National Sports Briefs
CHARLOTTE ó NASCAR tweaked two rules for next month’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, apparently in an effort to limit the two-car tandem racing that has dominated at its two fastest tracks.
The first change ordered Wednesday was an increase in the size of the restrictor plate that will be used in the Oct. 23 race. The larger holes in the carburetor plates should lead to an increase of horsepower that could make the cars 2 to 3 mph faster.
NASCAR also ordered an adjustment on the pop-off valve in the cooling system that should lower the maximum water temperature in engines. A threat of overheating could prevent cars from staying hooked together for too long.
Drivers discovered over the last year that it’s faster to run at Daytona and Talladega in two-car tandems. That style has replaced the popular two- and three-wide packs, and fans have been lukewarm about the tandem racing.
Now, two cars hook up bumper-to-bumper, one clearly pushing the other until the potential for overheating forces them to separate and then swap. It’s made for record lead changes and exciting finishes, but is a totally different style than the white-knuckle pack racing fans loved.
Drivers, meanwhile, said it’s impossible to see anything when they are pushing another car and Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR’s most popular driver, has repeatedly railed against tandem racing.
“What kind of move can you make in racing like this?” he asked in July. “There ain’t no move you can make. You just hold it on the mat and try not to wreck into each other.”
DURHAM ó Duke has named senior Miles Plumlee and junior Ryan Kelly as team captains this season.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday that Plumlee and Kelly ěhave really grown in our program and worked hard to put themselves in this position.î
Plumlee has started 41 of his 101 games in three seasons at Duke and averaged 4.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 0.5 blocked shots. Kelly averaged four points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocked shots in 72 games. All 27 of his starts came last season when he averaged 6.6 points and 3.7 rebounds.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. ó The New Jersey Nets have hired former Duke standout Chris Carrawell to be an assistant at their NBA D League affiliate in Springfield, Mass.
Nets general manager of minor league operations Milton Lee announced the hiring on Tuesday. Carrawell will assist new Springfield Armor coach Bob MacKinnon, Jr.
The 33-year-old Carrawell joins the Armor after four years of working at his alma mater in a variety of administrative roles. He had been serving as a special assistant to the Duke womenís basketball program.
Following his collegiate playing career, Carrawell played a year in Italy before returning stateside to play in the inaugural season of the D League with the Asheville Altitude. Over the next six years, he played in Lithuania, Germany, Australia, the Philippines, the American Basketball Association and the Netherlands before retiring in 2007.
RALEIGH ó The Carolina Hurricanes have given team president and general manager Jim Rutherford a four-year contract extension.
The team said Thursday that Rutherfordís deal will run through the 2015-16 season ó his 30th with the organization.
The 62-year-old Rutherford has held his current job for 18 years and helped shepherd the team from Hartford to North Carolina in the mid-1990s.
Heís the longest-tenured general manager in club history and has the second-longest tenure of any GM in the NHL, behind only the New Jersey Devilsí Lou Lamoriello.
DETROIT ó Mike Modano announced that he is retiring after 21 seasons in the NHL, a career that includes a Stanley Cup championship along with 561 goals and 1,374 points ó both records for U.S.-born players.
A skate sliced a tendon in his right wrist and limited him to 40 games and career lows with four goals and 15 points.
Modano led the Dallas Stars to the Stanley Cup title in 1999.
ROME ó Lance Armstrong made payments to an Italian physician banned for doping through a front company in Switzerland, an Italian newspaper reported.
Armstrong has long denied doping.