Loudon, N.H. — As the last seed in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, Clint Bowyer didn’t land on many lists of legitimate title contenders.
Bowyer wasn’t mentioned in the same breath as four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson, and that spotlight on favorites Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick never drifted in his direction.
Bowyer was pressure-free as he headed into the Chase opener at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and with nothing to lose, he swung for the fences.
Bowyer dominated Sunday until a series of cautions found him trailing Tony Stewart over the closing laps of the Chase opener. With both drivers trying to nurse their sputtering fuel tanks to the finish, Bowyer found himself in position to pounce when Stewart’s tank ran dry a lap from the checkered flag.
It snapped an 88-race losing streak for Bowyer, jettisoned him from 12th in the standings to second and sent the Richard Childress Racing driver into Round 2 of the Chase loving his championship chances.
“I had a lot of fun. It was kind of a relaxing weekend,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be that way from now on. But I’m telling you, we launched ourselves into the pressure cooker early. You’ve got to be able to continue to have as much fun as we did this weekend. If we can do that, we can continue to have the success and run at this pace.”
Dixon races to 11th victory of year
Concord, N.C. — Larry Dixon raced to his 11th Top Fuel victory of the year, beating Doug Kalitta on Sunday in the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals to remain perfect in final-round appearances this season.
Wizards blank Chivas USA, 2-0
Carson, Calif. — Kei Kamara and Teal Bunbury scored second-half goals to help the Kansas City Wizards beat Chivas USA, 2-0, on Sunday night. Kamara opened the scoring in the 70th minute with his ninth goal this year.
Haas tops at Boise Open
Boise, Idaho — Hunter Haas won the Boise Open for his second Nationwide Tour victory of the year and fourth overall, closing with a 7-under 64 on Sunday to beat Daniel Summerhays by a stroke.
Haas matched the tournament record at 21 under at Hillcrest Country Club and earned $130,500 to jump from 12th to fourth on the money list with $331,766.
Davies bags 76th worldwide win
Benahavis, Spain — English star Laura Davies won the Spanish Women’s Open on Sunday for her 76th worldwide victory, closing with an even-par 71 for a two-stroke victory over American Christina Kim, England’s Rebecca Hudson and Australia’s Frances Bondad.
Lara prevails in Austria playoff
Atzenbrugg, Austria — Jose Manuel Lara of Spain won his second European Tour title Sunday, beating David Lynn of England on the first playoff hole at the Austrian Open.
Landis defends role at conference
Melbourne, Australia — Floyd Landis hit back at organizers of the road cycling world championships for attempting to have his invitation to an anti-doping conference revoked.
Landis, stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title because of doping, will join legal experts, scientists and academics on a panel at the New Pathways for Pro Cycling conference at Deakin University leading up to the world championships Sept. 29-Oct. 3 at Geelong.
Nibali triumphs at Spanish Vuelta
Madrid — Vincenzo Nibali won the Spanish Vuelta on Sunday after Tyler Farrar of the United States sprinted to victory in the final stage just ahead of Britain’s Mark Cavendish.
Turner picks ‘Zona over KU, others
Josiah Turner, a 6-foot-3-inch senior basketball point guard from Sacramento (Calif.) High, orally committed to the University of Arizona on Sunday at the conclusion of his official campus visit.
Rivals.com’s No. 10-rated player chose the Wildcats over Kansas University, UCLA, Oregon and Louisville.
Turner earlier had planned to make an official visit to KU for the Oct. 15 Late Night in the Phog. He also attended Late Night last year.
Arizona also has received a commitment from his AAU teammate, Nick Johnson.
The Wildcats are two over their NCAA-allowed limit of 12 scholarships for 2011-12.
Arizona and KU are both recruiting LeBryan Nash, 6-7 from Dallas Lincoln High, who recently told Zagsblog.net that Oklahoma State “might have a slight lead over everybody else and they might be the school to beat.” Nash, who will visit KU for Late Night, also is considering Baylor. He will announce his college choice on Oct. 21 on ESPN.
Auburn RT likely out for season
Auburn, Ala. — Auburn right tackle A.J. Greene is likely out for the season due to a left ankle injury. Coach Gene Chizik says “that’s the way it looks at this point.” He didn’t elaborate on the extent of the injury Sunday. Greene was hurt on Auburn’s initial drive of the fourth quarter in Saturday night’s 27-24 overtime victory over Clemson and was carted off the field.
Torre expected at N.Y. ceremony
New York — Joe Torre is expected at new Yankee Stadium for the first time for tonight’s revealing of a monument honoring late owner George Steinbrenner.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was to be on hand to escort Steinbrenner’s widow, Joan, to Monument Park for the ceremony tonight before a game against Tampa Bay. Torre and former Yankees captain Don Mattingly, who is to succeed Torre as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said Sunday they will attend the ceremony.
Cubs’ Colvin hospitalized
Miami — Cubs rookie Tyler Colvin was hospitalized Sunday after his chest was punctured by part of a shattered bat.
Colvin was standing on third base in the second inning of Chicago’s 13-3 victory at Florida when he was struck by a sliver of Welington Castillo’s maple bat. Castillo doubled on the play, and Colvin scored, but was replaced in the field in the bottom half.
A Cubs spokesman said Colvin was in stable condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital and is expected to remain there for the next few days for observation.
A’s Crisp may miss time
Minneapolis — Oakland outfielder Coco Crisp was held out of the Athletics’ lineup Sunday after breaking his left pinkie in Saturday’s loss at Minnesota.
Oakland manager Bob Geren said Crisp’s long-term status will be determined after he sees a hand specialist early this week.
Fish win keeps U.S. in World Group
Bogota, Colombia — Mardy Fish defeated Santiago Giraldo, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 4-6, 8-6, on Sunday to give the United States an insurmountable 3-1 lead over Colombia in the Davis Cup.
Winning the playoff match on outdoor red clay means the U.S. will remain in the World Group, the top tier of the Davis Cup. Colombia was trying to qualify for the first time.