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.

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 .

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 Digest

The supervisor is Fred Lief, followed by Simmi Buttar at 5 p.m. and Vin Cherwoo 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 For reruns, call the Service Desk (800 838-4616) or your local AP bureau. All times EDT.