EDWARDS TO WALK AWAY
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In a stunning decision, NASCAR driver Carl Edwards is walking away from the final year of his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing less than two months after nearly winning his first Cup championship, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Joe Gibbs Racing scheduled two news conferences today in which Edwards is expected to announce he will not drive the No. 19 Toyota next season. The second announcement is that reigning Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez will replace Edwards in the Cup Series.
Edwards, 37, informed team owner Joe Gibbs right before Christmas that he no longer wanted to compete.
"This is comparable to Barry Sanders' retirement back in 1999, shocking and with loads of ability and time left in a very successful career," Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said. "I talked to Carl about a month ago and he didn't give any indication that he was considering this. It is a shock that just doesn't seem real."
FIFA approves bigger World Cup
The World Cup will grow from 32 to 48 teams in 2026 under a plan approved unanimously by FIFA's governing council, an enormous expansion of soccer's showpiece tournament that was hailed by supporters as a victory for inclusion but derided by critics as the latest money grab by an organization still emerging from a series of financial scandals.
ENGLAND: Host Manchester United closed in on the final of the English League Cup by beating injury-hit Hull 2-0 in the first leg of their semifinal.
ITALY: Manolo Gabbiadini scored for the third straight match as host Napoli beat Serie B side Spezia 3-1 to advance to the Italian Cup quarterfinals.
SPAIN: Antoine Griezmann scored a goal to help Atletico Madrid reach the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey despite a 3-2 home loss to Las Palmas.
MLS: St. Louis alderwoman Christine Ingrassia dropped her proposal to ask voters to approve $80 million to fund a stadium, threatening the effort to lure an expansion team.
Sharapova return set for April
Maria Sharapova will return from her 15-month doping ban at a tournament in Germany in April. Sharapova, 29, will be a wild card in her first official competition since she tested positive for meldonium at last year's Australian Open.
SYDNEY INTERNATIONAL: Top-ranked Angelique Kerber lost her opening match 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 to Darya Kasatkina ahead of her Australian Open title defense next week.
PLAYER BANNED: Romanian Alexandru-Daniel Carpen was banned for life after admitting to a charge of match-fixing.
DOPING: IAAF president Sebastian Coe was asked to appear for a second time before British legislators looking into corruption in athletics, following fresh evidence regarding his knowledge of a Russian doping scandal.
GYMNASTICS: Russian rhythmic gymnast Yana Kudryavtseva, who won 13 world championships from 2013-15, retired from competition at age 19.
HORSES: Trainer Ron Ellis was banned from entering any horses in the Breeders' Cup world championships this fall after being sanctioned by the event for a positive drug test involving his horse that finished second in last year's BC Sprint.
WINTER SPORTS: Frida Hansdotter of Sweden held on to a commanding first-run lead to win a women's World Cup night slalom in Flachau, Austria.