Veteran driver

Stephan Gregoire

crashed into the wall and suffered a broken back yesterday during practice for the Indianapolis 500.

The Frenchman was examined at the Speedway's infield hospital and transferred to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, where an MRI exam showed a fractured vertebra, said Mike Olinger, director of medical services for the Indy Racing League.

The driver was expected to be released from the hospital today. The final qualifications for the May 27 race are tomorrow and Sunday.

Gregoire had a top speed of 217.851 m.p.h. and had just completed a lap at almost 215 m.p.h. when his Panoz race car turned sideways and backed into the wall coming out of the first turn.

Michael Andretti, who joined Panther Racing on Wednesday, reached 216 m.p.h. in his first appearance in an Indy car since 1994. Andretti, a seven-time starter at Indianapolis, has driven mainly in NASCAR for the last dozen years and has not yet qualified.

Pro football

Tennessee Titans coach

Jeff Fisher

said the team is interested in veteran receiver

Keyshawn Johnson,

who will visit Nashville today. The Carolina Panthers released Johnson, who turns 35 in July, earlier this month after drafting

Dwayne Jarrett

.

The Miami Dolphins added Hall of Fame bloodlines to their roster, signing safety David Lofton and receiver Michael Malone as undrafted free agents.

Lofton's father is James Lofton. Malone's father is Moses Malone.

Tennis

Rafael Nadal

cruised past the last man to beat him on clay two years ago, downing

Igor Andreev

, 6-4, 6-1, at the Hamburg Masters in Germany for his 79th straight win on the surface. Nadal is unbeaten on clay since he lost to Andreev in the Valencia Open on April 8, 2005. His streak includes 13 tournament titles.

Elsewhere: Venus Williams appeared frustrated at times but eventually overpowered 11th-seeded Shahar Peer, 6-3, 6-3, to reach the quarterfinals of the Italian Open in Rome.

Colleges

Florida athletic director

Jeremy Foley

disputed a report that basketball coach

Billy Donovan

has received a seven-year contract extension.

"We haven't agreed to any contract," Foley said last night, pointing out that any deal must be approved by the university athletic association's compensation committee. "The compensation committee hasn't even met yet," Foley said.

Donovan, who won his second straight national title this season, could not be reached for comment.

North Carolina gave basketball coach Roy Williams a four-year contract extension that will keep him with the Tar Heels through the 2014-15 season.

Williams, who signed an eight-year contract to coach his alma mater before the 2003-04 season, will make up to $1.8 million each year plus incentives.

Elsewhere: Chris Smith, the brother of Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith, signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Seton Hall. Smith starred at St. Benedict's Prep under former Seton Hall guard Danny Hurley. . . . . . . . Cabrini College named Greg Herenda, the former associate head coach at East Carolina under Bill Herion, as men's basketball coach. . . . Penn pitcher Todd Roth was named rookie of the year in the Ivy League by a vote of coaches after going 5-0.

Boxing

Former light-heavyweight champion

Bobby Czyz Jr.

is recovering from injuries he suffered in a fiery car crash more than a month ago.

The 45-year-old was pulled unconscious from the back seat of a burning Mercedes in Millstone Township, N.J., early April 13. State police are investigating the accident.