NASCAR has huge hole to fill after Earnhardt retires

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- There was a moment during the Bristol Motor Speedway race that captured the essence of Dale Earnhardt Jr. He was walking briskly to the care center for a mandatory health check after a crash. Flanked by a television reporter on one side, a handler on the other, he was explaining why he wrecked while hustling to his destination.

The Latest: NASCAR CEO calls Earnhardt a proven leader

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The Latest on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s announcement that he will retire from racing at the end of the season (all times local): 4:55 p.m. NASCAR's chairman and CEO is praising Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s passion for the sport, saying it will "leave an impact on NASCAR that will be felt over its entire history.

Latest North Carolina and South Carolina sports

UNC-NCAA-PUBLIC RECORDS Bill addressing UNC school records on athletic groups OK'd RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A measure affirming documents held by University of North Carolina system schools about their member athletic organizations -- like the NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference -- are public records has cleared its first legislative hurdle. A Senate judiciary committee recommended the measure Monday. It's got one more panel to pass before reaching the chamber floor. Bill sponsor Sen.

Jimmie Johnson grabs rare Bristol win after Larson mishap

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) -- It was just last month when people were wondering what was wrong with Jimmie Johnson after he got off to a slow start. How silly it was to worry. Johnson grabbed a rare victory at Bristol Motor Speedway on Monday, giving him consecutive wins for the 11th time in his storied career.

BC-AP Sports Digest

The supervisor is Fred Lief, followed by Simmi Buttar at 5 p.m. and Dennis Waszak at 1 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports Photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. AP stories and accompanying photos also can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com For reruns, call the Service Desk (800 838-4616) or your local AP bureau. All times EDT.

Update on the latest sports

NBA PLAYOFFS-CAVALIERS-PACERS James helps Cavs hold off Pacers, earn sweep into 2nd round INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- LeBron James made a 3-pointer with 68 seconds left Sunday and the Cleveland Cavaliers hung on for a 106-102 series-clinching victory at Indiana. James finished with 33 points and 10 rebounds as he became the first player under the current playoff format to win 21 straight first-round games.

Rain washes out NASCAR race at Bristol until Monday

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) -- NASCAR has postponed the Monster Energy Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway because of heavy rain that is not expected to let up on Sunday. The race was pushed until Monday at 1 p.m. Weather has been a problem all weekend at Bristol, where Friday qualifications were washed out. On Saturday, the Xfinity Series race had a lengthy stoppage for rain.

Latest North Carolina, South Carolina sports

NC STATE-KEATTS CONTRACT NC State coach Keatts signs 6-year deal worth $2.2M annually RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- New North Carolina State coach Kevin Keatts has signed his six-year contract with the school worth at least $2.2 million per year. N.C. State officials released a copy of the contract Friday. The deal will pay the men's basketball coach an annual salary of $1.1 million plus another $1.

Update on the latest sports

NBA PLAYOFFS-SCHEDULE Celtics thump Bulls to get back in series. UNDATED (AP) -- Homecourt advantage has meant absolutely nothing to the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The top-seeded Celtics have bounced back from consecutive home losses to whip the Bulls, 104-87 and get within two games to one in the series.

Latest North Carolina, South Carolina sports

HURRICANES-FLYERS Canes' Bickell gets SO goal before retiring due to MS PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Bryan Bickell scored in the shootout of his final game before retiring because of multiple sclerosis, and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 Sunday in the season finale for both teams. During a stoppage in the first period, fans and players from both teams gave Bickell a standing ovation and stick tap.

Changed track, same result at Texas with Jimmie Johnson win

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Jimmie Johnson still knows how to get to Victory Lane at Texas, even from the back of the field on a track that had changed significantly since his first six wins there. And also while cramping because of dehydration late in the race that he won Sunday after charging under Joey Logano with 16 laps left .

Ganassi open to Kyle Larson in Indy 500 _ another year

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- As the Indianapolis 500 draws near, the tweets starts flooding Chip Ganassi's inbox all asking the same question: When will he enter Kyle Larson in the Indy 500? Larson wants to run the race, and Ganassi is open to entering the budding NASCAR star. But it has to make sense for the team, driver and organization.

Update on the latest in sports:

MASTERS-THE LATEST 4-way tie atop the Masters leaderboard AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Charley Hoffman saw his four-stroke lead disappear at the Masters, but he still owns a share of first at the midway point. Hoffman followed Thursday's 7-under-par 65 with a 75 that leaves him 4 under for the tournament and even with Sergio Garcia, Thomas Pieters and Rickie Fowler. Hoffman had enjoyed the largest Masters lead heading into a second round since 1955.

BC-AP Sports Preview Digest

Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Sunday. A full Sports Digest will be sent by about 3 p.m. All times EDT: ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Chris Archer takes the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays against Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees, who start youngsters Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Aaron Judge in the first game of the major league season. Game starts at 1:09 p.m. ST.

NASCAR's Jamie McMurray enjoying resurgence at age 40

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Jamie McMurray has become the "other" driver on Chip Ganassi Racing's two-car team. The 40-year-old veteran, in his 15th season on NASCAR's top circuit, hasn't won in more than four years. His teammate is 24-year-old Kyle Larson, the early points leader and one of racing's rising stars.

BC-AP Sports Digest

The supervisor is Ronald Blum., followed by Simmi Buttar at 5 p.m. and Dennis Waszak Jr. at 1 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports Photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. AP stories and accompanying photos also can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com For reruns, call the Service Desk (800 838-4616) or your local AP bureau. All times EDT.

COLUMN: NASCAR off to a fast start, but ratings still sink

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Bad news first: The overnight television ratings for NASCAR's race in California were down. The ratings were down for Phoenix, Las Vegas and Atlanta, too. Basically, nothing NASCAR does can stop this slide, it seems. So what's the good news? Well, NASCAR really couldn't have asked for a better start to its season. Five drivers won the first five races. The lead changed in the waning laps each time.

BC-AP Sports Digest

The supervisor is Simmi Buttar, followed by Vin Cherwoo at 5 p.m. and Jake Seiner at 1 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports Photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. AP stories and accompanying photos also can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com For reruns, call the Service Desk (800 838-4616) or your local AP bureau. All times EDT. TOP STORIES BKC--NCAA-KENTUCKY-NORTH CAROLINA MEMPHIS, Tenn.