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Earnhardt Jr. claims pole at Dover

Sat., Sept. 28, 2013, midnight

Dale Earnhardt Jr., 62 points behind Chase leader Matt Kenseth, will start from the pole. (Associated Press)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., 62 points behind Chase leader Matt Kenseth, will start from the pole. (Associated Press)

Auto racing: Dale Earnhardt Jr. turned a track-record lap of 161.849 mph to win the pole Friday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

The top four qualifiers are all from the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Points leader Matt Kenseth will get the start in second, Ryan Newman is third and Carl Edwards fourth.

Other Chase drivers include: Jimmie Johnson eighth, Joey Logano 11th, Kevin Harvick 12th, Kyle Busch 14th, Jeff Gordon 16th, Greg Biffle 19th, Kasey Kahne 20th, and Clint Bowyer 23rd.

Langer takes four-stroke lead at First Tee Open at Pebble

Golf: Bernhard Langer birdied his first four holes and finished with a 9-under 63 on the Del Monte Country Club course in Pebble Beach, Calif., to open a four-stroke lead in the Champions Tour’s First Tee Open.

Defending champion and former Pullman resident Kirk Triplett joins Tom Lehman, Andrew Magee, Mark McNulty and Doug Garwood tied for second at 67. They also all played at Del Monte. Fred Couples shot 68.

• Hadley takes two-shot lead in Tour final: Chesson Hadley, already assured of his PGA Tour card after a third-place regular season finish, had six birdies in his round of 4-under 66 on the Valley Course at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., to reach 9-under and take a two-shot lead at the Tour Championship.

Spokane native Alex Prugh shot a 4-under 66 for a two-day total of 1-under 139.

• Woods voted PGA player of the year: Tiger Woods has been voted PGA Tour player of the year for the 11th time.

The PGA Tour doesn’t release the percentage of votes or who finished second. Woods was on the Jack Nicklaus Award ballot with British Open champion Phil Mickelson, Masters champion Adam Scott, FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar.

Jordan Spieth won rookie of the year after starting the season with no status and finishing 10th on the PGA Tour money list.

Woods won five times this year – no one else had more than two wins.

Kvitova knocks off Venus Williams at Pan Pacific Open

Tennis: Petra Kvitova rallied to defeat Venus Williams 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) and advance to the Pan Pacific Open final in Tokyo.

Fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany beat fourth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the other semifinal.

• Berdych, Simon into Thailand Open semis: Top-seeded Tomas Berdych and Gilles Simon of France will meet in the semifinals of the Thailand Open in Bangkok.

Berdych beat Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan 7-6 (7), 6-4, while third-seeded Simon prevailed 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 over Igor Sisjling of the Netherlands.

Mohoric captures under-23 title at road cycling worlds

Cycling: Matej Mohoric of Slovenia used a late attack to win the men’s under-23 race at the road cycling world championships, beating a field with many older riders.

The 18-year-old Mohoric broke free of the pack on a dangerous downhill stretch and then attacked again on a climb to clock 4 hours, 20 minutes, 18 seconds over the 108-mile route from Montecatini Terme (Italy) to Florence.

Amalie Dideriksen of Denmark won the junior women’s race, clocking 2 hours, 32 minutes, 23 seconds in a 52-mile race that began and ended in Florence.

NCAA denies USC football program relief from sanctions

College Football: The NCAA has turned down Southern California’s request for relief from the sanctions that have been imposed on the football program since 2010.

Athletic director Pat Hayden had said USC felt compelled to discuss the sanctions after the NCAA’s recent decision to lessen the scholarship reductions that Penn State was hit with after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

But NCAA spokeswoman Meghan Durham released a statement saying there is no comparison between the two cases.

She said USC’s case was heard before the Committee on Infractions and appealed, and there would be no further appeals.

The NCAA sanctioned USC after it was found former star Reggie Bush received improper benefits. The program’s scholarship limit was reduced from 85 to 75. Next season is the last that USC will have to play with the 75-scholarship limit.

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