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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: State NASCAR drivers in Michigan for next Sprint Cup race

BROOKLYN, Mich. - NASCAR's top circuit is in suburban Detroit for Sunday's running of the Pure Michigan 400.  Matt Kenseth of Cambridge is third in the Sprint Cup season point standings.  He'll compete along with Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Travis Kvapil of Janesville, and Beloit-born Danica Patrick.

Kvapil and Johnny Sauter of Necedah are also entered in tomorrow's Camping World Truck Series race, the Careers-for-Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway.  Sauter is second in the Truck Series' standings with 401 points, seven behind series' leader Ryan Blaney.  No Wisconsin drivers are entered for the Nationwide Series race, the Nationwide Children's 200 tomorrow at the Mid-Ohio Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.


Ex-Brewers' pitcher Zack Greinke will try to avoid a second straight loss to his old team, when Milwaukee opens a three-game series in Los Angeles tonight. Greinke has not won since July 25th.  Since then, he's had back-to-back defeats by the Angels of Anaheim, and most recently to the Brewers last Saturday night.  He gave up four runs in six innings to the Crew at Miller Park, which dropped his record to 12-8 with an ERA of 2.84.  The Brewers will send young right-hander Jimmy Nelson to the hill.  Nelson is 2-3 with an ERA of four.  He's coming off a home loss to LA last Sunday, in which he gave up two runs and eight hits in six frames.  The Brewers took 2-of-3 from the Dodgers last weekend.  The Brewers continue to lead the National League Central Division by two games over Saint Louis and two-and-a-half over Pittsburgh.  The Dodgers have the NL's best record at 70-53, with a five-and-a-half game edge over San Francisco in the West.


The Helena Brewers will keep that name for awhile.  The Milwaukee Brewers have announced a four-year extension of their affiliation with the Pioneer Rookie League club through 2018.  Some of Milwaukee's biggest names have started their pro careers in Helena -- including Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, Khris Davis, Wily Peralta, Jimmy Nelson, Tyler Thornburg, and Mike Fiers.  The Helena Brewers were just one win away from taking the Pioneer League title last season.  They did win it in 1995-and-'96, but not again until 2010.


The Lakeshore Chinooks can win their first championship tonight in only its third season in the Northwoods League.  The Chinooks lead the Summer Collegiate World Series one-game-to-none over Mankato.  Game-Two is tonight on the Chinooks' home field at Kapco Park in Mequon.  If Mankato wins, they'll play a third-and-deciding game in Mequon tomorrow night.  Lakeshore took Game-One on a Mankato error in the top of the 13th inning.  Mankato is in its third title series in four years.  


In the Midwest League, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will open a home series tonight against Kane County at Fox Cities Stadium near Appleton.  The Rattlers were shut by Clinton 10-0 last night.  The Beloit Snappers are also coming off a huge loss, 10-3 by Cedar Rapids. Beloit opens a series at Clinton tonight.  Wisconsin enters the weekend in third place in the Midwest League's Western Division, still holding one of eight playoff spots at the moment.  The Rattlers are 29-23 for the second half, three games behind front-running Kane County. Beloit remains last in the West, 14-and-a-half back.


Rams' quarterback Sam Bradford will play at least the first quarter of tomorrow's exhibition game in Saint Louis against the Green Bay Packers.  Bradford is coming off a left knee operation that kept him out of the final nine games of 2013.  Rams' coach Jeff Fisher says he has no concerns about Bradford's knee -- and he's healthy.  The Packers say their starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, will also make his pre-season debut tomorrow.  For how long, we're not sure -- but he normally doesn't get a lot of action until the third exhibition game, when players try to build up their stamina for the regular season.  Packer fans will also get to see much-talked-about rookie defensive end Michael Sam.  Fisher said Sam's playing time could depend on how well the Rams' defense plays.  He had 32 snaps last week in a two-point loss to New Orleans. The Packers are coming off a loss at Tennessee.


Injuries are piling up as the University of Wisconsin football team completes the second week of its pre-season camp.  Over a dozen players could only watch from the sidelines at this morning's workout.  Three notable linebackers were out -- Vince Biegel with a head injury, Derek Landisch with a bad hamstring, and Jesse Hayes with a foot-and-ankle problem.  Receiver Jazz Peavy was sidelined with a hamstring injury, and fullback Derek Straus had left arm-and-shoulder issues.  Badgers' fullback Derek Watt, safety Leo Musso, and receiver Robert Wheelwright had unspecified injuries.  Guard Dallas Lewallen missed practice due to illness.  The Badgers have one more week of camp before going into game-preparation mode for their August 30th contest against LSU in Houston.


Nicolet High School of Glendale will not have a varsity football team this fall.  The school says the squad does not enough players in its suburban Milwaukee district.  Athletic director Kirk Krychowiak says Nicolet will still have freshman and JV teams this fall, and other arrangements are being made so seniors can still play somewhere.  Nicolet went 0-9 a year ago, and has not made the WIAA state playoffs since 1989. A significant loss of juniors from last year's roster gave the Knights only nine seniors and nine juniors to compete with in one of the most competitive prep football leagues (North Shore Conference) in the state.  Krychowiak said he was not sure if the lost games would be considered forfeits, so it doesn't hurt the records of other teams in the North Shore Conference that will have one fewer game.


The Milwaukee Bucks are about to start using basketball's version of saber-metrics.  The advanced data firm of Vantage Sports Incorporated says it will work with the Bucks this season.  It's another sign that new owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens plan to step up all areas of the franchise.  Vantage CEO Brett McDonald said the Bucks are about to embrace the future.  In his words, "It dawned on us that no one (from the Bucks) was mixing advanced scouting with advanced math with awesome technology in the way that would truly create value, and even change the game."


The University of Wisconsin volleyball team is picked to finish third in the Big Ten Conference this season.  That's according to the league's coaches, who say Penn State will win its third straight crown -- and Nebraska will take second.  The coaches also named 15 players to an All-Big Ten pre-season team.  Wisconsin sophomore setter Lauren Carlini was a unanimous choice.  Senior outside hitter Ellen Chapman of the Badgers was also named to the all-league squad.