DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Danica Patrick has made history before — as a woman and a racer, in Indianapolis and Japan.
The spotlight is nothing new. But never has it been this bright before. Patrick won the Daytona 500 pole Sunday, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any race in NASCAR's premier circuit. It's by far the biggest achievement of her stock-car career.
Her latest stamp in the history books came with a lap at 196.434 mph around Daytona International Speedway. Patrick went out eighth in the qualifying session, then had to wait about two hours as 37 fellow drivers tried to take her spot. Only four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon even came close to knocking her off. Gordon was the only other driver who topped 196 mph in qualifying. He locked up the other guaranteed spot in next week's season-opening Daytona 500.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Oscar Pistorius' agent canceled all future track races so the double-amputee Olympian can focus on the murder charge against him, underscoring the possibility the disabled sports icon might never again run competitively on his famous carbon fiber blades.
Pistorius is defending himself against allegations he murdered his model girlfriend by shooting her several times in his upscale house on Valentine's Day morning.
Reeva Steenkamp died from gunshot wounds suffered inside Pistorius' home in the predawn hours of Thursday. Pistorius was arrested and charged with her murder the same day. His family denies he murdered her.
HOUSTON (AP) — Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Kobe Bryant turned this All-Star game into L.A. story.
Paul had 20 points, 15 assists and won MVP honors, Bryant blocked LeBron James' comeback attempt, and the Western Conference beat the East 143-138 on Sunday night. Kevin Durant scored 30 points and Griffin finished with 19, joining his Clippers teammate, Paul, in creating Lob City deep in the heart of Texas.
James scored 19 points but shot only 7 of 18, Bryant blocking two of his shots late, after having no shooting troubles during the latter part of the season's first half. Carmelo Anthony led the East with 26 points and 12 rebounds.
HOUSTON (AP) — Billy Hunter was ousted from his job as executive director of the union in a unanimous vote by NBA players who said Saturday they will "no longer be divided, misled, misinformed."
"This is our union and we have taken it back," players' association president Derek Fisher said.
Fisher said it was a day of change for the union, which has seemed inevitable since a review of the union last month was critical of Hunter's leadership and urged players to consider whether they wanted to keep him.
HOUSTON (AP) — Toronto rookie Terrence Ross beat defending champion Jeremy Evans to win the slam-dunk contest during All-Star Saturday night.
The 6-foot-6 Ross jumped over a ballboy, whipped the ball between his legs and threw down a one-handed slam to clinch the victory. Earlier, Ross donned a Vince Carter jersey, took a lob from high-school teammate Terrence Jones off the edge of the backboard, spun in the air, and then slammed home another one-hander.
PALM CITY, Fla. (AP) — President Barack Obama teed it up with Tiger Woods on Sunday.
The White House confirmed that the President and the world's most famous golfer played a round at a secluded, exclusive yacht and golf club on Florida's Treasure Coast.
Once the sport's dominant player before his career was sidetracked by scandal, Woods joined Obama at the Floridian, where Obama is spending the long Presidents Day weekend. The two had met before, but Sunday was the first time they played together.
The foursome also included Jim Crane, a Houston businessman who owns the Floridian and baseball's Houston Astros, and outgoing U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, a former mayor of Dallas, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. Obama, an avid golfer, also received some instruction Saturday and played a few holes with Butch Harmon, Woods' former swing coach.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — John Merrick never allowed himself to think about winning at Riviera.
Not when he was a kid attending his local PGA Tour event. Not when he was at UCLA and could play the fabled course. And certainly not late Sunday afternoon in a playoff when he faced a daunting 3-iron shot under a row of eucalyptus trees, and his opponent was in the middle of the fairway with a wedge in his hand. No wonder Merrick was at a loss for words when he won the Northern Trust Open.
Merrick hit the perfect shot under the trees on the 18th to escape with par, and he followed with another flawless shot to a skinny section of the 10th green on the second playoff hole to 18 feet. He made another par, and won when Charlie Beljan missed a 5-foot par putt.
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Defending champion Victoria Azarenka beat Serena Williams 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3 to win the Qatar Open on Sunday, earning her 16th title and ending a 10-match losing streak against the American.
Azarenka will give up the No. 1 ranking to the second-ranked Williams on Monday, but extended her current winning streak to 14 matches, which included her second Australian Open title. More importantly, she may have turned around what has been a one-sided rivalry against Williams. Azarenka had not beaten Williams since 2009 in Miami, and had a 1-11 record against the American going into Sunday's final.
SAO PAULO (AP) — The last time Rafael Nadal won in Brazil, it was at the very start of the most dominant clay-court career tennis has ever seen.
Eight years later, Nadal hopes his second title here will mark the restart.
Nadal beat David Nalbandian 6-2, 6-3 in the final of the Brazil Open on Sunday, his first trophy since returning from a seven-month layoff to treat his left knee.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Derek Jeter had a miserable offseason he would rather forget. Not only did the New York Yankees captain not win another World Series ring, his season ended when he had to be helped off the field because of a broken ankle.
"Absolutely terrible," Jeter said Sunday, the spring training reporting day for New York's positions players. The 38-year-old broke his left ankle lunging for a grounder in the AL championship series opener against Detroit on Oct. 1, and had surgery a week later. He could start running on a field in the next couple days and expects to be ready for opening day against Boston on April 1.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Calling his recent drunk driving arrest a "monumental mistake," Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton fought tears as he apologized Sunday and asked for forgiveness at the start of spring training.
Helton was arrested Feb. 6 on charges of DUI and careless driving.
"Obviously the last place I want to be on the first day of spring training is here talking about a mistake I made," Helton said. "Last week I got behind the wheel of my truck after I had drank. All I can do now is apologize and ask for forgiveness. I spoke to my teammates today and they were very supportive."
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Landon Donovan plans to rejoin the Los Angeles Galaxy during the final week of March after a break of almost four months.
The 30-year-old midfielder and forward, a veteran of three World Cups with the United States, had said last fall he was uncertain whether he wanted to continue playing.
Donovan has a team-record 92 goals during eight seasons with the Galaxy, who have won the last two Major League Soccer titles. He has a record 49 goals in 144 appearances for the United States.