National Sports Briefs

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 14, 2009

Associated Press
BROOKLYN, Mich. ó Brian Vickers is fast, especially at Michigan International Speedway.
Now he’s hoping to turn his raw speed into a race victory, along with some momentum to help him springboard into NASCAR’s championship chase.
Vickers turned a lap of 187.242 mph on Friday, winning pole position for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Michigan. With four races to go before the chase, Vickers sits 14th in the series points standings ó 96 points out of the 12th-place cutoff.
Chase contenders Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne qualified in the top 10 ó but Kahne will have to start Sunday’s race at the back of the pack because his team changed engines.
Series points leader Tony Stewart qualified 18th. Carl Edwards qualified 32nd, worst of the top 12 drivers. Another driver trying to scramble back into the chase, Kyle Busch, qualified 39th.
NEW YORK ó The woman accused of trying to extort as much as $10 million from Rick Pitino over a sexual encounter says the Louisville coach orchestrated a plot to keep her silent, including a claim that her current husband was paid to marry her.
Karen Sypher, whose extortion charge is still pending, says in Friday’s edition of the New York Post that Pitino ó a married father of five ó engaged her at a Louisville restaurant in 2003, where the sexual encounter is said to have occurred. Pitino admitted to the tryst Wednesday and issued a public apology.
The Post reported that Sypher, who at the time was divorced from a previous marriage, went on to claim that her subsequent marriage to Tim Sypher ó Pitino’s equipment manager ó was all part of an elaborate plot Pitino used to keep the incident private.
“The feds bugged my house and put surveillance everywhere with Tim’s help,” said Sypher, who is currently going through a divorce.
“I now think my husband was paid to marry me.”
DURHAM ó Duke is adding guard Andre Dawkins to its incoming recruiting class for this fall.
The school said Friday that Dawkins had signed an offer of admission after passing a final course requirement to earn his high school diploma this summer.
Dawkins had attended four years of high school, though he went to one year of public high school before transferring to Atlantic Shores Christian School and was classified as a freshman again. After learning he lacked only one English class required for NCAA eligibility, Dawkins decided to pursue early admission to Duke.PANTHERS
SPARTANBURG, S.C. ó Four days after kicking his helmet in disgust and climbing into a golf cart thinking his shoulder was broken, Carolina receiver Steve Smith was smiling and throwing tight spirals.
Fittingly, Smith’s surprisingly quick return to practice Friday ended with a throw-and-catch session with inexperienced receiver Kenny Moore.
“It gave me those childhood memories of what I grew up with. I really liked how I felt, falling back in love with the game,” Smith said.
MONTREAL ó Jo-Wilfried Tsonga upset Roger Federer in the Rogers Cup on Friday, coming back from the brink of elimination in the third set to beat the world’s top-ranked player 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (3).
CHICAGO ó Police charged a 21-year-old man with two misdemeanor counts in connection with a beer-throwing incident at Wrigley Field that showered Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino. John Macchione of Bartlett, Ill., was charged with one count of battery and one count of illegal conduct within a sports facility, according to police.