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Weaver wins 2nd straight Daytona 24 hours pole

James Weaver won the pole for Saturday's 24 hours of Daytona, the second straight year the Dyson Racing Team has started from the inside spot on the front row.

Weaver, last year's winner and top qualifier, ran a fast lap of 126.889 mph Thursday in the inaugural event of the Grand American Road Racing Series.

Joining Weaver on the front row in the SportsRacer class will be Alex Caffi, driver of the Risi Competizione Ferrari 333 SP. Caffi posted a speed of 125.635 mph. Ron Fellows grabbed the top spot in the Grand Am GTO class with a speed of 121.032 mph in a Chevrolet Corvette. Qualifying first for the American GT class in the Grand Am Series was Craig Conway in a Chevrolet Camaro. Dirk Mueller won the pole for the GTU class.

MORE AUTOS: Sam Schmidt, an IRL driver paralyzed from the neck down in a testing accident last month in Orlando, began rehabilitation in a St. Louis hospital. Schmidt was released from the intensive care unit of Barnes-Jewish Hospital after functioning for three days without assistance from a ventilator. Joe Amato led Top Fuel and John Force headed Funny Car qualifying in the NHRA's season-opening AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona, Calif.. Troy Coughlin led Pro Stock and Bob Panella Pro Stock Truck. Top Fuel driver Rhonda Hartman became the first to be fined $500 for oiling down the racing surface. Doug Kalitta of Top Fuel and Wyatt Radke of Funny Car also were fined. New rules mandate fines and point penalties for Top Fuel and Funny Car entries that oil the track.

SOCCER: Europe's 14 biggest teams want to get paid to release their players for national-team games and want those games scheduled only between mid-May and June and in the second half of October. Ernie Stewart, who hasn't played for the U.S. national team since August, was among 25 players selected for the roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The 12-nation tournament opens Feb. 12 with the United States playing Haiti at Miami. Finidi George and Julius Aghahowa scored as Nigeria advanced to the quarterfinals of the African Nations Cup by beating Morocco 2-0 in Lagos, Nigeria. In the other Group D game, Tunisia beat the Republic of Congo 1-0 at Kano, Nigeria. Nigeria (2-0-1) won Group D. Ivory Coast's team left an army base at Zambakro where the military government had detained the players since Tuesday after their elimination in the African Nations Cup. The government said the detention was for the team's "protection" from irate fans, but no protests or threats were reported. Italian teams may be forced to forfeit games if banners touting racist slogans appear in the stands, Italy's federation ruled.

BOXING: Britain's Naseem Hamed will defend his WBO featherweight title against South Africa's Vuyani Bungu at London's Olympia on March 11.

OLYMPICS: After discovering that Salt Lake City organizers were nearly $400-million in the hole last year, "the engine has been reignited" on fund raising for the 2002 Winter Games, organizing committee head Mitt Romney said. Fourteen corporate sponsors signed on in the past eight months, with at least two more due to join them by the end of February, Romney said in Washington, D.C.

HOCKEY: The International Hockey League will test the two-referee system in 26 games until the end of the season. If the system is successful after its debut this weekend, the board of governors and general managers will consider extending it through the playoffs.

HORSES: Shoe Crazy, a filly owned by Lakers owner Jerry Buss, scored a front-running victory in the $67,570 feature on the turf at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. Shoe Crazy finished 2{ lengths in front of favorite Juvenia.

HIGH SCHOOLS: Escambia County sheriff's deputies and school district officials are investigating complaints that the host school underreported revenue from a Dec. 3 Class 4A football playoff game. Pine Forest in Pensacola hosted the game against Escambia and submitted a report that revenue totaled $21,229 from 4,195 tickets sold at $5 and $6 each and a $100 broadcasting fee. Host schools get 45 percent of the receipts, visitors 30 percent and the Florida Activities Association 25 percent. The visitors contend they may have been deprived of their share of the receipts. Some estimates of the crowd ranged up to 9,000.

BASEBALL: Julian Tavarez pitched five effective innings and the Dominican Republic beat Venezuela 5-3 in the Caribbean Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Eduardo Perez, son of newly elected Hall of Famer Tony Perez, drove in three runs to lead Puerto Rico over Mexico 9-2.

BOWLING: John May posted a 6-2 record to lead after the opening round of match play in the PBA Tour's Chattanooga Open. May had a pinfall of 6,059. Jason Couch was second with 6,029 pins.

_ Compiled from Times wires.