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Archive for Saturday, November 14, 2009

Truex takes Phoenix pole

November 14, 2009

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— Martin Truex Jr. bounced back from a midweek NASCAR penalty with a pole-winning run at Phoenix International Raceway.

Truex turned a lap of 135.120 mph Friday to qualify first in his No. 1 Chevrolet. It was a huge lift for his team, which failed postrace inspection last week at Texas to draw a 50-point penalty. Crew chief Kevin Manion also was fined $50,000.

“That’s how you can sum up our season,” Truex shrugged.

Kurt Busch qualified second for Sunday’s race with a lap of 134.589 in his No. 2 Dodge. It’s the first time in NASCAR that the Nos. 1 and 2 will start next to each other on the front row for a Sprint Cup race.

Defending three-time series champion Jimmie Johnson qualified third, and was followed by Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin.

Mark Martin, who trails Johnson by 71 points in the standings with two races remaining, qualified 10th.

Regan Smith, Kevin Conway and Brandon Ash failed to make the race.

For Johnson, the return to the track was a chance to reset his emotions following an accident on the third lap of last week’s race. He was wrecked trying to pass Sam Hornish Jr., who ran into Johnson after he made contact with David Reutimann.

Johnson finished 38th and lost a large portion of his points lead. But with two races remaining, he still likes his chances, particularly Sunday at PIR, where he’s won three of the last four races.

AUTO RACING

Hornaday takes trucks title

Avondale, Ariz. — Ron Hornaday became the oldest champion in NASCAR history Friday night by winning his record fourth title in the Trucks Series.

The 51-year-old veteran needed only to finish ahead of Matt Crafton at Phoenix International Raceway to win the title, and he wrapped it up by finishing fourth to Crafton’s eighth.

Kevin Harvick, Hornaday’s team owner, won the race and the two celebrated by lining up side-by-side at the finish line for a simultaneous burnout.

GOLF

Leonard leads at Disney

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Justin Leonard has shot an 8-under 64 in the second round of the Children’s Miracle Network Classic to surge to the top of the leaderboard in the final PGA Tour event of the season.

Leonard had 11 birdies and three bogeys on a sun-baked Friday at Disney World, where the 15 mph winds caused problems for the players. Justine Rose and George McNeill were two strokes back.

Duval likely to lose card

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Former world No. 1 David Duval is likely to lose his PGA Tour card next year after missing the cut at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic. Duval finished at 5-over par at Disney World on Friday in the final event of the season.

He entered the week at No. 125 on the money list, the last spot to earn full status on tour. He is projected to finish outside that mark, but will have conditional status because he is in the top 150, allowing him to enter about a dozen tournaments.

Shin tops Ochoa event

Guadalajara, Mexico — Jiyai Shin took a big step toward adding the LPGA Tour player of the year award to her top rookie trophy, shooting a 6-under 66 on Friday for a three-stroke lead in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

Michelle Wie (66) and Paula Creamer (69) were tied for second, and first-round leader Song-Hee Kim (72) was four strokes back at 7 under.

BASEBALL

Jays’ Wells has surgery

Toronto — Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells has had surgery on his left wrist and is expected to be ready for spring training. The team said Friday that doctors repaired cartilage in his wrist, which he broke diving to make a catch against the Indians in 2008.

Betancourt declined

Denver — The Rockies have declined a $5 million option on right-hander Rafael Betancourt, a key setup man as the Rockies won the NL wild-card race. Betancourt now can become a free agent. Colorado general manager Dan O’Dowd says the team will continue to negotiate with the reliever.

Wilson, Mariners agree

Seattle — Shortstop Jack Wilson and the Seattle Mariners agreed Friday to a $10 million, two-year contract. The 30-year-old Wilson hit .224 with one home run in 31 games. He missed extended time due to a sore hamstring and bruised right heel.

NFL

Cutler fined $20,000

Chicago — A bad season for the Chicago Bears just got worse. The NFL said Friday that quarterback Jay Cutler had been fined $20,000 for abusive conduct toward a game official during a 41-21 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday.

Cutler drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with 6:24 left in the third quarter after an incomplete pass to tight end Greg Olsen on a fourth-down play with the Bears trailing 34-7 at the time. Cutler apparently thought there should have been an interference penalty.

Bills’ Owens ready to play

Orchard Park, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills receiver Terrell Owens returned to practice Friday and declared himself ready to play in Sunday’s game at Tennessee. Owens said he fell asleep on his couch Monday night after practice, and woke up feeling stiff the next morning. He was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday, and the team said he had a strained hip.

TENNIS

Nadal reaches Paris semis

Paris — Second-seeded Rafael Nadal gained a semifinal matchup against Novak Djokovic at the Paris Masters with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday. Third-seeded Djokovic made the last four of the Paris tournament for the first time by beating Robin Soderling, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

BOWLING

PBA event canceled

Seattle — The Professional Bowlers Association tour stop at Lava Lanes in Medford, Ore., has been canceled because of economic issues. PBA commissioner Fred Schreyer says Lava Lanes is financially unable to host the Don and Paula Carter Mixed Doubles event Jan. 4-10.

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