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Running notebook: Who will win a Biggest Loser race?

Some interesting news from Dan Loncto of Fleet Feet Sports - the Fleet Feet 15K race on Labor Day is getting a version 2.0

The event is going to be changed to include a half-marathon and 5-kilometer run. The date moves to Sunday, August 31, so runners will be on their own for Labor Day.

The television show "The Biggest Loser" will be involved in the presentation of the event, including appearances by contestants. It will be interesting to see if the first half of the Buffalo Marathon course will be used, or if they come up with a different set-up. Details to come.

Here's the weekend schedule, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

* Michelle's Memorial 5K, 28 Main St. in Middleport, 9 a.m. Saturday, 783-2432.

* Maritime March 5K, 170 Ohio St. in Buffalo, 11 a.m. Saturday, 574-4101. Since the race is down by the waterfront, maybe Pat LaFontaine will drop by to fire the starter's pistol. Then again, he probably is busy these days.

* Northtown Family Pregnancy 5K, Beaver Island State Park 5K, 11 a.m. Saturday, 909-4621.

* GBTC 5K Cross Country Race, Hoyt Lake in Buffalo, 9 a.m. Sunday.

-- Budd Bailey

Live from Watkins Glen: Kyle Busch holds off Brad Keselowski to win Cheez-It 355 at The Glen

Kyle Busch celebrates with his crew in victory lane at the Glen. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
By Keith McShea

WATKINS GLEN -- Hello on another great day weather-wise at Watkins Glen International. Should be a great day for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (1 p.m., ESPN). 

I'll be keeping track of events today in the live blog below. My tweets will also show up there, and I'll also be piping in some selected top Twitter feeds in the live chat as well. 

You can add your comments as well. 

* * * 

See Monday's News for my wrapup of the race and my highlights-and-lowlights from the weekend while Larry Ott will have the raceday report seen through some Western New York NASCAR team members.  

Live from Watkins Glen: Ambrose wins pole for Sunday's Sprint Cup race; Keselowski wins Zippo 200

Brad Keselowski, at left, congratulates crew members after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
By Keith McShea

WATKINS GLEN -- Hello on a picturesque day high above the southern tip of Seneca Lake for NASCAR's annual visit to Watkins Glen International. 

Marcos Ambrose, who is trying to win his third straight Sprint Cup race here, has won the pole for Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (1 p.m., ESPN).

Clint Bowyer had been atop the speed chart with one final group to go; Bowyer will start second. Martin Truex Jr. will start thrid; A.J. Allmendinger fourth; Kyle Busch fifth. 

Bowyer practically did a stand-up routine in the media center. He did some running commentary on some highlights being played on the track video boards that were also shown in here (including his major skirmish with Jeff Gordon last year). Asked how his car was better this year, he said "camoflauge ... you can sneak up on people." That would be his Toyota's paint scheme, which is camo along with its Duck Dynasty sponsorship this week.

Brad Keselowski, who finished second in both of last year's races at the Glen and was also second in the 2011 Cup race here, earned his first here by charging to victory in the Nationwide Series' Zippo 200 Saturday afternoon.

Keselowski has now won his last four starts in the Nationwide Series (Richmond, Kentucky, Iowa, Watkins Glen). Those four starts have come over the last 15 Nationwide races.

Continue reading "Live from Watkins Glen: Ambrose wins pole for Sunday's Sprint Cup race; Keselowski wins Zippo 200" »

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Paul Maguire

(Born August 22, 1938) -- It’s two straight days for profiling football players-turned-broadcasters. The two have very different styles.

Paul Maguire didn’t brag about it much on the air, but he was a very good college football player. He led the nation in touchdown receptions in 1959 at the Citadel, and was drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers of the new American Football League. There Maguire played both linebacker and punter. He was part of the 1963 team, which was at that point in San Diego, that won the AFL title.

Then it was on to Buffalo, where he stayed through 1970. Maguire won AFL championships with the Bills in 1964 and 1965, setting a record with three in a row. He was one of 20 men to play in all 10 years of the AFL’s life.

Along the way, he picked up a reputation as one of the funniest men in football. He worked in a variety of roles in the decades to come. Maguire did the NFL, the Canadian Football League, and college football.

Along the way, he found a home in Western New York, and always has supportive of his adopted community. The area responded when it picked him for the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.

--- Budd Bailey

Saturday night's NASCAR race at Bristol set to air on ESPN locally

If the Buffalo Bills' preseason game sells out and airs on Ch. 7 Saturday night, NASCAR fans in Buffalo will still be able to see the Sprint Cup race at Bristol.

According to an e-mail sent to The News from ESPN Communications, "arrangements have been made for the race to air on ESPN in the Buffalo area."

NASCAR coverage is airing on ABC throughout the country. If the Bills' 7 p.m. game is on Ch. 7, the entire NASCAR telecast, which begins at 7 p.m. with prerace coverage, will be aired on ESPN in the Buffalo area. The green flag is scheduled for 7:48 p.m. 

What is set to air on ESPN Saturday night? A high school football game between schools from South Carolina and Virginia. I think it's safe to say that ABC/ESPN made a great move here.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Sunday live from the Glen: Ambrose wins after zany, crazy last lap of Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen

Marcos Ambrose celebrates his second straight Cup win at the Glen in victory lane. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
Good morning from Watkins Glen International. It's race day and it's always key for reporters to get in the infield early.

Our entrance to the infield has us go under the track at just about the end of the Esses. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)10:15 a.m. We're just setting up for the day. Larry Ott and I are talking about possible approaches for coverage in the race.

Larry, as always, is catching up with Western New York natives in NASCAR. Old friend Rodney Fetters, a longtime crew member, is now part of Marcos Ambrose's crew team and he might have a very special day.

Thankfully, weather should not be a factor (knock on wood) -- as it's been recently. The race has been rained out twice in the last three years. It's a sunny day right now. There are rain showers in the forecast, but the chance of precipitation is at 30 percent. 

Otherwise we are using the time to budget our coverage of tomorrow's first day of high school football practice. I'm also trying to check in on the gold medal hoops game online (the media center TVs are on ESPN) but there is a good deal off buf ... fer ... ing.

Today's trophy was designed by the Corning Museum of Glass. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)10:59 a.m. A press conference in the media center presented the trophy that will be awarded to today's winner. It's fittingly been made at the Corning Museum of Glass.

It's a pretty cool item. The stone at the bottom is from the Finger Lakes region (it's actually called "glenstone"), and the clear glass cylinder-type deal is meant to reflect the gorges and waterfalls of the region. It has a baby-blue tinge, which is representative of the track's trademark baby blue guardrails. The shape of the interior of the glass is the shape of the track.

I'll take a picture of it after the press conference is complete (click on the photo for a jumbo-sized picture where you can get a good look of the track design).

It really is a neat trophy when you see it up close. The shape of the track is represented inside the glass, and the trophy's look kind of changes when you look at it from different angles. There were several artists involved in its production. 

11:26 a.m. Come race time, we'll be keeping track of things in the window below. 

I'll be using it as my running notes for the race and I'll flow my tweets as well as some other useful Twitter feeds through.

1 p.m. Here we go: Click below:

Myself and Larry will have several stories on today's race in Monday's paper.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Tony Hunter

     (Born May 22, 1960) --  A few names come up with a discussion begins about the greatest tight ends in the history of the Buffalo Bills. Back in 1983, we probably would have guessed that the discussion would have started and ended with Tony Hunter.

     Notre Dame has spotlight Hunter's talents during a great career in South Bend, Indiana. He had impressive size and speed, and was considered a sure bet for professional stardom. It was a happy day for Bills' fans, then, when Hunter fell to Buffalo with the 12th pick in the first round of the draft. By the way, that was two picks before the Bills took Jim Kelly.

     Hunter worked his way into the lineup as a rookie, catching 36 passes. The number went to 33 the following season, but he was still considered a big-time talent.

     That's what made it so surprising when he was traded. Hunter went to the Rams in a deal that brought Vince Ferragamo here. Hunter only lasted two years with the Rams and was out of football after the 1986 season.

     The final career numbers: 134 catches in 47 games and nine touchdowns.

--- Budd Bailey

Rest in peace, Dan Wheldon

The thing that always struck me about Dan Wheldon was that "he gets it." 

The guy was obviously a natural talent in a race car, and with his good looks and smooth manner of speaking, he seemed to be born to talk in front of cameras, too.

The "he gets it" comment is one that media folks will throw out once in a while. When it's used, at least the way I use it, it's not just about someone being amenable to the media, about someone being a "good quote." Those things help, of course, and both could certainly be applied to Wheldon.

But truly getting it goes beyond a snappy one-liner or smiling at cameras. Wheldon had a sense of place, purpose and perspective that made him not just a champion of auto racing but a tremendous ambassador for his sport. 

The best example I remember, and I'm certainly not alone here, is how he represented his sport and the Indianapolis 500 after winning the 2005 race which would become known as Danicamania's coming out party. He also was quite eloquent in talking about fatherhood before and after his Cinderella victory in this summer's Indy 500.

I did a story from Watkins Glen International's Indy Car stop in 2006, just after Sam Hornish had won the Indy 500. With the win putting Hornish in the unofficial position of spokesman of his series, I spent part of the story discussing how well Wheldon had done in that regard.

Here's an excerpt:

After open-wheel racing has struggled in two separate circuits (IRL and Champ Car) for a decade, the IRL has seen a resurgence in the last two years thanks in part to the emergence of Danica Patrick (15th among 19 drivers in practice).

A year ago this week, Wheldon was the series' perfect spokesman in the midst of Danicamania, saying in just about every interview how proud he was to have won "the greatest race in the world" and revving the hyperbole engine loudly by calling it the "biggest sporting event in the world."

Wheldon relished the role so much he even wore a T-shirt that read "I actually won the Indy 500" after rookie Patrick seized magazine covers by becoming the first woman to lead the Indy 500 before she finished fourth. The T-shirt was more fun than sour grapes, but no matter the recipe it was great PR. It's hard to picture the reserved Hornish pulling a similar stunt.

"He's obviously a different personality than me," said Wheldon, 27. "I think he'll represent the Indianapolis 500 very well -- Sam's a good role model for everyone involved."

When asked about his teammate taking on the role of Indy 500 champion, Castroneves said with a smile, "The good news is, he's definitely improved his personality a lot." He was clearly joking, but it's not something one would say if one were talking about, say, the ebullient Wheldon.

As the 5-foot-9 bubbly British-born bachelor with short spiky blond hair zipped his way down to his pit stall Friday in a motor scooter -- most drivers use them to get around the track -- he playfully waved his fist at a team member of a competitor before mock-karate-kicking another bystander.

A few minutes later, the 6-foot, Elvis-like sideburn-wearing Hornish, 26, smoothly drove his scooter down the same path, with wife Crystal riding piggyback."

The entire story is here.

Rest in peace, Dan Wheldon.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Monday live from Watkins Glen: Ambrose earns first Sprint Cup win in wild finish

Marcos Ambrose celebrates with the checkered flag in one hand and a sack of (fake) money in the other in victory lane. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

Here we go again :-) 

 We are back at Watkins Glen International for our second shot at the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen, which was postponed to 10 a.m. today after yesterday's rain.

9:11 a.m. Setting up in the media center after a drive from Corning, and a walk from the parking lot, under very grey skies. 

There remains a 60 percent chance of rain today according to weather.com, but the hour-by-hour forecast looks very good as the higher chance of showers is in the late afternoon. Hopefully the race can get enough laps in early before the weather -- but we were saying the same thing yesterday.

9:44 a.m. Just back from a brisk walk to the infield for an annual souvenir purchase -- can't believe I forgot to do that yesterday. 

The good news is that, while the sky remains grey, there is no rain. 

Snapshot of a Monday at a Sprint Cup race: There are far fewer campsites, and there were fans packing up and leaving as I was entering the facility (you have to think their schedule had them leaving Monday morning regardless and they just can't afford to spend the time here today), there are far fewer fans walking around today and a lot less foot traffic overall. The media center looks to be cut down by at least a third.

It was semi-surreal to see a field that was filled with merchandise trailers for the weekend emptied out. 

9:49 a.m. Reporters analyzing radar again. It appears that an afternoon shower could come along, but right now it looks like it wouldn't sit on top of us for a while like yesterday's did. I guess most people don't believe meteorologists on TV -- so I'm not sure if anyone would put a whole lot of stock in sportswriters' weather analysis. :-)

9:53 a.m. We're going to the live chat window below.

 

12:45 p.m. Top 10 via the scoring monitor:

Ambrose, Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Truex, Logano, Harvick, Montoya, Allmendinger, Burton, Johnson.

12:59 p.m. Some crazy stuff going on post-race, with Boris Said involved in an altercation wtih the No. 16 Valvoline team of Greg Biffle. Said appeared to be trying to get to Biffle's hauler but was pushed back two or three times by team members.

Said just went off on Biffle during an interview that just aired on ESPN. Wild. 

It is Ambrose's first Cup win, which came in his 105th start. It is his 11th career top five and his sixth top 10 of the season.

It's also the first win for crew chief Todd Parrot since Oct. 2, 2005 at Talladega with Dale Jarrett. First win for owner Richard Petty in a while as well. 

Just for the record, this might be the first time I've correctly predicted a winner. 

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Sunday live from Watkins Glen: NASCAR race postponed to 10 a.m. Monday

Hello and a good morning to you on this race day.

8:35 a.m. First things first from our Corning hotel. The forecast is better now than it was yesterday.

The chance of rain is down from 80 to 60 percent. There seems to be significant rain headed our way on the weather.com map that I just checked on my phone, but it also looks like it will pass through. We might be looking at a rain-delayed or rain-shortened race rather than a rainout. We shall see. More to come from the track.

10:16 a.m. We're settled in here at the media center in the infield of the track -- located just behind pit road, close to the start/finish line. I breezed into the track via another favorite route, and no, I'm not revealing this one either.

Just after walking in, a huddle of about six reporters formed around a laptop and I actually heard one say, "well I think we might be OK after this low pressure here." You go to a sports event and a weather report breaks out.

Talk here is that the rain will come later in the afternoon, which is backed up by the weather.com forecast. We're optimistic here that we'll have a good chance to get at least 45 of the 90 laps finished before any delay occurs -- once a race goes halfway, it is official.  

11:22 a.m. Uh-oh. Hourly forecast now has rain coming earlier.

12:33 p.m. Uh-oh again. The map looks bad and we should be getting hit any minute now.

A very reliable source -- I'm getting married to her -- says Buffalo got hit hard by a downpour an hour or so ago. The chatter in the media center has hopefully a delayed race, hopefully not a postponed race until Monday, and hopefully (but looking at weather forecasts you can understand this) not a postponed race until Tuesday (!). We'll see. 

12:38 p.m. I'm going to get the live blog box ready although I'm not sure how much action we'll be tracking.

12:42 p.m. Check in the live blog box below for (hopefully) live updates of the race.

 

4:41 p.m. We closed out the live chat above. To recap: today's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International has been postponed to 10 a.m. Monday.

It is the second time in three years that the race has been postponed -- the 2009 race was the first to be delayed in NASCAR's history at the Glen.

Monday's forecast is not great either. Gotta love it. 

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.

@WDX2BB | bbailey@buffnews.com

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