John Andretti and ppc Racing, one of the top teams in NASCAR's Busch Series, will get together on a Nextel Cup team that will begin racing Oct. 16 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Andretti will run five of the last six events of the season, excluding Martinsville, Va., and the entire 36-race schedule in 2005, the team announced yesterday.

"A lot of people have been working hard to put this program together," said Andretti, a two-time winner in the Nextel Cup series. "It's pretty exciting to have everything set and ready to go, and to know we are going to be a very competitive race team."

The ppc team, owned by Greg Pollex, won the Busch Series championship in 2000 with Jeff Green and also has four runner-up finishes. The Nextel Cup team will be sponsored by Victory Brand cigarettes, Sunoco, APlus convenience stores and Ford.

Andretti, 41, lost his full-time ride with Petty Enterprises midway through last season and has driven sporadically for several other teams since. He has started just five races this year, finishing 16th at Chicagoland Speedway on July 11 in a DEI car in his latest start.

* COURTS: Former National League MVP Ken Caminiti admitted in a Houston court that he violated his probation by testing positive for cocaine last month, and was sentenced to 180 days in jail.

But state District Judge William Harmon gave Caminiti credit for time he already has served in jail and a treatment facility since he was sentenced to three years probation for cocaine possession in March 2001.

As a result, Caminiti, who already has spent 189 days behind bars, was expected to be released from jail yesterday evening, his attorney said. . . .

Former NFL wide receiver Mark Ingram was accused of laundering drug money, dealing in stolen cars and cashing counterfeit checks, the latest legal trouble for a player who helped the New York Giants win the 1991 Super Bowl.

In a federal indictment made public in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., authorities say Ingram cashed more than $300,000 in phony checks and laundered another $200,000. He was also accused of laundering drug money and of committing other crimes in a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in New York.

The indictment accuses Ingram, 39, of conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering, charges that could send him to federal prison for up to 30 years.

* COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Connecticut freshman guard A.J. Price was in critical condition at Hartford Hospital with an undisclosed illness, a hospital spokeswoman said.

"The public should know that he is not contagious and does not represent a public health concern," spokeswoman Lee Monroe said.

School officials, citing federal privacy laws, declined to offer specifics.

* SOCCER: Real Madrid striker Michael Owen said he won't be fit to play for England in a World Cup qualifier against Wales on Saturday, Sky Sports reported.

The 24-year-old will miss the match in Manchester with a back injury, though he expects to recover in time to play in Azerbaijan next Wednesday, the broadcaster said, citing an interview with the player.

-- From News Services

Ken Caminiti, a former National League MVP, is escorted from a Houston courtroom after admitting he violated probation.