Practice 3 | Full practice speedsRicky Stenhouse Jr. topped the leaderboard in Saturday’s second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Texas Motor Speedway in the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford at 192.349 mph.Right behind him was fellow Ford stablemate Kurt Busch at 192.075 mph in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing entry.Rounding out the top five were Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota (191.884 mph), Paul Menard in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford (191.782 mph) and Ryan Blaney, P5 in the No. 12 Team Penske Ford (191.761 mph).Other NASCAR Playoffs drivers landed on the speed chart as follows: Kevin Harvick, P7 in the No. 4 SHR Ford (191.625 mph) Kyle Busch, P8 in the No. 18 JGR Toyota (191.625 mph), Aric Almirola, who led the first practice of the day, P9 in the No. 10 SHR Ford (191.625 mph), Chase Elliott, P17 in the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (190.402 mph), Joey Logano, P18 in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford (190.235 mph) and Clint Bowyer, P22 in the No. 14 SHR Ford (190.054 mph)Jimmie Johnson was the fastest Chevrolet driver on the board at 191.096 mph, only good enough for P11 on the leaderboard.Drivers next hit the track for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) as the Round of 8 continues.Practice 2 | Full practice speedsAric Almirola topped the leaderboard in Saturday’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Texas Motor Speedway at 193.854 mph in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.Right behind him was spring Fort Worth winner Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at 193.805 mph.MORE: Texas scheduleRounding out the top five were SHR’s Clint Bowyer at 193.771 mph in the No. 14 Ford, Brad Keselowski at 193.555 mph in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford and Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 JGR Toyota, clocking in at 193.403 mph.Martinsville winner and Championship 4 driver Joey Logano was ninth-fastest at 193.161 in the No. 22 Penske Ford.The remaining NASCAR Playoffs drivers placed as follows: Kurt Busch, P6 in the No. 41 SHR Ford (193.313 mph) Kevin Harvick, P8 in the No. 4 SHR Ford (193.285 mph), Martin Truex Jr., P10 in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota (193.154 mph) and Chase Elliott, P19 in the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (192.226 mph).
Real Madrid have identified Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi, as Cristiano Ronaldo’s replacement.The club representatives are currently in Italy working on a mammoth deal for the Argentina star.The Spanish giants allowed Ronaldo move to Juventus after nine hugely successful years at the Bernabeu.While the deadline for Premier League transfers closed on Thursday evening, clubs in Spain are still free to complete deals until the end of August.And Spanish newspaper, Libertad Digital reports that Real bosses have flown to Rome to hold decisive talks with Icardi over a summer switch.The deal is being driven by Icardi’s agent and wife, Wanda Nara, who is desperate to convince Real to sign the Argentine forward.Real Madrid are also speaking with Lazio’s Mlilinkovic-Savic as possible replacement for Luka Modric who also wants to leave the Bernabeu.The Serbian midfielder is one of the most in-demand players in Europe.
BY WAYNE WITKOWSKIStaff Writer Above, Middletown North’s Jennifer Anzivino steps in front of Brick Memorial’s Sarah Conway during the Lions’ win over the Mustangs on Thursday in Brick. At left, North goalie Lindsey Carlson holds onto the ball under pressure from Memorial’s Amanda Simon. For 20 minutes, Brick Memorial’s girls soccer team Bill Caruso waited for something to happen — magic, luck or some big play that would turn the NJSIAA Group IV Central Jersey championship game around like so many times in the past. It didn’t happen this time. With Jen Anzivino hitting a breakaway goal in the 59th minute, Middletown North avenged a 3-1 loss to the Mustangs in the Shore Conference championship game and held on to a 2-1 victory Thursday to advance to the state semifinals. The win ended a three-year reign as the Group IV champs for Brick Memorial, and gave the Lions all the confidence they could ask for as they chase down an overall state crown. “We played as well as we could play,” said Memorial head coach Bill Caruso after his nationally ranked team suffered its only loss in 20 games. Middletown North improved to 15-1-2. “We out-shot them, 20-4, and they were lucky and we weren’t. Sometimes the ball does not bounce your way. We had a ton of luck over three years, and our luck ran out. PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff “We were just missing and just wide, and sometimes that’s the way soccer is,” said Caruso. Even when Sarah Alves scored 8:36 into the game when she hit a corner kick and got it returned for a blast in close and a goal, the Mustangs were confident that they would could come back from the 1-0 half-time deficit. But when Anzivino struck for her goal and a 2-0 lead, Brick Memorial faced a staggering uphill battle, and the Lions were on the verge of pulling off the upset and putting an exclamation point on what had already been a tremendous season. Jess Fuccello cut the lead down when she got her 25th goal this season at 75:53 on a blast from 20 yards out for her 99th career goal, third on the school’s all-time list. The shot beat North goalie Lindsey Carlson, who had played brilliantly in the nets. But it was too little too late for the Mustangs, and the Lions were on to the Group IV semifinals on Tuesday, where they were to meet South Jersey Group IV champion Eastern, a 1-0 winner over Toms River East in their sectional final. With the Rutgers-bound Anzivino leading the way with her 27 goals this year, the Lions have proven to be among the state’s very best teams. But lost in the Lions’ offensive prowess has been the play of the North defense, led by Carlson, sweeper Julie Lancos and Danille Devinsky, who was in charge of marking Fuccello in Thursday’s final, and did so brilliantly. That defense proved to be the difference against Memorial, as the Lions were able to contain the Mustangs’ potent offensive attack, and could be the key as the Lions looked to add another piece of hardware to their collection this weekend. BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Staff Writer Middletown North girls knock off three-time defending champs