Earn­hardt gets win in No. 3 Chevy

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

Rafael Nadal beat Andy Mur­ray and next faces To­mas Berdych in the Wim­ble­don fi­nal. To­mas Berdych of the Czech Re­pub­lic. Berdych fol­lowed up his quar­ter­fi­nal up­set of six-time cham­pion Fed­erer by oust­ing No. 3 No­vak Djokovic of Ser­bia 6-3, 7-6 (9), 6-3 on Fri­day.

This will be Nadal’s 10th Grand Slam fi­nal, Berdych’s first. Might Berdych feel some pres­sure be­cause of that?

“I hope so,” Nadal said with a smile, “but I don’t think so.”

Nadal re­peat­edly sprinted from one corner to an­other, track­ing down strokes that would be clean win­ners against any­one else. A few times, mem­bers of the ea­ger-to-roar crowd would ap­plaud, think­ing Mur­ray won a point, only to be hushed by other spec­ta­tors as play car­ried on.

When Nadal won two points in a row early in the sec­ond set with su­perb de­fense, Mur­ray put his palms up as if to ask, “How many great shots do I need to hit?”

“His back­hand’s good. His serve’s good. His fore­hand’s good. His move­ment is good,” Mur­ray said after­ward. “He does ev­ery­thing re­ally, re­ally well.”

Nadal is 7-3 against Berdych, in­clud­ing six con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries.

But the 24-year-old Berdych never has played with the con­fi­dence and pa­tience he’s dis­played while be­com­ing the first Czech man to reach the Wim­ble­don men’s fi­nal since Ivan Lendl in 1987.

He was bro­ken only once against Djokovic, dis­play­ing the same boom­ing serve and fore­hand that car­ried Berdych to the French Open semi­fi­nals a month ago and past Fed­erer on Wed­nes­day.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to the next one,” Berdych said, “and def­i­nitely not (fear­ing) any­body.”

DAY­TONA BEACH, Fla. — The No. 3 went back to vic­tory lane at Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speedway, where Dale Earn­hardt Jr. drove a car that hon­ored his late fa­ther to his first NASCAR vic­tory in more than three years.

Earn­hardt, win­less in any NASCAR points race since a Sprint Cup vic­tory at Michi­gan in 2008, took the lead on pit road un­der cau­tion with 26 laps to go Fri­day night in the Na­tion­wide Se­ries race. Run­ning a No. 3 Chevro­let with a Wran­gler paint scheme to honor his fa­ther’s in­duc­tion into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Earn­hardt brought his fans to their feet for the fi­nal sprint to the check­ered flag.

Paul Me­nard’s wreck with four laps to go put the out­come in jeop­ardy, and Earn­hardt, the leader, de­cided not to pit un­der the cau­tion. On old tires, he had to hold off Joey Logano and a slew of Cup reg­u­lars for his first Na­tion­wide vic­tory since Michi­gan in 2006.

“We lost ev­ery­thing here,” said Tony Eury Jr., Earn­hardt’s cousin and crew chief. “To come back with that num­ber and do this, it means ev­ery­thing.”

Dale Earn­hardt was killed in a last-lap ac­ci­dent in the 2001 Day­tona 500.

Earn­hardt Jr. agreed to drive the No. 3, his fa­ther’s famed num­ber, with the Wran­gler paint scheme that the elder Earn­hardt drove to one of his seven Cup cham­pi­onships. The pro­mo­tion cel­e­brated last month’s inaugural Hall of Fame in­duc­tion cer­e­mony and was a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Richard Chil­dress, who owns the rights to the No. 3.

“I was so wor­ried that I wasn’t go­ing to win,” Earn­hardt said. “Noth­ing but a win was good enough.”

It was Earn­hardt’s third time driv­ing the No. 3. “This is it. No more three for me,” he said.

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