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Auto Racing: NASCAR’s 2014 Chase for the Cup starts Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway

The track is another year older, the format brand new. To hear Matt Kenseth tell it, if you never have bought a ticket to watch the NASCAR Cup cars run at Chicagoland Speedway, Sunday’s MyAFibStory.com 400 would be a great time to give it a …

Baranek: Across the bowling lanes, Alfie Cohn was ‘King of Chicago’

When it came to piling up big games, awards and great bowling stories, Alfie Cohn was in some rarefied air. But the biggest number the Tinley Park resident left behind after his passing last week at age 86 were the teammates that benefited from his …

Auto Racing: Ricky Baker leads title wave at Grundy County Speedway

Final points standings still are under review and won’t be released for a few more days, but we know who the champions are at Grundy County Speedway, so let’s hail them. Ricky Baker clinched the late-model crown with his second-place finish behind Larry Schuler in …

Baranek: Honors time for Mike O’Neill, John D’Ambrosio and Allie Quigley

Let’s talk about honors and a few special people who earned some over the past week or so. Friday night, Andrew and host Bremen brought back two of the schools’ most decorated coaches: Andrew’s Mike O’Neill and Bremen’s John D’Ambrosio. Between them, they coached at …

Auto Racing: Clubb brothers flush with success at Grundy County Speedway

It won’t be decided until Sunday who the champions in each division for the season will be at Grundy County Speedway. It’s already etched in stone, though, which will be the top-ranking family. Three Clubbs is the winning hand. Brandon Clubb is having a solid …

Baranek: Alexi Pranckus (Andrew), Maggie Murphy (Marist) find success during summer on EVP Tour

Alexi Pranckus and Maggie Murphy can play some pretty mean beach volleyball. But most of the time they’re doing it with smiles on their faces. And they dance, too. It’s all part of the game for this Southland duo, who will be taking plenty of …

Auto Racing: Grundy County, Illiana speedways looking to halt on-track driver altercations

At short tracks nationwide this weekend the shows will go on as usual. There will be plenty of side-by-side battles, plenty of wrecks, plenty of angry drivers looking for an argument. But it won’t be business as usual. It can’t be. I can’t imagine any …

Baranek: Ringing endorsement for new Andrew coach Emily McGinnis

If endorsements mean anything, Andrew is getting a real gem in new girls volleyball coach Emily McGinnis. Former Andrew coach Courtney Stoub loves her potential. “I’m excited for the kids,” said Stoub, who resigned to devote time to her new baby boy. “We’ve kind of …

Auto Racing: Dave Weltmeyer was the first driver to take a stock car around the track at Chicagoland Speedway

Flipping through the notebook ... Here’s a trivia question: Who was the first driver to wheel a stock car around Chicagoland Speedway? If you said “The Dyer Flyer,” Dave Weltmeyer, you would be correct. Weltmeyer was driving for the Roulo Brothers Racing team in 2001 …

Baranek: Oak Forest High School giving its historic athletic images a modern twist

There has been a running joke among Nora Hoguiesson-Fink and her family and friends about one of the photos of her that has been hanging on the cafeteria wall at Oak Forest High School since 1997. “It was right above the water fountain,” she said. …

Auto Racing: Erica Ensor makes impressive midgets series debut

The back of the field is a common and ultimately smart place to be for a driver making his or her first start in a new division. Erica Ensor sure didn’t stay there, though, after starting in the 14th position in Saturday’s Illini Racing Series …

Auto Racing: Logan Love makes the turn back to victory circle

Logan Love has his swagger back. The 2011 Grundy County Speedway street stock champion was absolutely dominant Friday, winning his heat and a feature for the first time in two years. He did it in impressive style, finding his way to the front via the …

Baranek: Bowlers use summer leagues to hone skills, stay sharp

One way to stay cool during the summer is to toss some games at the local air-conditioned bowling center. Kevin Kullman, of Lockport, does that twice a week for a minimum of two to three hours, and bowls in a league on another night at …

Auto Racing: At Illiana, pure racing from pure stocks

Something very cool happened at the end of a very frustrating Saturday at Illiana Speedway. The rainout, the fifth of the season, was the result of a combination of a downpour in the morning and a very unpromising forecast that made it difficult for both …

Baranek: Valen Manns ups her game on soccer field, volleyball court

Between May 30 and June 23, Lincoln-Way North’s Valen Manns had one of the most excellent adventures a high school athlete possibly could imagine. During this time she: Played on Illinois’ biggest high school soccer stage, recording an assist in a Class 3A state semifinal. …

Baranek: Division races taking shape at Grundy County Speedway

Halfway home, let’s turn our focus to the goings on at Grundy County Speedway, where there are some hot points battles and one, well, not so much. It’s coming down to a four-man race in the late-model class. With his win Friday night, defending track …

Baranek: Heady times for Marist alums Colleen Biebel, Lauren Niemiera

Catching up with former Marist ace pitcher Colleen Biebel isn’t easy. She was a pretty fast mover during a visit last week to her first summer softball camp as the first-year coach of the RedHawks. Biebel went from one station to another, working with outfielders, …