Categories
Rugby

NRL: Australian rugby league competition plans to restart on 28 May

Australia’s National Rugby League competition will restart on 28 May if coronavirus restrictions are eased.

The league was stopped after just two rounds of the 2020 season, but Australian Rugby League bosses said they wanted to give everyone involved in the sport some “certainty”.

The pandemic has decimated sport with most campaigns cancelled or suspended.

“We haven’t finalised what that [competition] looks like yet,” ARL commissioner Wayne Pearce said.

“Why we want to firm up a date is to give certainty to players and their schedules, clubs and thousands of people who are out of work through clubs and millions of fans.

“It’s a mark for everyone to work towards that’s associated with the game.”

Australia has a relatively low number of coronavirus cases compared to parts of Europe and the United States. Just over 6,000 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and 51 have died.

The ARL also confirmed it intended to play the full three-game State of Origin series in June and July and that the NRL grand final would remain in its traditional format of one match, played in Sydney.

Thursday’s decisions were made after a phone hook-up with representatives from each of the 16 NRL clubs.

“The situation is changing dramatically and we need to get moving,” ARL chairman Peter V’landys said.

“It is in the best interests of our clubs, our players, our stakeholders and importantly our fans that the competition resumes as quickly and as safely as possible.

“We have said right from the start that what we say today may need to change tomorrow. We will be flexible, and if the trend changes or if government restrictions change then so will we. The health and safety of our players and the general public remains the absolute priority.”

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Categories
Fighting

Joseph Parker up for musical collaboration with Tyson Fury

Joseph Parker is open to a musical collaboration with Tyson Fury and swinging his hips rather than fists when he retires from boxing.

Parker’s boxing revival is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the former world heavyweight champion has showed he has plenty of strings to his bow during lockdown.

The New Zealander attempted to lift the gloom by starring in uplifting videos while in quarantine, first showing off his moves in a recreation of the “Dancing Prime Minister” scene from the film Love Actually.

Parker then strutted his stuff while lip-syncing to The Foundations’ smash hit Build Me up Buttercup, also demonstrating his prowess with a guitar and on the piano.

WBC champion Fury, five-time Indycar Series champion Scott Dixon and legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer were among the other high-profile stars to feature in that video from the comfort of their own homes.

Parker is not ruling out providing the instrumentals if Fury breaks into another post-fight sing-song and could make being so light on his feet pay when he hangs up his gloves.

He told Stats Perform: “Maybe for one of his [Fury] fights I could play an instrument and he could sing after the fight, that might be a bit of fun.

“I love to dance, I play music around the house and dance and sing. Just as with boxing, you have to have good rhythm when you are dancing. Maybe after my boxing career I can do something with dancing, who knows.”

Parker said there could be more feel-good footage to come as he tries to put smiles on faces during such difficult times.

He added: “I work with Kerry Russell, who does the videography and editing, he has some great ideas. 

“At the start of isolation, it was something new and strange and a lot of people were down about what was happening. We wanted to put smiles on faces and give people something to laugh at.

“The goal was to make people smile, we achieved that and it also makes us smile, it makes us happy that people are able to brighten up their day.

“At the moment we are not working on anything. Once we get ideas into our heads, we’ll give it a go.

“People are expecting big things now with the videos, funny or feel good. At the moment nothing, but hopefully something comes into mind soon. I

“In times like this, I feel if we post something it should be quality over quantity. Something that uplifts, or something to brighten your day and take your mind away from what is happening.”

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Soccer

Chelsea submit transfer offer for Lautaro Martinez that outguns Barcelona proposal

Chelsea have tabled a transfer offer for Lautaro Martinez that is reportedly more attractive than Barcelona’s attempt to sign the Inter Milan striker. Both clubs are on the hunt for attacking reinforcements and are prepared to battle it out for the Argentine frontman.

But Chelsea appear to have taken the initiative in the transfer tug-of-war, according to reports from Spain.

Sport claim the Blues have submitted a ‘very high financial offer’ for the 22-year-old in an attempt to hijack Barcelona’s pursuit.

The La Liga giants had been considered leading contenders to sign Martinez as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez, who is 34 next year.

But the latest report suggests Barca have experienced ‘nervousness’ surrounding the deal as Chelsea step up their interest.

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The Blues and Manchester City are supposedly considering triggering Martinez’s £102million release clause and offer the striker a £169,000-a-week contract.

This release clause is only valid in the first 15 days of July, so Chelsea will need to move fast if they want to secure the signing with a minimum of fuss.

Their contract proposal is said to be much better than what Barcelona are prepared to offer, but it will be up to Martinez to decide where he wishes to play his football next season.

Sport claim that Barcelona believe the striker will either opt for a move to the Nou Camp or remain in Italy with Inter, ruling out the possibility of a Premier League switch.

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This is because they do not believe his decision will be motivated by money, and will instead be based purely on footballing reasons.

Interestingly, the report suggests Martinez does not see Champions League football as a priority but then claims Man City have the handicap of not being able to compete at the top table of European competition if their UEFA ban is upheld.

Chelsea are currently fourth in the Premier League and on course for Champions League qualification if and when the season resumes following the current postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Blues are expected to be busy in the summer transfer window with Frank Lampard set to sign reinforcements in several departments.

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Moussa Dembele and Victor Omishen have been touted as other potential attacking additions while Chelsea are battling Manchester United for the services of Jadon Sancho.

The Stamford Bridge club are also reportedly in talks with Philippe Coutinho while Alex Telles has emerged as the Blues’ preferred left-back target following Leicester’s £85m valuation of Ben Chilwell.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are one of four clubs to have bids accepted by Lille for 22-year-old centre-back Gabriel Margalhaes.

There is also confusion surrounding Kepa Arrizabalaga’s future at the club with the Spaniard having fallen out of favour under Lampard this season.

A host of high-profile goalkeepers have been linked as potential replacements, including Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Manuel Neueur, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Nick Pope, Dean Henderson, Andre Onana and Juan Musso.

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Categories
Tennis

Wimbledon confirm 2020 Championships cancelled as tennis season thrown into disarray

The 2020 Wimbledon championships have been officially cancelled by the All England Club following an emergency meeting in London. The cancellation comes after weeks of speculation about its place in the calendar due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

And Wimbledon now joins the lengthy list of sporting events that have been impacted by the spread of Covid-19.  It is the first time since the Second World War that Wimbledon will not take place.

The statement said: “It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic.

“The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021.

“Uppermost in our mind has been the health and safety of all of those who come together to make Wimbledon happen – the public in the UK and visitors from around the world, our players, guests, members, staff, volunteers, partners, contractors, and local residents – as well as our broader responsibility to society’s efforts to tackle this global challenge to our way of life.”

It is a huge blow to the Lawn Tennis Association which had tournaments at Queen’s Eastbourne, Nottingham and Birmingham all scheduled.

The decision was forewarned by the resident of the German Tennis Federation (DTB), Dirk Hordorff, who revealed at the start of the week what the final outcome of the discussions was.

Last week, the All England Club had already made clear that postponing Wimbledon would be difficult even after the gap which had opened up following the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics.

The focus will now switch to July which currently features clay and hard court tournaments on the ATP and WTA Tour.

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Then the summer hard court season which features big events in the United States and Canada before the culminating with the US Open in New York.

New York has seen a surge in coronavirus cases in recent days and more than 1,200 have died.

While the venue for the US Open, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, is set to be converted into a hospital to help deal with the increasing strain on resources.

Louis Armstrong Stadium will be adapted to a commissary that prepares 25,000 meal packages each day for COVID-19 patients, medical workers and others in need.

We’ll be bringing you the very latest updates, pictures and video on this breaking news story.

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Categories
Fighting

Mike Tyson issues brutal response to coronavirus toilet roll panic buyers

Mike Tyson has issued a brutal response to coronavirus panic buyers for clearing supermarket shelves of toilet rolls. Bog paper became the must-buy item for shoppers across the globe during the initial stages of the outbreak in countries from Australia to the United Kingdom.

Tyson, who became the youngest ever heavyweight champion at the age of 20 in 1986, is currently in lockdown after the United States of America became the first country to exceed 100,000 cases of COVID-19.

He has continued working, however, and recently made a podcast appearance alongside UFC bigwig Dana White, where the issue of panic buying was brought up for discussion.

White said: “People are f***ing buying all the toilet paper.

“If you look at a lot of the things going on, it’s totally whacky and driven by fear.”

White’s comment prompted Tyson to issue a venomous assessment of people stocking up on toilet rolls.

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“Well, the last thing I’m thinking about in a situation like this is wiping my butt,” he mocked.

Tyson’s comment left White in stitches before the boxing hero went on to make a serious point that most people are “scared to death” of the killer disease.

The 53-year-old adds: “I think it’s an interesting time for people to examine who they are and what they’re going through.

“I’ve never been in a situation like this before.

“Most people are scared to death.”

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Meanwhile, it was confirmed on Friday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus while Health Secretary Matt Hancock and England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty are displaying symptoms.

Donald Trump, the President of the United States, has wished Johnson well.

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with US President Donald Trump today,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

“The president wished the prime minister a speedy recovery from coronavirus.

“They agreed to work together closely, along with the G7, the G20, and other international partners, to defeat the coronavirus pandemic.”

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Rugby

V’landys’ $90m Origin rescue package

Australian Rugby League Commission CEO Peter V’landys has reportedly assembled a rescue package for the State of Origin, which could generate approximately $90 million for the NRL.

After the 2020 premiership was postponed on Monday due to the coronavirus outbreak, the NRL have frantically been cutting costs to avoid a financial catastrophe. The 480 NRL players are set to face an 87 per cent pay cut, and CEO Todd Greenberg revealed on Thursday 95 per cent of the company’s staff had been stood down.

The NRL season is unlikely to recommence until June, with a strong possibility the premiership will be reduced to 15 rounds.

However, The Courier-Mail revealed V’landys has gathered funds to support the highly-anticipated State of Origin and ease the financial crisis.

NRL find the cash. Always in the last place you look.

Queensland Rugby League has pushed for Origin to take place in October and November, even if the NRL premiership does not recommence by September, its latest cut-off point. If played in front of sold-out crowds, Origin could generate an estimated $89.5 million in revenue, which could be distributed to players and staff in need of financial assistance.

“We can’t kill off State of Origin,” QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher told The Courier-Mail.

“We understand the priority is the season, but we want to have a talk with the NRL sooner rather than later for clarity around Origin and the possibilities.

“Cancelling Origin is the last thing the NRL should consider.

“When you look at the revenue needed to make sure players are paid and clubs don’t fold, State of Origin can help the situation.

“We have to play Origin this year. It’s our Melbourne Cup. It’s our showpiece event.”

Queensland selector Darren Lockyer.Source:Getty Images

Queensland selector and former Brisbane Broncos player Darren Lockyer also urged the State of Origin to go ahead, regardless of the scheduling difficulties.

“Even if the NRL puts a line through the season, playing State of Origin generates tens of millions from a whole-of-game perspective,” Lockyer said.

“Origin is one way to generate some income for the game and the rest of the players who comprise the entire competition.

“The 34 players representing NSW and Queensland could generate money to go into the pool to help the rest of their colleagues in the game.

“The Origin big guns have to be selfless and help others.”

NRL MAGIC ROUND CANCELLED

Over 134,000 tickets were sold for last year’s inaugural 2019 NRL Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. The annual event sees all 16 clubs play their fixtures at one venue over four days – the Queensland Government paid approximately $2.1 million to host the event.

However, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to wreak havoc on the sporting community, the 2020 NRL Magic Round has officially been postponed, to nobody’s surprise.

The 2019 Magic Round attracted over 134,000 fans.Source:News Corp Australia

The NRL released a statement on Friday confirming the event’s cancellation.

“The decision to cancel the May event follows the announcement earlier this week that the NRL Telstra Premiership would be suspended due to the COVID-19 public health crisis,” the statement read.

“With the health situation continuing to worsen and advice from government health officials and biosecurity experts that the current lockdown measures including travel restrictions to Queensland, and restrictions on mass gatherings are to continue for an extended period, the NRL said it had no option but to cancel Magic Round Brisbane in 2020.”

Important information regarding #NRLMagicRound 😔 pic.twitter.com/RRZcYe35Yg

However, NRL Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Abdo confirmed the Magic Round would return to Brisbane in 2021.

“We appreciate this will be disappointing for many people, but the NRL can assure fans that Magic Round Brisbane will return in 2021, bigger and better than ever,” Abdo said in a statement.

Rugby league fans who have already purchased tickets are eligible for refunds.

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Categories
Soccer

Pedro reveals wish to stay at Chelsea after being misquoted about contract termination

Pedro has expressed his desire to stay at Chelsea next season and revealed that he was misquoted regarding the termination of his contract. The Spaniard has made it clear that he wants to remain at Stamford Bridge and insists that an interview he gave earlier this week was misinterpreted.

Pedro will become a free agent at the end of the season when his current contract runs out, and Chelsea have not yet agreed new terms with the 32-year-old over an extension.

Translations of a report published by Spanish outlet Cadena Ser on Wednesday quoted Pedro as saying he plans to “terminate” his existing deal with the Blues this summer.

However, the winger has moved to clarify his comments and revealed he is waiting to meet with club officials over his future.

Speaking to the official Chelsea website, Pedro said: “As many people know, my contract is up in May.

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“But I still haven’t spoken to the club about whether or not it will be renewed and whether I’ll carry on.

“I’ve seen loads of messages from Chelsea fans saying goodbye and thanking me for the time I’ve spent here, which I appreciate, but I’d like to tell all the fans simply that my current contract is coming to an end but I still have to talk to the club.

“I don’t know whether I’ll keep playing here or not. That conversation is still to come. But I have not signed for any other club.

“I belong to Chelsea. I have a contract. My wish is to be able to stay here but obviously we don’t know what will happen. I have to speak to the club and let’s see what happens.”

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Pedro has found first-team opportunities limited this season with Willian, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi all providing competition out wide.

He has made just nine Premier League appearances this term but manager Frank Lampard is still believed to be a fan of the veteran attacker.

While Pedro initially moved to clarify his contract status, he was keen to point out that there are more important things than football with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic causing much of Europe to go into lockdown.

The Chelsea star has his own foundation that is focused on helping fight the COVID-19 outbreak in Spain, where the effects of the virus have been particularly bad.

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“We are working together with a lot of hospitals, not just in the Canary Islands, but also in Madrid, Barcelona and other parts of Spain,” he said.

“We have begun some good projects which include distributing protective screens for all the nurses, doctors, security guards and police officers.

“We’re trying to distribute the biggest possible number of protective masks for all these professionals, not only in the Canaries, but in the areas where there have been the most cases, in Madrid and Catalonia.

“We’re also trying to help many people through this initiative by supplying food for healthcare workers. Given the long hours they are working, it’s sometimes hard for them to get access to food, so we’re delivering meals to workers at different hospitals in various locations.

“These are some of the first initiatives we have but we’re open to getting involved with many others.

“I will try to help the maximum possible number of people, so that once more we can say thank you to all the people who are confronting this situation day after day and who have to contend with the virus, and with the people who have been affected on a daily basis. We want to thank them once more in this way for the work they are doing every day.”

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Categories
Soccer

Chelsea issue these detailed training orders to squad members during coronavirus lockdown

Chelsea have put plans in place to maintain their players’ fitness during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown. The Blues have issued specific, tailored instructions to each first-team member in order to keep them in peak condition ahead of the Premier League’s eventual resumption.

The season has been postponed until at least April 30 and is at risk of running well into the summer if all of the remaining fixtures are to be played.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new lockdown orders on Monday which have seen all but essential shops and services close across the UK while movement of those not designated as ‘key workers’ has been restricted.

People are only allowed to leave home in order to travel to work, shop for food, exercise once a day or to address medical needs.

Public gatherings of more than two people who do not live together have also been banned, aligning the UK with much of Europe.

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This means the Chelsea squad have been consigned to an indefinite spell at home, having recently completed their seven day stretch of self-isolation after Callum Hudson-Odoi contracted COVID-19.

The winger has recovered and has joined his team-mates in remotely following their specific exercise plans drawn up by Blues staff.

The Athletic report that exercise bikes have been delivered to every player’s home while skipping ropes and weights were also sent out in a bid to replicate some of the facilities available at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground.

Each Blues star has been issued with a GPS watch that logs their physical activity while staff are monitoring the results and providing daily feedback.

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Two intense sessions per day are scheduled, but these are not just limited to the exercise bikes.

Players who have gardens are encouraged to do sprints and core strength exercises while those living closer to Stamford Bridge have been instructed to find quiet outside space to complete their running drills.

Some members of the team have been sent healthy food parcels to help maintain their diet while manager Frank Lampard and his backroom staff are in constant contact with the players.

Several members of the team are posting updates from their workouts on social media while the club are also running ‘Working from Home’ features on their official website whereby they conduct interviews with players over video calls to keep fans in the loop.

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The Athletic report that these training measures have been accepted with no complaints while players remain upbeat about their current situation, despite no time frame on when football will resume.

Meanwhile, Willian has been granted leave to return to Brazil in order to be with his family – although other Premier League players have reportedly been denied similar requests by their clubs.

The 31-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season but has assured fans that he will complete the campaign with Chelsea, even if matches are scheduled beyond the expiration of his deal on June 30.

The Blues have temporarily put on hold all negotiations about contract extensions so Willian is one of four players in limbo over their status.

Willy Caballero, Olivier Giroud and Pedro are the other players affected, although the latter has already confirmed he will move on when his deal runs out.

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Categories
Soccer

Chelsea enter crucial period in Jadon Sancho pursuit as Dortmund set new price tag

Chelsea continue to be linked with Jadon Sancho as the Blues eye attacking reinforcements ahead of the summer transfer window. The Borussia Dortmund ace is also attracting attention from Manchester United so Chelsea are reportedly about to enter a pivotal few weeks in their search for the teenager’s signature.

Frank Lampard wants to bolster his attacking options with Pedro certain to leave at the end of the season while Willian is also out of contract and expected to move on.

Sancho has therefore been identified as a priority target for Chelsea and the Blues are about to enter a vital few weeks in their pursuit, according to reports.

German outlet SportBild claim Chelsea are dealing intensively to try and sign the Dortmund winger, while the Bundesliga club have also supposedly lowered their asking price for the 19-year-old.

The report does not suggest that negotiations are taking place between the two sides or that an offer has been made for Sancho, but it does say that the England international is valued at €130million (£119m).

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This is significantly lower than the €140m (£128m) previously stated by the same publication, while the latest update indicates that the ongoing coronavirus could play a part in any potential transfer.

The COVID-19 outbreak has put all football on hold and thrown into doubt how this year’s summer transfer window will operate.

All clubs are potentially facing a big financial blow in the coming weeks with talk of games being played behind closed doors in an effort to complete the current season or cancelled completely.

A lack off revenue could directly impact the spending power of both Chelsea and United, so whichever club copes best with the ongoing crisis could well hold a position of power regarding the pursuit of Sancho.

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Meanwhile, the Blues are thought to have one key advantage over their transfer rivals with Sancho believed to be a boyhood fan of the Stamford Bridge club.

Borussia Dortmund News claim Sancho was a big fan of Chelsea when he was growing up in Camberwell, south London.

And they suggest this could have a big impact on where Sancho decides to move next, while they also report that his relationship with current manager Lucien Favre will be key to any transfer.

There is uncertainty regarding the 62-year-old‘s future at Dortmund and Sancho may be more inclined to move if Favre is not retained next season.

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Meanwhile, the club’s chief executive officer Hans-Joachim Watzke stated earlier this season that Sancho does not want to leave and his decision would not be influenced by money.

“I think he has the feeling that the club does have a good future,” said Watzke.

“In my opinion, I don’t think he wants to leave. We have a very confidential relationship between us and him and his agents.

“We will discuss it. It’s not a question of money. For us, it would be the best position if he stays at Borussia Dortmund.”

Sancho is under contract until 2022, having signed a new deal in August, and is thought to earn in the region of £200,000-a-week.

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Categories
Racing

Chase Elliott blasts iRacing crew chief Ryan Blaney: ‘He was in and out of the room’

Chase Elliott might have a close friend in Ryan Blaney, but he found out the hard way this past weekend that he does not have the best crew chief.

His fellow NASCAR competitor was tasked with giving him guidance during the first-ever virtual iRacing Pro Series race made up of a cast of pro drivers on Sunday. The responsibility went largely unfulfilled.

Elliott said Blaney had other priorities, which didn’t help him in his uphill battle to adjust to the intricacies of the virtual exhibition at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I would rate him fair to middling,” Elliott told Sporting News. “Not the best. He was in and out of the room refilling beers.”

Elliott shared bits of the race from his perspective on social media, including a video that highlighted Blaney’s shortcomings.

The 24-year-old, who raced in slippers, said he was at a disadvantage because of a lack of iRacing experience compared to some of his competitors. First-place finisher Denny Hamlin, for example, is renowned for his work on the simulation.

What befuddled Elliott most was the unusual strategy of doing burnouts leaving pit road. He realized later that it provided a hidden advantage to the field.

“I guess it was basically some kind of cheat to get the tires hot,” Elliott said. “In (real racing), you would never do that.

Overall, though, Elliott thought the event was a success despite finishing in 24th place. It was an opportunity for drivers to connect with racing fans even with live, in-person action postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When he competes moving forward, he doesn’t plan on deploying Blaney for guidance. He said the absence of his pal won’t make a difference how he races. If anything, it could help.

“It shouldn’t be (a problem not to have him) given our performance this past weekend,” Elliott quipped.

The second iRacing Pro Series contest will take place on Sunday at the virtual rendition of Texas Motor Speedway.

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