auto racing • 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 Patrick’s race and the Chevrolet pace car catch fire.
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. He closed out the year with a victory — his only win of 2013 — in the season finale, and made that momentum last over the offseason.
Half of 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 Stenhouse’s dramatic late hit into the side of Patrick’s car..
Frenchman breaks Bubka’s indoor mark
track and field • With Sergei Bubka in the crowd, France’s Renaud Lavillenie broke Bubka’s indoor pole vault world record in the same Ukrainian city of Donetsk more than 20 years later. With Bubka cheering from the stands in his hometown of Donetsk on Saturday, Lavillenie cleared the bar comfortably at 6.16 meters (20 feet, 2 ½ inches), almost to the day the pole vault great achieved 6.15 (20’2") on Feb. 21, 1993.
Bubka still holds the outdoor record of 6.14 (20’1¾") in 1994 — although he thinks Lavillenie could threaten that one, too.
Pitcher Mulder tears Achilles tendon
baseball • The Los Angeles Angels say pitcher Mark Mulder has torn his left Achilles tendon, cutting short his comeback and possibly bringing an end to his career. Mulder last pitched in the majors in 2008. The 36-year-old left-hander was hoping to make the Angels’ rotation after being invited in January to spring training but team spokesman Eric Kay said he felt a pop during agility drills on Saturday. Mulder will wait for the swelling to go down before surgery is scheduled. He then faces a six- to eight-month recovery, meaning his career could be over.
• The Seattle Mariners and first baseman Justin Smoak avoided arbitration by agreeing on a contract for the 2014 season with a club option for 2015. The Mariners announced Smoak’s new deal on Saturday. Smoak will earn $2,637,500 this season and $3.65 million next season if the option is picked up.
Karlovic, Nishikori to play for crown
tennis • Ivo Karlovic of Croatia advanced to the final of the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships when Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan retired Saturday in Memphis, Tenn., because of a neck injury after losing the opening set 6-1.
The big-serving Karlovic had seven aces in winning the set in 28 minutes.
Karlovic will play defending champion Kei Nishikori of Japan in the final Sunday at The Racquet Club. Nishikori beat American Michael Russell 6-3, 6-2.
From wire reports
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