Martin goes 201-mph plus while testing new Mich. track
BROOKLYN, Mich. – Mark Martin exceeded 201 miles per hour during a test session Thursday on Michigan International Speedway’s newly paved surface, part of an eye-opening morning in which all but two drivers were fast enough to break the track’s qualifying record.
Martin’s fastest lap was 201.089 mph. Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. also cracked the 200 mark.
Qualifying is Saturday for Sunday’s 400-mile Sprint Cup race. Ryan Newman set the qualifying record of 194.232 mph in 2005.
The MIS repaving began after the Sprint Cup race in August. It was the fourth repaving for the track, which has hosted Sprint Cup races since 1969.
Armstrong isn’t running, but hopes to run Ironman France
AUSTIN, Texas – Lance Armstrong decided to stay in France and hopes he’ll be allowed to race in a triathlon while his lawyers fight new doping charges against him.
Officials for the Ironman France race June 24 had said Armstrong wouldn’t be allowed to compete after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced he will be charged with using performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career.
Armstrong told The Associated Press on Thursday he would return to the United States. Hours later, he said he would stay in France and hopes race officials will let him compete.
Roses’ run scraps stakes, will run on points system
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs simplified the path leading to the Kentucky Derby on Thursday, announcing a new points system pegged to three dozen races that will set the field for the country’s most famous thoroughbred race.
The track scrapped a more complicated system in place since 1986 based on graded stakes earnings that determined which horses reached the Derby starting gate. The points system will set the fields for the 2013 Derby and Kentucky Oaks, a race for 3-year-old fillies run the day before the Derby at Churchill.
Derby hopefuls can start accumulating points as 2-year-olds, but the greatest number of points will be awarded for the traditional Derby prep races in the weeks leading up to the Run for the Roses. Those races include the Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes.
Wimbledon replaces four; Tsonga might skip, too
LONDON – Andrea Petkovic of Germany withdrew from Wimbledon because of a persistent right ankle injury. She was replaced by Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia.
Hungary’s Agnes Szavay (back) and Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi (foot) also withdrew and were replaced by Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine and Heather Watson of Britain.
Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, who hardly has played in more than a year, was replaced by Vasek Pospisil of Canada, who will make his Wimbledon main draw debut.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga may have to miss Wimbledon after injuring a finger during his 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-6 (5) third-round loss to Ivan Dodig at Queen’s Club on Thursday.
USTA plans a makeover for Flushing Meadows’ Open
NEW YORK – The U.S. Tennis Association plans to give the home of the U.S. Open a makeover that will cost it hundreds of millions of dollars, but it does not include putting a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The USTA unveiled its plan Thursday to upgrade the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, starting in the fall of 2013.
The renovation calls for the 6,000-seat Grandstand adjacent to Louis Armstrong Stadium to be relocated; seven tournament courts moved to create more room for spectators to get about the grounds; and Armstrong Stadium rebuilt and expanded from 10,000 seats to 15,000.