Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Sports

Joey Logano wins again; Earnhardt Jr. among four eliminated from Chase

TALLADEGA, Ala. — As Joey Logano made his third straight trip to Victory Lane, questions swirled about reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick's late-race tactics.

Several competitors accused Harvick of intentionally causing a race-ending caution in Sunday's Campingworld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, where Logano completed a sweep of the second round of NASCAR's playoffs.

It came at the expense of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was eliminated from the Chase for the Championship at his best track for the second consecutive year. Earnhardt led a race-high 61 laps, but settled for second in a race he had to win when the Harvick-triggered crash ended the race under caution.

NASCAR's most popular driver did not question his fate.

"When the race is over, I can live with the result as long as everyone else is going by the same rules," Earnhardt said. "I felt like per the rule book, it sorted out and I finished second. I'm okay with that."

NASCAR said last week it would make just one attempt at Talladega to finish the race under green instead of the usual three tries in a nod toward creating a safer racing environment.

Eliminated Sunday were Earnhardt, Ryan Newman — the runnerup to Harvick last year — and Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. JGR was considered a heavy favorite in this Chase after a dominant regular season. Both eliminated JGR drivers were furious with Harvick.

Harvick had radioed to his crew under caution that a mechanical issue was preventing him from accelerating. But if he moved out of the way, he risked falling to the back of the field and potentially being knocked out of the Chase. So he stayed put, and when his car failed to take off on the restart, he hit Trevor Bayne as Bayne tried to dart around him, triggering a wreck. Earnhardt was unable to race Logano for the win once the caution was called.

"It was a pretty tough ending. (He) knew he was blowing up and told everybody he was going to stay in his lane," Kenseth said.

Denny Hamlin was even less diplomatic on Twitter after the race-ending accident, which ended with him climbing from his flaming car.

"What a joke we have a car with no motor wreck the field to end the race. Complete (junk). Sorry to anyone who spent $ coming to this circus," Hamlin's Twitter page read.

NASCAR reviewed video of the final restart several times and president Mike Helton said officials did not find anything amiss from Harvick.

Harvick said his issue was a broken exhaust pipe and "at the end, I was trying to get out of the way."

Logano's car was showered in beer — a show of disdain from the pro-Earnhardt crowd — as he entered Victory Lane.

"I was aiming for them … it's kind of a cool explosion when you hit beer cans," he said. "Kind of a shame they're throwing their beers full. It was like it was raining out there. But that's okay. Everyone's passionate about their driver. That's what makes our sport great."

Comments
Lightning-Capitals: The most compelling Game 7 personality

Lightning-Capitals: The most compelling Game 7 personality

Who is the most compelling personality in Lightning-Capitals Game 7?We asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for their answer. Who's yours? Please share in the comments section and feel free to take issue with our answers.JOIN the Lightning Strike...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Admiral Farragut’s grit brings state softball glory

Admiral Farragut’s grit brings state softball glory

VERO BEACH — It was only natural to think of Admiral Farragut’s state title chances more in terms of the future. After all, the roster consists of zero seniors and just two juniors. The rest are sophomores, freshmen and middle-schoolers. Because of t...
Updated: 6 hours ago
The key stat for Lightning-Capitals Game 7? Score first

The key stat for Lightning-Capitals Game 7? Score first

As the Lightning and Capitals prepare for their series finale Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa, here's a by-the-numbers look at each team's Game 7 history.5-2The Lightning's record in Game 7s. It has never lost at home (3-0).+5The Lightning's...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays loss to Red Sox

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays loss to Red Sox

Marc Topkin's takeaways from Rays 4-2 loss to Red Sox on Tuesday:* The Rays record against a Red Sox team they consider a measuring stick doesn't look very good at 3-8. But, as manager Kevin Cash and several players pointed out, there is some consola...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: Critics don’t faze Sergio Romo or team

Rays journal: Critics don’t faze Sergio Romo or team

ST. PETERSBURG — Criticisms of the Rays' latest innovative pitching strategy have piled up since Angels INF Zack Cosart said after Sunday's game that starting RHP Sergio Romo to get the first three-six outs was "bad for baseball.''One of the lo...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Willy Adames homers, but Rays fall to Red Sox and suffer injuries

Willy Adames homers, but Rays fall to Red Sox and suffer injuries

ST. PETERSBURG — Top prospect Willy Adames is only going to get to stay with the Rays for a few days, so good for him for making the most of it with a home run in his first big-league game, and off Red Sox ace Chris Sale no less.But the good fe...
Updated: 6 hours ago
do your thing, mr. do-it-all

do your thing, mr. do-it-all

TAMPA — He’s the Lightning’s best player. He’s its most important player.Well, other than goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. That’s a given. Every team relies most heavily on its goalie.But if the Lightning is going win a nerve-racking, heart-stopping, nail-...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Academy at the Lakes wins first state softball title

Academy at the Lakes wins first state softball title

VERO BEACH —Academy at the Lakes waited two weeks to play in the Class 2A state softball tournament in hopes of winning what has been an elusive title.The Wildcats completed the first task Monday, cruising to a mercy-rule win over Fort Pierce John Ca...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 to-do list

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 to-do list

TAMPA — By now there are no more secrets. After six games over 11 days, the Lightning knows all the Capitals' habits , and the Caps know all the Lightning's.To Lightning coach Jon Cooper the outcome of tonight's Game 7 of the Eastern Conference...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

TAMPA — He's 30."I know. I'm getting old," Gerald McCoy said Tuesday, shaking his head.He's still a young man, of course. But in football years, McCoy has finally reached a black balloon birthday. This is his ninth season with the Bucs, which i...
Updated: 8 hours ago