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Denny Hamlin edges Kevin Harvick to cap doubleheader at Pocono

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June 28 (UPI) — Denny Hamlin fought off Kevin Harvick on Sunday night to win the second NASCAR Cup Series race of the weekend at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

Hamlin edged Harvick by 3.068 seconds to cap the doubleheader, reversing the finishing order of the two drivers from Saturday’s event at the 2.5-mile triangular racetrack in Pennsylvania. It was the first time in NASCAR history that the stock car series held two Cup Series races on the same weekend at the same track.

It marked Hamlin’s fourth victory of the season and his sixth at Pocono, tying NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for most all-time at the track. The win also was the 41st of Hamlin’s career — 19th-most in history — and broke a tie with Hall of Famer Mark Martin.

“Six. I can’t even put it into words how much it means to me,” Hamlin said. “I just tried to work through the traffic the best I could, and obviously [crew chief] Chris [Gabehart] was paying attention to the strategy there and made the right call.”

Erik Jones came in third — his best finish of the season. Chase Elliott finished fourth and Aric Almirola in fifth. Matt DiBenedetto (sixth), William Byron (seventh), Clint Bowyer (eighth), Alex Bowman (ninth) and Martin Truex Jr. (10th) rounded out the top 10.

The Cup Series’ next race is set for July 5 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.



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NFL legend Deion Sanders to coach football at Jackson State

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Sept. 21 (UPI) — Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders has been named the head football coach at Jackson State University in Mississippi.

Sanders, 53, announced the new role Sunday on his podcast 21st & Prime. Jackson State President Thomas Hudson and athletic director Ashley Robinson appeared on the show and confirmed the hire.

“It’s a match made in heaven,” Sanders said on the podcast. “God called me to Jackson State and to these men.”

“We are just so very fortunate to be in this space and have a man like this joining us,” Hudson said.

“It’s very big for Jackson State University,” Robinson said.

The longtime Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys cornerback has never coached a college football team, but has coached at the high school level.

Jackson State is expected to make the announcement at a news conference Monday morning.

Jackson State competes in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, which announced in August that it will play a six-game conference schedule between February 27 and late April. The season was scheduled to begin September 12, but was delayed by five months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Grambling, Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Mississippi Valley State, Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Alcorn State, Prairie View A&M, Southern University and Texas Southern also compete in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Sanders isn’t the first hall of famer to set foot on the Jackson, Miss., campus. Legendary Chicago Bears tailback Walter Payton spent four years at Jackson State and rushed for more than 3,500 yards before he was drafted as the fourth overall pick by the Bears in 1975. The school has also produced three others who were ultimately inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Jackson State fired coach John Hendrick in August after he posted a 4-8 record in 2019 and ended the season with three consecutive losses. The Tigers haven’t had a winning season since 2013.

Sanders, who played collegiately at Florida State, will finish his tenure as offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill, Texas, before he takes over at Jackson State.



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Celtics coach Brad Stevens meets with team leaders after locker room incident

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Sept. 18 (UPI) — Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens on Thursday held a late-night meeting with team leaders to clear the air after a Game 2 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.

League sources told ESPN and The Athletic on Friday that Celtics guards Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown needed to be separated by teammates after a heated confrontation inside the locker room following the Game 2 loss. According to ESPN, Stevens met with Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Brown and Smart to talk through the issues that led to the incident.

During the locker room spat and the late meeting between Stevens and the players, Smart’s focus had been on increasing the urgency among the team, according to the outlets. Boston has blown double-digit leads in both games of the East finals and trail the Heat 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.

Another part of the discussion in the late-night meeting was about making sure the team smoothly integrated All-Star forward Gordon Hayward back into the lineup, according to ESPN. The Celtics upgraded Hayward — who has been dealing with an ankle injury — to questionable Friday and are hopeful he can play a role off the bench in Saturday’s Game 3.

After the meeting, the coaching staff and players believed the issues were resolved and preparations could begin for the next game, according to ESPN.

Game 3 of the series is set for 8:30 p.m. EST inside the NBA bubble near Orlando, Fla.



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Patrick Reed takes 1-shot lead at U.S. Open; Tiger Woods misses cut

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Sept. 18 (UPI) — Patrick Reed surged to the lead in a challenging second round at the 2020 U.S. Open in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Reed, who had a hole-in-one Thursday and opened with a 66, shot an even-par 70 in Friday’s second round at Winged Foot to grab a one-stroke lead over Bryson DeChambeau.

Reed started on hole No. 10 and had two birdies and three bogeys over his first nine. He opened his last nine with a birdie on hole No. 1 and offset two bogeys with two birdies the rest of the way.

The second round of the tournament proved to be much different than the surprisingly soft first day, as only Hideki Matsuyama (69), Bubba Watson (69) and DeChambeau (68) shot below 70 on Friday. Nine other players shot an even-par 70, while the rest of the field struggled.

On Thursday, 21 players finished under par — the most in an opening round of a U.S. Open at Winged Foot — and 32 golfers were at least even.

Rafael Cabrera Bello and Harris English both shot 70s to enter the weekend in a third-place tie with Justin Thomas at 2-under par. Thomas, who led after the first round, carded a 3-over 73 to slip two spots.

Jason Kokrak (71) was a shot back of that group at 1-under par. Thomas Pieters (74), Xander Schauffele (72), Matthew Wolff (74), Brendon Todd (72) and Matsuyama were tied for seventh at even-par 140.

Dustin Johnson — the top-ranked player in the world — and Rory McIlroy were at 3-over par going into the third round. Rickie Fowler was at 6-over but managed to make the cut line.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods failed to make the cut at Winged Foot after another disappointing day. He followed up his first-round 73 with a 7-over 77 and will miss the third and fourth rounds at the U.S. Open for only the fourth time in his career.

“On this golf course it’s imperative that you hit fairways, and I did not do that,” Woods said. “The whole goal of entering an event is to win, and when I don’t give myself that opportunity over the weekend, it doesn’t feel good.

“… It was frustrating that I didn’t drive the ball as well as I needed to. It’s frustrating that I’m not going to be here for the weekend and be able to compete for this great championship. It feels like the way the golf course is changing — is turning — that anybody who makes the cut has the opportunity to win this championship. I didn’t get myself that opportunity.”

Collin Morikawa (71), Phil Mickelson (74), Jordan Spieth (81), Sergio Garcia (81), Tommy Fleetwood (74), Gary Woodland (74) and Justin Rose (77) also didn’t make the cut.

Moments from Tiger Wood’s career

Tiger Woods swings during the second round of the U.S. Open in Bethesda, Md., on June 13, 1997. The following April, Woods became the youngest Masters Tournament winner. Photo by Jay Clark/UPI | License Photo



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