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    The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world: ___ The Italian Winter Sports Federation (FISI) would like to postpone next year’s Alpine skiing world championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo until March 2022. Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malagò revealed the plans during an interview with RAI state TV on Sunday night. Malagò says “this is the best solution” in order to avoid the championships being canceled or shortened after the fallout in Italy from the coronavirus pandemic. Malagò says FISI would officially send the request to the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) board on Monday. Cortina was already forced to cancel the World Cup finals in March this year due to the advancing virus. Moving the worlds to March 2022 would put the event one month after the 2022 Beijing Olympics and likely force FIS to cancel that season’s finals in Méribel and Courchevel, France. The Cortina worlds are currently scheduled for Feb. 7-21, 2021. Worlds are usually held every other winter, in odd years. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Truth: George Karl hasn’t felt this healthy in 15, maybe even 20 years. He’s playing plenty of golf, bike riding and finding time for yoga. Basketball: The longtime NBA coach who has fought cancer three times is keeping the door open for getting back into the business, maybe as a head coach or possibly as an assistant. Truth + Basketball: The title of the 69-year-old Karl's new, speak-his-mind podcast that he's finding “soulful.” He may be leading a quasi-retired lifestyle but make no mistake — he's not retired. “I love the game as much as I ever have,' said Karl, who hasn't coached in the league since being let go by Sacramento following the 2016 season. 'If the right situation came up, I might coach again.” Karl has been quenching his thirst for hoops through his son, Coby, who's the head coach of the South Bay Lakers, a G League club. George Karl caught quite a few of his son's games in person before the season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. When he wasn't there, he was always available for advice. “I don’t get a lot of phone calls when he's winning. But when he’s losing I get a lot of phone calls,” cracked Karl, who has 1,175 career regular-season wins in stints with Cleveland, Golden State, Seattle, Milwaukee, Denver and Sacramento. Karl's name recently surfaced in an episode of “The Last Dance,” an ESPN and Netflix 10-part documentary series about Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Karl was called out by Jordan for not greeting the basketball great while they were at the same restaurant during the 1995-96 NBA Finals. Truth: He was in the restaurant and didn't go over. He doesn't recall ever walking by Jordan. Basketball: He warned all his players not to fraternize with Jordan and the Bulls during the series. He didn't want to give Jordan any added fuel. Turns out, Karl provided extra motivation by not saying hello to his fellow University of North Carolina Tar Heel. Jordan averaged 27.3 points during a series Chicago captured in six games. “I stood by my code with the team,' explained Karl, who released a book titled “ Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection” in 2017. “I don’t think I’m a rude person.' These days, Karl's eating well, getting plenty of exercise and living a 'lifestyle of less stress.” That all adds up to this: He hasn't felt this healthy in a while. Karl was treated for prostate cancer in 2005 and then in February 2010 announced he had neck cancer, which forced him to take a leave of absence from the Nuggets for treatment and miss the postseason (a first-round loss to Utah). Years later, he revealed he was diagnosed with melanoma of the eye. He received the Melanoma Research Foundation's Courage Award in 2019 for recognition “of the bravery he has shown in facing ocular melanoma.” “I don’t wake up worrying about cancer,' Karl said. 'But if my back hurts, I think it’s cancer. If my shoulder hurts, I think it’s bone cancer. The first thing I think is cancer. “Once you have cancer, you have a higher risk of getting another cancer. I know that. But my health is probably as good as it’s been in about 15 or 20 years.” He was saddened by the loss of Jerry Sloan, who died Friday at 78. Karl has fond memories of matchups against Sloan, who spent 23 seasons as coach of the Utah Jazz. “Jerry was a very loyal and very demanding old-school coach,” Karl said. Truth: Karl started his podcast with co-producers, Brett Goldberg, Bradley Burns and Mikey Goldenberg, in January to get fans to think differently about hoops. Basketball: There's plenty of hoops insight in the podcast. He's discussed a little bit of everything: — In an episode titled “The Curious Case of Carmelo,” he addresses his relationship with Carmelo Anthony while both were in Denver: “He was so talented. I look at myself as I failed a little bit with Melo. Because I couldn’t get him to the greatness of his talents. I feel I failed in getting him to the best of the best. I also feel I helped him get to being pretty damn good.” — In a special edition titled “Kobe,” Karl talked about Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January: “There’s no question Kobe Bryant made the game of basketball a better place, a better game.' — In one titled “The Fall: 1994 Sonics vs. Nuggets Playoffs,” Karl discussed top-seeded Seattle losing to the underdog Nuggets in Game 5: “Painful. Miserable. ... The disappointment of the city of Seattle still lingers in my mind of (Dikembe) Mutombo laying on his back with that ball in the air. I want to kick it.' Delving into specific topics is a reason why Karl enjoys the podcast: “We can go a little deeper and be a little more soulful,' Karl mused. As for a return to the coaching ranks, he's not ruling it out. Maybe later, though, after his teenage daughter heads to college. “Right now, I don’t mind mentoring my son and my friends,' Karl said, “and just hanging around the gym with the opportunity to talk basketball.' ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Tom Brady delivered the shot of the match that made it easy to forget the rest of his swings. Tiger Woods didn't miss a fairway and earned a small measure of revenge against Phil Mickelson. The PGA Tour is set to return in just over two weeks, and it has a tough act to follow. In the second and final charity match that brought live golf to TV, this exhibition was as entertaining as the real thing. Woods lagged a long birdie putt close enough that his partner, Peyton Manning, didn't have to putt. That secured a 1-up victory over Mickelson and Brady in “The Match: Champions for Charity.” The goal was to raise $10 million or more for COVID-19 relief funds, and online donations sent money climbing toward about twice that much. This made-for-TV exhibition would have have worth pay-per-view, the model Woods and Mickelson used for a $9 million winner-take-all match in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend in 2018 that Mickelson won in a playoff under lights. It felt forced, lacked banter and turned out to free because of technical issues. Throw in two NFL greats in Brady and Manning, and this allowed viewers to ride along for 18 holes at Medalist Golf Club among four of the biggest stars in sport. Justin Thomas pitched in as an on-course reporter, bringing a mixture of humor and insight with the right amount of words. Woods and Manning took the lead on the third hole and never trailed, building a 3-up lead in fourballs on the front nine, with Manning making two birdies (one was a net par). Brady, whose six Super Bowl titles are more than any NFL quarterback in history, took a beating on social media and in the broadcast booth from Charles Barkley, who twice offered $50,000 of his own money toward charity if Brady just hit the green on a par 3. He missed so far right it would be comparable to a pass that landed three rows into the stands. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton weighed in on Twitter, noting Brady signing as a free agent with Tampa Bay by saying he liked the “Florida” Brady much better. Brooks Koepka offered $100,000 if Brady could just make a par. One shot shut everyone up. Never mind that Brady had to take a penalty drop before getting back to the fairway on the par-5 seventh. With his fourth shot, with Barkley needling him relentlessly, Brady's shot landed beyond the pin and spun back into the cup. “Shut your mouth, Chuck,” said Brady, whose microphone piece dangled off the back of his pants. Woods still thought he won the hole with a 25-foot eagle putt that instead spun hard off the back of the lip. All that, and they ended up halving the hole. Donations for COVID-19 relief funds kept piling up, and the entertainment didn't stop even as the rain returned. It caused a 45-minute delay at the start, and as Woods said on the practice range, “I don't normally play in conditions like this.” Mickelson brought out his “Tiger Slayer” putter that he used to shoot 64 at Pebble Beach in 2012, the last time they were in the final group on the PGA Tour. Woods shot 75 that day. It didn't help Lefty with a few critical birdie putts to square the match, though he rolled in a 15-foot par putt to stay 1 down with two to play. The back nine was modified alternate shot — all players hit tee shots, and it was alternate shot from there. It was key for the quarterbacks to find the fairway for the pros to hit shots into the green, and Brady came through until the 18th. Woods was playing for the first time since Feb. 16 when he finished last at Riviera in Los Angeles. He chose not to play the next four weeks with his back not feeling just right, and then the pandemic shut down golf and sports worldwide. Woods looked sharp for the most part, with his game and his words. Mickelson on the fifth hole asked Woods to mark his ball from some 80 yards away. “You want me to mark with a U.S. Open medal,” said Woods, a three-time champion of the only major Mickelson hasn’t won. “Do you have one? I have some silver ones,” Mickelson said, referring to his record six runner-up finishes. Mickelson boasted about taking Woods down on his home course at Medalist, and now their TV matches are tied at 1, even with each getting a little help. Mickelson says he was a little nervous on the front nine until he found his groove, driving the green on the par-4 11th with Brady making a 20-footer for eagle that began their rally. “Phil said he was nervous. I know Tom and I were comparing notes,” Manning said. 'To be behind the ropes in these guys' worlds, to be in the arena with them, it was really a special experience. I was not comfortable the entire time. Knowing $20 million was raised and helping people going through tough times, it was an honor to be invited. “It's something I'll always remember.”
  • Chris “Pops” Bowyer sat in a lawn chair wearing a plain white T-shirt and drinking a beer alongside wife Jana and their friends outside of their motorhome a few hundred yards from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Bowyer knew he wasn't getting into the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday to see his Cup driver son Clint race, but decided to make the trek from Kansas to be close to the action. “Well, we're here,” said Bowyer, while dog Hank laid on the grass near his feet. “The kid is racing, so we're here.” Added Clint's mother, Jana: “We don't like it. We'd like to be in there where we could watch, but we can't.” Jana Bowyer certainly isn't alone in those feelings. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, NASCAR isn't allowing spectators into its races until further notice. The only people to see the race were those working it and those who live in the turn one condominiums at the track. But the Bowyers came anyway, taking up temporary residence in Jerome Little's Route 29 Pavilion RV campground and entertainment center located just across the street from the speedway. It was dual purpose trip for the Bowyers: they wanted to spend time with an old friend who is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) and also wanted to be there to support their son. Because the campground property isn't owned by CMS, Little was allowed to host those in motorhomes while still encouraging social distancing. In a normal year he hosts approximately 175 motorhomes and two acres of cars on his property. On Sunday there were only a handful of cars in the lot, and those were owned by members of the media. But there were 33 motorhomes on his properties, with race fans traveling from as far away as New York, Texas and Maine. “These fans are dedicated and they've come from all over the country,” Little said. Like many around the country, Little has taken a financial hit due to fans being shut out of sports, but the third-generation owner of the campground said, “honestly, I feel just terrible for the race fans.' If you didn't know better, you'd never know one of NASCAR's most popular races was in town. Considered the series' “crown jewel race,” CMS has attracted more than 100,000 fans to the event which began in 1960. But on Sunday it was eerily quiet, resembling a ghost town rather than the epicenter of the NASCAR world. Bruton Smith Boulevard, which is normally bustling with cars on race day, was virtually empty except for an occasional passing car or truck. Absent were the hundreds of North Carolina State Troopers who line the entrance ways to the track and the vendors selling NASCAR t-shirts, hats and flags. There were no pedestrians crossing the walkways, no bands blasting music outside the track, contributing to an eerily quiet atmosphere. All Charlotte Motor Speedway-owned campgrounds were closed and vacant. The Coca-Cola 600 promotional signs that normally adorn from the front of restaurants during race week were non-existent. Restaurants like Hooters, Twin Peaks and Iron Thunder Saloon, which are typically packed on race day, were half empty just two days after the state entered “phase two” of its coronavirus recovery plan, allowing them to open at 50 percent capacity with plenty of restrictions. “Usually we would be packed out with NASCAR fans,' said Mindy Segovia, the general manager of Iron Thunder Saloon, about a mile from the track. ”I figured that fans would go the racetrack and hang out outside of the track, but they are not allowing that either. So we're losing a lot of money.' Mike Dishong wasn't planning on making the trip to Solomons Island, Maryland, after learning fans wouldn't be allowed to attend the race. But when his 7-year-old grandson Carson, who lives a few miles from the track, pleaded with his grandparents on FaceTime last week to come down to Charlotte anyway and watch the race on TV and listen to the roar of the engines from Little's campground, he and his wife Peggy couldn't refuse. “That's what racing is about — family, friends and being together,” Dishong said. “It brought us together even though we're not going to be inside the track. We're having fun.” Jana Bowyer understands. She's sad that son Clint won't have the support of his family inside the track. “He hates that his family can't come, his wife and kids,” Jana Bowyer said. “And that goes for all of the fans, too. That's part of his racing day is meeting with the fans, shaking hands and signing autographs. So everybody is missing out on that.' Added Chris Bowyer: “When the driver's families can't come, that's tough. We're here to support him. This is a dangerous sport, and things happen.”
  • Time to dust off those boots and tune those skis. At least one resort high in the Colorado Rockies is planning to reopen after a more than two-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus. Arapahoe Basin will open Wednesday with restrictions, offering a sign of hope for a devastated industry and for mountain communities that were disproportionately affected by the disease early in the pandemic. The resort near the Continental Divide west of Denver will limit the number of skiers and snowboarders by requiring reservations, and guests must wear a face covering if they can't maintain social distancing. A-Basin's “beach,” the row of parking closest to the lifts, won't host any parties this spring, and tailgating is barred in all the parking lots. “This is going to be very different,” Alan Henceroth, the resort’s chief operating officer, wrote on his blog Sunday. A-Basin's reopening comes after the approval of Summit County’s request for a variance from the state public health order that closed resorts March 14. Gov. Jared Polis is expected to make an announcement involving all Colorado ski resorts Monday. But the rapidly melting snowpack in the high country means most won’t be able to reopen. So far, only A-Basin, which tops out at 13,050 feet (3,977 meters) above sea level, is planning to fire up its lifts. The resort usually stays open until early June and sometimes into early July, depending on the snowpack. Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, an industry group that represents 23 ski areas across the state, said reopening would do little to help financially battered resorts but would be a “a real shot of confidence moving forward.” “It would just be a huge morale booster after this experience,” she said shortly after resorts were forced to close. Still, some are choosing not to allow late spring skiing. Breckenridge Ski Resort toyed with the idea of reopening, but owner Vail Resorts announced Thursday it would instead focus on getting its summer operations going in late June or early July. “Our goal is not to win the race to reopen, it’s to look back one day with great pride in our track record on safety,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz wrote in a letter to employees. He added that the “tremendous enthusiasm” to get in a few more runs this season, however tempting, could be challenging for the resort to manage. A-Basin joins Oregon’s Timberline Lodge and Ski Area and Mt. Bachelor in reopening. The Oregon resorts opened in mid-May after Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order allowing skiing and snowboarding to resume across the state. “We believe that outdoor recreation, whether it’s skiing, snowboarding or otherwise, is good physically and psychologically for people,” Timberline spokesman John Burton said. “This is something that people need to move forward and be happy and healthy human beings.” The resort opened with a new reservation system and requires guests to answer a COVID-19 questionnaire and wear glasses or goggles, as well as masks and gloves. They also must keep their distance from anyone not in their group. Burton said the transition has been “going great” and offers the opportunity to teach other resorts how to operate if the coronavirus affects next winter's season. “It’s a good experience, but people need to be prepared for something very, very different,” Burton said. “It’s a new world.”
  • The roaring engines and flying dirt pellets briefly brought Gas City I-69 Speedway back to life Sunday. It wasn't the same. The grandstands were empty. Track organizers only allowed a few crew members per team to comply with Indiana's social gatherings limit. Gabe Wilkins even brought a car with the freshly painted word “covid' next to his No. 19. And despite being on center stage with nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway still silent, everyone sensed something was missing. Seventy-five miles away, the Indianapolis 500 was devoid of a crowd, the singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana,' even A.J. Foyt on its traditional race day. “I went to my first Indianapolis 500 in 1969, and I love the 500,' track promoter Jerry Gappens said. “So it sure hasn't felt like Memorial Day weekend. We're not the Indianapolis 500 but at least we have racing and that's a good sign.' Dirt tracks, like this one in northeastern Indiana, have served as the lifeblood of automobile racing for decades. Some of the sports biggest stars began their careers at places like Gas City, rolling cars off haulers and working with family members in parking lots to solve problems. Now, with the sports world revving up again, these sorts of venues could become a central component in establishing how to put fans back in the stands. Leisure sports are leading the way with golf courses rapidly reopening, celebrity foursomes becoming all the rage and outdoors sports such as fishing, hiking and cycling surging in popularity as state's relax stay-at-home orders. One reason people flock to those sports today is that social distancing can be more easily achieved in non-contact outdoor sports. But as Americans look for additional options to get out of their homes amid the global pandemic, automobile racing offers a unique position because spacious speedways can get fans into the track while keeping them spread apart. The already strict safety requirements in place for teams helped NASCAR return to action last week and three Cup races already have been run, all without fans. IndyCar plans to open its season June 6 at Texas, also without fans. Short tracks play a part, too. National Speedway Directory publisher Tim W. Frost estimates that of the 100,000 oval drivers, most weekend warrior types, compete on approximately 1,200 race tracks around the U.S. and Canada. Some are already experimenting. The United States Auto Club entertained fans at midget races in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday and Saturday. The World of Outlaws Series followed a similar script at Federated Auto Parts Speedway in Pevely, Missouri, where former Cup driver Kyle Larson won Saturday night. Organizers insist they're going strictly by the book with limited ticket sales and the implementation of social distancing. “We’ll go where we can go and do it as safely as we can,' said Chris Dolack, the Outlaws' director of public relations. “I know we’re Outlaws but we’re not going to go somewhere and break some law.' Gas City even postponed its first scheduled test for two weeks to follow the state's reopening plan. That didn't make drivers like 28-year-old Cole Ketcham and 42-year-old Andy Bishop happy, and it didn't help Gappens, who has already lost about 40% of his events. Recouping the money will be tough. Not surprisingly, the two drivers were near the front of the line when it started forming 90 minutes before the track opened for three two-hour test sessions and were happy to find themselves the center of attention. “We’re pretty much not in the spotlight any other day of the week, so why not?” Ketcham said. “All I’ve been doing is getting ready to race this season. It feels like it’s been about two offseasons now.” If the state's five-stage plan proceeds as hoped, Indy could host the first major events in front of crowds — three races including the Brickyard 400 scheduled for July 4-5. It would be a stark contrast to Sunday when five IndyCar drivers biked around the 2.5-mile oval. Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Marcus Ericsson and Felix Rosenqvist, both of Sweden, took it a step further by waking up early and cycling 20 miles to speedway on a warm, sunny, quiet morning without much traffic. Ericsson enjoys cycling so much he rides three times a week and made a four-hour jaunt Friday, the day Indy usually holds its final practice. He'd rather be doing his job. “It's strange, especially when the weather is perfect. It's a perfect day for the 500,' Ericsson said. “It's sad in a way, but it's still nice to be here.” He expects to return for IndyCar's July 4 race on Indy's road course and definitely plans to be back for the rescheduled 500 on Aug. 23. But until the fans return, nothing's going to feel normal. “I guess you can run the scenarios though your mind but until you run through that situation (without fans) you don’t know,' Bishop said. “The thrill of victory is to hear the hoots and hollers and boos from the fans. That to me is worth more than trophy.' ___ More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • The president of the Spanish soccer league said Sunday the competition could restart as early as June 11 with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis. Javier Tebas made the announcement a day after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that the league would be allowed to resume from June 8 as long as the country continued to keep the coronavirus outbreak in check. “It will depend on how the training progresses, but hopefully it will be possible to restart with our first match on Thursday, June 11,” Tebas said in his weekly Sunday night interview with league broadcaster Movistar. Tebas said the popular Seville derby in the top tier would be a good way to mark the return to competition and “honor those who have lost their lives” during the pandemic in Spain with more than 28,000 deaths. Teams will be allowed to train with groups of 14 players beginning on Monday, up from 10 players the past week. Full squad sessions are scheduled for upcoming weeks. Tebas said it remains impossible to guarantee the June 11 start date because the decision ultimately depends on how the pandemic progresses. He said all teams must go through all the phases already established in the league’s return-to-training protocol, but there could be different confinement measures in place for different regions of the country. Tebas made a call for all players to keep complying with the confinement rules still in place in Spain after four Sevilla players broke them this weekend. Franco Vázquez, Luuk de Jong, Lucas Ocampos and Ever Banega were seen together with several other people in a gathering, with photos put on social media. All four players published statements in which they apologized, and the club posted images of their apologies on its Twitter account. Tebas did not say whether the players would be punished but noted that it was important that they apologized. He said players have “to be careful and show responsibility” because they risked damaging football overall. Tebas said the schedule for the first four rounds after the league resumes is expected to be announced in early June. He said kickoff times will take high temperatures into account. The Sevilla-Betis game is expected to start at 10 p.m. local time (2000 GMT). Spain's top tier has 11 rounds left. Barcelona is top with a two-point lead over Real Madrid. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni
  • Brad Keselowski, in a contract year and trying to up his value in free agency, gave Roger Penske a victory on what should have been the most celebrated day in motorsports but was instead just a 6-plus hour NASCAR show. Keselowski extended Jimmie Johnson's losing streak to 102 races by holding off the seven-time NASCAR champion in overtime early Monday to win the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race on the NASCAR schedule. It was the first win for Keselowski this season, his first Coca-Cola 600 victory and the first win at this event for Ford since 2002. Keselowski celebrated as he usually does by waving a giant American flag out his window during his victory burnouts on the frontstretch of Charlotte Motor Speedway. When he first got out of the car for his network interview, the silence at the track was a downer. “I was kind of bummed. I wanted to win the 600 my whole life and wanted to win in front of everybody,” Keselowski said. 'But that’s not always how it works. I know there are fans that wish they could be in the stands.” In these unusual times of the coronavirus pandemic, NASCAR is still adapting in its return to racing a full week ago. This event was its third Cup race in seven days — all without spectators — and limited media access. Wearing a white Team Penske face mask, Keselowski went to the empty infield media center for a post-race news conference over Zoom. Unable to hear the questions, he shouted into the computer. “Can you talk really loud?” he yelled. “My ears are ringing.” The Sunday before Memorial Day is a supposed to be a smorgasbord of motorsports that begins with Formula One at the Monaco Grand Prix, then IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500, followed by NASCAR and its longest race on the calendar. The coronavirus pandemic has wiped out the first part of F1′s schedule and, like IndyCar, it is still waiting to start its season. Penske, the new owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has moved the Indy 500. It marks the first time since 1946 the 500 is not being run on Memorial Day weekend. NASCAR was able to resume its season under a health plan approved by state officials that allowed the sport to resume after a 10-week hiatus. NASCAR ran three events in South Carolina, and the Coca-Cola 600 kicks off four consecutive days of racing at Charlotte. A rain delay of nearly 90 minutes during the first stage of the race pushed the finish into Monday, but it still ended up just fine for Penske, the owner of Keselowski’s car who should have spent Sunday celebrating his first Indy 500 as owner of the national landmark. “This is one of the biggest days for him,' Keselowski said. “Winning never hurts. This is my 30th win and I think I have another 30 in me.” Johnson finished second, one spot ahead of devastated Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, as Chevrolet is still seeking its first win in the three Cup races since NASCAR resumed. But almost two hours after the race, NASCAR disqualified Johnson because his Chevrolet failed post-race inspection. “We think something must’ve broken, but won’t know until we get it back to the shop,” said Johnson crew chief Cliff Daniels. “Tough news after a strong night.” Elliott had a comfortable lead and was coasting to the win when Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron spun with a tire problem. “That’s got to be a joke,” Elliott said over his radio. Elliott was wrecked by Kyle Busch trying to race for the win at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday night. It led to Elliott flipping Busch the bird at Darlington. This time, he was briefly consoled by Busch as he climbed from his car on pit road. But he was openly disappointed for the second time in four days. “I was a lap-and-a-half away from winning the 600,” Elliott said. 'This week has been pretty unfortunate, we have had some tough losses.” His race was snatched from Elliott by the caution for Byron and then the pit decisions that followed. Elliott pitted and Keselowski led a train of eight cars that stayed on the track. He lined up in front of Alex Bowman on the inside line with Johnson — retiring from Cup racing at the end of the season — on the bottom ahead of Keselowski teammate Ryan Blaney. Keselowski got the push to get into clean air and denied Johnson a victory. “I feel like I have thrown this race away a handful of times and I thought we were going to lose it today,” Keselowski said. “I have lost it the way Chase lost it and it really stinks. And today we finally won it that way.”
  • New York Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb knew that he and first-year coach Walt Hopkins would have to make some tough decisions on the team's roster this year. He just didn't think they'd have to do it so quickly and without seeing players compete in training camp. The WNBA and the players’ union decided that teams would have to get their rosters under the salary cap by Tuesday so that players could start getting paid on June 1. It's left many teams with tough decisions on who they will cut and little time to figure it out. “It is the worst part of this job,” Kolb said in a phone interview. “These are dreams that are suddenly altered and you’re a large part of that. These are human beings, not just basketball players.” Connecticut Sun coach and general manager Curt Miller had set up his training camp roster so a few position battles would determine the final spots on the team. Now he'll have to make choices a different way. “Ultimately we have to decide, because we can’t do it all together, what skill set strength of theirs makes most sense to round out our roster,” Miller said. Teams usually have to cut their rosters to get under the salary cap before the regular season begins, which would have been on May 14. The WNBA postponed the start of the season in early April because of the coronavirus pandemic and is still focusing on a handful of scenarios that would allow it to play this year. Teams typically would be able to evaluate players by their on-the-court actions. Now it's more based on how quickly they pick things up on Zoom conference calls or how well they understand plays online. “The league office didn’t foresee a pandemic,” Kolb said in a phone interview. “They are doing the best they can do. It doesn’t take away from how difficult this was for us. We wish we could keep everybody or have some contingencies in place.” The Liberty have six rookies on the roster, including No. 1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu. They also have five international players, which has made life a little more difficult for Kolb and Hopkins than for some other teams because of the logistics involving travel. “It's definitely impacting us the most,” he said. “We have the most international players and with so much uncertainty and lack of answers at the moment, it puts us in a position to have to make decisions.” Kolb said he's been in constant contact with the international players, who are in China, Sweden, Australia, France and Canada. “We're taking everything into consideration including things we never anticipated before like long flights,' he said. “Now it's a big deal. How do they feel about that? Is our country going to allow these players into the United States? There's still so many unknowns.” Kolb said the team has been working with the league and its own immigration lawyers to try to figure things out for the foreign players. There is a chance one or more of the Liberty's international players could decide she wants to stay abroad. The team could then suspend her for the season, which would open up another roster spot. While players who are cut won't get paid, they will be offered health insurance until the end of June. There also is a chance that being let go won't mean the end of their WNBA dreams. Miller noted that the Sun cut Natisha Hiedeman in training camp last year and she came back to Connecticut when Layshia Clarendon got hurt late in the season. Hiedeman wound up playing in the semifinals and WNBA Finals. “You try to lead with compassion and empathy,” Miller said. “I don't know any other way to lead in this decision with them. These are the cards that we're all dealt and it doesn't mean it's fair. I'll tell them the story about Natisha and not to let a temporary set back define you.' ___ Follow Doug Feinberg on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg
  • Tennis, anyone? Not Sunday at the French Open. Nobody was there. Maybe they will be in September. It should have been the first day of the clay-court Grand Slam tournament held annually at Roland Garros — with thousands flocking to catch a glimpse of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Serena Williams. Instead, the grounds in leafy western Paris were deserted on a sunny, blue-sky day because of the coronavirus pandemic. “Every year it’s Roland Garros time, it’s a bit like tennis fever. I was looking forward to seeing quality tennis and having a day out again. There’s a certain mood, an atmosphere,” said 34-year-old Hector Snowman, who attended the tournament in 2019. “You see stars walking around there, it feels like a privilege to be there. Everyone’s expecting a French player to do well and they have their favorites like (Roger) Federer.” Court Philippe Chatrier, where 15,000 fans cheered Nadal’s record-extending 12th title last June, wouldn’t have needed the new roof that was supposed to debut in case of rain this year. Viewed from outside, peering through one of the site’s imposing iron gates, the towering roof looked grandiose with its 11 large sections, each 110 meters (360 feet) long and weighing 330 tons (660,000 pounds). Also visible: construction equipment left behind when France went into lockdown on March 17 littering the inside of Roland Garros. In early February, the French Tennis Federation proudly released a video to announce the roof was ready. A few weeks later, people were sheltering in place as the nation went into confinement. Soccer, rugby and tennis events all got called off. If the French Open does start as hoped on Sept. 20, it might have to be played with no spectators present on the 17 courts for health and safety reasons. The maze-like grounds of Roland Garros are narrow, crammed, stuffy and sinewy, making social distancing impossible. That would mean 10,000 fans missing out on watching Djokovic or Nadal on Court Suzanne Lenglen in the early rounds, and it would dash the FFT’s hopes of beating the record 520,000 fans who came to watch last year. Normally thousands of people would be pressed together on the surrounding streets, preparing to go through security as they walked toward the entrances down Avenue de la Porte d’Auteuil or Avenue Gordon Bennett. As folks waited in line to get checked, the chatter might have been something along these lines: — Can Nadal win a 13th championship in Paris to raise his total of major trophies to 20 and equal Federer’s record for men? — Will Williams win a 24th Grand Slam title to equal Margaret Court? — Will Djokovic claim an 18th major title to close in on Nadal and Federer? — Can Ash Barty repeat her 2019 French Open triumph, which earned her her first major championship? — Could Dominic Thiem, a runner-up to Nadal the past two years, finally win his first major? But on this day, the long lanes leading to the stadium looked like any other tree-lined street in Paris. There were no stewards barking out instructions or beefy security guards checking bags. No panama-hat wearing volunteers guiding fans around or checking tickets. Normally it would take 15 to 20 frustrating minutes to walk from the Porte d’Auteuil subway station to the main entrance. On Sunday, it took just six minutes. There was plenty of time and space to admire the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil, whose gardens stand opposite Roland Garros and have been there since 1898; the four white statues in front of the main gate look imperious under a cloudless sky. Only handfuls of people walked down the avenue or rode bikes, some wearing protective masks. One woman in a blue face covering stopped twice to take photos. The first time, she photographed the roof. The second time, she walked around the corner and snapped a shot of the stadium entrance. Tangled green foliage has draped itself over the main sign that says, “Fédération Française de Tennis” — French tennis federation — with “Stade Roland Garros” written underneath in black letters. Normally, that would not be visible with the amount of people around on Day 1 of the French Open. ___ More AP Tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports