Earnhardt gives repaved Daytona a positive review
DAYTONA BEACH — Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Daytona International Speedway's track is "real smooth" after its $20 million repaving project.
Earnhardt's was the first of 20 cars on the track Wednesday, Day 1 of a two-day tire test. The speedway underwent a face-lift precipitated by a pothole between Turns 1 and 2 forming during this year's Daytona 500.
"They smoothed out all the bumps," Earnhardt said. "It's got a lot of grip. It reminds me exactly of what Talladega was like when they finished (repaving) it."
Jeff Gordon said the track would become more about speed and less about handling.
Driver of the year: Jimmie Johnson, who won his fifth straight Sprint Cup title, won the honor for the fourth time, tying Gordon for most in the award's 44-year history. A media panel voted among drivers from U.S.-based four-wheel series. Johnson got 10 votes, NHRA Funny Car champion John Force seven and NASCAR's Kyle Busch one.
Monaco denies prince broke rules
Monaco's Royal Palace said Prince Albert II did not violate IOC bylaws during Russia's winning bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Robert Eringer, an American who says he worked as the prince's intelligence adviser, alleges Albert accepted "lavish gifts and trips" from Russia and then-president Vladimir Putin before and after Sochi beat South Korea 51-47 in July 2007. They included a three-bedroom summer home in Monaco. The IOC declined to say if it will investigate. Eringer is suing Albert, an IOC member since 1985, alleging breach of contract and seeking back pay.
Swimming: China set the world record in the women's 800 free relay at the short-course world championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It finished in 7 minutes, 35.94 seconds. Ryan Lochte's bid for eight gold medals at the championships ended in his second event when the United States failed to medal in the 400-meter freestyle relay.
College baseball: The NCAA banned Arizona State from the 2011 postseason and said it must vacate 44 wins from 2007 for violations, including ex-coach Pat Murphy paying players from his nonprofit organization for work they didn't do. The school said it will appeal.
Greyhounds: Flying Coal City and Jack's Shortfuse won qualifiers to reach Saturday's 660-Yard Challenge final at Derby Lane. Other qualifiers: Daring Diva, Greta's Cryhondo, Kelsos Ace High, Knock Out, Kiowa Sky Selma and Tmc's Jail Bait.
Don Jensen, Times correspondent; Times wires