CONCORD, N. Bob McAdoo Jersey .C. -- Jimmie Johnson is hoping hes on the verge of turning around a disappointing season. The six-time Sprint Cup champion won the pole Thursday night for the Coca-Cola 600, turning a lap at 194.911 mph at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the third round of NASCARs knockout qualifying format. It was the first pole of the year for Johnson, who has yet to win a race this season. "It certainly shows that were going to be strong this weekend," Johnson said. "I dont know that it sends the same message that winning two or three races will send. But I would love to rattle off two or three wins and have people fear the No. 48 as they have in the past. I dont think a pole position does that to the garage area, but you have to start somewhere." Brad Keselowski qualified second and will start on the front row for the seventh time this season. Kasey Kahne was third, followed by Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer. Sprint Cup points leader Jeff Gordons struggles in practice runs carried over to qualifying. He didnt make it out of the first round of qualifying and will start 27th -- one spot behind last weeks All-Star race winner, Jamie McMurray. Johnson has won six Sprint Cup races at the Charlotte, twice from the pole. He said he isnt concerned that he hasnt won a race this season, which would secure a spot in the Chase for the Cup. What has bothered him is the lack of consistency. "We have been close to some wins and been pathetic at other tracks," Johnson said. Johnson was asked if he agrees with the notion that some detractors have enjoyed the fact that he hasnt won yet. "I think there are some people getting satisfaction out of it," Johnson said. "But if I win, I win too much. If I dont win, they say you arent winning enough. So it doesnt matter what I do, I cant win." Johnson was a non-factor in the All-Star race last week at the track in his bid for a three-peat. He said his crew changed the setup in his car this past week, borrowing some advice from teammate Kasey Kahne. "We learned some things from last week," Johnson said. Keselowski said he was bummed he got beat out for the pole -- again. It was the sixth time this season he has qualified second. "Its like kissing your sister," Keselowski said. Patrick will start in the top 10 for the third straight week. She was fast throughout the qualifying session with the top lap in the second round of 194.595. But her lap in third round was more than one second slower. Joey Logano, who is off to the best start of his young career with two wins this season, will start eighth and will be considered one of the favourites on Sunday. Logano has already won twice this season and has historically run well at Charlotte with three top-five and six top-10 finishes in 10 career Cup starts at Charlotte. Track temperatures reached 106 degrees at the start of qualifying, but cooled significantly as the sun set behind the grandstand and the speeds picked up dramatically. Drivers had problems in the first two turns early in qualifying complaining their cars were tight, and had to adjust on the clock. Under the new format all cars are allowed 25 minutes to qualify with the top 24 based advancing to 10-minute session in round two. From that group, the top 12 advanced to the final, five-minute round. "The great thing about the new qualifying sessions is there are multiple opportunities to get it right and that is a good thing," Keselowski said. "That is why it is so much fun." Philadelphia 76ers Gear . Amare Stoudemire had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Carmelo Anthony scored 21 and the New York Knicks won their eighth straight game, 93-92 over Philadelphia on Friday night, sending the Sixers to their 23rd straight loss. Lavoy Allen Jersey . "Today was a very great day for me. It was always my dream to be good in GS," Wierather said. "I took quite a long time to get there. It feels awesome to have my first win (in GS)." Wierather leads overall with 595 points from Lara Gut (568), who finished second, and Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany (535).CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Cam Newton will see his first game action since undergoing ankle surgery in March when the Carolina Panthers host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. Just how much hell play remains to be seen. Panthers coach Ron Rivera expects Newton to play at least a quarter, but said its possible the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback could see additional action. He said that will depend on how well the offensive line protects and if Newton can control his competitive urges to take off and run when pressured in the pocket. "If were playing well, doing good things and the offensive line is shoring up, well continue with him into the second (quarter)," Rivera said. "If not, weve got to be smart about this and make a decision." Newton has been practicing all week and even ran some read option. But Rivera said the Panthers wont be running the read option during the game. Nor does he want his quarterbacks adrenaline taking over and having him running all over the field. "He cant help himself because he loves to compete and he wants to win," Rivera said. "That is one of the things that is of concern — that hell get out there and he may see something, he may go from a three to a seven (in terms of effort) and the next thing you know hes out there doing his thing. Thats just who he is. Hes very competitive." The Panthers want Newton to avoid a setback before the regular season opener against Tampa Bay. "Each day its been getting better and better for me," Newton said. "At this point, we dont want to have any mishaps in the treatment process. Shake Milton Jersey. " Newton said hes doing what he can for a healthy return for the regular season. "The thing that keeps coming back up is, Keep treating it. Treat it when it feels good and treat it when it feels bad. Dont be that guy that only treats it when its nagging. Try to stay ahead of the pain," Newton said. "Thats what Ive been doing. Its been paying off." Rivera said some starters will play into the third quarter. Rivera is treating this game like the third preseason game because the Panthers have a short week coming up as they prepare for New England next Friday. This also will be the first chance for Newton to play with rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who has been his top target during training camp. The Panthers are hoping Benjamin fills the void left by veteran Steve Smith, who was released this past off-season. The Chiefs are looking for answers at wide receiver, too. Dwayne Bowe is expected to anchor their receiving corps, but he will miss the first regular-season game because of a suspension for violating the NFLs substance-abuse policy. Junior Hemingway is emerging as a big slot receiver and DeAnthony Thomas has the talent of a playmaker. Donnie Avery, Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins and Frankie Hammond Jr. are also competing for playing time and all would benefit from a good showing against the Panthers. ___ AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report. ___ AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL ' ' '
A Champions Cup final place is the prize on offer when Saracens face Wasps in Saturdays all-English semi-final, live on Sky Sports 1 HD. Pelicans Jerseys 2021 . So far this season its honours even between the two Premiership sides. Saracens beat Wasps 26-16 at the Ricoh Arena in December thanks to a 21-point haul from fly-half Owen Farrell, but Wasps claimed revenge when they went to Allianz Park and smashed their hosts 64-23 in an eight-try mauling that saw Jimmy Gopperth contribute 23 points.Gopperth is in superb form after converting Charles Piutaus 80th-minute try for a thrilling 25-24 win over Exeter Chiefs in the Champions Cup quarter-final earlier in the month, while Farrell slotted five penalties and two conversions to guide Saracens to a 29-20 win over Saints in their quarter-final. The two fly-halves face off for the third time this season and their battle will be key in deciding the outcome, but it wont be the only one. We take a look at five head-to-heads as the two Premiership giants clash live on Sky Sports...Owen Farrell v Jimmy Gopperth Owen Farrell has been in fine form for club and country High-level performances are now the expected watermark for Farrell. The Saracens fly-half has been string-puller and goal-kicker supreme for the Premiership leaders this season - and from the tee for England - playing with the kind of confidence that has made him a consistent match-winner.But Gopperth has reasons to be confident too, after hitting that late winning touchline conversion to defeat Exeter in the quarter-finals. He described that kick as one of the highlights of his career but if hes to add to that story then its vital the New Zealander comes out the right side of this battle with the sure-footed Farrell. Watch highlights of Wasps thrilling Champions Cup quarter-final win over Exeter Gopperth wont be fazed by the challenge; hell be focused only on how to release Wasps dangerous outside backs. But Farrells polished style could prove the difference.Maro Itoje v Joe Launchbury Maro Itoje beats England team-mate Joe Launchbury in the lineout Its only a few weeks ago that Itoje was being tipped as an emerging international star. Now, after less than a handful of performances for England he already feels firmly established.Its an intriguing duel that pits his athleticism, growing form and enthusiasm against the experienced Launchbury.Saracens look to have the edge come lineout time, especially with their set piece anchored against another England lock, George Kruis. But its the damage Itoje is capable of doing on the opposition throw that will be of most concern to Wasps. Maro Itoje v Joe Launchbury 21 Age 25 48 Tackles 60 2 Missed tackles 11 51 Carries 51 25 Lineouts won 18 Alex Goode v Charles Piutau Charles Piutau has had a debut season to remember with Wasps Goode has been sensational this season and for many hes the form full-back in England. But if thats the case then Piutau is only a whisker behind.As Wasps showed against Exeter, they will attack from everywhere and Piutau has the strength and fleet-of-foot to beat the last defender, and the first defender too, for that matter.Goodes attacking style has been slightly more graceful but its been no less devastating. Alex Goode v Charles Piutau 59 Carries 77 484 Metres gained 714 7 Clean breaks 15 12 Defenders beaten 31 3 Tries 4 Billy Vunipola v Nathan Hughes Billy Vunipola will get Saracens over the gainline The two wrecking-ball No 8s will be in direct competition for a starting spot with England come the autumn internationals, with Fiji-born Hughes qualifying on residency grounds in June.George Smith insists the pair could forge a devastating combination at international level despite their similar strengths. Sky Live: Saracens v Wasps Mark McCall vows his players will attack the game Both players have been key performers in their respective clubs quests for a domestic and European double. They have scored two tries apiece in the Champions Cup and are the primary gain-line carriers for their sides, Hughes making 303 metres from 83 carries and Vunipola gaining 207m from 73 carriers. Nathan Hughes has beaten 20 defenders in this seasons Champions Cup Hughes has beaten 20 defenders in his six European appearances, two more than Vunipola, and the 24-year-olds offload ability will keep opposition defences on their toes.The battle of the breakdown could well decide which of these players have the greater influence. Deliver quick ruck ball in the right areas of the pitch, and this duo will thrive. Billy Vunipola v Nathan Hughes 23 Age 24 73 Carries 83 207 Metres gained 303 18 Defenders beaten 20 2 Tries 2 Chris Ashton v Christian Wade Chris Ashton has scored four tries in six European appearances this season One has registered six tries in a single outing. The other, five tries since returning from suspension.This is a fascintaing battle pitting two in-form finishers against each other, and theres an added dimension too with both keen to catch the interest of Eddie Jones ahead of Englands summer internationals. Ahead of Wasps European semi-final we found out the secret to the clubs return to the European top table Ashton relishes the big occasion and has become accustomed to delivering on those occasions too. Wade has his eye in after that six-try performance however, and both look certain to be involved heavily.In a straight head-to-head, Ashtons experience could well prove a determining factor.Watch Saracens v Wasps live on Sky Sports 1 HD on Saturday from 2.55pm. Catch the match for £6.99 with a NOW TV day pass Also See: Sky Live: Saracens v Wasps Will Greenwoods verdict Wasps return to European elite McCall: Saracens in confident mood New Orleans Pelicans Pro Shop .com) - Joe Pavelski scored twice to lead the San Jose Sharks in a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers to split a home-and-home set. P. J. Brown Jersey . -- Albert Pujols is thrilled to have a reason to forget about his first two disappointing seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Serbian tennis player Victor Troicki says he will appear at sports highest court next week to challenge his 18-month ban for skipping a doping test. Troicki says in a statement he is "confident" ahead of his Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing on Oct. 9. The 2010 Davis Cup winner says "I will attend in person for sure. I am fighting for the truth and I will do it as hard as I can. Zylan Cheatham Jersey . " The International Tennis Federation banned Troicki until January, 2015 because he refused to provide a blood sample, after also giving a urine sample, at the Monte Carlo Masters in April. A tribunal dismissed Troickis claim that an anti-doping officer at the tournament advised him to write to the ITF citing illness for not giving the sample. ' ' '