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Brian Vickers was docked 150 driver points and crew chief Kevin Hamlin was fined $100,000 by NASCAR on Wednesday because the Red Bull Racing team dipped its sheet metal in acid to make it lighter than required.

Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz also was docked 150 owner points, and Hamlin and car chief Craig Smokstad were both suspended indefinitely.

Red Bull Racing GM Jay Frye said the team accepted responsibility and would not appeal.

The infraction was discovered when the No. 83 Toyota was randomly selected for a postrace inspection at Martinsville Speedway.

It was not clear if Hamlin and Smokstad's suspensions will carry over into 2009 and the season-opening Daytona 500.

The penalty drops Vickers from tied for 15th in the Sprint Cup standings to 17th.

FORD STICKS WITH ROUSH: Ford Motor Co. extended its support of Roush Fenway Racing's NASCAR program in what is believed to be a five-year deal.


Tour de France puts climb at end of race

In a break with tradition, the Mont Ventoux ascent, once described by Lance Armstrong as "the hardest climb on the Tour, bar none," will be featured on the Tour de France's next-to-last day, a move aimed at keeping the suspense going to the end.

Armstrong was absent from the unveiling in Paris of the 2009 route. Team manager Johan Bruyneel said it's "50-50" that Armstrong will compete.


Blake stops Kiefer in Swiss Open opener

Fourth-seeded James Blake of Tampa won his opener at the Swiss Indoors, defeating Nicolas Kiefer 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in Basel. Marcos Baghdatis lost to Marcel Granollers 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. Baghdatis needed treatment for his back during the match.


Speights praised for strong preseason

Rookie Marreese Speights of St. Petersburg started at center and tied for the 76ers' high with 18 points in a 118-100 victory over the host Nets to end Philadelphia's preseason.

Coach Maurice Cheeks said he has been pleasantly surprised by the former Gator. What does Cheeks expect from Speights, who started because Sam Dalembert has a sprained right knee?

"Pretty much what he's been doing," Cheeks said. "I'd like to see him run the floor consistently. He has a tendency to run hard one trip, then take another off."

kobe OKAY: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant missed practice with a hyperextended right knee sustained Tuesday, but the injury isn't serious.

LAKERS THE PICK: A survey of general managers has the Lakers winning the title and the Cavs' LeBron James winning MVP. For more, go to


SOCCER: AC Milan is close to signing David Beckham in a loan deal that would allow the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder and former England captain to play in Italy for a few months starting in January. ... Janusz Wojcik, Poland's former national coach, was detained by police in connection with a soccer corruption investigation. Prosecutors planned to file 11 charges against him by today.

BOXING: Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield was in court in Atlanta, facing possible jail time in a child-support case, but a settlement was reached after he agreed to a $100,000 college fund for his son, 10. During the summer Holyfield missed three straight $3,000 monthly support payments.

SAILING: America's Cup holder Alinghi hopes to relaunch the 33rd edition of the sailing classic with a series of pre-regattas in 2009, followed by a cup match in 2010, before the credit crunch forces teams to abandon the event. "Cost containment remains a priority for everyone, all the more significant in today's economic climate," Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth said.