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Historic NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader highlights weekend sports schedule



July 3 (UPI) — NASCAR and IndyCar will race at the same track on the same weekend for the first time when the top motorsports tiers rendezvous Saturday and Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The trio of races highlight a packed live sports weekend.

The Fourth of July weekend sports slate also includes UFC fights, a PGA Tour golf tournament, NWSL women’s soccer matches, European soccer clashes and baseball games in Asia.

Drivers will first start their engines for the IndyCar’s GMR Grand Prix at noon EDT Saturday. That race was scheduled for May, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NASCAR will host an Xfinity race after the GMR Grand Prix on the same track at 3 p.m. EDT with the Pennzoil 150 at The Brickyard. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s final weekend race will be the Cup Series Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400, which starts at 4 p.m. EDT Sunday.

No spectators will be allowed at the races.

NASCAR’s Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Truck Series have been back since May after they were suspended due to the pandemic. IndyCar started its season in early June after its start was postponed from mid-March.

Caesars has Cup Series leader Kevin Harvick as a +350 favorite to win Sunday’s race, which means a $100 bet would win a bettor $350, in addition to the wagered amount.

Kyle Busch (+400), Denny Hamlin (+500), Martin Truex Jr. (+800), Brad Keselowski (+1000) and Joey Logano (+1000) are also among the favorites for the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400.

UFC on Fight Island

A welterweight title bout between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns highlights UFC 251 on Fight Island, a unique Yas Island venue Saturday in Abu Dhabi.

Usman (16-1-0) is the titleholder and hasn’t lost since 2013. Burns (19-3-0) is ranked No. 1 in welterweight and hasn’t lost since 2018. He knocked off former welterweight title holder Tyron Woodley on May 30 at UFC Fight Night. Usman beat Woodley on March 2 at UFC 235 to dethrone the champion.

Caesars has Usman as a -245 favorite to beat Burns (+205), which means a bettor would need to wager at least $245 to win $100 on Usman and would win $205 on a $100 bet on Burns. BetOnline.AG also has Usman as a favorite at -235 with Burns at +200.

The main card for UFC 251 includes four other matchups. Amanda Ribas and Paige VanZant will open the main card at 10 p.m. EDT Saturday on ESPN+.

Jessica Andrade (20-7-0) will face Rose Namajunas in the second fight on the main card. Petr Yan will then clash against Jose Aldo in a bantamweight title bout. Featherweights Alexander Volkanovski will match with Max Holloway in the co-main event bout before Usman battles Burns.

Soccer from U.S. women, Europe

The NWSL Challenge Cup will continue Saturday and Sunday. More than a dozen players from the United States Women’s National Team are on the rosters for the National Women’s Soccer League teams.

Utah Royals FC will face the Sky Blue FC and the Houston Dash play the OL Reign Saturday in Herriman, Utah. The North Carolina Courage face the Chicago Red Stars and Portland Thorns FC plays the Washington Spirit on Sunday in Herriman.

Germany’s Bundesliga and England’s Premier League already have crowned champions, but Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A still await a winner. Rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona are in a tight race atop La Liga.

Two consecutive draws have led to Barcelona’s drop for the top spot. Real Madrid can increase their lead this week while Lionel Messi and Barcelona need to beat Villarreal Sunday to keep pace with their foes.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus lead Serie A by just four points over second-place Lazio. Both Italian squads will take the field Saturday with Lazio in a clash against Milan and Juventus in a matchup against Torino.

Premier League champion Liverpool follows their rivalry matchup Thursday against Manchester City with a game Sunday against Aston Villa. United States soccer star Christian Pulisic will attempt to keep the Blues in Champions League contention with a matchup against Watford Saturday in London.



KBO: Kiwoom Heroes vs. KT Wiz at 4:55 a.m. EDT on ESPN


Rocket Mortgage Classic: Third round featured groups from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT on PGA Tour Live; 1 to 3 p.m. EDT on Golf Channel; 3 to 6 p.m. EDT on CBS


Serie A: Juventus vs. Torino at 11 a.m. EDT on ESPN+

NWSL Challenge Cup: Utah Royals FC vs. Sky Blue FC at 12:30 p.m. EDT on CBS All Access

Premier League: Chelsea vs. Watford at 3 p.m. EDT on NBCSN

Serie A: Lazio vs. AC Milan at 3:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN+

NWSL Challenge Cup: Houston Dash vs. OL Reign at 10 p.m. EDT on CBS All Access


NTT Series GMR Grand Prix at noon EDT on NBC


Xfinity Pennzoil 150 at The Brickyard at 3 p.m. EDT on NBC

UFC 251 on ESPN+

Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant at 10 p.m. EDT

Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas after first fight

Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo after second fight

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway after third fight

Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns after fourth fight



KBO: LG Twins vs. Samsung Lions at 3:55 a.m. EDT on ESPN


Rocket Mortgage Classic: Fourth round featured groups from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT on PGA Tour Live; 1 to 3 p.m. EDT on Golf Channel; 3 to 6 p.m. EDT on CBS


La Liga: Real Madrid vs. Athletic Club at 8 a.m. EDT on beIN Sports

Premier League: Liverpool vs. Aston Villa at 11:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN

NWSL Challenge Cup: North Carolina Courage vs. Chicago Red Stars at 12:30 p.m. EDT on CBS All Access

Premier League: Southampton vs. Manchester City at 2 p.m. EDT on NBC

La Liga: Barcelona vs. Villarreal at 4 p.m. EDT on beIN Sports

NWSL Challenge Cup: Portland Thorns FC vs. Washington Spirit at 10 p.m. EDT on CBS All Access


Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at 4 p.m. EDT on NBC

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U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open



Sept. 17 (UPI) — Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, who won the 2020 U.S. Open last week, announced Thursday night that she will skip this month’s French Open.

Osaka — ranked third in the world — said she decided to withdraw from the upcoming major because of a lingering left hamstring injury and a lack of preparation time on the clay surface.

“Unfortunately I won’t be able to play the French Open this year,” Osaka wrote on social media. “My hamstring is still sore so I won’t have enough time to prepare for the clay — these two tournaments came too close to each other for me this time. I wish the organizers and players all the best.”

The French Open is set to begin Sept. 27 in Paris after being rescheduled from its traditional spring dates due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Osaka, 22, has never advanced past the third round of the French tournament.

Osaka, who had her hamstring taped throughout the U.S. Open, earned her third major title in New York after a three-set comeback win over Victoria Azarenka.

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Chicago White Sox beat Minnesota Twins to clinch AL playoff spot



Sept. 17 (UPI) — The Chicago White Sox are back in the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade after earning a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.

With the victory, the White Sox clinched their first postseason berth since 2008. It is only the franchise’s second trip to the playoffs since the club won the World Series in 2005.

The White Sox are the first American League team to clinch a spot in the 2020 postseason. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers became the first NL club to punch their ticket to the playoffs.

“Everybody in there is extremely happy,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work over the years. Hopefully, it’s just a first step, and we continue to move forward.”

White Sox slugger Jose Abreu fueled the win with his 17th home run of the season. The homer — which tied the game at one run apiece in the fourth inning — gave Abreu 50 RBIs in the team’s first 50 games this year, making him the first MLB player to reach 50 RBIs in 2020 and the first to do it in 50 contests since the Detroit TigersMiguel Cabrera in 2013.

Abreu tied the game again in the seventh inning when he legged out an infield single to score Jarrod Dyson from third. That sequence set up the winner — a line drive double to left field by Eloy Jimenez to plate pinch runner Yolmer Sanchez.

“For me, that was a really special moment,” Jimenez said. “It’s really fun, you know. At the beginning of the year, I would have been disappointed if we didn’t make the playoffs. Now, we’ve made it, and we have to continue to play hard and win our division.”

“We’re not done,” Renteria said. “This is just one phase of it. Hopefully, we’re continuing to be better.”

This week in Major League Baseball

New York Yankees Luke Voit (L) celebrates with Aaron Hicks after hitting a solo home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in New York City on Thursday. The Yankees defeated the Blue Jays 10-7. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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Miami Heat rally past Boston Celtics for 2-0 series lead



Sept. 17 (UPI) — The Miami Heat mounted another comeback to beat the Boston Celtics 106-101 and take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night.

The Heat were down by as much as 17 points in the second quarter and trailed the Celtics by 13 at halftime before exploding for 37 points in the third frame. Miami had been 0-21 in postseason games when trailing by at least that many at the half.

The Heat are now 1-21 in such games and sit two wins away from their first NBA finals since 2014.

“We like to make it hard on ourselves,” Heat star Jimmy Butler said. “We like being down double digits and being the comeback kids.”

Goran Dragic led the Heat with 25 points and five assists. Bam Adebayo, who had a clutch block in the closing seconds of Game 1, recorded 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson scored 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting from 3-point range to end his offensive woes. In the Heat’s last two playoff games, he was 2 of 9 from deep and scored a combined eight points.

Butler finished with 14 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists. Jae Crowder scored 12 points, and Tyler Herro added 11 off the bench.

Kemba Walker had a team-best 23 points for the Celtics, who also got 21 apiece from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Brown failed to make a corner 3-pointer that would have tied the game with 15 seconds left, and Butler sealed it with two free throws with 7.4 seconds left.

Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is set for Saturday.

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