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Sports briefs

AUTO RACINGHamlin wins playoff race

Denny Hamlin earned a surprise automatic berth into the second round of NASCAR's playoffs by rallying from last to victory lane at Chicagoland Speedway yesterday in the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Kevin Harvick's hopes at a repeat season championship were decidedly in danger after contact with Jimmie Johnson on a restart ultimately led him to crash. Johnson went to Harvick's motor home to speak to Harvick, but Harvick walked out of the bus and shoved Johnson in the chest with a closed fist.

Vettel avoids fan, wins

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel overcame the shock of coming across a track intruder midrace and won the Singapore Grand Prix yesterday, while runaway championship leader Lewis Hamilton suffered his first retirement of the season, injecting new life into the fight for the Formula One title. Vettel led from start to finish in a race that was interrupted by a fan wandering on the track, which prompted the second of two safety-car periods that tactically helped the German notch his third win of the season.


Sparks force Game 3

Candace Parker scored 25 points to lead the host Los Angeles Sparks to an 81-71 win against the top-seeded Minnesota Lynx in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals. The Sparks tied the best-of-three series 1-1. Game 3 is tomorrow in Minnesota. Parker scored 15 points in the second quarter on 5-for-7 shooting. She had eight straight points during a 12-0 run as the Sparks led by 22 points and took a 53-35 lead into halftime. Ana Dabovic added a career-high 18 points for the Sparks, who won their first playoff game since 2013.


Red Bulls clinch berth

Felipe and Damien Perrinelle scored three minutes apart late in the first half and the visiting Red Bulls beat the Portland Timbers, 2-0, to become the first MLS team to clinch a playoff spot. New York (14-8-6) moved into first place in the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of Columbus. The Red Bulls have won three of four and 11 of 14.

TENNISBritain vs. Belgium for Cup

Andy Murray sent Britain into its first Davis Cup final in 37 years, securing victory over Australia with a straight-set win over Bernard Tomic, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2, in Glasgow as Britain won, 3-2. Belgium awaits Britain in the Nov. 27-29 final after beating Argentina by the same score in the other semifinal. Steve Darcis sent Belgium into its first Davis Cup final in more than a century by beating Federico Delbonis in the deciding fifth match in Brussels. Argentina led 2-1 after winning the Saturday doubles, but David Goffin defeated Diego Schwartzman to draw Belgium level before Darcis defeated Delbonis . . . Jack Sock clinched the United States' Davis Cup World Group playoff win over Uzbekistan in Tashkent with a four-set victory over Denis Istomin. -- AP

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