discusses strategies and the mental preparation necessary for enduring the challenging playoff journey ahead.

Murray and the Nuggets begin their playoff journey, and attempt to repeat as champions, on Saturday in game one against the Lakers. The game is at 8:30 PM.

DeMar DeRozan shares simple thought after Bulls’ Play-In loss to Heat

After the Chicago Bulls’ loss to the Miami Heat in the Play-In Tournament, DeMar DeRozan spoke about his team’s missed shots.

Ever since they reshaped their roster in 2021, the Chicago Bulls have been the poster children for mediocrity. After making the playoffs in the first season of having their new core intact, they’ve gone two straight years without a winning record. In both seasons, they found themselves in the Play-In Tournament. And in both seasons, they lost to the Miami Heat.

Chicago got blown to bits on Friday night, losing by a score of 112-91 to the Heat. Just two nights after scoring 131 points against the Atlanta Hawks in the nine-ten Play-In Tournament game, the Bulls’ offense crumbled, as they simply couldn’t find the bottom of the net.

After the game, Bulls star DeMar DeRozan shared a simple thought about Chicago’s offense and the outcome of the game. (H/t ESPN)

“It was tough,” DeRozan said. “We missed a lot of easy shots.”

The Bulls shot just 35-of-92 (38.0%) from the floor and 13-of-43 (30.2%) from beyond the three-point arc.

Spurs star Victor Wembanyama cracks alien joke in recent interview

San Antonio Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama recently cracked a joke about potentially not being human.

The San Antonio Spurs have a generational talent on their hands in Victor Wembanyama. The 7-foot-4 behemoth just wrapped up one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory and will only be looking to improve from here on out. It’s scary to think that Wembanyama just played the worst season of his career, considering how dominant he was.

His presence was especially felt on the defensive end, as he led the league in blocks as a 20-year-old. His massive stature combined with a ridiculous wingspan gives him a huge advantage in the lane, as he’s able to swat away shots that others couldn’t even dream of getting to.

During a recent interview with Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Wembanyama even joked that he may be an alien after all.

“I’m just a human … or am I?” Wembanyama joked.

With Wembanyama leading the charge, the Spurs are in a great place moving forward.

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Kevin Durant had to smile at a fired-up Anthony Edwards trash-talking him during Suns-Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards wasn’t afraid to talk a little trash to Kevin Durant during Suns – Timberwolves.

During Saturday’s first 2024 NBA playoff game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns, Wolves guard Anthony Edwards wasn’t afraid to talk a little trash to Suns forward Kevin Durant.

With Edwards one of the game’s rising stars and Durant one of its established greats, the former didn’t miss the chance to share what was on his mind to the latter after making a 3-pointer right in front of the future Hall of Famer.

Durant had a big smile on his face as Edwards taunted him, as the spirit of competition just makes these big-stage playoff games all the more fun for the players and the fans.

Edwards and the Timberwolves are major contenders in the Western Conference this spring, and moments like this will only add to the team’s momentum in this opening series and in the playoffs as a whole.

If you’re Durant, all you can do sometimes is get a kick out of the new generation trying to stick it to you on the court.

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Alabama Football offers Florida State transfer cornerback Greedy Vance Jr.

The Alabama coaching staff has extended an offer to Florida State transfer cornerback Greedy Vance Jr. Alabama is one of many programs to offer the Louisiana native.

The Alabama Crimson Tide football coaching staff has been busy on the recruiting trail since arriving on campus several months ago. Recently, Alabama extended an offer to Florida State transfer cornerback Greedy Vance Jr.

Vance Jr., a Louisiana native, spent the first two years of his college career at Louisville. In two seasons with the Cardinals, Vance Jr. recorded 37 tackles, seven pass deflections, and one fumble recovery.

Following his second season in the Bluegrass state, Vance Jr. entered the transfer portal. Ultimately, he wound up with the Florida State Seminoles. During his time in Tallahassee, Vance Jr. played in 27 games while making five starts. Vance Jr. recorded 34 tackles, four interceptions, and five pass deflections for the Seminoles over the past two seasons.

Thus far, Vance Jr. has scheduled official visits to the USC Trojans (April 18-21) and Kentucky (April 26-28). An Alabama visit can be scheduled on a later date. As of today, Vance Jr. has an Alabama offer and is an option at the cornerback position for the Crimson Tide.

Roll Tide Wire will continue to follow the latest regarding the Alabama football program and its involvement in the transfer portal.

‘Unbelievable’ Croix Bethune emerging as Washington Spirit star

The Spirit say they’re “just scratching the surface” with the rookie playmaker after another golazo in NWSL play

It’s far too early to call the 2024 NWSL Rookie of the Year race, but Washington Spirit playmaker Croix Bethune has emerged as a clear frontrunner.

The Georgia native was pivotal as the Spirit claimed an impressive 2-0 home win over NJ/NY Gotham FC before 15,004 at Audi Field. Bethune scored a highlight-reel goal to give Washington a deserved first-half lead, and then an attempted audacious volley ended up winning a penalty kick that Ashley Hatch converted to seal the win.

“She did an amazing job today, again, a really good performance,” Spirit coach Adrián González told reporters after the match. “I think she’s very intelligent, she can identify [dangerous] spaces.”

Bethune added three successful dribbles and won four fouls, giving Gotham fits throughout the match. The 23-year-old has scored three times in five games to start her professional career, developing obvious on-field chemistry with U.S. women’s national team star Trinity Rodman in the process.

Bethune is now the team’s leading goalscorer, but there’s an added “wow” factor in her play that sets her current trajectory beyond being a name that reliably appears in box scores.

Her goal against Gotham involved the finer points of modern soccer, as she found a pocket early against an organized Bats side, showing the field sense and technique to dodge a collapsing defense.

Pair that with the precision and power to beat Cassie Miller from 24 yards, and you have the ingredients for a place on an NWSL Best 11, not to mention the USWNT.

Bethune’s other goals were just as impressive: a perfectly-timed run to get wide open and cap off a 3-1 triumph over the Houston Dash on April 12, and an audacious bit of improv to juggle and juke through Bay FC’s defense and bag a last-gasp winner on March 23.

Washington’s veterans see Bethune every day, and they’re just as impressed as everyone else.

“I mean, right away, you could just tell she’s a special player, technically very gifted,” Spirit and USWNT defender Casey Krueger told reporters in a mixed zone interview. “I think as time has gone on, she’s just continuing to find the dangerous spaces. And then her confidence I think is just really through the roof. She’s been unbelievable.”

“She’s hit the ground running, which is pretty impressive,” added Andi Sullivan. “I think what I love about Croix is, she’s so creative, but she’s so strong, and she’s so smart. And she knows when to play simple, and she knows when to just do her own thing.”

Bethune, meanwhile, pivoted quickly away from what she did on the goal to highlight the sequence that came before it, which saw the Spirit methodically maneuver through Gotham’s midfield.

“It really started off of Andi’s pickup from defense,” said Bethune in a post-match press conference. “From her to pick it up and us switching it, and Hal [Hershfelt] finding me just to beat the player, and then…” — the rookie allowed herself just the slightest grin — “Strike it, back of the net.”

It’s telling how quickly the tone has changed in Washington, where a draft-day trade of the club’s previous playmaker Ashley Sanchez went down like a lead balloon with fans. 2024 figured to be a season of uncertainty with an influx of rookies and newcomers, and an unorthodox coaching situation with González hired from Espanyol to lead the side until Barcelona coach Jonatan Giráldez can join the side in June.

Just over three months later, Washington is not just (for the moment) top of the table after the win, but is rejuvenated, playing stylish soccer and getting the results to go with it. Thus far, Bethune is at the center of the show.

Despite all that, if you ask anyone with the Spirit, this is just the start for the team’s new young star.

“I’m so excited for her, because it’s early on, like we’re just scratching the surface with her,” summed up Krueger. “I think as the season goes on, she’s gonna continue to be an even bigger piece of the team.”

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Top-30 visits crucial in Cardinals’ draft evaluations

“We have the players meet with a bunch of different individuals and we get perspectives from all aspects of our football operations. By the end of the day, we feel pretty good about at least having a feel for who they are as people.”

In a recent story on Cards Wire, Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian said those on the outside don’t have 45 percent of the draft information teams have, a number that is as high as 60 percent for quarterbacks.

So it was that Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort was asked what he thought about that assessment.

He said, “We dig deeper. We have a lot of medical information at our (disposal). We have countless interviews with these prospects in person, on Zoom, on their campus, at the all-star games. The public doesn’t have access to those. Our scouts have gathered information that the public doesn’t have. I just think the volume and depth of the information that we have that goes into our evaluation of a player; it’s just much more extensive, which is necessary for us to get the players in the proper place on our board.”

Since Day 1, Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon have consistently talked about their philosophy of who they bring into the building and they both repeated it like a mantra Thursday.

Asked about his philosophy, Ossenfort said, “Good players, the right people; can’t get enough of them. That will always be our draft philosophy. Picking the right people. Good people, good players. People that fit what we’re trying to do both on the field and off the field. We can’t go wrong if we draft those people.”

As to the importance of that, Gannon said, “Very. I think that’s what wins. Team-first people, team-first players. When they understand that, they live that, and that’s how they go about going through their daily routine; I think that’s what wins. That’s something that is really cool because I know we’re very aligned on that.”

To learn that, Polian said one of the crucial parts of the process are the 30 visits that take place during the last month of the runup to the draft.

Both Gannon and Ossenfort stressed how important those visits are in confirming their assessments of players.

Asked if he tries to connect with prospects during their visits, Gannon said, “Yeah, 100 percent. The way Monti has our 30 visits set up I think is phenomenal for the information that we get to connect with the player on a personal level to figure out if he fits the price of admission to come here. That’s a really cool thing to sit down and talk with those guys. It’s a very detailed-out scripted day of how we do it.

“We find out a lot of information, but it’s cool to meet the guys or get a second look at those guys. Some of those guys sometimes it is the first time I’ve got a chance to meet them. That’s a cool process that we put a lot of stock into.”

As for the structure of the visits, Ossenfort concluded that the players have interactions with a myriad of club personnel.

“We call it the county fair,” he said, likely without the funnel cake. “We bring the guys in, and we put them through the paces. We’re just trying to get to know the guys and try as best we can to replicate what a Wednesday in November is going to be in our building. I think what we find is that by the end of the day, we have a pretty good feel on multiple levels of who the player is as a person, what they can handle mentally and really what they’re about.

“We have the players meet with a bunch of different individuals and we get perspectives from all aspects of our football operations. By the end of the day, we feel pretty good about at least having a feel for who they are as people.”

For them, that is as important as who they are as players.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

 

Jamahal Hill offers curious perspective of UFC 300 KO sequence vs. Alex Pereira after referee intervention

Jamahal Hill opened up about the knockout sequence against Alex Pereira in the UFC 300 main event, offering curious commentary.

[autotag]Jamahal Hill[/autotag] has opened up about what happened in the UFC 300 main event against Alex Pereira.

The former UFC champ’s bid to recapture light heavyweight gold was abruptly ended by a left hook and follow-up punches by Pereira (10-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC) at 3:14 of Round 1. Most online praised the ending sequence, but other voices later criticized the moment.

Hill (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) clipped Pereira along the cup with a kick, prompting referee Herb Dean to step in to pause the fight. Pereira calmly put his and out, as to tell Dean that he was good to continue, and did not want a break. Dean stepped away, and the fight continued. The knockout sequence began with the very next punch from Pereira.

The former champ believes he was landing well and finding openings on Pereira until that moment in the fight occurred.

“I’ve seen some of the controversy and people speaking on the stoppage and things like that with Herb after I kicked Alex in the hip, and it appeared to be a low blow,” Hill said in a video on his YouTube channel. “I’m just going to say, just protect yourself at all times.

“My feelings on it, honestly, just really don’t matter just for the simple fact a lot of people didn’t like how I sold the fight. They didn’t like the build up to the fight. They don’t like me personally. It’s irrelevant, just take it as a lesson learned and just grow from it from there. Just understand that it’s ‘protect yourself at all times,’ and pay attention and stay focused at all times. Even through anything. Even through commands and through gamesmanship at that.”

Part of the moment’s criticism was the notion that Hill may not have been ready to continue fighting after Pereira waved Dean off. However, Hill threw the first punch that was countered by Pereira, ultimately leading to the finishing after a few follow-up punches on the canvas.

Despite the knockout loss, Hill has been booked for a quick turnaround to compete at International Fight Week’s UFC 303 against Khalil Rountree on June 29. The matchup is a big opportunity for Rountree, who is on a five-fight winning streak with four stoppages.

Much like before the fight against Pereira, where many had questions about Hill’s return from a ruptured Achilles, he will now enter another fight with questions looming, but this time about returning so quickly after a vicious knockout by the hands of one of the hardest hitters in the game.

Hill claims he took no damage from the fight against Pereira and will be ready to go against Rountree.

“I took no damage,” Hill said. “Most of the fall was me falling down. I remember everything. I remember looking up, seeing his legs. I remember him coming in, trying to block, trying to reach for the underhook. He was able to land some shots and kind of throw my equilibrium off on the other side, but I was coherent the whole time throughout, for the most part.

“So, I take this on. We moving forward. I’m a go, I’m going to put it on this next guy, Khalil Rountree. He has to feel it. He’s going to have to feel everything that the frustrations and whatever I feel from what happened last week. I’m right back at it. I want Alex. I want that fight again.”

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