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Originally published March 21, 2014 at 9:46 PM | Page modified March 21, 2014 at 11:27 PM

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Matt Kenseth leads NASCAR qualifying at California track

Matt Kenseth won the pole for Sunday’s Auto Club 400, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Fontana, Calif.


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Auto racing

Kenseth secures pole

Matt Kenseth won the pole for Sunday’s Auto Club 400, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Fontana, Calif.

Kenseth turned a lap of 187.315 mph to edge Brad Keselowski in a knockout qualifying session Friday at Auto Club Speedway. Jimmie Johnson, a five-time winner in Fontana, will start in third.

Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., qualified in 24th, and Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw will start in 26th place.

Meanwhile, Johnson said he doesn’t believe his Hendrick Motorsports team was to blame for his tire coming apart in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.

Johnson was running second early in the race when he was forced to pit because the No. 48 Chevrolet had a problem with the right-front tire. He never recovered, finishing 19th.

When crew chief Chad Knaus inspected the tire, he saw the tread had fallen off, and sarcastically radioed Johnson: “I’m sure it’s something we did. I’m sure it’s our fault.”

Goodyear officials said during the rain delay the No. 48 crew didn’t change right-side tires during the first pit stop, and wear caused the tire to fail.

Johnson said Friday he disagreed with Goodyear’s assessment, even after meeting with officials from NASCAR’s exclusive tire provider.

“From a team standpoint, we’re still very adamant that the wear on the tire was not the issue,” the six-time Cup champion said.

Johnson said Knaus’ sarcasm on the radio was the crew chief foreshadowing Goodyear’s expected explanation.

“If you look at how things transpired ... when Goodyear had a chance to respond it was our fault, that is what Chad was preparing us for — that of course it was going to be our fault,” Johnson said.

College wrestling

Penn State has lead

Penn State, seeking its fourth consecutive NCAA title, has a narrow lead entering the final day of the national championships in Oklahoma City.

Penn State has 91 points and Minnesota has 90½. Oklahoma State, last season’s runner-up, is third with 87½ after four sessions.

Soccer

Van Persie is shelved

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie will miss up to six weeks with a left-knee injury, ruling him out of both legs of a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal against Bayern Munich of Germany and potentially six English Premier League matches.

It is a major blow to Manchester United’s hopes of winning the Champions League, the team’s only realistic route back into Europe’s top competition next season. Van Persie was injured toward the end of Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Olympiakos, in which he scored a hat trick to send his team into the Champions League quarterfinals.

Blatter avoids question

FIFA President Sepp Blatter declined to comment on allegations linking Qatar’s winning 2022 World Cup bid to payments received by voters.

“I have not even the right” to discuss claims published this week, he said.

Tennis

Federer advances

Roger Federer of Switzerland made a victorious return to the Sony Open after skipping last year’s tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Federer beat big-serving Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in a second-round match.

On the women’s side, second-seeded Li Na of China reached the third round when Alisa Kleybanova of Russia withdrew because of a viral illness.

ELSEWHERE

• Olympic skier Tim Jitloff of Reno, Nev., won the giant-slalom title at the U.S. Alpine Championships in Squaw Valley, Calif., beating runner-up Brennan Rubie of Salt Lake City by 1.61 seconds.

Patrice Bergeron and Carl Soderberg scored, Chad Johnson stopped 31 shots and the Boston Bruins beat host Colorado 2-0 for their 11th NHL victory in a row.

• In the NCAA women’s hockey semifinals in Hamden, Conn., Minnesota beat Wisconsin 5-3 and Clarkson defeated Mercyhurst 5-1. The final is Sunday.

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