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In Sports from United Press International

Feb. 10, 2003 at 8:00 PM   |   Comments

Jeff Green wins Daytona 500 pole

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Jeff Green led a brigade of Chevrolets to the front of the field Monday to win the pole for Sunday's 45th Daytona 500.

Green won his first Daytona 500 pole with a lap at 186.606 miles per hour in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Green, who drives for Richard Childress Racing, knocked Dale Earnhardt Jr. off the pole after that driver put his Chevrolet up front at 186.382 mph.

"I'm still nervous," Green said. "I feel like I just put in a lap at Darlington. This was great to do today, now we need to do it in Sunday's race."

Green and Earnhardt will form the front row in Sunday's race, regardless of where they finish in either of Thursday's Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying races, which will determine positions 3-30 in the 43-car Daytona 500 field.

Robby Gordon, Green's teammate at RCR, was third at 185.927 mph followed by Earnhardt's teammate Michael Waltrip at 185.460.

"It's easy for a driver at Richard Childress Racing to just push the button," Green said. "Everybody at the engine shop and the fabrication shop really deserve this. This is a phenomenal race car. They gave us something this year that we can race with. It puts us in the driver's hands more this year. The sky is the limit. We feel like we can win each and every week."

The top four cars of the 50 that took qualification runs were Chevrolets. So much for NASCAR's efforts of the "aero matching" by using common templates to bring the four manufacturers in the series on an even basis in hopes of leveling the playing field in the Winston Cup Series.

Ricky Rudd - in his first race for the Wood Brothers - was the highest non-Chevy driver when he qualified his Ford fifth at 185.372 mph.

Six cars in the top 10 were Chevrolets. There are two Fords and two Dodges in the top 10. Pontiac's highest finishing qualifier was Ricky Craven, who was 15th.

By winning the pole, Green will be able to celebrate before next Sunday's biggest race of the NASCAR season. But with Daytona's convoluted qualifying procedures, the rest of the field will be filled by Thursday's two 125-mile qualifying races.

Positions 31-36 will be determined by times posted in the time trial session. Positions 37-42 will be filled by provisional starting positions based on 2002 Winston Cup team owner points with a 43rd provisional filled by a former Winston Cup champion.

If all former champions are already in the field, then that position will go to the next non-qualified driver on the provisional starting list.

It was the second pole of Green's Winston Cup career. His first came at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 25, 2001.

Defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart did not qualify after his Chevrolet engine broke on his warmup lap. He will have to race his way into the field in Thursday's qualifying races.


Kuznetsova, Safina reach second round

DOHA, Qatar, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova ousted sixth seed Francesca Schiavone of Italy, 6-2, 6-3, Monday in the first round of the Qatar Women's Open.

Kuznetsova snapped a three-match losing streak and reached the second round of an event for just the second time this season.

The 17-year-old Kuznetsova is one of the WTA Tour's emerging players. Working with Emilio Sanchez in Spain, she won two titles last year at Helsinki and Bali.

Kuznetsova will face compatriot Dinara Safin, a 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) winner over Adriana Serra-Zanetti of Italy, in the second round.

Safina also stopped a three-match skid and won for only the second time in her last six WTA Tour matches dating to last season.

The 16-year-old Russian, the sister of men's star Marat Safin, also tasted success last year. She claimed her first career title at Sopot, becoming the first qualifier to do so in nearly three years.

Third seed Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria reached the second round for the fourth time in as many events this season with a 6-2, 6-1 thrashing of Rossana Neffa-de Los Rios of Paraguay.

Maleeva's next foe will be Slovakia's Martina Sucha, who posted a 6-4, 6-7 (8-10), 6-4 victory over Switzerland's Emmanuelle Gagliardi.

Also Monday, Mary Pierce of France overcame Anca Barna of German, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3, and will take on second seed Anastasia Myskina of Russia in the second round.


Phillies sign RHP Terry Adams

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia Phillies agreed to terms Monday with pitcher Terry Adams, averting a Feb. 19 salary arbitration hearing.

Adams will receive a base salary of $2.9 million plus performance bonuses. He was seeking $3.395 million in arbitration, but settled for a deal closer to Philadelphia's offer of $2.9 million.

Adams, who turns 30 in March, was 7-9 with a 4.35 ERA in 46 games, including 19 starts, for the Phillies last season. The righthander went 12-8 with a 4.33 ERA in 43 games, including 22 starts, with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001.


Matevzic, Casanova win at Proximus

ANTWERP, Belgium, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Slovenian Maja Matevzic and Switzerland's Myriam Casanova advanced Monday when they won first-round matches at the Proximus Diamond Games.

Matevzic dispatched Daja Bedanova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-3, and Casanova beat Belgian wild card Kirsten Flipkens, 6-3, 7-5, during the opening day of the $585,000 indoor tennis event.

Flipkens was making her WTA Tour debut.

Next up for Matevzic is a second-round meeting with top seed Venus Williams of the United States. Williams is back to defend her title and move closer to securing the diamond studded racket. After claiming this event in its inaugural year last season, she has to win twice more in the next four years to earn the glittering bonus prize.

Any player to win the tournament three times in a five-year span will get a golden racket with approximately 1,700 diamonds.

Williams has been practically unbeatable on tour. The lone exception has been her younger sister Serena, who has beaten Venus in the last four Grand Slam finals.

The 22-year-old Venus will be playing in only her second tournament of the season, following her runner-up showing at the Australian Open.

Casanova's second-round foe will be local favorite and second seed Kim Clijsters, who lost to Venus Williams in the semifinals here last year.

Clijsters started her season by winning at Sydney, her fourth title in her last five tournaments dating to 2002. She reached the semifinals at the Australian Open but squandered two match points and a 5-2 lead in the third set against Serena Williams.

Williams and Clijsters received first-round byes.

Also Monday, Denisa Chladkova of the Czech Republic defeated countrywoman Iveta Benesova, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, and Slovenia's Tina Pisnik topped Italy's Rita Grande, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.


Kustok signs with Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis., Feb. 10 (UPI) -- The Green Bay Packers have signed quarterback Zak Kustok, a former two-year starter at Northwestern, as a free agent.

The 6-1, 218-pounder originally signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent on April 26, 2002, following completion of a three-year varsity career with the Wildcats. He completed 507-of-920 passes for 6,822 yards and 42 touchdowns.

Kustok was placed on waivers Aug. 26 as the Dolphins made several roster reductions, getting down to the 65-player limit. He has been out of football since.

Kustok was a running quarterback in college, when he rushed for 1,294 yards and 22 touchdowns on 433 attempts while starting all 23 games in which he played over his final two seasons.

He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten choice as a senior in 2001, when he completed 231-of- 404 passes for 2,692 yards, 20 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions. He also was the team's second-leading rusher that year, gaining 580 yards on 175 carries, and scoring 11 touchdowns.

As a prep, Kustok was a two-time team captain and two-time all-league selection, as well as an academic all-state selection, at Carl Sandburg High School in his native Orland Park, Ill.

The other quarterbacks on the Packers' roster are starter Brett Favre, top backup Doug Pederson, and second-year pro Craig Nall. Pederson will become an unrestricted free agent on March 2.

The signing of Kustok brings the Packers' offseason roster to 75 players. They are allowed to have 80 when training camp opens in July.


Spartans lose Anderson to hand injury

EAST LANSING, Mich., Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Sophomore forward Alan Anderson has been lost to the men's basketball team at Michigan State after sustaining a finger injury Friday in practice.

Before Saturday night's game at Indiana, Anderson, a native of Minneapolis, started 18 games games this season. He averaged 9.5 points and 3.7 assists per contest.

"It was real tough to watch, especially since I've been playing better lately," said Anderson, who rooted from the bench Saturday night with a cast on his hand. "But we can't be too worried about it. As you can see, the guys can still play without me."

The 6-6, 220-pounder, who was Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro Player of the Year in 2001 while at DeLaSalle High School, played in all 31 games of MSU last season, ranking sixth on the team with 203 total points, and seventh in scoring average (6.5 points per game).

Anderson gave his teammates a pep talk before the Spartans' crucial 67-62 Big Ten road win at Indiana.

"I told the guys, 'Don't feel sorry for me,'" Anderson said. "I said, 'Take all the sorrow and turn it to anger. You've got to pick me up.' That's what they did. We needed this one badly."

For the season, Michigan State is 13-8, 5-4 in the Big Ten. The Spartans next play Tuesday night at Wisconsin.


Lightning place Neckar on IR

TAMPA, Fla., Feb. 10 (UPI) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning Monday placed defenseman Stan Neckar on injured reserve, but made the move retroactive to Feb. 4.

Neckar has missed six of Tampa Bay's last seven games with a groin strain. He is eligible to be activated after Tuesday's pivotal game against the New York Islanders.

The Lightning are tied with the Islanders for the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference with 57 points, one ahead of Montreal.

The native of the Czech Republic has one goal and three assists with a plus-minus rating of minus-5 in 47 games this season, his third with the Lightning.

The team acquired Neckar in March 2001 as part of the same trade which brought goaltender ikolai Khabibulin from Phoenix.

Tampa Bay recalled right wing Sheldon Keefe from Springfield of the American Hockey League to replace Neckar on the roster.

Keefe had eight goals and four assists in 12 games with Springfield. He appeared in 36 games with the Lightning this season and had two goals and five assists.


Roy earns weekly NHL honor

NEW YORK, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Patrick Roy, who helped the Colorado Avalanche extend their unbeaten streak to nine games with three wins, Monday was named NHL Player of the Week.

Roy earned the honor for the second time in three weeks.

The winningest goalie in NHL history went 3


0 with a 1.63 goals-against average and .946 save percentage last week, and is unbeaten in his last seven starts with a 5
2 mark.

Roy stopped 28 shots in a 1-0 victory at Detroit last Thursday for his 64th career shutout, tying him with Ed Belfour for the most among active goalies. Roy began the week by making 28 saves in a 3-2 overtime victory at Boston last Tuesday, and capped it with 31 saves in a 5-3 victory over Detroit on Saturday.

Roy edged out teammate Peter Forsberg, who had four goals and three assists, for the award.

Also considered were Patrick Elias of New Jersey, Jarome Iginla of Calgary, and goaltender Jean-Sebastien of Anaheim.


Penguins send Ference to Calgary

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- The Calgary Flames Monday acquired defenseman Andrew Ference from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional draft choice.

Ference, 23, has played in just 22 games this season, recording one goal and two assists along with 36 penalty minutes and a minus-16 rating.

"Andrew is a solid all-around player who will contribute to our team," said Flames General Manager Craig Button. "He skates and handles the puck well and is dependable. He is a strong and serious competitor who will help our team both defensively and offensively."

Ference, a native of Edmonton, played in a career-high 75 games last season, and had four goals and seven assists.

The trade of Ference comes one day after the Penguins acquired defenseman Shawn Heins from San Jose for a conditional draft pick.

The eighth-round pick in 1997 had 11 goals and 24 assists in 163 career games with the Penguins.

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