Stewart: Injury a bump in road
Tony Stewart, upbeat and noticeably thinner, won his first race since breaking his leg in a sprint car accident when he beat an employee around the office at Stewart-Haas Racing in his wheelchair.
His injury? The three-time NASCAR champion called it "a small bump in the road" and expects to be back in a race car in time for next year's Daytona 500.
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"I'm really trying to guard against setbacks right now," Stewart said. "A setback would really be bad, but everything's going according to schedule and may even be ahead of schedule... I'm very confident that in February we'll be OK."
Using a wheelchair to navigate his way around the race shop Tuesday, Stewart said he planned to return to the track this weekend at Richmond, Va., and hinted he'll use a motorized scooter because he's not yet ready to use the crutches he received last week.
This is the first significant injury for the 42-year-old owner/driver of SHR since his move to NASCAR in 1999. His streak of 521 consecutive starts came to an end with the injury.
"To go 35 years and run all the hundreds of races and thousands of races we've run, and to finally have an injury, it's like, this hasn't been a bad run of going out getting hurt," Stewart said. "I'm one of those believers that everything happens for a reason, and I feel lucky that I guess if it's going to happen that the timing of it happened in a scenario where I'm not going to miss next year."
He's also kept busy with SHR co-owner Gene Haas' urgent desire to expand the organization to four teams to accommodate Kurt Busch. Haas presented Stewart with his plan the day after Stewart was released from the hospital. Stewart was reluctant because he felt it was too short of a timetable to add a fourth driver for 2014. Unbeknownst to him, Haas had already offered Busch a contract.
"I was just worried about the time frame, and that's what he hired me for," Stewart said. "My job is to protect this company, to look out for it, to make sure what we do we do in the right timing."
Serena, Djokovic nearly perfect in routs
From an ace on the first point to a stinging return on the last, Serena Williams was close to perfect in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.
The score said it all: 6-0, 6-0. Williams is looking better with each match at the year's last Grand Slam tournament. With two more wins, she'll earn a fifth title at Flushing Meadows and 17th major championship overall. The No. 1-seeded Williams shut out 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, winning 53 of 71 points Tuesday. In Friday's semifinals, Williams will play Li Na. Top-seeded man Novak Djokovic showed similar focus, stringing together 13 straight games to close out a 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 thrashing of Marcel Granollers and advance to his 18th straight Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Djokovic, who won the 2011 U.S. Open and lost in last year's final to Andy Murray, next will face 21st-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, who was two points from defeat but came back to edge two-time major champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5.
Towns stars in Dominican team's win
UK commitment Karl Towns Jr. scored a team-high 16 points to help the Dominican national team defeat Paraguay 83-54 in the final game of pool play at the FIBA Americas tournament Tuesday. The Dominican team — coached by UK assistant Orlando Antigua — advanced to the tournament's second stage, which begins Thursday.
■ The NCAA denied forward Rakeem Buckles' appeal for a waiver request to play this season after following Coach Richard Pitino from Florida International to Minnesota. Buckles played three seasons at Louisville under Pitino's father, Rick. But he suffered two torn ACLs and sat out last season after transferring to FIU. Buckles was hopeful the NCAA would allow him to transfer without sitting out a season because FIU was recently given a post-season ban for academic issues under Isiah Thomas.
■ Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger pleaded not guilty Tuesday to domestic violence-related charges after allegedly repeatedly pinning his girlfriend to a bed and the floor. Later Tuesday, Sullinger released a statement through the Celtics in which he apologized and called the experience "humbling and embarrassing." Police said officers were called to Sullinger's residence Saturday evening by his girlfriend, Deann Smith. She told them that earlier that day he'd assaulted her after she accused him of cheating on her and began packing.
Taggart takes team to task after loss
Former Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart said "the honeymoon is over" at South Florida, and that was before McNeese State of the Football Championship Subdivision dominated the Bulls 53-21 in Taggart's debut as coach.
"I'd like to apologize to the Bulls nation for that performance," said Taggart, who questioned the effort of some of his players, going as far to say some of them quit. "That was awful. I'm very disappointed." Taggart had said he was eager to learn how his team would respond to adversity under game conditions. "The biggest nightmare happened," Taggart said. "That goes to show me that we're not as far as I thought we were, and we've got to get there. And we will get there. We're going to get there with the right guys."
■ Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley, who beat out three other players for the Vols' starting job, threw more TD passes (three) than incompletions (two) in a 45-0 blowout of Austin Peay on Saturday.
This weekend's opponent, Western Kentucky, is expected to present more of a challenge. The last time Worley faced a team coached by WKU Coach Bobby Petrino, he went 15-for-29 for 208 yards with one interception and no TD passes in a 49-7 loss to Arkansas. Worley says he's made "big strides" in the two years since that game.
"I was a true freshman at the time," Worley said. "Just being able to take a leadership role ... and have them respond to me and my playing style has been a major thing for me."
■ Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin said Johnny Manziel would be permitted to meet with the media at some point, but it won't be this week. "We feel like right now is not the time," Sumlin said.
Manziel has been under fire for emotional reactions in the Aggies' victory against Rice in the opener. "I don't think him coming out here saying a word is going to change some people's opinion about who he is," Sumlin said. "... People want to make a story about everything happening on this team."
U.S. women rip Mexico 7-0 in friendly
Abby Wambach extended her world record with her 161st international goal, Sydney Leroux scored four times in the first half, and the next generation for U.S. women's soccer blended nicely with the old guard Tuesday night as the Americans thumped Mexico 7-0 in a friendly at Washington's RFK Stadium.
Rachel Buehler and Morgan Brian also scored as the U.S. squad reconvened after a 2½ -month break while the National Women's Soccer League wrapped up its inaugural season. The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world, ran their overall unbeaten streak to 35 games and their home unbeaten streak to 73. They are 27-1-1 all-time against 24th-ranked Mexico.
■ Striker Jozy Altidore has been cleared by the U.S. national team medical staff to resume workouts, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced Tuesday, and Coach Juergen Klinsmann is optimistic he will be available for Friday's World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica in San Jose. Altidore has been out with a hamstring injury.
The last word
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart at his media conference on Tuesday:
"Oddly enough, I actually miss you guys, which tells you that I'm not healthy yet."