Weekend Sports in Brief
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — At long last, Helio Castroneves joined the exclusive club of four-time Indianapolis 500 winners on Sunday.
Then Spiderman scaled the Indianapolis Motor Speedway fence for his trademark victory celebration at the largest sporting event since the start of the pandemic.
Castroneves wasn’t done yet. At 46 and one of the oldest drivers in the field, he sprinted along the frontstretch of the speedway waving to the 135,000 fans in attendance. He was interrupted during his victory jog by multiple drivers and most of Team Penske, the organization he spent more than two decades with and won three Indy 500s.
But it was time for Roger Penske to part ways with Castroneves, who still believed he had plenty of racing ahead. Michael Shank picked him up for a partial schedule that included the Indy 500 and a shot for Castroneves to add to his legacy at the speedway.
His last Indy 500 win was in 2009, and Castroneves has been trying since to join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears, his former mentor at Team Penske, as the only four-time winners of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Mears was the last driver to join the club in 1991.
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Jason Kokrak played in 233 PGA Tour events before getting his first victory. The big hitter didn’t have to wait nearly as long to win again, and overcame a local favorite to do it at Colonial.
Kokrak shot an even-par 70 in a final-group showdown Sunday with resurgent Jordan Spieth, winning the Charles Schwab Challenge at 14-under 266. Kokral was two strokes better than Spieth, who hit his approach at No. 18 over the green and into the water.
While even on the day, Kokrak had five bogeys to go with his five birdies. He twice needed two shots to get out of bunkers, and had back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 15 and 16.
But when he struck his final 4-foot putt, he followed the ball to the cup and finally broke into a smile when he pulled it out and celebrated with caddie David Robinson.
A huge crowd followed the only contending group all day, most of them waiting to erupt for Dallas-native Spieth, who started the round with a one-stroke lead before a bogey-filled 73. Instead of his second win at Colonial, he finished as the runner-up at Hogan’s Alley for the third time. It was still Spieth’s eighth top-10 finish in his last 11 starts this year, one more top 10 than he had the previous two seasons combined.
SAO PAULO (AP) — Copa America is without a host country only two weeks before kickoff after South American soccer body CONMEBOL ruled out Argentina amid an increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.
The announcement Sunday night casts doubt on a tournament which has faced major hurdles since the start of the pandemic in March of last year.
CONMEBOL said on Twitter — and it was later confirmed by an official — that it was analyzing “the offer of other nations who showed interest in hosting the continental tournament,” without naming them. It also said a new host will be announced “soon.”
Copa America is scheduled to be played between June 13 and July 10. South American teams are already training for the tournament and two rounds of World Cup qualifiers are starting this week.
Like other continental tournaments, Copa America was initially scheduled for 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced its postponement. But difficulties mounted as the virus continued to strike the region hard and vaccine rollout remained slow.
Argentina is facing a surge of coronavirus infections, with strict lockdown measures imposed last weekend amid a seven-day average of 35,000 cases and 500 deaths. More than 77,000 people have died in the country due to the disease, as the virus continues to spread.
Colombia was dropped as a tournament co-host on May 20 amid a wave of protests against President Iván Duque.
SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Storm coach Dan Hughes abruptly announced his retirement on Sunday, saying the rigors of being a head coach in the WNBA has taken a toll.
Hughes, 66, said he will continue to serve as an assistant coach for the United States at the Tokyo Olympics, but he is handing over the duties of leading the Storm to assistant Noelle Quinn.
Hughes has coached in the WNBA for 20 years with stops in Charlotte, Cleveland, San Antonio and Seattle. He has coached the second-most games in league history (598) and is tied for third in victories with 286.
Hughes arrived in Seattle in 2018 and helped lead the Storm to their third WNBA title. He missed part of the 2019 season after undergoing surgery and treatment for a cancerous tumor in his digestive tract, and he was not cleared to be with the Storm in the WNBA bubble in Florida during the truncated 2020 season that was capped with Seattle’s fourth title.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports