By Edward AnschutzSTURGEON BAY, Wis. (June 28) – Troy Muench withstood all challenges to capture his first local IMCA Sunoco Stock Car feature win of the season Sunday at Thunderhill Raceway.Muench moved from the outside pole and into the lead before action was red flagged on lap two after Kyle Resch rolled in turn four. Resch emerged unscathed but his machine was done for the night.On the restart, Scott Reinhardt and Dave Bouche chased after Muench. With Muench running low, Reinhardt went to the top groove and pulled even. Lap after lap, Reinhardt worked high as Bouche worked over the leader’s rear bumper.With three laps remaining, Reinhardt nabbed the lead but Muench came storming back underneath to retake the lead and the victory. Dave Bouche was able to get second on the final lap, Reinhardt placed third.A $100 bounty was on the line in the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks for anyone who could end Marcus Moede’s winning streak, everyone brought their “A” game. Moede ended up having to start last due to mechanical issues in his heat.Ford Malvitz made the pass for the top spot on lap five. Several cautions kept the field close, allowing Dave Schmidt and Moede to slowly work through the field and to the leader’s bumper. Malvitz hugged the low groove and was never shaken, holding off the top two in points, scoring his first-ever feature win and collecting the Mike’s Automotive $100 bounty.Tyler Hackett continued his winning ways with a clean sweep in the Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modifieds and Jacob Zellner made it two in a row in the Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMods.Next Sunday, July 5 will feature the $1,000 to win Topless IMCA SportMod feature for the third annual John Soukup Memorial. Racing starts at 5:30 p.m.
This has been an uncomfortable week on Merseyside after the England forward’s ill-advised interview only heightened speculation over his future. Sterling told the BBC that he turned down a new £100,000-a-week deal but insisted he was not a “money-grabbing 20-year-old”, while also admitting that links to Saturday’s opponents Arsenal were “quite flattering”. “There was no change in him,” he said of Sterling. “I thought he was excellent today, our best player. “He was aggressive in his running, pressed the ball well, won the penalty and was very direct and strong, so I thought he was excellent today.” Rodgers was peppered with questions about Sterling in the post-match press conference, during which he said “a big part of this is actually nothing to do with him”. The Liverpool manager was coy when asked about outside influences destabilising both club and player, but was forthright when it came to the forward’s future. “At 20 years of age – and just turned 20 in December – there is still a long way for him to go,” said Rodgers, who confirmed Mario Balotelli deemed himself unfit to travel after receiving a knock in training. “He has got a lot of potential. I believe that potential he can really develop over these next few years at Liverpool. “Of course, it will be the job of, in particular, his advisors to look at maybe what possibilities might be beyond that. “The only thing I will say is that he has two-and-a-half years left, he won’t be going anywhere in the summer. That’s for sure. “They will sit down again with the club and his representatives to hopefully find the solution in the summer.” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was also asked about Sterling in the post-match press conference, but preferred to focus on his side’s fine display. Impressive goals from Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in quick succession gave the hosts a comfortable half-time lead. Jordan Henderson’s penalty reduced the deficit, but Olivier Giroud added extra gloss in this seventh straight league win after Emre Can saw red. “You always have imperfections in any game but I feel we started with a great intensity, which is what we wanted to put them under pressure,” Wenger said “We created some early chances after and then when we relieved the pressure they had one or two chances. Liverpool are a good side going forwards and they always look dangerous. “We had a killing instinct and took advantage of our strong moments in the first half. “In fairness we played at a good pace and had some good combination game in the final third. “The second half was more down to, can we maintain the discipline, intensity and not allow them to come back early? We did that. “We had many chances on the break that I’ve seen again but in the end it was 4-1 which is very convincing in a very important game.” Rodgers spoke to the forward about the week’s events yet still started him at the Emirates Stadium, where the Gunners all but ended Liverpool’s hopes of a top-four finish with a comfortable 4-1 win. “The reaction and commitment of the players has been first class since (the defeat to Crystal Palace in November),” Rodgers said. “Really, up until the Manchester United game we were the form team and playing very, very well. “But we have been dealt two big blows in these last two games, we haven’t performed how we would like and that has ultimately cost us in terms of the result. “I very much doubt we will be in the top four now come the end of the season. There’s too much ground to make up – that’s the realistic view from me. “Now, we must really focus on the FA Cup and that has got to be very, very important for us.” Liverpool take on Blackburn in a replay of their FA Cup quarter-final on Wednesday, when talk about Sterling will no doubt still be dominating the headlines. Rodgers is only interested on what is happening with the forward on the field, though, and wants another impressive performance from the England international at Ewood Park. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers accepts Champions League football is unlikely to return to Anfield next season, but insisted once again that contract rebel Raheem Sterling will do. Press Association
The 2011 Pirates were a great first half team. Leading up to the All-Star break they were on fire. Their pre-All Star break thunderstorm heroics last year, however morphed into short wick candles flickering in the dark after a power outage. This year all indicators seem to point to the fact that the Bucs are more prepared both emotionally and physically to make a run at a MLB Central championship or at the very least a NL wildcard slot. Let’s begin with the manager. Last Sunday at Houston, Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle decided to award his All-Star, all universe center fielder Andrew McCutchen the day off for the final game of the series. The Pirates lost the game 9-5 but it looks as if Mr. Hurdle does not mind losing a few skirmishes as long as he wins the war. The night before he rested his other All-World player relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan.My point is that Hurdle kills two birds with one stone because he gives the players that have to perform in over 130-140 games per year a needed break and he also establishes and maintains a confidence level with the alternate and “platooned” players. Even though they may be “2nd stringers” he makes sure they understand that they are just as vital as the boys who get most of the press and playing time.The next thirty games are going to be critical to the chances of the Pirates advancing to postseason play. If the team posts a .500 record the chances will be good; if not, oh well. I can almost guarantee you that down the stretch in 2012, the Pirates will not finish this season curled up in the fetal position.Any hope of success during this juncture of the season would have been futile a few years ago because the Pirates had no player depth or credible reservoir on the major or minor league level. If primary position players were ineffective or injured there were no adequate replacements because management was always poised to place players who may have been endowed with average or just above average talent on the trading block for immediate financial gain, but boy how things have changed. The Pirates seem to have now become one of the smartest “shopping” teams in MLB.Since the Neal Huntington era began, Huntington has become the mirror image of TV host Monty Hall or if you want to stay current Wayne Brady. For those of you who may be out of tune or out of touch both of those gentlemen were and one still remains host of the wild and wacky television game show ‘Let’s Make A Deal’. Huntington seems to be more concerned about the standings than the bottom line. His attitude along with Pirates upper management is more on the level of, “ya gotta spend money to make money.”The Pirates themselves also appear to be a lot more motivated because they really see that management is trying to do all the right things in order to bring a NL Central Division title to the Steel City. See boys and girls a wildcard spot for the Pirates just will not cut the mustard. Why do you ask? First and foremost if the Pirates have to play in for a wildcard spot, they are going to use their best arm, pitcher A.J. Burnett. There is no sense saving him because the loser will be going home anyway. That being said the starter in the wildcard game may miss a turn when the team reaches the divisional round. A day or two of rest is vital when it comes to baseball because it covers three seasons, spring, summer and fall. Exhaustion is and will always be a factor.The Pirates will never see the kind of talent that existed in the past especially in this small market but as long as they stay diligent in regards to talent and are good stewards of the money that is available to them there is a distinct possibility that the team will remain competitive for years to come.Bits of Steel: Everyone is now whispering that since the Steelers signed wide receiver Antonio Brown to a multi-year deal, the days that disgruntled star wide-out Mike Wallace remains a Steeler may be clouded at best. Hey Brown inked a long term deal because he amassed over 1000 yards as a receiver and a kick returner. Let me see flash. That is the first time that has been accomplished in the history of the NFL. Maybe someone somewhere overvalued Mike Wallace and undervalued Antonio Brown.Wallace wants Larry Fitzgerald type of loot. Are you kidding me? Fitzgerald grew up in the Minneapolis area and became a ball boy for the Minnesota Vikings when he was 15 years old. Larry spent hours at Vikings practice watching superstar NFL receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss while he was working as a ball boy. Larry Fitzgerald may not have NFL DNA bloodlines but he can definitely claim “pedigree by association.”Wallace is just learning how to run good routes. When Fitzgerald starred at Pitt he was regarded as one of the best wide receivers in the history of college football. Mike, take the advice of an old “economically challenged” sports columnist. Take the money and run.(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: 412-583-6741 or [email protected])