Roundup: Weekend sports in brief from The Associated Press

Roundup: Weekend sports in brief from The Associated Press
Brad Keselowski poses on his car in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Chicagoland Speedway, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Joliet, Ill. (AP Photo/Autostock, Matthew T. Thacker)

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Brad Keselowski raced to an impressive victory in the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, outdueling five-time champion Jimmie Johnson at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday.

Keselowski got ahead of Johnson after a crucial pit cycle with about 35 laps remaining and led the final 26 laps in the 400-mile race, holding on comfortably from there for his first victory in a Chase race. He also takes over the points lead.

Kasey Kahne was third. All 12 of the Chase drivers finished in the top 18, with the exception of Jeff Gordon, who went into the wall with about 80 laps remaining. Gordon barely qualified for the Chase to begin with, and his championship hopes are already in serious jeopardy after his 35th-place showing Sunday.

FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — Ryan Hunter-Reay put the American flag back atop the IndyCar podium by snatching the championship away from Will Power in the season finale.

Power, denied for a third consecutive year, was in street clothes watching Saturday night's finish on television after crashing out early at Auto Club Speedway. His exit from the race meant Hunter-Reay, who trailed Power by 17 points at the start, had to finish fifth or better to claim his first championship in a major series.

Hunter-Reay wound up fourth — becoming the first American to win the title since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006.

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. edged past Kyle Busch and into the lead, then held on for the final 20 laps for a relatively easy victory.

Perhaps more important, he left Elliott Sadler even farther behind — and took over the Nationwide Series points lead for the first time since the beginning of June.

Stenhouse raced to his fifth Nationwide victory of the year, outlasting Busch on Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway. Once Stenhouse passed Busch on the 180th lap, there wasn't much anyone could do to catch him. Stenhouse, the 2011 series champion, gave up the points lead to Sadler on June 2, but now he finally has it back.

NEWTON, Iowa (AP) — Ryan Blaney became the youngest winner in NASCAR Trucks history Saturday night at 18 years, 8 months, taking the caution-filled race at Iowa Speedway in his third series start.

Blaney, the son of Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney, broke the age record of 20 years, 18 days set by Kyle Busch in 2005 at Charlotte.

PRO HOCKEY

Die-hard hockey fans might need to invest in some classic NHL games on DVD.

It might be the only taste of hockey for months.

There's no telling when the NHL lockout will end, especially when neither the league nor the NHLPA has committed to face-to-face negotiations to end the labor unrest. There were no formal talks Sunday on the first day of the lockout, the league's fourth shutdown since 1992, including a yearlong dispute that forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season when the league successfully held out for a salary cap.

And there are no formal talks planned.

The league issued a statement to fans on its website that it was "committed to negotiating around the clock to reach a new CBA that is fair to the players and to the 30 NHL teams."

The clock is ticking and there's no new collective bargaining agreement in sight. The league could start to announce this week the cancellation of preseason games and there's little chance training camps will open on time. The regular season is scheduled to begin Oct. 11.

PRO FOOTBALL

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The NFL removed a replacement official from the New Orleans-Carolina game because it discovered he's a Saints fan.

Side judge Brian Stropolo has been replaced by an alternate, Tim Keese. The NFL made the decision Sunday morning just hours before kickoff.

"He was replaced because of the information that surfaced disclosing that he is a Saints fan," league spokesman Michael Signora said.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Paralyzed former Rutgers player Eric LeGrand took part in the coin toss for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

A New Jersey native, LeGrand was injured making a tackle against Army on a kickoff in the stadium in 2010.

BASEBALL

TORONTO (AP) — Bobby Valentine insisted he wasn't trying to be critical when he said his struggling Red Sox had "the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball."

Two days after his latest inflammatory remark, Valentine tried to explain himself before Sunday's series finale against the Blue Jays, offering an unsolicited clarification at the end of his morning media session.

"The other day when I made a comment about our September roster, that wasn't meant to be a criticism of any players or anything in the organization," Valentine said. "It's a statement of fact because of the injuries and our Triple-A team in the playoffs. ... Anybody who thought that to be anything other than a statement of what it was, stand corrected on that."

GOLF

HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Jiyai Shin avoided mistakes in miserable weather Sunday to cruise to a record nine-stroke victory in the Women's British Open.

In the 36-hole finish Sunday in the wind-delayed tournament, Shin took a three-shot lead into the final round after shooting a 1-under 71 in the morning. She stayed calm while strong wind and heavy showers sent scores soaring at Royal Liverpool in the afternoon, closing with a 73 to finish at 9-under 279.

KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) — Willie Wood took advantage of Bill Glasson's back-nine collapse to win the inaugural Hawaii Championship for his second Champions Tour victory in the last three events.

The 51-year-old Wood birdied the last two holes for a 6-under 66 Sunday and a one-stroke victory over Glasson. Wood played 54 holes without a bogey, finishing at 14-under 202 at Kapolei Golf Course.

FIANO, Italy (AP) — Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano won the Italian Open for the second time on Sunday, closing with an 8-under 64 for a two-stroke victory over South Africa's Garth Mulroy.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — Alabama and LSU are back atop The Associated Press college football poll, holding down Nos. 1 and 2 the way they did most of last season.

The Crimson Tide is No. 1 for the third straight week, and it was almost unanimous. Alabama received 58 of 60 first-place votes. LSU got the other two.

The Southeastern Conference rivals were ranked first and second for eight weeks during last season before eventually meeting in the BCS title game. The difference last year was LSU was first and Alabama second — until the Tide won the national championship game.

LSU moved up to No. 2 this week after Southern California's first loss of the season. USC slipped 11 spots to 13th after losing 21-14 at Stanford.

Stanford jumped from 21st to ninth.

TENNIS

GIJON, Spain (AP) — David Ferrer beat John Isner 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to send defending champion Spain back to the Davis Cup final with a 3-1 semifinal victory over the United States on Sunday.

Helped by Isner's 70 unforced errors, the fifth-ranked Ferrer rallied to stay unbeaten on clay in the competition with his 16th straight win.

Isner was left slamming his racket in frustration.

Even without Rafael Nadal, Spain, which will try to win its fourth title in five years, stretched its record home winning streak to 24 straight. It hasn't lost on clay since 1999.

Spain will play at the Czech Republic or Argentina in November's final.

SOCCER

CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Alex Morgan scored one goal and set up the second as the U.S. women's national soccer team rallied from a first-half deficit to beat Australia 2-1 Sunday in the second game on its post-Olympic tour.