Monday’s Sports In Brief

AUTO RACING

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Denny Hamlin won his second straight Daytona 500 and third overall, beating Ryan Blaney in an overtime photo finish marred by a terrifying crash that sent Ryan Newman to the hospital.

Newman had surged into the lead on the final lap when Blaney’s bumper caught the back of his Ford and sent Newman hard right into the wall. His car flipped, rolled, was hit on the driver’s side by another car, and finally skidded across the finish line engulfed in flames.

It took several minutes for his car to be rolled back onto its wheels. The 2008 Daytona 500 winner was placed in a waiting ambulance and taken directly to a hospital, and the damage to his Mustang was extensive. It appeared the entire roll cage designed to protect his head had caved.

Drivers were stricken with concern, including a rattled Corey LaJoie, the driver who hit Newman’s car as it was flipping.

Roughly two hours after the crash, NASCAR read a statement from Roush Fenway Racing that said Newman is in “serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening.”

Hamlin is the first driver since Sterling Marlin in 1995 to win consecutive Daytona 500s, but his celebration in victory lane was subdued.

BASEBALL

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Players who have won a World Series — and those who have come up short — seethed at Commissioner Rob Manfred’s reference to the sport’s championship trophy as merely a “piece of metal,” saying that comment reflected a disconnect between baseball’s boss and those who produce the product on the field.

As with so many things being talked about around the majors as spring training gets started, this all stems from the Houston Astros‘ sign-stealing scam in 2017 and 2018.

There have been calls for players involved to be punished in some way; MLB gave them immunity in exchange for cooperating with the investigation.

Some think the Astros should be stripped of their 2017 championship, but Manfred said this on Sunday in an interview with ESPN: “The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act.”

That phrasing did not sit well.

Reliever Ryan Doolittle — a member of the 2019 title-winning Washington Nationals — and other players noted that the official name of the hardware itself is The Commissioner’s Trophy.

Joe Musgrove, currently with the Pittsburgh Pirates, pitched for the 2017 Astros and said he gets others’ frustration with Manfred’s comments.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — These are the new sounds of spring for the Houston Astros: a fan banging on a trash can, another calling José Altuve a cheater.

That’s what greeted the Astros during their first full-squad workout. And with so many around baseball not ready to forgive or forget their sign stealing, this won’t be the last time they hear it.

Meanwhile, the two-time AL champions say they are focused on ignoring the noise, and hope the official start of spring training can signal a step forward for their scandal-ridden team.

The Astros have been bombarded with questions about the sign-stealing scam since arriving in Florida. A news conference last week with owner Jim Crane, Altuve and third baseman Alex Bregman featuring poorly worded apologies was roundly criticized and did little to quiet the furor around the league in the wake of the scandal.

NEW YORK (AP) — Houston Astros pitcher Francis Martes was suspended for the 2020 season following his second positive test for a performance-enhancing substance under baseball’s major league drug program.

Martes tested positive for Boldenone, the commissioner’s office said Monday. Boldenone is sold under the brand name Equipose and is used commonly on horses.

A 24-year-old right-hander, Martes is on the Astros’ 40-man major league roster but hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2017.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — Baylor and Kansas just keep winning, setting up a monumental showdown Saturday between the top-ranked Bears and No. 3 Jayhawks that could help decide not only the Big 12 title but the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament.

The two teams were separated once again by Gonzaga in the latest college basketball poll from The Associated Press. The Bears (23-1) had 48 first-place votes from the 63-member media panel, while the Bulldogs (26-1) had 14 first-place nods and the Jayhawks (23-3) had the only remaining first-place vote.

The Bears and Jayhawks both had business to handle before they collide on Saturday, though. Kansas beat Iowa State 91-71 at home Monday night while Baylor will be visiting Oklahoma on Tuesday night.

San Diego State (26-0) remained the nation’s last unbeaten team and was No. 4 in the latest poll, while Dayton (23-2) climbed one spot to fifth after wins over Rhode Island and Massachusetts and a rough week for then-No. 5 Louisville.

NEW YORK (AP) — UConn’s record streak of top five appearances in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll is over.

The Huskies fell to sixth, ending a run of 253 consecutive weeks as one of the first five teams in the Top 25. That historic stretch dated back to Feb. 5, 2007. Connecticut’s run dwarfs the No. 2 all-time mark of 96 set by Louisiana Tech in the 1980s.

The longest current streak is now held by No. 1 South Carolina at 11. The Gamecocks had a hand in ending the Huskies’ run by routing UConn last Monday night. The Huskies’ three losses this season have come to the Gamecocks, No. 2 Baylor and third-ranked Oregon. South Carolina earned 27 first-place votes from the national media panel. Baylor received two and Oregon one.

UConn’s streak may have continued had fourth-ranked Stanford not had a miracle finish to beat Colorado on Sunday. The Cardinal trailed by three with 12 seconds left when Kiana Williams tied the game. She then stole the ball from Mya Hollingshed and sank a 40-footer at the buzzer.

The Cardinal moved up four spots in the poll. Louisville moved into fifth after knocking off then-No. 4 N.C. State on Thursday.

NHL

DENVER (AP) — Nikita Kucherov stole the puck from Nathan MacKinnon and scored 3:03 into overtime, sending the Tampa Bay Lightning to a franchise-record 11th straight win, 4-3 over the Colorado Avalanche.

Cameron Gaunce and Alex Killorn scored 16 seconds apart during the Bolts’ three-goal second period before Colorado came back to force overtime.

Steven Stamkos also had a goal for Tampa Bay in the second period that erased a 1-0 deficit, and goaltender Curtis McElhinney stopped 24 shots despite getting bowled over by Colorado’s J.T. Compher midway through the third period.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The Vancouver Canucks acquired Tyler Toffoli from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for forward Tim Schaller, prospect Tyler Madden, a 2020 second-round pick and a conditional fourth-round selection in 2022.

The 27-year-old Toffoli has spent his entire career with the Kings and produced 139 goals and 290 points in 515 games. He also has nine goals and 21 points in 47 playoff games, winning the 2014 Stanley Cup with LA.

This season he has 18 goals and 34 points in 58 games, including a hat trick on Saturday in a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche in the Stadium Series outdoor game. He is the first player with three goals in an outdoor game.

GOLF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Mickey Wright, the golf great with a magnificent swing who won 13 majors among her 82 victories and gave the fledgling LPGA a crucial lift, died Monday of a heart attack. She was 85.

She had been hospitalized in Florida the last few weeks after a fall, said her lawyer, Sonia Pawluc.

Wright joined the LPGA in 1955 and the Hall of Famer’s 82 wins place her second on the all-time list behind Kathy Whitworth, who won 88. The Associated Press in 1999 named Wright the Female Golfer of the Century and Female Athlete of the Year in 1963 and 1964.

A Golf Magazine poll of experts in 2009 called her the best female golfer ever, and men’s champions Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson said Wright had the best swing they ever saw.