Kyle Busch takes pole for Saturday night's All-Star race
Kyle Busch captured the pole for the Sprint All-Star race in Charlotte, N.C., for the second straight year. Busch completed the unique three-lap qualifying that included a mandatory four-tire pit stop in 1 minute, 19.11 seconds. He was the last qualifier on the track and knocked Ryan Newman to the outside of the front row.
While winning the pole puts Busch and his No. 18 Toyota in great position to win his first All-Star race, it certainly doesn't guarantee a first-place finish and the accompanying $1 million prize.
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In fact, winning the pole has proved to be a bit of a curse. The last pole winner to win the All-Star race was Davey Allison in 1992.
The All-Star race format has changed significantly this year.
The 90-lap race will be split into four 20-lap segments preceding a 10-lap shootout for the $1 million prize. There will be a mandatory pit stop prior to the shootout.
The new format places a premium on winning one of the four segments and showcases the importance of the pit crew. The winner of each segment will move to the front of the field right before the cars head down pit road for their mandatory stop. Drivers will then line up in the order they leave pit road to start the final segment.
Bengals sign top pick; Bell going to Jets
The Bengals signed cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama to a four-year contract on Friday, the first time in nine years that they've reached a deal so quickly with their top pick.
Kirkpatrick was the first of Cincinnati's two picks in the opening round, going 17th overall. He's expected to compete for a starting job. Leon Hall, the Bengals' top cornerback, is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and is expected to be ready for the season.
Kirkpatrick's signing is the quickest by a first-round Bengals pick since 2003, when the club reached an agreement with quarterback Carson Palmer before the draft. The Bengals were free to negotiate with Palmer because they had the top overall pick.
■ Yeremiah Bell is joining the other side of the Dolphins-Jets rivalry. A source told The Associated Press that New York and the veteran safety agreed to terms Friday on a one-year contract worth $1.4 million. The former Dolphins starter starred in high school at Clark County and in college at Eastern Kentucky.
The 34-year-old Bell spent all nine of his previous NFL seasons with the Dolphins, but was cut in March to create cap space. He had a team-leading 107 tackles, two sacks and an interception last season.
76ers stun Celtics to even their series
Andre Iguodala snapped a tie game with five straight points in the final 90 seconds to help the Philadelphia 76ers storm back from 15 points down and stun the visiting Boston Celtics 92-83 on Friday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Sixers, who tied the series at 2-2, also got nine points and three steals from former Kentucky star Jodie Meeks.
Kevin Garnett had his first bad outing in an otherwise monster series with nine points. Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 15 assists.
SEC, Big 12 have deal for bowl game
The Big 12 and the Southeastern conferences announced a deal that will pit their football regular-season champions against each other in a New Year's Day bowl game for five years beginning in 2014, positioning themselves for the expected switch to a four-team playoff. In fact, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive all but said it's coming in Friday's announcement of the agreement between two of the most successful BCS conferences.
"A new January bowl tradition is born," Slive said in a statement. "This new game will provide a great matchup between the two most successful conferences in the BCS era and will complement the exciting post-season atmosphere created by the new four-team model."
If one or both of the league champions are selected to play in the playoff, another team would be selected for the Big 12-SEC bowl showdown on Jan. 1.
■ Kentucky Wesleyan senior center fielder Jordan White was named Midwest Region Player of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association. The former Grayson County star led the Panthers and the Great Lakes Valley Conference in batting average (.403), hits (75), doubles (19) and total bases (116). He also led Kentucky Wesleyan in home runs (6), RBI (35), slugging percentage (.624), on-base percentage (.420) and runs scored (33).
Late birdie spree puts Dufner in the lead
Jason Dufner birdied four of the last five holes Friday for a 4-under 66 and a one-stroke lead after the second round of the Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas. Dufner capped the round with a 37-foot chip-in at the 429-yard 18th, where he drove wide right and hit an approach that rolled over the green into a swale behind the hole. The winner last month in New Orleans for his first PGA Tour title, Dufner also holed a 35-foot chip at No. 15.
Matt Kuchar, coming off a victory Sunday in The Players Championship, was second along with first-round leader Ryan Palmer, Chad Campbell, Pat Perez, Dicky Pride and Marc Leishman.
■ Ryan Spears of Del City, Okla., shot a 9-under 63 in the second round of the Cherry Blossom Classic and jumped to the top of the leader board of the NGA Tour event in Georgetown. Spears, the 2011 NGA Rookie of the Year, had 10 birdies and one bogey.
Spears was one shot clear of first-round leader Nemanja Savic of Belgrade, Serbia. Savic backed his first-round 63 with a 6-under 66.
Paducah's Rick Cochran III is the top Kentuckian in the field. He shot his way up the leader board with a 9-under 63 in the second round. Cochran birdied his final five holes to reach 10-under par for the event and moved into a tie for sixth.
The cut was at 6-under par and included Mark Blakefield, a two-time Cherry Blossom champion from Maysville. Peter Uihlein, the 2010 U.S. Amateur champion, finished at 3-under par.
■ Top-seeded Martin Kaymer was eliminated from the World Match Play Championship by the lowest-ranked player in the field, losing by 1 hole to Richard Finch in Casares, Spain. The No. 9-ranked German needed to make a 3-foot putt to halve the match and force a playoff against the No. 218-ranked Finch, but it horseshoed out. Defending champion Ian Poulter looked strong after overwhelming Tom Lewis 4 and 3 and extending his unbeaten match-play record on European soil to 14 contests.
■ Transylvania's men's golf team finished second to Oglethorpe in the NCAA Division III in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. Oglethorpe won by 20 shots, but the race for second went down to the wire. Transy finished one shot ahead of Methodist.
"Our goal was clearly to get second," Transylvania Coach Brian Lane said of the Pioneers starting the day 16 shots off the lead. "These guys have had a quiet confidence about them all week."
The last word
Kurt Busch thought he and Ryan Newman were friends. He's learned the hard way this week that he might have been mistaken.
Busch is once again in the starring role as NASCAR's resident villain, this time for a series of incidents involving Newman and his team last week at Darlington Raceway. It's led to a series of scathing remarks from Newman, who has accused Busch in various interviews of having a "chemical imbalance" and lying about why he ran into the back of Newman's car after Saturday night's race.
Busch said Friday:
"Newman and I were friends. We were great teammates, and he needs to check his trophy case on the (2008) Daytona 500 trophy that I helped him get years ago. We've always been great friends. There was no need for his comments afterward. ... He was agitated just like I was after a good day had gone bad. He was just in the emotion of it. With him making the comments he did, he was a little out of line as well for the heat of the moment."