Bowyer says he didn't cheat, blames tow truck for infraction
Clint Bowyer's car flunked inspection last weekend, but he gave a defiant defense of his Chase-opening victory on Friday, saying he "wouldn't cheat" to win a race. If anything should be blamed for the infraction, he told reporters, it's a tow truck.
"We have a lot more integrity for myself and our race team at RCR," Bowyer said.
Richard Childress, his owner, also blamed a wrecker for wrecking Bowyer's championship run. The defense: The wrecker hit the rear bumper when it pushed the No. 33 car into the winner's circle at New Hampshire.
"I don't think anyone could look us square in the face and say without a shadow of a doubt that the wrecker couldn't have moved that car sixty-thousandths" of an inch, Childress said.
Bowyer was penalized 150 points after Sunday's win at New Hampshire and fell from second to 12th in the standings, though he is appealing the ruling. He said his team was "triple sure" his car was legal after receiving a warning following the previous race.
Points leader Denny Hamlin, who starts fourth on Sunday at Dover, blasted Bowyer's illegal car. Hamlin was runner-up last week and said he knew he had "the fastest legal car," and that there was no way the push of a tow truck could flunk a car at inspection.
"They're just trying to salvage their season, basically, and they're going to do everything they can," said Hamlin.
Johnson takes Dover pole
Jimmie Johnson is back on top, shaking off a poor finish in the Chase opener to take the pole at Dover International Speedway in Delaware on Friday. The four-time defending Cup champion turned a lap of 155.736 mph at one of his favorite tracks. Johnson has five wins on the 1-mile concrete oval — one shy of his best at Charlotte and Martinsville — and swept the races here last year. He was 16th earlier this year.
■ Danica Patrick finished sixth in the K&N Pro Series East race Friday at Dover International Speedway for her first career top-10 finish in NASCAR. Patrick is pulling double-duty for JR Motorsports this weekend and will race in Saturday's Nationwide Series race.
NBA getting tougher on player tantrums
Tired of player tirades, the NBA plans to crack down this season on "overt" gestures, such as swinging a fist in the air in anger. And players can be called for technical fouls even if those actions weren't directed at a referee. The league wants more respect for the game and its officials, so it's expanding the list of unsportsmanlike actions that will be punishable. The same kind of crackdown during the 2006-07 season ignited a feud with the players, who eventually filed an unfair labor practice charge against the league with the National Labor Relations Board.
Nets going after Nuggets' Anthony
The Nets might be getting a superstar after all. After failing to lure LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh to New Jersey during the free-agency sweepstakes this summer, the Nets are engaged in trade talks to acquire Carmelo Anthony. A person close to the talks who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the team told The Associated Press on Friday that the Nets were involved in very complicated talks with the Nuggets for the small forward.
■ The Wizards signed forward Andray Blatche to a contract extension Friday that will pay him around $35 million over the next five years. Blatche's extension adds three years to his current contract, which had two years remaining. He averaged career highs of 14.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists last season.
■ Point guard Jonny Flynn probably will miss the first week of the season while he works his way back from hip surgery, Timberwolves President David Kahn said Friday. Flynn had the surgery on his left hip in July and was expected to miss three to four months. Kahn said Flynn will not play in a game for the Wolves until November. The season begins on Oct. 27. Rookie forward Wes Johnson has been hampered by a hamstring injury for most of the summer, and Coach Kurt Rambis said he will probably be limited to one practice a day early in training camp, which begins on Saturday.
■ The Grizzlies signed first-round draft picks Xavier Henry and Greivis Vasquez on Friday. The signings were completed just in time for camp, which starts Tuesday. The rookie-contract talks took longer than usual because the team tried the unconventional strategy of including performance bonuses in their deals to avoid guaranteeing the maximum salary allowable. Both signed multiyear deals, but additional terms were not disclosed. Teams can pay players up to 120 percent of their scale amount. The Grizzlies had wanted to tie the 20 percent to bonuses, but eventually relented.
■ Cavaliers point guard Mo Williams injured his right groin Friday and is expected to be limited for several weeks in training camp. The team said Williams "experienced right groin pain" on Friday during a workout at Cleveland Clinic Courts, the team's suburban training facility. Williams underwent an MRI that revealed inflammation but no tear.
■ The Heat have decided not to offer a contract to free-agent center Erick Dampier, who worked out for the team earlier this week. Dampier played the last six seasons in Dallas and was the Mavericks' starter when that team lost to Miami in the 2006 NBA Finals.
■ Maya Moore scored 15 points, and the United States put on an offensive clinic in a 108-52 rout of Senegal on Friday at the women's basketball world championship in Strava, Czech Republic. The Americans, who broke the 100-point mark for the 14th time in world championship play, will play France on Saturday.
Kansas 7-footer breaks foot
Kansas center Jeff Withey will be out four to six weeks with a broken foot, Coach Bill Self said Friday. The 7-footer was a redshirt freshman last season after transferring from Arizona. Self said doctors expect a full recovery. Withey appeared in 15 games last season and averaged 3 minutes, 1.3 points and 1.4 rebounds.
■ IUPUI fired women's coach Shann Hart amid accusations of NCAA rules violations. An IUPUI investigative committee recently submitted a report to the school's chancellor and a university lawyer regarding possible NCAA violations. The report followed an Indianapolis Star investigation that quoted 12 former players as saying the program violated NCAA rules on practice time and recruiting.
Nicanor wins at Belmont
Nicanor, Barbaro's brother, held on to beat Skipadate by a neck Friday in the $52,000 allowance feature at Belmont Park. Nicanor, a 4-year-old colt, set all the fractions for his fourth win in 11 starts. He is a full brother to Barbaro, the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner who sustained a catastrophic breakdown in the Preakness and was euthanized on Jan. 29, 2007.
■ A judge found a man accused of killing rookie Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others guilty of driving on a suspended license, but a jury went home Friday without reaching verdicts on murder and other charges. Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard Toohey found 23-year-old Andrew Gallo guilty of driving on a suspended license during a short bench trial Friday. Gallo has pleaded not guilty to three counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of 22-year-old Adenhart, 20-year-old Courtney Stewart and 25-year-old Henry Pearson.
■ The Kentucky women's tennis team won 10 of its 16 matches at the Roberta Alison Fall Classic Friday at Alabama. Doubles teammates Megan Broderick and Khristina Blajkevitch, and Jessica Stiles and Marni Venter will compete in their respective pools' championship matches Saturday.
The last word
Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki reached 200 hits for the 10th consecutive season on Thursday. He now has more 200-hit seasons than any player in AL history, breaking the record he shared with Ty Cobb. Pete Rose is the only other player to record 10 seasons with 200 or more hits. Asked what it meant to him to share a record with Rose, Suzuki was blunt. "I've never actually seen him play with eyes, and I've never met him before," he said through a translator before adding, in English:
"I don't care."