Kenseth, third in Chase, still searching for sponsor for 2012
The endless sponsor plugs in NASCAR can be almost comical sometimes, and a skilled driver can always figure out a way to name-drop a company into any conversation. So it was no surprise when Matt Kenseth began rattling off sponsor names as soon as he climbed from his car following his Saturday night win at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"It's not too late to come back," he gently reminded them. "We don't have any sponsors coming back for next year."
Kenseth said it with a smile and the quip drew a hearty laugh, but there isn't anything funny about his situation.
The 2003 NASCAR champion is losing primary sponsor Crown Royal at the end of the season. Despite three wins and a solid shot to win the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, team owner Jack Roush has been unsuccessful in his bid to find significant funding for the No. 17 Ford. Fortunately for Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing is one of the most lucrative teams in NASCAR and Kenseth is not in danger of losing his job.
"The 17 car is secure in Roush Fenway's livery," the team owner said. "We will run it with or without a sponsor next year, but it will be a shame if we are not able to attract sponsorship."
Only Greg Biffle is so far fully funded for next year for Roush. The organization has yet to fill points leader Carl Edwards' schedule and has announced nothing at all for Kenseth or David Ragan.
LSU, Alabama top first BCS standings
LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State hold the top four spots in the first BCS standings, setting up two potentially huge conference games that could determine which teams play for the national title.
Southeastern Conference rivals first-place LSU and second-place Alabama meet Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Tigers play defending national champion Auburn at home on Saturday and the Crimson Tide is at Tennessee. If they can get through that, both will be off for a week before a likely No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup that could decide the SEC West.
Third-place Oklahoma and fourth-place Oklahoma State have to wait longer to play their potential Big 12 showdown. The Bedlam rivalry is set for Dec. 3 at Stillwater, Okla.
■ BCS standings, Page B5
Gamecocks lose Lattimore for season
A turbulent week for No. 14 South Carolina closed with devastating news: Star tailback Marcus Lattimore is out for the year with a knee injury. "Our worst fears were realized," Gamecocks Coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday.
Spurrier said Lattimore had a torn ligament in his left knee and also suffered some cartilage damage. Lattimore will require surgery, although doctors want to keep the knee braced and allow it stabilze for several weeks before operating. Lattimore had been the main engine for South Carolina's offense this season with 818 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing this season. He was leading the Southeastern Conference in rushing most of the season before getting overtaken by Alabama's Trent Richardson.
■ Mississippi defensive end Wayne Dorsey and cornerback Marcus Temple are out for the season after getting injured in Saturday's 52-7 loss to No. 2 Alabama. Both seniors were key contributors on defense. Dorsey is leading Mississippi with five tackles for a loss and three sacks while Temple has 28 tackles and is second on the team with two interceptions.
Georgia's late goal finishes off Cats
Georgia scored in the 88th minute to defeat Kentucky's women's soccer team 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at the UK Soccer Complex. Alexa Newfield, the Southeastern Conference's leading goal scorer, took a loose ball, dribbled it past the UK defense and beat Kayla Price one-on-one for the game-winner. The Bulldogs trailed 1-0 in the 76th minute before the Wildcats' Arin Gilliland headed in the tying goal off an assist from Kacie Kumar. Georgia has beaten UK the last 13 times the teams have played.
■ UK's Jessica Stiles and Khristina Blajkevitch advanced to the doubles semifinals at the USTA/ITA Women's Tennis Ohio Valley Regional in Memphis. Stiles and Blajkevitch defeated Tennessee-Chattanooga's Jenna Nurick and Kaylene Chadwell 8-3 in Sunday's quarterfinals. Stiles also advanced to the singles quarterfinals with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 victory against Louisville's Rebecca Shine.
Jockey Castro suffers spinal fracture
Jockey Eddie Castro suffered a hairline fracture of his L1 vertebra in a spill on Saturday at Belmont Park. The New York Racing Association jockey advocate said there was no resulting compression on Castro's nerves and his spinal column remains aligned. He is listed in stable condition at North Shore University Hospital.
It is unlikely Castro will need surgery. He expected to recover in a back brace and is scheduled for release from the hospital on Tuesday. There is no timetable for his return to riding.
Tied for tenth in the Belmont fall meet standings, Castro was injured when his mount, Royal Brush, broke down in the fourth race. Royal Brush suffered a fractured left front leg and was euthanized.
■ Redeemed made a late charge and surged ahead in the final strides to beat Alternation and even-money favorite Prayer for Relief in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. Redeemed appeared to be boxed in coming around the final turn, but jockey Edgar Prado found an opening and the colt shot by Alternation and Prayer for Relief — both graded-stakes winners — in the final strides to win by three-quarters of a length.
Couples wins Champions event by 7 shots
Fred Couples ran away with the Champions Tour's AT&T Championship, shooting a bogey-free 6-under 66 on Sunday in San Antonio for a seven-stroke victory — the largest margin on the 50-and-over tour this year. Couples opened with rounds of 65 and 62 and finished at 23 under on TPC San Antonio's Canyons Course. He won for the second time this season and sixth time in two seasons on the tour. Mark Calcavecchia shot a 66 to finish second.
■ Ben Crane knew he was going home Monday to be with his wife for the birth of their third child. He had no reason to believe he would be bringing the McGladrey Classic trophy with him. Seven shots behind with 11 holes to play, Crane ran off seven birdies to close with a 7-under 63, and then he won the sudden-death playoff when Webb Simpson missed a short par putt on the second extra hole in St. Simons Island, Ga.
■ Na Yeon Choi won the LPGA Malaysia for her first LPGA Tour victory of the season and fifth in three years, closing with a 3-under 68 to beat top-ranked Yani Tseng by a stroke.
The last word
Greg Norman doesn't think much of the way Tiger Woods plays golf these days, saying he would not have picked him to play in the Presidents Cup. Norman is the International team captain for the Presidents Cup, to be played Nov. 17-20. Norman said:
"I can understand the name of a Tiger Woods and his history of what he's done on the golf course. But I pick the guys who I think are ready to get in there and play and have performed to the highest levels leading up to it. ... I just don't think he's swinging the golf club the way he used to. ... He's a different player out there nowadays. He even looks tied up. He looks more confined. I know what it takes to have freedom in a golf swing, and I just don't think he's technically in the right position to do what he used to do."