Al Unser Jr. woke up to a harsh reality this week. His passion for racing was gone.

Yesterday, Unser announced his retirement because he was no longer having fun on the track, stepping away from a successful career on his own terms.

"Racing has to come before everything else in your life," he said. "I'd reached a point where helping my sons and daughters means more to me today than driving into turn one."

Unser, 42, leaves open-wheel racing as one of its most successful drivers. In more than 21 seasons, Unser won two Indianapolis 500s, two CART championships and a combined 34 races on the CART and Indy Racing League circuits.

His new career -- as an adviser for Patrick Racing, his team, and a driving mentor for his son, Al -- begins this weekend at the Argent Mortgage Indy 300 in Kansas City, Kan. . . .

Tony Stewart avoided suspension when NASCAR fined him $50,000 and docked him championship points for his altercation with Brian Vickers. Stewart lost 25 points in the driver standings, Joe Gibbs lost 25 points in the owner standings and Stewart also was placed on probation until Aug. 18.

* PRO BASKETBALL: The Los Angeles Clippers made a qualifying offer to guard Quentin Richardson, enabling them to match any offer the restricted free agent might receive. . . . Golden State center Erick Dampier has opted out of his contract as expected and is a free agent. . . . The $401 million sale of the Phoenix Suns to San Diego banking executive Robert Sarver was completed as scheduled.

* SOCCER: Nat Borchers tied the game in the 78th minute and set up Jordan Cila for the game-winning goal in the 89th minute to give the visiting Colorado Rapids a 3-2 win over the New York/New Jersey MetroStars.

* HIGH SCHOOLS: Jefferson's boys' varsity eight rowing team won its first-round dual at the Henley Royal Regatta, defeating the Bedford School by 21/4 lengths. The Colonials had the best time in the 32-team Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup in England, finishing the 2,112-meter course in 6 minutes 56 seconds. . . . Lake Braddock forward-center Abby Robertson, a rising senior, has unofficially committed to play basketball for the University of Virginia, Bruins Coach Derek Fisher said. . . . Linganore graduate Zach Hayes will receive the first scholarship awarded by the Billy Gaines Athletic Excellence Fund, established as part of the Community Foundation of Frederick County to honor Gaines, a 2001 football All-Met at Urbana who died last summer.

-- From News Services

and Staff Reports