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Auto racing

Kahne relieves pressure by making NASCAR’s Chase

Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw viewed Sunday night’s Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway — the second-to-last event of NASCAR’s regular season — as a must-win situation.

Kahne put pressure on himself and delivered a victory in the Oral-B USA 500 to clinch a berth in NASCAR’s 16-driver, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. Kahne, 34, won for the first time this year and 17th time in his career at NASCAR’s highest level.

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“I just kept saying, ‘I have to win. I have to win Sunday night.’ It was all that I could think about,” said Kahne, who drives for the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports team. “I knew Atlanta was a better opportunity for myself to win at than (the season finale Saturday night at) Richmond.”

Kahne appeared to be the odd man out at Hendrick, as three teammates — Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. — each has three victories so far this year and were Chase locks.

“When I came off Turn 4 and I could see the checkered (flag), right there is the first time I knew I was in the Chase — and it’s such a relief,” Kahne said. “I have the best teammates, and Mr. (Rick) Hendrick gives us everything that we need.”

DeJoria earns NHRA victory

Alexis DeJoria defeated John Force to win the Funny Car division Monday at the U.S. Nationals, which the NHRA bills as the world’s most prestigious drag race.

DeJoria, 36, is the first woman to win three Funny Car races in a season.

Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won their divisions in Clermont, Ind.

International basketball

Spain, Greece rise to 3-0

Spain and Greece each improved to 3-0 at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls scored 26 points as Spain beat Brazil 82-63 in Granada in a matchup of teams that entered the game unbeaten. Greece defeated Puerto Rico 90-79 in Seville.

The United States will take a 2-0 record into Tuesday’s game against New Zealand.


Messi to miss exhibition

Superstar Lionel Messi has been ruled out of Wednesday’s international exhibition against World Cup champion Germany with a right-leg injury.

The Argentine Football Association said Messi will be held out of the match in Dusseldorf, Germany, as a “precaution.”

Messi, who plays for Barcelona in the Spanish league, was injured in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Villarreal.

Meanwhile, Manchester United of England signed Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, 28, on loan from Monaco.

Horse racing

Jm Miracle takes Futurity

Jm Miracle won the $2.6 million All American Futurity, a Grade I race for 2-year-old quarter horses at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico.

Jm Miracle, trained by Umberto Belloc and ridden by Ramon Sanchez, ran 440 yards in 21.38 seconds. The gelding beat Mad About the Moon by a half-length and paid $16.80 to win.

Jm Miracle was said to be OK by racing officials hours after being vanned off the track, reportedly suffering from an internal ailment.


Competitive Edge won the Grade I Hopeful for 2-year-old Thoroughbreds on the last day of the season at Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Competitive Edge, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, ran 7 furlongs in 1:24.11 on a track rated good and beat I Spent It by 5¾ lengths. Competitive Edge paid $3.30 to win in the $350,000 race.

Pletcher had 28 winners at the meet to take his 11th Saratoga training title. Javier Castellano led jockeys with 58 victories, earning his second consecutive riding championship at the track.

Carl Lewis, a winner of nine Olympic gold medals, has agreed to become a full-time coach for the track-and-field program at Houston.

Lewis, 53, was a volunteer assistant last season. He will coach sprints and jumps for the Cougars.

Carol Vadnais, a six-time NHL All-Star defenseman, died Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 68.

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