Robert Glenn “Junior” Johnson, the moonshine runner turned NASCAR driver described as “The Last American Hero” by author Tom Wolfe in a 1965 article for Esquire, died Friday. He was 88.

NASCAR announced the death of Johnson, the winner of 50 races as a driver and 132 as an owner. He was a member of the inaugural class inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010.

“From his early days running moonshine through the end of his life, Junior wholly embodied the NASCAR spirit,” NASCAR Chairman Jim France said in a statement. “He was an inaugural NASCAR Hall of Famer, a nod to an extraordinary career as both a driver and team owner. Between his on-track accomplishments and his introduction of (sponsor) Winston to the sport, few have contributed to the success of NASCAR as Junior has.

“The entire NASCAR family is saddened by the loss of a true giant of our sport, and we offer our deepest condolences to Junior’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

From North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, Johnson was named one of NASCAR’s greatest drivers in 1998 after a 14-year career that ended in 1966 and included a win in the 1960 Daytona 500. He honed his driving skills running moonshine through the North Carolina hills, a crime for which he received a federal conviction in 1956 and a full presidential pardon in 1986 from President Ronald Reagan.

His was first immortalized by Wolfe in 1965 and later in a 1973 movie adaptation starring Jeff Bridges.


ECHL: Dillan Fox scored the only goal in a shootout and lifted the Maine Mariners to a 4-3 win over the Adirondack Thunder on Friday night at Glens Falls, New York.

The Thunder scored three goals in the third period and forced overtime when Mike Szmatula scored with six seconds left in regulation.

Maine opened a 2-0 lead on goals by Greg Chase and Ryan Culkin before Adirondack tied the game just 6:42 into the third period. Terrence Wallin put Maine ahead 3-2 before Szmatula’s tying goal.


AUSTRALIAN PGA: Adam Scott was two strokes off the lead and tied for third place after a second-round 5-under 67 at the Australian PGA championship  on Friday at Gold Coast, Australia.

The leader was China’s Yuan Yechun, whose 65 left him at 9-under 135 after 36 holes. He bogeyed two of his final four holes. Australian Anthony Quayle was in second place, a stroke behind, after a 66, followed by Scott and Wade Ormsby, who shot 66.

Scott, attempting to win his first tournament since a World Golf Championship victory in March 2016, is playing his third week in a row after the Australian Open and last week’s Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.


MEN’S WORLD CUP: Austrian skier Vincent Kriechmayr narrowly edged Norwegian rival Kjetil Jansrud to win a fog-affected super-G that lasted nearly four hours in Selva di Val Gardena, Italy.

The shortened race had been interrupted for 45 minutes due to fog hanging over the middle of the Saslong course before Kriechmayr came down as the No. 7 starter and beat early leader Mauro Caviezel. Kriechmayr moved atop both the overall and super-G standings.

In the overall, Kriechmayr moved 48 points ahead of previous leader Alexis Pinturault, who did not enter this race. In the super-G, Kriechmayr moved 12 points ahead of Olympic champion and teammate Matthias Mayer, who finished 11th.


TURKEY FINED: UEFA has fined Turkey’s soccer federation and reprimanded more than 20 players for making military salutes at games in October during the country’s offensive in Syria.

The gestures were “inappropriate given the specific political context at the time,” UEFA said on Friday in announcing the rulings of its disciplinary committee.

UEFA said the players used the games for “manifestations of a non-sporting nature” in breach of rules prohibiting political statements in stadiums.


RUSSIA: Russia has been given extra time to respond to charges that several of its leading track and field officials helped forge documents to give a star athlete an alibi for missing drug tests.

The Athletics Integrity Unit, which oversees disciplinary issues in the sport, said Friday the Russian track and field federation has been given an extension until Jan. 2.

The federation had originally been required to answer the charges by Dec. 12. The reason for the extension hasn’t been given, but the suspension of so many senior figures has caused turbulence at the federation.

Federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin was among seven Russians charged last month over the alleged forgery of medical documents to help world indoor high jump champion Danil Lysenko. He has also been charged, and the federation itself faces possible expulsion by governing body World Athletics.

– Staff and news service report

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