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NASCAR nearly has its ‘Heidi’ moment

NASCAR got closer to earning NFL-like status on Sunday afternoon, but in a negative way.

Almost 40 years to the day after televised coverage of an NFL game was dumped for the start of the movie “Heidi,” ABC left its live coverage of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race near Phoenix with 34 laps remaining to join the start of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

At least ABC picked up its race coverage on ESPN2 for viewers in the Eastern and Central time zones; Las Vegas and the West Coast were not affected by the switch.

On Nov. 17, 1968, NBC broke away from the “Heidi Game” between the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders with 65 seconds remaining. The Raiders rallied for 14 points during that span to gain a 43-32 victory.

Those who were left without race coverage Sunday could’ve been missing Jimmie Johnson clinching his third straight Cup championship, except he didn’t clinch.

Had Carl Edwards — the only driver capable of catching Johnson with one race to go — crashed or blown his engine during the waning laps, Johnson, who won the race, would have had an insurmountable points lead.

The race was extended by 45 minutes by stoppages for rain and track cleanup.

Those without cable or who were recording the race found little to laugh about when “America’s Funniest” took over their screens.

Then again, that show isn’t that funny unless someone gets hit in the private parts.

This time, it was NASCAR that took a shot below the belt.

• MCCAIN LOSES AGAIN — All the way around, it was a lousy week for John McCain.

First he lost the presidential election and then a bull carrying his honor was successfully ridden in the Professional Bull Riders World Finals.

McCain was conquered Tuesday by Barack Obama and then Raising McCain was ridden by Wiley Petersen on Saturday.

HELPING BLUES — The St. Louis Blues are known for hitting, and now the NHL team is trying to soften the economic hit some of its fans are taking.

Starting Nov. 29, the team will hold a “Fan Bailout Plan” at Saturday home games in which one spectator will be selected to have his mortgage or rent paid by the team for four months, up to $4,000 total.

It would be appropriate for the Blues to require the winner’s residence have a basement. That’s where the team is mired, after all.

• DUE BILLS — Since their 4-0 start, the Buffalo Bills have gone from Super Bowl talk to hoping they can make the playoffs. The past-due Bills lost their third straight game and dropped to 5-4 Sunday.

“It’s not time to throw the towel in or look at it as if the wheels are coming off,” safety George Wilson said. “We just hit a bump in the road these past few weeks.”

This time of year, those Buffalo bumps quickly become potholes.


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