Few racetracks in the world can boast a corner as intimidating as the blind left-right-left corkscrew that is Turn 8 at Monterey’s Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. Last year, then-defending world champion MotoGP racer Jorge Lorenzo managed the gravitational gauntlet while driving his Yamaha machine at speeds approaching 165 mph to victory at Laguna Seca’s scenic, undulating track.
Laguna Seca is one of only two U.S. races on the four-nation Moto GP calendar. This year Casey Stoner, an Aussie, enters the MotoGP event, which takes place at 2pm Sunday, leading the championship hunt with 168 points, just 15 ahead of Lorenzo. The two have been battling each other all season, and at last week’s race in Germany, Lorenzo’s final-lap pass culminated an epic battle for the crucial points that come with taking the checkered flag.
Lorenzo and Stoner will have their hands full with Dani Pedrosa and vaunted veteran Valentino Rossi, last year’s second- and third-place finishers at Laguna Seca.
While an American hasn’t won the U.S. Grand Prix since 2006, a couple homegrown guys to keep an eye on are Americans Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden, who are currently tied for sixth in points.—Jasper Rubenstein
The hangover from the Women’s World Cup final will likely be short-lived. (Although, the straight-male/lesbian demographic will certainly miss the talents of Hope Solo and Alex Morgan.) But for local fans with a soccer Jones, a couple big MLS events will be taking place in the next week. The San Jose Earthquakes (5-6-8), who have lost just twice in the last three months after a rough start, host the Vancouver Whitecaps at 7:30pm Wednesday at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Leading the way for San Jose will be midfielder Bobby Convey and forward Chris Wondolowski, both of whom will be playing in the ESPN2-televised MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday, July 27. The MLS’s best will be facing the most famous franchise in the world, Manchester United, for an exhibition that might not stay friendly. San Jose is currently tied for sixth place in the Western Conference standings, and a win before the All-Star break over last-place Vancouver could help propel the ‘Quakes to a strong start in the second half of the schedule.—Josh Koehn
Success Makes Giants Trade Bait
With only a week and a half remaining until Major League Baseball’s official trade deadline, several San Jose Giants could be used as bait so the World Series champs in San Francisco can acquire another big bat. Such is the life of being a minor leaguer. But having cruised to the best record of any minor league team in the first half of the season, and winning 11 straight before a loss to Inland Empire on Sunday, the Single-A Giants are legitimately talented across the board.
No name is hotter in the rumor mill right now than 2009 first-round draft pick Zach Wheeler (7-4, 3.70 ERA), a 21-year-old moose on the mound for San Jose who is considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Assuming he isn’t traded between now and Saturday, when Visalia comes to town for a four-game series beginning at 6pm, Wheeler could be making his final start in a Giants uniform. But if he does stick around, expect Wheeler and company to continue beating up the California North league when Lancaster comes to take its lumps in a four-game series starting Wednesday, July 27.—JK