M&M's warns Busch that it won't tolerate more outbursts
Kyle Busch, contrite and remorseful, promised Friday to change his behavior and conduct himself in a way that will restore the respect he lost with his road rage incident at Texas. It's a long way back for Busch, and he'll be on a very short leash.
Busch has been warned by M&M's that the primary sponsor will not tolerate any more incidents by him, and team owner Joe Gibbs said the driver is still facing further punishment for wrecking Ron Hornaday Jr. under caution in last week's Truck Series race. NASCAR suspended Busch from all on-track activity at Texas, fined him $50,000 and placed the driver on probation through the end of the year.
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It led to a frantic week of behind-the-scenes negotiations with Joe Gibbs Racing and sponsors who viewed Busch's latest incident as the final straw for the polarizing driver.
Firing him was not an option, Gibbs said.
"In a situation like this you can make one or two decisions. One would have been devastating and really discouraging for everyone around him and for the sport," Gibbs said. "What I've chosen to do, I want to support Kyle, and feel as if this could have a positive impact on Kyle and I am committed to him as a person. I like him. We've gone through a lot together. We're looking forward to a long relationship."
Busch was thankful for the support during what he called "a trying week" and admitted he worried he might be fired for the second time in his career. Busch was let go from Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the 2007 season when the team made room for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"I'm apologetic for everyone having to go through this situation. There's no one to blame but myself. Joe has been a huge supporter of me and can't say enough about him," Busch said.
"Was there a point in which I thought, 'Do I have a ride?' Of course there was. I thought that (it might happen). Was there a point in which Joe ever told me that, 'Hey, we're looking at terminating this?' No."
Oklahoma basketball put on probation
Oklahoma was put on three years' probation and fined $15,000 by the NCAA for major violations in its men's basketball program. The NCAA Division I infractions committee on Friday also vacated all 13 wins from Oklahoma's 2009-10 season, took away a scholarship and limited recruiting efforts, but did not label the school a "repeat violator" vulnerable to more severe penalties.
Most of the penalties had been proposed by the school, which said former assistant Oronde Taliaferro broke NCAA rules by failing to report that a player had received an impermissible extra benefit and by lying to investigators. The NCAA said its findings included unethical conduct by the former coach, extra benefits, preferential treatment and ineligible participation.
The violations occurred while the Sooners were still on probation for major rules violations involving recruiting phone calls by former coach Kelvin Sampson, a case that ended in 2006.
Woods atop leader board in Australia
Tiger Woods took a big step toward putting himself in position for the victory Friday in the Australian Open with a second straight day of crisp, controlled shots for a 5-under 67 that gave him a one-shot lead over Peter O'Malley going into the weekend at The Lakes in Sydney. This is the first time Woods has been atop the leader board since the third round of the Chevron World Challenge last December, where he blew a four-shot lead to Graeme McDowell on the last day. It's the first time he's had the lead against a full field since his last win two years ago in the Australian Masters.
■ Hall of Famer Juli Inkster shot a 3-under 69 for a share of the second-round lead with Anna Nordqvist in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico. The 51-year-old Inkster is trying to become the oldest winner in LPGA Tour history.
Steelers' Woodley won't play vs. Bengals
Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley will miss his second straight game because of a hamstring injury, and linebacker James Farrior likely will be back for Sunday's AFC North showdown in Cincinnati. Woodley was ruled out Friday after not practicing all week. Farrior was designated as probable after practicing for the third consecutive day. Farrior missed Pittsburgh's last two games with a calf injury. Also probable for Pittsburgh (6-3) against the Bengals (6-2) are two of the past three AP defensive players of the year, safety Troy Polamalu (rib) and linebacker James Harrison (toe). Polamalu returned to practice Friday, and Harrison was a full participant after being limited Thursday.
■ Texans star receiver Andre Johnson will miss his sixth straight game as he continues a longer-than-expected recovery from a right hamstring injury.
■ Giants tailback Ahmad Bradshaw will miss his second straight game with a broken bone in his right foot.
Boys At Tosconova 2-for-2 this year
Boys At Tosconova, the 1-5 favorite, rolled to a 2½ -length victory Friday in the $54,000 allowance feature at Aqueduct. It was the second win in two starts this season for a standout 2-year-old from 2010 with a win in the Hopeful at Saratoga and a second-place finish to Uncle Mo in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Boys At Tosconova missed the Triple Crown, and most of this campaign, with an ankle injury.
Ramos rescued from kidnappers
Venezuelan police rescued Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos on Friday, two days after he was kidnapped, officials said. Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said on state television that Ramos was "safe and sound" and that he was rescued by police. He said the circumstances weren't immediately clear.
■ A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the Philadelphia Phillies and Jonathan Papelbon agreed to a $50 million, four-year contract that's the largest ever for a reliever. Papelbon, who turns 30 on Nov. 23, has 219 saves over seven seasons with the Red Sox, including 31 this year.
Wildcats cruise past Tide in three sets
Sophomore Whitney Billings had 11 kills and 12 digs for her fourth double-double of the season in the 18th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team's 3-0 sweep of host Alabama, 25-20, 25-22, 25-20.
Another loss for the American men
Loic Remy came off the bench to score the winner as host France beat the United States 1-0 in a friendly on Friday, extending its unbeaten run to 16 matches under Coach Laurent Blanc. The United States dropped to 1-4-1 under Coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
The last word
Just days after some critics were writing off the Raiders after a second straight division loss, Oakland (5-4) stands alone in first place in the AFC West following a 24-17 victory at San Diego on Thursday night. Offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski said:
"It's crazy, the NFL. Shoot. Early in the year, everybody was talking about how good we are. And then (we're horrible) after a couple of losses. And now we're good again. It's a heavily criticized job, but that's the nature of the business."