CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to engines, tires and fuel on a race car. Anything even slightly improper is dealt with swiftly and severely. NASCAR always throws the book at offenders.
Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing were no exception, getting hit with one of the largest penalties in NASCAR history Wednesday after the engine from Kenseth’s race-winning car at Kansas failed a post-race inspection. The team had nothing to do with the error, and manufacturer Toyota immediately accepted responsibility for one of eight connecting rods failing to meet the minimum weight requirement by 3 grams — less than an empty envelope.
“We take full responsibility for this issue with the engine. JGR is not involved in the process of selecting parts or assembling the Cup Series engines,” Toyota Racing Development President Lee White said.
Kenseth was stripped of everything but the trophy from Sunday’s win at Kansas.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Denny Hamlin wasn’t cleared to race at his home track in Richmond.
Hamlin sustained a compression fracture of a vertebra in his lower back in a last-lap accident at California on March 24. Doctors said he’d miss at least five races, but Hamlin hoped to return early to race at Richmond, where he’s a two-time winner.
But Hamlin wasn’t cleared Wednesday to race after visits to Dr. Jerry Petty of Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates, and apparently consultations with others.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Penn State backup quarterback Steven Bench plans to transfer, a move that temporarily lessens the field for the starting job this fall.
Nittany Lions coach Bill O’Brien said in a statement that Bench was granted a release to leave the program. He will finish the spring semester at Penn State.
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Mike Shanahan is adjusting his gut when it comes to Robert Griffin III.
The Washington Redskins coach indicated he’s going to be more cautious with his franchise quarterback from now on, to the point that he’s going to make sure that Griffin “never plays if he’s not 100 percent.”
Griffin, the league’s offensive rookie of the year, is recovering from reconstructive surgery after reinjuring his right knee in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Shanahan has been criticized for not removing Griffin from the game earlier, especially when Griffin was limping noticeably after a throwing a touchdown pass in the first quarter.
NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he met with Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam on Tuesday about the federal investigation into his family’s truck stop chain.
The FBI alleges widespread fraud of customers at Pilot Flying J, the country’s largest diesel retailer. Haslam has said he won’t step aside from the Browns or as the company’s CEO.
Asked at a pre-draft event Wednesday if he was concerned, Goodell said “of course when you have that type of thing.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Russ Smith is staying at Louisville to chase another NCAA championship and a degree.
The 6-foot-1 guard is passing on the NBA draft to return for his senior season, aiming to become his family’s first college graduate and also win another title.
Smith’s decision contradicts father Russ Sr.’s declaration after the Cardinals’ NCAA championship win over Michigan that his son would enter the draft. Smith led Louisville (35-5) with 18.7 points per game this season, including 22.3 in the NCAA tournament.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse’s C.J. Fair is returning for his senior season.
The Orange’s leading scorer (14.5) and rebounder (6.9) last season said another year of college basketball and graduating were in his best interests.
NEW YORK (AP) — Neil Diamond is donating this week’s sales from “Sweet Caroline” after the tune that’s a staple at Fenway Park became a source of comfort following the explosions at the Boston Marathon.
Sales from Diamond’s song are up by 597 percent, Nielsen SoundScan said. Diamond’s representative said the singer will donate the recent sales to marathon bombing victims.
“Sweet Caroline” sold 19,000 tracks this week. It sold 2,800 tracks the previous week and 1.75 million tracks to date.