Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Country Music Countdown, News, & Sports...September 7, 2016

 
"Cody" Our Music Engineer"


 COUNTRY CHART Weekend of September 3-4:

1 DAN & SHAY From The Ground Up
2 SAM HUNT Make You Miss Me
3 KELSEA BALLERINI Peter Pan *
4 JAKE OWEN American Country Love Song
5 JUSTIN MOORE You Look Like I Need A Drink
6 DIERKS BENTLEY w/ELLE KING Different For Girls
7 JON PARDI Head Over Boots
8 CHRIS LANE Fix
9 BLAKE SHELTON She’s Got a Way With Words
10 TUCKER BEATHARD Rock On
11 WILLIAM MICHAEL MORGAN I Met a Girl
12 LoCASH I Know Somebody
13 BILLY CURRINGTON It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To
14 ZAC BROWN BAND Castaway
15 KENNY CHESNEY w/P!nk Setting The World On Fire
16 COLE SWINDELL Middle Of a Memory
17 KIP MOORE Running For You
18 LUKE BRYAN Move
19 BIG & RICH Lovin’ Lately
20 BRETT YOUNG Sleep Without You


Plus Other News For Us Country Folk! 

Miss Missouri to Make History in the Miss America Pageant
 
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The Miss America pageant has been around for close to a century, but this year's event is going to be a first for the organization.
That's because the pageant's first openly gay contestant is competing for the 2017 title. She's Erin O'Flaherty from Missouri.

The 23-year-old made national news when she was crowned Miss Missouri back in June.
"I'm on cloud nine. I'm ready to go to Miss America, and I'm really happy to have made history," O'Flaherty said on Entertainment Tonight.
"It's overwhelming the amount of love and support I've received not only from the LGBT community, but from so many others as well," O'Flaherty told CNN's Ashleigh Banfield
"I think what my message really is is that I had dreams, and goals and I was very scared at first to become who I am, but once I stepped in to who I was is when I became most successful," O'Flaherty said on "Good Morning America."
While O'Flaherty is the first openly gay contestant to compete at Miss America, Sky News reports at least one other former contestant came out as a lesbian after competing in the pageant. It was Miss Kentucky 2010 Djuan Trent.
O'Flaherty is just one of 52 contestants competing for the coveted Miss America crown this week.
Unlike the Miss USA pageant, all of the Miss America contestants will be required to perform a talent. According to the pageant's website, the majority of this year's contestants will either be dancing or singing.
The preliminary portion of the pageant begins Tuesday, and the finals will be televised live Sunday night



The Escalante Canyons Art Festival

 Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument 


Make your plans now to attend the premier art event of the Colorado Plateau - the 13th Annual Escalante Canyons Art Festival-Everett Ruess Days in late September 2016! Events include a plein air painting competition, an arts & crafts sale, speaker series, exhibits, workshops, demonstrations, and live music.
Plein Air Painting Competition: September 16-21, 2016
Nocturne Paint-Out: September 17, 2016
Celebrate Public Lands Paint-Out: September 20, 2016
$9,000 in prizes. Open to artists of all levels, including a Junior Category.

Demonstrations and Workshops: September 16-24, 2016
Speaker Series: September 16-24, 2016
Plein Air Exhibit and Art Sale: September 23-24, 2016
Arts & Crafts Sale: September 23-24, 2016
Live music, food, and fun: September 23-24, 2016




How to feed the masses in small-town America

New business models bring food to towns too small for big box stores.

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Ten years ago, plagued by equipment failures and increasingly sluggish sales, the only grocery store in tiny Walsh, Colorado, closed its doors. But the town’s 600 residents, suddenly facing a 40-mile round trip for food, didn’t despair. Instead, they pooled their money and reopened the historic Walsh Community Grocery Store, a fixture in their town since 1928, as a community-owned store.
Today, the store is turning a profit, and has just one payment left on a $160,000 loan it used to restock and remodel. The shop’s strategy of combining smart community organizing and traditional business acumen is a model for other tiny towns struggling to maintain local grocery stores, even as dollar stores and their frozen wares take over main streets throughout rural America. Roughly 6,000 dollar stores have opened in the U.S. since 2010, according to the retail research firm Conlumino. For at least one chain, Dollar General, the large majority are in towns of 20,000 people or less — places too small for big box stores, like Wal-Mart, but perfect for a dollar store’s slightly smaller shop.
In rural communities, grocery stores — part economic driver, part community builder, and part food supplier — are key institutions, according to an analysis by the Center for Rural Affairs. But keeping them alive isn’t easy. Profit margins are low in the grocery business, and most chain stores accumulate earnings through volume. At small-scale stores like the one in Walsh, the limited clientele means limited sales and, perhaps, bankruptcy. An analysis of rural food cooperatives by the University of Wisconsin found that the most successful stores were the sole grocery store within 20 to 30 miles — in other words, the ones that faced the least competition.
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Katherine Egli
The arrival of dollar stores, and the closure of local grocers, can turn rural areas into food deserts. When fresh food doesn’t reach the people who need it, or when it’s too expensive for most residents to afford, the result can be a cycle of malnutrition, poor health, and poverty.
Walsh’s grocery, however, is thriving, thanks in large part to meticulous inventory management. (Think mark-ups, though still within reason, for coveted fresh produce, and steep discounts for staples like milk.) The store’s profits fold back into the business, which has 18 mostly part-time employees. Revenue from shares issued to townspeople at $50 each, plus a no-interest loan from the Southeast Colorado Power Association, helped get the business off the ground in 2006. Once the loan is paid off, Jones said, shareholders may start receiving an annual dividend. This year, for the first time in a half-decade, the store posted a profit during summer months.
“I was skeptical when we started,” said Clarence Jones, chairman of the Walsh Community Grocery Store board and a former Walsh mayor. “But people were so enthusiastic that it became a reality pretty quick.”
Community-owned stores aren’t the only fix for towns struggling to retain their food purveyors. Small towns have experimented with cooperatives, public-private partnerships, school-based stores and even nonprofit organizations. And perhaps no community has broken more ground than Saguache, Colorado, a town of 500 that lies 35 miles from the nearest full-service grocery store.
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A volunteer at the 4th Street Food Store in Saguache, Colorado, prepares fresh local carrots for the shelves.
Katherine Egli
Saguache’s grocer depends on an off-the-wall nonprofit model that blends revenue from a thrift store with health food products. Cofounder Marge Hoglin, a semi-retired former journalist and small business owner who bought the property with a partner for $45,000 in 2012, today employs three part-time workers at the 4th Street Food Store, where she keeps produce prices low by maintaining close relationships with local growers. The thrift store, with its donated, free inventory, generates enough revenue to cover overhead costs, subsidizing the health foods operation. She is also the only retailer in the county to participate in the state’s Double Up Food Bucks program, which allows people to use $20 in food stamps to purchase $40 of produce. Revenues have doubled since the store opened, said Hoglin, who runs the nonprofit as a volunteer.
“I wanted to find a community where I could give back and feel like I have a purpose and a mission,” she said. “I get a lot of satisfaction from feeling like I’ve made a contribution here.”
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Marge Hoglin, manager of the 4th Street Food Store
Katherine Egli
Hoglin’s sacrifice isn’t unusual. The success of many rural grocery stores depends on altruism from owners, managers and employees—people who recognized that conventional grocery stores weren’t serving their towns and sacrificed time, energy and personal capital to bring about change. (In Saguache, for instance, the only other retail food source is a glorified gas station convenience store.) As with many small-town institutions, the survival of grocery stores may be less related to sales and profit margins than on selfless, civic-minded communities. 
“It’s not so much about the job,” said Donald Rutherford, a Walsh native who moved back to care for his aging parents and now manages the Walsh Community Grocery Store. “It’s about the community.”



  

Exclusive Performance: Jana Kramer’s “Circles”

Patsy Cline Cassette Paved Her Way to Country Music 
 Ask Jana Kramer about the first musical influence in her life, and she’ll tell you without hesitation it’s the one and only Patsy Cline.
“My grandma still has the little cassette tape in her kitchen. All she would do is listen to Patsy Cline,” Kramer revealed during her CMT Next Women of Country Live taping.
Growing up in Michigan, Kramer’s own home was full of country music. Her mom wanted to be a country singer and even gave her daughter a “country sounding” name.
But Kramer sometimes found it hard to convince folks that her northern roots could be a little bit country.
“Look, Keith Urban is from Australia, Shania Twain is from Canada — country is everywhere!” she said.
No truer words, honey.


  

Carrie Underwood: “Congratulations? What Is It?”

CMA Nominations Lead to Text Confusion 
 When Carrie Underwood woke up to all the text messages about her Country Music Association Award nomination for entertainer of the year, she was about three hours behind Nashville.
She was in Alaska on Aug. 31 when the nominations were announced. So when everyone else found out, Underwood was still asleep.
“I first got the news about the CMA nominations when I woke up,” Underwood recalls in a new radio interview. “I’d forgotten for that moment, and I woke up to all these text messages and voice messages, saying congratulations. And I was like ‘Congratulations? What is it?’”
What makes her so proud to be in that entertainer of the year category for the first time is this year’s tour.
“We’ve been just putting together just the best tours,” she said, “and (we) worked so hard for a long time and I’m especially proud of the Storyteller tour. I’m just beyond excited, and I’m humbled, and thankful for that nomination.”
Underwood tweeted later that morning, “This morning I feel happy, excited, blessed, surprised, humbled, & incredibly thankful. Nothing like waking up to great news! @CountryMusic”
Underwood will join Brad Paisley for the 9th year to host the CMA Awards live from Nashville on Nov. 2.


  

The First Miranda Lambert Scholar Is Chosen

Anna Vaus to Receive $40,000 Scholarship 
 
In Miranda Lambert‘s 2011 hit “Heart Like Mine,” she sings that her brother got the brains of the family so she thought she’d learn to sing.
But somewhere in the six years since, she must’ve realized you can have both brains and talent.
Lambert recently created a $40,000 scholarship at Nashville’s Belmont University, to honor a female student majoring in music business, songwriting or entertainment industry studies with a dream of working in the music industry.
It’s called the Women Creators’ Scholarship, and the very first recipient is Anna Vaus. She is is currently a junior at Belmont, majoring in songwriting with a minor in music business.
“I am so thankful and honored to have been chosen as the first recipient of the Miranda Lambert Women Creators’ Fund,” Vaus said in a press release, “not just because of what a crazy opportunity it is for myself, but because the tide is changing for all of the young women in this industry. I have so much hope for women in country music because of the path that Miranda and so many awesome people are currently fighting to pave for us.”
To raise money for the scholarship, Lambert performed at a songwriter round at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville last summer.
And to apply for the scholarship, Vaus had to complete an online application and submit an original song. Lambert chose Vaus from six finalists.


  


BJ Barham on the American Dream and Solo Debut Rockingham

Explores Real Small Town Life Through Fiction 
 
For the price of a ticket to see American Aquarium’s BJ Barham live, fans will get an incredible night of songs and stories starting with the embarrassing tale of his conception.
“Parents,” he said onstage Wednesday (Aug. 31) at Nashville’s City Winery. “If you you really want to screw up a son and turn him into an emotionally-disturbed songwriter, at least twice every summer, tell him where he was conceived.”
Ground zero for Barham was on Labor Day weekend in 1983 at the Blue Parrot Inn in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“The only reason I know that,” he said, “is because twice a summer, every year for my entire life, every time we rode by the Blue Parrot Inn on family vacation, my dad would just point and say, ‘That’s where you were made.’”
 And then there was that one time he lived in a storage unit while he worked at an Olive Garden. “Twenty-five was the age goal I gave myself to be a professional musician,” he said introducing the American Aquarium song “Losing Side of Twenty-Five.” “I was like, ‘Mom, I promise, if I’m 25 and I’m not huge, I’ll totally quit and go back to school. … Twenty-five came and passed. So did 26, 27 and 28. My mom probably thought, ‘He’s either going to be successful or homeless for the rest of his life.’”
Growing up, his mother also had a poetic way of turning harmless nouns into violent verbs. One of the last times he asked for a cookie before dinner, she said, “Ask for a cookie one more time, and I’ll cookie your ass.” That kind of candid storytelling endears Barham to everyone who comes across his art.
At the start of Wednesday’s show, he promised all is well with American Aquarium and added that new music from the group is in the works. But he believes the new music on his striking solo debut Rockingham didn’t fit the arc of what the band has worked hard for the last decade to build. “It was a completely different branch off of me,” he said on a call from the road in Bozeman, Montana. “I felt that it was kind of important that it needed to be a completely different project. That’s why I decided to make it a solo record.”
 Available now, Rockingham gets its audience as close to the source of pure song inspiration as possible. With little editing, most of the music just poured out of him in the days following the Paris terrorist attacks on Nov. 13, 2015. That night, American Aquarium was onstage headlining a concert in Belgium, and after the show, everyone in the band and crew had phones blowing up with messages and missed calls from family and friends concerned for their safety. “They immediately put us back on the van and drove us back across to Holland 45 minutes before they shut the border down,” he said. “It was a super reflective time. For me, the one thing that I was thinking about that entire time was just home and the people that I really cared about. Very rarely do I have entire songs just completely fall out. I would sit down for 20 minutes and then I’d look up and I’d have an entire song written. It usually takes me a year or a year and a half to write a record or write something that I’m happy enough with to call a record.”
CMT: How many edits did you do on some of the songs?
Barham: You’re hearing the songs exactly how I wrote them. I have never sat down and just wrote stories, like fictional narrative character-based songs. This is the first time I’ve ever done that. American Aquarium serves as almost a chronological snapshot of our lives. Our first record was ages 21 to 23, and second record was ages 23-25, and so on and so forth. It’s kind interesting is that the band is where I write most of my autobiographical songs, and my solo material is where I just make up stories.
I wanted to kind of tell this story of the broken American dream story, but I wanted to tell it through the eyes of characters that I grew up with. So ultimately, this is a fictional record, but the characters are very real people. The time and place are very real things.
I spent the first 18 years of my life in Rockingham county so I wanted to use that setting to tell the story of where we are as a country. We’ve made so much progress in a lot of places. But there’s still people who work super hard, 60 hours a week and can’t keep their head above the water. This kind of record is for those people.
Both of my parents worked 50 hour weeks and it was paycheck to paycheck. That’s not the American dream. The American dream teaches us that if you want something bad enough and you work hard enough for it then it can be yours and that’s just not true. It takes a lot of luck to make that true.
How much did writing these songs make you aware of how precious time is?
I use time a lot throughout the record to explain things. “Madeline” is a father’s letter to a daughter explaining what he’s learned in his time on Earth. I wanted to tell the opposite of a love story, but keep it a love story. In the “Unfortunate Kind,” we meet this couple who are head over heels for each other and nothing can come between them. Then we’re just watching how time can completely rip that relationship apart. No matter how much two people love each other, time gets us all in the end. It’s not always our friend.
“Reidsville” was written about my parents, and the struggle they went through. It watches these wide-eyed kids with dreams hit 18 and take on the world. But the minute they had me, it kind of ended everything, because in a small town if you had a kid, you don’t think about getting rid of that kid. If you get pregnant, you have the kid, get married and you raise the kid. There’s no questions asked, especially where I’m from.
So my dad has literally been selling auto parts for the last 40 years. He did what he did to take care of his family. At 18 I don’t think my dad wanted to sell auto parts his entire life. But he did because he had to raise us. I’m so appreciative of him for it.
What were your options in life growing up in Reidsville, North Carolina?
So Reidsville is a very small tobacco farming town. You either join the military, go to jail or you do what your parents did. I’d say that 80-percent of the people in Reidsville fall into the latter category. If your dad’s a pharmacist, you go to school and become a pharmacist. You come back home and you take over the pharmacy. If your dad’s a farmer, you learn how to farm, and when he gets too old to farm, you take over the farm. It’s just kind of what you did. My grandfather was a tobacco farmer and my dad sells auto parts, and neither one of those things sounded promising to me.
So I went to North Carolina State University, and I was going to be a lawyer. I was double majoring in political science and history. Then I fell in love with songwriting.
What should fans be listening for on this album?
The reason this record is relatable is because we’re not all from big cities. We all weren’t born into these cultural epicenters of the country. We all understand a small town mentality because I’d say 90-percent of the country is made up of small towns. You can go 40 miles outside of L.A., Nashville, Chicago or New York, and you’re in the middle of nowhere with working class Americans surrounding you.
What small towns really bring to the table is they teach you how important community is. What it has in those advantages it also has disadvantages like a lack of culture, lack of a willingness to change with the times. That was one of the things I wanted to run from. I wanted to be as open minded as I could.
I’ve told American Aquarium fans to not go into this expecting an American Aquarium record. American Aquarium records are a good mix of kind of bombastic rock ‘n’ roll meets country ballads. This is the closest thing to a folk record I’ve ever made. I want people to be able to fall into this world. I think that more people will have a better knowledge of me as a person, me as a songwriter listening to these songs, knowing it’s a place where they came from. I think that’s the biggest thing.


  

Florida Georgia Line Live to Sing Another Day

A Look Behind the Scenes From “May We All”
 I don’t know which video I like more — the new “May We All” video from Florida Georgia Line, or the “May We All” behind-the-scenes video where they share what was really going on during the shoot.
They’re both very, very cool.
The video itself is like a short film. It’s about two late model stock car racing brothers and their friend/coach/mechanic/financial backer, played by Tim McGraw. He tells Brian Kelley he’s lucky to even be able to race his car because, “You drive reckless.” And he’s right, obviously, because by the end of it, there is a fiery rescue scene — and it’s scary as hell.
But in the behind-the-scenes video, Kelley, McGraw and Tyler Hubbard share what it was like to be part of a video where they aren’t singing, just acting.
When Hubbard says he’s just learning from the pros — presumably McGraw and director TK McKamy — McGraw jokes that he’s learning, too.
“I’m learning everything I can. I’m soaking it all up,” McGraw says. “Soaking some of that Florida Georgia Line sunshine up.”
Then before shooting the second race scene, Hubbard quotes the 2006 film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, saying “If you ain’t first, you’re last, so I took care of business.”
 The song, written by Rodney Clawson and Jamie Moore, is not really about stock car racing. But it is about growing up in that red, white and blue small town America and doing everything a little bit better than the first time. But then there is that lyric at the end of the song, about may we all get the have a chance to ride the fast one and walk away wiser when we crashed one.
Hence the crash scene.
But don’t worry, Hubbard is OK in the end.
As he says, “We lived to sing another day.”
The video was shot at the Tennessee National Raceway in Hohenwald, Tennessee.


  

Know the People Behind Jason Aldean’s They Don’t Know

Records Songs by His Band for the First Time 
 Jason Aldean agrees the new music on his seventh studio album They Don’t Know essentially captures who he is as the man behind the artist. That’s because all of the songs are written by the Nashville music makers who know him best.
“This album is a really good combination of the things that I do well,” he said in an interview with CMT.com. “I know everybody always says their new album is their best thing they’ve ever done, and I’m not going to sit there and be that guy. But at the same time, I feel like it is still pushing in new directions.”
Nearly half of the songwriters listed in the album credits have written several Aldean songs for the better part of the last decade. Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, who co-wrote Old Boots, New Dirt’s “Burnin’ It Down,” scored another Aldean No. 1 as two of the six songwriters behind “Lights Come 
 Wendell Mobley and Tony Martin, who co-wrote Aldean’s late summer hit “A Little More Summertime” with Keith Urban’s longtime guitarist Jerry Flowers, have had songs on Aldean albums since 2007’s Relentless. Rodney Clawson, who co-wrote his first string hits including “Hicktown,” “Amarillo Sky” and “Why,” co-wrote three songs on the new project. The other half includes names who have helped define his signature sound — band members Kurt Allison and Tully Kennedy, who are also co-founders of New Voice Entertainment.
“Tully and Kurt have been writing a lot lately and came to the table with a few songs for this record that were really cool including the title track,” he said. “Kurt was a writer on ‘They Don’t Know.’ It’s cool to be able to not only cut songs by your friends, but the fact that they’re great songs is cool.”
Another song Allison and Kennedy brought to the table was “Reason to Love L.A.,” which was co-written with Michael Dulaney and Jason Sever.
“It’s sort of a love-hate relationship with Los Angeles,” Aldean said of the song. “I can’t handle it taking you 30 minutes to go two miles on the freeway. It’s a little too hectic for me. That was another one of those songs that I thought fit with the rest of the record. It was relatable to me, so it was kind of a no-brainer.”
Although Labor Day marked the unofficial end of summer 2016, fans can still bask in the late summer heat coming off his latest single “A Little More Summertime.” The best part is when the bottom drops out before the chorus, pulling the listener in like a rip current.
Then Aldean’s voice comes crashing in with some pretty scenic poetry when he sings, “If that sun would’ve just hung up in that sky just a little bit yeah just a little bit longer/If those blue water waves could’ve stayed at her feet on the beach ‘stead of going out with the tide/If that wind was a friend it’d still be blowing in like a warm southern whisper on her/She might have stayed forever and never ever left these arms if only I/Had a little more summertime.”
“There’s something about it when the chorus kicks in and that guitar stuff is going on,” he said, “It grabbed me right off the bat. It was one of the first songs we got for the record. It’s sort of going back to a little more of a vintage sound for me. But it doesn’t sound like anything else we’ve ever done. I think the whole album is like that, which is what I’m excited for people to hear.”
Available Friday (Sept. 9), They Don’t Know is produced by the award-winning Michael Knox and includes the Kelsea Ballerini duet, “First Time Again.” That same evening, Aldean and Kid Rock will kick off their two-night stand at Boston’s Fenway Park with Thomas Rhett and A Thousand Horses.


 



No. 88 driver schedule

 

 

Following Friday's announcement that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will sit out for the remainder of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as he continues to recover from concussion-related symptoms, Hendrick Motorsports officials said that Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman would split time behind the wheel in a fill-in role.

Gordon, 45, will be the interim driver in four of the remaining 12 races this year. A four-time series champion, Gordon has driven in four races in Earnhardt's stead already this season. Bowman, 23, will handle driving duties for the No. 88 team for eight of the 10 races in the season-ending Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Bowman, a part-time driver for the JR Motorsports operation in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, has two fill-in starts already under his belt in 2016.

"Jeff and Alex will give us a great opportunity over the rest of the season," team owner Rick Hendrick said in a release provided by the organization. "Jeff is one of the best of all time and knows our system. He brings things to the table that no one else can. Alex is a young driver with a lot of talent, and he will give us a fresh perspective. We know they're not only capable of running up front and giving us a chance to win, but they'll help us get better."

A detailed list of who will wheel Earnhardt's No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at each race during his absence. 
No. 88 driver schedule
Track Race Name Date Driver Note
Darlington Raceway Bojangles' Southern 500 Sept. 4 Jeff Gordon Gordon is a seven-time Darlington winner
Richmond International Raceway Federated Auto Parts 400 Sept. 10 Jeff Gordon Gordon has won twice at Richmond in his career
Chicagoland Speedway Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 Sept. 18 Alex Bowman Bowman will make his third Chicagoland start
New Hampshire Motor Speedway New England 300 Sept. 25 Alex Bowman Bowman ran well early, but had car trouble and finished 26th in his first start in the No. 88 earlier this year
Dover International Speedway Citizen Soldier 400 Oct. 2 Jeff Gordon Gordon is a five-time Dover winner and last won this race in 2014.
Charlotte Motor Speedway Bank of America 500 Oct. 8 Alex Bowman Bowman will make his fifth Charlotte start
Kansas Speedway Hollywood Casino 400 Oct. 16 Alex Bowman Bowman's previous four Kansas starts yielded a best finish of 31st
Talladega Superspeedway Alabama 500 Oct. 23 Alex Bowman Bowman's second-best career finish (16th) came at Talladega in 2015
Martinsville Speedway Goody's Fast Relief 500 Oct. 30 Jeff Gordon Martinsville is home of Gordon's last win, an iconic moment in 2015 that clinched his spot in the Championship Round at Homestead
Texas Motor Speedway AAA Texas 500 Nov. 6 Alex Bowman Bowman will make his fifth career Texas start
Phoenix International Raceway Can-Am 500 Nov. 13 Alex Bowman Bowman finished 30th here in the spring of 2015, his best showing in four starts
Homestead-Miami Speedway Ford EcoBoost 400 Nov. 20 Alex Bowman The season finale will be Bowman's third career start at the Miami-based  





RACE WEEKEND
  • What: Sprint Cup circuit
  • Where: Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, VA
  • When: Sep 10, 2016, 7:43 PM
  • Race Length: 300.00












Updated 2016 NFL record projections for all 32 teams as the season nears

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Preseason provided snapshots of all 32 NFL teams. For several — the Cowboys, Eagles and Vikings among them — circumstances changed significantly. With new impressions and current information, we revisited our predictions for the 2016 season one final time before the games start to count. Here are USA TODAY Sports' record projections  for how the season will unfold based on picking all 256 games, plus a bonus playoff forecast.

NFC EAST
New York Giants (8-8): What ought to be an explosive offense has been anything but this summer. Expect Eli Manning, Odell Beckham and Co. to turn things around and get just enough support from a defense that received a $200 million infusion of talent in free agency and should now protect the leads that were squandered in 2015.
Washington Redskins (7-9): No doubt they could remain atop a wide-open division. But will QB Kirk Cousins have to shoulder too much responsibility for a team that seems woefully unbalanced on offense and still has holes on defense? The second half of their schedule is brutal.
Dallas Cowboys (5-11): As exciting as RB Ezekiel Elliott and QB Dak Prescott are, it's unfair to ask two rookies to carry a team already stripped of defensive talent by suspensions. QB Tony Romo may not return in time to give Dallas a viable shot to reach January.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): They're rebooting on both sides of the ball, though Jim Schwartz's defense could wreak havoc with what appears to be a scheme better suited to this roster. But the offense appears to lack firepower, and rookie QB Carson Wentz didn't gain much experience in preseason.

NFC NORTH
Green Bay Packers (12-4): The offense should reignite with WR Jordy Nelson's return. The defense should be more disruptive with OLB Clay Matthews back on the edge. QB Aaron Rodgers should rebound with an MVP-caliber season. And the path suddenly looks just a bit easier given the new challenges in Minnesota.
Minnesota Vikings (11-5): QB Teddy Bridgewater's knee injury was a devastating blow, but the acquisition of Sam Bradford could still allow Minnesota to remain a viable title threat if he can build on last year's progress. And don't forget, RB Adrian Peterson singlehandedly carried this club to postseason four years ago, and these Vikes feature a far scarier defense than the 2012 unit.
Detroit Lions (7-9): Matthew Stafford showed late last season that he may be ready to blossom into a cagey quarterback who effectively distributes the ball and makes good decisions — still easier said than done without Calvin Johnson and hindered by a suspect ground attack.
Chicago Bears (6-10): An underrated defense could keep them in a lot of games ... and it will probably have to do just that after the offense shed so many playmakers in the offseason, lost coordinator Adam Gase and didn't show much ability to protect QB Jay Cutler in August.

 NFC SOUTH 
Carolina Panthers (12-4): They remain the class of an otherwise average division, which they've ruled since 2013. WRs Kelvin Benjamin, recovered from a knee injury, and Devin Funchess, who seems to be figuring out the league in Year 2, bring added wrinkles to the league's highest-scoring offense. And the D should be stout again, even without CB Josh Norman.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8): They were highly effective between the 20-yard lines in 2015. But the Bucs must get better at putting the ball into the end zone and keeping opponents out of it. Keeping new coach Dirk Koetter paired with QB Jameis Winston looks like the right call.
Atlanta Falcons (7-9): Another team that knows how to pile up yards but struggles to convert them into points. QB Matt Ryan must be more efficient and capitalize on the space WR Julio Jones creates. Just as important, a defense had a league-low 19 sacks must produce more splash plays.
New Orleans Saints (7-9): A defense scorched for a record 45 TD passes last year has already been hit with injuries, including a broken leg for first-round pick Sheldon Rankins. Drew Brees may have to prevail in a lot more 35-31 shootouts to keep this club viable.

 NFC WEST
Arizona Cardinals (12-4): There may not be a more complete team in the league. OLB Chandler Jones should take an already special defense to a new level. If RB David Johnson can translate last year's burst into 16 games for the league's No. 1 offense, there's no reason the Cards can't win the NFC.
Seattle Seahawks (11-5): The defense has allowed the fewest points in the league four years in a row and may be on the verge of legendary status. It will likely need to keep stonewalling its foes while the offense transitions to life without Marshawn Lynch with a line that remains in flux.
Los Angeles Rams (5-11): If HBO is an accurate barometer, the hard knocks may continue deep into the season, especially if top draft pick Jared Goff is pressed into action prematurely. And the West Coast's newest team must play four road games in the eastern time zone plus one "home" game in London.
San Francisco 49ers (2-14): If the whispers are true, and the league has deciphered Chip Kelly's offense, it's hard to be anything but skeptical of a team that doesn't seem nearly as talented as the groups Kelly had in Philadelphia. Niners fans may soon be displaying their own protests on Sundays.

 AFC EAST
New England Patriots (11-5): They've reached the AFC title game every years since 2011. Despite Tom Brady's suspension, no reason not to believe that streak won't continue given the apparent lack of conference powerhouses. Don't be shocked if a motivated Brady goes undefeated once he's back.
New York Jets (9-7): In the first six weeks of the season, they'll face five playoff teams and travel to Buffalo for a Thursday night game. It could be enough of an obstacle to render the Jets just good enough to fall a tiebreaker short of the playoffs for the second straight year.
Buffalo Bills (8-8): They have two homes games between Week 4 and Week 11. Survive that, and they could be sitting pretty while hosting three games in December. Ending a 16-season playoff drought is likely the only way for coach Rex Ryan and GM Doug Whaley to remain employed in 2017.
Miami Dolphins (7-9): A team that struggled in preseason under a new coaching staff must play three playoffs teams on the road in September. Weather that storm and adapt to life under Adam Gase, and the Fins could get on a roll since they'll spend the next five weeks at home.

 AFC NORTH
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown and RB Le'Veon Bell played 58 snaps together in 2015 — and the Steelers still finished with the No. 3 offense and nearly knocked off Denver in the playoffs. Even with Bell suspended three games, they could be unstoppable this year.
Cincinnati Bengals (11-5): The biggest unknown could be Ken Zampese, a first-time NFL offensive coordinator with the unenviable task of replacing Hue Jackson. But aside from questions about the depth behind WR A.J. Green and TE Tyler Eifert's ankle, Cincy looks primed for another playoff run.
Baltimore Ravens (9-7): John Harbaugh always fields a competitive squad, and no reason to think that will change in 2016. But it's worth wondering how well this team jells with so many key players — QB Joe Flacco, WR Steve Smith and OLB Terrell Suggs among them — returning from major injuries.
Cleveland Browns (3-13): They continue to hoard salary cap space and draft picks for the future. That certainly means collateral damage for the present, even if QB Robert Griffin III and WR Josh Gordon experience career revivals and new coach Hue Jackson pushes all the right buttons.

AFC SOUTH
Houston Texans (9-7): Coach Bill O'Brien has gone 9-7 twice without anything approaching consistent quarterback play. Certainly he can't do worse after bringing Brock Osweiler aboard (to say nothing of fleet-footed RB Lamar Miller). Of course, much will also depend on the health of DE J.J. Watt.
Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7): Uber-patient owner Shad Khan told USA TODAY Sports over the summer, “I think we’ve suffered long enough." The gauntlet has been thrown for GM Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley, but they've now imported and developed enough talent to successfully navigate it.
Indianapolis Colts (6-10): QB Andrew Luck is back and may post passing numbers commensurate with his new record contract. Unfortunately for Luck, the Colts' ability to protect him or assist him with an effective defense or run game remains in serious doubt.
Tennessee Titans (4-12): Their "exotic smashmouth" offense is intriguing with rejuvenated RB DeMarco Murray joining the Heisman Trophy tandem of Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry behind what seems a much improved O-line. Yet a defense that's been consistently wrecked in recent years could hold the real key.

AFC WEST
Oakland Raiders (10-6): Though third-year stars Khalil Mack and Derek Carr deservedly garner much of the attention, the real bedrock of this team may lie with one of the league's best offensive lines. Mix in an ascending defense, and it is little wonder expectations are soaring in the East Bay.
Kansas City Chiefs (10-6): With such a deep and talented backfield, maybe they should run the wishbone. It might help shield a defense that just got S Eric Berry back and continues to await the return of OLB Justin Houston. But if everything coalesces, the Chiefs could be tougher than last year's wild-card entry.
Denver Broncos (9-7): New QB Trevor Siemian may not necessarily inspire confidence, but the passing game probably can't get worse after Peyton Manning's epic struggles in 2015. Denver may have more trouble replacing LB Danny Trevathan, DE Malik Jackson and operating with an overhauled O-line.
San Diego Chargers (5-11): Rookie Joey Bosa's holdout created an offseason-long distraction, and it remains to be seen what he can contribute. But this franchise's still uncertain future in San Diego will once again shadow a flawed team, and the questions about 2017 will only mount as the weeks drag on.

AFC playoffs
Wild card: (6) Chiefs def. (3) Raiders; (4) Texans def. (5) Bengals
Divisional: (2) Patriots def. (4) Texans; (1) Steelers def. (6) Chiefs

AFC Championship Game: (1) Steelers def. (2) Patriots

NFC playoffs
Wild card: (3) Cardinals def. (6) Vikings; (5) Seahawks def. (4) Giants
Divisional: (1) Packers def. (5) Seahawks; (3) Cardinals def. (2) Panthers

NFC Championship Game: (3) Cardinals def. (1) Packers

Super Bowl LI: Steelers def. Cardinals

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