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Sports briefs for Jan. 8, 2013

By Staff and Wire Reports, Special to the BDN

Motorsports Expo to feature pit crew challenge

The pit crew challenge will highlight the 23rd annual Northeast Motorsports Expo at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Pit crews will vie for the $500 first prize and a drum of Sunoco Racing Fuel also valued at approximately $500, according to Steve Perry, owner and promoter of the expo and the host of the Mainely Motorsports television show.

Second place will pay $250 and another $250 in awards.

Pro All-Stars Series Super Late Model North driver Travis Benjamin’s crew won it a year ago.

The Motorsports Expo will be held from 4:30-9:30 p.m. on Friday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday.

Among other highlights will be a silent auction and live auction sponsored by the Maine Vintage Race Car Association. The silent auction will be held from 4:30-9:30 p.m. Friday in the Penobscot Room and it will continue on Saturday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The live auction will be held in the Kennebec Room on Saturday from 2-4 p.m.

Preregistration for the live auction will begin Friday at noon and run until Saturday at 2 p.m.

Perry said those attending the Expo on Friday and Saturday nights should save their ticket stubs because they will save $3 on Sunday’s ticket if they decide to attend.

Knicks’ Smith fined $50,000 for shoelace stunts

The NBA fined New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith $50,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct after twice tinkering with opponents’ shoelaces, the league said on Wednesday.

Smith, who won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season for his play off the bench, was fined after he attempted to untie the shoelace of the Detroit Pistons’ Greg Malone at the free throw line on Tuesday.

He had been warned by league officials to refrain from similar conduct after he untied the shoelace of Dallas Mavericks’ forward Shawn Marion during a free throw attempt in New York’s 92-80 road win on Saturday.

Smith has a history of rules infractions, including a doping violation during the offseason that landed him a five-game ban to start the current campaign.

He was also fined $25,000 in November for a “hostile” tweet directed at an opponent who questioned the NBA credentials of J.R.’s younger brother, Chris Smith, who has since been waived by the Knicks.

Lions talk with Kubiak, Munchak about vacancy

Former Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak and former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak interviewed with the Detroit Lions for their head-coaching vacancy.

Kubiak, fired in December after eight seasons with the Texans, is one of the candidates to replace Jim Schwartz, who was ousted after the season.

The Texans were 2-11 when the 52-year-old Kubiak was dismissed by the Texans last month. He had guided Houston to back-to-back AFC South titles the past two seasons, but the Texans slumped to 2-14 after a 2-0 start in 2013.

Munchak interviewed Wednesday, the Lions confirmed. Earlier reports indicated the interview would take place Friday.

The 53-year-old Munchak was fired by the Titans on Saturday after posting a 22-26 record in three seasons as coach. The nine-time All-Pro guard also is mentioned as a candidate for the head-coaching job at Penn State, his alma mater.

Notre Dame RB Atkinson III turning pro

Notre Dame running back George Atkinson III decided to skip his final season of eligibility with the Fighting Irish to enter the 2014 NFL Draft.

The 220-pound Atkinson ran a 100-meter time in 10.36 in the Big East Outdoor championship, the type of blazing speed that scouts and NFL evaluators covet and will make room for, even if he’s not an ideal system fit.

Atkinson’s father, George Atkinson Jr., played for the Oakland Raiders from 1968-1977. and had 30 career interceptions. Atkinson Jr. told Blue Gold Illustrated the decision was based on opportunity.

“If you have an opportunity why not try to seize it? It was nothing other than a conscious decision based on opportunity. He feels he’s ready for it,” Atkinson Jr., said.

Atkinson III was suspended for his final college game at Notre Dame, the Pinstripe Bowl, for what the school described as a violation of team rules.

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