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TJCA moves on; NASCAR season ends

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Thomas Jefferson Football (11-1) is still alive in the 1A playoffs.

The Nomi McMullens-Max Robbins connection were too much for Elkin to solve this past week in a 55-34 victory. Robbins had 244 yards receiving on 393 yards passing from McMullens. McMullens had five touchdowns throws in all with Robbins grabbing four and outrunning everyone is his path.

What a great playoff atmosphere in Avondale this past Friday for the second round match up. Elkin brought a great crowd, but so did TJCA.

The Gryphons will now face Cherokee (11-1) on the road this Friday in the third round of the playoffs. Tye Mintz and Isaiah Evans lead the Braves rushing attack. Should TJCA win, they would face Mitchell or Robbinsville in the Western finals.

NASCAR

The new generation of NASCAR continues as Dale Earnhardt Jr. hangs up the helmet and so does Matt Kenseth (momentarily), who won at Phoenix two weeks ago. Junior was running 16th until he hit the wall in the final laps and finished 25th. Kenseth wound up eighth. Danica Patrick also announced that she would run the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 to wrap up her career next season.

Here is the final rendition and #1 to capture Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s career. Dale Earnhardt Jr. moment #1: Avenging Daytona

A week before the 2001 Pepsi 400, Dale Jr., Elliott Sadler and few close friends revisited turn three at the Daytona International Speedway. They walked from that point and all the way down to the area at which Dale Earnhardt's car rested nearly five months earlier. The crash site was Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s final moment of life, but Jr. made peace that summer day while revisiting.

The next Saturday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. sliced through the field from 6th to 1st in the final gut-wrenching, heart-stopping laps to take the checkered flag that night. Teammate Michael Waltrip finished second and the two drivers met on the fronstretch. Jr. in his red Bud #8 and Waltrip in his blue Napa #15 Chevy jumped on top of their cars, saluted the fans, hugged and then raised their hands together as a boxing referee would to declare a winner. Both had won that night. Waltrip got to somewhat celebrate a February victory that he should have been the best day of his life before finding out that Sr. had died. Junior was able to shake the loss of his dad and come back with a vengeance to capture what turned out to be his most popular victory of a 26-win career. A son was able to conquer a place he had lost his dad. A sport was able to fight back after losing it's icon and Dale Jr. had resurrected concern. It was a happy, but an emotional day as well.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has done a lot for the sport, captivated a conglomerate fan-base and has proved that he really could drive competitively in the series that lasted 19 years. 2017 wasn't the going away season he nor many hoped for, but being the Intimidator's son isn't easy. He never won a championship, but he did a lot of things the right way. Jr. always wanted to make his dad proud, I am not sure how Sr. couldn't be.

As for Sunday, I was ecstatic for Martin Truex Jr. as he held off Kyle Busch in the final laps to win the race and the championship. They got off sequence pit wise and a caution fell at the right time. That allowed Truex to find the lead again after the final pit stop of the day and Busch to be buried in traffic. Busch came back, but it wasn't enough.

I am happy for Truex and he deserved it more than anyone. Truex had eight wins this year and continued to get inspiration from his longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, who had been battling cancer all year. It may not happen all the time, but good things do happen to good people, Sunday was a prime example. And in the words of the late Jim Valvano..."Don't ever give up."

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