Castroneves pays tribute to Wheldon in opening win
Helio Castroneves stopped his first victory lap in more than a year when he made it to Dan Wheldon Way. He climbed from his car and climbed the fence, same as he does after every win.
Then Castroneves darted across the street and patted the sign that was erected in Turn 10 earlier this month as a tribute to the fallen IndyCar star. He then emotionally doubled over against the wall and seemed to be wiping tears away inside his helmet.
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"No question about it, this is for our friend upstairs, Dan Wheldon," Castroneves said. "I used to stop in Turn 1 and celebrate and, this time, I said I'm going to do something else in a different corner. I saw Turn 10; I didn't plan. As soon as I kind of celebrate, I look, and I saw Dan's sign. It's amazing. It was a perfect fit for this race, a perfect way to start the season."
The IndyCar Series finally returned to racing on Sunday, its first event since Wheldon was killed in last October's season finale. The opener was through the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., the Englishman's adopted hometown, where his wife and two sons still live and where Wheldon won the inaugural 2005 race. The pre-race ceremony included a tribute video of Wheldon, and his younger sister, Holly, dropped the green flag.
The race itself was somewhat anticlimactic, with Castroneves' bold pass of Scott Dixon 27 laps from the finish one of the few memorable moments on track.
Kennedy says he's staying at Ole Miss
Mississippi Coach Andy Kennedy released a statement Sunday through the university saying he's had "no discussions" about the open head coaching position at Alabama-Birmingham. Kennedy has been the Rebels' coach for six seasons, averaging more than 20 wins. Ole Miss has not advanced to the NCAA Tournament during his tenure and hasn't been to the post-season showcase since 2002. Kennedy played at Alabama-Birmingham from 1988 to 1991 under Coach Gene Bartow. The Blazers recently fired head coach Mike Davis. Ole Miss Chancellor Dr. Dan Jones said in the release that new athletics director Ross Bjork and Kennedy have "had great discussions" over the past few days and that both sides want Kennedy to stay with the Rebels.
Instant replay could change after meeting
NFL owners will consider several rules changes at their spring meetings this week, including adjustments to instant replay, the injured-reserve list and roster sizes. The trading deadline also might be moved back two weeks if the owners approve another proposal. Buffalo has proposed having the booth official make all decisions on replay reviews instead of referees. The booth official also would be allowed to review all turnovers just as he now does for all scoring plays. Pittsburgh suggests expanding the overtime rule used in the postseason — both sides must have an offensive possession if the receiving team kicks a field goal to start the extra period — to the regular season. Owners also will vote on allowing a designated player to return from injured reserve later in the season.
■ Domonique Foxworth has been elected president of the NFL Players Association without opposition. In 2007, Foxworth was elected by the Broncos as a player representative. In 2008, he became the youngest vice president of the NFLPA Executive Committee.
Hawks beat Jazz in four overtimes
Joe Johnson scored 37 points, Josh Smith added 22, and the host Hawks ended Utah's six-game winning streak with a 139-133 victory Sunday night in the NBA's first quadruple-overtime game since 1997. The four overtimes tied for the third-longest game in NBA history. It was the ninth NBA game to go four OTs and the first since Phoenix beat Portland 140-139 on Nov. 14, 1997. Atlanta has won four straight and six of seven. The Hawks improved to 30-20 and moved one-half game ahead of Indiana for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
■ Down two guards, the host Celtics got a career-best from reserve Avery Bradley. Bradley scored 23 points, including 15 in the first quarter to get the Boston off to a quick start, and the short-handed Celtics held off the Wizards 88-76 on Sunday. With Ray Allen (ankle) and Mickael Pietrus (head injury) out of the lineup, the Celtics might need more from Bradley as they try to catch Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division. Paul Pierce added 21 points and eight rebounds, Rajon Rondo had 11 assists, and Kevin Garnett finished with 10 points and six assists for the Celtics.
■ Kevin Love followed up his 51-point game with 30 points and 21 rebounds to lead the host Timberwolves to a 117-100 victory over the Nuggets on Sunday. Nuggets guard Aaron Afflalo served a one-game suspension without pay by the NBA for throwing an elbow to the head of Jazz forward Gordon Hayward on Friday.
Couples heading to Masters a winner
Fred Couples looks like a man who is ready for another run at the Masters. The 52-year-old made a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic in Saucier, Miss., capping an impressive showing at the Champions Tour event just two weeks before his annual trip to Augusta.
"I want to go into (the Masters) after winning a tournament like this feeling some confidence and I did get a lot today," Couples said. "I hit a lot of good shots. I would say I've got a lot to work on, but if I can drive it like that, the course will be easier."
■ Former Louisville golfer Sara Maude Juneau finished in a tie for second Sunday at the LPGA Futures Tour's season-opening tournament in Winter Haven, Fla. The 2011 graduate from Quebec, Canada, shot a 2-under 70 to finish at 4 under for the tournament, one shot back of Florida native Megan McChrystal. It was Juneau's best finish in 11 events on the Futures Tour, and she earned $10,038, almost double her total from all of last year.
She started Sunday's final round in a tie for 11th but put herself in contention on a windy day. "I thought I was top-10 but didn't know I had the chance for a playoff," Juneau said. "I'm definitely excited to start off the year that way."
■ Top-ranked Yani Tseng won the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif., for her second straight LPGA Tour title and third in five events this year, closing with a 2-under 70 for a six-stroke victory.
Men's tennis defeats Tide 4-1
The seventh-ranked UK men's tennis team remained undefeated in Southeastern Conference play with a 4-1 victory at Alabama on Sunday. Kentucky (18-4, 6-0 SEC) won both doubles matches that ended in a decision before sealing the match with three straight-sets singles wins. ... UK's women's tennis team lost 7-0 to No. 14 Alabama at home.
■ Auburn's softball team scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to earn a 2-1 victory over Kentucky. Sophomore Griffin Joiner's sacrifice fly in the top of the first inning accounted for the Cats' only run.
■ UK senior Tyler Reed swam a school-record time of 42.60 in the finals of the men's 100-freestyle to finish fifth in the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships late Saturday night.
The last word
Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson on the on-again, off-again Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout:
"Listen, if I was president, I would throw them in jail if they didn't fight."