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In brief: NASCAR works to limit tandem racing

NASCAR introduced new rules to limit tandem racing that has had a lukewarm response from fans. (Associated Press)
NASCAR introduced new rules to limit tandem racing that has had a lukewarm response from fans. (Associated Press)

Auto racing: NASCAR tweaked two rules for next month’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, apparently in an effort to limit the two-car tandem racing that has dominated at its two fastest tracks.

The first change ordered was an increase in the size of the restrictor plate that will be used in the Oct. 23 race. The larger holes in the carburetor plates should lead to an increase of horsepower that could make the cars 2 to 3 mph faster.

NASCAR also ordered an adjustment on the pop-off valve in the cooling system that should lower the maximum water temperature in engines. A threat of overheating could prevent cars from staying hooked together for too long.

Drivers discovered over the last year that it’s faster to run at Daytona and Talladega in two-car tandems. That style has replaced the popular two- and three-wide packs, and fans have been lukewarm about the tandem racing.

Now, two cars hook up bumper-to-bumper, one clearly pushing the other until the potential for overheating forces them to separate and then swap. It’s made for record lead changes and exciting finishes, but is a totally different style than the white-knuckle pack racing fans loved.

Drivers, meanwhile, said it’s impossible to see anything when they are pushing another car. Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR’s most popular driver, has repeatedly railed against tandem racing.

“What kind of move can you make in racing like this?” he asked in July. “There ain’t no move you can make. You just hold it on the mat and try not to wreck into each other.”

U.S. lands 2015 cycling worlds

Cycling: The road cycling world championships are returning to the United States for first time in nearly 30 years.

The UCI, cycling’s international governing body, selected Richmond, Va., to host the event in 2015 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Oman had been in the running for the event before removing its candidacy earlier in the day.

The U.S. last hosted the worlds in 1986 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“The road world championships haven’t been held on American soil in my lifetime,” said 21-year-old Taylor Phinney, a former individual pursuit and under-23 world time trial champion. “It will certainly give me and the entire new generation of American cycling something to aspire to.”

Martin takes time trial: Tony Martin of Germany won the time trial at the road cycling world championship in Copenhagen, beating Bradley Wiggins of Britain and Fabian Cancellera of Switzerland.

Martin, a two-time bronze medalist in this event, finished the 28.8-mile flat circuit in 53 minutes, 42.85 seconds – 75 seconds ahead of Wiggins. Cancellera, a four-time time trial champion, dropped to third after a strong start and was timed in 55:04.44.

Nuggets lose forward Martin to China

NBA: Kenyon Martin became the third Denver Nuggets free agent to sign a contract to play in China this season.

Martin’s agent, Andy Miller, confirmed to The Associated Press that the 33-year-old forward has agreed to a deal with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

By doing so, Martin won’t be able to return to play in the NBA if there is a 2011-12 season. Owners have locked out the players in a labor dispute and the Chinese have said players won’t be able to opt out of their deals to return to the NBA.

J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler also are playing in China.

Martin averaged 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in 2010-11. He missed the first 26 games as he recovered from surgery on his knee.

Timbers settle for tie with Earthquakes

Soccer: Khari Stephenson’s goal from 18 yards in the 70th minute allowed the visiting San Jose Earthquakes to salvage a 1-1 tie with the Portland Timbers.

The Timbers, who extended their unbeaten streak to five games, took a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute on a goal by Kenny Cooper.

U.S. midfielder Torres has surgery: U.S. national team midfielder Jose Torres underwent surgery on his left foot and is expected to be out for several months.

Wieber tops list for U.S. gymnastics team

Gymnastics: U.S. champion Jordyn Wieber leads the team for next month’s world championships, which serve as the main qualifier for the London Olympics.

Wieber, 2008 Olympian Alicia Sacramone, Aly Raisman, Anna Li, Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney and Sabrina Vega were selected to the team.

Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, who only returned to competition in June, was named to the team for the Pan American Games.