Sunday, May 27, 2018
Sports

Jimmie Johnson wins first pole of the year at Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson hopes he's on the verge of turning around a disappointing season.

The six-time Sprint Cup champion won the pole Thursday night for the Coca-Cola 600, turning a lap at 194.911 mph at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the third round of NASCAR's knockout qualifying format.

It was the first pole of the year for Johnson, who has yet to win this season.

"It certainly shows that we're going to be strong this weekend," Johnson said. "I don't know that it sends the same message that winning two or three races will send. But I would love to rattle off two or three wins and have people fear the No. 48 as they have in the past. I don't think a pole position does that to the garage area, but you have to start somewhere."

Brad Keselowski qualified second for Sunday's race and will start on the front row for the seventh time this season. Kasey Kahne was third, followed by Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer.

Sprint Cup points leader Jeff Gordon's struggles in practice runs carried over to qualifying. He didn't make it out of the first round and will start 27th, one spot behind last week's All-Star race winner, Jamie McMurray.

Johnson has won six Sprint Cup races at the Charlotte, twice from the pole.

He said he isn't concerned that he hasn't won (a win would secure him a spot in the Chase for the Championship). What has bothered him is the lack of consistency.

"We have been close to some wins and been pathetic at other tracks," he said.

Asked if he agrees with the notion that some detractors have enjoyed that he hasn't won, Johnson said: "I think there are some people getting satisfaction out of it. But if I win, I win too much. If I don't win, they say you aren't winning enough. So it doesn't matter what I do; I can't win."

Johnson was a nonfactor in the All-Star race last week at the track in his bid for a three-peat. He said his crew changed the setup in his car this week, using advice from teammate Kahne.

"We learned some things from last week," Johnson said.

Keselowski said he was bummed he got beat out for the pole again.

It was the sixth time this season he has qualified second.

"It's like kissing your sister," Keselowski said.

Patrick will start in the top 10 for the third straight week. She was fast throughout the qualifying session, with the top lap in the second round of 194.595.

But her lap in third round was more than one second slower.

Track temperatures reached 106 degrees at the start of qualifying but fell significantly as the sun set behind the grandstand. Speeds picked up dramatically.

Comments
For starters: Rays RHP Sergio Romo opens the game for the second time in 48 hours vs. Orioles

For starters: Rays RHP Sergio Romo opens the game for the second time in 48 hours vs. Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG – Speaking of openers, the Rays will start RHP Sergio Romo (1-1, 4.66 ERA) for the fourth time this season, the second time in 48 hours vs. the Orioles. The 35-year-old Romo did not make it out of the first inning Friday, allowin...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Raysí closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Raysí closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegasí birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegasí birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. A starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when you...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says heís retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says heís retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Published: 05/26/18
Thomas Bassingerís takeaways from Saturdayís Rays-Orioles game

Thomas Bassingerís takeaways from Saturdayís Rays-Orioles game

Interesting decision by the Rays to start RH reliever Ryne Stanek on Saturday. The Orioles' Nos. 1 through 5 hitters were righties, and Stanek came in allowing a 1.228 OPS against righties and a .592 OPS against lefties. It ended up working.How ...
Published: 05/26/18
RAYSREPORT

RAYSREPORT

Today: vs. Orioles1:10, Tropicana FieldTV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)Tickets: $15-$275; available at Tropicana Field, raysbaseball.com, surcharge of up to $5 within five hours of gamePromotion: Raymond childrenís book for kids 14 ...
Published: 05/26/18
Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

The reality of Friday's surprising trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span to Seattle is, of course, between the extremes.One side is screaming this is the latest proof the Rays are driven more to pocket money than winning games (and, for the loudest, o...
Published: 05/26/18

For starters: Rays vs. Orioles; Ryne Stanek makes first start, Carlos Gomez returns

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' bullpenning experiment continues, with right-hander Ryne Stanek to open this afternoon's game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.It is the first career start for Stanek, who has ...
Published: 05/26/18

Captainís Corner: Redfish bite strong on afternoon high tide

Early morning stops at jetty rock piles have produced excellent action for a variety of species. Snook, redfish and trout are the targets. Free-lining live pilchards against the rocks at the strong part of the tide is your best opportunity for snook,...
Published: 05/25/18
Updated: 05/26/18