Sports Extra

Auto Racing

Richard Petty Motorsports re-signs Almirola, Ambrose

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Richard Petty Motorsports re-signed Sprint Cup Series drivers Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola for the 2013 season.

Ambrose, who won at Watkins Glen earlier this season, will be teamed with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer. Almirola will be paired with veteran crew chief Todd Parrott. Both drivers changed crew chiefs twice this season while searching for the right combination.

It will be Ambrose’s third season at RPM, and he again will be behind the wheel of the No. 9 Ford. It will be Almirola’s second season in the No. 43 Ford.

Vettel sits the pole for Texas and the Formula 1 season

AUSTIN, Texas – Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel secured the pole position for the U.S. Grand Prix, putting him in the perfect spot to chase his third consecutive world championship.

Driving the new $400-million Circuit of the Americas, Vettel dominated three practice sessions before securing the pole Saturday with a blistering round of qualifying. Vettel’s fastest lap was 1 minute, 35.657 seconds.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was a distant ninth in qualifying, 1.643 seconds slower than Vettel. Alonso trails Vettel by 10 points in the drivers’ championship.

If Vettel wins Sunday, Alonso must finish no worse than fourth to force the championship into the final race of the season next week in Brazil.

Sunday’s race with be Formula One’s first in the U.S. since Indianapolis in 2007.

NHL

NHL and its players will get back to the table Monday

NEW YORK – So much for a two-week break. Just more than one week since the last set of failed negotiations, the NHL and the locked-out players’ association are returning to the bargaining table Monday.

Conversations that restarted Friday between NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr produced enough positive feeling Saturday for the sides to set up another face-to-face meeting that the sides hope will lead to an agreement to save the hockey season.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman suggested to union executive director Donald Fehr on Thursday the sides take two weeks off from negotiations. The union maintained its desire to keep talking, and now bargaining is back on.

Owners and players met for several consecutive days last week in New York but made little progress. Negotiations ended in an angry exchange last Friday, but bargaining resumed two days later only to break off again in just more than an hour.

Tennis

Czechs double up Spaniards to take the Davis Cup lead

PRAGUE – The Czech Republic won Saturday’s doubles to take a 2-1 lead over defending champion Spain in the Davis Cup final, moving one victory away from its first title as an independent nation.

Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek rallied to beat Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 to take the edge going into Sunday’s reverse singles.

Berdych and Stepanek improved their Davis Cup doubles record to 12-1 by converting their third match point in front of more than 13,000 fans at the O2 Arena.

The sixth-ranked Berdych can clinch the best-of-five series in the first reverse singles Sunday with a victory over David Ferrer. If necessary, Stepanek will play Nicolas Almagro in the final match.

Ski Racing

Vonn released, recovering and hopes to ski Aspen

VAIL – Lindsey Vonn is feeling better and hopes to return to the slopes this weekend.

Hospitalized because of an intestinal illness, the four-time overall World Cup champion could resume her training program next week. If she’s healthy enough, Vonn’s next scheduled races are the giant slalom and slalom in Aspen on Thanksgiving weekend.

Vonn was released from a hospital in Colorado two days ago.

Associated Press