April 18, 2014

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Rahal hopes to start season strong at St. Pete
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:20 PM

Associated Press


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Graham Rahal opened his IndyCar career with a win in his series debut.

Six seasons later, that victory through the streets of St. Petersburg stands as his lone trip to Victory Lane.

But so much has changed for Rahal since that 2008 win, particularly during this past offseason.

He returns to St. Pete this weekend with a high-profile new sponsor in Army National Guard, a veteran engineer in Bill Pappas and big hopes for the breakthrough season that seemed set to happen years ago.

“I think we have a good opportunity this year,” Rahal said. “I feel with National Guard it helps take our team to a whole new level. Of course, with Bill Pappas, John Dick, all the guys we brought onboard, that’s going to help a lot.”

Auto Racing Glance
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:19 PM

Associated Press



STP 500

Site: Martinsville, Va.

Schedule: Today, practice (Fox Sports 1, noon-1:30 p.m.), qualifying (Fox Sports 1, 4:30-6 p.m.); Saturday, practice (Fox Sports 1, 10-11 a.m.; Fox Sports 2, 1-2 p.m.); Sunday, race, 1 p.m. (Fox, 12:30-5 p.m.).

Track: Martinsville Speedway (oval, 0.526 miles).

Race distance: 263 miles, 500 laps.

Last year: Jimmie Johnson raced to his eighth Martinsville victory, leading 346 laps.

Last week: Kyle Busch won at Fontana for the second straight year, holding off Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart and brother Kurt Busch in a 2-lap sprint.

Big news yet to come from owners
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:18 PM

Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — NFL owners made plenty of news at their annual meetings, from shifting some video review oversight to the officiating headquarters to experimenting in the preseason with extra-point kicks from the 20-yard line.

They also vowed to clamp down on unsportsmanlike conduct and verbal abuse.

A significant item they didn’t vote on — but discussed at length — was expanding the playoffs.

Though the move wasn’t adopted in Orlando, it soon will be.

A guide to the NCAA regionals
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:24 PM


Associated Press

Just when you think the first weekend of the NCAA tournament couldn’t possibly top itself, it happened again.

Last year’s ride was a wild one, filled with massive upsets that blew up brackets and spectacular performances that made it one of the most entertaining starts in tournament history.

This year’s version was even better, the best weekend on the sports calendar starting with most of the brackets blown out on the first game of the first full day and including a four-point play to send a game to overtime.

Now that we’ve had time to catch our breath, it’s time to hold on tight again with the regional rounds up next.

Here’s some of what to keep an eye on:

Buckeyes seek replacement for RB Carlos Hyde
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:23 PM

Associated Press

COLUMBUS — It’ll be difficult for Ohio State to replace Carlos Hyde.

All the senior did a year ago for the Buckeyes was rush for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns in just 11 games, becoming the first running back to top 1,000 yards in Urban Meyer’s 12 years as a head coach.

Although it might be hard finding someone to fill his spot, that doesn’t mean it won’t get done.

“Someone has to step up and fill the shoes of Carlos Hyde,” running backs coach Stan Drayton said after a recent spring practice. “If it takes more than one guy to do that, I promise you it’s going to get done.”

There are several candidates in Ohio State’s spring camp. Ezekiel Elliott, the leading returning rusher at running back with 262 yards on only 30 carries, would seem to have the inside track.

“I just think that I’m a very versatile back, I can do a lot of things,” said the sophomore, a prized recruit from St. Louis. “I can run to the outside, I can run a tight zone, I’m a great pass catcher out of the back field. I think I just bring a little versatility to the table.”