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Joy and pain for Rahal Letterman Lanigan aces in Portland

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Joy and pain for Rahal Letterman Lanigan aces in Portland

Lundgaard was the closest opposition to the Penske-Chevrolet trio in qualifying, and with Josef Newgarden’s early engine-change penalty dropping him to eighth on the grid, the #30 RLL car started third.

Lundgaard drafted behind Scott McLaughlin and Will Power down to Turn 1 on the opening lap, and when the latter flicked to the outside to take the racing line, Lundgaard stayed on the inside, entering Turn 1 and Turn 2 wheel-to-wheel with the championship leader, and carrying more momentum so that he grabbed second place exiting Turn 3.

There he would remain for the opening stint, with Power in close attendance, but when Lundgaard pitted for the first time, a slight refueling issue and strong out-laps from the Penske driver after his stop meant the RLL driver slipped to third. There he remained, but towards the end of the stint he dropped back from the top two as his car appeared harder on scrubbed Firestone alternates. Switching to scrubbed primaries for his third stint meant Lundgaard was easily passed by Pato O’Ward and then Newgarden, but he appeared to be set for a top-five finish.

However, stalling as he left his pitbox for a third time dropped him to 10th, and while he climbed to eighth, trying to pass Alexander Rossi for seventh caused him to outbrake himself at Turn 1, slide into the runoff where he collected an advertising banner. That obliged Lundgaard to run a slow lap to the pits to have the offending item removed, and dropped him to 21st place.

So although his Rookie of the Year rival David Malukas had a poor day too, finishing 14th, Lundgaard saw the gap between them reduce from 11 points to five.

“It was not the end that we wanted obviously,” he said. “The start was good with taking second place and the overall pace was good but we will learn from our other challenges and move on.”

By contrast, Graham Rahal was very positive about his climb from 11th to fifth, despite not quite snatching fourth from O’Ward’s damaged car in the closing stages.

Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

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Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

“A top-five is like a win for us today,” said Rahal who has seen the RLL team coming to the fore in the second half of the season. “I would have loved to get Pato there at the end and thought we had the pace to do so. I had been setting him up for about 15 laps prior to get it done so to not do it, I’m a little salty.

“But the guys did a wonderful job in the pits. I’m really proud of everyone at Honda, everyone at RLL for keeping their heads down and getting us here. And really proud to represent United Rentals. We raised a lot more money for Turns for Troops so thank you so much to them for all of their support. The list goes on.

“For Total, we’ve had good success with this car. We’ve had a fast car here in Portland and hopefully next year we can come back and get a win.”

The third RLL car of Jack Harvey had a more subdued weekend, starting 17th and finishing 15th.

“We’re just lacking a little bit of speed right now and we’re trying to figure out why it’s not quite gelling,” said Harvey. “I’m not sure what it is but I think we are making progress. It’s subtle and not as quick and as much as I would like.

“The positive part of today is the pit stops were very good, so I have to say thanks to the guys on pit lane for that.

“Obviously, it’s getting towards the business end of the championship now and I just want to go to Laguna Seca and try and get the best finish we can and hopefully have our best finish of the year.”

Jack Harvey, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Jack Harvey, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

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Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

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Panthers outlast Hurricanes in 4th OT in 6th-longest game in NHL history

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Panthers outlast Hurricanes in 4th OT in 6th-longest game in NHL history

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers seemed determined to keep playing. And playing. And playing.

The teams opened their Eastern Conference final playoff series with Florida’s 3-2 victory in four overtimes early Friday, with the game ranking as the sixth-longest game in NHL history.

Matthew Tkachuk’s goal came at the 19:47 mark of the fourth OT to end this one, which marked the 15th four-overtime game in NHL history and the longest game in franchise history for each team.

The longest game in NHL history came on March 24, 1936, when the Detroit Red Wings beat the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the sixth overtime on Mud Bruneteau’s goal at 116 minutes, 30 seconds of extra play.

Florida’s previous record for longest game was 104:31 in Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup final against Colorado. Carolina’s previous record was 114:47 for Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup final.

The only good news for the teams is they had an extended break before this series began. Carolina closed out New Jersey exactly a week earlier, while Florida eliminated Toronto a day later.

But this game ended roughly six hours after Thursday night’s puck drop, and the teams have a Game 2 in less than 48 hours.

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Barcelona says probe found no evidence of corruption by club

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Barcelona says probe found no evidence of corruption by club

MADRID (AP) — The investigation ordered by Barcelona into its controversial payments for refereeing reports found no evidence of corruption by the club, president Joan Laporta said Monday.

Laporta reiterated that the club’s payments over several years to the company owned by the vice president of Spain’s refereeing committee were only for technical reports and not to influence referees. He said he believed there were no ethics breach and that Barcelona was the victim of a campaign to hurt its reputation.

“This is one of the most ferocious attacks in our history,” Laporta said. “I ask FC Barcelona supporters to be as united as ever in defense of our crest, our essence, and our ownership model. No campaign to discredit us will prevent us from continuing to be an organization of reference in the world of sports that is beloved and admired by millions of Catalans and by many more millions of people around the world.”

It was the first time Laporta spoke at a news conference to give explanations after it became public that the club paid 7.3 million euros ($8 million) from 2001-18 to the company of then committee vice president José María Enríquez Negreira. Prosecutors have accused Barcelona of alleged corruption in sports, fraudulent management, and falsification of mercantile documentation.

Barcelona opened the probe to look into the actions of all the different presidential administrations that made payments over the years, including Laporta’s first at the club. The investigation was conducted by an external company.

The club said the probe found that “no conducts of a criminal nature associated to sporting corruption have been identified, nor are there any grounds to investigate any form of criminal activity associated to bribery.” It added there was “official documentation on the invoices and payments” for the services of “scouting and advice regarding referees, which are common practices in the professional sports sector.”

“Consulting on technical-refereeing issues does not constitute any type of illegal act,” Laporta said. “Consulting, as is done by the big clubs, that was carried out transparently, with the corresponding invoices, at least in my first mandate as president.”

The probe found 629 technical refereeing reports and 43 CDs that the club received over 18 years for what Laporta called “market price.” More reports were likely lost over time, he said.

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“I reiterate with all my resolve, I am convinced that FC Barcelona has not committed any crime of sports-related corruption. I hope that sooner rather than later, it is fully exonerated,” he said. “Accusations must be proven. We live by the rule of law, which guarantees among its basic principles the presumption of innocence.”

He said that if there were any irregularities committed by Negreira, Barcelona would be a victim of them. He also said Negreira was not in a position to directly influence referees, and that it was Negreira’s son who actually produced the refereeing reports.

“I dare anyone to show an instance in which Barcelona was favored in a match because of these payments,” Laporta said. “We will allow the justice system to do its work and I’m sure that Barcelona will be cleared. I am fully convinced that FC Barcelona has never performed any act with the intention of altering the competition to gain an advantage.”

The Spanish league, Real Madrid and other clubs have been among those taking part in the legal proceedings against Barcelona. Laporta criticized league president Javier Tebas for making accusations against Barcelona, and also took a shot at rival Madrid.

“Everyone knows that Real Madrid is a club that is historically favored by refereeing mistakes,” he said.

Laporta said Barcelona has always been a club that takes pride in its values, and it would never want to win anything with outside help.

“Throughout its 123-year history, FC Barcelona has always been a model of fair play, both on and off the field,” he said. “If we have won for so many decades, it has undoubtedly been a result of effort, talent and knowledge.”

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Silicon Valley councilman indicted in 49ers report leak

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Silicon Valley councilman indicted in 49ers report leak

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Silicon Valley city councilman has been charged with perjury after he allegedly lied about leaking a grand jury report to the San Francisco 49ers last year that detailed a purportedly unethical relationship between the team and the city council, prosecutors said Friday.

Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker is accused of providing the secret report titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council” to the team’s former top spokesperson and a local media outlet in 2022, days ahead of its official release.

Becker then allegedly lied to the grand jury about the leak, prosecutors said, prompting the criminal charges.

The 49ers play in Levi’s Stadium in the city of Santa Clara, about 35 miles (56.33 kilometers) south of San Francisco. Santa Clara County is broadly considered home to Silicon Valley.

The city of Santa Clara owns the stadium and leases it to the team; fighting between the two groups has led to ethics complaints, legal disputes and years of bad blood.

Al Guido, the team’s president, and Larry MacNeil, the former CFO who worked extensively on the team’s stadium project, were named in the indictment as witnesses who spoke to the criminal grand jury for Becker’s indictment.

“The 49ers have cooperated fully with the District Attorney’s Office in their investigation, and will continue to do so,” team spokesperson Brian Brokaw said in a statement Friday. “However, because this is an ongoing legal matter, the organization is not able to make any further comment at this time.”

Prosecutors say the team has bankrolled Becker’s political career by spending $3.2 million through independent expenditure committees for his 2020 city council race, which he won, as well as his unsuccessful 2022 mayoral bid.

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The “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” report alleged that Becker and four other councilmembers regularly voted “in a manner that is favorable to the 49ers” and would routinely meet with the team’s lobbyists but not disclose what was discussed.

Becker faces a felony charge of perjury under oath, as well as a misdemeanor charge of willful failure to perform duty. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

Becker did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, and it was not clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

“Councilmember Becker violated the public’s trust,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “That an elected official would commit perjury and lie under oath before the grand jury strikes at the very heart of our justice system and requires accountability.”

Representatives for the Santa Clara City Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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