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  • By DAVE SKRETTA AP Sports Writer
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. already looks like the coolest cat at the club, with his shades and scruff and disarming smile, yet he has even more reason to be relaxed and confident at Kansas Speedway this weekend.

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Jimmie Johnson took time this week to drive the car pool for Hendrick Motorsports whiz kids Alex Bowman and William Byron, while Matt Kenseth joked last weekend about driving a school bus if he fails to find a ride for next season.

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was all over the scoreboard at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His Roush-Fenway Racing team worked all day to salvage a strong finish in the opening race of the second round of NASCAR's playoffs, and a speeding penalty was threatening to ruin the chance.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Hendrick Motorsports will unveil its four Daytona 500 cars later this week in an ceremony at the Charlotte Convention Center. It will be the first appearance for Hendrick's 2018 driver lineup, which is anchored by unflappable seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Retirement Dale has been Blunt Dale. As his final season ticks away, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has grabbed a bullhorn and demanded change — in 140-character bursts, on his podcast and through the media — on matters big and small in NASCAR.

SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) — Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix with another brilliant drive under pressure on Saturday, while title rival Sebastian Vettel's misery continued as he quit early in qualifying after losing power on a straight.

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Danica Patrick was the darling of Daytona before she put on a helmet. Patrick ushered in the 2013 season accompanied by hype perhaps no other NASCAR rookie had ever faced: Her love life, Super Bowl ads and racy photo shoots were trendy themes that generated more enthusiasm…

What began more than a year ago with an NFL quarterback protesting police brutality against minorities by kneeling silently during the national anthem before games has grown into a roar with hundreds of players sitting, kneeling, locking arms or remaining in locker rooms — their reasons for …

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Several NFL owners locked arms with their players this weekend instead of taking a challenge from President Donald Trump to fire them for protesting during the national anthem. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty said he would get rid of anyone on his racing team who …

LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Jimmie Johnson smacked the wall first and Chase Elliott quickly followed the champion's miscalculated route when his car slammed into about the same spot. The Hendrick Motorsports drivers traded their Chevrolets for John Deere golf cart rides to the medical center.

ELM MOTT — Copperas Cove IMCA Southern SportMod driver Taylor Florio was the sanction’s Rookie of the Year in 2015 while still in high school. Friday night, the recent Lampasas grad hit another career milestone, and when the checkered flag waved for her after Friday’s SportMod feature at Hea…

AUSTIN— One Austin magazine wrote this week that Venezuela’s Pastor Maldonado “was at risk of bottoming out at this year’s critical United States Grand Prix.”

ELM MOTT — For awhile, Friday night’s IMCA Southern SportMod feature race at Heart O’ Texas Speedway looked like another runaway for Belton driver G.W. Egbert. He easily weathered a field-tightening caution period on lap six, after building a full straightaway lead two circuits in. In fact, …