Sports Briefs 11-18-12


Penske Racing owner Roger Penske said on Friday that Sam Hornish Jr. will return to the organization next season and run for the Nationwide Series championship with the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts team.

Penske said Hornish will also likely run some races in a third Cup car in 2013.

"We have a commitment for a number of Sprint Cup races on a third car, which Sam will be there to run those races," Penske said in a story by Jim Utter of The Charlotte Observer.

Hornish finished fourth in Saturday night's Nationwide Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, while also finishing fourth in the standings, 105 points back of champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who captured his second straight crown.

Penske said he also expected Ryan Blaney to drive for Brad Keselowski's Truck team next season as well as run a handful of Nationwide races for Penske Racing.

• Auto Racing

Re-sign pair: Richard Petty Motorsports has re-signed Sprint Cup Series drivers Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola for the 2013 season.

Ambrose, who won at Watkins Glen earlier this season, will be teamed with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer. Almirola will be paired with veteran crew chief Todd Parrott.

No phone: Brad Keselowski can't have his phone in his car regardless of how much NASCAR loved the attention it received from his Daytona 500 tweets.

But NASCAR chairman Brian France stressed Saturday the sport is committed to both social media and technology, and drivers could be communicating from inside digital cockpits as early as 2014.

• Football

Cubit canned: Western Michigan has fired football coach Bill Cubit with one year left on his contract.

The move was made Saturday after the Broncos closed the season with a 29-23 loss to Eastern Michigan. Western Michigan was 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the Mid-American Conference this season.

Cubit was 51-47 in eight seasons and led the program to three bowl games.

Ditka has stroke: Hall of Famer Mike Ditka had a minor stroke.

ESPN's Seth Markman posted on Twitter that the former Chicago Bears coach and player fell ill and will not appear on the network's NFL shows this weekend. Markman wrote that Ditka "wanted everyone to know he's ok."

Cutler out: Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will miss Monday's game at San Francisco because of a concussion. The Bears announced the decision, making Jason Campbell the likely starter against the 49ers.

Star receiver Brandon Marshall said Cutler is getting better, but he also said there's a bigger picture that goes beyond this week's game.

Cutler's status was in question after he sat out the second half of Sunday's loss to Houston.

Smith practices: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith practiced again on Saturday, however his availability is still uncertain for the game against the Chicago Bears.

Smith suffered a concussion last week against the St. Louis Rams.

He still hasn't been cleared to play by doctors.

• Golf

Poulter on top: Defending champion Ian Poulter shot an 8-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead over Adam Scott after the third round of the Australian Masters.

Poulter, the English player who won the World Golf Championship's HSBC Champions in China two weeks ago, had a 13-under 203 total at Kingston Heath. Scott, from Australia, shot a 67.

Stenston closes to title: Sweden's Henrik Stenson closed in on his first European Tour victory in three years Saturday, shooting a 3-under 69 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the South African Open.

Choi leads: U.S. Women's Open champion Na Yeon Choi was steady after a careless three-putt bogey early in her third round Saturday at the Titleholders and finished with a 3-under 69 to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the LPGA Tour season.

• Elsewehere

Majerus not returning: Saint Louis men's basketball coach Rick Majerus will not return to the team because of a serious heart condition.

The 64-year-old Majerus has been undergoing evaluation and treatment in California for ongoing heart trouble and the school announced he was on leave in late August. He and his representatives have requested that the school's department of athletics not provide additional details regarding his health.

NCAA CC: Oklahoma State's top-ranked men and Oregon's women won NCAA cross country titles Saturday.

Oklahoma State placed four runners in the top 20 and five in the top 40 to win its fourth team title in five years.

Texas Tech's Kennedy Kithuka claimed the individual title in a course-record time of 28 minutes, 31.3 seconds, breaking the 10K mark of 29:30.7 set by Liberty's Josh McDougal in the 2007 Southeast Regional.

Mack beats Froch: Britain's Carl Froch stopped American Yusaf Mack in the third round Saturday night to retain the IBF super middleweight title.

Mack keeled over after being struck with a right-left combination into his ribs from Froch, with the one-sided fight ending with 28 seconds left in the round.

Jays signe Cabrera: The busy Toronto Blue Jays struck again with their latest big deal: All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera is set to join them in his return from a drug suspension.

A person familiar with the negotiations said the free agent outfielder and the Blue Jays have reached agreement on a two-year contract worth $16 million. The deal is pending a physical, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.

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