Sports briefs: Byron wins virtual Bristol; Bubba ‘rage quits’ early in race | Other Sports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — William Byron led the most laps in NASCAR’s first two virtual races and had nothing to show for his gaming skills. The third time out, he got the win.

Byron easily won the iRacing event Sunday at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway, where NASCAR would have been really racing before the coronavirus pandemic caused sports to shut down.

“Some things are different but a lot of things are similar and this is a racetrack I’ve always enjoyed coming to,” Byron said. “It’s fun to have some pressure on iRacing; I usually just run it to have some fun and get better.”

NASCAR changed the format this week and started with single-car qualifying to set the field for a pair of 50-lap heat races. Those heat races determined the starting order. Byron started from the pole and was never challenged.

The entertainment again came from the drivers, most of whom streamed their gaming experiences for fans to eavesdrop on the action and the arguing. Clint Bowyer was the in-race reporter and again delivered a hilarious performance.

“I got Bubbaed!” Bowyer shouted after he was moved out of line by Bubba Wallace. “I need a beer really badly.”

Wallace appeared to “rage quit” the race after the incident. “That’s why I don’t take this (crap) serious. Peace out,” Wallace said on his gaming stream.

After fans ripped him on Twitter, he laughed at how seriously some are taking iRacing with his response.

“I ruined so many peoples day by quitting … a video game,” he wrote. “Bahaha. A video game. Damn quarantine life is rough.” He also admitted to rage quitting in a second post.

Blue-Emu, one of Wallace’s sponsors, was apparently not pleased. “Bye bye Bubba. We’re interested in drivers, not quitters,” said a tweet on the account of the topical pain reliever cream. The company added a second tweet using the image of Donald Trump uttering his “You’re Fired” catchphrase from “The Apprentice.”

CORONAVIRUS

Soccer star hosts ‘lockdown party’

MANCHESTER, England — England defender Kyle Walker is facing disciplinary action from English Premier League team Manchester City after appearing to break lockdown conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 29-year-old Walker apologized on Sunday after it was widely reported he held a party involving two sex workers at his home last week, breaking the government’s rules on social distancing. The country is in the middle of a three-week lockdown.

Manchester City said it will now look into Walker’s conduct. Walker is the second high-profile EPL player to have been caught flouting the government’s guidelines after Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish. As of Sunday, Britain has recorded more than 4,900 virus deaths overall among nearly 48,000 reported cases.

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbian soccer player Aleksandar Prijovic has been sentenced to three months of home detention for flouting a curfew imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus. The 29-year-old striker who plays for Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad pleaded guilty at a video link trial in Belgrade on Saturday.

Police had arrested Prijovic and 19 others for gathering at a hotel lobby bar in Belgrade on Friday and violating the country’s 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. lockdown. Those who violate the restrictive measures could face up to three years in jail.

BASKETBALL

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans will enter the NBA draft and forego his final two seasons of eligibility. He said Sunday the “time is now” to pursue his dream of playing professionally.

The 6-foot-3 Hagans was named Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman and became one of the country’s best point guards this past season. However, his time at Kentucky ended in controversy as he argued with forward Nick Richards and coach John Calipari and reportedly refused to re-enter in the second half of a home loss to Tennessee. Calipari downplayed the incident afterward.

Hagans then requested time away from the team for personal reasons and did not travel to the season finale at Florida. He was expected to return for the Wildcats at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, but that event and the NCAA Tournament were canceled last month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas moved quickly to hire a new women’s basketball coach, luring Vic Schaefer away from powerhouse Mississippi State on Sunday.

Schaefer will inherit a Texas program that went 19-11 last season but will lose four of its top six scorers next season.

Schaefer, 59, was 221-62 games at Mississippi State and the Bulldogs lost in the NCAA Tournament championship game in 2017 and 2018. Mississippi State was 27-6 and ranked No. 9 before last season was cut short and the tournament canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. He also led Mississippi State to one of the greatest upsets in women’s basketball history when the team beat UConn in the Final Four in 2017, ending the Huskies 111-game winning streak.

FOOTBALL

WASHINGTON — Bobby Mitchell, the speedy NFL offensive star of the late 1950s and 1960s who became the Washington Redskins’ first black player on the way to a Hall of Fame career, has died. He was 84.

Mitchell split his career with the Cleveland Browns and Redskins and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983. The Hall of Fame said Sunday night that Mitchell’s family said he died in the afternoon but didn’t provide any other details.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Carolina Panthers spent more than $16 million to buy the land for its new practice facility in South Carolina, according to property records. The NFL team wrapped up the deal to buy 240 acres (97 hectares) near Interstate 77 in Rock Hill on March 27, according to the York County records obtained by The Herald of Rock Hill.

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