Patrick staying positive amid struggles on track
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - Danica Patrick refuses to get down on herself even though her first full season on the Sprint Cup series has been a struggle.
Patrick is 28th in the Sprint Cup point standings after 11 races and has just one top-10 finish, that in the season-opening Daytona 500.
Patrick, speaking at a promotional event Wednesday in Concord, N.C., told The Associated Press "at the end of the day it's about keeping your head up" and "not getting discouraged to the point where it takes away from potential."
Patrick has particularly struggled on 1.5-mile tracks, which leaves her concerned about her chances at Sunday's marathon Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
She says "if things don't go well it could get really bad" because of the length of the race.
NASCAR-HALL OF FAME
Family Ties: Jarrett, Petty enter NASCAR hall
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Former Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett and master mechanic Maurice Petty headline the latest group of inductees in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Dale Jarrett Wednesday joined his father Ned in the hall while Maurice becomes the fourth member of the storied Petty family to get in.
Tim Flock won two NASCAR titles in the 1950s and was elected. Jack Ingram was a champion in NASCAR's Late Model Sportsman division, the precursor to what's now the Nationwide Series. The final Hall of Famer was Fireball Roberts, who won 33 times from 1950 until his death in 1964 that came weeks after a crash in Charlotte.
Roberts lost a tiebreaker for the fifth spot a year ago to Buck Baker.
The group will be inducted into the hall in January.
Agent: Top pick Lotulelei signs with Carolina
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The agent for first-round draft pick Star Lotulelei says his client has signed a 4-year contract with the Carolina Panthers.
Financial terms were not released. The deal includes a team option for a fifth season.
Bruce Tollner says Lotulelei, the 14th overall pick in the NFL draft, is "extremely excited to officially become a Panther."
Tollner says Lotulelei signed the contract late Wednesday afternoon.
The Panthers have yet to announce the move.
The 6-foot-2, 311-pound Lotulelei was a 2-year starter at Utah and had 20 of his 86 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He had 6½ sacks.
Earlier in the day, the Panthers announced they've signed second-round draft pick Kawann Short, a defensive tackle from Purdue.
NC State tops Clemson 6-3 in ACC tournament
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Brett Austin drove in two runs during a four-run seventh inning to help North Carolina State beat Clemson 6-3 on Wednesday night in pool play at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Jake Fincher had an RBI single before Austin's two-run double in the seventh snapped a 2-2 tie for the fourth-seeded Wolfpack (43-13).
Grant Clyde also had a solo homer in the second for N.C. State, while reliever Josh Easley (5-2) earned the win by allowing a run and two hits in four innings.
Garrett Boulware had three hits and a solo homer in the ninth for the fifth-seeded Tigers (39-18), while starter Daniel Gossett (9-4) took the loss by allowing six runs - five earned - and six hits in 6 1-3 innings.
N.C. State and Clemson are off until Friday, with the Wolfpack facing No. 8 seed Miami and the Tigers facing top-seeded North Carolina in Pool A.
Virginia Tech beats Virginia 10-1 in ACC tourney
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Chad Pinder hit two home runs - including a sixth-inning grand slam - and drove in six runs to help Virginia Tech beat Virginia 10-1 on Wednesday in pool play of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Pinder and Tyler Horan each had three hits for the sixth-seeded Hokies (36-19), who had a six-run second inning against the third-seeded Cavaliers (45-10). Pinder hit a two-run shot in the second, then blew the game open with a blast over the left-field wall in the sixth.
Chad Morgan and Brendon Hayden added consecutive RBI doubles in the second for Virginia Tech, while Joe Mantiply (6-0) earned the win by allowing one run in seven innings.
Virginia starter Brandon Waddell (5-2) allowed six runs and 10 hits in four innings.
Virginia will face seventh-seeded Georgia Tech on Thursday in Pool B, while Virginia Tech will face No. 2 seed Florida State.
Sun Belt delays expanding to 12 teams
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson says plans to become a 12-team league are on hold.
Benson, speaking after Wednesday's conclusion of conference meetings in Destin, Fla., says the conference is comfortable with having an 11-team setup by 2014. He says member institutions don't want to rush to add another school simply so the league can host a conference championship game in football.
Benson says the decision to wait is aimed at seeking stability and ensuring a good geographic fit for a league currently in transition. Four schools are leaving this summer and a fifth next year. Those will be replaced by seven schools, one which does not have football and two which are joining for football only.
The Sun Belt will have eight football teams this coming season.
ACC-GEORGIA TECH-FLORIDA STATE
Georgia Tech tops Florida State 4-3 in ACC tourney
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - A.J. Murray and Mott Hyde hit back-to-back homers in the top of the ninth inning to help reigning champion Georgia Tech beat Florida State 4-3 on Wednesday in pool play at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
The seventh-seeded Yellow Jackets (34-23) led off the ninth with a pair of groundouts before Murray hit a solo shot to left against reliever Robby Coles to tie the game. Then Hyde followed with another shot to left to stun the second-seeded Seminoles (44-13).
Giovanny Alfonzo flied out to left in the bottom of the ninth to end the game for Florida State, with Coles (4-2) taking the loss.
Hyde had three hits and two RBIs for Georgia Tech, while reliever Daniel Palka (2-1) took the win with two scoreless innings of work.
Florida State will face sixth-seeded Virginia Tech on Thursday in Pool B, while Georgia Tech will face No. 3 seed Virginia.
AP Source: Coach K returning to US men's team
(AP) - A person with knowledge of the decision says Mike Krzyzewski has agreed to return as U.S. men's Olympic basketball coach.
Krzyzewski was originally expected to step down but instead will attempt to lead the Americans to a third straight gold medal, the person tells The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made.
Krzyzewski's return will be announced Thursday at a press conference at Duke.
The Hall of Fame coach has led the Americans since 2005, winning gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and the 2010 world basketball championship.
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