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Wednesday, October 13, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Sports Briefing
Labonte to drive part time


Terry Labonte
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Auto racing

Labonte scales back: Terry Labonte, a two-time NASCAR champion, announced plans to run a mere 10 races a year for the next two seasons, and to make 2006 his final year of competition.

Labonte, 47, will drive the No. 44 Chevrolet for car owner Rick Hendrick beginning next season. The Corpus Christi, Texas, native intends to make his last start at Texas Motor Speedway in 2006. Labonte won the series title at NASCAR's highest level in 1984 and 1996.

Kyle Busch will replace Labonte in the No. 5 Chevrolet next season.

Brack mulls options: One year after a wreck at Texas Motor Speedway, Kenny Brack is trying to determine whether he is healthy enough or committed enough to drive again in the Indy Racing League. Brack, 38, won the 1999 Indianapolis 500.

"I started at zero pretty much a year ago and I had to rebuild my whole body," he said. "I know it took me a little bit of time to do that. Obviously, there's a lot of other stuff you've got to be able to do, but the first thing is to test and see if you want to come back."

Golf

PGA Tour releases schedule: The PGA Tour will start the 2005 season along the shores of the Pacific Ocean, with two stops in Hawaii before the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

The Tour released a 48-event schedule that begins Jan. 6 in Kapalua, Hawaii, at the winners-only Mercedes Championships and ends Nov. 6 in Atlanta at the Tour Championship.

Soccer
 
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U.S. men play Panama tonight: If the U.S. men's team beats Panama tonight at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., it will secure a berth in the regional finals of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

The United States (2-0-2) leads Group A of the North and Central American and Caribbean region. Six teams will make the CONCACAF finals, with the top three in that round earning World Cup berths.

Beckham's ploy might backfire: England captain David Beckham said he thought he was being "clever" by deliberately getting a yellow card in Saturday's 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Wales. He knew he would already miss the next game because he broke a rib a few minutes earlier.

The ploy could backfire and land him in trouble with his coach or FIFA.

Beckham went into Saturday's match already carrying one yellow card from a previous game. Under international rules, a player who picks up two yellows in qualifying is automatically suspended for one game.

Beckham got himself suspended for today's qualifier against Azerbaijan, knowing he would miss the game anyway because of his injury. That means he would have no yellow card hanging over him for subsequent matches.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, usually quick to praise and defend his captain, said he would deal with the issue after today's game. "I will know what I will do on Thursday or Friday, please wait until then," he said.

College basketball

Price remains in critical condition: Connecticut freshman guard A.J. Price remains in critical condition at Hartford Hospital, more than a week after having a brain hemorrhage.

Family members said he is responding to therapy and slowly showing improvement.

College athletics

NCAA's Brand discusses economics: NCAA president Myles Brand needed less than 18 months on the job to push through major academic reforms. Getting a handle on spiraling costs will be much more difficult, he said.

Brand told an audience at the University of Iowa that he supports subsidizing athletic departments with money from a school's general fund — provided the department is subject to the same governance and oversight as other areas in the university.

"Subsidy need not be a dirty word," Brand said.

Olympics

IOC's medical director has a warning: Dr. Patrick Schamasch, the International Olympic Committee medical director, said the growing number of banned substances and improved tests have raised the stakes for athletes who gamble with performance-enhancing drugs.

"The room for cheaters is getting smaller and smaller every day," he said.

TV record: This year's Athens Olympics surpassed the global television-viewing record, with nearly 4 billion people tuning in, IOC president Jacques Rogge said.

Rogge said 3.9 billion people watched an Olympic broadcast at least once during the Aug. 13-29 Games, beating the previous record of 3.6 billion viewers for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. World population is about 6.4 billion.

In the United States, 203 million people watched at least some of the Games, a record for any Olympics held outside the country. The figures were based on research conducted by a sports-marketing firm.

Horse racing

Bago to skip BC Classic: Bago, who won the Oct. 3 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris, won't compete in the Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. The 3-year-old, who had been considered a Classic contender, is expected to make his next start in 2005.

Sailing

Team New Zealand is awarded victory: Team New Zealand won the second pre-regatta for the 2007 America's Cup because it was ahead in the standings when the final day of racing in Valencia, Spain, was canceled because of light wind.

Team New Zealand, routed by Alinghi of Switzerland in the 2003 America's Cup, finished with 11.5 points, one point ahead of Italy's Luna Rossa in the eight-team competition.

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Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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