Around the Nation (Feb. 20): Dave Blaney withdraws from Daytona 500

Associated Press Published:

Associated Press

AUTO RACING

Blaney withdraws from Daytona 500 contention

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Dave Blaney now has one reason to stay at Daytona International Speedway: his son, Ryan, is racing in the Truck Series.

When Ryan’s season opener is over Friday, dad will be hitting the road, too.

Dave Blaney withdrew from the Daytona 500 on Thursday, one day after he totaled his only car in the first full practice for “The Great American Race.”

Blaney posted the slowest pole-qualifying speed Sunday and was set to start last in the first of two Thursday night races that set the 43-car field for the season-opening Daytona 500. But Blaney got caught up in a seven-car accident Wednesday, a setback that cost him a shot at making NASCAR’s premier event.

Chevy believes pinched wire caused pace car fire

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Chevrolet believes a pinched wire caused a pace car fire during last week’s Sprint Unlimited exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway.

Jeff Chew, marketing manager for Chevrolet Racing, says preliminary reports indicate the pinched wire started the fire in the trunk of the Chevrolet SS pace car. Chew says “it appears we had a pinched wire in one of the strobe systems.”

Chew was on hand Thursday as the auto manufacturer unveiled three new pace cars to be used this weekend at Daytona: a Silverado 1500 for the Truck Series opener Friday, a Camaro SS for the Nationwide opener Saturday and a Chevrolet SS for the Daytona 500 on Sunday. All three have LED lighting systems that don’t use the same kind of wires that seemingly caused the fire.

Austin Dillon gets sponsorship from American Ethanol

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Daytona 500 pole-sitter Austin Dillon is getting another sponsor.

American Ethanol has partnered with Richard Childress Racing to sponsor Dillon in the famed No. 3 Chevrolet for select races this season. American Ethanol will be on Dillon’s car beginning next week at Phoenix International Raceway.

American Ethanol also will serve as an associate sponsor for Dillon’s car for the entire season, joining Daytona 500 sponsor Dow as well as Cheerios, Realtree Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops and the University of Northwestern Ohio.

Dillon is an official spokesman for American Ethanol, which says corn ethanol reduces emissions by 59 percent and that NASCAR drivers have run more than 5 million miles on renewable E15 fuel in the past several years.

Kligerman lands sponsor for Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — One day after flipping his car for the first time in his career, rookie Parker Kligerman landed a sponsor for the Daytona 500.

Lending Tree will be on the No. 30 Toyota for Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.

Kligerman’s primary car was destroyed in the first Daytona 500 practice Wednesday. The Toyota went airborne and ripped out a chunk of the grandstand fence. It then slid on its roof halfway down the front stretch at Daytona International Speedway.

It put Swan Racing into a deep hole because teammate Cole Whitt had wrecked his car earlier in the session. With Kligerman needing a backup, the team set out to repair Whitt’s car.

The funding from Lending Tree gives Swan Racing some breathing room for the rest of the week.

GOLF

McDowell makes another escape in Match Play

MARANA, Ariz.  — Getting to the round of 16 in the Match Play Championship was all that mattered Thursday. It proved too difficult for Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy. And it gave Graeme McDowell more gray hairs.

McDowell staged yet another remarkable rally. He never led until his par on the 18th for a 1-up win over Hideki Matsuyama. In two matches, he has stood on a tee box with his match all square only four times — two of those at the start of the match.

Ernie Els hit a superb chip from the collar of a bunker to knock out Rose in 19 holes. McIlroy went into the desert and couldn’t escape, losing in 19 holes to Harris English.

That means the top four seeds are gone with four rounds left.

FOOTBALL

Hoke announces new roles for defensive assistants

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan coach Brady Hoke has announced new roles for his defensive assistants.

Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will also be the team’s linebackers coach this year, while outside linebackers coach Roy Manning will work with cornerbacks instead. Inside linebackers coach Mark Smith will switch responsibilities and coach the defensive line.

Curt Mallory, who was the team’s secondary coach, will now be the safeties coach.

Michigan already fired offensive coordinator Al Borges and replaced him with Doug Nussmeier earlier this offseason.

Bielema says he expects slow-down proposal to pass

SEARCY, Ark. — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema says he expects a much-scrutinized proposal to prohibit snapping the ball until at least 10 seconds run off the 40-second play clock to pass when the NCAA playing rules oversight panel votes on March 6.

Bielema, speaking to the media before a meeting of the White County Razorback Club on Thursday night, reiterated his stance that the proposal is safety-based — saying he wants to be proactive and make a change before presented with a player’s “death certificate.”

The former Wisconsin coach pointed to the recent death of California football player Ted Agu during a training run, saying the inability to substitute an injured player between plays could lead to injury or death.

A host of up-tempo, no-huddle coaches, including Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, have come out publicly against the proposed rule.

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