Weekend Sports in Brief
AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Kyle Larson closed out his comeback season in NASCAR with his first national title.
He won the Cup championship Sunday by winning the race at Phoenix Raceway for his 10th victory of the year. It gave Hendrick Motorsports its 14th NASCAR championship.
Larson was suspended for all but four of last year’s races for using a racial slur, but Rick Hendrick gave him a second chance this season and Larson has been unstoppable. His season will go down as one of the most dominant in NASCAR history.
Martin Truex, the 2017 champion, finished second and was followed by Denny Hamlin, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. Chase Elliott, the reigning champion and NASCAR’s most popular driver, led 94 laps but finished fourth.
AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Daniel Hemric made the first win of his career one of the biggest NASCAR upsets — a championship-winning overtime stunner against the reigning champ.
Hemric beat Austin Cindric in a door-to-door sprint across the finish line Friday night at Phoenix Raceway to give Joe Gibbs Racing its first championship of the weekend.
Hemric was winless in 119 starts in the Xfinity Series, the fourth seed in the playoffs and the overlooked driver in the championship four.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Max Verstappen stretched his lead over Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One season championship with a dominant victory Sunday at the Mexico City Grand Prix, and Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez finished third to become the first Mexican driver to reach the podium in the history of the race.
Verstappen, who started third after struggling in qualifying, now leads Hamilton by 19 points with four races left in the season. Hamilton finished second and had to fight off Perez at the end to hold on there.
Verstappen earned his ninth win of the season, second in a row and third career victory in Mexico City. The 24-year-old Dutchman is chasing his first career championship.
Hamilton is seeking a record eighth title, including the last four in a row. The British driver is currently tied with Michael Schumacher for most in F1 history.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis became the first team with five Gold Glove winners when first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, second baseman Tommy Edman, third baseman Nolan Arenado, center fielder Harrison Bader and left fielder Tyler O’Neill earned the NL fielding honor.
Arenado won his ninth Gold Glove, his first since he was traded last winter by Colorardo. Goldschmidt won his fourth and first since 2017 with Arizona. O’Neill won his second in a row. Chicago White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel won his fifth Gold Glove, and San Francisco shortstop Brandon Belt won his fourth.
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks fired coach Jeremy Colliton on Saturday, dismissing the former NHL forward with the team off to a rough start in his fourth season.
Colliton, who turns 37 in January, was in the first year of a two-year contract extension.
Assistant coaches Tomas Mitell and Sheldon Brookbank also were let go. Derek King was promoted from the AHL’s Rockford to replace Colliton on an interim basis.
AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — Massachusetts fired coach Walt Bell on Sunday after he went 2-23 over three seasons leading the Minutemen.
Athletic director Ryan Bamford announced defensive coordinator Tommy Restivo also had been relieved of his duties. Offensive line coach and run game coordinator Alex Miller, a former four-year starter at UMass, was named interim coach for the final three games of the season against Maine, Army and New Mexico State.
The 37-year-old Bell took over one of the the toughest jobs in major college football in 2019, but showed few signs of turning it around. UMass fell to 1-8 on Saturday, losing 35-22 to FCS school Rhode Island. The lone victory for UMass this season came against Connecticut (1-8), which made a coaching change earlier this season.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida fired defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy on Sunday, parting with the two assistants one day after a 40-17 loss at South Carolina, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Gators (4-5, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) hadn’t made the moves public. The Athletic first reported the firings.
Grantham and Hevesy were in the final year of their contracts at Florida. Hevesy had been coaching alongside Mullen for the past two decades. They were together at Bowling Green (2001-02), Utah (2003-04), Florida (2005-08), Mississippi State (2009-17) and Florida (2008-21) again. Grantham spent the last five seasons with Mullen, including the 2017 season at Mississippi State.
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Jacksonville State will enter the Football Bowl Subdivision with a new coach.
The school said Saturday that it and and coach John Grass “mutually agreed to part ways.” Grass announced the decision after the Gamecocks’ 40-25 win over Abilene Christian, leaving with two games remaining in the season.
The move came a day after an announcement that Jacksonville State will join Conference USA and begin its transition from FCS to FBS.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico (AP) — Viktor Hovland won again on the PGA Tour, this time in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba on Sunday.
Hovland seized control with three birdies on the front nine, and never let Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas or anyone else get closer than three shots the rest of the way.
He closed with a 4-under 67 for a four-shot win over Carlos Ortiz of Mexico, making him the first repeat winner since Mayakoba began in 2007.
Hovland won last year with a birdie putt on the final hole for a one-shot victory. Hovland finished at 23-under 261 and moved to No. 10 in the world ranking.
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Steven Alker capped off an amazing three months by winning for the first time on the PGA Tour Champions, closing with a 4-under 68 for a two-shot victory in the TimberTech Championship.
Alker, who turned 50 in late July, holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole to take the lead, and then finished with a birdie to win by two over Jim Furyk and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Alker won $305,000, pushing his total to $896,207 in just nine tournaments since he qualified for the Boeing Classic outside Seattle in his Champions debut.
VILAMOURA, Portugal (AP) — Thomas Pieters of Belgium closed with a 3-under 68 to win the Portugal Masters for his first European Tour victory since 2019.
Pieters, who played in 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, won for the fifth time on the European Tour, and his firs since the Czech Masters two years ago.
He finished at 19-under 265 at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, two shots ahead of Matthieu Pavon of France and Denmark’s Nicola Hojgaard and Lucas Bjerregaard.
NEW YORK (AP) — Albert Korir of Kenya won the New York City Marathon men’s race, two years after coming in second.
Korir overtook Morocco’s Mohamed El Aaraby and Italy’s Eyob Faniel around the 18th mile and quickly took the drama out of the race’s 50th running. He won in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 22 seconds.
In the women’s race, Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya pulled away at the entrance to Central Park and became the first woman to win a marathon major in the fall after winning an Olympic gold medal.
DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) — Knicks Go set the early pace and kicked away to a 2 3/4-length victory in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Saturday.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, 5-year-old Knicks Go squared off against a trio of top 3-year-olds — controversial Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality and hometown hero Hot Rod Charlie.
Sent off at 3-1 odds, Knicks Go paid $8.40 to win for trainer Brad Cox. He also saddled 9-5 favorite Essential Quality, who finished third. Horses from Japan won two races, ending an 0-for-13 skid in the world championships.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Canelo Álvarez became the first undisputed four-belt super middleweight world champion in boxing history when he stopped Caleb Plant in the 1tth round with two dramatic knockdowns on Saturday night.
Álvarez added Plant’s IBF title to his own WBC, WBA and WBO belts with a steady tactical performance culminating in a brilliant display of his vaunted power to finish the previously unbeaten Plant at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Álvarez had to grind through a difficult matchup with the tenacious Plant.
In the opening seconds of the 11th round, he sent Plant crashing to the canvas with a vicious combination followed by an uppercut.
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Aston Villa fired manager Dean Smith with the team mired in a five-match losing run.
The Premier League club made the announcement on Sunday. Smith, who guided the club back to the top flight, has paid the price for the team’s disappointing form this season.
Friday’s 1-0 defeat at Southampton proved the last act for Smith, that result leaving Villa with just 10 points from their opening 11 games and just two points clear of the relegation zone.
GENOA, Italy (AP) — Genoa hired former AC Milan and Chelsea forward Andriy Shevchenko as coach on Sunday, a day after firing Davide Ballardini.
The 45-year-old Shevchenko signed a contract until June 2024.
Shevchenko quit his only previous coaching position, in charge of Ukraine, in August. He steered the national team to the European Championship quarterfinals for the first time in its history before being eliminated by England.
LONDON (AP) — Norwich fired manager Daniel Farke despite him leading the club to its first win since gaining promotion back to the Premier League earlier Saturday.
The German leaves after more than four years in charge that initially saw him lead Norwich into the top division in 2019 before being instantly relegated.
He won the second-tier Championship title for a second time last season to gain promotion again. It took until the 11th game to win, beating Brentford 2-1 on Saturday but staying in last place.
NEW YORK (AP) — Kamaru Usman defeated Colby Covington by unanimous decision to retain the UFC welterweight championship at UFC 268 in New York on Saturday night.
With the win, Usman improved to 20-1-0, and has won 19 fights in a row, including five title defenses.
Covington, the former interim welterweight champion, dropped to 16-3-0.
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