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Women can punch, kick and win pole just like men

 

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Today: Sunday’s NASCAR season-opening Daytona 500 will mark the 55th running of the Great American Race. Most victories in the event:

Wins Driver Span
7Richard Petty1964-81
4Cale Yarborough1968-84
3Bobby Allison1978-88
3Dale Jarrett1993-00
3Jeff Gordon1997-05

Note: Two-time winners have been Bill Elliott, Sterling Marlin, Michael Waltrip and Matt Kenseth. Three of the nine multiple winners — Gordon, Waltrip and Kenseth — are in Sunday’s field.


What South Florida sports fans are talking about:

1. NCAA

UM accused of lack of institutional control: Despite its own wrongdoing, the NCAA this week pressed on with a Notice of Allegations, drawing harsh rebuke from UM president Donna Shalala. Meantime, Canes spring football opens soon. Can’t confirm a picture of NCAA president Mark Emmert’s face will be on the tackling sleds.

2. HEAT

Champs playing into “repeat” form: As LeBron James hosts his former team Sunday, Miami had won a season-best nine games in a row entering Saturday’s at Philadelphia. Coach Erik Spoelstra tries to not be satisfied but is struggling to find need for improvement. The other day he mentioned that several players’ shoelace knots could be tighter.

3. UM BASKETBALL

No. 2 Canes gearing for Duke visit: Led by Shane Larkin, No. 2 UM — doesn’t that still sound crazy? — saw a 14-game win steak and unbeaten ACC mark crumble in Saturday’s loss at Wake Forest. UM can get back on track when it hosts Virginia Tech on Wednesday before visiting Duke next Saturday. This whole season has gotta be a dream, right?

4. MARLINS

Spring has sprung as Grapefruit League opens: The Marlins’ spring opener was Saturday against the Cardinals at the Jupiter facility the two teams share. After one season of big spending, Miami has reverted back to its penny-pinching ways. When the Marlins have a Bat Day promotion, it means fans are asked to bring a bat to donate to the team.

5. DAYTONA 500

Danica in spotlight as NASCAR opens season: All eyes will be on pole-sitter Danica Patrick when her first full Sprint Cup season begins in Sunday’s Daytona 500. The field apparently includes 42 other drivers not named Danica Patrick. They must be jealous of all the attention Danica gets, but I’m not sure who they are because they’re not Danica.

gcote@miamiherald.com

It’s a huge weekend for women in sports.

I speak of Danica Patrick commanding center stage in Sunday’s Daytona 500, after Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche made Saturday’s UFC 157 the first mixed-martial arts card headlined by women.

First, the fight:

What a historic watershed for the gender! To think that women have advanced so far in society that they now enjoy the very same rights as men to punch and kick each other. God bless America!

(I watched the fight, by the way, and I must say that, personally, I think UM president Donna Shalala could beat either one of those women based on the clobbering I just saw her deliver to the NCAA.)

Now, on to the race:

“Gentlemen, start your engines! And you, too, Danica!”

The Daytona 500 launches Patrick’s first full season of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, and everyone is wondering whether she’ll live up to the hype and prove she is more than just the sex-symbol image she has invited with her suggestive, racy GoDaddy ads and revealing photo shoots.

She’ll need to start winning to make racing the first think you think of when you hear her name. Put it this way:

When somebody said to me this week, “Danica is on the pole,” I was relieved to find out they meant her position on the racetrack.

• The Dolphins have an NFL-high 55 coaches, scouts and other personnel at the pre-draft NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Miami is blanketing this thing and analyzing college players like no other team. On Saturday, I saw Jeff Ireland sprinting alongside a receiver asking him questions during the 40-yard dash.

• Can’t wait for the next episode in the Heat’s ongoing series with its biggest hated rival. I don’t mean the Knicks or Celtics or whomever the opponent in the NBA Finals might be. I mean Lil Wayne.

• The PGA Tour’s Florida swing starts Thursday with the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, with world’s No. 1 and 2 players, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, possibly paired together. I don’t wanna say they’d draw by far the biggest gallery, but the rest of the field could play nude and no one would notice.

• UM baseball was 5-0 entering Saturday’s tribute game for iconic former coach Ron Fraser that followed a celebration of his life earlier in the day. You want this season to be a fitting tribute, Canes? Get to the College World Series. And win it.

• Former FIU football coach Mario Cristobal left UM’s staff for Alabama after just a month on the job. Not sure now about Cristobal’s dream of being the Canes’ head coach someday. That bridge he just crossed seems to be smoldering. Wait. Oh! It just burst into flames.

• FAU sold naming rights to the Owls’ football stadium to GEO Group, which privately runs prisons. Even odds on the place being nicknamed Owlcatraz. Our other suggestions: Call program founder Howard Schnellenberger “The Warden,” outfit cheerleaders in vertical stripes and replace player uniforms with county-issue orange jumpsuits.

• Panthers getting desperate as they play host to Boston on Sunday, with the truncated NHL season already more than one-third done and Florida reeling after six losses in their past seven games. The Cats called up goalie-of-the-future Jacob Markstrom, but the problem isn’t goaltending. The problem is blowing more leads than a lazy detective.

• The West beat the East in the NBA All-Star Game. So little defense was played that guys are still scoring and the game ended seven days ago.

• As the Heat plays host to Cleveland on Sunday, speculation continues that LeBron James could opt out of his contract after next season and return to the Cavaliers. Possible solution to prevent that: Miami kidnaps Kyrie Irving. (Hey, I said it was a solution, not an easy one.)

• The Heat traded reserve center Dexter Pittman to Memphis. My all-time favorite Pittman memory is that one time he almost got in a game.

• Fashion plate Dwyane Wade is coming out with a line of designer men’s socks. I love the idea of expensive socks. “Hey, those socks I can’t see because they are covered by pant legs and shoes are great!”

• Miami is one of 35 cities being consulted by the U.S. Olympic Committee to possibly bid for the 2024 Olympics. We’re as excited as we can be about something that may or may not happen in 11 years.

•  Barack Obama has become quite the sportsman. A week after being photographed skeet shooting, the president played golf with Woods. A mix-up ensued. Obama raised a shotgun and accidentally shot one of Tiger’s birdies.

•  Derrick Rose’s brother blasted the Chicago Bulls on Twitter for their trade-deadline inactivity. Dear Bro: Look up the word “sycophant” and get a life of your own.

• Heisman winner Johnny Manziel is suing over the sale of “Johnny Football” T-shirts. You know what I want to start selling? “Honk If You’re Sick of Johnny Manziel” bumper stickers.

• Paralympian Oscar Pistorius shockingly faces a murder charge in the killing of his girlfriend. Noting the strong case against him, some legal analysts do not believe Pistorius’ defense has a blade to stand on.

• The annual Copa Latina amateur soccer tournament is under way in Hialeah. It is the best place in South Florida to enjoy our broad diversity, by which I mean not hear any English being spoken.

• Indiana’s Bloomington South High won a girls’ basketball game 107-2. Not sure what coach Larry Winters teaches at the school, but guessing it isn’t sportsmanship.

• Someone told me John Huh was named PGA Tour rookie of the year. Huh? Yes. Who? Huh!

•  Parting thought: Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake’s summer stadium tour will end in Miami in August. It’ll be quite an unusual sight. I don’t mean those two on one stage. I mean seeing Dolphins stadium full.

Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote.

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