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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Denny Hamlin won a race of attrition Saturday night, beating j
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Denny Hamlin won a race of attrition Saturday night, beating just seven other cars to the finish of the exhibition Sprint Unlimited. Only eight cars were running at the end of the 75-lap showcase at Daytona International Speedway on a bizarre night that saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr. end girlfriend Danica Patricks race and the Chevrolet pace car catch fire. "When you think youve seen it all, then you see that. Its never-ending," second-place finisher Brad Keselowski said about the pace car fire. "I thought it was race car. Someone said it was the pace car, and I couldnt help but start laughing." It was Hamlin who got the last laugh, winning the opening race of Speedweeks for the second time in his career. The victory proved that Hamlin has finally fully recovered from the fractured vertebra that cost him five races last season and caused him to struggle for months after his return. But he closed out the year with a victory -- his only win of 2013 -- in the season finale, and made that momentum last over the off-season. "The best car won, thats for sure," he said. "Were two in a row now." The third and final segment was a 20-lap sprint to the finish, and it had the second fewest number of drivers taking the checkered flag in event history. Only seven drivers finished the 1981 race. Hamlin charged to the front right before he took the white flag by diving to the inside and sailing past the few cars on the track. He then drove away in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. "That was survival of the fittest for sure," said Hamlin, also the winner as a rookie in 2006. "With three to go, we were at the tail end of a very small pack. Its really hard to get runs, but this car was phenomenal. You saw it those last couple of laps." This years race had a heavy fan involvement as sponsor Sprint allowed fans to vote for various aspects of the race. Among them was the starting order, how the segments were split and how the cars lined up in the final segment. But it was mostly for naught as half the 18-car field was knocked out six laps into the second segment when Matt Kenseth cut across the front of Joey Logano. It triggered a nine-car accident on the frontstretch -- including Stenhouses dramatic late hit into the side of Patricks car. "I got hit by my boyfriend. What a bummer," Patrick said. Stenhouse took blame for ending Patricks race. He had difficulty seeing in front of him because his hood was badly crumpled when he hit the back of Kurt Busch. "I just drilled her," Stenhouse said. "I didnt see anything from the time it started to the time it ended. Talking to Danica, I drilled her when she was pretty much sitting still. I couldnt see, couldnt turn." The accident left debris and mangled sheet metal all over the frontstretch and brought the race to a stop for just over 11 minutes. It ended the night for Tony Stewart, who was racing for the first time since he broke his right leg in an August sprint car crash, and teammates Patrick and Kurt Busch. Kevin Harvick, driving the fourth Stewart-Haas Racing entry in the field, seemed to have a Chevrolet capable of contending for the win but suffered serious damage that dropped him well off the pace. Stewart said he felt physically fine after the hard hit, which left his car turned nose-first into the wall. Jeff Gordons car was stuck behind Stewarts with its rear wheels raised by the front of Buschs car. "I was a little nervous ... but it doesnt feel bad at all," Stewart said. "I dont have any pain. Well see when the adrenaline wears off. But so far, everything feels really good. Im pretty happy with it." Kenseth, whose changing of lanes triggered the accident, said he had no idea Logano was on his inside when he moved. "Honestly, I had no idea anybody was inside of me," Kenseth said. "I feel bad all of those cars got wrecked." Kris Draper Jersey . In the opening game of his fourth-round match at the U.S. Open, the owner of 17 major titles got passed at the net twice, sailed a backhand long, then missed two forehands to get broken. Terry Sawchuk Jersey . Yoenis Cespedes proved he can play through a hurting right heel, giving Scott Kazmir and the As a spark with a pair of RBIs that helped spoil the Minnesota Twins home opener with an 8-3 victory on Monday. http://www.redwingshockeyauthentic.com/c...rsey/.Best moustache: How can we not give this to Lanny McDonald? Check out the duster for yourself. Brendan Shanahan Jersey . - Vince Carter, heading into his 17th NBA season, doesnt consider age a big issue anymore. Curtis Joseph Jersey . -- Desperate to stop Tom Bradys latest comeback bid, the Miami Dolphins sought help from a reserve safety making his NFL debut after being signed Tuesday off the San Francisco 49ers practice squad.AUGUSTA, Ga. -- If youre looking for someone not to pick at this years Masters, go with Ryan Moore. By winning the Par 3 tournament, he surely sealed his fate. After all, no one has ever taken the just-for-fun prelude Wednesday and gone on to collect a green jacket Sunday evening. Then again, if there was ever a year to break with tradition, this might be it. Tiger Woods is on the sidelines. A bunch of brash Augusta rookies are eager to fill his shoes. And the last two dozen majors have been divvied up among 21 winners. Good luck making sense of it all with the Masters beginning Thursday. "You never know," Moore said, savoring his two-stroke victory on the picturesque nine-hole course tucked away in a corner of Augusta National. "Someone has got to break that (Par 3) curse at some point in time, so hopefully its me. Who knows? I might go shoot 8 under or something, make a couple of hole-in-ones." As unlikely as that sounds, pretty much everything else is up for grabs at this Masters. Recovering from back surgery, Woods is sitting out the opening major of the year for the first time since turning pro. Even as his dominance waned in recent years, he was always the clear-cut favourite coming into Augusta, where he has won four times. Now, as Moore said, who knows? Jason Day, Sergio Garcia and former Masters champion Zach Johnson are the only players from the top 10 who have won anywhere in the world this year. Only one of the past seven winners on the PGA Tour was ranked in the top 75. "I think if youre outside the top 50 in the world this week, youve got a great chance," U.S. Open champion Justin Rose said with a laugh. Woods is out of golf until the summer, but the show goes on at a tournament that rarely fails to deliver plenty of drama. "We miss Tiger, as does the entire golf world," Masters chairman Billy Payne said. "Nevertheless, this is the Masters. This is what we hope is the best tournament in the world, one of the greatest sporting events. And I think we will have a very impressive audience and have another great champion to crown this year." That could be Phiil Mickelson, who last year won the British Open at age 42 and now has a chance to join Woods and Arnold Palmer with a fourth green jacket.dddddddddddd It could be Adam Scott, trying to take over as the worlds No. 1 player and join Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus as the only back-to-back winners. While Woods last won a green jacket in 2005, he had finished out of the top six only once since then. Thats what made him such a compelling figure at Augusta. He always seemed to be there. "Its a huge loss," Scott said. "But, as every year here, this event produces something special no matter what. It just has a way of doing it. Its not going to involve Tiger this year, but it will involve someone else and it will be a memorable event anyway." Rose falls on the side of experience -- knowing where to miss, knowing where you cant afford to miss, where the hole locations tend to be on the contoured greens and using the slope to get the ball close. "Always you can have the unknowns," he said. "But I would say 15 guys are pretty strong favourites." Fuzzy Zoeller was the last Augusta rookie to claim the green jacket in 1979, and the only other ones to do it were the first two: Horton Smith and Gene Sarazen. Then again, there are 24 first-timers in the 98-player field, a record (except for the first tournament), and none of them will concede an insurmountable learning curve. Besides, no one is dominating golf at the moment. Jimmy Walker has the most PGA Tour wins (three) this season, but this is his first Masters. Scott had a chance to go to No. 1 three weeks ago at Bay Hill, but he lost a three-shot lead in the final round to Matt Every, who had never won in his career. "Doesnt matter if youve played here once or if youve played here 50 times," said Patrick Reed, who has won three times in the past eight months. "When it comes down to it, its just going to be that whoever is playing the best is going to walk away with the trophy." Who knows? Maybe it will be Moore. Hes certainly not fretting over a supposed curse. "Im not afraid of it," he said. 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