AUTO RACING

NASCAR CUP: The most coveted seat in NASCAR belongs to Alex Bowman in a Hendrick Motorsports lineup shuffle to replace seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the iconic No. 48 Chevrolet.

Bowman and crew chief Greg Ives, who won five championships with Johnson as his engineer, will move from the No. 88 into Johnson’s ride at the end of the season. The swap announced Tuesday makes Bowman just the second driver of the team created in 2001 specifically for Johnson.

Johnson’s 19th full season is his last in NASCAR and he will move to a partial IndyCar schedule next year. His retirement opened the door for Bowman to replace a NASCAR superstar for the second time in four years. Two years ago, he replaced Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“It’s definitely pretty similar, you go from (replacing) the most popular driver of all time to (replacing) arguably the greatest of all time,” Bowman told The Associated Press. “It’s just an honor for me to get to drive another car with a great number. I know I’m going to get a lot of the same questions I’ve answered the last couple of years, just replace Jimmie Johnson for Dale Earnhardt Jr. For everyone who has the confidence in me to do it just means the world to me.”

Hendrick Motorsports said it will address its plans for the No. 88 in the next few weeks. Kyle Larson, suspended by NASCAR since April for using a racial slur, is the leading candidate for that opening.

The No. 48 is sponsored by Ally, one of just two companies that funds a car for the entire 38-race Cup Series schedule. Ally wanted Johnson’s replacement to contend for titles and Bowman, who has qualified for the playoffs all three years with Hendrick, is currently in position to advance this week into the round of eight.

SOCCER

MLS: The New York Red Bulls hired Gerhard Struber as their coach Tuesday, giving the veteran of the Austrian soccer his first U.S. coaching job.

Struber becomes the team’s 15th full-time head coach and 18th coach overall in 25 seasons. He will take over a team that’s seventh in the Eastern Conference at 6-7-2. The top 10 teams in the East advance to the MLS Cup playoffs.

The Red Bulls fired Coach Chris Armas last month and Bradley Carnell has been the interim coach. Struber will assume coaching duties once he receives his U.S. work visa, the club said.

RONALDO TRIAL: Cristiano Ronaldo’s legal fight with a woman who accuses the international soccer star of raping her in his suite at a Las Vegas resort more than 10 years ago is heading toward a trial before a federal judge in Nevada.

No date was immediately set, but U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey said she will hear arguments and decide herself whether Kathryn Mayorga was mentally fit to enter a 2010 hush-money agreement with Ronaldo’s representatives that paid Mayorga $375,000.

Ronaldo’s attorney, Peter Christiansen, declined Tuesday to comment. Mayorga’s lawyers, led by Leslie Mark Stovall, did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages about the judge’s ruling, issued Sept. 30.

Dorsey wrote that a court should decide whether Mayorga “lacked the mental capacity” to sign a confidentiality arrangement with Ronaldo’s representatives and “whether any agreement … was ever formed between the parties.” It was not immediately clear whether Ronaldo or Mayorga will have to be in court in person when a trial is held.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t name people who say they are victims of sexual assault. But after filing her lawsuit against Ronaldo in October 2018, Mayorga gave consent through her attorneys to be identified.

GOLF

WOMEN’S PGA: Charlotte Thomas has withdrawn from the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship after her caddie tested positive for the coronavirus.

Thomas dropped out because she was in close contact with the caddie and will begin a 14-day quarantine. The 27-year-old Thomas was among the field set to play beginning Thursday at Aronimink Golf Club just outside Philadelphia in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.

A rookie in 2019, Thomas tied for 54th in the ShopRite LPGA Classic last weekend and tied for 35th in the Cambia Portland Classic last month. She did not make the cut in the Ana Inspiration, the last major for women.

 

 

 

 

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