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home : sports : regional July 27, 2015

Quick Hits


Harvick Wins Pole for Atlanta Race

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Kevin Harvick has won the pole for the NASCARs Sprint Cup Series race Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Harvick turned a fast lap of 190.398 mph Friday night, as drivers sought track time with cloud cover and cooler temperatures for better grip.

Brad Keselowski will join Harvick on the front row after qualifying second. Rounding out the top five were Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth.

Tony Stewart, making his return to racing this weekend, qualified 12th at 187.907.

Stewart sat out three races after the sprint car he was driving struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., who had stepped on the upstate New York dirt track to confront him.


Newly Acquired Wright Could Play TE for Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tim Wright could be a part of the tight end puzzle for the New England Patriots.

With Rob Gronkowski trying to get back on the field after another injury, Wright had four catches for 43 yards in the Patriots' exhibition finale against the New York Giants. He was targeted two other times in the 16-13 loss.

Gronkowski has lasted just 18 games over the past two seasons. He is recovering from ACL and MCL surgery on his right knee and did not play this preseason.

The Patriots acquired Wright last week for six-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins.

New England opens the regular season at Miami on Sept. 7.


Irish Open Season vs Rice Under Academic Cloud

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame won't be at full strength when it opens the season against Rice and might not be all season.

It marks the second straight season the Irish are being hampered by academic problems. A year after starting quarterback Everett Golson missed the season because of academic impropriety, five players are being held out indefinitely while the university investigates whether they received improper help on homework and papers. That includes three starters, two on defense.

Rice is coming off a 10-4 season where the Owls won their first outright conference title in 57 years and are expected to challenge in Conference USA again. Rice quarterback Driphus Jackson said the team isn't awed by Notre Dame, and the Owls are looking to make a statement against the Irish.


Federer Improves to 24-1 at Night in Ashe at Open

NEW YORK -- Roger Federer produced one particularly brilliant backhand lob that he celebrated by wagging a finger overhead during a straight-set second-round victory at the U.S. Open.

The second-seeded Federer beat 104th-ranked Sam Groth of Australia 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 Friday, improving to 24-1 for his career in night matches held in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Federer is also 54-1 in second-round Grand Slam matches; the only loss came at Wimbledon last year.

He limited the big-serving Groth to eight aces and broke him five times.

In the second set's final game, Federer closed a 17-stroke exchange by sliding to his backhand side, stretching and flicking a high-arching lob that landed in. Federer raised his right hand and made a "No. 1" gesture with his index finger.

Federer next faces 42nd-ranked Marcel Granollers.


Palmer Leads by 2 in Mass. Tournament

NORTON, Mass. -- Ryan Palmer took only 21 putts Friday on the TPC Boston and made birdie on half of his holes. That gave him an 8-under 63 and a two-shot lead after the opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Palmer one-putted 15 times in what he called one of his rounds of the year.

Keegan Bradley did his best to make an impression on U.S. captain Tom Watson for the Ryder Cup. Bradley is being considered for a captain's pick. He says he thinks about the Ryder Cup every day. He played bogey-free for a 65.

Webb Simpson, another Ryder Cup hopeful, and Jason Day of Australia were among those at 66.

Rory McIlroy opened with a 70, while Phil Mickelson made only six pars in a wild round of 73.


Last Call for Legendary Announcer Tom Durkin

It's last call for Tom Durkin.

The voice of horse racing on the New York circuit is silencing himself on Sunday, retiring after a 43-year career in which he also announced Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup races.

Durkin's last call will come in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga in upstate New York. Sunday will be declared "Tom Durkin Day" in Saratoga Springs.

The 63-year-old announcer's career began with a lie. A friend of Durkin pitched him to a man looking for someone to call the races at a county fair meet in Wisconsin, explaining that Durkin was the assistant track announcer at Arlington Park outside Chicago.

No such job existed, but Durkin got the small-town gig in 1971 and he's been calling races ever since.

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