Hamlin wins a Fontana pole; Biffle, Keselowski penalized
FONTANA, Calif. – Denny Hamlin won the pole position for the second consecutive year at Fontana, turning a lap of 187.451 mph in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Greg Biffle finished second and Brad Keselowski third in Friday’s qualifying session, but they’ll start at the back after engine changes.
Hamlin earned his first pole of the season and the 13th of his career. He won three last year and has won the pole three times at Auto Club Speedway.
Biffle was right behind at 187.217 mph in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Keselowski was third, beating Kyle Busch’s 187.130 mph in fourth place.
But Biffle and Keselowski both had engine issues in practice, so Busch, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. all will move up for the start of Sunday’s race.
Defending champion Tony Stewart qualified eighth.
Reed signs with the Texans; Williams replaces Urlacher
HOUSTON – Ed Reed knew from the start of free agency that he wanted to play for the Texans and that his days in Baltimore were over.
The nine-time Pro Bowl safety signed a three-year, $15-million contract with Houston on Friday, adding championship experience to the Texans’ defense and leaving the reigning Super Bowl champions without yet another of their cornerstone players.
CHICAGO – A person familiar with the situation said the Chicago Bears agreed to a one-year contract with linebacker D.J. Williams, giving them a possible replacement for Brian Urlacher.
Williams has played both middle and outside linebacker. He missed nine games while serving a pair of NFL-mandated suspensions last season and was released by the Broncos on the eve of free agency, freeing up his $6-million salary.
Harlon Hill, the Division II MVP namesake, dies at 80
FLORENCE, Ala. – Harlon Hill, the former star receiver for the Chicago Bears whose name adorns the NCAA Division II player of the year trophy, has died. He was 80.
Jeff Hodges, chairman of the National Harlon Hill Award Committee, said Hill died Thursday at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Florence after a lengthy illness.
Hill, who attended North Alabama, was the NFL rookie of the year in 1954 after being drafted in the 15th round by the Bears, and he became the first winner of the Jim Thorpe Trophy as the NFL’s most valuable player in 1955. In nine seasons with the Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions, he had 233 receptions for 4,717 yards and 40 touchdowns. He averaged 20.2 yards per catch.
Ross and Ganong win the American super-Gs
SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. – Laurenne Ross from Bend, Ore., won the super-G on Friday in the U.S. Alpine Championships, beating Stacey Cook of Battle Mountain by 0.01 seconds for her first national title and defending champion Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley, Calif., by 0.08 seconds.
In the men’s race, Squaw Valley star Travis Ganong – the 2010 champion – won by 0.20 seconds on his home course. NorAm overall and U.S. downhill champion Jared Goldberg of Holladay, Utah, was second, and Mark Engel of Truckee finished third.
Dempsey’s snowball proves game-winner over Costa Rica
COMMERCE CITY – On a snowy night more suitable to slaloms than soccer, Clint Dempsey scored early in his first start as the American captain, and the United States beat Costa Rica 1-0 on Friday in a key qualifier for next year’s World Cup.
Plows and shovels were used to clear the penalty areas, center circle and midfield stripe as snow got heavier, and a yellow-and-purple ball was used.