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SPORTS LOG

Martin Truex Jr. wins NASCAR’s playoff opener

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Martin Truex Jr., celebrates with his victory in the opening race of NASCAR’s playoffs at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday.

Associated Press 

Martin Truex Jr. backed up his regular-season dominance with a victory Sunday in NASCAR’s playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway. Truex again proved he’ll be the driver to beat over the final nine races as he chases his first Cup championship. Truex raced to his fifth victory of the season and earned an automatic berth in the second round of the playoffs. Truex had a nearly seven-second lead over runner-up Chase Elliott in the final laps of the Tale of the Turtles 400 and won at Chicagoland for the second straight season. Kevin Harvick was third, Denny Hamlin fourth, and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five. The playoffs move to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the ISM Connect 300 on Sunday.

Modified Tour driver killed in plane crash

Modified Tour champion Ted Christopher, 59, of Plainville, Conn., was killed in a plane crash Saturday along with the pilot, Charles Dundas, 81, when the small aircraft they were traveling in crashed near North Branford, Conn., about 20 miles east of New Haven. Christopher, the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series champion, was en route to compete in a race at Riverhead Raceway . . . Penske driver Josef Newgarden finished second in the season finale at Sonoma Raceway to win his first IndyCar Series championship, becoming only the second American in 11 years to win the IndyCar title. He turned in a nearly flawless performance to keep teammates Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Helio Castroneves — as well as four-time champion Scott Dixon — from the title.

Boxing

Golovkin-Alvarez fight finishes in a draw

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Gennady Golovkin, who has never lost in 38 fights, retained his middleweight titles, fighting to a draw with Canelo Alvarez in a brutal battle that ended with both fighters with their hands aloft in victory late Saturday night before a frenzied crowd of 22,358 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The middleweight showdown lived up to its hype as the fighters traded huge punches and went after each other for 12 rounds. The two were still brawling as the final seconds ticked down and the fight went to the scorecards. One judge had Alvarez winning, 118-110, a second had it in Golovkin’s favor, 115-113, while the third had it, 114-114.

Baseball

Harper takes positive steps in knee rehab

Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper took swings during batting practice for the first time since hyperextending his left knee Aug. 13. Harper previously had taken cuts in the batting cage, but was on the field before the Nationals’ series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers. ‘‘Just trying to get out there and trying put the bat on the ball and just try to be as fluid as I can and try to get my swing back,’’ said Harper, who is second in the NL with a .326 batting average.

Basketball

Lynx sweep Mystics, return to WNBA Finals

Maya Moore scored 21 points, Sylvia Fowles added 17 points and 14 rebounds, and the Minnesota Lynx sealed their place in the WNBA Finals with a third straight appearance after pulling away to an 81-70 win over the Washington Mystics, completing a sweep in Game 3 of the semifinals. Simone Augustus added 18 points to help make sure Minnesota will have the chance to win a fourth WNBA title in seven years . . . Led by nine-year NBA veteran Goran Dragic of the Miami Heat, Slovenia won its first European basketball championship, defeating Serbia, 93-85, in Istanbul. Dragic, who scored 35 points in the title game, was voted MVP of the tournament.

Miscellany

Islanders win in return to Nassau Coliseum

Nearly 2½ years after last playing at the Nassau Coliseum, John Tavares scored his second goal 34 seconds into overtime for the New York Islanders, who gave their fans something to cheer with a 3-2 preseason victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday back at their refurbished former home. ‘‘Just a lot of fun to play back here, in a place that means so much,’’ Tavares said. ‘‘There’s a lot of good memories, lot of good thoughts walking through the halls a little bit.’’ . . . Penny Chenery, the owner of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, died Saturday. She was 95.