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Race is on for Office Depot Inc.

Office Depot Inc. will sponsor NASCAR's three racing series and an unnamed team on the premier Nextel Cup circuit next season.

The agreements reflect a shift from a local to national marketing strategy, the company said, and might help No. 2 Office Depot attract some customers from Staples Inc., the world's No. 1 seller of office supplies. A September survey of NASCAR fans found that 44 percent who are currently Staples customers would buy from Office Depot if it became a sponsor, Office Depot marketing executive Tony Ueber said.

SAFETY RULING: NASCAR will only allow its competitors to use the HANS head-and-neck restraint device in 2005 because the Hutchens strap system did not meet performance standards in testing.

DAKAR RALLY: NASCAR driver Robby Gordon retook the overall lead in the Dakar Rally by 59 seconds after winning the third leg of the two-continent road race, a 76-mile run from Rabat to Agadir, Morocco. He won the opening stage Friday.

DISASTER RELIEF

IOC to donate $1-million

The International Olympic Committee will donate $1-million to aid victims of the tsunami-earthquake in South Asia. Among other donations, organizers of a Hong Kong tennis exhibition featuring Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams pledged $64,000 from ticket sales, a sports memorabilia auction in Madras, India, raised $22,200, and cricket fans in Sydney donated $95,800 during the first two days of a match between Australia and Pakistan.

TENNIS

Aussies in Hopman win

Mark Philippoussis and Alicia Molik outlasted Daniela Hantuchova and Dominik Hrbaty 11-9 in a super-tiebreaker to give Australia a 2-1 victory over Slovakia at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. Also, Germany's Tommy Haas and Anna-Lena Groenefeld won a 10-6 super-tiebreaker to upset Russia's Anastasia Myskina and Marat Safin 2-1.

QATAR OPEN: Top-ranked Roger Federer began his Australian Open preparation by quickly beating David Ferrer 6-1, 6-1 in the first round at Doha, Qatar.

COLLEGES

USF soccer honors

Two South Florida soccer players were honored for their play in 2004. Simon Schoendorf was named to the College Soccer News all-freshman first team, and Kareem Smith was invited to train with the Trinidad and Tobago under-20 national team. Schoendorf had 15 points on the season and Smith had six shutouts.

DAVIDSON: T.J. Jaworsky was fired as wrestling coach at the North Carolina school a day after being arrested on suspicion of cocaine possession and driving while impaired. A three-time NCAA champion at North Carolina, Jaworsky, 34, was 5-42 in 3{ years at Davidson.

ET CETERA

BOXING: In Tokyo, Lorenzo Parra of Venezuela kept his WBA flyweight title with a unanimous decision over Japan's Trash Nakanuma, and Katsushige Kawashima of Japan defended his WBC super-flyweight crown with a split decision over U.S. challenger Jose Navarro.

SWEDISH HONOR: Skier Anja Paerson, who captured the overall Alpine title, was selected Sweden's female athlete of the year, beating out golfer Annika Sorenstam.

SKIING: Finland's Janne Ahonen won his third straight leg of the Four Hills ski jump at Innsbruck, Austria, moving within one victory of sweeping the prestigious event.

OBITUARIES: After a half-century at the New York Times and as a respected figure at the horse races and baseball games he covered, Joseph Dursodied Friday after a four-year battle with cancer. He was 80. Durso of Nissequogue, N.Y., wrote 14 books including, most recently, a biography, DiMaggio: The Last American Knight. He is survived by his wife, Margaret. Bob Karstens, the third white player to play for the Harlem Globetrotters and creator of many of their routines, died Friday in Redlands, Calif., at 89.

Compiled from Times wires.

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