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Sports briefs: Jan. 21


Stewart 'very embarrassed' over altercation in Australia

Tony Stewart said he's "very embarrassed" about his confrontation with a track owner in Australia that led to questioning at a police station. The dispute at Sydney Speedway last week was over track conditions that the two-time NASCAR champion deemed unsafe. Stewart called the matter an "altercation," and several Australian racing Web sites reported that he fought with speedway co-owner Brett Morris.

"We'd been over there almost five weeks and had the same problem with the racetrack," Stewart said Thursday. "It wasn't something that was just one incident."

New South Wales state police said last week that police were called. Spokeswoman Joanne Elliott said a 39-year-old man was arrested at the scene after a 46-year-old man was allegedly hit in the face by a racing helmet. The younger man was released without charge, pending further investigation. Stewart, who is 39, said he could face more questions from Australian police.

"I've lost a lot of sleep over it," he said. "I am very embarrassed that I made it through a whole trip and, the night before I come home, I get into an altercation with somebody. That really hasn't happened for a while. I am not at all proud of it, I am ashamed about it."

Edwards to run full Nationwide schedule

Carl Edwards said Thursday he plans to run every race in NASCAR's second-tier series despite not being able to contend for the title this season. "We still have the owners' championship to go for, still have all those wins to race for," Edwards said during a test at newly repaved Daytona International Speedway. "That's fun. That's what makes the Nationwide Series fun."

NASCAR changed its rules this year and forced drivers to select one series in which they will race for a championship.

Trevor Bayne, a 19-year-old up-and-comer who drove in the Nationwide Series last season, is scheduled to drive at least 17 Sprint Cup races for the Wood brothers in 2011. Bayne will drive the first five races, beginning with the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, then make selected appearances over the rest of the season. He will be paired with veteran crew chief Donnie Wingo. Bayne made his Cup debut with Wood Brothers Racing last year at Texas and finished 17th.


Weekley grabs share of lead with rookie

Boo Weekley shot a 6-under 66 in windy conditions Thursday for a share of the second-round lead with rookie Jhonattan Vegas in the Bob Hope Classic in La Quinta, Calif. Vegas had a 67 to match Weekley at 13-under 131 in the 90-hole tournament on four Palm Springs-area courses. Charles Howell III (66) and Chris Couch (65) were a stroke back. Kenny Perry followed his first-round 67 with a 69 and was in a tie for 18th at 8 under. Fellow Kentuckian Steve Flesch was one shot behind Perry after also shooting a 69.

Vegas is a Venezuelan playing in his fifth PGA Tour event. He bogeyed his final hole on the Nicklaus Private course.

Charl Schwartzel took a one-stroke lead with an 8-under 64 in the first round Thursday at the Abu Dhabi Championship in the United Arab Emirates. The South African had nine birdies — eight in the first 12 holes — to lead Padraig Harrington by one shot. U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell shot 66 and finished with five straight birdies. He's tied with Swedish pair Alexander Noren and Niclas Fasth. Masters champion Phil Mickelson was seven shots behind the leader. Schwartzel won the Joburg Open last week.

Former State Am winner Combs dies

Casey Combs of Louisville, who won the 2006 State Amateur golf championship, died last Saturday. He was 48. According to the Kentucky Golf Association, Mr. Combs was an independent businessman and previously worked as a golf pro at Wildwood Country Club in Louisville. In the 2006 State Am, Mr. Combs rallied on the closing holes to win at the University of Louisville's Cardinal Club.

There were two other recent deaths in the Kentucky golf community. Ken Postlewait Jr. of Louisville, a teaching pro at Wildwood, died Saturday at 52. Bill Sullivan of Louisville, pro at South Park Country Club in Fairdale for 39 years, died Monday. He was 63.


Price wins Spahn Award as top lefty

David Price said Thursday while being recognized as baseball's top left-handed pitcher with the Warren Spahn Award that he and the Rays are "coming in this year to win" despite heavy losses in free agency and the trade of Matt Garza. Price, a Murfreesboro, Tenn., native and former Vanderbilt player, went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA last season and finished behind Seattle's Felix Hernandez in voting for the Cy Young Award.

■ Two-sport star Matt Szczur has decided to stick with baseball and stay in the Chicago Cubs' minor-league system. The 21-year-old outfielder was drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round last year. He spent most of his time at Single-A Boise and hit .347 in 25 games. Szczur led Villanova to the 2009 national title in the Football Championship Subdivision. He ran for 159 yards and was chosen the most outstanding player in the title game.


Franklin sues ESPN over firing

Former ESPN announcer Ron Franklin has sued the network over his firing for reportedly berating a female colleague. The wrongful termination lawsuit filed Monday in state district court in Franklin's hometown of Austin, Texas, claims ESPN had no grounds for dismissing him. The suit says Franklin exchanged "contentious words" with a colleague who repeatedly interrupted a private conversation before the pair worked at the Chick-fil-A Bowl without incident. Sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards has said Franklin called her "sweet baby" in a condescending tone. Edwards said a colleague reported the incident to ESPN officials.

■ A former Iowa football player who faced decades in prison over a sexual-assault case got his future back Thursday, when a jury convicted him on the least serious charge possible: misdemeanor assault. Cedric Everson's attorney acknowledged Everson had sex with a female athlete in a vacant dorm room but claimed it was consensual, while the woman said she had passed out and didn't even know it happened until weeks later. The case has haunted both former students and the university for years. The verdict means Everson, 21, faces no more than 30 days in jail when he is sentenced Feb. 25, and he won't have to register as a sex offender.

■ Prosecutors dropped charges of keeping a drug house against former Iowa wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and his roommate. In recent court filings, prosecutors charged Johnson-Koulianos with unlawful possession of marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs for anxiety, pain and sleep.

■ A former football player at Toledo pleaded guilty to a gambling charge Thursday, admitting he introduced basketball players to a Detroit-area businessman and encouraged them to shave points for money during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. Adam Cuomo is the first of six former Toledo athletes to plead guilty following their federal indictment in Detroit, where prosecutors alleged the conspiracy was hatched. More guilty pleas are expected in the weeks ahead.

■ Prosecutors dropped domestic violence charges Thursday against former Denver Broncos linebacker Kevin Alexander after the woman he was accused of hitting refused to cooperate.

■ Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s uncle and trainer pleaded no contest Thursday to two misdemeanor battery charges in a plea deal that avoided a trial and jail time in a Las Vegas domestic battery case. Roger Mayweather, 49, was sentenced to a year of probation, 24 weeks of domestic violence counseling, 50 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine for the Aug. 2, 2009, incident.

The last word

First, the Jets beat the Colts and Peyton Manning on the road, then the Patriots and Tom Brady. To reach the Super Bowl, they must beat Ben Roethlisberger at Pittsburgh. Toughest playoff road in NFL history? Coach Rex Ryan wouldn't say for sure, but ...

"I can say this: It's not easy. I don't know who's next. Terry Bradshaw? All I know is that those are a lot of Super Bowl rings in there."