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โพสต์แล้ว: 20 ม.ค. 2020, 13:29
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CONCORD, N.C. -- Jeff Gordon is feeling rejuvenated as the NASCAR Sprint Cup season winds down. Gordon carried over a strong performance in Kansas last weekend to Thursday night by winning the pole for the race Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Gordon, who is fourth in the Chase standings, said its been a frustrating season but that hes feeling better with each passing race. "I feel like we knocked it out of the park tonight," Gordon said. Gordon turned a lap at 194.308 mph to edge Kevin Harvick for his ninth pole at Charlotte, tied for the second most in track history. Greg Biffle qualified third for the Saturday night race, Jimmie Johnson was fourth, and Kasey Kahne -- who held the pole for most of the night -- will start fifth on Saturday night. Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrated his 39th birthday by qualifying sixth for his 500th Sprint Cup start. Ryan Newman was seventh, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch. Gordon was upbeat after the qualifying, saying things are finally starting to mesh for the No. 24 Chevrolet team. "The thing is its really hard to maintain your confidence in what youre doing when youre struggling," Gordon said. "I felt like all year long we have been racing better than we have been qualifying, but that qualifying was a weakness for us and we needed to get better track position. Its hard not to get down when things arent going well. ... Its hard to come in here all bubbly and having fun, because honestly it wasnt fun." The 42-year-old Gordon hasnt won a race on the Sprint Cup series this year, but believes hes going to need to win one to have a legitimate shot at winning is fifth Cup championship. Gordon enters the weekend 32 points behind leader Matt Kenseth with six races left. Kenseth qualified 20th. "This will be one of our worst qualifying efforts of the year so we have a lot of work to do," Kenseth said. Kahne was hoping Thursday night would give his team momentum after what has been a disappointing showing so far in the Chase. He enters the weekend in 13th place, 83 points behind Kenseth. For a while it looked like his early lap would hold up. But then a series of drivers eclipsed his time, capped finally by Gordon, who had the last car on the track. "There were a lot of good cars at the end of the session and that kept leading up to things getting faster and faster," Harvick said. Gordon called it "the most exciting qualifying pole ever." Harvick said he would have been happy starting on the outside row had he not won from the pole last week at Kansas. "Obviously we wanted to be greedy and get that again tonight," Harvick said. "But its been nice to see the speed. It seems like everybody is able to find a little more and dig deeper when it is Chase time." Kyle Larson, making his Sprint Cup debut in Phoenix Racings No. 51 Chevrolet, qualified 21st. Johnson, who has had incredible success at Charlotte, is hoping for a good finish to jump ahead of Kenseth. Johnson enters the weekend three points behind Kenseth. "Weve had some really strong runs here over the years," Johnson said. Travis Kvapil qualified 41st one day after being released from police custody on $2,000 bond. He was arrested Tuesday and charged with misdemeanour assault on a female and false imprisonment. "Im obviously embarrassed about the situation," Kvapil said. "I dont like the negative effects that it has brought on. So I apologize to NASCAR, my team, supporters of my team, my fans and anyone else that was impacted by Tuesday night." John Brebbia . HABS HEADED TO CONFERENCE FINAL The Montreal Canadiens scored early in Game Seven, built a lead and protected it well on their way to a 3-1 series-clinching win over the Boston Bruins. While this game or series isnt necessarily a referendum on the value of fourth lines, the Canadiens certainly benefitted from production lower down their forward depth chart. Tommy Edman . -- The Tampa Bay Lightning are disappointed, though not discouraged. http://www.custommlbcardinalsjersey.com/custom-tony-cingrani-jersey-large-1531q.html .C. -- Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross is saying goodbye to the NFL after 11 seasons. Enos Slaughter . The lightning strike was in the parking lot of Crew Stadium on Saturday night, but its not known if the off-duty lieutenant was struck directly, Columbus Fire Department Battalion Chief Tracy Smith said. The firefighter, identified as Lt. Ryan Helsley . -- A lawyer for the fiancee of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez asked a judge Friday to throw out perjury charges, saying Shayanna Jenkins did not wilfully lie as she was bombarded with 1,630 questions over two days before a grand jury.CLEVELAND - LeBron James had on street clothes, and the Milwaukee Bucks made the most of his absence.Brandon Knight scored 26 points Wednesday night and Milwaukee led most of the way in a 96-80 win over the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers, who played without James for the second straight game.James was sidelined because of a sore left knee, an injury that also forced him to miss Tuesdays game against Atlanta. Kevin Love was out with back spasms, and the Cavaliers went on to their fourth loss in five games.The Bucks seized on their opportunity.We prepared for their main guys, but honestly, it made us a little more focused when we found out they werent going to have LeBron, Knight said. We knew their other guys who come out and play extra hard. No matter who is on the court, our principles never change. Guys are always ready to play.Cavaliers coach David Blatt admitted that playing without a full roster is a challenge, but added: No excuses. Weve got to play and weve got to compete and do everything we can to win basketball games.O.J. Mayo scored 15 points for the Bucks (17-16), and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists.Kyrie Irving scored 25 points for Cleveland, and Tristan Thompson had 10 points and 13 rebounds. The Cavaliers scored seven points in the third quarter, a season low.Milwaukee went ahead for good late in the first quarter and built a 17-point lead in the first half. Cleveland pulled within one late in the second quarter, but the Bucks led by five at the break and opened the third with a 13-2 run.Milwaukees lead reached 22 points in the fourth quarter. The Bucks, who won in overtime at Charlotte on Monday, improved to 7-7 on the road.Knight was 11 of 19 from the field, including four 3-pointers, and had six assists. Zaza Pachulia and Khris Middleton each had nine points and eight rebounds.James said before the game the knee has bothered him most of the season, and he didnt know if he would play Friday in Charlotte. He missed the Dec. 11 game against Oklahoma City and aggravated the knee when he jumped over a row of seats chasing a loose ball on Christmas at Miami.James ranks second in the NBA with 25.2 points per game, and Love averages 16.7 pointts and 10.dddddddddddd1 rebounds.The Cavaliers (18-14) have been hit by a rash of injuries. Forward Shawn Marion missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle. Center Anderson Varejao will miss the rest of the season after tearing his left Achilles tendon last week.Obviously, when those guys arent playing its going to be a different game, Irving said. For us right now weve just to pick it up. I think were ready to do so, but we need a little bit more. Im going to have to give more. As a group we have to figure this out.The Bucks, who finished an NBA-worst 15-67 last season, have split eight games since they announced that rookie forward Jabari Parker will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.We knew they were without LeBron, Kevin Love and Shawn Marion, but it didnt matter, Antetokounmpo said. We just tried to play our game and get the win. I like winning. I like winning as much as possible. Last year was tough. Coming into this year, we really didnt know what we had, but all the guys are playing hard.COMEBACK KIDThe Bucks worked out free agent Kenyon Martin at a Cleveland-area gym on Tuesday. Coach Jason Kidd played with the 37-year-old forward with the Nets and New York Knicks. Martin has also worked out with Houston and Memphis. Hes going to play shortly here with someone, Kidd said.NO TIMETABLEIts unclear when Clevelands injured players will return. If James doesnt play Friday, he hopes to return Sunday when the Cavaliers host Dallas. Loves back locked up on him in the first half against Atlanta and he was limited to 24 minutes. Marion rolled his ankle last Sunday against the Pistons.TIP-INSBucks: C Larry Sanders (illness), who missed his fourth straight game, will be examined Thursday in Milwaukee. ... F Ersan Ilyasova (concussion) also missed his fourth straight game. ... G Jerryd Bayless (sore left knee) also didnt play.Cavaliers: C Brendan Haywood, who appeared in seven of the first 31 games, started for the first time this season. ... Blatt made liberal use of his bench. All 11 players saw action and Irving, who played 43 minutes Tuesday, was given a rest in the first quarter.UP NEXTBucks: Host Indiana on Friday.Cavaliers: At Charlotte on Friday. ' ' '