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Brad Keselowski edges Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. was charging again, hoping that this time he’d be on top of a frantic late fuel-mileage battle.

Leader Brad Keselowski stretched his fuel perfectly, dashing Earnhardt’s hopes of snapping his 106-race winless streak while ending his own.

Keselowski held off Earnhardt to win Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway for his first win since taking Talladega 75 races ago.

Keselowski led the final nine laps, conserving just enough fuel to stave off Earnhardt. It’s the second Sprint Cup win in 66 races for Keselowski -- and the first for Penske Racing since Kurt Busch won last year’s Coca Cola 600.

“We finally caught a break. Awesome call, Paul,” Keselowski radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe, who guided him to the Nationwide Series championship and moved up to the Cup Series this year to help the driver rebound from last year’s rocky season.

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Earnhardt finished second for the second week in a row in a fuel mileage race. Earnhardt appeared to have enough to make a late charge on Keselowski. That push never came -- though Earnhardt did move up to third in the points standings.

Denny Hamlin was third, followed by Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards, who holds a 40 point lead on Jimmie Johnson in the points standings.

Polesitter Kurt Busch led for 152 laps Sunday and finished ninth. He had to stop for gas as the leader with 10 laps remaining.

“I was all smiles. I felt the groove again, to lead the race. It was great, it was solid. There was always something in the back of my mind that we weren’t going to win, but I am proud Brad Keselowski did,” Kurt Busch said.

Keselowski won the pole last week at Charlotte and has been on a monthlong upswing for Penske.

He seemed to come to life just as teammate Kurt Busch reached his wits end, with his displeasure culminating in an expletive-laden rant against team management.

That led to behind-the-scenes personnel changes at Penske, including the announcement that technical Tom German was leaving the team to attend a graduate program at MIT.

But Keselowski also took exception to a comment Busch made that it had been several years since he’d had a teammate capable of running the same pace as him.

Since then, Keselowski logged a third-place finish, raced his way into the All-Star race and, on Sunday, earned his first Sprint Cup victory.

“We got great gas mileage, that doesn’t hurt,” Keselowski said.

The buzz before the Sprint Cup race was about the altercation between team owner Richard Childless and Kyle Busch that followed Saturday’s Trucks Series race.

NASCAR said Busch did nothing to violate his probation, clearing the driver of any fault in the incident President Mike Helton deemed “unacceptable.” Childless, though, had his track access restricted and will be subject to further penalty this week.

The incident with Busch again overshadowed older brother, Kurt Busch, who started from the pole and had his best run in weeks. Although the elder Busch started Sunday ranked sixth in the standings, he’d been in a long slide and overly critical of his Penske Racing team.

Kyle Busch, who led 11 laps, wound up 12th after his eventful weekend.

ETC.

Stricker wins Memorial

Steve Stricker finally found the winning formula at the Memorial, building a big lead and then relying on his putting stroke for two clutch pars to hang on for a one-shot victory at Dublin, Ohio.

Stricker, who had never finished in the top 10 in his 11 previous trips to Muirfield Village, closed with a four-under-par 68 to finish at 16 under.

Matt Kuchar and Brandt Jobe each shot 65.

Brittany Lincicome made a four-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic at Galloway Township, N.J.

Lincicome’s birdie capped a bogey-free five-under 66 that gave her a one-shot victory.

Bob Gilder made a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 18, then escaped with a one-stroke victory in the Principal Charity Classic at West Des Moines, Iowa, when Mark Brooks bogeyed the hole.

Patrick Reed closed out Augusta (Ga.) State’s second straight NCAA title, beating Georgia’s Harris English, 2 and 1, in the featured matchup between each team’s top player at Stillwater, Okla.

Former USC running backs coach Todd McNair has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA, seeking unspecified damages for libel and slander, among other claims.

In April, the NCAA denied McNair’s appeal to overturn findings and penalties it found against him during its investigation of USC, which resulted in severe sanctions against the football program. The NCAA determined that McNair had engaged in unethical conduct and sanctioned him with a “show-cause” order, preventing him from contact with recruits for one year while working for USC or any other NCAA-member institution.

McNair’s contract was not renewed by USC in July 2010. McNair declined to comment about the lawsuit.

The filing of the lawsuit was first reported by cbssports.com.

--Gary Klein

Kelsey Bruder and Brittany Schutte hit consecutive home runs in the first inning, sending Florida to a 9-2 victory against Alabama and a spot in the Women’s College World Series finals at Oklahoma City against top-seeded Arizona State.

The Sun Devils got a five-hit shutout from freshman Dallas Escobedo to beat Baylor, 4-0.

The Detroit Pistons fired Coach John Kuester.


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