Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Sports

Hamlin eager to get back racing at Fontana

FONTANA, Calif. — The last time Denny Hamlin drove on California's venerable 2-mile oval, he had to be airlifted from the track. The wreck last season was on his mind the first time he drove into that fateful third turn again this weekend.

"The next time I came around, it was an afterthought," Hamlin said last week. "And I haven't thought about it since."

That last-lap crash with bitter rival Joey Logano cost both men a chance to win at Fontana last March, and Kyle Busch slipped between them for NASCAR's most spectacular finish of last season.

"It was a bad weekend for us, for sure, and obviously affected the rest of our season and beyond," said Hamlin, who broke a vertebra in the wreck and missed a month. "But you've got to move on and you've got to deal with the adversity and be stronger from it, and that's what I'm trying to do."

Hamlin and Logano are among several cars to watch as NASCAR's new season gets into gear at one of the drivers' favorite tracks Sunday, but there's probably no driver who wants a win in Fontana more than Hamlin.

"My engineer always asks me to send three tracks where I would most like to win, and maybe they will spend a little bit more extra effort on that particular racetrack," said Hamlin, who starts 13th in today's Auto Club 400. "For me, California is No. 1 because we never made it to the finish last year.

"We had a great shot to win it, but we never made it."

Winner, winner: After four Sprint Cup races, there have been four winners all but clinching a berth in the season-ending Chase for the Championship.

Trouble is, if NASCAR keeps getting new winners each week, there will be more race champions than spots in the Chase (16).

Carl Edwards' solution? Get two victories.

"There's been a lot of talk about it," said Edwards, who won last week at Bristol. "You're going to have to have a win, I believe, to be in the Chase. So now that we've checked that box, we need to go get another win, and I think then we'll be guaranteed to be in it."

Oldie but goodie: The Fontana asphalt hasn't been altered much in 17 years, and that has turned this 2-mile oval into one of the NASCAR circuit's favorite tracks for racers. "You could poll, and probably 42 out of 43 drivers would say, 'Please do not change an old, broken-up racetrack,' " Hamlin said.

Back again: Paul Menard, who missed Friday's practice and qualifying after his daughter was born, had returned to Fontana and will race today, the Associated Press reported. He'll have to start in the back for missing qualifying. Menard was in North Carolina with his wife, Jennifer, who gave birth to their first child, Remi Barbara Christine Menard, on Tuesday.

Comments
As Kevin Kiermaier blasts changes, Rays see empowered Kevin Cash as stabilizer

As Kevin Kiermaier blasts changes, Rays see empowered Kevin Cash as stabilizer

PORT CHARLOTTE — The list of those no longer with the team was going to be noteworthy no matter what Monday as the holdovers, newcomers and wannabes gathered for the first full-squad workout in Camp Dis-A-Ray.Then even before Rays manager Kevin...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballIllinois at Michigan State7 p.m.ESPNWest Virginia at Baylor7 p.m.ESPN2Mississippi State at Texas A&M7 p.m.SECBoston College at N.C. State7 p.m.FSFCreighton at Butler7 p.m.FS1Rhode Island at La Salle7 p.m.CBSSNRutgers at Ohio St...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs agree to terms with Brentson Buckner to be their defensive line coach

Bucs agree to terms with Brentson Buckner to be their defensive line coach

Brentson Buckner didn't need to bring his resume when he interviewed for the Bucs' job as defensive line coach. No references were needed, either.All the Bucs had to do was ask quarterback Jameis Winston whether the Arizona Cardinals defensive line w...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

WASHINGTON — Tyler Johnson was as good as gone.Or so it seemed.The scuttlebutt around last year's trade deadline was that the Lightning center could be the piece headed elsewhere to land a top-four defenseman. Maybe Nashville? St. Louis?Then th...
Updated: 7 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Feb. 19

Monday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 11, Central 0
Updated: 7 hours ago
HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Sager Cavalier and November Morton

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Sager Cavalier and November Morton

Sager Cavalier, AlonsoAs soon as the buzzer sounded, Cavalier raced toward the sideline to start the celebration. The junior leaped into the arms of coach Todd Price. The embrace lasted a few minutes as the two jumped around on the court.For the firs...
Updated: 11 hours ago
On the mend: Bucs’ Noah Spence posts workout pic

On the mend: Bucs’ Noah Spence posts workout pic

Defensive end Noah Spence, whose two NFL seasons have both been limited by injuries to his right shoulder, is getting himself healthy for the 2018 season.Spence has kept a low profile since the Bucs placed him on injured reserve in late October, a mo...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Ray Tank: Fans have fun with name of team’s new blog

Ray Tank: Fans have fun with name of team’s new blog

Rays fans upset about the team's recent moves found the perfect target for their ridicule Monday when the team announced the name of its new blog.The Ray Tank.Announcing... The Ray Tank!Our new blog will have behind-the-scenes stories, photos, and mo...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Rays journal: Matt Andriese not mad (but not happy either) with move to bullpen

Rays journal: Matt Andriese not mad (but not happy either) with move to bullpen

PORT CHARLOTTE — Having spent the offseason preparing for a spot in the rotation, RHP Matt Andriese said he was initially "shocked" when told Sunday that he will begin the season in the bullpen."Ultimately, I'm not happy with the decision," And...
Updated: 12 hours ago
The Yankees’ show of shows is off and homering

The Yankees’ show of shows is off and homering

TAMPA — Move over, Hamilton.The show of shows began Monday at Steinbrenner Field. The Boss would have loved it. Yankees shock and awe began during the first full workout. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton took batting practice. The mere sight o...
Published: 02/19/18