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NASCAR at Kentucky: everything you need to know about racing this weekend

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Christopher Hanewinc/USA Today Images

NASCAR at Kentucky: everything you need to know about racing this weekend

After a historic weekend in Daytona, NASCAR travels to the bluegrass state and Kentucky Speedway for round 19 of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

Here's what we're watching for on Saturday night in the Quaker State 400 (7:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN).

KENTUCKY STATISTICS
Kentucky Speedway: 1.5-mile tri-oval in Sparta, Ky.
Race information: 267 laps, 400.5 miles
Stage lengths: 80 laps, 80 laps, 107 laps
Defending winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Most wins: Brad Keselowski (3)

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY

Thursday, July 11

9:35 – 10:25 a.m. – Truck practice (No TV)

11:05 – 11:55 a.m. – Final Truck practice (No TV)

3:05 – 3:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

4:05 p.m. – Truck Series qualifying; single truck/one lap (FS1)

6 – 6:50 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

7:30 p.m. – Buckle Up in Your Truck 225; 150 laps/225 miles (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Friday, July 12

11:35 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN)

1:35 – 2:25 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

4:15 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying; single car/one lap (NBCSN)

6:05 p.m. – Cup qualifying/impound; single car/one lap (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

7:30 p.m. – Alsco 300; 200 laps/300 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Saturday, July 13

7:30 p.m. – Quaker State 400; 267 laps/400.5 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

What Haley's Upset Means

A few days removed from the biggest upset in NASCAR history, the stock car world is still buzzing following Justin Haley's shocking victory.

Call it a fluke, call it luck, call it whatever you want. That doesn't change the fact that Haley and the No. 77 Spire Motorsports team are the ones who left Daytona International Speedway with the check and the trophy.

The win had some bigger implications for the 20-year-old, who felt as if he was owed one following a questionable penalty in last season's summer Daytona race in the Xfinity Series, and came home runner-up in this year's NXS event.

Much of the talk has been surrounding Spire Motorsports, a new team who purchased the charter of now defunt Furniture Row Racing for a reported amount of $6 million. Spire Sports & Entertainment, an organization that represents a number of drivers across all three national series. Haley is represented by Spire, and drives the No. 77 car on a limited basis because he pays the agency to represent him.

The win from Spire is being looked at as a conflict of interest by some. Examples have been crafted of MLB superagent Scott Boras to buy a team or Jay-Z being forced to sell his ownership stake in the Nets when Roc Nation Sports came into existence.

This is a much bigger conversation to have. If you're interested, both sides were argued from Autoweek's Matt Weaver and Motorsport.com's Jim Utter.

Can Hendrick Take The Next Step?

The once mighty and powerful organization of Hendrick Motorsports has fallen back to earth in recent years.

But after a rough patch, the team may be on it's final step back to the top of the NASCAR mountain. Key word: may.

Sure, two of their four drivers have won this season in Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman, with reigning Rookie of the Year William Byron coming off a career-best finish of second and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson has scored back-to-back top five finishes for the first time in 2019.

But all four drivers and team owner Rick Hendrick will tell you that there is still much more to gain in order to catch up to the likes of Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske. Long run speed over multiple weeks with all four cars, Johnson snapping the longest winless drought of his career and Byron earning his first career win would go a long way in helping return HMS to the top.

More Of The Same? 

15 of the 18 races this season have been won by either Joe Gibbs Racing or Team Penske. They're that far ahead of the pack in 2019.

The other three have been won by Hendrick Motorsports (Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman) as well as the upset victory by Justin Haley. Three of the four JGR drivers and two of the three Penske drivers have won (Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney being the odd drivers out) and all those cars have been running well consistently throughout long green flag runs this season.

The likes of Stewart-Haas Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing, etc. have yet to earn checkerd flags, with Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer still winless. Although most of those notbale winless drivers are in good shape playoff position wise, a win would go a long way in dethroning Penske and Gibbs atop the NASCAR throne this year.

2019 NASCAR STANDINGS

Next week, NASCAR heads to the granite state and New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday, July 21 at 3 p.m. EST on NBCSN.

11.1.19 Rick Horrow interviews Alex Saratsis

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NBC Sports

11.1.19 Rick Horrow interviews Alex Saratsis

Edited by Tanner Simkins

In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick interviews Senior Director of Operations Alex Saratsis and breaks down the biggest sports business stories of the past week.

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST EPISODE HERE

1. A new football league unveils its inaugural schedule. The XFL unveiled its 2020 schedule which will serve up a 10-week regular season that starts February 8 at 2 pm with the DC Defenders hosting the Seattle Dragons on ABC, followed by the Los Angeles Wildcats traveling to Houston for a game against the Roughnecks at 5 pm on FOX. According to Cynopsis Sports, the eight-team league is divided into two four-team divisions, East and West. The XFL East features the DC Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks, and the Tampa Bay Vipers while the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, and Seattle Dragons comprise the XFL West. Overall, ABC and ESPN will combine to televise 22 games during the 2020 XFL season, concluding with the inaugural XFL Championship on April 26. ABC will televise 14 games with most telecasts starting at 2p on Saturdays and both ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to carry eight games, all on Sundays. The XFL season is being broadcast after the end of the NFL season which finishes in early February, but the XFL needs to be careful to not make the same mistakes as the AAF, which collapsed after just three months into its inaugural season in 2019.

2. National Women’s Soccer League inks an exclusive deal with Octagon for media rights and marketing consulting. According to Sports Video Group, Octagon will provide comprehensive media rights valuation, sales strategy services, and work directly with NWSL executives to secure and amplify new media distribution opportunities. In addition, Octagon’s Marketing division will assist the league with brand marketing, asset development, sponsorship valuation, and fan engagement insights to help generate increases in overall reach and revenue for the league and its teams. Featuring more than 200 of the world’s best professional soccer players, including U.S. Women’s National Team members and two-time World Cup Champions Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, and Alex Morgan, as well as international stars Marta, Christine Sinclair, and Sam Kerr, the NWSL is highlighted by 23 current FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions and 58 FIFA Women’s World Cup team members. Budweiser has also launched a campaign focused on finding the NWSL new sponsors as more money is being put into women’s soccer across the globe.

3. The sports world aims to tackle ocean plastic pollution. According to SportTechie, a research expedition embarked from the southwest coast of the U.K., on a two-year mission to sail westward around the world. The crew aboard the S.V. TravelEdge, a 73-foot floating laboratory, will travel 38,000-nautical-miles and cross all five of the world’s major ocean gyres, regions where rotating currents lead to the accumulation of floating plastic waste. The 300 women joining the all-female rotating team will investigate to find solutions to plastic pollution. The “eXXpedition Round The World” is being organized by sailor Emily Penn, who is among a growing group of athletes and people connected to the sports world that is advocating for and taking action to protect the environment. Another goal of Penn’s journey is to create a global network of ambassadors who can advocate helping solve the problem. She has been working with a larger environmental organization called 11th Hour Racing over the last few years to give talks and run workshops for other sailors to learn how they can play a role in tackling plastic pollution. By having athletes tackle environmental problems head-on, they can use their social influence to be advocates for policy and lifestyle change.

10.28.19 Rick Horrow interviews Lexi Thompson

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USA TODAY Sports

10.28.19 Rick Horrow interviews Lexi Thompson

Edited by Tanner Simkins

In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick interviews LPGA star Lexi Thompson and breaks down the biggest sports business stories of the past week.

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST EPISODE HERE

1. Cristiano Ronaldo apparently earns more from Instagram than he does from playing soccer for Juventus. The 34-year-old pockets an annual $47.8 million from paid Instagram posts, according to a study by social media firm Hopper HQ on Buzz Bingo. In contrast, his salary at Juventus is reportedly $34 million, according to Goal.com. Ronaldo’s reported income from Instagram makes him the platform’s highest earner, ahead of Lionel Messi and Kylie Jenner. “Ronaldo is the most followed human on Instagram,“ a marketing executive from Hopper told Business Insider. "Companies are paying almost $1 million for posts to access his insane reach.” A quick check revealed that Ronaldo has 186 million Instagram followers, compared with Messi at 133 million and Kylie Jenner at 149 million. And while companies around the world that have shifted large percentages of their marketing budgets to social media influencers are reconsidering that strategy in light of disappointing ROI, clearly those that invest in Ronaldo consider it money well spent.

2. Formula 1 eyes Miami to host its first-ever Grand Prix after reaching an agreement in principle to host a race at Hard Rock Stadium beginning in 2021. The proposed Formula One Miami Grand Prix would see F1 cars navigating a custom-built track around the stadium. Formula One had initially set its sights on a downtown track location, only to scrap the proposal in favor of Hard Rock Stadium, home to the Miami Dolphins, after local opposition. Concerns remain among residents over noise, traffic and pollution, though organizers insist this new location would reduce disruption compared to a downtown race. According to the Miami Herald, Dolphins and stadium owner Steve Ross will cover all race costs, including an expected $40 million custom track. It takes Formula One a step closer to holding a second U.S. race, a long-held ambition for the global motor racing series’ owners, Liberty Media. Since 2012, the sole F1 stop in the U.S. has been the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. A Miami F1 race would have an estimated annual impact of more than $400 million and 35,000 room nights.

3. Twitter partners with Discovery and Eurosport in Europe for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Twitter will bring Eurosport’s coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics to users of the social media platform across Europe. The deal, unveiled at international TV market MIPCOM in Cannes, will see Eurosport publish real-time Olympic Games highlights on Twitter to complement its comprehensive coverage of Tokyo 2020. The sports network will provide 3,500 hours of coverage of the Games on its network, on Eurosport.com, and the Eurosport app. The tie-in will also allow Eurosport to offer Olympic Games advertisers dedicated sponsorship opportunities for Twitter content. The coverage will include highlights from Eurosport’s pre-Games Road to Tokyo coverage, extensive event highlight clips, as well as live coverage of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Twitter will also sell in-stream sponsorships together with Discovery and Eurosport sales teams. This opens a door for similar sponsorship opportunities through the Olympics and different social media players in North America.