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Bricen James won the season-opening IMCA Modified feature Saturday at Cottage Grove Speedway. (Photo by Tina Gargurevich, Wings Off Photography)By Ben DeatherageCOTTAGE GROVE, Ore. (March 31) – Six months ago, Bricen James’ future in racing was an unknown.Saturday night, he stood in victory lane after winning the season-opening IMCA Modified feature at Cottage Grove Speedway.Craig Hanson was quick out of the gate and stayed in the lead until Collen Winebarger got past on lap four. Winebarger remained out in front for some time before he bicycled in turns one and two, allowing James to pass him via the inside line.James kept hold of first place but had to master restarts due to several cautions. James kept all challengers in check and went on to collect the checkered flag. It was an emotional triumph because six months ago he nearly had a career-ending injury in a Sprint Car last September.John Campos got second, followed by Dustin Cady in third.
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INESTIMABLE PLEASURES On Saturday, April 2, with an awe-inspiring and emotional outpouring of love and respect, this nation bade a grand farewell to one of its most illustrious sons. Winston Blake (‘The Merritone Music Maestro’) was not universally embraced for his connections with or contribution to Sport. However, with his undying love for his alma mater, Kingston College – a virtual hotbed for the games that teenagers play – he was a fixture at the National Stadium and before that, Sabina Park, during Champs week. Without fuss or fanfare, his unsolicited support took many young athletes over the hump. Politicians from both sides of the divide, by their presence, typified the life of the man whose earthly journey they had huddled together to celebrate. He will be sorely missed. Foster’s Fairplay wishes that he be granted eternal rest. No one with a straight face can deny that there are inestimable pleasures to be derived from the shortest version of the game. The ending to the final provides stark evidence. In attacking an achievable target, the West Indies innings had fallen into serious disrepair. The strategy crafted by the ‘out of touch’ and in some quarters ‘out of favour’ Marlon Samuels was sheer brilliance. He curbed his well-known flair and ferocity to set up the Carlos Brathwaite explosion. It was the grand finale, all West Indians loyal to the cause could conceivably have wanted. It had all the ingredients of a Hollywood thriller. All that said, West Indies cricket has impacted and ruled the world from the springboard of Test cricket. That and only that must be the focal point in any perceived initiative to turn that never-ending corner. The treasures of watching and appreciating the grace, elegance and charm of a Lawrence Rowe, the ability to bludgeon into surrender a savage attack as Sir Vivian Richards afforded us, are no longer. Need one to further illustrate the point; go back to the mastery of a Sir Garfield Sobers or the finesse of the great Rohan Kanhai. Set in what is now being challenged – a five-day match – like it or not, together with fierce fast bowlers, the West Indies grabbed and held on to the number one spot for close to two decades. To this place all heads must be pointed if the call of “we are back” is to be countenanced. Go for it, West Indies! English Cricket commentator and former County of Hampshire player, Mark Nicholas, has referred to the West Indies T20 team as “short of brains”. The remark came during the build-up to the recently concluded ICC T20 World Cup in that format of the game. Nicholas is described by the popular cricket website, espncricinfo, as “almost a throwback to the era of amateurs”. Anyone familiar with that period in English cricket, where there was a clear, social demarcation between two sets of cricketers, is wont to draw a single conclusion. Amateurs were referred to as gentlemen and those who looked to the game for their living were given the nomenclature of players. Given all that, the “no brains” label, coming from a white Englishman, must be seen as manifestly racist. That skipper Darren Sammy, mindful of, but not allowing the tag to disrupt his flow, could have led his team to a sound thrashing of the English, was a masterstroke. The clobbering, straight on the heels of a similar beating of the Aussies by our ladies, was a ”take that” response in the face of those who consider themselves to be ahead in quality of on-field performance. With those two title-winning victories and the still savoured under-19 triumph, the way forward is being charted by the loyal fans of the sport. They have stuck with a team whose fortunes have plummeted to rock bottom. Once ruling the roost in what is still considered to be the real cricket, they had been swept aside by teams who prepared, while the perennial high rankers remained complacent and perhaps, over-celebrated. It is quite understandable that this string of victories in a ‘slam bam, thank you, ma’am format’ has elicited shouts of “We are back”. Foster’s Fairplay urges caution. SHORT OF BRAINS