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Christ is the reason for the incredible victory: McDowell, the NASCAR winner, publicly confessed his faith

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Entering Sunday’s NASCAR season-opening Daytona 500 — the “Great American Race” — driver Michael McDowell was a 100-1 underdog. After the race, which ended shortly after midnight in Florida thanks to two fiery crashes on either side of a rain delay that lasted nearly six hours, it was McDowell celebrating in victory lane.

The win marked his first in the Cup Series after only four top-five finishes in 357 previous Cup Series starts during his first 13 seasons.

“I just can’t believe it,” McDowell said on the track immediately following the race. “I’ve just got to thank God. So many years just grinding it out and hoping for an opportunity like this.”

In the No. 34 car for Front Row Motorsports, McDowell was involved in the first crash on lap 15, but his car didn’t sustain enough damage to slow him down. He was third on the final lap when the two leading cars collided, causing another massive crash. McDowell emerged as the leader, and he held on to win. The final lap was the only lap he led.

During his press conference following the race, McDowell was asked if winning this race matches the dream.

“It does, but whether I win this race or not, it’s not what defines you,” he said. “It’s unbelievable and I’m so thankful, but I’m thankful to have a happy, healthy family and a beautiful wife and a great family. Not everybody makes it to victory lane and for 14 years I didn’t, so just to be here now is just so amazing.”

It was Joey Logano who held the lead down the final stretch of the final lap, but his Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski tried to pass on the inside, and instead caused both to spin out. Logano was upset that he didn’t win the famed Daytona 500, but he was happy for McDowell.

“I feel like we had a great shot being where we were and leading on the last lap, but if we couldn’t win I’m really happy to see McDowell win this thing,” Logano told FOX. “He’s a great guy, a great person, a good leader in life and has helped me a lot in my life, so it’s very cool to see him win the Daytona 500.”

McDowell’s win also essentially secures him a spot in the playoffs this fall for the first time in his career. For the 36-year-old McDowell, his success to begin 2021 is a sweet reward for his countless hours of work without a win to show for it.

“There’s been lots of years where I was wondering what the heck am I doing and why am I doing it? I always knew if I just kept grinding that one day everything will line up and go right,” McDowell said after the race.

He later expounded, saying, “When you show up to the race track, and you know that you’re — I don’t even know how to say it — you’re just in the way, taking up space, it’s hard to do that year after year and week after week. So you’ve got to have a bigger purpose than that. For me, it was knowing that I would get an opportunity eventually.”

McDowell told the Sports Spectrum Podcast in early 2019 that he has relied on his faith in God throughout his career, and he wants others to know about the love of Jesus too.

“I’m passionate about people coming to know Christ,” McDowell said. “Part of that is just a realization that you’re either alive in Christ or you’re dead. There’s no in-between.”

McDowell explained that he did not grow up learning about Christianity. When some of his racing mentors introduced him to the faith, it was unlike anything he’d encountered before. Soon after, McDowell sustained a horrific accident in qualifying at the 2008 Samsung 500 in which his car slammed against the wall before barrel-rolling to a stop. Amazingly, McDowell walked away from the wreckage unscathed and went on to race that weekend.

Through his brush with death, God revealed to McDowell the true power of the racing platform he’d been given.

“Once I fully surrendered, I realized that I love speaking and I love talking with people,” he said on the podcast, “and if I’m going to do that, then I need to be doing it, 1) to glorify God, and 2) to lead people to Christ. … That area between your feet, that’s your mission field.”

In 2014, McDowell also spoke with Sports Spectrum about his faith, how he sees his position in NASCAR and what he feels God is calling him to:Now with a Daytona 500 victory to his name, McDowell will try to win again at NASCAR’s next scheduled race, the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona on Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. ET.

Cricket

Yusuf Pathan retires from all formats of cricket

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New Delhi: Allrounder Yusuf Pathan, who was part of India’s two World Cup-winning teams, on Friday announced retirement from all forms of cricket.

A hard-hititng batsman and effective off-spinner, 38-year-old Pathan was part of the Indian teams that won the 2007 T20 World Cup in South Africa and the 2011 World Cup in India. M.S.Dhoni was captain of both teams. Irfan Pathan, his younger brother and an allrounder, had quit all forms of cricket early in 2020.

“I officially announce retirement from all forms of the game. I thank my family, friends, fans, teams, coaches and the whole country wholeheartedly for all the support and love. I am sure you will continue to encourage me in future as well,” Pathan, who represented Baroda in domestic tournaments, said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The Baroda-based Pathan’s last appearance with the Indian team was in a T20 international against South Africa in Johannesburg on March 30, 2012.

After making his international debut during the 2007 T20 World Cup, against Pakistan in Johannesburg, Pathan played 22 T20Is in which he scored 236 runs and picked 13 wickets. He also played 57 ODIs for India, scoring 810 runs and taking 33 wickets.

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Motera Stadium renamed; The largest stadium in the world is now named after Narendra Modi

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The world’s largest cricket stadium at Motera in Ahmedabad was renamed the Narendra Modi Stadium and inaugurated on Wednesday by the President of India Ram Nath Kovind in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah; his son Jay Shah, who is Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary; and others.

The rebuilt stadium is a part of the proposed, sprawling Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave, which includes the world’s largest cricket stadium, a natatorium (indoor swimming pool), facilities for athletics and track and field sports, a football stadium, a field hockey and tennis stadium, indoor sports halls and arenas, velodrome/ skating area, and outdoor fields. The enclave is spread in over 220 acres on the Sabarmati river bank in the north east area of Ahmedabad.

The President laid the foundation stone for the sports enclave along with the inauguration of the rebuilt cricket stadium.

In his speech, Mr. Shah said that Ahmedabad will become the city with state-of-the-art sports infrastructure of international standards after the completion of the Sardar Patel Sports Enclave.

“Coupled with the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave and the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera, a sports complex will also be built in Naranpura. These three will be equipped to host any international sports event,” Mr. Shah said at the inauguration ceremony.

The new stadium at Motera, set up by the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), is a dream project of the PM, to demolish the old stadium completely and rebuild in its place a new one, which would be the largest in the world with the best of its class facilities.

“This stadium was conceptualised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. He was president of the Gujarat Cricket Association at that time,” President Ram Nath Kovind said during his inaugural address on Wednesday.

The old stadium, with 49,000 seating capacity, was known as the Sardar Patel Cricket Stadium, where many historically important matches were played. It hosted 12 Tests, 23 One Day Internationals, and one T20 between 1982 and 2016.

Construction of the new stadium began in 2016. It has been built at an estimated cost of ₹800 crore. The refurbished stadium is spread over a 63-acre plot. According to the GCA, the newly built stadium has a total capacity of 1,32,000. It significantly surpasses the capacity of the hitherto largest Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia, which can host 90,000 spectators. There are three entry points to the stadium.

The new stadium has four dressing rooms with world-class facilities, and a built-in clubhouse with 55 rooms. The clubhouse has facilities for both indoor and outdoor games, restaurants, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a gym, and a 3D projector theatre.

This is the first time the field of an Indian cricket stadium has been fitted with LED lights.

On the same day last year, on February 24, the Prime Minister hosted U.S. President Donald Trump with the mega ‘Namaste Trump’ event at the stadium.

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