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Denny Hamlin suffers broken back in Fontana crash

NASCAR driver was battling with Joey Logano on the final lap of the Auto Club 400 before a collision sent Hamlin's car head-on into the wall.

March 25, 2013|Staff and Wire reports
  • Denny Hamlin suffered a broken back during a crash at Fontana during the Auto Club 400 on Sunday.
Denny Hamlin suffered a broken back during a crash at Fontana during the… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his lower back in the last-lap crash in Fontana, his team said Monday.

Hamlin, who has a history of back problems, damaged his L1 vertebra after his car slammed head-on into the inside wall at Auto Club Speedway during Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Hamlin, 32, hoped to be released from a nearby hospital Monday to fly home to North Carolina, his team Joe Gibbs Racing said.

The Cup series doesn't race again until April 7, at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. But it wasn't immediately known whether Hamlin would be able to drive by then or might require surgery.

Hamlin was battling former teammate Joey Logano for the win on the final lap of the Auto Club 400 when they collided, sending both cars spinning and into the wall. Hamlin initially climbed out of his No. 11 Toyota but quickly slumped to the ground, where medical workers treated him and placed him in an ambulance.

—Jim Peltz

Roger Penske bristled Monday at "petty" barbs against Logano for his wealthy upbringing and defended his driver in the fallout from Sunday's race.

In addition to being involved in the accident with Hamlin, Logano had a post-race altercation with Tony Stewart.

"Listen, Joey is a great driver and what happened at the end there wasn't anything more than hard racing," Penske told the Associated Press. "I stand behind him and I think he's going to go down as one of the greatest drivers to ever race."

ETC.

Speraw to coach U.S. team

UCLA men's volleyball Coach John Speraw has been hired as the head coach of the U.S. men's volleyball team in preparation for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Speraw says he will continue to coach the Bruins while he works with the national team, which is based in Anaheim.

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USC's athletic department received a $5-million gift to endow its community service program and fund a coordinator's position that will be named in honor of former quarterback Matt Barkley, the school announced.

The gift from the Otis Booth Foundation "will provide long-term funding for the program, which supports Trojan student-athletes' volunteer efforts to engage and inspire elementary-age children in the neighborhoods surrounding USC," the school said in a release.

Barkley, who will participate in a pro day workout for NFL scouts on Wednesday at USC, has been involved in local community service projects and also has traveled internationally on humanitarian trips.

—Gary Klein

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Free-agent pitcher Kyle Lohse and the Milwaukee Brewers reached agreement on a three-year contract worth $33 million.

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Scott Kazmir, a former Angel and two-time All-Star with Tampa Bay who hasn't pitched in the majors in almost two years, was chosen as the Cleveland Indians' No. 5 starter.

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Serena Williams rallied past Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round of the Sony Open, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning hired Jon Cooper as its new coach.

Cooper had been coaching Syracuse (N.Y.) of the AHL, Tampa Bay's top minor league affiliate.

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Virgil "Fire" Trucks, who threw two no-hitters for the Detroit Tigers in an otherwise dreadful 1952 season, has died. He was 95.

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