ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Helio Castroneves used a bold pass of Scott Dixon to win the IndyCar season opener through the streets of St. Petersburg, where he celebrated with a tribute to the late Dan Wheldon.
Castroneves stopped his Penske Racing Chevrolet in Turn 10, which earlier this year was renamed Dan Wheldon Way in honor of the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner. After climbing the fence, his traditional victory celebration, he ran to the street sign and patted it, then emotionally doubled over against the wall.
“No question about it, this is for our friend upstairs, Dan Wheldon,” Castroneves said.
Wheldon was killed in the October season finale at Las Vegas, and this season’s opener was in the Englishman’s adopted hometown. He lived in St. Petersburg, won the inaugural 2005 race, and his younger sister, Holly, dropped the green flag Sunday.
Castroneves’ victory came as the Brazilian is attempting to rebound from the worst year of his career. He went winless last season for the first time in IndyCar and finished 11th in the points.
The Penske Racing driver gave Chevrolet a win in its debut race. The engine manufacturer returned to IndyCar after a six-year absence.
Dixon finished second for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in a Honda. He was also runner-up to Castroneves in both 2006 and 2007. Ryan Hunter-Reay was third for Andretti Autosport, and gave Chevrolet two spots on the podium.
Boxing writer Bert Sugar dies of cardiac arrest
MOUNT KISKO, N.Y. — Bert Sugar, an iconic boxing writer and sports historian, has died. He was 75.
Jennifer Frawley, Sugar’s daughter, says cardiac arrest caused his death on Sunday at Northern Westchester Hospital. His wife, Suzanne, was by his side when he passed away.
Sugar was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005. According to the hall’s website, Sugar wrote more than 80 books, including “The 100 Greatest Boxers Of All Time.” He also appeared in a handful of films, including “The Great White Hype” starring Samuel Jackson.
Frawley says anyone wishing to honor Sugar should make a donation to the boxing hall. She says, “he was really a brilliant man.”
Venus Williams rallies for win at Key Biscayne
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Venus Williams’ career comeback now includes a come-from-behind win.
Williams erased a match point and rallied Sunday to outlast Aleksandra Wozniak 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open.
Williams is playing in her first tournament since withdrawing from the U.S. Open last August after being diagnosed with a fatigue-causing autoimmune disease. The three-set victory was her second in less than 48 hours, and took nearly three hours.
Wozniak served for the match at 5-4 in the final set, but dumped a forehand in the net when she had a match point. The tiebreaker swung Williams’ way when she smacked an overhead that clipped the net cord before landing softly for a winner and a 4-2 lead.
Her final shot was a 119-mph service winner.
No. 4-seeded Andy Murray, the 2009 champion, advanced in a walkover when Milos Raonic withdrew because of a sprained right ankle. Raonic said he doesn’t believe the injury is serious.
Grigor Dimitrov advanced by upsetting No. 7 Tomas Berdych 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. The 20-year-old Dimitrov improved to 1-9 against top 10 players.
No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic beat No. 18 Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.
Red Sox pitcher Jenks apologizes over DUI arrest
BOSTON — Red Sox pitcher Bobby Jenks has apologized for “distractions” caused by his arrest in Florida on charges of driving under the influence.
In a statement Sunday, he said he is embarrassed and apologized to his teammates and the Red Sox for distractions he said he may have caused.
Jenks said he will not comment further.
He was arrested Friday after a sheriff’s deputy saw his SUV driving erratically in Fort Myers, Fla. Jenks was released on bail.
An arrest report says Jenks told the deputy he took “too many muscle relaxers.” The deputy said Jenks was shaking uncontrollably and had a difficult time speaking.
The report says Jenks also told the deputy he hit another car at a strip club. The deputy found some damage on his bumper.
Construction on Quebec area set for September
QUEBEC — Quebec City says it will begin construction on a new NHL-style arena in September.
Mayor Regis Labeaume says the $400 million arena will hold about 18,000 people, saying it would be comparable to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ new building.
“Today, the dream becomes a reality,” he said at a news conference Sunday.
The arena is expected to be completed by September 2015.
The Quebecor media group has the naming rights for the future arena and was granted exclusive rights to manage the facility.
If the city gets an NHL team, Quebecor would pay $63.5 million for naming rights, plus $5 million in annual rent. Without one, the company would pay $33 million for the rights and an average of $3.15 million annually for rent.
The province and Quebec City have pledged millions in taxpayer money for the project.
Quebec lost the Nordiques in 1995, when they left to become the Colorado Avalanche.
Utley to miss Phils’ opener for 2nd straight year
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Chase Utley will miss the entire exhibition schedule for the second straight year and will not be in the Philadelphia Phillies’ opening-day lineup due to his injured knees.
The five-time All-Star, limited to 103 games last year when he didn’t play his first game until May 23, said Sunday he will not have season-ending surgery and does not have plans to retire. He says he feels better than he did at this point last year.
After arriving in camp last month positive with his offseason progression, Utley took regular batting practice and participated in light fielding work as spring training got underway. But his workouts slowed and then stopped.
Last week, he left camp to see a physical therapist Brett Fischer in Arizona.
Yanks’ Joba Chamberlain released from hospital
TAMPA, Fla. — Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain has been released from a hospital, three days after dislocating his right ankle bouncing on a trampoline.
New York general manager Brian Cashman said before the Yankees played a Detroit Tigers’ split squad Sunday that Chamberlain’s recovery is going as well as can be expected.
Chamberlain was hurt while playing with his son Thursday at a recreation spot. He needed surgery for the injury, in which a bone broke through the skin.
Cashman says Chamberlain will be in a cast for six weeks. There is no timetable for the 26-year-old to resume pitching.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pound right-hander was working his way back from elbow ligament replacement surgery and was expected to return in June.
Foxworth elected NFLPA president
MARCO ISLAND, Fla. — Domonique Foxworth has been elected president of the NFL Players Association without opposition.
In 2007, Foxworth was elected by the Broncos as a player representative. In 2008, he became the youngest vice president of the NFLPA Executive Committee.
“One of the most important things I learned from (former NFLPA president) Kevin (Mawae) is about responsibility,” Foxworth, a free agent cornerback, said to the board following his election.
Elected to serve on the executive committee are Matt Hasselbeck (Tennessee Titans), Matt Light (New England Patriots), Brandon Moore (New York Jets) and Ben Watson (Cleveland Browns).
They join current executive committee members Charlie Batch (Pittsburgh Steelers), Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints), Brian Dawkins (free agent), Scott Fujita (Cleveland Browns), Jeff Saturday (Green Bay Packers) and Brian Waters (New England Patriots) who were re-elected.