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Junior claims tonight’s pole

on June 30, 2013 2:10 AM

SPARTA, Ky. (AP) — The questions during NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying Friday were how many drivers would raise Kentucky Speedway’s record and by how much.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. provided the answer of the eight that broke it, clocking 183.636 mph to wrest the mark from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson and the pole for tonight’s race.

Earnhardt’s speed was nearly 2 mph faster than Johnson’s 181.818 mph last June, which he needed to keep Johnson from keeping the record.

Minutes before, Johnson had a lap at 183.144 mph to hold off Ryan Newman (182.254). Earnhardt set the standard in the No. 88 Chevy soon after and survived several furious attempts to unseat him before coming away with his 12th career pole and first at Kentucky.

• Brad Keselowski took his final lead on the 156th lap and went on to a rain-shortened victory Friday night in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

Showers halted the race at lap 170 in the scheduled 200-lap event, but drivers were expecting it to resume before another pocket of rain forced officials to call it off. Elliott Sadler was second, followed by Truck Series points leader Matt Crafton, Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch.

Series points leader Regan Smith saw his 28-point advantage over Justin Allgaier coming in whacked to an eight-point edge over Sam Hornish Jr. after an engine problem that forced him behind the wall and left him 30th, 17 laps down.

Patriots offer jersey exchange

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots are offering a new jersey to all fans who want to get rid of the one they bought with Aaron Hernandez’s name on it.

Hernandez is being held in jail on charges of first-degree murder. He has pleaded innocent. The team has released him and taken all Hernandez jerseys off the shelf at its souvenir store at Gillette Stadium.

The team says fans can come to their store at the stadium on the weekend of July 6-7 for a free jersey of comparable value.

Allen remains with Heat

MIAMI (AP) — Quickly tying up a loose end for the Miami Heat, Ray Allen exercised his $3.2 million player option to remain with the club next season, when it will aim for a third straight NBA title.

He wound up playing a huge role in this year’s title run, especially by hitting what he described as the biggest shot of his career — a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in regulation of Game 6 of the NBA Finals against San Antonio, forcing overtime and saving the season.

Blackhawks, fans celebrate title

CHICAGO (AP) — From the jubilant parade all the way to the boisterous rally, millions of excited fans spent a sun-drenched day celebrating another Stanley Cup title for the Chicago Blackhawks. Dressed mostly in red and black, they came out to say thanks for the memories.

The Blackhawks rode to the rally in red, open-topped buses, passing waving and screaming fans of every age as the parade traveled from the United Center to the downtown party. Captain Jonathan Toews hoisted the Stanley Cup over his head to show it off to the crowd, which was cooled by large water misters placed along the route with temperatures in the low 80s.

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