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In Brief: Earnhardt returns to Dover to support Hendrick teammates

Dale Earnhardt Jr., right, listens to Jeff Gordon as they stand in the garage area before practice. (Mel Evans / Associated Press)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., right, listens to Jeff Gordon as they stand in the garage area before practice. (Mel Evans / Associated Press)
From staff and wire reports

Auto racing: Dale Earnhardt Jr. watched his ol’ No. 88 Chevy roll onto pit road and felt a tinge of melancholy knowing Jeff Gordon would slide into the seat.

Earnhardt was back at a NASCAR track, yet far removed from a NASCAR comeback.

“It’s hard not to climb in the car before Jeff does,” he said.

Without a ride, Earnhardt instead took a temporary spot as NASCAR’s most popular crew member. He wore a hoodie and a hat instead of a firesuit as he made one of his few public appearances at a track since his season ended in July because of a concussion. Earnhardt posed for selfies with fans and seemed in good spirits watching practice from the pit box on Saturday at Dover (Delaware) International Speedway.

The 41-year-old Earnhardt said he was feeling better, though he didn’t know when he would be cleared to return to racing. Earnhardt has used a race simulator to aid in his rehabilitation, which helped him work on his motor skills, and he’s added more exercises to his daily routine.

Earnhardt, long NASCAR’s most popular driver, has said he hoped to be cleared for the 2017 Daytona 500. But when that date might come? He has no idea.

“I’m not ready, I know that. I’ll know when I’m ready,” he said. “It’s not one of them things that has a schedule. You don’t know when you’re going to be like, `all right, I’m good. Let’s go do this.“’

Gordon will substitute for him in one more race in the 88. Alex Bowman will drive in the other races left this season.

Reddick holds off teammate Hemric: Tyler Reddick held off teammate Daniel Hemric to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Brad Keselowski Racing teammates battled throughout the 146-lap race, with Reddick leading 70 laps.

Rain pushes Xfinity race to Sunday: Rain washed out the NASCAR Xfinity Series race and there will be a Dover doubleheader Sunday.

The second-tier series race will start at 10 a.m. at Dover (Delaware) International Speedway.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup race is scheduled for 2:15 p.m.

Hamilton takes pole at Malaysian GP: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang, Malaysia, beating his teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg by four tenths of a second in qualifying.

Hamilton headed Mercedes’ first-ever front-row lockout in Malaysia and set a new lap record at the Sepang International Circuit with a time of 1 minute, 32.850 seconds.

Cleverly beats Braehmer by TKO

Boxing: Nathan Cleverly of Wales defeated Juergen Braehmer by technical knockout to take the German’s WBA light heavyweight belt and his second world title in Neubrandenburg, Germany.

After six evenly matched rounds, the defending champion indicated he couldn’t continue due to a problem with his right elbow.

Cleverly had been the busier fighter, while Braehmer relied on counterattacks, and seemed to pack a cleaner more powerful punch. Both fighters landed heavy blows in a punishing fifth round and Braehmer said he couldn’t compete after the sixth.

Raptors link arms in anthems

NBA: The first statement of the NBA preseason was made by the Toronto Raptors, one that came even before Kevin Durant made his unofficial debut with the Golden State Warriors.

The Raptors’ players and coaches linked arms during the American and Canadian national anthems, a statement serving as the latest entry in a widespread series of protests across sports in recent weeks designed to raise awareness of racial injustice and other social problems.

“Guys were real, guys had sincere feelings, sincere thoughts, sincere things to talk about and concerns,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said before the game. “That’s what all this should be about – to induce conversation.”

In the game, Kevin Durant had nine points on 2 for 9 shooting in his Warriors debut, and Golden State lost to the host Toronto Raptors 97-93 in a preseason matchup. Klay Thompson had 16 points and two-time reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry added eight. None of them played after halftime.

DeMar DeRozan scored 11 points and Kyle Lowry had six for Toronto.

Pelicans top Mavs in preseason opener: First-round draft pick Buddy Hield scored 19 points off the bench for the Pelicans, who also got 19 from E’Twaun Moore and 13 from Anthony Davis, and host New Orleans beat the Mavericks 116-102 in a preseason game.

Terrence Jones added 17 for New Orleans. Justin Anderson led the Mavericks with 14 points.

Rapids clinch playoff berth

MLS: Sebastien Le Toux scored in the 63rd minute and the Colorado Rapids wrapped up a playoff spot with a 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers in Commerce City, Colorado.

Marlon Hairston slipped past a defender into the right side of the area and sent a low cross to the middle that Dominique Badji redirected and Le Toux smashed home.

The Rapids (12-5-2) clinched their first playoff berth since 2013 and tied a franchise record with 51 points. With four games to go, Colorado has the best chance or the remaining contenders to surpass league-leading FC Dallas for the Supporters’ Shield.

The Timbers (11-13-8) stayed tied for sixth place with the Seattle Sounders. Portland finishes its season with a rematch against Colorado at home on Oct. 16 and a trip to Vancouver on Oct. 23.

FC Dallas remains stop Supporters’ Shield: Walker Zimmerman scored in the first half and FC Dallas beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 in Frisco, Texas, to remain atop the overall MLS standings.

FC Dallas (16-8-8) snapped a three-game winless run and leads the Supporters’ Shield race by five points. Los Angeles (11-6-15) has lost two straight after a six-game undefeated run, but clinched a playoff spot due to other results in the Western Conference.

Red Bulls win, tie for first in conference: Dax McCarty capped the scoring in the 66th minute and had assists on New York’s first two goals to give the Red Bulls a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Union in Harrison, New Jersey.

The Red Bulls (14-9-9) tied New York City FC for first place in the Eastern Conference standings, each with two games remaining.

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