Mayo Clinic doctors performing ‘God Bless America’ for Indy 500 special

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Sunday’s “Back Home Again” special on NBC will feature a “God Bless America” tribute performed by two Mayo Clinic doctors to raise awareness for COVID-19 support.

The rendition by Dr. Elvis Francois (vocals) and Dr. William Robinson (piano) will help support The Fight Is In Us,” which encourages those who recovered from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to donate potentially life-saving plasma for research into treatments.

The duo has lifted the spirits of Mayo Clinic patients for many years with their performances.

Their rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” recently went viral on Instagram, and their “Music is Medicine” EP benefited the Center of Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund.

“Back Home Again,” which will feature host Mike Tirico and 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and runner-up Alexander Rossi recounting last year’s thrilling race, will air Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 20, 2020 – Viewers across the globe will be treated to a poignant and stirring rendition of “God Bless America” during Sunday’s “Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again” airing at 2 p.m. EDT on NBC. The performance by Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgery residents Dr. Elvis Francois and Dr. William Robinson will provide a fitting tribute to front-line workers and help support The Fight Is In Us, an important campaign to encourage survivors of COVID-19 to donate potentially life-saving plasma for research into COVID-19 treatments.

Dr. Francois and Dr. Robinson have performed for patients at Mayo Clinic for several years, delivering emotional support alongside medical treatment to those in need. They recently uploaded their version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” to Instagram, featuring Dr. Francois’ soaring vocals and Dr. Robinson on the piano, as a tribute to fellow professionals across all industries working tirelessly to combat COVID-19. The post struck a chord with social media users worldwide, quickly going viral. After being noticed by executives at Big Machine Label Group, the pair recorded a special EP, “Music is Medicine,” with proceeds going to the Center of Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund.

“We’re honored to be part of this special broadcast from racing’s most iconic venue,” Dr. Francois said. “Seeing so many of my colleagues and front-line workers across the country come together in the midst of such challenging times has been inspiring. This performance is dedicated to everyone who keeps showing up in the fight against COVID-19.

“Our performance is very much about hope,” Dr. Robinson said. “It’s important to remember that we’re all in this together and we’re all working tirelessly toward the same goal. Despite the current hardships, there is definitely reason for optimism, and we hope that our rendition of ‘God Bless America’ will reflect this mindset.”

The doctors’ appearance on Sunday’s broadcast will also help draw attention to a new campaign in the battle against COVID-19: The Fight Is In Us. Mayo Clinic is a founding member of this effort to set up a seamless and convenient experience for the donation of convalescent plasma from COVID-19 survivors. This plasma can be used to treat people today and create medicines to treat patients in the future. To learn more about this vital campaign generated by leading health and life sciences organizations, visit: www.thefightisinus.org starting Sunday, May 24.

For more than 100 years, the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race presented by Gainbridge has taken place over Memorial Day weekend. This year’s race was originally scheduled for Sunday, May 24, but was rescheduled to Sunday, Aug. 23, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This Sunday, viewers will be treated to a special broadcast on NBC that chronicles the 2019 race, featuring an epic duel between Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud and Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi. The program will be narrated by NBC’s Mike Tirico and will incorporate specially produced pre-race moments such as the performance by Dr. Francois and Dr. Robinson.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.