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Jimmie Johnson accepts blame for wrecking NASCAR teammate Jeff Gordon

Autos

Johnson Accepts blame for wreck

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Four-time defending NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson took the blame for making the mistake that ultimately led to teammate Jeff Gordon's wreck Sunday during the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Johnson said Monday that he was trying to slide in front of Gordon so the Hendrick Motorsports drivers could draft together toward the front. But Gordon was coming too fast, Johnson said, that his move instead had the effect of a block, and Gordon was forced off the apron in a defensive move.

His momentum gone, Gordon slide back in traffic and was caught moments later in a multicar crash.

"I misjudged the closing rate," Johnson said. "We all make mistakes, I am no different. Certainly, that was my fault."

Gordon, who drove his damaged car to a 22nd-place finish, was furious after the race: "The 48 is testing my patience, I can tell you that. It takes a lot to make me mad."

Johnson was involved in his own accident later and finished 31st. Johnson had already left the track when Gordon, also a four-time series champion, talked of his frustration.

"I would have stuck around if I knew what was waiting for me," Johnson told the Associated Press.

Then Johnson again dismissed any notion of a rift with the driver who helped him get his break with Hendrick Motorsports. The two tangled a week ago at Texas Motor Speedway, but Johnson downplayed any potential tensions.

"There's no doubt after the fact that frustrations are high, the wreck just compounded it," Johnson said. "I think he was speaking out of frustration."

Since his 2002 rookie season, Johnson has steadily challenged Gordon, finally surpassing him as the star of the team. Johnson has won 50 races and the last four championships, while Gordon has won 24 races but no titles.

Colleges

Creighton's Altman takes Oregon job

Longtime Creighton coach Dana Altman signed a seven-year deal worth $1.8 million annually to become Oregon's basketball coach.

Altman, 51, spent 16 seasons at Creighton, going 327-176. He led the Bluejays to 11 consecutive 20-win seasons before they went 18-16 this past season. Creighton made seven NCAA Tournament appearances.

Altman replaces Ernie Kent, who was dismissed after going 16-16.

Creighton quickly hired Greg McDermott, who led Northern Iowa to the NCAA Tournament three straight years before leaving for Iowa State in 2006. He has never had a winning season at Iowa State, where he made $900,000 last year and was signed through 2015.

Football: SEC commissioner Mike Slive says the league isn't considering adding teams, but it is working on a plan to keep up with other conferences if they expand just in case. Slive said the 12-member SEC hasn't talked to any institutions about joining and has no plans to do so. … Four North Carolina State players face drug charges after police found marijuana in an off-campus apartment. Raleigh police say offensive tackle Jake Vermiglio, and defensive tackles Markus Kuhn and J.R. Sweezy each were charged with possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a dwelling for use of controlled substances. All-ACC tight end George Bryan was charged with maintaining a dwelling for use of controlled substances. Coach Tom O'Brien didn't announce disciplinary action.

Mixed Martial Arts

Ex-champ arrested after domestic incident

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight champ Tito Ortiz was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence at the Huntington Beach, Calif., home he shares with his partner, former adult film actor Jenna Jameson.

Police Lt. Mike Reynolds said Ortiz, 35, was taken to jail and released on $25,000 bail.

Jameson and her father spoke to TMZ.com and other reporters outside the home. Wearing a wrap on her right elbow, Jameson described herself as "completely shocked" by the incident, saying Ortiz had "lashed out" at her, leaving her feeling "betrayed."

ET CETERA

arena football: Storm WR Cleannord Saintil (right knee) and WR/LB Lawrence Samuels (broken left ring finger) went on injured reserve and are expected to miss a minimum of four weeks.

Boxing: Former heavyweight champion John Ruiz, 38 announced his retirement after an 18-year career. He was the WBA champ twice and finished 44-9-1 with 30 knockouts.

Soccer: Los Angeles Galaxy and England midfielder David Beckham's recovery from surgery on his Achilles' tendon is taking longer than expected, so he does not expect to be ready to play until November instead of September. He will miss the Major League Soccer season unless the Galaxy reaches the playoffs. … Houston Dyanamo midfielder Geoff Cameron needs surgery for a torn ligament in his right knee and is out for the MLS season. He made his U.S. national team debut on Feb. 24.

Tennis: Roger Federer opened his clay-court season with a doubles victory at the Rome Masters. The top-ranked Federer and Yves Allegro defeated Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4, 7-6 (7-4). Federer opens singles play against Ernests Gulbis today. John Isner, the top American in the draw, had 20 aces in a 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 win over Horacio Zeballos.

Times wires

Jimmie Johnson accepts blame for wrecking NASCAR teammate Jeff Gordon 04/26/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 1:04am]
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