National Briefs: Martin wins; Patrick finishes career-best 4th

March 6, 2011


— Mark Martin knew he had to save gas to have any chance of winning the Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Even then, he was going to need some help.

He got it when leader Brad Keselowski cut a tire on the final lap of Saturday’s race, and Martin sailed past him for the victory. It was the fourth win in six Nationwide races at Las Vegas for Martin.

“I can’t gloat. If Brad hadn’t had a tire problem, he looked like he would win,” Martin said. “All I could do is make sure we didn’t run out of gas.”

The race most likely will be remembered, though, for Danica Patrick’s history-making run and not the last-lap dramatics.

Patrick placed fourth, the best finish for a woman in a national NASCAR race since Sara Christian was fifth at Pittsburgh in 1949.

“Awesome!” Martin said when told of Patrick’s finish. “I am really happy for her. That’s fantastic.”

Auto racing

Robby Gordon on probation

Las Vegas — NASCAR placed Robby Gordon on probation Saturday for an incident involving Kevin Conway in the garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR officials didn’t witness the run-in between the drivers, which was brought to NASCAR’s attention by Conway, according to vice president of competition Robin Pemberton. He said the period of Gordon’s probation has yet to be determined.

College Football

Two Iowa State players arrested

Ames, Iowa — Two Iowa State football players have been suspended from the team after being arrested.

Athletic department spokesman Tom Kroeschell says the suspensions of defensive end Jacob Lattimer and tight end Ricky Howard are indefinite.

The 22-year-old Lattimer faces charges of assault on a peace officer and interference with official acts, while the 20-year-old Howard is suspected of operating while intoxicated.


NFL, union taking weekend break

Washington — Those optimistic about the NFL’s labor talks with the players’ union will point to the sides’ decision to push back the bargaining deadline by a week and think, as Commissioner Roger Goodell put it:

“The fact that we’re continuing this dialogue is a positive sign.”

And those who are pessimistic about where this all eventually is headed will recognize that, as league lead negotiator Jeff Pash described it:

“We’ve got very serious issues. We’ve got significant differences.”

That last observation has been obvious all along. Indeed, from shortly before Thanksgiving until the day before the Super Bowl in February, the sides went more than two months without sitting down in large groups for face-to-face, formal bargaining on a new collective bargaining agreement.

The sides were using this weekend to assess their positions, before resuming talks in front of a federal mediator Monday — and then they will have until the end of Friday to reach a new CBA, thanks to two extensions of the old deal. It originally was to have expired last Thursday.


Shaq’s return pushed back

Waltham, Mass. — Celtics coach Doc Rivers says Shaquille O’Neal’s foot is still bothering him, pushing back his return to Boston’s lineup. Rivers had hoped to have O’Neal play Wednesday at home against the Clippers. He has been out since Feb. 1, missing 12 games due to soreness in his lower right leg and Achilles’ tendon.

Magic’s Howard suspended 1 game

New York — Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has been suspended for one game without pay for picking up his 16th technical foul of the season. He will serve the suspension Monday when the Magic are home against Portland.

The penalty was announced Saturday by NBA executive Stu Jackson.

Howard leads the NBA in technicals this season. His latest one came with 1:41 left in the first half Friday night against Chicago. With the Bulls up 43-29, Howard came down with an offensive rebound and was hit on the top of his head by Kyle Korver.

Korver was whistled for a foul but took a swipe at the ball moments after the play. That prompted Howard to swing his elbows. The referee separated the players and also called a technical on Howard.


U.S. has Davis Cup lead

Santiago, Chile — The United States is one victory from a showdown with Spain in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Twins Bob and Mike Bryan put the Americans ahead of Chile 2-1 in the first round Saturday by beating the doubles team of Jorge Aguilar and Nicolas Massu 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Andy Roddick will be in position to clinch the best-of-five series when he faces Paul Capdeville in the first match today.


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