Keselowski chipper, Bowyer chippy
DAYTONA BEACH — The first day of testing NASCAR's new "Gen 6" car at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday took a backseat to the drivers. Brad Keselowski is eager to defend his Sprint Cup title, Danica Patrick is not planning to run the Indianapolis 500, and Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon aren't saying whether they have made up. Keselowski was a bit slow in testing but said: "Being first on the track … is our little way of needling the competition to say that even if we aren't fastest, we are going to be the first ones on it." Bowyer brushed aside questions about whether he and Gordon have made up since they fought because Gordon intentionally wrecked him in a November race. They were on the same yacht for a party thrown by entertainer Sean "P. Diddy" Combs in St. Barts. "That was the one person that I definitely wanted to take vacation with. Yes, I could not wait to get there for that very reason. Is that what you wanted me to say?" Bowyer snapped.
notes: Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip will drive Swan Racing's No. 30 Toyota in this year's race. The team will use David Stremme the rest of the year. … AJ Foyt Racing signed Takuma Sato to drive the No. 14 Honda in IndyCar.
Serena, Venus may be hurdles to top seeds
Defending champion Victoria Azarenka and title favorite Serena Williams are in the same half of the women's draw at the Australian Open, meaning they could meet in the semifinals.
Top-ranked Azarenka has lost 11 of her 12 matches against Williams. No. 2 Maria Sharapova is on the other half of the draw and could meet Venus Williams in the third round.
Novak Djokovic's bid for a third consecutive Australian Open title got a boost when No. 2-ranked Roger Federer and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray landed in the other half of the draw.
Sydney International: Top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska advanced to the final in Australia, beating Li Na 6-3, 6-4. Radwanska plays Dominika Cibulkova today. On the men's side, unseeded Kevin Anderson joined Julien Benneteau, Bernard Tomic and Andreas Seppi in today's semifinals.
player has cancer: The friend to whom Andy Murray dedicated his Brisbane International win Sunday is British player Ross Hutchins, 27, who has been diagnosed with cancer. Hutchins said he hopes to return this year after six months of chemotherapy. "It brought a tear to my eye," he said of Murray's dedication. "He has been very involved talking to me every day, with lots of encouragement."
Vonn upbeat after run
American Lindsey Vonn, calling herself "happy and strong," was excited to be back on the World Cup circuit in St. Anton, Austria, after a three-week layoff caused by an intestinal illness. Vonn's training run started fast, but she held back on the bumpy course to finish 3.98 seconds off the leading time. The four-time overall Cup champ plans to have another training run today before competing in the downhill and super-G this weekend.
Baseball: The Rays announced the signings of three players to minor-league deals: catcher Craig Albernaz, outfielder Jason Bourgeois and pitcher J.D. Martin. All were invited to major-league spring training. Also invited were four minor-leaguers: pitchers Marquis Fleming, Kirby Yates and Adam Liberatore, and catcher Mark Thomas. … Arizona outfielder Justin Upton, brother of ex-Ray B.J. Upton, used his no-trade clause to nix a deal to the Mariners, media reports said. … Left-hander Francisco Liriano injured his right arm over the holidays, so his two-year, $14 million deal with the Pirates is on hold.
Soccer: Defending champion Barcelona beat Cordoba 5-0 to advance to the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.
Joe Smith, Times staff writer; Times wires