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LAS VEGAS — Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Pearn built a championship-winning team far from NASCAR’s hub in North Carolina, using their own approach in making a single-car organization one of the most dominant.

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There is a strong temptation in college football to define teams early in the season, especially when a traditional power delivers a high-profile clunker.

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ALAMEDA — Oakland Raiders left guard Richie Incognito practiced for the first time Wednesday after returning from a two-game suspension and said he’s anxious to play. He’s just as eager to leave his long history of troubles on and off the field in the past.

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NEW YORK — An hour after the Yankees missed a chance to clinch the AL East without help out West, reliever Adam Ottavino was back on the field with a ball and glove, standing solemnly halfway between the mound and the plate.

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The AFC South is shaping up as quite a division race. Should the Jaguars win at home Thursday night against the Titans, it would tighten up things early in the season.

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SANTA CLARA — Losing the free agent running backs San Francisco signed the past two offseasons to injuries did little to slow down the 49ers ground game.

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The massive divide between NASCAR’s heavyweights and the underdog teams just scraping by received renewed attention following Kyle Busch’s damning assessment of how backmarkers raced in the playoff opener over the weekend.

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LOS ANGELES — Austin Meadows homered leading off the 11th inning, sending Tampa Bay to an 8-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers that helped the Rays keep pace in the AL wild-card race and prevented the New York Yankees from clinching the AL East title Wednesday night.

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LOS ANGELES — Southern California coach Clay Helton has no illusions about where the Pac-12 South showdown Friday against No. 10 Utah will be decided.

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Connecticut checked off the first box on its postseason to-do list: winning a playoff game for the first time since 2012.

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NEW YORK — Luis Severino got Albert Pujols to reach for a slider with runners at the corners and ground into a double play that ended the first inning of his season debut, then punched the pocket of his glove to celebrate.

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LOS ANGELES — It’s been 11 years since the Dodgers left Vero Beach and Florida spring training.

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THOUSAND OAKS — Sean McVay didn’t hold back Monday, harshly criticizing the Rams’ offensive play-caller for a series of bad selections in the red zone during Los Angeles’ 27-9 win over New Orleans.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Odell Beckham Jr. had an 89-yard touchdown catch and a spectacular one-handed grab in his return to MetLife Stadium, and Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns did just enough to beat the short-handed and banged-up New York Jets 23-3 on Monday night.

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PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger likes to point out that he’s played through the end of every contract he’s ever signed. It’s tangible proof of the longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback’s commitment both to the game itself and the franchise he’s led to a pair of Super Bowl titles.

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NEW ORLEANS — Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been diagnosed with a torn ligament near the thumb of his throwing hand that is expected to sideline him at least six weeks, said a person familiar with the situation.

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DUESSELDORF, Germany — Saeid Mollaei has been in hiding since he left the Iranian judo team last month, saying he had been ordered to withdraw from the world championships on political grounds.

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Virginia’s Bennett declines raise

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COSTA MESA — Anthony Lynn is starting to pencil in at least one game a year where the Los Angeles Chargers fail to capitalize on opportunities and gift-wrap a victory to the opponent.

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State picked up some impressive wins in coach Herm Edwards’ first season, knocking off Michigan State, Southern California and rival Arizona.

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DETROIT — Matthew Stafford and Darius Slay had a lot to do with the Los Angeles Chargers leading the Lions for three-plus quarters.

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LOS ANGELES — It wouldn’t be a Saints-Rams game without at least one blown call against New Orleans.

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NEW YORK — Pete Alonso is slumping at the wrong time for the New York Mets.

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ANAHEIM — After stumbling against the Los Angeles Angels, the Tampa Bay Rays head up the coast what appears to be an even more challenging series against the Dodgers.

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LOS ANGELES — SoFi Stadium is the name of the palatial new home of the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers.

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LAS VEGAS — Martin Truex Jr. raced his way into the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs with a victory Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the opening round of the postseason.

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California and Arizona State moved into the AP Top 25 college football poll to give the Pac-12 six ranked teams, the most for the conference in almost four years.

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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Sparks, under the guidance of first-year coach Derek Fisher, have battled through adversity all season and leaned on that experience in their single-elimination second-round playoff game with defending-champion Seattle.

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GLENEAGLES, Scotland — Suzann Pettersen stood over the final shot of her golfing career, not quite realizing it also was the last shot of the most dramatic Solheim Cup ever played.

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BEIJING — Marc Gasol looked to the sky as confetti fell, some sticking to his massive shoulders, and then cradled and kissed the giant golden chalice that goes to the World Cup champions.

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Rawhide win Cal League title

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LOS ANGELES — This time there was no doubt.