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DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Lions have signed tight end Matt Veldman and released tight end Dominique Curry. The moves were announced Monday. Veldman was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. The former North Dakota State standout signed with the Jaguars a year ago, but didn't play because he tore a knee ligament in August and was put on injured reserve.

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 17, 2013) - For the second year in a row, the NASCAR Foundation has recognized Michigan International Speedway's charitable and community efforts, naming the racetrack its "Track of the Year."

Of note, the NASCAR Foundation lauded the speedway's "Track and Explore" program, a partnership with Adrian College that teaches area youth about nature and conservancy with a series of field trips to MIS.

"All our employees and volunteers are truly passionate about giving back to our community," speedway president Roger Curtis said. "This is where we work, live and play. And it's up to us to be involved and to make our community stronger. We will always be a leader in the community for community giving."

The speedway was also cited for awarding $75,000 in 2012 to local charities through MIS Cares, the speedway's official platform.

Through annual programs such as Fish Your Bass Off, NASCAR Unites, Extreme Bus Make Over, the track's annual Charity Drive and Racing to Read and its Spirit of America blood drive, Michigan International Speedway has fostered a community-minded effort, as well as raised funds for charities, big and small, and charitable work.

Michigan International Speedway annually hosts the Spirit of America, the nation's largest 9-11 blood drive. But that's not all. Besides its annual fund-raisers and community involvement efforts, MIS Cares also partnered with the Ryan Newman Foundation and Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation to help those NASCAR drivers with their efforts.

Fish Your Bass Off is an annual fishing tournament held at Jerry's Pub during the track's August NASCAR weekend. Working with NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, his wife Krissie, ESPN's Mark Zona and fishing legend Kevin VanDam, the track raised funds and hosted guests looking for a great time fishing on scenic Wamplers Lake.

MIS also worked with Michigan native Brad Keselowski and his Checkered Flag Foundation in June to host injured soldiers and veterans for a day at the races with the driver's Race to Recovery program.

Striving to be the track that gives back the most to its fans and local and state communities, MIS president Roger Curtis was very proud of the speedway's achievement.

"It's an honor to be named the NASCAR Foundation's 'Track of the Year," Curtis said. "But for two years. That's incredible. We are just so proud of MIS Cares and what it has done for the local and state communities. We are always striving to improve every year and this achievement recognizes our efforts."

Since 2006, the NASCAR Foundation has contributed more than $15 Million in charitable support and helped provide medical treatment for more than 24,000 children annually at Speediatrics, fulfilled more than 2,000 NASCAR Dreams, helped provide 1236 summer camp experiences for children with special needs, recruited 12,000 fans to become part of a Volunteer Network and created educational opportunities for school-aged students that help to engage them in science and engineering programs.

PICTURED: Michigan International Speedway president Roger Curtis accepts the NASCAR Foundation "Track of the Year" award during Sunday's Quicken Loans 400. (Credit: Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 7, 2013) - Detroit Red Wings alternate captain Niklas Kronwall was the grand marshal and Olympic gold medalist swimmer Tyler Clary served as honorary starter for the Quicken Loans 400 on June 16 at Michigan International Speedway.

Kronwall gave the command of "start your engines" while Clary waved the green flag to start the Quicken Loans 400.

"We are thrilled to welcome Niklas Kronwall and Tyler Clary to the MIS festivities," track president Roger Curtis said. "Niklas is an integral member of the Red Wings and the Detroit community who represents the state with pride. As a member of the US Olympic team, Tyler represented our country with pride and we are pleased he will be here with us to wave the green flag."

Kronwall was the first-round draft pick of the Red Wings in the 2000 NHL Entry draft. The Stockholm native helped lead Detroit to a 24-16-8 record this year and an appearance in the Western Conference semifinals. He led all Red Wings defensemen with five goals and 24 assists. Kronwall has garnered a reputation as an open ice hitter, lending to the phrase of "being Kronwalled."

The defenseman has played in 515 regular season games in the NHL, scoring 54 goals. Kronwall has helped lead the Red Wings to seven playoff appearances, including winning the Stanley Cup in 2008. He won a hockey gold medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games for his native Sweden.

Clary, a 24-year-old Olympian and three-time NCAA champion at the University of Michigan, won the gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke at the London Summer Olympics. He defeated fellow American Ryan Lochte in the final and broke Lochte's Olympic record of 1:53:94, finishing the event in 1:53:41. Clary also swam in the 200-meter butterfly, placing fifth. The racing enthusiast, has won eight medals during his international swimming career.

 

PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY ROBERT BENKO

 

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 14, 2013) - Carl Edwards took a jog and then ran into a problem. When he accidentally locked the keys to his rental car inside the vehicle Friday morning about two hours before qualifying was to begin for the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday.

Edwards got back on track and then posted the quickest qualifying lap of the day to capture the Coors Light Pole Award with a speed of 202.452 miles per hour in his Fastenal Ford

It wasn't a track record but it was more than fastest enough to push aside Kurt Busch (201.879 mph) and Kasey Kahne (201.213 mph), his two closest competitors. It was the 12th career pole for Edwards in his 316 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

"We got the keys after we broke into the car and made it back," Edwards explained. "It was good. It kept my mind off the stress of qualifying. It was a little adventure. I was just furthering the belief that drivers can't take care of themselves."

The Columbia, Mo. native was not the only driver to eclipse 200 MPH. The first 13 drivers for the Quicken Loans 400 all averaged more than 200 MPH during their qualifying runs.

But Edwards, who was just 10th fastest during a practice session before qualifying, took care of the remainder of field with relative ease in garnering his first pole in 18 races at MIS. His previous best start was second last August.

"There are a few things I like about racing at Michigan," Edwards said. "The first is that it is the site of my first Sprint Cup start, a huge day for me personally. I will never forget when they said, 'gentlemen start your engines.' That was one of the most emotional moments I've ever had in a race car. The second thing is it is really special to stand in victory lane here with Jack Roush (team owner from nearby Livonia, Mich., with 12 victories at MIS, the most of any owner).

"If you don't know him you should take a moment and talk with him because he is a true American hero."

Marcos Ambrose's MIS track qualifying record of 203.241 mph to win the pole for the 2012 Quicken Loans 400 also made Michigan the fastest track in NASCAR.

A total of 19 drivers exceeded the 200 mile-per-hour barrier last June and another 13 topped the mark in qualifying on Saturday. The Gen-6 car and the repaved track proved to be a perfect match for fast speeds.

Busch was happy to be just one-tenth of a second off the pole-winning time, adding, "Carl posted a fast lap early on and I just wanted to go after it. The good news is we keep unloading fast. We are right there in the mix."

Kahne and Busch ranked one-two respectively during an earlier practice session Friday, June 14 while Edwards was 10th.

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY ROBERT BENKO

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 14, 2013) -Despite a dominating performance by Ryan Blaney, it was Brennan Poole from Venturini Motorsports who took the checkered flag at the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards 2013 Patriot Pumps 200 at Michigan International Speedway on Friday. "It was a fun day," said Poole, who took his fourth career ARCA victory. "It's exciting to get to victory lane. These guys gave me a rocket ship." Poole, who led the final 12 laps, started second and stayed in the top five most of the day before passing Grant Enfinger with 20 laps to go. He began to pull away before the yellow flag came out on Lap 89.

Blaney started on the pole, was fastest in practice and led a race-high 64 laps but pitted two laps before a caution came out at lap 72. Blaney ended up a lap down before getting the free pass and restarting seventh. Blaney moved up and was third when the final yellow flag waved on Lap 89. He got by Frank Kimmel on the restart and tried to chase down Poole. But by that time, Poole had begun to pull away. Justin Boston and Enfinger rounded out the top five. Kimmel finished third in the No. 44 Ansell-Menards Toyota and remains one race from tying the all-time ARCA series record for wins at 79.

The 2013 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season continues at Road America next weekend with the SCOTT 160.

 

 

Poole and Blaney fighting for the win!

 

PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY ROBERT BENKO

 

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 15, 2013) - Regan Smith started in the middle of the field for the Alliance Truck Parts 250 on Saturday. But he used a late race charge to take cross the finish line first to claim the victory. Austin Dillion started on the pole for the Alliance Truck Parts 250, his second straight season leading the field to the green. A year after starting setting the pole qualifying record at 190.375 MPH, Dillon was even faster. He eclipsed his previous mark to set the record at 191.882 MPH. He was joined on the front row by teammate Paul Menard. A third Chevrolet driven by Brad Sweet started the Alliance Truck Parts 250 in third.

Meanwhile Smith started the race in 20th place while Kyle Larson opened in 11th. But both managed to find the answers they never anticipated to finish one-two, respectively, in the 22nd Annual Alliance Truck Parts 250.

Smith, the Nationwide points leader, held off the fast-closing Larson to win by 0.330 seconds or about five car lengths. Smith was aided by Greg Ives from Bark River, Mich. who made the crucial calls in the middle of the race. It was Smith's second victory of the year, both times starting from 20th after poor qualifying attempts.

Larson, vying for Rookie of the Year honors, continued his strong showing in his first full year in the Nationwide Series. It was Larson's 11th top-10 finish overall this season in his MIS debut.

While Smith led for the final 13 laps, Larson never led but was also never out of contention over the last few laps. He closed ever so slightly on Smith with each lap to match his career-best finish with his eighth top-10 finish this season.

Menard finished third, followed by Kyle Busch and Trevor Bayne. Dillon led for the first 41 laps and a race-leading total of 61 before getting caught up in some untimely pit stops to finish 20th. Sam Hornish, Jr., from nearby Defiance, OH, was also an early-race threat, running as high as second before running over debris that penetrated his engine and broke the oil pump.

Hornish continues to place second in the Nationwide points chase, falling 58 points behind Smith.

 PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY ROBERT BENKO

 

BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) - Greg Biffle raced to his second straight Sprint Cup victory at Michigan International Speedway, easily holding off Kevin Harvick after points leader Jimmie Johnson smacked the wall in the final laps Sunday. It was the 1,000th victory for Ford across NASCAR's three national series - Cup, Nationwide and Truck. It was Biffle's first win since he overtook Johnson to win at MIS in August. Johnson's engine faltered with six laps left in that race. This time, he was about a second behind Biffle with three laps to go - but a tire give way, and he dropped all the way to 28th. Harvick was second, 3 seconds behind Biffle. Martin Truex Jr. was next, followed by Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart.

 

PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY ROBERT BENKO

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - The San Antonio Spurs had concerns about Tony Parker's hamstring injury and Manu Ginobili's shooting as they took the court for Game 5 of the NBA Finals last night. Those worries quickly evaporated as Parker and Ginobili helped the Spurs shoot 60 percent to beat the Miami Heat 114-104 and take a three-games-to-two lead in the series. Parker played over 35 minutes, shot 10-for-14 from the field and delivered a team-high 26 points. Ginobili also had the hot hand while making a rare start, hitting eight of his 14 shots and finishing with 24 points and 10 assists. The Spurs also received major contributions from Danny Green and Tim Duncan. Green broke Ray Allen's finals record for 3s in a series with 25, shooting 6-for-10 from beyond the arc and providing 24 points and six rebounds. Duncan chipped in 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs, who shot 60 percent from the floor while holding Miami to 43 percent. The Spurs pulled away several times but couldn't ice the victory until the waning seconds. The Heat missed 21 of their first 29 shots to fall behind by 17 points in the second quarter before carrying an eight-point deficit into halftime. Miami also fell behind by 18 with 8:15 remaining, only to get within 109-101 with under two minutes to play. Ray Allen tried to keep the Heat close, going 4-for-4 from three-point range and contributing 21 points. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James each had a team-high 25 points for Miami but shot a combined 18-for-44. Of the 27 previous times the series was tied at 2-2, the Game 5 winner went on to win 20 of them. The Spurs can wrap up their fifth championship Tuesday in Miami.

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Tom Werkmeister of Kentwood has become the first amateur to win the Michigan Open since 1975. Werkmeister shot an even-par 72 Thursday at The Orchards Golf Club in Macomb County's Washington Township. He closed with a 13-under 275, two shots better than defending champion Barrett Kelpin of Kalamazoo. He is the fifth amateur to win the 96-year-old tournament. Werkmeister, a 45-year-old Internet salesman, says the accomplishment was better than winning the 2009 Michigan Amateur because he was competing against mini-tour professionals. Werkmeister says he was inspired because Julie Breuker, whose husband, John, is his close friend, was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. He will get a chance to defend the title at a new venue next year because the Michigan Open is moving to Highland's Prestwick Village Golf Club.

NEW YORK (AP) - Chicago's 4-3 triple-overtime win over Boston attracted the most TV viewers for an opening game of the Stanley Cup finals in 16 years. NBC's broadcast averaged 6.358 million viewers, the most to watch a Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals since Detroit and Philadelphia drew 9,000 more on FOX in 1997. It marked an increase of 119 percent compared to the Stanley Cup finals series opener last year with the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils. NBC is averaging more than 3 million viewers during the playoffs, an increase of 38 percent compared to last year. NBC and the NBC Sports Network are combining to average 1.191 million viewers for each game, an increase of seven percent versus last year.

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