Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

Sports in brief

autos

Dale jr.: good for 2017

HOMESTEAD — Dale Earnhardt Jr. should be medically cleared from his concussion in December and ready to race in the 2017 Daytona 500.

Team owner Rick Hendrick said Earnhardt, 42, recently texted and said he was just waiting for Daytona to return to the track. Earnhardt has not raced since July 9. The season-opening Daytona 500 is Feb. 26.

"He feels great. Everything's on track," Hendrick said Friday. "Every step that we need to go through, we've gone through."

Hendrick said Earnhardt's absence has not affected sponsorship for 2017.

HOMESTEAD QUALIFYING: Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski swept the front row in qualifying for Sunday's sold-out finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson are racing for the championship. Busch starts ninth, Edwards 10th, Logano 13th and Johnson 14th. Tony Stewart starts 11th in the final race of his NASCAR career.

fantasy sports

DraftKings, FanDuel agree to merger

Daily fantasy sports companies DraftKings and FanDuel have agreed to merge after a turbulent year in which both of their values plummeted as several attorneys general questioned the legality of their games in their states. The merger must be approved by regulators and will be time-consuming — the companies said they expected the deal to close in the second half of 2017. Until then, both sides will operate under their own brands. Lobbying and legal costs had damaged both companies' bottom lines to the extent that representatives of the companies last month asked the New York Attorney General's Office to allow them to pay a combined $12 million settlement in installments after claims they employed false and deceptive advertising practices, the New York Times reported. FanDuel, based in New York, reportedly recently laid off more than 60 people, and both companies have acknowledged they are months behind in payments to vendors.

soccer

Leipzig a surprise leader in Bundesliga

In one of the most startling developments in European soccer this season, newcomer RB Leipzig stormed to the top of the German Bundesliga by coming from behind twice to earn a 3-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen. Leipzig also set a Bundesliga record by staying undefeated in its first 11 matches after promotion. The team has won six straight games.

U.S. WOMEN: Talks are ongoing between players for the World Cup-winning U.S. women's national team and the U.S. Soccer Federation in advance of the Dec. 31 expiration of their current contract. The season ended last week.

tennis

Murray keeps pace with Djokovic in ATP

Andy Murray qualified for the semifinals of the ATP World Tour Finals by beating Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2 in London. Murray, who needs to do better than Novak Djokovic this weekend in the season-ending tournament to finish as the top-ranked player, broke Wawrinka late in the first set and twice at the start of the second. In today's semifinals, Djokovic faces Kei Nishikori, and Murray faces Milos Raonic.

et cetera

BOXING: Andre Ward, a 2004 U.S. Olympic gold medalist, tonight faces big puncher Sergey Kovalev, who came from Russia to the United States seven years ago. The pay-per-view bout in Las Vegas is for Kovalev's light heavyweight titles. Both are 30-0.

Times wires

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Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions. The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 ...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Life got you down? The Miracle League is back and making miracles again

Life got you down? The Miracle League is back and making miracles again

ST. PETERSBURG — An old friend is back in the lineup.The Kiwanis of Gulf Beaches Miracle League, which champions baseball for the physically and mentally challenged, returned with a flourish Saturday morning. We're better for it."This...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Updated: 1 hour ago
NHL makes right call in not suspending Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov

NHL makes right call in not suspending Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov

The NHL got it right.Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning's top scorer and best player so far in these playoffs, will play Saturday's Game 5 against New Jersey. He's not going to be suspended for his vicious hit on a Devils player in Tampa Bay's Game 4 vic...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Friday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosXfinity: ToyotaCare 250 qualifying4 p.m.FS1Monster Energy Cup: Toyota Owners 400 qualifying5:30 p.m.FS1Xfinity: ToyotaCare 2507 p.m.FS1BaseballRoyals at Tigers1 p.m.MLBTwins at Rays7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMIndians at Orioles7 p.m.MLBMarlins at ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Updated: 7 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 19

Thursday’s scoreboardBaseballDixie Hollins 8, Canterbury 0Northeast 13, Lakewood 3Calvary Christian 5, Berkeley Prep 2
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

The Lightning's Victor Hedman is a finalist for the second consecutive year for the Norris Trophy, given to the top defenseman in the league. The other two finalists are Drew Doughty of the Kings and P.K. Subban of the Predators, it was announced Thu...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Turns out, Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is ready for the playoffs

Turns out, Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is ready for the playoffs

TAMPA — The second period was not even four minutes old Wednesday night when Devils right wing Patrick Maroon skated all alone toward Andrei Vasilevskiy. It was a moment that could turn a game and even a series.A goal and the score would be tie...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘Lightning is going to win the Stanley Cup’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘Lightning is going to win the Stanley Cup’

Former UCF and Lakewood High standout Shaquem Griffin understandably has been focused on the NFL draft next week in Arlington, Tex., where he is projected as a potential second-day pick.But the Lightning's playoff run  hasn't escaped his attenti...
Updated: 12 hours ago