Thursday Sports in Brief
ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. will take the weekend off from broadcasting to be with his wife and daughter after the three were in a plane crash landing Thursday near Bristol Motor Speedway.
The 44-year-old television analyst and retired driver was taken to a hospital for evaluation after the crash in east Tennessee. Earnhardt was with wife Amy, 15-month-old daughter Isla, a dog and two pilots.
“We’re incredibly grateful that Dale, his wife Amy, daughter Isla, and the two pilots are safe following today’s accident,” NBC Sports said in a statement. “After being discharged from the hospital, we communicated with Dale and his team, and we’re all in agreement that he should take this weekend off to be with his family.”
Federal Aviation Administration officials said a Cessna Citation rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport at 3:40 p.m. Thursday. FAA officials said the preliminary indication is that two pilots and three passengers were aboard the jet.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Matt DiBenedetto has been told by Leavine Family Racing he will not be brought back for a second season with the NASCAR team in 2020.
DiBenedetto called it “devastating news” in Thursday social media posts. He’s enjoying the best season of his career while driving the No. 95 Toyota and is ranked a career-best 23rd in points. He has four top top-10 finishes in the past eight races.
DiBenedetto’s post said the team told him Tuesday he was out. In a statement, the organization called DiBenedetto “a talented young driver.”
Leavine Family Racing has an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, and that team does not have enough seats to give its many young drivers. DiBenedetto will likely be replaced by either Christopher Bell in a promotion from the Xfinity Series, or Erik Jones if Gibbs moves Jones to Leavine to make room for a Cup seat at JGR for Bell.
DiBenedetto is likely to be a candidate for Front Row Motorsports’ No. 38 Ford.
MEDINAH, Ill. (AP) — Justin Thomas went from some of his worst golf on the range to a share of the course record at Medinah in about five hours Thursday.
Thomas made his first birdie after hitting a tree and his last one with a 60-foot putt on his way to a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead with Jason Kokrak after the opening round of the BMW Championship.
Tiger Woods, Mike Weir and Skip Kendall each shot 65 when Medinah hosted the PGA Championship in 1999 and 2006.
Woods won both those majors. Winning the second FedEx Cup playoff event might be more of a chore. One week after he withdrew after the first round at Liberty National, he managed a 71 that felt feeble compared with everyone else.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins is facing rehab from another major injury, and the Los Angeles Lakers have endured their first big problem of a season with championship expectations.
Cousins was diagnosed Thursday with a torn ACL in his left knee, an injury that could sideline the six-time All-Star big man for much — if not all — of this coming season. Cousins’ agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management, said a timeline for surgery is being discussed.
Cousins, who spent last season with Golden State, got hurt earlier this week in a workout in Las Vegas. The ACL tear comes about 18 months after he ruptured his left Achilles tendon, and roughly four months after he tore his left quadriceps muscle during this past season’s playoffs.
Those previous injuries cost him a lot of games and a lot of money.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — New Orleans’ iconic Superdome, home to the Saints football team and a symbol of the city’s revival after Hurricane Katrina, will undergo a $450 million facelift, under a financing plan approved Thursday that is aimed at keeping the NFL team in Louisiana for decades.
The 44-year-old domed stadium, which has hosted seven Super Bowls, will see its ramp system removed and replaced with elevators and escalators, club and suite levels expanded, new entry gates erected, concession stands added and access for people with disabilities improved.
Construction is expected to take four years, working around football and other event schedules, but will be completed before the Superdome hosts its next Super Bowl in 2024, said Doug Thornton, a New Orleans-based executive for SMG, which manages the facility.
MASON, Ohio (AP) — Nick Kyrgios has been fined $113,000 by the ATP after his second-round match at the Western & Southern Open.
The tour announced the penalties Thursday, a day after Kyrgios insulted chair umpire Fergus Murphy and left the court to smash two rackets during a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-2 loss to Karen Khachanov.
The ATP listed a breakdown of eight fines ranging from $3,000 to $20,000 each for violations such as unsportsmanlike conduct, verbal abuse and audible obscenity.
The tour also said it is “looking further into what happened during and immediately after the match” to determine whether additional fines or a suspension is warranted.
STOCKHOLM (AP) — The top female hockey players in Sweden refused to attend training camp Thursday or play in an upcoming international tournament in Finland, the latest such move by a women’s national team to get better compensation.
The Swedish Ice Hockey Federation said it had been informed of the looming boycott and was “surprised” at the decision.
A total of 43 national team players are involved in the boycott, which is seemingly about the lack of compensation they receive while on duty with the national team. The players were scheduled to attend a five-day camp starting Thursday outside Stockholm, ahead of the Five Nations Tournament — also involving Russia, Japan, Czech Republic and host Finland — beginning Tuesday.