Sporting KC ties for first place after 2-2 draw with Chicago

Sporting Kansas City (9-6-3, 30 points) moved into a tie for first place in the Western Conference following a tense 2-2 draw with Chicago Fire FC (5-8-5, 20 points) on Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field in Chicago.

After Erik Hurtado’s 35th-minute opener was canceled out by a Robert Beric strike on the brink of halftime, Sporting took its second lead of the day thanks to a Gadi Kinda header in the 83rd minute.

However, manager Peter Vermes’ men were denied the full three points as Chicago substitute Djordje Mihailovic equalized on one of the final kicks of the match.

The result leaves Sporting on 30 points, level with Seattle Sounders FC and the Portland Timbers at the summit of the West. Chicago, meanwhile, has taken hold of the 10th and final playoff position in the East and snapped a four-game losing streak against Sporting that dated back to 2017.

Tasked with playing a fifth match in 15 days, Sporting Kansas City fielded a lineup that featured five changes from Wednesday’s controversial 1-0 loss at FC Dallas.

Center back Winston Reid reprised his role in place of Andreu Fontas, a new-look midfield featured three fresh faces in Kinda, Ilie Sanchez and 19-year-old Cam Duke, and forward Johnny Russell returned to the starting XI as part of a three-man attack alongside Hurtado and 18-year-old Gianluca Busio, who was notably deployed as a winger for the first time this season.

Hurtado made headlines for his Goal of the Week winner in last Sunday’s defeat of Nashville SC and almost bagged another wonderstrike in the 11th minute when he galloped onto Melia’s booming long ball over the top and fired a volley wide of the near post from a tight angle on the right flank.

A fleeting chance fell to Chicago four minutes later as Spanish playmaker Alvaro Medran whipped a free kick into the penalty area, and although a shot fell invitingly to former Sporting forward C.J. Sapong near the penalty spot, Ilie and Reid were both there to block the effort and extinguish the danger.

Sapong was stymied once more from point-blank range in the 19th minute when Melia produced a phenomenal reflex stop on the heels of a well-orchestrated set piece by Chicago.

The game’s first goal belonged to Sporting in the 35th minute. Kinda did brilliantly to steal possession in midfield, peel away from a defender and charge forward before rolling a ball into the path of Hurtado, who withstood a stiff arm from Chicago’s Wyatt Omsberg and poked a crisp finish past goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.

Kinda tabbed his third assist on the play, while Hurtado provisionally became the only MLS player to notch four goals in less than 300 regular season minutes this year.

In first-half stoppage time, VAR Hilario Grajeda aided the Fire in their bid for a leveler. Medran’s looping corner was headed high into the air by Duke, kept alive by Omsberg and fired goalward by Beric on the left side of the box.

The piledriver beat the outstretched Melia, and although Amadou Dia thought he had conjured a heroic goal line clearance, video review prompted official David Gantar to award the equalizer.

After neither side carved out an opening through the first 20 minutes of the second stanza, another point of controversy arose when Duke won a challenge inside the box and was whacked by Medran. Much to Sporting’s dismay, the official waved play to resume and video review did not take place.

Sporting retained attacking initiative despite the denial of its penalty protests, and substitute Roger Espinoza gave Chicago a scare in the 78th minute when his long-range missile screamed a few feet off target. Sapong then tried his luck at the opposite end, his low-driven attempt dragging wide of Melia’s right-hand post.

The 83rd minute delivered Sporting’s second go-ahead goal of the afternoon. Russell’s near-post corner kick was glanced across the face of goal by the head of Ilie, allowing Kinda to nod home on the doorstep for his fifth tally of the campaign.

The play marked the seventh time Sporting has scored from a corner kick this season, tied for the most in MLS. Additionally, Kinda is one of four MLS newcomers — including Sporting striker Alan Pulido — with five goals and three assists in 2020.

Faced with its second deficit of the day, Chicago took swing in the 84th minute as substitute Elliot Collier settled a cross at the far post, cut onto his right boot and curled inches over the crossbar.

Busio then went close to sealing all three points, but his 30-yard sledgehammer skipped marginally wide in the 86th minute.

The Fire stole an unlikely equalizer deep into added time. With 95 minutes on the clock, Mihailovic raced onto a floated ball in behind the Sporting defense, rounded Melia, took another touch and slotted into the gaping net to ensure a splitting of the points.

With a grueling run of matches in the rearview mirror, Sporting will have a full week to prepare for its next fixture against the Colorado Rapids (5-4-4, 19 points).

Next Saturday’s clash at Children’s Mercy Park is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. with tickets available at SeatGeek.com and live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports GO.

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Stewart wins in debut at Lakeside Speedway

Shane Stewart showed the emotion of a first time winner Friday night at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.

He bathed in confetti, waved the checkered flag with glee and smiled with pride for every photograph.

However, it was his 36th career World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory and his second of the 2020 season. What made it one of his most prized victories is he won driving for his late friend Jason Johnson’s team.

Stewart made his debut in the Jason Johnson Racing #41 car at Lakeside, sporting a red throwback scheme that resembled Johnson’s Knoxville Nationals winning car and kept it up front all night, leading every lap in the feature.

“What’re the odds of just throwing a guy in car with a team he hasn’t worked with ever and go out and win an Outlaw race,” said Stewart, of Bixby, Oklahoma. “It just shows how well prepared this (JJR) race team is. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It probably won’t for a couple of days.”

Stewart and the team spent the early half of Friday getting his seat and seat belts fitted in the car, but Stewart felt at home the second he fired up the Mesilla Valley Transportation No. 41.

They unloaded with speed, qualifying seventh to start the night. Stewart then finished second in his Drydene Heat Race, placing him in the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash. With the luck of drawing the dash pole, he went on to win the 6-lap race and claim the pole for the 30-lap feature.

“Man, I’ve been in so many different cars now,” said Stewart, who has driven for five different teams in 2020. “I know measurements and where my seat needs to be to be comfortable. And it was close. You put your seat in and you change your belts, you really don’t know where you’re going to be until you start it. Once I started it, I knew I was going to be OK.”

When the feature commenced, Stewart drag raced second-place Daryn Pittman to Turn 1. On entrance, Pittman went high while Stewart hammered his car down into the corner and slid up in front of Pittman by the exit of Turn 2. From then on, Stewart left everyone else to fight for second as he pulled away.

Sheldon Haudenschild made an early run at Pittman for the runner-up spot before fading late in the race. The hunter among the prey for the majority of the race was “The Big Cat” Brad Sweet. The reigning champion and current points leader wasted little time navigating through the field of cars in front of him. He was in the top-10 by Lap 2. He found the top-five by Lap 12. And then made his way to the podium by Lap 14.

Two cautions in that time frame helped Sweet make quick work on his charge forward. They also highlighted the strength of Stewart’s car, which rocketed ahead of the field each restart.

With three laps to go, Sweet found another gear. He passed Pittman for second and closed to within a car length of Stewart on the final lap.

However, with his emotions in check, Stewart hit his marks and held off Sweet to claim the win.

“I knew if someone was going to beat me tonight that they would have to have an exceptionally good car,” Stewart said. You just don’t get cars like that very often. I know why this team is fast. I’ve chased this (#41 car) a lot. In many different cars I’ve chased this car. Hats off to this (JJR) group. You can see they work together so well… Man what an honor to win for Jason and Bobbi (Johnson) and (crew chief) Philip (Dietz).”

With a runner-up finish, Sweet earned his first podium finish in five races.

“I didn’t quite do a good enough job,” said Sweet, of Grass Valley, California. “We’ve got to do a little bit better to get this NAPA Auto Parts car back in Victory Lane. My guys gave me a great race car for the [Feature]. We just need to get a little better track position and I think we would’ve had a car to win tonight.”

He gained two points on his closest championship contender Logan Schuchart, who finished third after Pittman had a rear end issue on the final lap and fell to 16th. For the Shark Racing driver, it’s his second top-five finish in a row, but he’s again left wondering if it could’ve been better with a higher starting position.

“Just need to start up front,” said Schuchart, of Hanover, Pennsylvania. “We’ve been so fast but coming from the back a lot. That 49 car is hard to beat. Just need to start up front. Great run. Nice to be on the podium.”

Stewart helped closed the points gap in the team championship with his win – JJR’s seventh win of 2020 – putting the team only eight points behind leader Kasey Kahne Racing. He’ll look to do so again on Saturday at Lake Ozark Speedway for the $15,000-to-win Jason Johnson Classic and win another race in Johnson’s honor.

“Our goal is to try and win that race tomorrow on behalf of Jason and it would be really special to sweep the weekend, but that’s hard to do,” Stewart said. “But what a win. What a win for me. It means a lot.”

The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, on Saturday, Oct. 17, returns to Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, Missouri, for the $15,000-to-win Jason Johnson Classic. For ticket information, visit https://worldofoutlaws.com/schedule/?tickets=All

Results

NOS Energy Drink Feature (30 Laps) – 1. 41-Shane Stewart [1][$10,000]; 2. 49-Brad Sweet [13][$5,500]; 3. 1S-Logan Schuchart [9][$3,200]; 4. 14S-Tim Kaeding [3][$2,800]; 5. 9-James McFadden [10][$2,500]; 6. 14-David Gravel [17][$2,300]; 7. 2M-Kerry Madsen [7][$2,200]; 8. 15-Donny Schatz [14][$2,100]; 9. 71-Parker Price-Miller [15][$2,050]; 10. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [4][$2,000]; 11. 21-Brian Brown [19][$1,500]; 12. 2-Carson Macedo [5][$1,200]; 13. 21X-Christopher Bell [8][$1,100]; 14. 7BC-Tyler Courtney [11][$1,050]; 15. 1A-Jacob Allen [6][$1,000]; 16. 72-Daryn Pittman [2][$900]; 17. 7S-Jason Sides [21][$800]; 18. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg [23][$800]; 19. 83-Dominic Scelzi [24][$800]; 20. 3-Ayrton Gennetten [16][$800]; 21. 87-Aaron Reutzel [20][$800]; 22. 18-Gio Scelzi [18][$800]; 23. 11-Ian Madsen [12][$800]; 24. 26-Cory Eliason [22][$800]; Lap Leaders: Shane Stewart 1-30; KSE Hard Charger Award: 49-Brad Sweet[+11]
Qualifying – 1. 1A-Jacob Allen, 13.613; 2. 14S-Tim Kaeding, 13.638; 3. 72-Daryn Pittman, 13.641; 4. 21X-Christopher Bell, 13.647; 5. 2-Carson Macedo, 13.717; 6. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild, 13.719; 7. 41-Shane Stewart, 13.727; 8. 2M-Kerry Madsen, 13.729; 9. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 13.731; 10. 18-Gio Scelzi, 13.734; 11. 71-Parker Price-Miller, 13.751; 12. 11-Ian Madsen, 13.763; 13. 49-Brad Sweet, 13.768; 14. 9-James McFadden, 13.773; 15. 7BC-Tyler Courtney, 13.774; 16. 3-Ayrton Gennetten, 13.859; 17. 14-David Gravel, 13.866; 18. 15-Donny Schatz, 13.885; 19. 7S-Jason Sides, 13.893; 20. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg, 13.909; 21. 26-Cory Eliason, 13.92; 22. 2C-Wayne Johnson, 13.921; 23. 21-Brian Brown, 13.965; 24. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 14.007; 25. 83-Dominic Scelzi, 14.05; 26. 99-Skylar Gee, 14.135; 27. 24-Terry McCarl, 14.167; 28. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer, 14.171; 29. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 14.184; 30. 35-Skylar Prochaska, 14.228; 31. 6-Bill Rose, 14.262; 32. 33M-Mason Daniel, 14.548; 33. 9W-Chris Morgan, 14.82; 34. O5-Colin Smith, 15.068; 35. 101-Wyatt Burks, 15.171; 36. 17A-Austin McCarl, 15.55.

Holmes wins ARCA Series championship, Heim wins race at Kansas Speedway

Bret Holmes won the ARCA Series championship on Friday night at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, as Corey Heim won the 150-mile race.

It was the last ARCA Series race of the season. Holmes drove the No. 23 Chevrolet to second place on Friday night to win the series championship.

Heim, in the No. 10 Toyota, won his first race at Kansas Speedway.

There were no fans at the 2020 ARCA Menards Series Spediatrics 150 on Oct. 16.

Racing continues at Kansas Speedway on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday, there will be two races, both without fans present.

The NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series Clean Harbors 200 will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday and is expected to be shown on Fox.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday and is expected to be shown on NBCSN.

Emporia, Kansas native Clint Bowyer, who will be retiring from the NASCAR Cup Series following the 2020 season, will serve as the virtual grand marshal for Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300.

CB30, the country music duo made up of real-life brothers Christian and Brody Clementi, will perform the virtual national anthem prior to Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway. The race will start at 6 p.m. (NBCSN).

A limited number of fans will be present for the NASCAR Cup Series race Hollywood Casino 400 at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, which is expected to be shown on NBC.

For more information, visit www.kansaspeedway.com.