National Sports Briefs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) ó Comparing himself to a race car driver, President Barack Obama honored Jimmie Johnson and seven other NASCAR drivers Wednesday for their performance on and off the track. Johnson has won an unprecedented five consecutive Chase for the Sprint Cup championship titles.
The president also thanked NASCAR for supporting military families.
“NASCAR is a sport where anything that can go wrong will go wrong at some point during the season, similar to being president,” Obama said at a brief White House appearance that was forced indoors because of rain.
“That’s true even for even the best drivers. And with so much extraordinary talent that is going bumper to bumper in every race, just making the chase is hard, let alone winning the whole thing. And that’s why Jimmie is not just one of the best drivers of all times, he’s up there with some of the great sports dynasties,” Obama said, naming the Boston Celtics, New York Yankees and Montreal Canadiens.
CHARLESTON, S.C. ó NASCAR’s trucks won’t return to Darlington Raceway next season, but the departure apparently has nothing to do with Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina.
The truck series leaving was not connected to the series bringing NASCAR racing back to Rockingham, which at one time was Darlington’s sister track at International Speedway Corp.
WINSTON-SALEMó Former Wake Forest forward Melvin Tabb has pleaded guilty to breaking into a classmate’s dorm room and stealing an iPod.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported that Tabb pleaded guilty to felony breaking and entering, possession of stolen goods and obtaining property by false pretenses. The break-in occurred in June.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. ó Joe Paterno could add another honor to his trophy case ó and it doesn’t get any more prestigious than this.
U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson and Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey said they nominated the Penn State football coach for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, citing his contributions to athletics and higher education.
NEW YORK ó Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray got in about 15 minutes of tennis Wednesday ó barely enough to work up a sweat, but more than enough to get into a snit.
Rain washed out the matches for the second straight day at the U.S. Open, creating a logjam in the schedule and a bigger mess in the locker room, where the big-name players questioned the wisdom of putting them out on courts that were still damp thanks to a fine mist that was falling in the morning.
Shortly after they started, play was called, then late in the afternoon, the men were sent home.
Much later, and right after Serena Williams warmed up for her match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the U.S. Tennis Association finally scrubbed the women’s matches, too, calling everyone back for an 11 a.m. start today, when the weather forecast is every bit as dodgy ó an 80 percent chance of rain.
BRUSSELS ó The U.S. national soccer team lost to Belgium 1-0 Tuesday, leaving Jurgen Klinsmann without a win in three games since he was hired as the Americans’ coach.
This was the first road match for the U.S. since Klinsmann came aboard. The Americans earlier tied Mexico and lost to Costa Rica.
CHICAGO ó Speed-skater Apolo Anton Ohno has decided to run in the Chicago Half Marathon and Karhu 5K as part of his training for the New York City Marathon in November.
Ohno, who has won eight Olympic medals, says running on Sept. 11 is the perfect preparation before he tackles his first full marathon.