Charlotte, N.C. Charlotte, N.C. - NASCAR has narrowed the possible sites for its first official Hall of Fame to Atlanta, Charlotte or Daytona Beach, Fla., and expects to pick a winning city by the end of March.
"Based upon the proposals that we have reviewed internally for the past several months, we believe these three cities provide us with the best opportunity to build and develop a world-class NASCAR Hall of Fame for our millions of loyal fans," Mark Dyer, NASCAR's vice president for licensing, said Thursday in a statement.
The decision eliminates Richmond, Va., and Kansas City, Kan. from consideration.
"Both of their proposals were outstanding, and the passion and enthusiasm the people involved showed for the NASCAR Hall of Fame has made a lasting impression on all of us," Dyer said.
Last summer, NASCAR officials toured the five cities that submitted bids for the Hall of Fame. The stock-car racing series has said it wants the attraction to appeal to both race fans and those new to the sport.
The elimination was disappointing to organizers in Kansas City, which for a long time was thought to be the top contender in the race to land the Hall. The city has a track owned by International Speedway Corp., NASCAR's sister company.
It had been widely speculated that NASCAR would place the Hall of Fame in Kansas City, then move the all-star race from its longtime home in suburban Charlotte to the Kansas facility, creating a star-studded weekend that included the race and a Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Browne leads Mercedes
Kapalua, Hawaii - Olin Browne waited six years before getting back to the winners-only Mercedes Championships and played Thursday as if he didn't want to wait that long again. Browne was the only player to break 70 in blustery conditions at Kapalua and finished with a 4-under 69 to take a one-shot lead over Vijay Singh as the PGA Tour season began.
Coach headed to court
Elizabethtown, N.Y. - U.S. skeleton coach Tim Nardiello will get his day in court Monday, when the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation has been ordered to show that it had good reason to suspend him while sexual harassment allegations are investigated. In an order issued Thursday by the New York Supreme Court, Judge James P. Dawson called for the hearing.
Alexander named MVP
New York - Shaun Alexander set an NFL record for touchdowns, led the league in rushing and ran away with the Associated Press Most Valuable Player award Thursday.
Alexander spearheaded the Seahawks' rise to the best record in the NFL, including a victory over the league's other 14-2 team, the Colts. It was the most productive season in Seahawks history, one in which Alexander scored 28 touchdowns and rushed for 1,880 yards.
That earned him 19 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL. He ended the two-year reign of Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, who received 13 votes.
Trailing Manning in the balloting were New England quarterback Tom Brady with 10 votes, New York Giants running back Tiki Barber with six and Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer with two.
Bills hire Levy as VP
Orchard Park, N.Y. - Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy was hired as the Buffalo Bills' vice president of football operations Thursday, returning to the team he led to an unprecedented four straight Super Bowl appearances in the 1990s.
In becoming the NFL's oldest active front office executive, Levy - who referred to himself as "an 80-year-old rookie" - takes over a struggling team that's coming off a 5-11 season and missed the playoffs for the sixth straight year.
Brees has shoulder surgery
Birmingham, Ala. - San Diego Chargers quarterback Drew Brees underwent arthroscopic surgery Thursday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Attendance record set
New York - The NFL set an attendance record for the third straight year, with an average of 66,453 fans attending regular-season games. Total paid attendance for the season was 17,011,986, about 11,000 more than last season.
Chiefs' Johnson honored
Kansas City, Mo. - Larry Johnson, who ran for 201 yards and three touchdowns against Cincinnati in the Chiefs' final game of the season, has been named AFC offensive player of the month for regular-season games played in December and January.
Johnson, who also claimed player of the month honors in November, scored two of the touchdowns 40 seconds apart late in the second quarter in the Chiefs' 37-3 rout of the Bengals on Sunday
Two share comeback award
Charlotte, N.C. - There were times last year when Steve Smith wondered what kind of NFL career he'd have after his broken left leg healed. Smith's recovery went so well, he returned to the Carolina Panthers a better receiver than he was before the injury - earning Smith a tie with New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi for the Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year award.
Texans talk to Saunders
Houston - The Houston Texans are looking inside and outside the organization to find a replacement for fired coach Dom Capers. They met with one of each Thursday: receivers coach Kippy Brown and Kansas City offensive coordinator Al Saunders.
Ex-St. Mary coach indicted
Kansas City, Kan. - The former football coach at the University of St. Mary has been indicted on child pornography charges. Scott Frear, 42, of Leavenworth, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Kan., on one count of sexually exploiting minors by possessing a visual depiction of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. He also was charged with two counts of sexually exploiting minors by sending, via computer, visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Phillies, Franklin agree
Philadelphia - The Phillies made a move to bolster their starting rotation, agreeing to terms with right-handed pitcher Ryan Franklin on Thursday, pending a physical. Franklin, who was suspended 10 days after testing positive for a steroid, went 8-15 with a 5.10 earned-run average in 1902â3 innings with Seattle last season.