2011 Chase for Sprint Cup playoff will start at Chicagoland instead of New Hampshire

NASCAR will open the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship at Chicagoland Speedway, shifting the start of its title-deciding 10-race format from New Hampshire Motor Speedway to the second largest media market the series serves.

“I can’t think of a better market than Chicago and the Chicagoland area to kick off NASCAR’s version of the playoffs,” track president Craig Rust said in an announcement made Monday in Chicago with NASCAR officials, current series points leader Kevin Harvick and defending race winner David Reutimann.

It was the first major change officially confirmed in what’s expected to be several significant shifts to the 2011 Sprint Cup schedule.

Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway have both called news conferences today to announce their 2011 schedules. Kansas is expected to announce the addition of a second race date, while Kentucky will announce its inaugural Cup date.

Based on the tentative 2011 schedule for the second-tier Nationwide Series that NASCAR sent to race teams last week, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, the additional race date at Kansas will likely be June 5, and Kentucky’s debut Cup race will be July 9.

New Hampshire is expected to keep both of its race dates, with the fall race following Chicagoland in the Chase schedule.


EASTERN LEAGUE: Portland Sea Dogs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was named Eastern League player of the week.

Rizzo was 12 for 27 with four doubles, three home runs, 12 RBI, seven runs scored and a .926 slugging percentage. He is hitting .271 with 14 homers and 56 RBI in 81 games with Portland.


MEN’S LACROSSE: Justin Domingos was named Colby’s men’s head coach.

Domingos played at Gettysburg (Pa.) College, one of the top programs in Division III, and also served as an assistant there for three seasons. Gettysburg reached the NCAA championship game in 2009.


U.S. MEN: After a week of workouts in Las Vegas, 15 players received invitations to another USA Basketball training camp.

A few of them got warnings, too.

The Americans will head from New York to Europe for the final steps of their preparations for the world championships in Turkey, and some players may be in danger of getting a ticket home instead.

“Certain players were told that they’re right on the bubble and that New York is really very critical and important to them in terms of making the final roster,” USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo said.

The team returns to the court today for the start of six days of work in New York that will culminate with its lone exhibition game on home soil, a matchup with France at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

The remaining candidates for the team are: forwards Kevin Durant, Lamar Odom, Rudy Gay, Danny Granger, Jeff Green and Kevin Love; guards Chauncey Billups, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Andre Iguodala, Eric Gordon and Stephen Curry; and centers Tyson Chandler and JaVale McGee.


U.S. MEN: Coach Bob Bradley will resume conversations with the U.S. Soccer Federation about his future following tonight’s friendly against Brazil.

Bradley led the Americans to the second round of the World Cup, where they were eliminated in a 2-1 overtime loss to Ghana. His contract expires in December.

British media have speculated that Bradley would be considered for the Aston Villa job that opened when Martin O’Neill quit, five days ahead of the club’s Premier League opener.

“I’ve said over and over as well that (I’m) always excited about new and different challenges,” Bradley said. “Certainly coaching in Europe at some point is something that I would love to do. At the same time I also consider it a challenge when you finish one cycle and begin the process of working on another one.”


U.S. OPEN: Ivo Karlovic and Mario Ancic of Croatia have withdrawn from the year’s final Grand Slam tournament because of injuries.

Karlovic, a former top-15 player now ranked 63rd, had surgery on his left Achilles’ tendon and hasn’t played since the Madrid Masters in May.

Ancic has a back injury and will be skipping a seventh straight major championship. He has been ranked as high as No. 7 but is currently 469th.

The U.S. Open starts Aug. 30.

WESTERN & SOUTHERN FINANCIAL GROUP OPEN: Ana Ivanovic, a former No. 1-ranked player who has fallen to No. 62, rallied for a 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2 win over ninth-seeded Victoria Azarenka in a grueling first-round match at Mason, Ohio.

ROGERS CUP: Peter Polansky of Canada upset 13th-seeded Jurgen Melzer 7-6 (6), 6-4 in the opening round at Toronto.

Mikhail Youzhny, the No. 12 seeded, advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Gilles Simon.

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