Sports

Franchitti coming to Nextel Cup

CHARLOTTE -- With an Indianapolis 500 victory and the series championship, Dario Franchitti believed the time was right to walk away from open-wheel racing.

He'd flirted briefly with NASCAR last year, but a deal to move into stock cars fell apart when Juan Pablo Montoya snagged his ride. So when Chip Ganassi called again with a new opportunity, Franchitti could take it knowing he had nothing left to accomplish in the IndyCar Series.

He'll get that in NASCAR, where Franchitti becomes the latest open-wheel star to give stock cars a try. The Scot was introduced as the driver of Ganassi's No. 40 Dodge at a news conference at the team's Concord shop, becoming the first European to enter NASCAR full-time.

• Nationwide Insurance has signed a seven-year deal to become the title sponsor of NASCAR's No. 2 series beginning in 2008.

Nationwide replaces Anheuser-Busch, which has sponsored the second-tier Busch Series for 26 seasons.

The series will be called the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Neither France nor Nationwide Chief Marketing Officer James Lyski would reveal the numbers involved in the agreement, but it is believed to be between $10 and $12 million a year, similar to the amount that was being paid by Anheuser-Busch.

• Scott Riggs was hired to drive for Haas CNC Racing, in a car to be determined later.

Riggs will replace Jeff Green in the No. 66 or Johnny Sauter in the No. 70, the team said.

• MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL -- Right-hander Steve Trachsel and lefties Will Ohman and Sean Marshall were dropped by the Chicago Cubs for their first-round playoff series against Arizona.

Rookie right-hander Kevin Hart, who pitched at Double-A Tennessee this season, was among the 11 pitchers picked for the Cubs' division series roster.

The Cubs have only one left-handed reliever -- Scott Eyre. Jason Marquis, a starter during the regular season, made the roster and will work out of the bullpen.

• NBA -- Los Angeles Lakers center Kwame Brown was charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer after his cousin was charged with drunken driving.

Brown faces misdemeanor charges after Valdosta (Ga.) police pulled over Charles Warren Jr. early Saturday for driving the wrong way down a one-way street, Lt. Bobbi McGraw said.

Police questioned Warren about the strong smell of alcohol in his vehicle. Brown approached the officers and told them he was Warren's cousin and the vehicle belonged to the basketball player, McGraw said.

Brown became disruptive and tried to interfere with the officers' investigation, which led to his arrest, McGraw said.

• NFL -- St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger, who has been playing with two broken ribs, will be replaced by backup Gus Frerotte for Sunday's game against Arizona.

• HOLE IN ONE -- Richard Smith notched his first career hole in one Wednesday on the 110-yard 10th hole at Fort Mill Golf Club. He used a pitching wedge and was witnessed by Jack Childers and Roy Trombley.

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