National sports briefs
CHARLOTTE — The driver of the safety truck that exploded into flames during the Daytona 500 thanked NASCAR fans Tuesday night for their concern.
Duane Barnes was driving the jet dryer that was hit under caution when something broke on Juan Pablo Montoya’s car and sent it careening into the truck. The collision caused a raging inferno that scorched the track and stopped Monday night’s race for just over two hours.
“I appreciate everyone for taking the time to write, call and ask how I am,” Barnes said in a statement. “I am OK, and I am amazed at how many people have wished me well. I am also glad Juan Pablo Montoya is OK, and thank him for his concern.”
• DALLAS — Matt Kenseth was sitting courtside at a Dallas Mavericks game only about 18 hours after winning the delayed Daytona 500.
Kenseth says he got only an hour or two of sleep after the race.
RALEIGH — North Carolina State linebacker D.J. Green says the NCAA has suspended him for the season after he tested positive for using a banned substance that he did not identify.
Green apologized in a statement. He says he was trying to gain weight during the offseason and took a supplement given to him by someone from his hometown in Macon, Ga.
He says he “wasn’t responsible enough to check with our coaches to make sure that it was something legal and now I’m paying the consequences.”
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Green had 28 tackles, one sack and one interception in seven games last year with the Wolfpack. He missed the final five games with an unspecified foot injury.
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is in Baltimore to have his surgically repaired left Achilles examined.
• FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine denied that his clubhouse alcohol ban was a public relations move, and pitcher Josh Beckett blamed “snitches” for leaking the story about players drinking beer and eating fried chicken during games while the team was plummeting to an unprecedented September collapse.
• The Red Sox also are saying goodbye to their captain. Catcher Jason Varitek has decided to retire after 15 seasons with the team, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The person requested anonymity because Varitek had not made an announcement.
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers say Kobe Bryant has a “nasal fracture” after he was smacked in the nose by Dwyane Wade during the NBA All-Star game.
• NEW YORK — On a night when the NBA All-Star game and Academy Awards went 1-on-1 on television, the basketball showcase produced its second-highest overnight rating since 2005.
TNT said the game in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday produced a 5.4 overnight. This is the highest metered-market overnight since the game seven years ago drew 5.9.