Kurt Busch will miss the start of NASCAR’s playoffs with concussion-like symptoms that have sidelined him for six weeks, meaning two spots in the 16-driver field will be open Saturday night in the regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway.

23XI Racing on Thursday withdrew the medical waiver that was holding Busch’s spot in the playoffs. Busch has been out since he crashed in qualifying July 23 at Pocono. Ty Gibbs, the 19-year-old grandson of Joe Gibbs, has replaced Busch since he was injured.

Busch earned his spot in the playoffs with a win at Kansas Speedway in May and, had he not been injured, NASCAR’s 2004 champion would have participated in the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season. By pulling its medical waiver, 23XI gave some breathing room to fellow Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr., who was battling Ryan Blaney for the final spot in the field.


EUROPEAN TOUR: Thriston Lawrence and Alejandro Canizares shot 8-under rounds of 62 to share the lead after the first round of the European Masters in the Swiss Alps.


Lawrence chipped in for an eagle at his final hole, the par-5 ninth, after six birdies and no bogeys. He’s seeking a second title on the European tour this season that started back in November when he won the Joburg Open in his native South Africa.

Four players were tied for third, two shots back, in the bright sunshine and thin air at the Crans-sur-Sierre club where the course is covered with ski pistes in the winter. Matt Wallace, Louis de Jager, Eduardo de la Riva and Scott Jamieson all shot a 64.

LPGA: Paula Reto shot a course-record 9-under 62 at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club to take a two-stroke lead in the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open.

Winless on the LPGA Tour, the 32-year-old South African opened with a 6-under 29 on the back nine and added three birdies on the front nine – the last on the par-5 ninth. She birdied all four par-5 holes.

Reto broke the course mark of 63 set by Canadian star Brooke Henderson in the third round of the 2017 tournament.

Narin An of South Korea was second after a bogey-free 64.


Emma Talley, Robynn Ree and Lilia Vu shot 65. Atthaya Thitikul was at 66 with Perrine Delacour, Peiyun Chien, Wei-Ling Hsu, Nasa Hataoka, Lucy Li, Mo Martin, Elizabeth Szokol and A Lim Kim.


WNBA: Atlanta Dream guard Rhyne Howard was an overwhelming choice as WNBA rookie of the year.

Howard received 53 of 56 votes to become only the second Atlanta player to win the award. Angel McCoughtry was the 2009 choice as the league’s top rookie.

Howard also was a near unanimous choice as The Associated Press WNBA rookie of the year after averaging 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals this season.

Howard, who played at Kentucky, was the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft. She led all rookies in points, assists, steals and minutes per game.


Among all players, Howard ranked 11th in scoring. Her 85 3-pointers ranked third in the league, setting a league record for rookies. She swept the four rookie of the month awards during the season.


U.S. MEN: The U.S. Soccer Federation plans to announce its World Cup roster on Nov. 9.

Kay Bradley, the USSF’s director of marketing, said Thurday the federation is planning to have coach Gregg Berhalter announce the roster during an event in New York.

The U.S. is returning to the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament. At this year’s World Cup in Qatar, the 14th-ranked Americans open against No. 19 Wales on Nov. 21, face No. 5 England in a Black Friday matchup, and finish the first round against No. 22 Iran on Nov. 29.

Two exhibitions remain before the World Cup: against 24th-ranked Japan on Sept. 23 at Düsseldorf, Germany; and No. 53 Saudi Arabia in a friendly four days later in Murcia, Spain.


UEFA AWARDS: Karim Benzema and Alexia Putellas won UEFA’s player of the year awards on Thursday, making it a sweep for Spanish clubs.

Benzema had been the heavy favorite for the men’s award after scoring 15 Champions League goals to lead Real Madrid to a record-extending 14th European title.

Putellas won a second straight UEFA women’s best player award after helping Barcelona reach the Champions League final in defense of its title. Barcelona lost to Lyon.

MARADONA: The jersey Diego Maradona wore in the 1986 World Cup final was back in Argentine hands Thursday thanks to German great Lothar Matthäus.

Matthäus, who swapped jerseys with Maradona at halftime of the final won by Argentina in México, returned the historic apparel at a ceremony at the Argentina Embassy in Madrid.

The shirt will be displayed at a new soccer museum in the Spanish capital.


IRAN: In a rare move, authorities in Iran allowed women to attend a soccer game at the Tehran Azadi stadium in the Iranian capital, local media reported.

Videos posted on social media show women inside the stadium as the national league game between Esteghlal FC, the second most popular team in Iran, and Mes-e Kerman kicked off.

The footage shows women waving blue team flags of Esteghlal and cheering from their seats, in a special area designated for women at the 100,000-seat stadium.

According to the semi-official ISNA news agency, 500 tickets were dedicated exclusively for women though it wasn’t immediately clear how many attended.

A news website, Asriran, said that four hours ahead of the match, tickets assigned for women sold for about $70 on the black market, compared to their official price of under $2.

Women have been mainly prohibited from attending men’s games and other sports events in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.


MLS: Brandon Vazquez and FC Cincinnati agreed to a contract extension through the 2025 season, a deal that includes an option for 2026.

The 23-year-old forward has a career-best 15 league goals this season, tied for third in Major League Soccer with Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira and one behind Austin’s Sebastian Driussi and Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar.

Vazquez is a possible pick for the U.S. roster for exhibitions against Japan and Saudi Arabia, the team’s last two prep games ahead of the World Cup.


SPANISH VUELTA: Remco Evenepoel took the leader’s red jersey on a wet and cold day at the Spanish Vuelta on Thursday, while Jay Wine overcame a flat tire to win the sixth stage and defending champion Primoz Roglic moved closer to the top.

Evenepoel was second to Wine after a tough final climb, enough to put him 21 seconds ahead of previous overall leader Rudy Molard and 28 seconds in front of Enric Mas, who was third in a foggy finish on Thursday.


Roglic, the Jumbo-Visma rider going for a fourth straight Vuelta title, was more than four minutes off the lead entering the sixth stage. He moved to within about a minute of Evenepoel with a strong run on Thursday.


NHL: The Vegas Golden Knights bolstered their forward depth by signing veteran Phil Kessel to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

The 34-year-old Kessel spent the past three seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. The two-time Stanley Cup champion has 399 goals and 557 assists in 1,204 career games with Boston, Toronto, Pittsburgh and Arizona. Kessel has appeared in 982 consecutive NHL games, the longest active streak, and is seven away from tying Keith Yandle’s record of 989.

Last season, Kessel had a career-worst eight goals along with 44 assists. He’s a goal away from becoming the 13th American-born player to score 400 NHL goals.

WOMEN”S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: The United States routed Japan 10-0 in the opening game and defending champion Canada started the tournament with a 4-1 victory over Finland at Herning, Denmark.


The Americans had nine scorers against Japan, with Alex Carpenter the only player to score twice. Taylor Heise went scoreless but equaled a tournament record with five assists for the U.S., which led 9-0 after two periods and outshot Japan 62-6.

Marie-Philip Poulin had a goal and assist for Canada in the first period but Finland stayed within one goal until Meaghan Mikkelson made it 3-1 with seven minutes left of the second. Blayre Turnbull added the fourth into an empty net.

The United States next plays Finland on Saturday, when Canada faces Switzerland. The two North American rivals are both in Group A and play each other in the last preliminary round on Tuesday.


WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: All-American forward Ayoka Lee will undergo knee surgery and miss Kansas State’s upcoming season, though Coach Jeff Mittie said she intends to take a medical redshirt and return for one more year.

Lee, who has dealt with lingering knee injuries the past two seasons, set a Division I record by scoring 61 points in a game against Oklahoma on Jan. 23.
She went on to average 22.0 points last season, setting the Kansas State school record, pulling down 10.3 rebounds per game. The Wildcats reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.


Lee already ranks ninth in school history with 1,661 points, sixth with 887 rebounds and third with 235 blocks.

The 6-foot-6 forward from Byron, Minnesota, graduated in May with a decree in psychology.

Lee said she plans to work on her graduate degree in couples and family therapy while rehabbing from the surgery. The school didn’t specify which knee.

WOMEN’S SOCCER: Birte Speck’s goal in the 52nd minute helped UMaine (1-0-1) earn a 1-1 tie with Merrimack (1-1-1) in Orono.

Hallie Shiers scored in the 46th minute for Merrimack and Lily Morgan made six saves; Kira Kutzinski racked up nine saves for Maine.

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