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Auto racing

Stewart leads qualifiers for NASCAR event

Tony Stewart knocked Brad Keselowski from the pole as qualifying ended Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

Stewart waited until near the end of the final round to attempt his lap and circled the speedway at 195.454 mph to earn the top starting spot for Sunday’s Duck Commander 500, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

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It is Stewart’s 15th career pole at NASCAR’s highest level, and first since Atlanta in 2012.

“It was cool. I’m not normally a qualifier,” Stewart said.

Keselowski made his attempt earlier in the session and turned his lap at 195.419.

Kevin Harvick qualified in third as two Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolets were in the top three. Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., will start in fourth, and Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw will start in 32nd.

College football

Fitzgerald opposes idea of a union for players

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald sided with his university against the formation of a players union in his first public comment, repeating what he already told his team: “I believe it’s in their best interests to vote no.”

Fitzgerald addressed the issue for the first time with his team Wednesday, a week after Peter Ohr, regional director for the National Labor Relations Board, ruled Northwestern’s scholarship football players were “employees.”

That decision entitled them to conduct a secret-ballot vote on forming a union to pursue collective bargaining with the school, a move that could significantly alter the structure of college sports — especially big revenue-producers like football and basketball.

Fitzgerald spoke at the end of a spring-practice session at the school’s lakefront facility, alongside a plot of land being developed for a $225 million athletic center. He also said while he is constrained in what he can discuss regarding a union, he sent players and their parents a letter stating his position before addressing the team in person.

“All this can be handled with communication. It’s about trust,” Fitzgerald said about issues — including improved medical care, practice schedules and others — raised by the College Athletes Players Association, the group seeking to unionize players.

So far, CAPA has not addressed paying players on scholarship.

“I just do not believe we need a third party between our players and our coaches, staff and administrators. … Whatever they need, we will get them,” Fitzgerald said.

The NLRB set April 25 for the vote by players.

Miami QB to have knee surgery

Senior Ryan Williams, who was expected to be Miami’s starting quarterback in the fall, will have surgery to repair what doctors believe could be a torn knee ligament, a source told The Miami Herald.


Canucks edge Kings

Vancouver’s Brad Richardson, playing against his former team, scored with 1:23 left in the third period to give the Canucks a 2-1 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Kings.

Vancouver’s Alexander Edler tied the score on a power-play goal early in the third period. The Canucks, who lost in their previous four meetings with the Kings, had a 40-26 advantage in shots on goal.

Eight Western Conference teams make the playoffs. Vancouver, with four games left, is six points behind eighth-place Dallas and five points behind ninth-place Phoenix.

Bruins get top East seed

The Boston Bruins will have home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Johnny Boychuk scored the tiebreaking goal with 6:06 left in the third period, Milan Lucic had two goals, and the Bruins clinched the conference’s best record with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.


Petkovic, Cepelova win

No. 14 seed Andrea Petkovic of Germany and unseeded Jana Cepelova of Slovakia advanced to Sunday’s final in the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C.

Petkovic beat sixth-seeded Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 1-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Cepelova came back from 4-1 down in a third-set tiebreaker to oust 17-year-old qualifier Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (9-7).

Petkovic broke down and cried with a towel over her head after the match, happy she was again in this position after the past three years dealing with injuries that caused her to miss nine months on Tour.

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