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Sports in brief


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Dale jr.: good for 2017

HOMESTEAD — Dale Earnhardt Jr. should be medically cleared from his concussion in December and ready to race in the 2017 Daytona 500.

Team owner Rick Hendrick said Earnhardt, 42, recently texted and said he was just waiting for Daytona to return to the track. Earnhardt has not raced since July 9. The season-opening Daytona 500 is Feb. 26.

"He feels great. Everything's on track," Hendrick said Friday. "Every step that we need to go through, we've gone through."

Hendrick said Earnhardt's absence has not affected sponsorship for 2017.

HOMESTEAD QUALIFYING: Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski swept the front row in qualifying for Sunday's sold-out finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson are racing for the championship. Busch starts ninth, Edwards 10th, Logano 13th and Johnson 14th. Tony Stewart starts 11th in the final race of his NASCAR career.

fantasy sports

DraftKings, FanDuel agree to merger

Daily fantasy sports companies DraftKings and FanDuel have agreed to merge after a turbulent year in which both of their values plummeted as several attorneys general questioned the legality of their games in their states. The merger must be approved by regulators and will be time-consuming — the companies said they expected the deal to close in the second half of 2017. Until then, both sides will operate under their own brands. Lobbying and legal costs had damaged both companies' bottom lines to the extent that representatives of the companies last month asked the New York Attorney General's Office to allow them to pay a combined $12 million settlement in installments after claims they employed false and deceptive advertising practices, the New York Times reported. FanDuel, based in New York, reportedly recently laid off more than 60 people, and both companies have acknowledged they are months behind in payments to vendors.


Leipzig a surprise leader in Bundesliga

In one of the most startling developments in European soccer this season, newcomer RB Leipzig stormed to the top of the German Bundesliga by coming from behind twice to earn a 3-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen. Leipzig also set a Bundesliga record by staying undefeated in its first 11 matches after promotion. The team has won six straight games.

U.S. WOMEN: Talks are ongoing between players for the World Cup-winning U.S. women's national team and the U.S. Soccer Federation in advance of the Dec. 31 expiration of their current contract. The season ended last week.


Murray keeps pace with Djokovic in ATP

Andy Murray qualified for the semifinals of the ATP World Tour Finals by beating Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2 in London. Murray, who needs to do better than Novak Djokovic this weekend in the season-ending tournament to finish as the top-ranked player, broke Wawrinka late in the first set and twice at the start of the second. In today's semifinals, Djokovic faces Kei Nishikori, and Murray faces Milos Raonic.

et cetera

BOXING: Andre Ward, a 2004 U.S. Olympic gold medalist, tonight faces big puncher Sergey Kovalev, who came from Russia to the United States seven years ago. The pay-per-view bout in Las Vegas is for Kovalev's light heavyweight titles. Both are 30-0.

Times wires

Sports in brief 11/18/16 [Last modified: Friday, November 18, 2016 8:38pm]
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  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose


    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  2. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  3. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”