tampabay.com

NASCAR lets crash-prone rookie qualify

By TIMES WIRES
Published November 1, 2006


NASCAR announced Tuesday it will allow David Ragan to attempt to qualify for Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Ragan was recently tabbed to replace Mark Martin in Roush Racing's flagship No. 6 Ford next year. He is the son of Ken Ragan, who had 50 Cup starts from 1983-90.

In his second Nextel Cup start, at Martinsville on Oct. 22, Ragan was involved in three crashes. On one, on Lap 311, he locked up his brakes, sending him into Ken Schrader, who hit the fence hard in Turn 1. An angry Schrader, who had been in the top 10, picked up a piece of his Ford's rear clip and threw it.

Roush withdrew its entry for Ragan last week at Atlanta because NASCAR would not allow the 20-year-old to compete.

Ragan met with NASCAR officials then finished sixth in the trucks race. He also posted a winning auction bid of $5,750 for a pre-race ride around the track with Tony Stewart, who said Ragan should have been black-flagged at Martinsville.

"Tony criticized me a lot after, and when a champion does that, it's good to go talk to him," Ragan said of buying the ride. "I think I'll ask him what I should have done different and just introduce myself so that if I step out of line in the future. He'll come and talk to me about it."

NASCAR said it will observe Ragan when he attempts to qualify the No. 60 Ford for Sunday's race before determining his future.

F1: Red Bull Racing will change to Renault engines for next season, and Scuderia Toro Rosso will be supplied by Ferrari. Red Bull, which owns both teams, used Ferrari engines this past season while Toro Rosso used Cosworth.

SOCCER

MLS honors Chivas pair for team's turnaround

Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley and defender Jonathan Bornstein were named MLS coach and rookie of the year, respectively. They helped the second-year club earn a playoff spot a season after going 4-22-6.

Bradley is the first two-time winner, having won in 1998 for leading Chicago to the title in its debut season. Bornstein, 21, played 2,878 minutes, most among nongoalies, and led all rookies with six goals.

champions league: Liverpool, PSV Eindhoven, Bayern Munich and Valencia became the first teams to advance to the Round of 16 of Europe's top tournament.

GOLD CUP: The tournament among North, South and Central American and Caribbean teams no longer will invite two outside teams to compete. An extra team from the Caribbean and Central America will qualify for the 12-team event scheduled for June 6-24 in the United States.

ET CETERA

BOXING: Roy Jones will defend his WBO light heavyweight title against Manny Siaca in Philadelphia on Dec. 9. Jones, 37, won the title in July with a decision over Prince Badi Ajamu. Siaca, ranked second by the WBA, is 2-1 with two knockouts since moving up to the division in 2005.

HORSES: Starting next year, the winners of 24 races run at six tracks between late July and early October will earn automatic berths in Breeders' Cup races. Races will be grouped at Saratoga, Arlington Park, Del Mar, Belmont Park, Keeneland and Santa Anita.

VOLLEYBALL: The United States beat Kazakhstan 19-25, 25-19, 25-19, 26-28, 16-14 on Day 1 of the women's World Championships in Kobe, Japan. The 2002 runnerup got 25 points from Nancy Metcalf against a team making its first appearance in the event. The Americans continue the round-robin portion today against the Netherlands.

Times wires

TENNIS

Safin struggles early but extends Paris streak

Marat Safin beat Robin Soderling 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the third round of the Paris Masters. Safin, who won in 2000, 2002 and 2004, has not lost in the event since 2001. He was hurt in 2003 and 2005.

Soderling had a chance to go up 4-2 in the second, but Safin broke in consecutive games. In the third, Soderling lost serve to trail 3-2 then missed two break points.

Nikolay Davydenko, the only player at the event to have qualified for next month's Masters Cup, beat Christophe Rochus 6-0, 6-0 in 36 minutes.

Gaz de France: Francesca Schiavone, the event's runnerup last year, beat Meghann Shaughnessy 6-2, 6-1 in less than 50 minutes in the first round in Hasselt, Belgium. Anna-Lena Groenefeld, who won her first title this year in Acapulco, lost 6-1, 6-3 to Aravane Rezai and is 4-13 since June.