Daytona 500 - Practice

6-time NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson talks Sochi Olympics

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Six-time and reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is set to begin another title defense this Sunday at the Daytona 500.

But in the lead-up to the big race, he’s also been watching as much of the Sochi Olympics as he can when not inside his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

As a regular viewer, Johnson says he’s been captivated by what he calls “the speed stuff” in this year’s Winter Games.

“The downhill, snowboarding, bobsled, the guys on the skeleton – and the girls too – they’re crazy and they’re fun to watch,” Johnson told NASCAR on NBC reporter Marty Snider.

He also noted the similarities between what bobsledders like Steven Holcomb and Elana Meyers do and what he and his own peers do at Daytona.

MORE: Humphries/Moyse defend Olympic women’s bobsled title

“That’s probably the most similar discipline [to NASCAR],” Johnson said. “It’s propelled by them so they need to get off the start fine, but controlling the sled down the – I don’t know what they call it, the road, the track, whatever it is – it’s pretty nuts.

“They have the big banked turns like we do in NASCAR and they can touch the wall a little bit more than we can and redirect themselves, but it just looks like such a cool rush and there’s so many great stories that come from it.”

You can hear more of Johnson’s thoughts on the Olympics and on Sunday’s “Great American Race” in the video above.

And don’t forget to watch the debut episode of NASCAR AMERICA – this Monday at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Shannon Szabados cut from men’s pro team after 2 games

Shannon Szabados
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Canadian Olympic goalie Shannon Szabados was cut from her men’s pro team two games into the season on Monday.

Szabados, playing in the Southern Professional Hockey League for a third year but in her first with the Peoria (Ill.) Rivermen, was cut along with the team’s other goalie, Storm Phaneuf, after they combined for 6-1 and 5-1 losses in the first two games last week.

“After our first two games, I thought our goaltending wasn’t good enough to compete, and changes had to be made,” Peoria coach Jean-Guy Trudel said in a press release. “We’re going to continue adjusting our roster as needed until we find a group on and off the ice that I feel can accomplish our primary goal here in Peoria, which is to build a winning team here in Peoria and bring our fans a championship.”

Szabados, a 30-year-old who won the last two Olympic finals against the U.S., recorded a goals-against average of 6.10 and a .792 save percentage while playing parts of both losses last week.

“I came off the ice after those games knowing it wasn’t going to work,” Trudel said, according to the Peoria Journal Star. “We had no preseason games, so essentially those acted as that test, and we found out some things that just weren’t going to be the way we needed.

“I thought our goaltending wasn’t good enough to compete, took the morale out of our team a bit and changes had to be made.”

Szabados had signed a tryout contract with Peoria a month earlier and was one of two goalies out of five to make the opening-night roster.

Szabados played for the Columbus (Ga.) Cottonmouths of the same league the previous two full seasons, ranking in the bottom half of the SPHL in goalie stats. She ranked second on the team in goalie games played each season.

2014-15: 3.12 GAA, .907 SV%
2015-16: 3.63 GAA, .910 SV%

If Szabados doesn’t sign with another pro team, she could now be available for a U.S.-Canada series in December. Szabados hasn’t played for the Canadian national team since the Sochi Olympics and reportedly said in August that she was unsure if she would make a 2018 Olympic run.

Szabados was not on the roster named Oct. 14 for next week’s Four Nations Cup in Finland, a tournament that includes the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden.

MORE: 2018 Olympic men’s hockey groups set

Russia says IOC asked for records of anti-doping history

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia says the International Olympic Committee has asked it to provide evidence of how anti-doping procedures worked over a five-year period as it probes the country’s doping issues.

The IOC set up a disciplinary commission in July under former French Constitutional Court judge Guy Canivet to investigate allegations that Russian state and drug-testing officials covered up hundreds of doping cases, including at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Vitaly Smirnov, a former IOC member from Russia who runs a government-backed doping commission, says he has received requests from the IOC to provide records regarding Russian anti-doping procedures from 2010-15.

Smirnov says his commission has collected the information and plans to provide it to the IOC this week.

MORE: Russia Olympic Committee president to step down