NASCAR levels Kenseth, Gibbs after engine fails inspection
NASCAR has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to engines, tires and fuel on a race car. Anything even slightly improper is dealt with severely. Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing were no exception, getting hit with one of the largest penalties in NASCAR history Wednesday after the engine from Kenseth's race-winning car at Kansas failed a post-race inspection.
The team had nothing to do with the error, and manufacturer Toyota immediately accepted responsibility for one of eight connecting rods failing to meet the minimum weight requirement by 3 grams — less than an empty envelope.
"We take full responsibility for this issue with the engine. JGR is not involved in the process of selecting parts or assembling ... engines," Toyota Racing Development President Lee White said.
Kenseth was stripped of everything but the trophy from Sunday's win at Kansas. He was docked 50 driver points in the standings — he earned only 48 points for the victory — and fell to 14th from eighth.
NASCAR also suspended crew chief Jason Ratcliff for six races and fined him $200,000. And in a rare move, Joe Gibbs had his owner's license suspended for the next six races and he won't earn car owner points during that time. JGR said it would appeal.
■ Johnny Sauter lost the Truck Series points lead Wednesday after NASCAR penalized him for an illegal fuel cell at Kansas. Sauter was docked 25 points, knocking him from first into a second-place tie with Jeb Burton, 13 points behind new leader Matt Crafton.
The illegal fuel cell was found on the No. 98 Toyota during an opening-day inspection and was not used in the race. NASCAR also suspended crew chief Joe Shear four races and fined him $10,000.
■ Denny Hamlin hasn't been cleared to race at his home track in Richmond, Va., as he had hoped. Hamlin sustained a compression fracture of a vertebra in his lower back in a last-lap accident at California on March 24. Doctors said he'd miss at least five races, but Hamlin hoped to return early to race at Richmond, where he's a two-time winner. Hamlin has missed three races so far.
■ Federal budgetary constraints mean the U.S. military will not provide a flyover at this year's Indy 500, an Indianapolis Motor Speedway spokesman said. Officials still expect a flyover, however, featuring decommissioned military aircraft now owned by civilians.
Godolphin 'appalled' at doping scandal
The head of Godolphin ordered one of his stables in Newmarket locked down and a full round of blood tests carried out on all his horses after one of his trainers was charged Wednesday in a major doping scandal. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, who is also the ruler of Dubai, said he is "appalled and angered" that samples from 11 of his horses at the Moulton Paddocks stables were found to contain traces of anabolic steroids. Trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was charged with violating multiple rules related to banned substances, as well as failing to keep medication records. He will appear before a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel Thursday and could be stripped of his license.
Cowboys Stadium to host first title game
The first championship game in the College Football Playoff will be held at Cowboys Stadium. Arlington, Texas, beat out Tampa, Fla., in the bidding to be the site of the first title game in the new playoff system. The game will be held Jan. 12, 2015.
For the Cotton Bowl and its organizers, landing a spot in the playoff rotation and the first title game is the culmination of a return to prominence. The game dates to 1937 but when the Bowl Championship Series was implemented in 1998, the Cotton Bowl was left out and lost much of its luster.
Georgia signs high-scoring forward
Georgia has signed Cameron Forte, one of the nation's top junior college scorers. The 6-foot-7 forward will have three years of eligibility after playing at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas.
Forte averaged 22.5 points for Howard after averaging 36.2 points as a senior at McClintock High School in Tempe, Ariz.
■ Syracuse's C.J. Fair, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, is returning for his senior season.
■ Southern California center Dewayne Dedmon says he's leaving school to enter the NBA Draft. He led the Trojans in rebounding (7.0 per game), blocks (66) and steals (34) this season.
■ Indiana guard Maurice Creek is leaving the Hoosiers to get more playing time. Coach Tom Crean said that Creek will graduate next week and will look to play next season as a graduate student.
Ex-NKU AD accused of diverting funds
The president of Northern Kentucky University says the school's fired athletic director told lawyers he spent up to $150,000 in university money for personal use and investigators have been notified.
The Kentucky Enquirer says Geoffrey Mearns wrote to the school's Board of Regents that he notified both federal authorities and the state attorney general about what he called a pattern of financial misconduct by Scott Eaton, who was fired March 16 for having intimate relationships with four NKU employees, including two reporting directly to him, and one adult student.
Legends lose 2nd in row in Asheville
The host Asheville Tourists made it two straight wins over the Lexington Legends with a 6-3 victory Wednesday night.
The Legends scored a run in the first, but Tom Murphy's two-run homer gave Asheville the lead in the bottom half. The Legends evened the score in the second on a single by Ethan Chapman, a stolen base and an RBI single by Terrance Gore.
The Tourists took the lead for good in the third when Kyle Von Tungeln doubled, stole third and scored on a single by Jose Rivera.
Asheville starter Shane Broyles (1-2) got the win. Miguel Almonte (0-3) was the starting and losing pitcher for the Legends.
Like Barcelona, Real Madrid humbled
First Bayern Munich, now Borussia Dortmund. Barcelona fell on Tuesday; 24 hours later Real Madrid fell in a manner so similar as to fuel suggestions that the European balance of power has moved north. For a second successive night a Spanish giant conceded four goals in Germany. Madrid at least scored once in the 4-1 rout highlighted by a four-goal blitz from Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski.
■ Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was banned for 10 matches by the English Football Association for biting an opponent during a Premier League match, ruling him out for the rest of the season.
The last word
Jack Nicklaus thinks Tiger Woods got the proper ruling — a two-stroke penalty, not disqualification — at the Masters. However, he's not so sure he agrees with the slow-play penalty given to 14-year-old Chinese phenom Guan Tianlang.
"He's in the eighth grade! The eighth grade and he's playing in the Masters! And he gets a penalty? Can you imagine giving a 14-year-old kid a penalty for slow play? There's hundreds of guys who are much slower probably than (he was) and they figure out a way to get away with it."