Monday, May 21, 2018
Sports

Denny Hamlin takes NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Denny Hamlin has dealt with a run of circumstantial bad luck over the last year.

He got tangled up with Joey Logano last year at Fontana, breaking a vertebra in his lower back, which forced him to miss four races. A sinus infection took him out of the Fontana race this season.

So consider Sunday's victory in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway a bit of cosmic payback. He hit the lottery by avoiding the usual crashfest at Talladega.

"A win like this makes you forget about all these things," Hamlin said.

He won under a last-lap caution thrown for an incident behind the lead pack. Justin Allgaier's car lost a piece of its bumper in a spin just before the start-finish line. That cut short a two-lap restart as the white flag had already been shown.

Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer lost a chance to make a run at Hamlin on the final lap.

"It's frustrating because of the simple fact that we both felt we had the opportunity to pounce," Bowyer said. "NASCAR did the right thing. You can't put people in danger."

Biffle, who finished second, and third-place Bowyer hung tight when they saw smoke in their rear-view mirror, both figuring it was too early to make a run at Hamlin. It's easy to get bounced back in a hurry if you go at the wrong time.

"I didn't want to pass too early. I was going to be the lone soldier on the outside lane," Biffle said. "I was setting up to go by him and I never got the chance."

This was Hamlin's first victory in a points race at a restrictor-plate track and virtually assures him a spot in the Chase for the Championship. He's the eighth driver to win this season, most likely filling half of the 16-driver field in the 10-race playoff.

The rules for the new format state that drivers must try to qualify for each race "except in rare instances" — for instance, the medical exemption Hamlin was granted for missing Fontana.

"He needed it so bad," said J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing. "We were really happy for him to win the race."

There was also a dubious decision by Brad Keselowski to drive aggressively within the leading pack late in the race when he was six laps down. Keselowski got loose with 51 laps left, triggering a 14-car accident that took out a number of prominent drivers, including Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon.

Keselowski said he was trying to get some laps back under the premise that a number of cautions would allow him to crawl his way to the lead pack again under the "lucky dog" rule.

Nobody was buying that.

"I wasn't sure exactly what he was doing. It looked like he just spun out in front of us and had nowhere to go," Kenseth said. "I don't think you're going to get six laps back. If it was the other way around, we'd be getting lectured, I know that."

"I don't know what he was doing," Gordon said, "obviously thinking that was going to be the way to get his lap back. All that it did was get a bunch of other cars wrecked."

United Sportscar: Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown teamed to win the Monterey (Calif.) Grand Prix, becoming the first Prototype 2 team to win overall in the series' debut season.



Comments
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning one win from Stanley Cup final

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning one win from Stanley Cup final

The Lightning plays in Washington tonight with a chance to close out the series and advance to the Stanley Cup final. Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud to talk about the game and why Andrei Vasilevskiy and the defense is playing so well.Plus, the...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Lightning watch party tonight for Game 6

Lightning watch party tonight for Game 6

Tampa Bay Lightning fans can gather to witness the team's possible clinching of a Stanley Cup final berth tonight in downtown Tampa.The watch party for Game 6 in Washington starts at 6 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.It will include three screen...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

TAMPA — Florida State coach Willie Taggart fielded an interesting question near the end of his Q&A with fans during Sunday's booster stop at Armature Works.Are the Seminoles going to be going for it more on fourth down?"We will be goin...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

One of the first big nuggets from preseason college football magazines is out: Athlon's top 25.The site considers its rankings a prediction of where teams will be at the end of the year, not the beginning.Alabama and Clemson are 1-2 (no shock). Miami...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Stanley Cup-bound Vegas turning impossible into possible

Stanley Cup-bound Vegas turning impossible into possible

LAS VEGAS — Welcome to Impossible.Those words have been projected onto the ice in big, bold letters at T-Mobile Arena before each game during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Well, the Vegas Golden Knights are turning impossible into possible.The stun...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Softball: Scouting the Admiral Farragut vs. John Carroll semifinal

Softball: Scouting the Admiral Farragut vs. John Carroll semifinal

Admiral Farragut (17-5) vs. John Carroll Catholic (11-11)When/where: 4:50 p.m. Monday at Historic Dodgertown, Vero BeachHow they got hereAdmiral Farragut defeated Naples St. John Neumann 17-0; defeated Bradenton St. Stephen's 3-1John Carrol...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Why the Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule isn’t as bad as it seems

Why the Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule isn’t as bad as it seems

Saints, Eagles, Steelers.Three games against three playoff teams to open the NFL season.Who in the league scheduling office did the Buccaneers tick off?What an injustice!Or not.Maybe the league did the Bucs a favor.Would you rather face the Saints, E...
Updated: 4 hours ago
For Bolts radio duo, being fans at heart is key to their success

For Bolts radio duo, being fans at heart is key to their success

As the last tension-filled seconds of a tight playoff game wind down, high above the Amalie Arena ice, the play-by-play man becomes increasingly animated.Dave Mishkin, eyes bulging, face purple, jumps from his seat, holding the headset with his left ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

* It's always interesting to think of how many amazing plays you see made in a game, then often a simple one — such as the fourth-inning comebacker to Rays RHP Matt Andriese — gets messed up and costs teams heavily, as that led to two run...
Published: 05/20/18
Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Doubling down on their innovativeness and starting veteran reliever Sergio Romo for a second straight day worked out fine Sunday for the Rays.It was the less-effective pitchers who followed, plus the ineffectiveness of their h...
Published: 05/20/18