Thursday, May 24, 2018
Sports

Jimmie Johnson in sudden Sprint Cup slump

BROOKLYN, Mich. — The finishes seem implausible, especially because they've come in succession — 42nd place at Daytona, 42nd at New Hampshire, a brief improvement to 14th at the Brickyard, followed by a dip to 39th at Pocono and 28th at Watkins Glen.

This is Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR's six-time Sprint Cup champion?

"It has been a very challenging year," Johnson said. "We started off without the speed that we wanted. We got the speed back and then the luck left. So, we choose to look at it as we're getting all this out of the way so we can have 10 great races (at the end, in the Chase for the Championship)."

With three victories this season, "Six-Time" is safely in the Chase, but lately the No. 48 car has had its share of problems. The latest setback came Friday when Johnson qualified 30th at Michigan International Speedway, complaining afterward about a vibrating car.

Johnson won at MIS in June — his third victory in four races at the time — but based on his recent form, a repeat isn't looking especially likely in today's Pure Michigan 400.

Johnson finished in the top 10 twice in a row after that Michigan win. Then his run of misfortune began. He was one of several top contenders taken out by a couple of huge accidents at Daytona, then tire issues did him in at New Hampshire. He fell a lap down at Pocono after his rear right tire smacked the wall. He rebounded to get back to fifth, then a second blown tire forced him to the garage.

More of the same last weekend at Watkins Glen: With only a few laps to go, Johnson was bumped and his No. 48 spun around.

"We're not trying to make excuses or asking for sympathy from anybody," Johnson said. "But we can't ignore the results and fortunately we're in the Chase era, and we're sitting in a great position."

There are four more races until the Chase, so Johnson has a little while to reverse this trend. Though it has been a humbling stretch for him, he should still be considered a threat for the title at the end of the season.

"It's nice to have momentum entering the Chase. If it doesn't happen, we've won championships that way, too," Johnson said. "So, we're taking it as it comes."

Ryan Truex to sit out: J..J. Yeley will drive the No. 83 BK Racing Toyota in today's race after Ryan Truex crashed during practice Saturday and was taken to the hospital with a concussion. Truex walked to the ambulance after the crash. He hit the wall head-on while exiting a turn, and the front of his car was severely damaged.

Comments
Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

The Rays aren't kidding about being serious in using relievers to start games.After unveiling the strategy last weekend against the Angels, manager Kevin Cash said they planned to use it again, and he made that official on Thursday, naming Sergio Rom...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFLís new anthem policy

Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFLís new anthem policy

Bucs offensive lineman Ali Marpet questioned the legality of the NFL's new  policy that requires players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

TAMPA — Disbelief will eventually give way to acceptance.The Lightning isn't there yet.It isn't there yet in a lot of ways.Will it ever be?Just wondering.Really, what guarantees are there?Late Wednesday night, Washington Capitals captain A...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

TAMPA — Lightning fans were heading for the exits with three minutes remaining in Tampa Bay's 4-0 loss to Washington Wednesday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. Understandable given the disappointment of not reaching the Stanley C...
Updated: 1 hour ago
USF wins doubleheader to stay alive in AAC tourney

USF wins doubleheader to stay alive in AAC tourney

Its American Athletic Conference tournament hopes flat-lining, USF's baseball team has spent the past 30 or so hours reviving itself with plain ol' CPR.Clutch Pitching and Resolve.Needing back-to-back wins on a humid Clearwater day to remain alive, t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rivals: Only four cities produce more blue-chip recruits than Tampa

Rivals: Only four cities produce more blue-chip recruits than Tampa

Only four cities in the country have produced more four- or five-star prospects in the Rivals era than Tampa.That's according to a little number-crunching from Rivals' Mike Farrell.Tampa has produced 48 blue-chip prospects since the site began in 200...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Snell on the mound

For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Snell on the mound

Having lost a pair of close games, the Rays will try again tonight to beat the Red Sox, and will have LHP Blake Snell on the mound.SS Willy Adames is in the lineup for the Rays for the third and what is expected to be the final time before being sent...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs reach agreement on a four-year, $14.82-million contract with first round pick Vita Vea

Bucs reach agreement on a four-year, $14.82-million contract with first round pick Vita Vea

The Bucs have reached an agreement on a contract with Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round pick.Terms of the deal were not released, but Vea  is expected to receive a four-year contract worth $14.82-million that includes ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Licht promotes three in Bucsí scouting department

Licht promotes three in Bucsí scouting department

The dust has settled from another NFL draft, and Bucs general manager Jason Licht has made three promotions in his scouting department as a new year of player evaluation begins.Byron Kiefer, entering his 14th season with the Bucs and fourth as a nati...
Updated: 4 hours ago
The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isnít headed to the Stanley Cup final

The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isnít headed to the Stanley Cup final

TAMPA — Washington is on to Vegas. The Lightning is not. So we asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for the single biggest reason Tampa Bay isn't headed to the Stanley Cup final. Here's their answers:Roger Mooney, staff writer: Th...
Updated: 4 hours ago