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Perpetual Man in Motion, McAleer Helps Raise Gradient’s Mojo

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Before the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, Stevan McAleer received instructions from Gradient Racing owner Andris Laivins:

Just finish the race.

It had been a rough start to the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Gradient’s No. 66 Acura NSX GT3. A mechanical problem at the Rolex 24 At Daytona resulted in a 19th-place finish in the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) class. A crash in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Cadillac left the team in 14th place in GTD standings.

The just-finish instruction led McAleer to ask a specific question of Laivins:

“What happens if we’re P4 fighting for P3?’” McAleer said. “He said, ‘I just want to finish this race.’”

Oddly enough, that scenario – fourth fighting for third – is precisely where McAleer found himself in the final minutes at Long Beach.

“I came on the radio and said, ‘How badly do you guys want this podium?’” McAleer said. “I think I scared them a little bit. To be fair, I didn’t really have anything for Mike Skeen at the end, but it was a great weekend.”

Funny how a basic finish can revitalize things. McAleer, moved to a full-time role after the team parted with Katherine Legge in early April, helped Gradient Racing improve to 12th in the GTD championship points standings heading into this weekend’s Motul Course de Monterey Powered by Hyundai N at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

“You could see the relief on the team’s faces,” McAleer said. “Fourth place to me is maybe not great – I’m always after some of the biggest trophies – but it was certainly a win for a team whose last couple of races had been unlucky.”

Now he and co-driver Sheena Monk press forward to WeatherTech Raceway, where McAleer has memories of a victory in 2016 with Freedom Autosport in what is now the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. WeatherTech Raceway’s offseason repaving project is the first topic of conversation leading into the weekend.

“It will be interesting to see how that suits the Acura,” McAleer said. “Looking at the lap times from last year, the car definitely had some pace. It didn’t look like it was the fastest, but it was in a window that I can work with.”

McAleer’s newfound duties with Gradient Racing are added to his already crowded schedule, joining his previous commitment to co-drive the No. 28 RS1 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport with Trent Hindman in the Michelin Pilot Challenge. McAleer will race in both series this weekend, along with his extensive coaching obligations that include co-ownership of a Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Michelin team with four cars entered.

In his world, a busy schedule is beneficial.

“The constant being in a race car regardless of what it is has always helped me adapt to something that I’m maybe not necessarily familiar with,” McAleer said. “People might have concerns with that, like maybe you’re not going to be as efficient as you could be. I disagree. Each car has a limit, and it’s my goal to find it. I thoroughly enjoy it.”

McAleer, who spent last weekend coaching drivers in another series at Sebring International Raceway, has multiple student clients in different series. Add his involvement with go-kart racing to his coaching and driving, and he’s eternally busy.

“That’s all deliberate for me,” McAleer said. “I’ve seen drivers’ careers disappear overnight for whatever reason – they get hurt, they move on to something else, or the team retires. There are so many variables in this sport just because of the sheer amount of funding it takes to run programs. … If I have 10 programs going, I know without a doubt that 10 programs are not going to disappear overnight.”

So, he aims for the weekend, with a crowded calendar, a never-give-up attitude, and few complaints.

“I would argue that there is nobody in the paddock as busy as I am from a driving standpoint, but that’s my own doing,” McAleer said. “When I complain that I’m tired, my wife tells me quite quickly that I did it to myself.”

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2025 DAYTONA 500 Logo Unveiled

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 15, 2024) – Daytona International Speedway today unveiled the 2025 DAYTONA 500 logo, paying tribute to the design roots of speed as it features the iconic Harley J. Earl Trophy front and center.

Variations of Harley J. Earl awards were presented to DAYTONA 500 champions for decades. But it wasn’t until 1998 that the modern Harley J. Earl Trophy featuring Earl’s Firebird I concept automobile, hand-sculpted by artist John Lajba, atop a black trioval base was presented in Victory Lane.

The late NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt was the first to take home the trophy that pays homage to Harley J. Earl, a renowned automotive designer and the second commissioner of NASCAR.

“The DAYTONA 500 is not only NASCAR’s biggest race of the year, but also one of the most famous motorsports races in the world,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher. “By featuring the symbol of becoming a DAYTONA 500 champion, the Harley J. Earl Trophy, in the logo for the 67th running of The Great American Race, we blend the greatness of the race with the history of the sport.”

Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron was the most recent Cup Series driver to take home the Harley J. Earl Trophy this past February, capturing his first – and Hendrick Motorsports’ ninth – DAYTONA 500

Fans are encouraged to sign up for exclusive pre-sale access to the 2025 DAYTONA 500 by logging onto DAYTONA500.com and completing the pre-sale registration form. To receive priority access to seats, camping, and other experiences, fans may place a $25 deposit to jump the line and receive an early purchase link.

NASCAR will be back at Daytona International Speedway one more time in 2024, for one of the final opportunities for Cup Series drivers to clinch a spot in the Playoffs during the Coke Zero Sugar 400 weekend on Aug. 23-24.

Drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity Series will tackle the 2.5-mile trioval once again in the Wawa 250 powered by Coca-Cola on Friday, Aug. 23. Then, on Saturday Aug. 24, the NASCAR Cup Series returns to DAYTONA during the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Tickets may be purchased for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 race weekend at daytonainternationalspeedway.com.

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Inaugural NWSL X Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup Sets U.S. Television and Streaming Details, Playoff Sites

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ORLANDO, Fla. (May 28, 2024) — The National Women’s Soccer League and LIGA MX Femenil today announced further details for the first-ever NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup, including broadcast details for both English and Spanish-language distribution in the U.S., playoff locations and competition rules and regulations.

In addition, it was announced that the Orlando Pride match against C.F. Monterrey Femenil, originally scheduled for Sunday, July 28 at INTER&Co Stadium as part of the NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup, has been moved to Saturday, July 27. The match will still kick off at the same time, 7 p.m. ET and will be streamed on Paramount+.

The Pride open the tournament with a trip to WakeMed Soccer Park to battle against the North Carolina Courage on Saturday, July 20. Kickoff for that match is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on Paramount+. Orlando will round out pool play by welcoming Racing Louisville FC to INTER&Co Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 1. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET with the match broadcasted on Paramount+ and CBS Sports Golazo Network.

Debuting this season as part of a groundbreaking collaboration between the two leagues, the NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup kicks off July 19 featuring all 14 NWSL clubs and the six teams with the most points achieved in LIGA MX Femenil Clausura and Apertura during 2023, including Tigres UANL, Club América, Chivas de Guadalajara, Rayadas de Monterrey, Pachuca and Tijuana.

The tournament will consist of 30 group stage contests followed by a four-team semifinal round on August 6. CPKC Stadium, home of the Kansas City Current, in Kansas City, Missouri, will host the doubleheader semifinal round. The championship match will be staged at Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday, October 25.

NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup will feature five groups of four teams consisting of both NWSL and LIGA MX Femenil clubs, with each club competing in three matches. Of the five group winners, the four clubs with the most points will advance to the semifinals.

A complete schedule with updated kick times and broadcast details is below. For more information about NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup, click here.

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Tom’s Watch Bar “America’s Super Sports Bar” Now Open In Orlando

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ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) — Orlando sports fans have something new to cheer about! Tom’s Watch Bar is now open on International Drive.

Following a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony, “America’s Super Sports Bar” is now welcoming guests to the ultimate watch party with its 360-degree viewing experience.

Tom’s features giant stadium screens and 150+ TVs lining the restaurant and bar, plus amazing views of the Orlando skyline from the two-story venue’s prime rooftop location.

And what’s a watch party without food? In addition to an unmatched viewing environment, Tom’s will serve elevated gameday favorites like Deep-Dish Nachos, Tom’s Famous Prime Rib Dip, and Korean BBQ Wings, just to name a few. Guests will also enjoy an extensive drink menu featuring numerous beers on tap, a vast selection of specialty cocktails and more. And there’s something for families too — a $10 kids’ menu available all day, every day.

“Orlando draws sports fans from all over the country, and locals are passionate about their Central Florida teams. Now, everyone can cheer for their favorite teams together at America’s finest sports bar,” Tom Ryan, co-founder of Tom’s Watch Bar. “From our extensive calendar of watch parties to our partnerships with local teams, we’re ready to bring a viewing experience like no other to all sports fans in Orlando.”

With a highly sought-after rooftop location right in the heart of the Orlando Entertainment District on International Drive just off I-4, the two-story, 13,000-square-foot sports bar and restaurant will be a game-changer for sports enthusiasts and local guests who want to enjoy the views just minutes away from Downtown Orlando and Windermere.

 

In addition to the rooftop views and hundreds of TVs, guests can enjoy virtual golf suites, featuring several games including the popular Topgolf target game, Zombie Dodgeball, Hockey Shots, Baseball Pitching, and more – paired with comfortable lounge seating, HDTVs and food and beverage service.

Tom’s Watch Bar can also host private events and meetings for groups from 10 to 800 with customizable menus, flexible spaces and advanced A/V capabilities. To learn more about private event books, click here.

Tom’s Watch Bar is located at 8050 International Drive, Suite 1000 Orlando, FL 32819. For more information, visit https://tomswatchbar.com/loc/orlando/.

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