Sports Extra

Auto Racing

Rain washes out qualifying; Keselowski gets the pole

LAS VEGAS – Brad Keselowski will start on the pole after heavy rain forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying for Sunday’s race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The track got steady rain all morning Friday and again in the early afternoon after a brief break, forcing NASCAR to scrap practice and qualifying for the first time in Las Vegas.

The speedway urged fans to take cover from rain, wind and lightning when the afternoon storm broke.

Sunday’s field will be set by points and the NASCAR rule book, giving the pole to last season’s Sprint Cup series champion.

Hamlin says no thank you to NASCAR and that $25k fine

LAS VEGAS – A furious Denny Hamlin said he won’t pay the $25,000 fine leveled on him by NASCAR on Thursday after his criticism of the Gen-6 race car.

The fine also left many of his fellow drivers wondering what they can say about their new cars without incurring NASCAR’s wrath. Hamlin compared the new race car unfavorably to last year’s car, along with lamenting the overall quality of racing last week in Phoenix.

NFL

Broncos part ways with their Gronk, tender five players

ENGLEWOOD – Chris Gronkowski became an unrestricted free agent after the Denver Broncos declined to issue a contract tender to the third-year fullback Friday.

The Broncos tendered running back Lance Ball, punter Britton Colquitt and backup offensive tackle Chris Clark. The team will have a week to match any offers the restricted free agents might receive between the March 12-19 signing period.

The Broncos also issued contract tenders to defensive tackle Mitch Unrein and cornerback Tony Carter as exclusive rights free agents who can’t negotiate with other teams.

The Broncos obtained Gronkowski, the brother of Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski, in a trade from the Indianapolis Colts for defensive back Cassius Vaughn last spring.

Cycling

Porte wins Stage 5 and takes Paris-Nice lead from Talansky

LA MONTAGNE DE LURE, France – Australian rider Richie Porte won the fifth stage of the Paris-Nice race Friday, taking the yellow jersey from Andrew Talansky of the United States.

Porte completed the 110-mile trek from Chateauneuf-du-Pape to La Montagne de Lure in 4 hours, 50 minutes, 54 seconds. Denis Menchov of Russia finished second, 26 seconds behind Porte, and Talansky was third.

Talansky accelerated in the final climb, but Porte passed the American, who slipped to second place in the overall standings, 32 seconds off the pace.

Sagan wins Stage 3 sprint at the Tirreno-Adriatico

NARNI SCALO, Italy – Peter Sagan of Slovakia won the rainy third stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico in a sprint Friday, while Mark Cavendish retained the overall lead.

Cavendish of Britain finished second, and Andre Greipel of Germany was third.

Sagan clocked 5 hours, 15 minutes, 12 seconds over the rolling 118-mile leg.

Soccer

New lineup, new goal-scorers: U.S. women rout China 5-nil

ALBUFEIRA, Portugal – Ali Krieger and Whitney Engen did more than defend Friday, scoring their first international goals as the U.S. women stayed atop their group with a 5-0 rout of China at the Algarve Cup.

Christen Press and Sydney Leroux also scored for the Americans, who extended their unbeaten streak to 27 games.

The U.S. also got an own goal.

The Americans will finish group play Monday against Sweden, their first game against former coach Pia Sundhage since she stepped down last fall to return to her native country.

Associated Press