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NASCAR weekend recap: Kurt Busch outduels brother Kyle Busch in overtime at Kentucky

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Christopher Hanewinc/USA Today Images

NASCAR weekend recap: Kurt Busch outduels brother Kyle Busch in overtime at Kentucky

Were you not entertained?

Kurt Busch took his horse to the old down road and rode it 'till he couldn't no more (I'm sorry, I had to) in the Bluegrass State and beat his younger brother Kyle Busch in a thrilling overtime restart at Kentucky Speedway. The win was Busch's first of 2019 for him and Chip Ganassi Racing, 31st of his career and first for Chevrolet at the Sparta, Kentucky 1.5-mile oval.

Here's what went down this weekend in the racing world.

Brotherly Love

It came down to a two lap, overtime shootout between what we thought would be Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. But when the defending champion's No. 22 got a sub-par restart, that allowed Kurt Busch's No. 1 to get a good launch on the outside lane and get to the No. 18's right rear quarter panel.

And as they say, the rest was history.

"As we drove down into Turn 3 on the last lap, I just stared straight at his door," Kurt said of his brother. "I could see the No. 18 to my left and I never lifted until I heard him lift, and then I'm like, wait a minute, I've got to still miss the wall. And he gave me just enough room, as a true racer would or as my little brother would. But I'm really proud of the way that we finished this race 1-2, put on one hell of a show, one of those old-school type races where it's two guys duking it out."

"Just happened to be brothers, different manufacturers," he said. "But this one, I can't wait to go watch the video of and tell people about it and show the sport of NASCAR and the production and the pride that everybody has to try to get to Victory Lane was shown in those last few laps."

Points Still Matter

With the advent of the new "win and you're win" playoff format introduced prior to the 2014 season, the long-stated "good points day" type of race became a thing of the past ... or did it?

With the advent of stages prior to the start of the 2017 season, points racing and points in general became a bit more important. Sure, winning still is the end all be all at the end of the day. But for those drivers who aren't the Joe Gibbs Racing's and Team Penske's of the world, A.K.A. winning week in and week out, stage points and scoring points in general are just as important as ever.

Especially on the bubble, as NASCAR.com's Terrin Waack exemplified prior to Kentucky, comparing William Byron and Clint Bowyer's recent weeks.

Partially due to Byron's new crew chief and seven-time champion Chad Knaus, the No. 24 seems to be on his way to qualifying for the playoffs and possibly earning his first victory in what has been a rapid ascent to NASCAR's top series. Byron, however, was in position to challenge for the victory but was penalized for a restart violation, ironically against Bowyer.

Bowyer came home sixth, a solid run in a summer stretch that has been marred by a lack of points and finishes for the No. 14 camp.

Playoff Push

Believe it or not, Kentucky marked the final 1.5-mile track in the regular season. From here on out until the playoffs, New Hampshire (one mile), Pocono (2.5 miles), Watkins Glen (road course), Michigan (two miles), Bristol (half-mile), Darlington (1.3 miles) and Indianapolis (2.5 miles) make up the next stretch of races.

With only seven events remaining before the playoffs are set, those below the cut line will become more aggressive on track and with strategy on pit road.

Ryan Newman, Daniel Suarez, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Paul Menard currently sit below the cut line, while Erik Jones occupies the final spot on the heels of his third-place finish at Kentucky. Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Kyle Larson narrowly are in the clear--for now.

2019 NASCAR CUP SERIES STANDINGS

This upcoming weekend, NASCAR travels to The Magic Mile and New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, scheduled to go green on Sunday afternoon (July 21) at 3:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN.

Mystics semifinals opponents to get travel help from league

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Mystics semifinals opponents to get travel help from league

The start of the Mystics' first playoff series won't be marred by the semi-regular travel woes that plague the league's players during the regular season. 

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced on Sunday that the league will cover the cost of charter flights for Connecticut and Washington's opponents in both Game Ones in the semifinals round of the WNBA playoffs.

“With both second-round WNBA playoff games taking place in the Pacific Time Zone on Sunday and WNBA semifinals set to tip-off on Tuesday in Connecticut and Washington, D.C., the league has arranged and will cover costs for charter flights for the winners of Sunday’s games," she said in a statement released by the league. "We believe it is in the best interest of the players to provide them with an opportunity to arrive expeditiously in the city of the first game of the WNBA semifinals and have a full day on-site to practice, rest and prepare.”

WNBA players, who fly commercial flights, have often voiced concern about their travel arrangements.

Earlier this season, Elena Delle Donne wrote on Instagram that she was "sick of" taking commercial flights cross-country, citing a fellow passenger's derogatory remarks made while the Mystics were on a flight to Las Vegas. In 2018, the Mystics game against the Aces was canceled after the Las Vegas-based team's travel woes resulted in them traveling for reportedly 24 hours and arriving only a few hours before game time. 

The issue also was one of the central points in WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike's essay on The Player's Tribune in 2018 after players opted out of their CBA. Players have to renegotiate a deal before the 2020 season.

"This is not purely about salaries. This is about small changes the league can make that will impact the players," she said in the essay. "This is about a six-foot-nine superstar taking a red-eye cross-country and having to sit in an economy seat instead of an exit row. Often with delays. Imagine the last time you took a red-eye business trip and you sat in the middle seat with your knees all cramped up, and how shook you were for that entire rest of the day."

The top-seeded Mystics, who clinched a double-bye to the semifinals, start their postseason on Tuesday at home. 

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Beyond the Scoreboard: HBO teaming up with Belichick and Saban

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Beyond the Scoreboard: HBO teaming up with Belichick and Saban

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

  • From an agency perspective, the NFL is moving in the right direction. Rick recently sat down with Arnold Wright, Executive Vice President and co-head of consulting for Octagon. Wright brings NFL team, league, and player deals to life for sponsors including Castrol, Delta, Bank of America, and others. “The league is obviously an incredible platform that leaps up year to year in terms of ratings and engagement,” Wright said. “The on field action is also as good as it’s ever been.” From a global perspective, Wright says, “The international piece in particular has been great for the league. You continue to see key markets like the UK, Mexico, and even Brazil growing internationally. It’s bringing other brands into the NFL ecosystem from a partner and promotional perspective.” As for the NFL’s 100th season platform, Wright says, “The league has done a lot of really great work in terms of positioning themselves, celebrating the history of the league from a player and a fan perspective. They have demonstrated a real savviness around their marketing and their connectivity to fans. The league several years ago probably would not have demonstrated that level of flexibility in terms of their marketing and what you could do with their platforms. But that’s certainly changed.”
    • YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI will make their professional boxing debut. Last year, the two online sensations faced each other in an exhibition fight that generated more than 1 million pay-per-view buys on YouTube. Now they will fight each other again – this time, in an official professional fight at in Logan’s hometown of Los Angeles at Staples Center on November 9. According to ESPN, the event will be a six-round cruiserweight fight streamed on DAZN and is sure to pack the house after last year’s sold out 57-57 majority draw that happened at Manchester Arena in KSI’s hometown of Manchester, England. They are both now professional boxers, have passed their required medical exams, and will meet at a launch news conference in Los Angeles on September 14, with another news conference to be scheduled in the United Kingdom. KSI and Paul have more than 40 million YouTube subscribers between them and should bring tons of new fans to the sport of boxing, while the sport’s traditional enthusiasts can relish undercard events that will feature an assortment of more established fighters in the boxing world.
    • HBO Sports and NFL Films are teaming on Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching, a feature-length film about the four-decade friendship between football coaches Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. According to Cynopsis Sports, the pair grant unprecedented camera access to their annual coaching retreat, where they share conversation about their interwoven history, admiration, coaching philosophies, and more. “Bill Belichick and Nick Saban have become the modern versions of Vince Lombardi and John Wooden – symbols of success not just in sports but in life,” said Ross Ketover, Chief Executive of NFL Films. “Their lessons on leadership are an inspiration; not just for those of us who love football but for anyone who wants to thrive at whatever passion they pursue.” The film is slated air in December on HBO. Belichick and Saban have both started their 2019 campaigns off with a bang, as Alabama handily won its first two games and the Patriots obliterated the Steelers 33-3 on Sunday night.