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Lady Eagle winner Taylor Florio had good Smiley’s Racing Products Southern SportMod company at the IMCA national awards banquet, joining national champion James Hanusch and national rookie of the year Larry Underwood at the Nov. 30 gala. (Photo by Bruce Badgley, Motorsports Photography) “I’ll race again next year but how much depends on school,” Florio said. “I’ll definitely be at Waco on Fridays and probably Cotton Bowl on Saturdays.” COPPERAS COVE, Texas – Taylor Florio grew up watching Robin Batt and dreaming of the day when she, too, would win the IMCA Lady Eagle award. Those dreams became reality as the Smiley’s Racing Products Southern SportMod driver from Copperas Cove, Texas, raced to the top point total of the 227 female drivers competing in IMCA this season. She’ll display her Lady Eagle award on the TV stand, right next to the trophy she received in 2015 after becoming the first female driver to win national rookie of the year honors, also in a Southern SportMod. “I grew up watching Robin race and wanted to be like her. I thought it was the coolest thing ever when she won the Lady Eagle (in 2010) and I wanted to do it, too,” said Florio, who also repeated as the E3 Spark Plugs Texas State champion. “I knew at the beginning of the season we wanted to do it. We set out to achieve our goal and midway through started thinking maybe this was our year. And it was.” Florio’s sponsors are Mid-Tex Paint and Body, Phil’s Motorsports, Custom Transmissions and Florio Racing Chassis, all of Copperas Cove; D & D Cabinetry of Kempner; Fat Daddy’s Design of Hewitt; Mark Herring Race Engines of Plainview; Swenson Racing Components of Boerne; Rhino Racing Rear Ends of McAllen; and Superior Fuel Cells of Creswell, Ore. Crew members include her parents Chris and Traci, Dustin Mooney and Chad Kipp. She was runner-up behind national champion James Hanusch at 281 Speedway, third at Heart O’ Texas Speedway and sixth at Cotton Bowl Speedway. “We were ecstatic to win the Lady Eagle,” Florio said. “It was a great accomplishment for our entire team. We all worked very hard.” Fourth in national point standings, Florio doubled her career win total with five checkers and added another top 20 finishes in 60 starts at six different tracks. “I raced with a lot of the best of the best drivers in Texas every Friday and Saturday night,” Florio said. “That definitely makes you a better driver.” The former rodeo rider is a junior at Central Texas College in Killeen, following her grandmother and aunt into the nursing field.
Barcelona’s hunger to win the UEFA Champions League may be greater than ever after being dealt a two-window transfer ban last week.The Camp Nou outfit were handed the punishment by FIFA a day after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their quarter-final tie for irregularities found in their transfer dealings at youth level.A transfer embargo of that magnitude would likely weaken Barca over the coming seasons, so Gerardo Martino’s men will be keen to make the most of their opportunity this time around.Atleti – aiming for their first semi-final appearance since 1974 – hold the away-goal advantage heading into the second leg, but may be forced to do without star striker Diego Costa, who limped off with an injured hamstring after 30 minutes last Tuesday.Costa, who has scored seven goals in six Champions League starts this season, subsequently sat out his side’s 1-0 win against Villarreal in the league on Saturday and remains a doubt as Atleti prepare to host this week’s return leg.The three previous domestic meetings between the sides pointed to this tie being a hotly contested affair, and the first leg did not disappoint. Diego, who came on for the injured Costa, opened the scoring for Atleti in the 56th minute, before Neymar levelled matters 15 minutes later.The result was the fourth draw between the sides in all competitions this season.However, the hosts’ home form should give them cause for optimism, having won 16 of their last 17 home games in UEFA competition.That said, Barca have not lost for four years at Atleti, and will need to maintain that run if they are to reach a seventh successive semi-final.The sides currently occupy the top two spots in the Spanish top flight – Atleti are one point clear of second-placed Barca – and the last two-legged tie between them, the Spanish Super Cup, was won on away goals by the Catalan giants. While conceding it would have been nice to head into the second leg with a kinder scoreline, Barcelona’s Xavi claims the need to win could benefit his side.”Atletico cut down the space,” he said. “It’s not easy to create chances, and we have to be fluent in the game and move the ball quickly.”It’s a really tough match. We’d have liked to have gone there with a better result, but it all depends on us.”We have to win and that benefits us because we’re a team built to attack, but we are facing an opponent who is just the opposite.”In addition to Costa, Atleti have question marks over the fitness of Arda Turan (groin), while Barca will be without Victor Valdes (knee), captain Carles Puyol (knee) and Gerard Pique