Saturday, November 26, 2022

Canes Looking To Become Bowl Eligible Tonight

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

As rarely as I watch movies, there are certain lines that I’ll always remember.

My favorite one is from Hoosiers by Gene Hackman, “Let’s see what hand I’ve been dealt.”

First year Miami Hurricanes Coach Mario Cristobal has been dealing with the same narrative all season long.

During Spring Practice at DRV-Pink Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, he inherited QB’s Tyler Van Dyke and Jake Garcia. The Spring Game was an opportunity to get familiar with the signal callers and see which one would lead the 2022 squad.

During my first year covering the Hurricanes in 1982 under coach Howard Schnellenberger, I had the opportunity to interview and write a story on Heisman Trophy Candidate Jim Kelly.

Kelly was well on his way towards having a shot at winning the award until he sustained a shoulder injury on the road at Virginia Tech. He would be replaced by Mark Richt and Kyle Vanderwende.

I’ll make another movie reference, let’s go “Back To The Future” as during the season, Van Dyke was performing at a high level until the injury bug hit him. He would be replaced by Garcia and and Jacurri Brown. 

Miami’s last home game was a disastrous 45-3 rout to the Florida State Seminoles. In this contest, Florida State amassed 454 total yards while Miami had 188. The Seminoles held Miami to 62 passing yards and the Canes were 4-13 on 3rd Down Efficiency.

Miami was penalized nine times for 72 yards.

The Hurricanes trailed 31-3 at halftime and the crowd of 66,200 bolted left the game early with the exception of the FSU fans,

If there is any bright spot to this game, the cliche “Misery Breeds Company” applies to the recent run that the Seminoles, 9-3 run has been like. 

In their past five games, FSU has defeated Georgia Tech 41-14, Miami, Syracuse 38-3, Louisiana 49-17 and won their finale against Florida 45-38. The Seminoles victory over Florida was the highest scoring game in the rivalry that dates back to 1958.

The Seminoles completed a sweep of its state rivals for the first time under Mike Norvell, who has done an outstanding job turning around the program replacing current FAU Coach Willie Taggart and Texas A&M Coach Jimbo Fisher.

After losing the Florida State game, Cristobal and some of his players addressed where the team was at. Check those out in the inserted videos and please subscribe to our You Tube Channel.

The following week, the Hurricanes rebounded and went to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech as this squad works toward becoming bowl eligible. Miami defeated the Yellow Jackets 35-14.

Last week in front of a Nationally Televised audience, the host Clemson Tigers made a case to stay in the College Football playoff hunt with a 40-10 win over Miami. Clemson improved to 10-1 while Miami dropped to 5-6.

So the stage is set for the home finale, as the Hurricanes face the 7-4 Pittsburgh Panthers. There is one more opportunity to become bowl eligible. 

Can they get it down and improve to 6-6? 

The game is at 8 ET so by Sunday morning, we’ll either talk about the upcoming bowl match-up or beginning the talk of Cristobal’s plan for next season.

Needless to say, when you compare last season’s 7-5 mark under former Coach Manny Diaz vs the first season under Cristobal, there will always be comparisons between these two coaches until the team makes the next steps for being a National Championship Contender.

Nevertheless, there is a bigger narrative that has yet to be figured out that we’ll have answers before long, especially after hearing the post-game press conference after the Panthers game.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Also, to see all of his remote shows and streaming broadcast, please Subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.

We hope that everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and we appreciate you very much!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Marlins GM Kim Ng, Under The Microscope

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When it comes to making ground breaking hires, the Miami Marlins have an excellent track record of doing just that.

On November 13, 2020, Kim Ng was hired as general manager of the club. She became the first woman to become a general manager of a men’s team in the history of major North American Sports. She also became the first female Asian-American and first East Asian-American general manager in MLB History.

In the Marlins first season under Ng, they finished fourth in the National League with a 67-95 record.

This past season, Miami finished with a 69-93 mark in what would turn out to be the final campaign for Manager Don Mattingly.

I remember the fan fare when the hire was made. 

During our Zoom Media Availability, this session was packed. 

I wasn’t able to get a question in this time although it didn’t matter because everything I wanted to ask was addressed.

During the past two years, I’ve enjoyed a good working relationship with Ng. She’s very knowledgeable, polite and quite cordial. 

When she was hired, there is no question that the 54-year old native of Indianapolis, Indiana possessed the qualifications to get the job.

From 1990-1996, she served as assistant director of baseball operations for the Chicago White Sox.

From 1998-2001, she was the assistant general manager for the New York Yankees and also held the same role with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2002-2011.

She is a three time World Series Champion, earning rings in 1998, 1999 and 2000 with the Yankees.

Yes, this is the same club that Yankees legend Derek Jeter captained into an incredible dynasty.

When Bruce Sherman finalized a deal to purchase the Miami Marlins, the sale was completed in September of 2017. Jeter had a 4% stake in the franchise and was named Chief Executive Officer of the team, and Sherman, the controlling owner, entrusted him to oversee day-to-day operations of the team.

On February 28, 2022, Jeter announced that he would no longer serve as CEO of the Marlins or hold any shares in the club, thus ending the relationship.

When Jeter left, Sherman has put his faith in Ng to run the show and as I mentioned earlier, the Marlins suffered another tough season leading to the mutual parting of ways with Mattingly.

When Mattingly departed during the final week of the season, the mood was somewhat shocking and Ng answered questions as you’re going to see in the video inserted in the story.

The Marlins had a very thorough search to find their next skipper that led to the hiring of 42-year old Skip Schumaker, the former Bench Coach of the St. Louis Cardinals.

When the Marlins report to Spring Training in February, the new manager won’t have to travel far to meet his new players at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. 

He’ll just have to walk across the field and go to the Marlins offices and clubhouse on the third base side of the facility.

But as Mattingly said when he left, Ng will have hired her own manger and a new voice will lead the squad. 

That individual will inherit the Marlins first ever Cy Young Award Winner Sandy Alcantara.

Ng has been a part of a couple drafts so it will be interesting to see how these prospects develop.

She now has the keys to put her footprint on this franchise and as I mentioned, she came to South Florida with tremendous qualifications.

This past week, the Marlins promoted Caroline O’ Connor to president of business operations, making them the first U.S. major sports franchise to have women serving simultaneously as president and general manager.

O’ Connor is just the second woman to serve as president of a Major League Baseball team; Seattle’s Catie Griggs is the other.

Ng handles the on-field business, O’Connor runs the off field business.

In addition to the hiring of O’Connor, legendary Marlin Jeff Conine rejoined the club as a special assistant to Sherman.

What do all these off-season moves mean?

The Marlins have no problems being pioneers when it comes to making ground breaking hires.

But that’s all fine and dandy, however, the bottom line is the results must show on the field. 

Ng is entering her third year on the job and if the club doesn’t start making significant strides in the next two years then she’ll be under heavy scrutiny.

Furthermore, if she fails, could this be a step backwards for other women trying to get a job as a general manager of a major sports team?

Time will tell. 

But now she has her own manager, not one that she inherited. 

There are no excuses.

I’m sure that the presence of Conine will give her another person she can turn to especially when it comes to making Baseball decisions. 

Conine has won a pair of championships with the Marlins in 1997 and 2003.

There is no reason why this franchise shouldn’t have some success. 

They’re solid in player development and produce a lot of home grown talent.

Let’s not forget that in the 2022 All-Star Game, the Marlins had three players represented,

As a pair of these moves have been made this week, I’ll be interested to see how this team is built which is considered the Hot Stove portion of the off-season.

What will the Marlins roster look like when Spring Training resumes?

I’m looking forward to finding out.

With a new regime in place, I’m sure a lot of people will be looking to see if this team can make it’s way back to the playoffs.

The Marlins snapped a 17-year postseason drought in 2020 under Mattingly and he went on to win the Manager of the Year Award. 

The team won a playoff series versus the Chicago Cubs.

I’m sure Mattingly will enjoy taking a break to see if Ng and Schumaker can take this club to levels had had hoped to knowing the limitations of the market. 

It even remains to be seen whether Mattingly will return to the club in some type of advisory role.

There is no doubt that Ng could use his Baseball mind, but in reality, we know now that she’s under a major microscope and it’s up to her to either sink of swim.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Also, you can hear his streaming broadcasts or remote shows by Subscribing to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Memories With Don Mattingly

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I have to admit that the 2023 MLB Season will be very different covering the Miami Marlins.

There is a new skipper in town that is named Skip Schumaker. 

I haven’t met him yet and I’m looking forward to working with him. 

The Marlins hired the 42-year old from the St. Louis Cardinals and the only adjustment that Schumaker will have to make in Spring Training is moving from one side of Roger Dean Stadium to the other since both clubs share the same facility.

During my 42-years of covering Baseball, I’ve worked with a lot of great managers.

Some that standout include: Sparky Anderson (Detroit Tigers), Tom Lasorda (LA Dodgers), Stump Merrill (New York Yankees), Jim Leyland (Detroit Tigers), Marc Bombard (Cincinnati Reds Organization), Barry Foote (New York Yankees Organization) and many others.

In the early 1980’s, I was covering the New York Yankees in Spring Training and Mattingly was working his way through the Yankees farm system. 

I also covered the Fort Lauderdale Yankees in the Florida State League. We never formally met but at a time when Owner George Steinbrenner was trading home grown prospects for proven veterans, Mattingly was never dealt.

He would go on and play 13 years with and he’s honored at Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.

To this day, and I will not let off the gas, he deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame!

I did meet Don at the 2017 MLB All-Star Game and I bought a hydro stone action statue of him in Cooperstown. I quipped with the Miami Marlins Manager on the field at LoanDepot Park, that I’m counting on you to make this a worthwhile investment! 

He laughed and said that I’ll do the best I can.

I never visualized at the time that I would ever be working with “Donnie Baseball” covering the Marlins.

But all of that changed when I started covering the team in 2020 during the Covid-19 Pandemic season for the South Florida Tribune via Zoom!

During those Zoom Calls, I really got to learn more about his knowledge of baseball, but what a nice person he is. As with the rest of my colleagues, this guy never dodged a difficult question. 

Since I didn’t know much about the Marlins at the time, I learned from my colleagues and focused on general baseball questions.

The one question that stood out is when I asked him about so many no-hitters in a short period of time early in the season. I wanted to ask this question the day before but waited until the seventh occurred regarding a Detroit Tigers pitcher. What I figured was just a general question turned out to be much more.

One of my colleagues, Craig Mish picked up on this and this quote went viral. He located it from the Marlins Communications Department then put it on his Twitter account thus, this comment went viral to the tune of over 392,000 watches. 

I thought it was my question. As it turns out, I met Mish at a Marlins game and asked him about it. He said it was and I was impressed that he was sharp enough to put it out there for what I considered a simple baseball question.

Since that situation, Mish and I became good friends and he always told me that if I needed his advice, he would be willing to give it to me. Craig is simply a class act!

But back to Mattingly.

When I finally did get to work with him in person as Media Availability’s took place in the Marlins dugout or on the field, I was amazed at how much he knew about the game of Baseball. If you didn’t learn anything about Baseball from Don Mattingly, then that’s on you.

In fact, Marlins Broadcaster Tommy Hutton told me on an Edition of Fire Up Florida, “If you can’t play for Don Mattingly, you can’t play for anybody!”

There wasn’t a question that I asked that never had a great answer! 

During our working relationship, I saw a friendship build.

Last year during Spring Training in the back fields, he asked me how I was doing and I told him that I was having lots of medical issues. Among those, I had two concussions. He said with a smile to just stay positive!

During the beginning of the season, I was unable to cover Marlins games during the week because I was still in concussion protocol.

In June, I took a business trip to North Carolina with my wife, then decided while I was meditating on the drive that I would against doctors orders that I would cover the Marlins during the week. This is what I do.

I saw Mattingly and he asked me how I was doing. 

I told him that I’m still dealing with these concussion problems and they’re extremely frustrating! 

I told him that I wanted to be at the ballpark and missed it during the week and enjoyed talking to him.

He put his hand on my arm and told me he had a player that was dealing with concussions. He emphasized that I needed to be patient and continue to work towards recovering!

Once again, his positivity was evident and we continued to see each other more frequently for the rest of the season. 

Mattingly hails from Evansville, Indiana and I’m from Detroit, MI.

Once upon a time the Tigers had a AAA affiliate in Evansville. He saw a lot of the players that I grew up watching.

Don is 16 months older than myself and here you have two midwestern guys in South Florida connected to a team that didn’t even exist in the 1980’s in the Major Leagues. The Marlins had a minor league team in the Florida State League.

During the year, I sensed that Don Mattingly’s career would wind down. He led the Marlins to the playoffs in 2020 ending a 17-year drought. I know he was hoping to build on that. He won the National League Manager of the Year.

But lets face the facts, the Marlins success depends on player development and not paying large salaries. He knew what market he was in and made the most of it.

His all-time record as a manager is 889-950 with a winning percentage of .483.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was 446-362 and a .551 winning percentage.

In Miami, during a rebuilding period, the skipper was 443-587 and a .430 winning percentage. He leaves the franchise as the all-time wins leader.

This week, his ace pitcher Sandy Alcantara became the first Marlins pitcher to ever win a Cy Young Award. The two of us talked about this a lot. I know that back in Indiana he’s extremely proud of this accomplishment!

Although Mattingly didn’t get a managerial job during this wave of turnover, it’s inevitable another club will hire him and he’ll return when the time and situation is right!

The Marlins are hoping that he returns to the club in some sort of capacity.

During our last conversation in October, I told him that he was the best manager I had ever worked with and told him those that I was associated with. As usual, the exchange and respect we have for each other as we have for three years, was something that I’ll cherish internally as well as all of our memories.

I could tell in his body language, voice that he had taken the Marlins as far as he could and it was time for a new voice to pick up where he had left off.

For now, Mattingly can just enjoy the time with his wife and family and who knows as we inch closer to Spring Training, will he be on TV as a commentator, with the Marlins, etc… time will tell.

But during our exchange, I told him that I’m sure that our paths will cross again and he said, he expects that to happen!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can find him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

You can hear all of his broadcasts, streaming and as well as remote ones by Subscribing to the South Florida Tribune.



Never List Continues

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

There are a lot of things on my “Never List” but in recent weeks since I’ve been dealing with Russell Branham, who is the Director of Communications for the Talladega Superspeedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Daytona International Raceway, this guy has added to this list immensely.

During my pre-race coverage of the Dixie-Vodka 400, Branham asked me if I wanted to drive on the Homestead-Miami Speedway? 

I laughed at him and asked if he was serious. 

He turned his head in a very kind tone and said “YES”. 

All he told me to do was take a class for an hour and then go on the track and work with my instructor. 

I couldn’t get in my fire suit fast enough!

I’ve dealt with a lot of Public Relations Directors in the past, there are certain ones you know you connect with. Branham is one of those guys.

My photographer Candy Ebling and I took a last minute trip to Talladega, Alabama and we spent a race weekend at a track that was always a bucket list of mine, and her first NASCAR Experience. 

Ebling had covered IMSA Road Courses at the famed Sebring Raceway, but nothing like this.

At Talladega, since I haven’t covered NASCAR in years, I got familiar with the post Covid-19 Access. Branham scheduled media Press Conferences and among those was Auburn University Men’s Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl. I felt an instant connection with Pearl and I look forward to the day that I can have more time to talk to him.

Branham did a great job setting up an interview with Homestead-Miami Speedway President Al Garcia. With that said, during race week, he asked me if I wanted a one-on-one interview with race care driver Aric Almirola, who was retiring at the end of the season? 

Once again, the answer was yes and we recorded the interview on Zoom and posted it to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel. 

You can see it in it’s entirety by clicking it and please Subscribe to the channel.

But the Never List Continued on Race Day, October 23, 2022.

By now, Branham knew that I wasn’t afraid to ask tough questions and expected me to do just that during the Pre-Race Press Conference.

It was a pleasure getting to know world champion drag racer Darrell Gwynn. 

There was a neat presentation as you’re going to see in the video of him presenting a fan a motor scooter.

Despite covering the Detroit Pistons my entire media career, I have a tremendous amount of admiration for the Miami Heat. These two teams have faced each other in the NBA Playoffs and have always had a great rivalry. 

On this day, Miami Heat Captain and three-time NBA Champion Udonis Haslem, one of the most respected and beloved players, served as an “Honorary Race Official” and has played his entire 20-year career with his hometown Heat. Amazingly enough, he went undrafted in the 2002 draft which shows that hidden gems can come from anywhere.

He’s truly one of the nicest NBA players that I’ve ever met!

His video is in this story. Check it out,.

Prior to this race, I’ve never interviewed an national anthem singer. That changed when I had the opportunity to ask multiple questions to singer/songwriter Adassa. We spoke afterwards and she’s truly an amazing woman!

I enjoyed getting photos with this incredible trio.

All in all, there are more never list items on the itinerary for 2023, but it was great checking some off in 2022.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can find him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Also, Subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel to get all of his broadcasts from live streams as well as remote interviews.



Saturday, November 5, 2022

Canes In Must Win Situation

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Going into the 2022 Season, I often wonder did anybody really know what to expect from the Miami Hurricanes?

The only things that I knew going into the season was the Canes lured Mario Cristobal from the Oregon Ducks to replace Manny Diaz.

They brought in Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator from the Michigan Wolverines, and there were high expectations for QB Tyler Van Dyke.

During this column, I’m not going to recap every single game especially when you think about the fact that this is Cristobal’s first year on the job.

All I can do is inform you on what I’ve seen on the guy and look at the realistic picture as I see it now.

There was no way that on heavens earth did I ever think this guy was going to lead the Canes to the National Championship his first year. 

For all of the Canes fans that thought this would happen, sorry to disappoint you, but you’re living in the past. 

Even when former Mark Richt coached this club from 2016-2018, the Hurricanes got the tired version of the man who had an abundance of success at the University of Georgia.

During his tenure in Coral Gables, Richt finished with a 26-13 mark and was 16-8 in ACC competition.

During the season, the Hurricanes suffered a severe blow when top wide receiver Xavier Restrepo suffered an injury that has cost him a lot of playing time.

The team has had to deal with an embarrassing loss to Middle Tennessee on September 24, losing 45-31. The worst part about this loss is Miami had a bye week and did some major soul searching about a contest it should have won. 

Game after game, the Canes would continue to fall behind early then be forced to play catch up. 

Following the loss to Middle Tennessee, the North Carolina Tar Heels came into Hard Rock Stadium, Miami came up on the short end of a 27-24 decision. 

By now, Miami was on a three game losing streak and found itself sitting at 2-3 and way off the National Championship Map.

That streak came to an end on the road as the Canes defeated Virginia Tech 20-14 to reach the .500 mark at 3-3.

The month of October will be known where Miami faced schools from Virginia and North Carolina.

On October 22, Duke came to town and took it to the Canes by hammering them 45-21. 

This was a game that saw Van Dyke get knocked out of the game due to a shoulder injury. He finished the contest 11-16 for 81 yards and a touchdown.

He was replaced by Jake Garcia, who was 13-21 for 198 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. The major bright spot was wide receiver Colbie Young as he had six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns.

In this story are the comments from Cristobal and some of his players that described the mood of the team about what is turning out to be a roller coaster season. We encourage you to take a look at them. Meanwhile, Miami dropped to 3-4.

Where do you go when you need a win?

You guessed it, Virginia.

The best thing the Hurricanes had going for them is the Cavaliers (3-5) are struggling.

Van Dyke wouldn’t play in this game and Miami had to ride the leg of Andres Borregales, who kicked four field goal and Miami won this game 14-12 in overtime. 

The Hurricanes final two points occurred on a two-point conversion in overtime that gave them the win.

Garcia was 15-29 for 125 yards. Obviously he didn’t throw any touchdowns but also didn’t toss an interception.

Aside from Garcia, Henry Parrish Jr. was the team’s top offensive player as he rushed 24 times for 113 yards with a 4.7 average. He also had one reception for four yards.

The leading receiver was Young, who had five receptions for 46 yards.

But in the eyes of many, there is no doubt that the biggest game is upon us tonight at 7:30 PM in what will be a sellout crowd at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Florida State Seminoles are coming to town. In the past, I’ve covered these games and they’ve been classics. This stadium will be electric.

So with all the ups and downs the Hurricanes (4-4) have faced to this point, there are a couple of things at stake in this contest against the (5-3) Seminoles.

First, there will be state bragging rights.

Second and most important is the Hurricanes need this win in the worst way towards become Bowl Eligible.

The last thing the Canes need is not to even make it to a Bowl Game since they terminated Diaz, who is now the Defensive Coordinator for Penn State University.

They don’t need to be second guessed for the hiring of Cristobal especially during his first season at the helm.

But when you’re a school that has five national championships and has produced countless of NFL players, those are the expectations that come with the job.

Cristobal knew that when he came here. 

He’s had to deal with numerous injuries this season but then again, all teams have to with a sport as physical as football.

I’ll definitely be anxious to see what happens and this game will on ABC tonight at 7:30 PM, so the rest of the world we’ll know what we’ve been seeing thus far in 2022.

The one thing Miami can’t afford to do is fall behind early and play from behind.

If they do, then we could be looking at a repeat of Middle Tennessee, Duke and North Carolina.

For the Canes, if there is ever a Must Win Situation, this is it!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southflioridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel and you can see all of his streaming and remote broadcasts.

Hurricanes/Homestead-Miami Speedway Weekend

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

To say that these past couple weeks have been a whirlwind would be mildly stating the obvious.

But they have!

As we get ready to cover the Miami Hurricanes vs Florida State Seminoles sold out contest at Hard Rock Stadium tonight at 7:30, it’s time to look back at the last time that we were at the Miami Gardens venue.

That weekend occurred from Oct 21-23.

On Friday, October 21, I decided to get down to the Speedway and get the press credentials for myself and photographer, Candy Ebling. I figured by race day, the agenda was to get to the track early and avoid the extra traffic having what I needed in advance. Mission accomplished.

Unlike Talladega Superspeedway, this 1.5 mile racetrack is easy to move around. The garage areas are very close to the media center and getting onto the track is quite easy.

On Friday, I just locked in and started working Social Media hard to make sure that I was able to get my NASCAR updates to my followers on Facebook and Twitter. I left the track about 7 PM and returned home by 8:30.

On Saturday, the scene shifted to Hard Rock Stadium as the Miami Hurricanes hosted the Duke Blue Devils. This was an important game for Miami as the Hurricanes are trying to get back to national prominence under new Head Coach Mario Cristobal.

The Blue Devils came away with a 45-21 win and out scored Miami 21-0 in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

The loss was a costly one for Miami as starting QB Tyler Van Dyke left the game with a shoulder injury after going 11-16 for 81 yards and a touchdown. 

He would be replaced by Jake Garcia. The back-up signal caller went 13-21 for 198 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

The main bright spot for Miami was the play of wide receiver Colbie Young, who caught six passes for 127 yards and had two touchdowns.

Saturday would be the early day of this weekend as I got home by 7 PM.

I knew that Sunday would be the marathon day as I left my house by 7:45 AM and returned to the track by 9 AM.

During this time of the year, my Social Media Responsibilities are extremely strenuous as not only do I have to keep my followers updated on NASCAR developments, but we all know that the NFL rules on Sunday.

By picking up the credentials early, life was a bit easier on Sunday. In between my Social Media, there were three pre-race media interviews that took place and by 2:30 PM, it was time for the Dixie Vodka 400 to get started.

Kyle Larson led 199 of 267 laps in the No.5 Hendrick Motor Sports Chevrolet to pull away to a 1.261 second victory over Florida native Ross Chastain in the No.1 Trackhouse Racing Chevy.

The win was 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Champions Larson’s third of the year and 19th of his career, but the first at the 1.5 mile Homestead Oval after a pair of near misses. He led a race best 132 laps in 2016, but finished runner-up. He led 145 laps in 2017 and finished third.

With the victory, Larson’s No.5 Hendrick Chevrolet is eligible for the owner’s title.

When the race was over, there was the most incredible celebration in sports, a trip to victory lane where the confetti and photo opportunities were plentiful.

Finally, there were the post race interviews led by Larson.

Before we left the Speedway, Director of Communications Russell Branham and I discussed our next projects the Rolex 24 Hours in late January and the Daytona 500 in February.

But before we do that, he’ll be appearing on the Sports Exchange on Monday Evening, November 14 with me on the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel. After that, we’ll target another show in January.

First things first.

We ended up leaving the speedway at 8:30 PM because 45 minutes up the road off the Florida Turnpike, the Miami Dolphins hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football.

Our day ended at 10 PM but what a weekend it was.

Two trips to Homestead-Miami Speedway with a college football game sandwiched in between.

For me that’s what I call a true marathon but it would not even end there.

I would have to take a 48 hour business trip from Fort Lauderdale to Detroit during the middle part of the week to transport a marketing/advertising truck that had to be delivered by Saturday at Noon.

But mission accomplished and I enjoyed the challenge of an eventful period of time.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Also, Subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel to see all of his broadcasts both streaming and in the field. We have a lot of great shows in the pipeline.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Championship Weekend In The Tropics

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

The last time that I attended a NASCAR Event at Homestead-Miami Speedway was when the circuit was named Winston Cup early in the century. 

At the time, this was a flat track and has been reconfigured with some banking.

On Saturday, October 15, Kurt Busch decided to step away from the sport and will miss the rest of the season with a concussion. 

He will not compete full-time in 2023.

Busch is the last active driver who competed in a Cup race against the late Dale Earnhardt, and the last driver who was part of the inaugural 10-driver Chase for the Cup in 2004, the year he upset the Hendricks Motorsports juggernaut and won his only title.

Busch’s retirement leaves Kevin Harvick as the last active driver who raced when the NASCAR’s top series was called the “Winston Cup Series.”

On Tuesday, September 20, more that 20 NASCAR Cup Series teams came from 14 different organizations took advantage of a NASCAR ‘Next Gen’ car test at the Homestead-Miami Speedway while preparing for the track’s upcoming Dixie Vodka 400 premier series playoffs race on October 23.

The two day test held on September 20-21 also featured 12 of the drivers who remained eligible for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship.

Fans got to witness the Tuesday practice for Free from the grandstands.

The Dixie Vodka 400 at the 1.5 mile Homestead-Miami Speedway will serve as the second race in the round of eight. 

If an eligible wins the event, he will automatically punch his ticket to the Championship Four at Phoenix Raceway in November.

While the fans were enjoying their time in the grandstands, Homestead-Miami Speedway also conducted a Media Availability to not only talk about the testing but to preview the Dixie Vodka 400 and Race Weekend that takes place on October 22-23.

The one thing I’ve enjoyed about Motor Sports Drivers is that they’re the most humbled and appreciative athletes in sports!

They’re friendly and sincere and I’ve enjoyed covering all facets of Motor Sports through the years, especially NASCAR.

With that said, it was a productive day at the racetrack and I did double duty first in Homestead and later at night I covered the Miami Martlins.

The drivers featured in this story include: Chase Briscoe, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott.

I recently attended the YellaWood 500 up in Talladega, Alabama and Elliott won that race.

These drivers talked about the testing but also had a lot of insightful comments about this weekend’s event in South Florida. 

While in life, it’s difficult to look ahead, there was no shortage of enthusiasm to come to the tropics and do what they love doing. Racing!

Track President Al Garcia also gave us time and talked not only about the weekend, but Homestead-Miami Raceway.

On Monday Night on a Special Edition of the Sports Exchange on the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel, Russell Branham, who is the Regional Director and Historian for Talladega, Daytona International Raceway, Homestead-Miami Speedway joined Myself and Garcia to talk about Championship Weekend.

In addition to the enclosed videos from Brisco, Logano, Elliott and Garcia, in September, check out the Sports Exchange. 

There is no doubt that you’re going to learn a lot! 

These guys are fantastic and are just great to work with!

We covered all bases in this interview and now I’m looking forward to an electric weekend!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gamil.com and you can find him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Also, to see his broadcasts, Subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel to get those notifications as well as the videos in the field.


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