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Weekend Sports In Brief

July 30, 2018

NASCAR

LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — NASCAR COO Steve Phelps said the impending departures of Lowe’s and 5-hour Energy have shaped a skewed perception that the sport is suffering from sponsorship woes.

Phelps offered bullish assurances on the health of sponsors in NASCAR that fund everything from naming rights, to the three national touring series, to the majority of a driver’s race schedule.

“People tend to focus on, ‘Oh my gosh, Sponsor A has left and Sponsor B left,’” Phelps said Sunday at Pocono Raceway. “For us, it’s OK, C, D, E and F also came on board as brand new sponsors.”

The losses of Lowe’s and 5-hour both surprised the industry because of their longtime connections to NASCAR. Lowe’s has sponsored seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson since his rookie race in 2001 and 5-hour sponsored 2017 champion Martin Truex Jr.

Truex’s success wasn’t enough for 5-hour to keep pumping the millions of dollars needed to help fund the 78 car and Lowe’s said it made the decision to invest elsewhere in the marketplace.

But the exodus of top-flight corporate sponsors — paired with sagging TV ratings, dwindling attendance and complaints about a tired schedule — have buried the sport in bad news.

“I think this industry tends to focus on the negative,” Phelps said at a sponsorship announcement. “I’m not really sure why.”

Phelps spoke at an event celebrating the name change of the national series known as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2019. The deal ends in 2022.

SWIMMING

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Michael Andrew is swimming in deeper waters now, having qualified for his first major international senior meet with a breakout performance at the U.S. national championships.

Andrew earned his fourth victory, upsetting current world champion Caeleb Dressel and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Nathan Adrian in the 50-meter freestyle.

“My lucky number is four,” Andrew said, noting it signifies the fastest qualifying lane. “I felt like it would be a nice way to end nationals with four titles.”

Andrew, who turned pro five years ago at age 14, outdueled Dressel in the closing meters to touch first in 21.49.

“I’m superstoked with the time and for the entire nationals,” Andrew said. “It’s been incredible.”

Andrew punched the water with his right hand and then raised both arms in the lane next to Dressel.

“Already being on the team there was no pressure, I could race completely free,” Andrew said.

He also won the 100 breaststroke and titles in the 50 breast and 50 butterfly at the meet that determined the U.S. roster for next month’s Pan Pacific championships in Tokyo.

Dressel finished in 21.67, while Adrian was third in 21.85. They were the only men under 22 seconds in the 50 free final.

HORSE RACING

OCEANPORT, N.J. (AP) — Good Magic, the 1-2 favorite, rolled to a three-length victory in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

The colt, ridden by Jose Ortiz and trained by Chad Brown, took command on the final turn and opened a clear lead on the way to the third win in an eight-race career.

“The horse was training great,” Brown said. “Jose gave him an excellent trip. Everything worked out perfect. You definitely feel pressure but when you have a good horse like him, he’s easy to train, and he makes my job easy.”

It was the first Haskell victory for Brown and Ortiz.

The race unfolded with 45-1 shot Roaming Union taking the lead with Good Magic, caught a bit wide initially, settling comfortably into second.

He was poised, simply waiting for the signal from Ortiz to pounce. Turned loose, Good Magic surged by the tiring leader and approached the 37,186 fans in the grandstand in total command.

Only Bravazo, the Preakness runner-up, took up the chase in the lane. Although never close to the winner, Bravazo finished six lengths clear of third-place finisher Lone Sailor.

For Good Magic, this was his first start since the Preakness, where he pressed the pace in the slop against ultimate winner Justify before finishing fourth.

Justify, retired last week with an ankle injury, went on to complete the sweep of the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.

With the Haskell win, Good Magic is positioned to assume the leadership role among the active 3-year-olds. Last year’s Eclipse Award winner as champion juvenile will next head to Saratoga for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 25, according to Brown.

SOCCER

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Lindsey Horan scored in the 90th minute to give the United States a 1-1 draw with Australia in the Tournament of Nations.

Horan scored on a bouncing header off a well-placed corner kick from Megan Rapinoe. The tie extended the Americans’ undefeated streak to 18 games.

“I actually thought performance-wise, I thought we played pretty well,” Rapinoe said. “We had a lot of chances, exposed them quite a bit in the wide areas, we were able switch the ball quite a bit. We had some good chances.”

It was Horan’s sixth international goal.

Alex Morgan had three goals for her fourth career hat trick in the team’s tournament opener Thursday against Japan in Kansas City, Kansas. Rapinoe added a goal and an assist in the 4-2 victory.

The United States, ranked No. 1 in the world, is gearing up for World Cup qualifying in October. The Americans hope to defend their title next summer at the World Cup in France.

But eighth-ranked Australia, which has already secured a spot in France, struck first when Lisa De Vanna charged the ball upfield before passing off to Chloe Logarzo for a goal in the 22nd minute.

Australia won its tournament opener 3-1 over Brazil. The Matildas, the defending Tournament of Nations champions, beat the United States 1-0 last year.

That was the U.S. team’s last loss. They’ve gone 15-0-3 since.

The result put the U.S. and Australia atop the tournament standings with four points apiece.

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