Sports in brief: Tampa native Aric Almirola gets Nationwide ride with JR Motorsports

AUTOs

Almirola Gets 88 Nationwide Ride

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — JR Motorsports signed Tampa native Aric Almirola on Wednesday to drive its flagship No. 88 Chevrolet in the Nationwide Series starting next season.

"If there is a quintessential JR Motorsports driver, we feel it's Aric Almirola," said team co-owner Kelley Earnhardt, adding that Almirola could get some starts in the car this year.

Almirola has raced sporadically in NASCAR's top three series. This season, Almirola has been the standby Sprint Cup driver for both Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon while their wives were awaiting the births of their babies. He's also been driving for Billy Ballew Motorsports in the Truck Series, and has two wins in 15 starts.

Trucks: Kyle Busch won his third straight NASCAR Trucks race at Bristol Motor Speedway, holding off Almirola despite low fuel. Busch was relegated from the O'Reilly 200 pole to 35th at the start because of an engine change after qualifying.

Soccer

Frenchman scoffs at national team ban

A day after he received an 18-match suspension from the French national team for his profane tirade directed at then-coach Raymond Domenech at the World Cup, Nicolas Anelka says he isn't even interested in playing for France again.

"Who said I wanted to play again in blue?" he told Soir newspaper, calling the ban a "masquerade to not lose face."

By the time the Chelsea striker is eligible for Les Bleus, he will be 33 and unlikely to be recalled.

"These people are real clowns … I'm dying of laughter," he said.

TENNIS

Henin out for season

Former women's No. 1 Justine Henin, 28, will miss the rest of the 2010 season as she recovers from an elbow injury.

Henin, who returned this season after 18 months in retirement, said she sustained the injury at Wimbledon in July and wrote on her website that she can't practice again until October.

Cincinnati Masters: Top-ranked Rafael Nadal defeated American Taylor Dent 6-2, 7-5 in his opening match. Tampa resident Mardy Fish upset eighth-seeded Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-4), and third-ranked Novak Djokovic beat Viktor Troicki 6-3, 7-5.

Rogers Cup: Second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki edged Patty Schnyder 7-5, 7-5 in Montreal. The second-ranked Wozniacki will face Flavia Pennetta, who defeated Alisa Kleybanova 6-3, 6-3.

et cetera

Boxing: Vitali Klitschko (40-2) will defend his WBC heavyweight title against American Shannon Briggs (51-5-1) Oct. 16 in Hamburg, Germany.

NBA: Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao sprained his right ankle playing for Brazil but is expected to play in the world championships, which begin Aug. 28 in Turkey.

Swimming: Michael Phelps led all the way in winning the 200-meter butterfly at the Pan Pacific championships in Irvine, Calif., to extend his eight-year dominance in the event. His time of 1 minute, 54.11 seconds was fastest in the world this year. "The last 50 hurt," Phelps said. "I was just like, 'Please, get to the wall.' The fitness level is just not there." Former Gator Ryan Lochte cruised to victory in the 200 freestyle with the fastest time in the world this year, 1:45.3. Cesar Cielo of Brazil won the 50 butterfly with the world's fastest time, a meet-record 23.03 seconds.

Times wires

Sports in brief: Tampa native Aric Almirola gets Nationwide ride with JR Motorsports 08/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 19, 2010 1:04am]

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