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McMurray Wins in Busch Series

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From Staff and Wire Reports

Jamie McMurray led all but five of 197 laps Monday to run away with the rain-delayed Busch Series race at North Carolina Speedway at Rockingham.

McMurray started second, passed pole-sitter David Green on the backstretch of the first lap and steadily pulled away from the field to beat him to the finish line by almost 20 car lengths.

“I feel very blessed to get in a car that is that good because you have to have a great car to have a performance like that,” McMurray said. “It’s unreal to have a car that good.”

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McMurray lost the top spot only once, when fellow Winston Cup driver Michael Waltrip passed him on the track on Lap 164. But caution came out seconds later, all the leaders stopped for tires, and McMurray beat Waltrip out of the pits.

Kerry Earnhardt did not pit and took over the lead, but McMurray sailed by him after the restart and was never challenged.

Tennis

Seventh-seeded Elena Bovina lost to Francesca Schiavone of Italy, 6-1, 6-4, in the first round of the State Farm Classic at Scottsdale, Ariz.

In other matches, fifth-seeded Chanda Rubin beat Jill Craybas, 6-3, 6-1, sixth-seeded Eleni Daniilidou of Greece defeated Vera Zvonareva of Russia, 6-2, 6-3, and eighth-seeded Nathalie Dechy of France ousted wild card Mirjana Lucic of Croatia 3-6, 6-1, 6-0.

Olivier Rochus upset top-seeded Jarkko Nieminen, 6-3, 6-2, at the Copenhagen Open. Rochus, an unseeded Belgian, also beat Nieminen in the first round last year.... Third-seeded Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic beat frequent practice partner Dominik Hrbaty, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, to reach the second round of the Dubai Open in United Arab Emirates.

Michael Chang announced that he will play in the Mercedes Benz Cup, July 28-Aug. 3 at UCLA, as part of his farewell tour. Chang, who won in 1996 and 2000, will be honored during an on-court ceremony on the first night of the tournament.

Miscellany

Even though Tiger Woods fell out of contention Saturday, his presence helped boost television ratings for the final round of the Nissan Open compared to the previous year, when Woods was not in the field.

Sunday’s final round, televised by ABC, drew an overnight national Nielsen rating of 5.1 with a 10% share of the audience. The final round in 2002, televised by CBS, drew an overnight rating/share of 3.2/6.

In Los Angeles, the rating for the golf was a 4.5. Cold-weather markets had higher ratings. Detroit had an 8.0, Pittsburgh a 7.8 and Chicago a 5.8.

The New York Dragons fired coach John Gregory and his staff after an 0-4 start in the Arena Football League.

Missouri defensive lineman Nick Tarpoff was charged with felony possession of an illegal weapon, less than a week after saying he had been shot by an intruder before admitting he actually shot himself in the arm. He also was suspended indefinitely by his team.

Dave Anderson of the New York Times and TV commentator Jim McKay are among five nominees for the inaugural Dick Schaap Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism. They are joined by Dan Jenkins, a writer for Golf Digest and previously for Sports Illustrated; TV commentator Jack Whitaker and Miami Herald columnist Edwin Pope.

Ernie Zavala, the California junior welterweight champion, will headline tonight’s five-bout card at the Irvine Marriott, which will open the 19th year of boxing at the hotel. Zavala (15-2, seven knockouts), of Burbank, will meet Pedro Garcia (31-36, 19 KOs) of Tlaxcala, Mexico, in a scheduled 10-round bout.


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