National Sports Briefs
SONOMA, Calif. ó Owner Michael Andretti is confident Andretti-Green Racing will re-sign Danica Patrick beyond this IndyCar season ó and perhaps soon.
Andretti said the sides are “close” to an agreement and he gave Patrick a big hug and best wishes moments before the start of Sunday’s 75-lap Sonoma Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway, the final road course event of the year.
“I think we’re getting close,” Andretti told The Associated Press in pit row. “She wants to be here. We want her to be here. I’ve been saying that for a while.”
Patrick is in the final year of her three-year IndyCar contract with Andretti-Green Racing. She has said she’ll wait until the end of the season to solidify her next move. But she hasn’t ruled out a switch to NASCAR, a series that would give the glamour girl tremendous earning potential in both salary, sponsorship and marketing opportunities.
She has visited several NASCAR shops in North Carolina, including points leader Tony Stewart’s new team.
CHARLOTTE ó The Carolina Panthers are providing no information on the status of Pro Bowl linebacker Jon Beason a day after he injured his left knee.
Beason was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam Sunday, but a team spokesman said they would have no update until Monday. General manager Marty Hurney and Beason’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, didn’t return messages. Beason also didn’t update his Twitter page or Web site.
Beason was injured in the first quarter Saturday in Miami. He immediately told reporters he didn’t believe he was seriously hurt and had not torn his anterior cruciate ligament. But he had a brace on his knee and was using crutches.
– PHILADELPHIA ó Michael Vick showed no signs of rust during the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice Sunday, throwing tight spirals with plenty of velocity.
“How does Michael look in the offense? He looks pretty good,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. “It was a fairly seamless transition, even though he hadn’t played for two years, because of the terminology. It’s very similar. Now, many of the details are different and details are where you win football games, so that’s the important part there. But the terminology is coming very easily to him.”
– CINCINNATI ó Receiver Chad Ochocinco won’t have to kick extra points anymore.
The Cincinnati Bengals signed rookie kicker Sam Swank from Wake Forest on Sunday, giving them another option while Shayne Graham recovers from a groin injury.
Swank finished his career at Wake Forest as the school’s leading scorer. He kicked 71 career field goals, a school record.
Philadelphia signed him as a free agent and released him on May 27.
MILWAUKEE ó Ignoring any hard feelings about his abrupt departure for Indiana, Tom Crean returned to Marquette and was inducted into its sports hall of fame along with Dwyane Wade and the rest of the 2003 Final Four men’s basketball on Saturday night.
The celebration was held at the Bradley Center, the site where Crean helped lead Marquette’s resurgence in college basketball and, eventually, in the Big East.
MASON, Ohio ó Roger Federer is back in top-of-the-world form heading into the U.S. Open.
The Swiss star played up to his No. 1 ranking Sunday, beating Novak Djokovic 6-1, 7-5 for the Cincinnati Masters title and plenty of confidence heading into the Open, which he has won each of the last five years.
– TORONTO ó Elena Dementieva has defeated Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 to win the Rogers Cup championship.
JOHANNESBURG ó South Africans planned to rally in support of track champion Caster Semenya ó celebrating her win in the 800 meters at the world championship, and denouncing questions about whether she should be allowed to compete as a woman as racist and sexist.
The International Amateur Athletic Federation has initiated gender tests on Semenya expected to take weeks to complete. While that cloud hovers, Athletics South Africa, track’s national governing body, invited reporters to welcome the nation’s athletes home from Berlin.
The youth wing of the governing African National Congress said its president Julius Malema would lead a welcome rally for “South Africa’s golden girl,” saying that Semenya “should be celebrated by all South Africans, despite attempts by the IAAF to humiliate her.”