Clint Bowyer picks up 1st win of season at Sonoma
SONOMA, Calif. — Clint Bowyer raced to his first victory on a road course, and first with Michael Waltrip Racing, by holding off Kurt Busch at Sonoma.
Bowyer dominated Sunday’s race by leading 70 of the 112 laps. Defending race winner Busch, in an unsponsored car, was all over the bumper of Bowyer’s Toyota late and got a final shot at taking the win away when caution flew with four laps remaining.
Only Busch damaged his car with roughly eight laps to go, and he worried the entire caution period whether his Chevrolet was ruined and had no chance of catching Bowyer through the two-lap overtime sprint to the finish.
Bowyer raced side-by-side with Busch at the green flag, then cleared Busch and pulled away for the win. Bowyer, who left Richard Childress Racing at the end of last season to join MWR, had to walk to Victory Lane to celebrate with his new crew after his car ran out of gas.
Fujita sees bounty probe as part smear campaign
NEW ORLEANS — Former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, a union leader with a record of criticizing the NFL’s player-safety record, sees elements of a “smear campaign” in a bounty investigation that has sullied his reputation.
Some NFL players agree, and question whether Fujita’s three-game suspension has something to do with retribution.
“I’m not saying the NFL is intentionally lying,” Fujita said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’ve been willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they may have just been working with the information they’ve been given, even though much of that information was inaccurate and lacked credibility.
“It’s their cavalier interpretation of everything that’s been way off. They clearly proceeded with a public smear campaign with very little regard for the truth.”
Saints linebacker Scott Shanle finds it hard to ignore the symmetry of the NFL portraying Fujita as a hypocrite on player-safety matters after Fujita had done the same thing to the league.
“When you look at Scott, who was here for one season (of the three spanned by the bounty probe), for him to get three games, I just felt like there had to be more of a personal issue with that,” Shanle said. “When you look at how outspoken he is and a lot of the issues he tries to address, it probably doesn’t sit well with the league.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the NFL stands by its finding that Fujita gave “more than token amounts” of money to a pool that also rewarded injury-producing hits called “cart-offs” and “knockouts.”
County pulls $30 million in 49ers stadium funding
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A California county has surprised both the San Francisco 49ers and city of Santa Clara leaders by pulling $30 million in tax funds from the new 49ers stadium.
Santa Clara County officials told the Mercury News on Saturday that they would rather spend the money on teachers.
The team and the city said voters had specifically earmarked redevelopment money to help build the $1.2 billion stadium and that the county has no right to keep it.
The 49ers and Santa Clara officials will craft an official response this week. Lawsuits are likely, according the newspaper.
The revocation occurred Friday by a new board that oversees property tax from redevelopment zones.
Penn State tries to move focus back to football
Just days before Jerry Sandusky was convicted on multiple counts of child sex abuse, an email was sent to thousands of Penn State alumni with a simple message:
“We are ONE TEAM. Join us.”
Inside was a link to a website for purchasing tickets to football games.
After seven wrenching months of utter turmoil, shock and sadness, Penn State is looking toward the future and trying to change the subject.
The Nittany Lions open their season on Sept. 1 at 107,000-seat Beaver Stadium against Ohio University. For legions of PSU fans, it can’t come fast enough.
“Time is going to have to heal the image and perception,” former Penn State quarterback Todd Blackledge said. “That’s going to happen sooner for some, later for others. It’s going to take time for people to think about Penn State and Penn State football without thinking about the Jerry Sandusky scandal.”
How much time will be in large part determined by new coach Bill O’Brien and his team.
O’Brien spent three weeks on the road in May trying to drum up support among alumni and fans still stinging from the loss of Joe Paterno, who was fired in November and died in January.
Gatlin wins 100, Gay a close 2nd at US trials
EUGENE, Ore. — Their comebacks far from complete, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay are on the right path.
For Gatlin, it’s a journey back from a doping past.
And for Gay, it’s a march toward full recovery after hip surgery nearly a year ago.
Gatlin and Gay just might be the best shots at chasing down Usain Bolt at the London Games. They showed they’re rounding into top form in the 100-meter final at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday. Gatlin won in 9.80 seconds, and Gay was second — 0.06 seconds behind.
“These two can really encourage each other and motivate each other to take on that other little island out there who’s been dominating America,” said former hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah, who represents Gatlin.
With their performances, Gatlin and Gay might have put Bolt and his Jamaican teammates on notice.
Colwill wins 3-meter; Viola wins 10-meter at trials
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — No matter what happened on the final dive, Kristian Ipsen and Troy Dumais were already bound for London. Chris Colwill didn’t have that security.
With his Olympic hopes on the line and a sliver of a lead, Colwill’s final dive of the U.S. Olympic trials men’s 3-meter springboard finals Sunday was the highest scoring dive of the entire competition.
Colwill rallied from third place to win the men’s 3-meter springboard, while Dumais held off Ipsen in the final round to finish second and reach his fourth Olympics in the event.
“Competing in the Olympics that definitely was the biggest pressure, but I felt like I did a good job and enjoy myself and have fun and not worry so much about how the event was going to go and embrace the environment,” Colwill said.
The other final on Sunday saw Brittany Viola, daughter of 1988 Cy Young Award winning pitcher Frank Viola, win the women’s 10-meter platform in her third attempt to make the Olympics.
Phelps sticks with 400 IM on 1st day of US trials
OMAHA, Neb. — Michael Phelps could have a showdown with rival Ryan Lochte on the very first day of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.
USA Swimming announced Sunday that Phelps passed on the deadline to scratch from the 400-meter individual medley, meaning the winningest Olympian ever will at least swim the preliminary round this morning. Should he qualify for the evening final and decide to race it, he likely would be pitted against Lochte and Tyler Clary, who went 1-2 in the event at last year’s world championships.
Phelps will swim in the 10th of 12 prelim heats. Clary will go in the 11th, followed by Lochte in the final heat.
Presti: Jackson, Van Gundy rumors are ‘rubbish’
OKLAHOMA CITY — General manager Sam Presti dismissed reports that 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson or former New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy could be the next coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, saying an extension with Scott Brooks is a top priority.
“To me, it’s rubbish,” Presti said Sunday when asked about an ESPN report that Jackson and Van Gundy were being considered as options if Brooks couldn’t be re-signed.
Brooks led Oklahoma City to the NBA Finals last season, but his current contract runs out at the end of the month. He has overseen a steady development since taking over the Thunder early in the 2008-09 season.
After winning 23 games that first season, Brooks took Oklahoma City to the playoffs in 2010, then to the Western Conference finals in 2011 before this season’s five-game loss to the Miami Heat in the finals.
By wire sources