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Originally published October 7, 2013 at 8:04 PM | Page modified October 7, 2013 at 10:38 PM

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Jeff Gordon makes his move in NASCAR’s Chase

Four-time champion Jeff Gordon is fourth in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

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Auto racing

Gordon makes his move

Considering where Jeff Gordon was after a race in Richmond, Va., left out of NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship in part because of some late-race shenanigans by other teams, he couldn’t be much happier these days.

Not only is Gordon in the 10-race Chase, he is making a charge.

The four-time champion finished third at Kansas Speedway on Sunday behind winner Kevin Harvick and runner-up Kurt Busch, his third top-10 finish in four races in NASCAR’s playoffs. That has allowed him to climb to fourth in points, 32 behind leader Matt Kenseth with six races left in the season.

“Earlier this year, I was probably as frustrated as I’ve ever been in a race car. We were just missing something,” the 42-year-old Gordon said. “Right now, my team has been bringing great cars to the track, not just in the Chase, but I think three, four races prior to that we started to make gains.”

Those gains wouldn’t have been enough for Gordon to squeeze into the Chase when at least three organizations appeared to manipulate the ending to the Sept. 7 race at Richmond.

NASCAR chairman Brian France used his power the next weekend to make an unprecedented expansion to the field after two separate investigations revealed Gordon did not have a fair chance to race his way into the 12-driver Chase because of the late-race controversy.

Gordon’s showing on a slippery surface in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 in Kansas added to his confidence.

Driver needs 2nd surgery

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will need a second surgery on the broken right ankle he suffered when his car went airborne into a fence during the last lap of the Grand Prix of Houston.

Franchitti also fractured two vertebrae in his spine and has a concussion. He had surgery on the ankle Sunday night. Franchitti is expected to have the second surgery Wednesday.

“Thank you to everyone for all the well wishes. They mean a lot to me,” Franchitti said in a statement from Target Chip Ganassi Racing. “I would also like to send my best to all the fans involved in the accident and hope that everyone is all right.”

Thirteen fans and an IndyCar official were injured by debris that flew into the grandstand. Two people were taken to a hospital; Tony Kanaan tweeted a picture of himself and fellow driver Scott Dixon visiting one of the fans and wrote: “Glad to see everybody is ok.”

Horse racing

Fans will see the big picture

The home of the Kentucky Derby wants to make sure every fan attending the famous race at Churchill Downs in Louisville actually sees the horses running.

Track officials announced they are installing a 15,224-square-foot, high-definition LED video board. It will be 171 feet wide and about 89 feet high. The bottom edge will be about 80 feet above the ground; it will be installed midway along the backstretch and outside the dirt track. Churchill Downs and Panasonic are teaming for the $12 million project that is expected to be done early next year.

The video board’s position will maximize the viewing angle for fans in the 55,638 clubhouse and grandstand seats and the tens of thousands of fans packed in the track’s 26-acre infield for next year’s May 3 Derby and May 2 Kentucky Oaks.

NBA

Wade takes night off

Guard Dwyane Wade was in the starting lineup for the two-time defending champion Miami Heat’s exhibition opener — until he decided he needed a night off.

Saying he was erring on the side of caution, the nine-time All-Star announced about an hour before tipoff he would not be playing when the Heat faced Atlanta.

“I’ve been practicing very hard, going very hard,” Wade said. “I could play, but I just think it’s smarter that in consecutive days of going so hard, just be smart today, rest a little bit, let my legs recover.”

Chris Bosh scored 21 points as the host Heat beat the Hawks 92-87.

Meanwhile, Stephen Curry scored 23 points and ex-Washington State standout Klay Thompson added 17 as the host Golden State Warriors beat Sacramento 94-81.

Former Washington Huskies guard Isaiah Thomas had team-high totals of 15 points and six assists for the Kings.

Tennis

Sharapova withdraws

Maria Sharapova of Russia has withdrawn from the season-ending WTA Championships because of an injured right shoulder. WTA officials said the third-ranked player will miss the event that starts Oct. 22 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Jelena Jankovic of Serbia has qualified for the WTA Championships, but she pulled out of this week’s Japan Women’s Open because of an injured left hip.

ELSEWHERE

• German skier Kathrin Hoelzl, a 2009 giant-slalom world champion, retired after years of struggling with injuries and illness. She is 28.

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