Update on the latest sports


NHL relaxes virus protocols for vaccinated playoff teams

UNDATED (AP) — The NHL is relaxing virus protocols during the playoffs for teams that reach a threshold for vaccination.

The league sent a memo to teams and players Friday night outlining changes that take effect once 85% or more of the traveling party has been fully vaccinated. The changes include loosened restrictions on indoor and outdoor dining, testing frequency and mask-wearing and quarantine requirements.

The NHL is the last of the major four North American pro sports leagues to announce plans to relax virus protocols for teams based on vaccination levels. This move is likely to affect the 12 U.S. playoff teams first because vaccinations have lagged for those in Canada.

In other pandemic-related developments:

— A fifth major league team has been able to relax coronavirus protocols after 85% of its players and other on-field personnel completed vaccination. Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association made the announcement Friday without identifying any teams. It said seven additional teams had reached the 85% level of having received final doses and would be able to relax protocols within two weeks once they are fully vaccinated. The New York Yankees and Detroit said last weekend they were able to relax protocols, and Milwaukee said earlier this week it had been able to relax them.

— As Darlington Raceway prepares for its first of two NASCAR visits this season, track officials announced Friday they plan to fully open the grandstands for the Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend. The raceway will hold the Goodyear 400 on Sunday to limited spectators. Darlington President Kerry Tharp said that will change this summer when the series returns when there will be no limits on fans. Darlington Raceway has a seating capacity of about 47,000. This is the first time since 2004 the track has had two scheduled races for the NASCAR Cup Series.

— Alabama football coach Nick Saban has taped a public service announcement encouraging Alabama residents to get vaccinated. The Alabama Department of Public Health says Saban and others, including former NBA star Charles Barkley, participated in the PSA. Less than 25% of Alabamians have been fully vaccinated, which ranks last nationally, according to the CDC.


Hamilton tops qualifying at Spanish GP for 100th pole

MONTMELÓ, Spain (AP) — Lewis Hamilton has won his 100th career pole position after barely edging Max Verstappen to the fastest time in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton pushed his Mercedes to a flying lap of 1 minute, 16.74 seconds. Verstappen in his Red Bull was only 0.03 seconds behind.

Hamilton leads leads Verstappen by eight points in the Formula One standings. Hamilton won the season opener in Bahrain and last week’s race in Portugal. Verstappen won the season’s second race in Italy.

Hamilton’s milestone increases the distance between his mark and Michael Schumacher’s 68 poles in second place all-time.