HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) -- Tony Stewart took his seat on the podium - unshaven, his eyes glassy - and unfolded a sheet of paper. His voice quivered as he read, pausing to maintain his composure as he described the death of a driver he hit as ''one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with.''
Ninety minutes later, he climbed into his No. 14 car and sped toward the high-banked oval at Atlanta Motor Speedway, drawing a cheer from the crowd gathered around his garage. He quickly got up to speed, turning laps of nearly 190 mph, a racer back in his element.
Ready or not, Stewart is back on the track. He will start in the 12th spot in Sunday night's race
Describing himself as heartbroken but eager to heal, Stewart rejoined the race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship surrounded by those he considers a second family - his team, his crew, his rivals. He missed the last three races, going into seclusion after the sprint car he was driving struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., who had stepped on the track to confront him during a race.
FONTANA, Calif. (AP) - Rookie IndyCar driver Mikhail Aleshin was hospitalized in serious but stable condition after a frightening crash in the final practice session for the series season finale.
Aleshin was taken away from the Fontana track in an ambulance and airlifted to nearby Loma Linda University Medical Center. The Russian driver has broken ribs and a broken right collarbone along with a concussion and chest injuries, an IndyCar spokesperson said.
At least three drivers played a role in the crash in Turn 4, which had a gaping hole in the catch fencing and a wheel wrapped in the fence after Aleshin's car violently flew up against it.
NEW YORK (AP) - A day before facing Venus Williams - and a partisan crowd - at the U.S. Open, Italy's Sara Errani came across a video posted on Twitter that gave her a little extra motivation. It showed a pair of former players and coaches, Brad Gilbert and Darren Cahill, both picking Williams to win.
However, the 19th-seeded Williams came within two points of victory four times before succumbing to Errani 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (5). Williams later went on court again for doubles and won that one, although she was treated by a trainer.
Errani's next opponent will be 32-year-old qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia, who eliminated No. 2-seeded Simona Halep of Romania 7-6 (6), 6-2. No. 6 Angelique Kerber also lost as four of the top eight women have been ousted so far. Fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova beat 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki 6-2, 6-4.
The men's draw, in contrast, has gone pretty much to form. No. 2 Roger Federer's 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Australia's Sam Groth closed the second round with only two top-20 men departed: No. 11 Ernests Gulbis and No. 15 Fabio Fognini, both eliminated earlier in the day.
NORTON, Mass. (AP) - Ryan Palmer took only 21 putts at TPC Boston and birdied half of his holes. That gave him an 8-under 63 and a two-shot lead over Keegan Bradley after the opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Palmer didn't miss a putt inside 15 feet and closed out his round with a pitching wedge to 18 feet, making the downhill putt for his ninth birdie.
Bradley matched his low round of the season, though what meant more was the timing. This is the final week before U.S. captain Tom Watson decides which three players he will pick to fill out his Ryder Cup team. Bradley always seemed like a logical choice, though he wants to leave nothing to chance. He played bogey-free in a gentle breeze.
Webb Simpson, who also needs a pick to return to the Ryder Cup, and Jason Day of Australia were among those at 66.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - I.K. Kim increased her lead to three strokes in the LPGA Tour's Portland Classic, shooting a 5-under 67 to reach 12 under.
The South Korean player had seven birdies and two bogeys in her morning round in cloudy, calm conditions at Columbia Edgewater. She won the last of her three LPGA Tour titles in 2010, and had a victory this summer in a Ladies European Tour event in England.
Spain's Carlota Ciganda and South Korea's Mi Jung Hur shot 65 to join Laura Diaz at 9 under. Diaz had a 68.
South Korea's So Yeon Ryu, the Canadian Women's Open winner Sunday in Ontario, was 8 under along with Mina Harigae, China's Xi Yu Lin and South Africa's Paula Reto. Defending champion Suzann Pettersen was 6 under after a 67.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - The San Francisco 49ers have been preparing for months to play on without Aldon Smith over an extended period.
Now they know the exact timeframe: He is suspended for more than half the season.
The star linebacker received his nine-game penalty from the league stemming from a series of off-field legal issues. A statement from the NFL said Smith had violated the NFL's substance abuse and personal conduct policies.
Smith won't be eligible to return until Nov. 10, the day after the 49ers' game against the New Orleans Saints.
NEW YORK (AP) - The Law Firm has closed up shop in Cincinnati.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was released by the Bengals, among a handful of players out of jobs - for now - as NFL teams started to trim their rosters to get down to the mandatory 53 players by Saturday afternoon.
Green-Ellis was Cincinnati's top rusher the past two seasons, but the running back with the amusing nickname was made expendable once the Bengals drafted LSU's Jeremy Hill in the second round in May. Cincinnati also waived linebacker Brandon Joiner, defensive tackle LaKendrick Ross and quarterback Tyler Wilson.
Also among the announced cuts: Buffalo punter Brian Moorman and quarterback Jordan Palmer, Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth, Jacksonville center Mike Brewster, Atlanta linebacker Pat Angerer and Chicago running back Jordan Lynch, a former Heisman trophy finalist as a quarterback at Northern Illinois.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - When asked how much money she wanted to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, the wife of disgraced team owner Donald Sterling handed a piece of paper to her lawyer with two numbers: $1.5 to $2.
What wasn't written was understood - she meant billions, shocking figures for a franchise that until recently was a perpetual loser. But Shelly Sterling soon brokered a deal to part with the team for a record $2 billion, selling it to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, a buyer whose name she did not know at first.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, she offered details about negotiating one of the richest deals in sports after her husband's racist rant to a girlfriend prompted the NBA to ban him for life and force him to give up the team. That's when she stepped in.