Sato holds off Helio to give Andretti another Indy 500 win

The Andretti family has struggled for decades to win the Indianapolis 500.

As a car owner, though, Michael Andretti certainly knows the way to victory lane.

Takuma Sato won the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday to give Andretti a second consecutive victory in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” An Andretti driver has now won the 500 three times in the last four years.

Last year, it was with rookie Alexander Rossi. This time it is with Sato, who joined the team just this season and had largely been overlooked at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the Andretti camp expanded to six cars for the 500 with the addition of Formula One driver Fernando Alonso.

It never seemed to spread the team too thin, and the main issue facing Andretti Autosport was the reliability of its Honda engines. Alonso put on a thrilling show and even led 27 laps — third most in the race — but the two-time Formula One champion was sent to the paddock when his engine blew with 20 laps remaining.

The Honda teams had a clear horsepower advantage over Chevrolet, but the engine maker had serious questions about reliability. Before Alonso’s failure, 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay lost his engine. Hunter-Reay had led 28 laps and was a strong contender late.

Sato had to hold off Helio Castroneves, who was trying to win for a record-tying fourth time, in the closing laps. Castroneves, in a Chevrolet for Team Penske, briefly took the lead but couldn’t make it stick as Sato grabbed it back.

The margin of victory was 0.2011 seconds — and it was redemption for Sato, who crashed while trying to beat Dario Franchitti on the final lap of the 2012 race.

A joyful Sato dumped a bottle of 2 percent milk over his head, received a kiss from the Indy 500 Princess and raised his finger in the air.

Michael Andretti ran down pit lane to reach Sato’s crew, then rushed to victory lane to hug his driver, the first Japanese winner of the Indy 500.

“It was a tough, tough, race. Helio really drives well,” Sato said. “It was a fantastic race.”

As for the difference between 2012, when Sato crashed in the first turn of the final lap racing Franchitti, Sato said his strategy this year was perfect.

“I was pointing in the right direction into (Turn) One,” he said.

Castroneves was disappointed to fall short of the four-time winners club.

“I really thought we had it,” the Brazilian said.

Max Chilton finished third, the highest driver for Chip Ganassi Racing, and was followed by former 500 winners Tony Kanaan and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Alonso, who had a spectacular race, simply feel victim to his engine in the waning laps. The crowd gave him a standing ovation as he climbed from his car.

“I felt the noise, the engine friction, I backed off and I saw the smoke and yeah, it’s a shame,” Alonso said. “It’s a very nice surprise to come here with big names, big guys, the best in open-wheel racing and be competitive.”

Pole sitter Scott Dixon, already having a rough week because he was robbed at gunpoint at Taco Bell hours after turning the fastest qualifying effort in 21 years, was knocked out of the race in a terrifying crash in which his car sailed through the air and landed cockpit-first atop the inside safety fence. Dixon’s car was split in two amid sparks and flames.

The tub of the car remained intact and the 2008 champion was able to climb out on his own to a roar from the crowd. He walked to a waiting ambulance while the race was placed under red flag and crews began to clean up debris scattered over hundreds of feet.

“Just a little beaten up there. It was definitely a rough ride,” Dixon said. “We had a great shot. We had gotten a little loose but they had dialed it in.”

Dixon had collided with Jay Howard, who blamed the incident on Hunter-Reay. He was a couple of laps down when Hunter-Reay tried to get around him and that forced him to the top of the track, where he wound up hitting the wall.

That impact sent Howard across the track, where Dixon had nowhere to go.

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More AP auto racing: http://racing.ap.org

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Florida State rallies past North Carolina 7-3 for ACC title

Drew Mendoza followed Cal Raleigh’s go-ahead RBI hit with his second homer of the game during a five-run eighth inning that rallied Florida State past North Carolina 7-3 on Sunday and clinched its second Atlantic Coast Conference championship in three years.

Mendoza’s seventh homer this season, a three-run shot to right, followed his solo blast to the same area in the seventh that drew the eighth-seeded Seminoles (39-20) within 3-2. His big hit came after Taylor Walls scored on a wild pitch and Raleigh singled to left in the next inning.

Mendoza also atoned for fielding and throwing errors that allowed one of North Carolina’s three second-inning runs.

Alec Byrd (3-2) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win as three Seminoles relievers combined to hold the second-seeded Tar Heels (47-12) to three hits over the final seven innings. FSU completed a 6-0 run in Louisville over the past eight days.

FSU earned the conference’s automatic NCAA tournament bid and awaits seeding when the pairings are announced Monday.

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Miami Marlins favors deal with Jeb Bush group, report says

The Miami Marlins are negotiating purchase agreements with groups led by  Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush and Tagg Romney, The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported on Saturday. 

The Miami Herald also reported the Jeter/Bush group was the slight favorite with a winning bid likely to be picked in the coming weeks. 

The Miami Marlins asking price is $1.3 billion. The subsequent sale of the Miami Marlins would occur within the calendar year. 

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Cavs beat Celtics to earn NBA Finals rematch with Warriors

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The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night to set up a NBA Finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors.

 

While the Warriors have posted a perfect 12-0 record in the playoffs this season, the Cavs have nearly matched them. LeBron James and company were unbeaten through 10 games before losing to the Celtics on a last-second 3-pointer in Sunday’s Game 3.

 

However, after a 112-99 comeback win in Game 4 and Thursday night’s victory over the injury-riddled Celtics, the Cavs now stand at 12-1 this postseason.

 

The win means James is going to his seventh straight finals and will rematch with the team his Cavs beat to win the NBA championship last year. It’s also the third straight year the two teams have clashed in the finals, with Golden State winning the title in 2015.

 

By going unbeaten in three series to reach the NBA Finals, the Warriors broke the previous record for best start in NBA postseason history, which the Los Angeles Lakers set twice with 11-0 runs in 1989 and 2001.

 

The NBA Finals get underway with Golden State, which finished with a league-best 67-15 record in the regular season, hosting Games 1 and 2 on June 1 and 4. The series then shifts to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4 on June 7 and 9.

 

If needed, the series would then alternate between Golden State and Cleveland for the final three games of the best-of-seven series on June 12, 15 and 18.

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Real winner of 2017 Senior PGA Championship? Trump

President Trump’s golf club outside Washington will host the Senior PGA Championship this weekend, and the honor doesn’t come cheap: The Trump Organization spent millions getting the course ready.

But the president could still come out ahead.

Hosting a marquee event like the senior championship provides a huge lift in brand exposure. Big names like Rocco Mediate and Bernhard Langer will negotiate Trump bunkers and Trump fairways. The Golf Channel and NBC will broadcast pictures of manicured Trump greens around the world.

And it’s always possible that the president himself, who returns Saturday from his first overseas trip, will show up. After all, he’s visited a Trump-brand property almost every weekend he’s been in office. The White House did not return a request for comment.

For a private club like Trump National, hosting a major tournament adds prestige, which can be used later to justify raising greens fees and the cost of membership.

That is money that ultimately accrues to the president himself, who has turned over management of his business to his sons but refused to sell his holdings while he is in office.

“Even if he doesn’t show up and doesn’t tweet about it, you have this problem of the Trump brand being intermixed with him being president,” said Larry Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog organization.

“He’s using the White House to promote his own financial interests,” Noble said. “Being president is a marketing opportunity for him.”

The course didn’t return requests for comment. The Washington Business Journal reported in 2015 that Trump National charged $100,000 to join, plus a monthly fee of $698.

Trump bought the former Lowes Island Club in 2009. The PGA awarded the tournament to Trump National in May 2014.

Since Trump took over, workers have cut down hundreds of trees to clear the way for breathtaking views of the Potomac River. (Between the 14th and 15th holes, the course also features a monument to a Civil War battle that historians say simply never happened.)

“This is a very special property,” Trump said in June 2015, right after he announced for president. “I bought it six years ago, at the height of the bad market, the world was collapsing, and I saw something that was very special.”

Hosting an event like the Senior PGA Championship is a big honor, but it’s a big undertaking.

The PGA typically takes care of expenses like the construction of grandstands and hospitality suites for the championship. And most of the workers during the event are volunteers.

Each year about 1,700 people sign up with the PGA to help out as course marshals, coordinate transportation and take care of guests.

But the course itself must be camera ready, and the Trump Organization spent a reported $25 million on renovations.

Golfers will tee off Thursday on the Championship Course, advertised by the club as a Donald J. Trump Signature Course, “built specifically for world-class golf,” with rough composed of fescue, ryegrass and bluegrass.

Eric Trump, who along with his brother has been placed in charge of their father’s business interests while he serves as president, promoted the tournament this week on Twitter.

{“url”:”https://twitter.com/EricTrump/status/866990966716198913″,”author_name”:”Eric Trump”,”author_url”:”https://twitter.com/EricTrump”,”html”:”&#lt;blockquote class=\”twitter-tweet\”&#gt;&#lt;p lang=\”en\” dir=\”ltr\”&#gt;Join us this week at &#lt;a href=\”https://twitter.com/TrumpGolfDC\”&#gt;@TrumpGolfDC&#lt;/a&#gt; for the Senior PGA Championship!!! &#lt;a href=\”https://t.co/Uk3lHOwK4W\”&#gt;pic.twitter.com/Uk3lHOwK4W&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/p&#gt;— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) &#lt;a href=\”https://twitter.com/EricTrump/status/866990966716198913\”&#gt;May 23, 2017&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;\n&#lt;script async src=\”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\” charset=\”utf-8\”&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;”,”width”:550,”height”:null,”type”:”rich”,”cache_age”:”3153600000″,”provider_name”:”Twitter”,”provider_url”:”https://twitter.com”,”version”:”1.0″}

Ross Smith, general manager and director of golf at Harbor Shores, a course in Michigan that has hosted the senior championship three times, said the exposure is invaluable.

“We can’t put a marketing dollar on it,” he said. “Everybody that comes here says they came because they saw the Senior PGA Championship being played here.”

Harbor Shores is a public golf club, but people come from as far away as Japan because they saw the tournament on TV, Smith said.

“We know by survey work we do that we bring golfers here by hosting the championship,” said Jeff Noel, the president of Harbor Shores. “They see that it’s aesthetically pleasing, they see the waterfront on TV coverage. It renews interest in our course, and people will visit and spend money.”

The club pockets a share of ticket sales and hospitality suite rentals, according to Noel, but he stressed that’s nothing compared with what a course has to invest to host a big event.

“It’s not a boon to the golf course or the Trump name. It’s not a financial windfall,” Noel said. “There’s risk. The Trump Organization cannot afford to host this tournament without investing resources to make it prestigious and have it be to a certain standard. The hosting course spends more than it gets back.”

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