Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sports

Kyle Busch seeks Sprint Cup sweep in Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas — No driver has swept a track in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series this season.

Kyle Busch will attempt to become the first as he continues his championship defense in today's Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Busch enters the race off a fifth-place finish in the Chase for the Championship Round of 8 opener at Martinsville last Sunday and is four points ahead of Joey Logano for the final advancement spot to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 20.

He visited Victory Lane in the Texas race in April by speeding away from the field on a restart with 33 laps left to break Jimmie Johnson's three-race winning streak at the 1½-mile track. A win today means an automatic berth in the Championship 4 and a chance for a repeat championship.

"I had some wild races (at Texas) early on in my career, and it wasn't one of my favorite places, for whatever reason," Busch said. "Things have gone well recently. The spring was a dream weekend … getting my second Sprint Cup win there. Obviously, the Xfinity series wins I had there all in a row, and the truck series wins, have been real confidence boosters.

"I've sort of learned how to drive it a little bit, and I know what I need in my race car to make it easier."

Busch's run through this season's Chase is similar to his finish last season. He has not won a race in NASCAR's playoffs in 2016 but has four top-five and six top-10 finishes in seven Chase starts. The absence of a Chase win shouldn't worry the reigning series champion. After all, Busch's first win in last year's Chase didn't come until the finale at Homestead.

"Anything can happen so we just have to make sure we can take what's given to us like we did last year," Busch said. "There were some times we didn't get the finishes we wanted, but we were still able to transfer through. This year, we will try to get the finish we do want and make our way through the rounds if possible and get to the end.

"Certainly, you're on the highest of highs at the checkered flag at Homestead last year, but it just continues to diminish all through this year because, you know, you try to repeat and, if you can repeat, you'll be at the highest of highs again. But eventually, in about three more weeks, your reign is over, so you try to repeat if you can."

XFINITY: Kyle Larson held off Brad Keselowski to win the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, leaving all four spots in the battle for the series championship open going into the final elimination round. Daniel Suarez finished a point ahead of Elliott Sadler among the eight drivers battling for the series title. Because none of them won, they will vie for the top four spots next week at Phoenix before the series finale at Homestead. It was Larson's first series victory at Texas and his second win of the season. Fellow Sprint Cup regulars Keselowski and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top three. Erik Jones was the top finisher among the title contenders, taking fourth. Jones is third in series points, 10 behind Suarez.

Comments
Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

By now, we presume you've had a few hours to digest the Rays' improbable 10-inning triumph Friday night.So instead of rehashing the whole bizarre body of work, how 'bout a closer look at the workmanship. Specifically, Chris Archer's.Partially lost in...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely unable to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother,...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

DUNEDIN — After losing a four-run lead thanks to a bad sixth inning, it would have been easy for Clearwater Central Catholic to fold against Dunedin in the final of the 49th annual Dunedin Spring Tournament. But quality relief pitching from Gar...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.But business is busin...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up the ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blue line. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by (Lightning...
Updated: 9 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 20

Friday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 15, Central 0
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

ST. PETERSBURG — For a change, the physically snake-bitten Rays got some vigor, versatility and even a veteran presence back in their lineup  when INF Brad Miller was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list.To make room, they DFA'd INF/OF...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Really, it’s time to look ahead

Really, it’s time to look ahead

BRANDON — Three things that popped into my head as the Lightning and Devils get ready to play Game 5 this afternoon at Amalie Arena.1. I’m going to do something that a hockey team in the playoffs would never do, not in a million years.I’m going to ta...
Updated: 10 hours ago
LeBron James, Cavs show unity with coordinated suits

LeBron James, Cavs show unity with coordinated suits

The Cavaliers, with an assist from a New York-based designer, made their first big play Friday night just by entering the arena. As they paraded into Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis before Game 3 of their playoff series with the Pacers, the C...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

BRANDON – Devils top defenseman Sami Vatanen had not traveled to Tampa as of Friday afternoon, according to coach John Hynes, and his availability for Game 5 Saturday against the Lightning is in doubt.Hynes, however, did not rule out Vatan...
Updated: 12 hours ago