National Sports Briefs
RICHMOND, Va. ó One week removed from a crash while leading, Tony Kanaan didn’t let himself believe he would win a race he dominated until he took the checkered flag Saturday night.
“I just said with about 10 laps to go, I said, `What’s going to happen now?”‘ the snake-bitten Andretti Green Racing star said after his 13th career victory. “I’m just like, `OK, something’s going to blow up, it’s going to rain, … maybe I’m going to spin in the rain.’
“That’s how funny racing is. Sometimes it comes when you least expect it.”
Kanaan made it happen by taking advantage of an out-of-sequence pit stop by front-running teammate Marco Andretti and ran away with the SunTrust Indy Challenge.
On a night when half of the 26 cars in the largest IndyCar Series field at Richmond International Raceway went home damaged, Kanaan got the good fortune he said he deserved for his first victory of the season. He got it by avoiding the near-constant mayhem caused by an event record-tying nine caution flags and beating Helio Castroneves by nearly 5 seconds.
The victory came a week after Kanaan led 71 laps at Iowa before crashing, absorbing what he said was one of the hardest hits of his life and his latest experience with bad luck.
He made up for it by beating the field out of the pits the only time he had to and paid homage to his crew. “They kept putting me in the lead and I kept letting them down,” he said.
Castroneves, who started 18th, used a blistering early pit stop to get into contention and finished second, followed by Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. ó The University of Arkansas reaches two milestones Monday ó its contract with fired basketball coach Nolan Richardson ends and the chancellor who helped show him the door is stepping down after 11 years at the Fayetteville campus.
“We need to let the healing begin,” said Chancellor John White, who said he was not aware his retirement date coincided with the last day on Richardson’s buyout agreement.
White and then-Athletic Director Frank Broyles fired Richardson on March 1, 2002, after the coach said he would leave if the school would buy out his contract. With the dismissal, the Razorbacks’ fundraising arm was obligated to pay Richardson $500,000 a year through June 30, 2008.
Richardson claimed racial bias after his firing and lost an $8.9 million federal court lawsuit alleging discrimination.
OMAHA, Neb. ó Ryan Lochte outswam rival Michael Phelps on opening day of the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday, even if it was only the preliminaries of the 400-meter individual medley.
Lochte was the fastest qualifier in 4 minutes, 13.38 seconds ó fourth-quickest in the world this year.
“Not bad,” he said. “I felt really good and smooth the whole way. It was a good first swim of the meet.”
Swimming in the last heat, Phelps touched in 4:13.43 to be second-quickest, well off the world record of 4:06.22 he set at last year’s world championships in Australia.
– EUGENE, Ore. ó Tyson Gay easily won his semifinal for the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials and seemed to save something for the final later Sunday.
His wind-aided 9.85 seconds was a fairly cut-and-dry performance compared to what happened a day earlier. On Saturday, Gay misjudged the finish in his opening heat and had to scramble to finish fourth, then in his quarterfinal a couple of hours later, ran 9.77 to break the American record that had stood since 1999.
– EUGENE, Ore. ó Aretha Thurmond, Suzy Powell-Roos and Stephanie Brown Trafton have qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in the women’s discus throw.