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The Baltimore Sun

Vickers loses 150 points; crew chief fined

AUTO RACING

Brian Vickers was docked 150 driver points and crew chief Kevin Hamlin was fined $100,000 by NASCAR yesterday because the Red Bull Racing team dipped its sheet metal in acid to make it lighter than required. Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz also was docked 150 owner points, while Hamlin and car chief Craig Smokstad were suspended indefinitely. Red Bull Racing general manager Jay Frye said the team accepted responsibility and would not appeal the penalties. The infraction was discovered after the No. 83 Toyota was randomly selected for a post-race inspection after Vickers' 11th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway. Frye said Randy Cox, manager for Red Bull's research and development program, will replace Hamlin at this weekend's race in Atlanta. Vickers is tied for a career-best 15th in the standings, but the penalty drops him to 17th.

Ford: : Despite a dismal economic outlook for U.S. automakers, Ford Motor Co. extended its support of Roush Fenway Racing's NASCAR program. The extension is believed to be a five-year deal. Ford remains committed to a NASCAR relationship that has tallied 589 Cup wins dating to Jimmy Florian's 1950 victory at Dayton Speedway.

Lakers' Bryant says knee injury isn't serious

nba

Los Angeles Lakers fans can rest easy. Kobe Bryant's right knee was a bit sore, but the injury isn't serious and it's possible he won't miss any playing time. "I'm all right, a little bit better today, a better mood, anyway," Bryant said after sitting out practice because of the hyperextended right knee he suffered Tuesday night in the second quarter of the Lakers' 102-98 preseason victory over the Charlotte Bobcats in San Diego. Wearing an ice bag on his knee, Bryant said he felt a lot better about his injury yesterday morning. Bryant, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, was injured under the Lakers' basket when he banged knees with teammate Josh Powell while going for a rebound. He said he hopes to play tonight when the Lakers face the Bobcats again, this time in Anaheim, Calif.

Bulls: : Guard Larry Hughes left the game against the Timberwolves with a dislocated right shoulder. Hughes, averaging 13 points in the preseason, is fighting for playing time in a crowded backcourt featuring Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon and No. 1 draft pick Derrick Rose.

General managers: : The Lakers will avenge their NBA Finals loss to the Celtics, according to a survey of the league's general managers. Those who responded to the NBA.com GM survey also picked Cleveland's LeBron James as the likely MVP. The Lakers received 46 percent of the vote in the seventh annual poll, well ahead of the Celtics (19 percent).

Beckham, AC Milan close to loan deal

soccer

AC Milan is close to signing David Beckham in a loan deal that would allow the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder and former England captain to play in Italy for a few months starting in January. With the Major League Soccer season in the United States nearly over, Beckham is eager to join another club in Europe so he can remain in shape and keep his place on England's team for World Cup qualifying. England coach Fabio Capello has said he will not pick players who are not active. Beckham's spokesman, Simon Oliveira of 19 Management in Los Angeles, acknowledged talks are taking place for a short-term loan but "nothing is confirmed at present."

D.C. United: : Nicolas Vigneri and Pablo Zeballos scored to help Cruz Azul beat D.C. United, 2-0, late Tuesday night in Mexico City and eliminate United from the CONCACAF Champions League.

Tour de France makes big route change

et cetera

If he's looking for a reason to skip the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong now has a big one: Mont Ventoux. The notorious mountain ascent will be featured on the race's next-to-last day in a tradition-busting innovation aimed at keeping the suspense going to the very end. The seven-time champion was notably absent from yesterday's unveiling in Paris of the 2009 route. Close friend and team manager Johan Bruyneel did attend and said there was only a "50-50" chance Armstrong would make the Tour start on the July 4. This new route for cycling's 106-year-old showcase race will make any victory especially challenging - even for cyclists such as Armstrong who excel in the mountains. Organizers insisted the selection of Ventoux for 2009 was made long before Armstrong announced his comeback last month.

College football: : Georgia reserve linebacker Akeem Hebron (ankle) will miss the remainder of the season after being injured in practice. Tight end Aron White went down with a sprained shoulder and won't be able to play when the ninth-ranked Bulldogs travel to No. 11 LSU on Saturday. ... East Carolina running back Jonathan Williams was facing two misdemeanor counts of assault with a deadly weapon after two people said he hit them with a beer bottle outside a Greenville, N.C., apartment complex last weekend. Williams, who rushed for 380 yards and five touchdowns this season, is suspended indefinitely. ... Clemson interim coach Dabo Swinney thinks both his dinged-up quarterbacks, Cullen Harper (shoulder) and freshman Willy Korn (bone bruise), could play in the Tigers' next game, Nov. 1 at Boston College.

Boxing: : Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield was back in court, again facing the possibility of jail time in a child-support case, but a settlement was reached after he agreed to a $100,000 college fund for his 10-year-old son. Holyfield also consented to pay private school tuition before college, reinstated health insurance for his son and settled $4,500 in attorney fees, according to Randy Kessler, a lawyer for the child's mother, Toi Irvin. The agreement was reached before a scheduled hearing in Fayette County Superior Court in suburban Atlanta.

McKay: : Former world-class hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah and ESPN anchor-correspondent Jeremy Schaap have joined the lineup for the Babe Ruth Museum event honoring sportscaster Jim McKay. Michael Phelps, Dorothy Hamill, Kimmie Meissner, Katie Hoff, B.J. Surhoff, Sugar Ray Leonard and Dominique Dawes are among those scheduled to appear at "A Champions' Tribute to Jim McKay" on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. at the new Hilton hotel in downtown Baltimore. Tickets are $150 for members of the Babe Ruth Museum and $175 for nonmembers. For more information, go to BabeRuthMuseum.com or call 410-727-1539, ext. 3013. McKay died June 7 at age 86.

Hockey: : The Russia-based Continental Hockey League will impose new regulations to safeguard players' health after the death of Alexei Cherepanov, the 19-year-old first-round pick of the New York Rangers who collapsed with heart problems during a game last week. The league's board of directors called Tuesday for two fully equipped ambulances to be posted at each game and for teams to ensure that doctors, including cardiologists and ophthalmologists, be at league games to treat players and spectators. ... Sabres captain Craig Rivet will miss at least two weeks after having arthroscopic knee surgery. ... Blues forward D.J. King will undergo season-ending surgery for a dislocated shoulder.

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