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Earnhardt Jr. felt dad was there at car fire

In an interview for Wednesday night's season premiere of CBS' 60 Minutes, NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. says his deceased father might have played a role in saving him from a fiery sports car crash in July in Sonoma, Calif.

"I don't want to put some weird, you know, psycho twist on it like he was pulling me out or anything, but he had a lot to do with me getting out of that car," Earnhardt says in the interview with Mike Wallace. "From the movement I made to unbuckle my belt to lying on the stretcher, I have no idea what happened."

He said the feeling of someone assisting him was so real that when he reached safety, he began inquiring about the "person" who helped him. "I had my PR man ( Steve Crisp) by the collar screaming at him to find the guy that pulled me out of the car. He was like, "Nobody helped you get out,' and I was like, "That's strange because I swear somebody had me underneath my arms and was carrying me out of the car.' "

GOLF

Singh stays home

Vijay Singh withdrew from the American Express Championship at Thomastown, Ireland, to stay home with his family and cope with damage left by Hurricane Jeanne. Singh won the 84 Lumber Classic in Pennsylvania on Sunday and planned to fly home to Ponte Vedra Beach before leaving for the $7-million World Golf Championship event. He was not able to get home until Monday then found his beachfront home without power and water creeping in.

PRO BASKETBALL

Mashburn might be done

Barely a year removed from his best season, Jamal Mashburn's NBA career could be over. He and the New Orleans Hornets announced that his right knee injury had shown no improvement and would force him to miss the 2004-2005 season. Mashburn, 31, said he wasn't ready to announce his retirement.

WNBA: Lauren Jackson scored 18 and host Seattle advanced to the West final with a 64-54 victory and sweep over Minnesota. Rookie guard Lindsay Whalen had 21 points to lead host Connecticut over Washington 80-70 and even the best-of-three East semifinal. Game 3 is Wednesday at Connecticut.

REFEREE PACT: League referees ratified a new five-year contract through the 2008-09 season.

ET CETERA

COLLEGES: Florida State's Chip Webb claimed the singles tennis title in the Division II bracket of the Southern Intercollegiate Championships at Athens, Ga., winning when Winthrop's Vinicius Bortolatto defaulted. Eckerd's men's soccer team (4-3) defeated visiting Nyack College 3-2.

NHL: Jaroslav Svoboda of the Dallas Stars will play for a Czech team and Lubomir Visnovsky of the Los Angeles Kings will join a Slovakian club, raising to 173 the number of players competing in Europe during the lockout.

CYCLING: Rebecca Much of the United States won the silver medal in the junior time trial at the world road championships in Bardolino, Italy. Czech Tereza Hurikova won.

Compiled from Times wires.

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