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  • Coach Q would love to go for the gold someday Feb 27, 2014 8:45 PM
    OK, so, if Hawks coach Joel Quenneville can’t be the head coach of Team Canada, at least the guy should have a spot behind the bench in some capacity, right? More than deserves it.

     
  • Earnhardt’s Daytona 500 win lifts ‘heavy weight’ Feb 24, 2014 5:01 PM
    There was a moment late in the Daytona 500 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a moment to catch his breath. It was clearly his race to lose and the tension ran thick through Junior Nation, all the way into his car. It had been 10 years since he won his first 500, and after three runner-up finishes the last four seasons in a race that had caused his family so much heartache and joy, the moment was overwhelming. “It’s a big race and you want to win it so badly, and your team wants to win so badly,” he said afterward.

     
  • Earnhardt Jr. wins his 2nd Daytona 500 Feb 23, 2014 11:04 PM
    Through rain and wrecks, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended the only drought that mattered. NASCAR’s most popular driver won the Daytona 500 for the second time, a decade after his first victory in the “Great American Race.” Earnhardt snapped a 55-race winless streak Sunday night that dated to 2012. It ended a streak of futility at Daytona International Speedway, where he finished second in three of the previous four 500s. He radioed to his crew “this is better than the first one,” as he circled the track on his cool-down lap in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Rain stopped the race about 45 minutes after it began for a delay of more than six hours. When it resumed, Earnhardt dominated at the track where his father was killed in an accident on the last lap of the 2001 race.

     
  • Danica Patrick continues to shake off Daytona doubters Feb 22, 2014 4:53 PM
    Jamie Dodge is a 64-year-old die-hard Danica Patrick fan who made the trek from Huntington Beach, Calif., to watch her favorite driver in the Daytona 500. Dodge says she’s battling cancer and uses Patrick as an inspiration to continue her fight. “I was in an all-male profession for 25 years, so I know what she goes through every day,” the former police officer said.

     
  • Regan Smith wins Nationwide opener at Daytona Feb 22, 2014 5:01 PM
    Regan Smith had the checkered flag in sight at Daytona a year ago and a freight train of cars in his rearview mirror. He moved high to throw a block on Brad Keselowski and it backfired badly. The desperate attempt to preserve the win triggered a 12-car accident, Kyle Larson’s car sailed into the fence and debris from the wreck injured nearly 30 fans. It was a racing accident, nobody’s fault. But Smith was racked with guilt. So it was sweet redemption Saturday when he nipped Keselowski at the finish line to win the Nationwide Series opener — finally, a year later — at Daytona International Speedway. “I think it hurt him deeply that the fans were involved in the accident,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who along sister, Kelley and Rick Hendrick owns the JR Motorsports Chevrolet that Smith drove to victory. “I think that he personally and privately (bore) some responsibility for his involvement in the crash, just being in the crash, to have someone in the grandstands get hurt had to affect him tremendously. That was definitely probably one of the toughest things he went through personally as a driver.” Smith said he went to dinner with Earnhardt after the accident and leaned on his boss. “I’m fortunate that I’ve got a boss who has been in a lot of different situations in this sport and understands a lot of different things over the years in Dale,” Smith said. “He just basically said ‘You’ve got to shake it off, it’s racing and no fault of anybody. Circumstances sometimes happen. He offered up a lot of good advice in that situation. It did bother me. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.” Nothing bothered Smith on Saturday. He beat Keselowski by 0.013 for the second-closest finish at Daytona International Speedway and seventh closest in series history. It was the 300th victory for the Hendrick Motorsports engine shop. Keselowski said last year’s crash-marred finish never entered his mind as he plotted his strategy over the closing laps. Smith and Keselowski raced side-by-side at the front of the pack over the final two overtime laps. They were door-to-door exiting the final turn and Smith edged him at the line. “I’m not that smart and I’ve got a terrible memory,” Keselowski said of not worrying about a repeat of last year. Trevor Bayne finished third, followed by Kyle Busch, winner of Friday night’s Truck Series race, and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Elliott Sadler. Brendan Gaughan was sixth and followed by Ty Dillon. Earnhardt Jr., who was 11th, ran into the back of Joe Nemechek after the finish. He said he was being pushed by Kyle Larson and traffic slowed too quickly. It caused heavy damage to Nemechek and Ryan Sieg’s cars that Earnhardt said he’d pay to repair. “We were slowing down. I was looking all around trying to figure out where everybody was at,” he said. “Totally my fault. Really wasn’t paying attention. I hate it for Joe and those guys ‘cause they don’t need to be tearing up race cars.” NASCAR issued its first drafting penalty of the season 86 laps into race when James Buescher was called for push-drafting Keselowski. Buescher’s car seemed to be under the rear of Keselowski’s car for several seconds, which violates NASCAR’s ban on drafting. NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said the penalty was called because Buescher appeared to be the aggressor regardless of what the television angle showed. Keselowski said the penalty “set the tone for the rest of the race as far as what guys were looking at for driving their cars.”

     
  • After Busch truck win, NASCAR might limit drivers’ double duty Feb 22, 2014 4:39 PM
    Kyle Busch’s thrilling move in the final few hundred feet of the Truck Series season opener led to his 99th win outside NASCAR’s top series. The victory infuriated many fans. NASCAR heard them loud and clear. NASCAR said Saturday it is looking at potentially limiting the number of second- and third-tier event Sprint Cup regulars can run during the season.

     
  • Naming any sport’s Mount Rushmore not easy task Feb 21, 2014 5:17 AM
    Now that everyone in the world has come up with their personal sports Mount Rushmore, maybe it's time to move on to a new topic. How about Olympic hockey?

     
  • Anybody else done with brrrrutal weather? Jan 31, 2014 5:58 AM
    Mike Spellman gives his take from around the world of sports.

     
  • Hot idea to tone Manning’s pre-snap craziness down Jan 10, 2014 5:44 AM
    From the problem with Peyton Manning to the old days of Sportsman's Park, Spellman's Scorecard keeps it chilly.

     
  • Spellman’s Scorecard: Bears GM positively special Jan 3, 2014 5:30 AM
    Bears GM Phil Emery has done it again.

     
  • Small improvement for Schumacher after 2nd surgery Dec 31, 2013 3:45 PM
    Michael Schumacher underwent a second surgery after a brain scan showed small, “surprising” signs of improvement, but grim doctors said Tuesday they could offer no insight into the prognosis for the Formula One champion. Schumacher, who turns 45 on Friday, suffered critical head injuries when he fell and struck a rock Sunday while skiing on a family vacation in the French Alps.

     
  • Doctors give no prognosis for Schumacher Dec 30, 2013 5:59 PM
    Doctors offered a grim assessment of Michael Schumacher’s head injuries Monday, providing no prognosis for the Formula One driving great after his skiing accident in the French Alps.

     
  • Jimmie Johnson wins 6th NASCAR championship Nov 18, 2013 5:45 AM
    Jimmie Johnson has a sixth NASCAR championship in hand and two legends within reach. Johnson staked his claim as one of the most dominant competitors Sunday by winning his sixth Sprint Cup title in eight years. "We'll see if I can get seven," Johnson said. "Let's wait until I hang up the helmet until we really start thinking about this."

     
  • Injuries force 3-time Indy champ Franchitti to retire Nov 14, 2013 2:30 PM
    Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti said Thursday that doctors have told him he can no longer race because of injuries sustained in an IndyCar crash last month. Franchitti fractured his spine, broke his right ankle and suffered a concussion in the Oct. 6 crash at Houston. The crash occurred on the last lap when his car made contact with another car and went sailing into a fence. The 40-year-old Franchitti underwent two surgeries on his ankle and recently returned home to Scotland to recover. “One month removed from the crash and based upon the expert advice of the doctors who have treated and assessed my head and spinal injuries post accident, it is their best medical opinion that I must stop racing,” Franchitti said. “They have made it very clear that the risks involved in further racing are too great and could be detrimental to my long term well-being. Based on this medical advice, I have no choice but to stop.” The four-time IndyCar champion has been the face of the series since he returned in 2009 following a brief stint in NASCAR. He won three consecutive titles from 2009 to 2011, and two of his three Indy 500 wins. Franchitti had crossover appeal for the IndyCar Series through his 11-year marriage to actress Ashley Judd, which ended in January. But he was personable, well-spoken, popular in the paddock and passionate about the sport. It resonated with fans and made Franchitti one of IndyCar’s all-time greats. Franchitti’s 31 victories are tied for eighth on the all-time list, and his 33 poles are sixth on the all-time list. “Dario Franchitti has done so much for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, so it will be very disappointing to not see him in our cars next season,” Ganassi said. “But simply put, Dario is a motorsports legend and will be sorely missed on the race track by everyone in the paddock and in the stands. His contributions to the sport of motor racing are too many to list, but I can tell you that they go way beyond what he has done on the track.”

     
  • Wauconda teen winning as pro go-kart racer Oct 24, 2013 11:23 AM
    Kyle Kalish looks like he's been through the wringer after finishing a go-kart race. The four-time national champion sprint racer is bruised, exhausted and mentally spent. But the Wauconda teen relishes every moment. “A lot of kids think it's a Six Flags theme park type of thing where you just drive around in circles. There's a lot more to it than that.”

     
  • Spellman’s Scoreboard: What do to with all this extra time Oct 18, 2013 5:58 AM
    Bears fans better enjoy Sunday's game against Washington because it's the last time they'll see the beloved for two weeks. What to do when they're gone? There are plenty of options. That and more in Spellman's Scorecard.

     
  • Late caution helps Keselowski to first win of year Oct 12, 2013 10:47 PM
    Brad Keselowski snapped a 37-race winless streak Saturday night by chasing down Kasey Kahne in the closing laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The defending Sprint Cup Series champion, who failed to qualify for the Chase this year, grabbed his first win of the season and first since Sept. 30, 2012, at Dover, by passing Kahne with nine laps to go in his Penske Racing Ford. Keselowski became the first non-Chase driver to win a Chase race since Jamie McMurray at Charlotte in 2010. “I never give up. I didn’t qualify well. But I kept working my way forward. I knew we had a good car,” said Keselowski, who started 23rd. The race changed dramatically with 27 laps remaining and Jimmie Johnson seemingly on his way to an easy victory. But a debris caution sent the leaders to pit road and ended Johnson’s march to a record seventh Charlotte win. Hendrick teammates Kahne and Jeff Gordon took only two tires and raced off pit road first, while everyone else took four tires and lined up behind them. Johnson came out in third, and should have been in good shape on four fresh tires. Instead, Johnson had a terrible re-start and fell back to seventh. “There was a caution that shook things up,” Johnson shrugged. Kahne pulled away with the rest of the leaders. Championship leader Matt Kenseth was in the mix for a moment, but Keselowski, sixth on the restart, got past him and took over second. Keselowski then set his sights on Kahne once and for all. He had picked his way through traffic but getting past Kahne wasn’t easy — Keselowski needed several attempts before making it stick. “I love hard racing and there are a handful of guys who can’t race hard and they freak out — he’s not one of them,” Keselowski said about Kahne. “He’s an excellent driver. He ran me hard but ran me clean and that is great racing. He did a hell of a job and deserves a lot of credit for it.” Kahne finished second in a Chevrolet and was followed by the Toyota of Kenseth, who takes a four-point lead over Johnson into next week’s Chase race at Talladega. “I’m happy we finished third,” said Kenseth, who was the lowest qualifying Chase driver at 20th. “I was so far behind because I qualified so poorly and needed all night to get back up there. Then at the very end they gave me a shot to win and I’m slightly disappointed that I didn’t take advantage of that opportunity.” Johnson wound up fourth and said he had trouble when he tried to push teammate Kahne on the restart. “Evidently I was too close to him and in his way, and my car washed up a little bit,” Johnson said. “A couple of guys were able to get inside of me. I just lost track position at that point, which was unfortunate. Once I got rolling again I was fine, but I lost too much at that point.” Kyle Larson made his Sprint Cup Series debut driving a Chip Ganassi Racing-prepared car. He was impressive early, driving from 21st inside the top-12, and he lingered there alongside Juan Pablo Montoya, the driver he’ll replace next season for Ganassi. Larson eventually dropped to 16th, where he stayed until his engine lost a cylinder and eventually failed, sending him to the garage with 87 laps remaining. “I had a lot of fun tonight,” said Larson, who finished 37th.

     
  • Franchitti, fans hospitalized after crash Oct 6, 2013 5:27 PM
    Scott Dixon took control of the IndyCar championship race when Helio Castroneves suffered his second mechanical failure in two days at the Grand Prix of Houston, where the race ended when Dario Franchitti’s car went airborne into the fence on the final lap. The accident in Turn 5 happened when the car of four-time IndyCar champion Franchitti launched over Takuma Sato’s and sailed into the fence. Debris was showered into the grandstand from both the cars colliding and the impact with the fence, and Franchitti’s badly damaged car bounced back onto the track. E.J. Viso then hit Sato’s car. IndyCar said one series official was taken to a hospital to be treated for minor injuries, and Houston Fire Department spokesman Ruy Lozano said 13 fans suffered injuries, with two transported to hospitals. Franchitti has two fractured vertebra that will not require surgery, a fractured right ankle, and a concussion. He will be held overnight at the hospital. After the wreck, the caution came out to freeze the field, allowing Penske Racing’s Will Power to win the race while halting Dixon’s final attempt for a sweep of the doubleheader sweep. Dixon settled for second. He entered the Houston doubleheader trailing Castroneves by 49 points, but leaves with a 25-point lead going into Oct. 19 season finale. There was no celebration, though, for Dixon or Power, who raced to his second victory of the season. Both had to drive through the wreckage from the three-car accident and past Franchitti, who sat inside his car waiting for medical attention. Both drivers said the scene reminded them of the 2011 accident at Las Vegas that killed Dan Wheldon. “I just saw Dario’s car and him sitting in it with a lot of damage, and yes, that’s what it reminded me of,” said Power, who broke his back in the Las Vegas accident. “I hate seeing that. We try to keep these cars on the ground.” Dixon waved to his teammate and got only a slight head nod back, and team owner Chip Ganassi rode a scooter out to the scene. Franchitti was placed on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to a hospital. “Dario definitely got into the fence pretty hard,” Dixon said. “All in all I hope that he’s OK and obviously the fans. The fence took a pretty good hit there.” Dixon needs to only finish fifth or better in California to win his third IndyCar title. “It’s still going to come down to the wire,” he said. “It’s still going to be the last lap, last corner kind of situation. At least I hope that it ends that way.” Castroneves, who also had a gearbox problem in Saturday’s race, finished 23rd. He had started on the pole, got a great jump on the standing start to get past Dixon for the lead, but Dixon was screaming on his radio within minutes that Castroneves’ car was leaking oil everywhere and it was splashing onto Dixon’s tires and visor. Castroneves said little to his Penske Racing team, but detected a vibration in his car with every shift of the gears after just a handful of laps. The problem worsened and he came to a complete stop on the course at Reliant Park after just 11 laps. “It’s frustrating and disappointing,” Castroneves said. “It hurts. It really hurts.” His car was towed to the garage with a broken gearbox, Castroneves made the long walk back still wearing his helmet, and team owner Roger Penske retreated without comment into a team transporter. The team eventually replaced the gearbox and Castroneves returned to the track, 36 laps down and needing a miracle in Fontana, where the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner was fastest during an open test last week. “The racing isn’t over, we know that. We’ve seen this thing go up and down,” team owner Penske said. “I think Will’s performance today shows the speed the team has in the cars. We’ve been here before, and we’ll go to a track we like and maybe it will bring us some luck.” But Penske said Castroneves will likely have to change his engine before the finale which will incur a 10-spot penalty on the starting grid at Fontana. “It’s a long race and we’re going to go for it,” said Penske, adding “it doesn’t make sense, as far as I’m concerned” that reliability and durability failed twice in two days in a season in which Castroneves had been the only driver to complete every lap heading into Houston. Dixon said his strategy didn’t change when Castroneves pulled over Sunday with his problem. He said he saw Castroneves drive over a bump in Turn 1 under yellow that had caused problems all weekend and it caused some of the underwing to fall off of his car. Dixon said oil began pouring out of Castroneves’ car. “He hit really hard going through Turn 1 kink, instead of sticking to the left there, for some reason he went right in the middle and that’s when some of the underwing fell off when he hit that hard,” Dixon said. “With the amount of oil that was coming out of that thing, I knew it was pretty terminal. “But at that point you are thinking you still want to win the race, and Will was being super aggressive and trying to win the race and help his teammate.” Penske praised Power for holding off Dixon for the victory. “With Will out there battling and taking some points away, he got his job done,” Penske said. Power said his job in Fontana will be to help his teammate. “Going into Fontana, it’s all about Helio winning a championship, so whatever I can do,” Power said. “If Helio needs to win the race and I need to be somewhere in between him and Dixon, then that’s what we’re aiming for.”

     
  • Giant auto auction this weekend in Schaumburg Oct 8, 2013 3:06 PM
    As many as 1,000 collector cars will be offered at an auction today through Saturday, Oct. 10-12, at the Schaumburg Convention Center. The auction roster includes some outstanding consignments and high-profile collections including the “Hemi Under Glass Collection,” four of the most famous wheel-standers in drag racing history.

     
  • Spellman’s Scorecard: Minor red flag on Trestman Sep 19, 2013 10:34 PM
    Things have gotten off to such a strong start for Bears coach Marc Trestman, but one thing he said this week sent up the red flag. That and much more in Spellman's Scorecard.

     
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