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  • 09 May 2019
    导出博客文章HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCARs final four, er, sorry, Championship 4, have been
    jetted from city to city, talk show to talk show and media conference to media
    conference. Now, finally, it is time for Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie
    Johnson and Joey Logano to get on with the business of one of those four
    actually winning that championship.Exactly what that title will mean depends on
    which one of the four Cup hopefuls youre speaking of -- a spectrum of outcomes
    that ranges from redemption to validation to history, both the rewriting of the
    record book and the next step toward possibly rewriting it again years down the
    road.Weve all known each other for a long time now, Carl Edwards explained
    Thursday during the foursomes final formal media obligation before getting to
    Homestead-Miami Speedway for Sundays 400-mile season finale. Our stories are
    similar because were all racers, but really they are completely different. Were
    from different places. Weve had really different NASCAR careers. So, we all want
    to win the championship, but for each of us it might mean something a little
    different.For Edwards, its the redemption. In 2011 at this track in this event,
    he missed out on a Sprint Cup title in a manner befitting the victim of a
    Hitchcock film. He finished a nine-month season by leading the most laps and
    finishing second in a race twisted by rain, tying Tony Stewart in the point
    standings but losing the title via a tiebreaker of wins. The onetime wunderkind,
    now 37, is arguably the best current driver not to win a championship, with 28
    Cup wins and a pair of runner-up championship finishes.But, if NASCAR brass is
    being honest, an Edwards title, while surely overwhelmingly well-received in the
    garage, wont provide the kind electricity the sanctioning body seeks heading
    into a crucial offseason.Sorry, Cuz, but thats the truth.If Edwards was once
    viewed as a wunderkind, then Loganos earmarking was more along the lines of
    savior. The Sliced Bread title bolted to him as a preteen short tracker served
    its purpose of providing the spotlight that moved him up the racing ladder in a
    hurry. He was in a Cup ride at 18 -- the first driver born in the 1990s to hold
    a steering wheel in NASCARs top division. But when the wins didnt come quickly
    enough, that spotlight turned into a heat lamp and he nearly withered. At 22, he
    was labeled by many as washed up.A Cup title would finally fulfill the Sliced
    Bread promise, the at-long-last christening of the now 26-year-old king of the
    suddenly large Cup contingent of 20-somethings. And though he politely deflects
    talk of validation bordering on revenge, the mention of it does spark a smile.I
    dont really think about that, he said. But I do know who has stuck with me
    through thick or thin and I know they will be sticking with me Sunday night
    whether we win the championship or not.NASCAR no doubt will stick by Logano,
    too. But again, apologies to the kid, because he isnt the driver the suits are
    likely rooting for.No, to generate headlines here in the depths of the football
    season, the fine folks in Daytona and Charlotte no doubt have their eyes on the
    No. 48 Chevrolet. Thats the ride of Jimmie Johnson, the only member of the
    Championship 4 racing for immortality. A Cup would be his seventh, equaling one
    of NASCARs two most coveted career records. The only other racers with that many
    titles are the two greatest in the history of the sport, Richard Petty and Dale
    Earnhardt.Yes, there are those who still try to discount Johnsons championship
    success to a Chase postseason format that The King and The Intimidator never
    used. Yes, there are those who continue to paint Johnson as vanilla, a
    starched-shirt corporate clone.Those people are wrong.They are being handed a
    chance to see motorsports history achieved by one of the greatest racers ever
    born. But even if they dont appreciate it now, one day they will. Sometimes
    thats how history works.I think when he won five [Cups] in a row, he was winning
    a lot of races and a lot of championships and maybe people got tired of it, his
    boss, team owner Rick Hendrick, said Friday. I still say that Jimmie is going to
    get more credit when hes done than hell get when hes driving.That brings us to
    Kyle Busch. He is a former teammate to Johnson and Logano and a current teammate
    to Edwards. Like Logano, he was perhaps thrown into a Cup car too soon and,
    though more successful quicker than his friends, Busch also struggled with the
    spotlight. Like Edwards, the story of Buschs career was written with lots of
    individual race wins (38) but dogged by the inability to win a Sprint Cup
    championship.That changed one year ago. In the four-man, run-for-your-life,
    beat-the-other-three, win-and-in Chase finale format, he did all of the above.
    It was a night that included redemption, validation and history. If he does the
    same on Sunday night, it will further amplify what he did one year ago.A second
    Cup for Busch, still only 31 years old, would also perhaps signify the start of
    something much larger. It might very well be the first step toward one day,
    years from now, running alongside Johnson, Petty and Earnhardt, perhaps even
    passing them. And thats why, though we -- and NASCAR -- might not realize it
    now, a Kyle Busch championship might be the most intriguing Sunday night outcome
    of them all.I think about last year at Homestead racing Jeff Gordon for the
    championship and all the history that came with his retirement and then Jimmie
    this year going for seven, Busch said Thursday. Our goal when we all started as
    racers wasnt to make history. But if youre fortunate enough to have a chance, or
    even have a chance to see it, thats pretty cool.Well all have that chance Sunday
    night at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Now we just have to wait and see whos going
    to write it. And what it ultimately means as the sport rolls over the horizon
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    Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, has warned that Ben Stokes risks
    burn-out if England heap too many expectations on to his shoulders during the
    forthcoming Test tour of India. However, he also reckons that getting the ball
    out of Stokes hand in the big moments of the series will prove to be a
    management challenge for Alastair Cook.Stokes was Englands outstanding player
    during the 1-1 series draw with Bangladesh last month, especially during the
    first Test at Chittagong where he almost single-handedly hauled England to a
    22-run victory. His total of 103 runs included a vital second-innings 85, while
    his six wickets in the match featured a key spell of reverse swing in
    Bangladeshs first innings as he claimed 4 for 10 to secure a priceless
    first-innings lead.Throughout the two matches it was notable how Cook, a
    naturally conservative captain, turned to his seam bowlers in times of strife,
    especially given how little control he was able to exert with his spin attack.
    Stokes fronted up admirably with 11 wickets from 48.3 overs in the series -
    fewer than the first-choice spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, but more than
    any of the other quicks on show.However, he appeared to be hobbling when he came
    out to bat in Englands second innings at Dhaka and, with five Tests to come in
    the space of six weeks in India, Vaughan believes that Stokes may have to be
    protected from himself if England are to get full value from their most precious
    asset.Stokes has got that ability to get in the opposing teams faces with
    expertise, Vaughan said during the launch of BT Sports cricket coverage. Many
    players have tried to wind up the opposition by being forceful and aggressive
    without having the game [to back it up] but, with Stokes, you just know, every
    time he goes to the crease, things are going to happen.I think the problem that
    Alastair will have is getting the ball out of his hands. He wants to bowl, he
    wants to compete - speak to Paul Collingwood, he bowls marathon spells for
    Durham, 16-17 overs - and hes got that ability to produce magic with the old
    ball.And even when hes bowled badly, and sprayed the ball all over the place,
    hes always created opportunities. Beefy Botham took a lot of wickets with
    long-hops and Ben Stokes is very similar, because hes got that physical presence
    out in the middle. He does intimidate opposition batsmen, so he will create
    opportunities.Vaughan sees inevitable parallels with Englands last genuiine
    allrounder, Andrew Flintoff, whom he captained throughout the prime of his
    career from 2003 to 2006.dddddddddddd And, like Flintoff, Stokes has already
    shown that his body may be vulnerable to the workload that he puts upon it,
    having undergone knee surgery early in the English season, before missing the
    final two Tests of Pakistan series with a calf tear.The real question is injury,
    Vaughan said. We saw in the summer against Pakistan, he missed the two Tests
    that England lost [at Lords and The Oval]. The Chittagong Test win was 22 runs …
    without Ben Stokes England would have lost.Many would say as a captain, did you
    go to bed at night and not sleep because of the toss or opposing team. No, the
    one thing that Cook will be saying at night is: Please, Ben Stokes, dont get
    injured because hes that important to the team.Like Flintoff, Stokes has a
    larger-than-life personality that can, on occasions, get him into scrapes. He
    was infamously sent home from England Lions tour of Australia in 2012-13 for
    persistently breaking the team curfew, and ruled himself out of the World T20 in
    Bangladesh in 2014 after punching a locker during a poor run of form during the
    ODI tour of the Caribbean.But Vaughan believes that Stokes exploits in recent
    months have shown a different side to his character. Hes a quick learner and I
    think people possibly dont see the amount of work he puts in. Hes a free spirit,
    and every now and again he will be talked about for doing the wrong things -
    punching a dressing-room door, partying too hard - but he wants to learn and get
    better, and I can only see that he is going to get better.They will have to be
    wary of the amount of bowling he does in India, but hes the kind of guy who
    wants to be in the game. I remember Duncan Fletcher used to say to the team, get
    in the game. If the game is flat, do something.Thats the kind of player he is.
    Whatever the situation, you are looking at him and hes in the game. Whether at
    backward point, or on the drive, or with the ball in hand, or striding out to
    bat. You just know things are going to happen.Watch the first Test of the
    Australia v South Africa series exclusively live on BT Sport 3 from 2am on
    Thursday, November 4. BT Sport is your new home for Australias home
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