Johnson on pole for Sunday race
MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jimmie Johnson’s championship hopes got a boost Friday when he won the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway while points leader Brad Keselowski qualified 32nd.
Johnson, a five-time champion, gained not only the top starting spot, but the stall at the front of pit road, giving him unimpeded access to the track.
He trails Keselowski by seven points with four races remaining. Denny Hamlin, who is third in the points race and 13 behind Johnson, will start fifth.
Brian Vickers earned the outside starting spot on the front row, with Kyle Busch third and Jeff Burton in the second row.
Johnson says he will be cautious. He started 22nd at the track in the spring and nearly won, so he knows it can be done.
Indiana starts season at No. 1
Indiana is No. 1 in The Associated Press’ preseason Top 25 for the third time and the first since the 1979-80 season.
The Hoosiers return all five starters, including 7-foot sophomore Cody Zeller.
They received 43 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel Friday. Louisville and Kentucky, the teams ranked second and third, received the rest of the first-place votes with Louisville getting 20 and the defending national champion the other two.
Ohio State and Michigan join Indiana as Big Ten teams in the top five. The last time a conference had three teams in the preseason top five was 2008-09 when Connecticut, Louisville and Pittsburgh of the Big East were second, third and fifth, respectively.
North Carolina State, Kansas, Duke, Syracuse and Florida round out the top 10.
Game 2 draws record-low rating
NEW YORK – The Giants’ shutout of the Detroit Tigers drew a record-low television rating for Game 2 of the World Series.
San Francisco’s 2-0 win Thursday night on Fox earned a 7.8 fast national rating and 12 share, down 12 percent from last year’s St. Louis Cardinals-Texas Rangers matchup. The previous low was an 8.1 for the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies-Tampa Bay Rays series.
Fox said Friday the rating was up 3 percent from the Giants’ rout in Game 1 on Wednesday.
Ratings represent the percentage of all American homes with televisions tuned to a program. Shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time.
Elkins lawyer files lawsuit
CHARLESTON – An attorney for an Elkins High School football player filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to overturn a ruling by the Secondary School Activities Commission declaring the player ineligible.
The lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction was filed in Randolph County Circuit Court on behalf of senior running back James Lawrence.
The SSAC earlier this week declared Lawrence ineligible and stripped Elkins of its seven victories this season. The SSAC based the ruling on a residency requirement.
The lawsuit claimed the SSAC violated Lawrence’s due process rights and a federal statute under which Lawrence is considered to be homeless.
It also said the SSAC had no authority to make guardian requirements upon an adult. Lawrence turned 18 in March.
Randolph County schools Superintendent James Phares has said Lawrence’s parent signed over guardianship rights to his grandmother.
SSAC attorney Bill Wooton said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit and declined comment Friday.
Elkins is 7-2 this season and was eighth in the latest SSAC Class AAA computer ratings. The top 16 teams at the end of the regular season make the playoffs, and the top eight earn home-field advantage in the first round starting Nov. 9.
Lawrence has rushed for 1,491 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.
If the SSAC ruling stands, Lawrence will suffer “immediate and irreparable harm” because he will be denied the chance to participate in the playoffs, as well as his chances to further his education with the aid of an athletic scholarship, the lawsuit said.
“The Plaintiff has much more at stake concerning his reputation, character, and future regarding the outcome of this case than does the WVSSAC,” the lawsuit said.
Staff and wire reports
Luck’s contract extended to 2017
MORGANTOWN – West Virginia University President Jim Clements approved an amended employment agreement for Director of Athletics Oliver Luck, extending his employment from 2015 to 2017 and increasing his salary and incentives. The agreement takes effect Oct. 15.
Clements said Luck has overseen several major capital projects, hired new head coaches and been involved in the best fund-raising year in Athletics Department history raising some $22.7 million this past year.
Under the agreement, Luck’s annualized salary will be $550,000, with a maximum performance bonus capped at $150,000 per year. He will also receive retention incentives for fulfilling terms in the contract.
Luck is in the third year of his original five-year contract that began on June 9, 2010.
Huggins’ deal being reworked
MORGANTOWN – West Virginia is working on a new contract for men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins.
Athletic director Oliver Luck said Friday a reworked deal should be completed in the next few months.
In 2008, Huggins signed a contract that pays him at least $20 million in guaranteed income through 2019.
The Mountaineers have gone to the NCAA Tournament in each of Huggins’ five seasons at his alma mater. He has a 120-56 record there. West Virginia went 19-14 last season and lost to Gonzaga in the second round of the tournament.
The Charleston Daily Mail first reported Luck was reworking the contract.
Greenbrier buys historic course
CHARLESTON – The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia is buying a nearby golf course that is one of the nation’s oldest.
Oakhurst Links owner Lewis Keller told The Associated Press on Friday that the purchase was done.
The course was auctioned at $410,000 this summer, but the purchase failed to go through. Keller said the Greenbrier paid more than that auction price, but less than $1 million.
The nine-hole course was built in 1884 and it keeps a historic approach to the game: Players often wear period clothes and must use traditional clubs made from hickory.
The course is a few miles north of the luxurious resort in White Sulphur Springs. Greenbrier owner Jim Justice said he planned to keep the course open and make improvements if needed.
Staff, wire reports
WVU men picked sixth in Big 12
IRVING, Texas – Defending Big 12 champion Kansas, Big 12 champion or co-champion in each of the past eight seasons, is the preseason favorite to win repeat again.
League coaches tapped the Jayhawks as the overwhelming 2012-13 favorite in the annual preseason vote released Thursday.
Kansas was 16-2 in league play last season and made it all the way to the NCAA championship game against Kentucky. The Jayhawks return senior starters Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford.
Since coaches are ineligible to vote for their own team, Kansas got the maximum nine first-place votes available. The other top vote went to Baylor, which was picked second.
Oklahoma State is third, followed by Texas, Kansas State and Big 12 newcomer West Virginia. Oklahoma, Iowa State, Texas Tech and TCU round out the poll.
Beano Cook dies at 81
PITTSBURGH – Beano Cook, the college football commentator with an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport he dearly loved, has died.
The 81-year-old Boston native had worked for ESPN since 1986 and was the sports information director at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, from 1956 to 1966. The school announced Thursday that Cook had died in his sleep.
Cook was a diabetic and his health had been failing recently, as he made mention in his most recent blog post at www.bean-cook.com.
Rose beats Woods in Turkey
BELEK, Turkey – Justin Rose beat Tiger Woods by a stroke Thursday to set up a title match against Lee Westwood in the World Golf Final.
The two Englishmen, teammates on the victorious European Ryder Cup team, will meet Saturday, with the winner getting $1.5 million and the runner-up $1 million in the eight-player exhibition.
Rose holed a sand wedge shot for an eagle at the 14th and finished at 2-under 69.
Westwood shot a course-record 61 to beat 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa by six shots. Westwood had two eagles and eight birdies, including a 50-footer at the last on the Sultan Course at Antalya Club. He also had a double bogey at the fourth hole.
O’Hern leads in California
SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Australia’s Nick O’Hern shot a 9-under 62 on Thursday to take a three-stroke lead on European Ryder Cup player Nicolas Colsaerts and Jhonattan Vegas in the Frys.com Open.
O’Hern had eight birdies in an 11-hole stretch and capped the bogey-free round with a birdie on the par-5 ninth hole at CordeValle Golf Club.
Colsaerts and Vegas shot 65. Colsaerts is trying to earn a PGA Tour card. As a special temporary member, he needs to finish the equivalent of 125th on the money list to earn a full 2013 card. The Belgian player has earned $652,886, enough now for the 120th spot.
Charles Howell III, John Mallinger, Jonas Blixt, Gary Woodland and Greg Owen shot 66. British Open champion Ernie Els opened with a 71 in the Fall Series event.
Staff and wire reports
WVU’s Bussie out for season
MORGANTOWN- West Virginia women’s basketball senior center Asya Bussie will be out for the 2012-13 season after suffering a season-ending knee injury at practice on Thursday.
”Knowing the type of person Asya is, there is no doubt in my mind, she will turn this into a positive and come back from this bigger and stronger,” coach Mike Carey said.
Attendance boost eyed for Pro Bowl
HONOLULU – Hawaii’s state tourism agency and the NFL are creating a committee to boost attendance at the Pro Bowl and for events leading up to the game.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority says Friday the committee will engage the community, get more servicemen involved, and create business partnerships.
Honolulu business leader and Cincinnati Bengals limited partner Dr. Edison Miyawaki will chair the committee.
The committee has 49 professionals from the worlds of business, sports, government, unions, media and other fields.
More than 48,000 people attended the Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in January. The stadium can seat 50,000.
Next year’s Pro Bowl will be the 33rd held in Hawaii. The state pays the league $4.2 million to host the game.
Brick wall will move at Wrigley
CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs have received permission to add seats at Wrigley Field.
Just days after the Cubs completed one of the worst seasons in team history, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks gave the team permission Thursday to add more seats. The commission said Cubs officials can move a brick wall at Wrigley Field three feet closer to home plate so 56 more seats can be installed.
By shrinking foul territory by three feet, fans will have a better chance of catching foul balls behind the plate.
The approval means the team will move the wall behind the plate at the 98-year-old ballpark for the second time in recent years. Seven years ago three rows of seats were installed, a move that trimmed foul territory by 10 feet.