t>4 SUNDAY. MARCH 29. 1998 SPORTS THE SALINA JOURNAL AUTO RACING Bristol's amenities change, but racing still same Sellout crowd expected today at refurbished facility for Food City &y JOE MACENKA Tfie Associated Press BRISTOL, Tenn. - Everything around the track at Bristol Motor Speedway keeps changing. What happens on it stays the same. ; In the 14 months since the track was sold to Speedway Motorsports Inc., most of the facility's 71,000 seats and all three of its luxury boxes have been demolished. In T PRO GOLF their place has risen what is being widely hailed as one of the most enjoyable tracks to visit on the Winston Cup circuit. When the Food City 500 is run today, the drivers will race on a track that is completely encircled by 129,700 grandstand seats. Perched atop the main seating bowl, 95 luxury boxes form a line that starts at the end of the backstretch and winds all the way around to the middle of the first turn. By the end of the year, the amount of money SMI will have put into the refurbishment is ex- pected to reach $59 million, a figure that also includes substantial improvements to parking, concessions and restrooms. Judging from the reaction of fans and drivers, the investment was worth it. Today's race is sold out, and a crowd of 135,000 is expected. Neither are there tickets available for the next Winston Cup race at Bristol in August. "This is a home run," Rusty Wallace, Sunday's pole-sitter, said. "I wish they had more places like this." Aside from all the creature comforts, what makes Bristol so attrac- tive is the only thing to survive the wrecker's ball: the track. In an era where promoters are scurrying to build huge new super- speedways, Bristol's .533-mile oval continues to enjoy a reputation for providing what many longtime fans of the sport consider racing at its best. Carburetor restrictor plates and down force, always key factors at the circuit's big tracks, take a back seat at Bristol to the ability to survive several hours of banging, braking and battered nerves. "It's great to be back on the short tracks," Terry Labonte said. "I was thinking just the other day that I wish we still ran at North Wilkesboro. I like the short tracks. It's fun to run on 'em. It's a little different, a welcome change of pace." Labonte isn't alone. "I don't know what that says about my mentality, liking this place, but I do enjoy it," Dale Jarrett said. "It's just a great place. The fans enjoy the racing ... good short-track racing. "The secret to winning the race is keeping the fenders on the thing so you can race at the end." The main cause of all the problems is Bristol's 36-degree banked turns, the most severe on the cijf- cuit. The high banks help create unusually high speeds for a short track, and they also severely restrict a driver's field of vision. For example, when a driver goes into the first turn, he can't see into the second turn because the front left portion of his car's roof is in the way. Even with a good spotter to quickly alert a driver to trouble ahead, he often is going too fast to avoid it "It's not hard to figure out why so many fans like going to the place," Jeremy Mayfield said. Janzen widens lead at The Players Championship Lead stands at 3 shots after third round where no one shot under 68 By RON SIRAK The Associated Press PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Lee Janzen proved again he plays his best when conditions are the toughest with a 69 Saturday on the firm and fast Stadium Course to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of The Players Championship. Janzen, whose one-stroke victory here in 1995 was the only winning margin in the tournament fewer than four strokes since 1991, was at 10-under-par 206, with Glen Day at 209 and British Open champion Justin Leonard at 211. The 69 by Janzen on Saturday was especially impressive on a day V ROYALS JANZEN in which no one shot below 68 and there were only six rounds in the 60s. "The other guys will have to shoot at the pins and that makes it tougher," Janzen said. "I can't do anything to let them catch up. As long as I make pars that will help me." Janzen stretched his lead when he played the last 10 holes three under par, managing not to make a bogey while rolling in birdie putts on Nos. 9,14 and 16. The birdie on No. 16 was nearly an eagle when Janzen's putt from 30 feet hit the hole but stayed out. "It's not as much of a lead if the course were soft," Day said, implying that Janzen could stumble on Sunday. "A three shot lead here ... you never knows what's going to happen." Even Janzen seemed to agree. "Disaster is waiting on every hole," he said. Leonard, who like Janzen fares well when birdies hard to come by, shot a 70 in the third round with 12 one-putt greens. "It seemed like all day I was either making a 12-footer for birdie or a 6-footer for par," Leonard said. But Janzen, balancing his bogeys with timely birdies, was able to open daylight over a formidable bunch of players who made moves but found momentum-breaking bogeys caused by slick greens that were difficult to hold. "The fewer people with a chance to win the better," Janzen said. "It's in my court now." The course played very much like at a U.S. Open, the tournament Smith leaves Kansas City camp Veteran reliever rejects offer to be sent down to Triple-A Omaha By The Associated Press HAINES CITY, Fla. — Lee Smith, who holds the major league record for saves with 478, has left the Kansas City Royals camp after getting caught up in a numbers crunch and refusing a Triple-A assignment. Royals manager Tony Muser had wanted to keep Smith, who was making a comeback after announcing his retirement from Montreal last July. But in Jim Pittsley and Brian Bevil the Royals have two younger relievers who are out of options. They would have to be exposed to the waiver wire before the Royals could send them to the minors. Muser asked Smith on Friday if he would accept assignment to Class AAA Omaha. Smith cleaned put his locker sometime Friday night and did not report to prac- tice on Saturday. Muser was not aware on Saturday that Smith had decided to leave. Smith, 40, compiled his save record with eight different teams, establishing himself as a closer with the Chicago Cubs from 19801987. He saved 180 games for the Cubs, led the NL with 29 saves in 1983, and had back-to-back seasons of 33 saves in 1984 and 1985. Smith, a hard thrower who has lost his velocity, moved to Boston and then to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he led the league in 1991 with 47 saves and again in 1992 with 43 saves. Smith had joined former Cardinals teammate Terry Pendleton as non-roster players in a comeback attempt with the Royals. Pendleton apparently has made the team as a utility player after a hot spring and Muser had wanted to keep Smith. Smith was 0-0 with no saves and a 7.45 ERA in nine spring training games with Kansas City. He allowed eight runs, all earned, on 13 Royals / Conine to start in left field FROM PAGE D1 Hal Morris, an eight-year veteran with the Cincinnati Reds, replaces Chili Davis at DH. Morris, 33, is coming off arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Mike Sweeney, 24, who split time with Mike Macfarlane at catcher last year, could move into a more dominant role. Jeff Conine, formerly with Florida, will open at left field. Jer- niaine Dye, a major disappointment since the Royals traded Michael Tucker to Atlanta for him last March, played so poorly this spring he was banished to Triple-A. Larry Sutton, a first baseman for most of his career, will platoon in right with Ernie Young, obtained a few weeks ago from Oakland. • In center will be Johnny Da- mon, the one-time super-prospect who might benefit more than anyone else from the departure of Boone. Despite missing almost two weeks in the spring with an injury, Damon looked and felt sharp and could be headed for a breakthrough season. In the bullpen will be the holders of the major league and the club records for saves. Lee Smith, who graduated from high school the year after Martinez was born, won a job as long reliever. The 40- year-old right-hander, who has a record 478 saves, also could provide valuable leadership. The closer will again be Jeff Montgomery, who regained his old form in the second half last year after rotator cuff surgery threatened to end his career. The Royals spent much of the spring working on conditioning and fundamentals, both major weaknesses under Boone. Muser's down-to-earth leadership could be the biggest reason for hope. "Almost every team in baseball is going to win 50 and lose 50," Montgomery said, "Then there's 62 that will go either way. If you win a dozen of those that you shouldn't win, that's the difference between a bad team and a good team. The way to do it is eliminate mistakes. It's the little things that dictate whether you're a good, mediocre or bad team. "Backing up bases, hitting the cutoff man, not getting thrown out at third for the first out of an inning. I think we're going to do the little things a lot better this year. And then, who knows what can happen?" Patrol & Rescue Squad Spring Fund Raiser Indoor Rodeo April 3rd & 4th / 7:30 pm Nightly AgHall/Salina, KS Events: • Bull Riding • Bareback Riding • Barrel Racing • Saddle Bronc Riding • Calf Roping • Team Roping • Steer Wrestling • Mini-Bull Riding • Mutton Busting Open Rodeo Entries Call Kraft Rodeo Company 316-286-5428 By April 1st, '98 Prices: Family Ticket (Advance Only) $15.00 Adult Advance At the Door $5.00 $5.00 Kids (7-12) $3.00 $3.00 Kids 6 & under Free with paying Adult Advance Tickets Sold At; Anderson's Leather Shop Orschelris Western Discount Store Mel's Tack & Saddle Vanderbilts Franklin Boot & Saddle Rittel's Western Wear, Abilene Janzen won at Baltusrol in 1993 when the winning score was eight under par, or even the way the Stadium Course played in 1995 when Janzen won at five under par. Those scores are a far cry from the 16 under par score Steve Elkington shot while winning on a much softer and more receptive Stadium Course last year — or the record 24 under par by Greg Norman in 1994. The steady round by Janzen made today's hurdle a lot higher for an impressive group of players who put up impressive scores earlier in the day. LPGA RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Pat Hurst, playing through chilly rain and gusty winds, kept hitting fairways and sinking putts to cling to the lead Saturday in the Nabisco Dinah Shore. Hurst shot a 2-under-par 70 to go to 6-under for the tournament, one stroke in front of Liselotte Neumann. Coming off a win last weekend at Phoenix, Neumann stayed close with a 71 at Mission Hills Country Club. Karrie Webb and Helen Alfreds- son both had 70s and were three shots behind Hurst. Donna Andrews shot a 71 and was another stroke back, while a group at 1-under included Nancy Lopez, with a 73, and Laura Davies, with a 70. SHOOT For The BEST HEART OF AMERICA Kansas Premier Sports Gamps * Boyi Baikotball ... * Glrli Baikttball 'si'uT * G "l« VoHtyball KWU "Th« Skill Bulld.n" Team & tarty Bird Discounts Info: Ask your coach or call 785-827-B229 hits in 9% innings. He walked just one batter while striking out six. But Smith fell victim to numbers. The Royals had told Smith that they would accommodate him if there were offers from any other major league club. Tigers beat Royals LAKELAND, Fla. — Tim Worrell improved to 5-0 this spring, pitching five innings Saturday in the Detroit Tigers' 8-4 win over the Kansas City Royals. Worrell, acquired in an off-season trade with the San Diego Padres, finished the spring with a 3.60 ERA. He was 4-8 last year. Worrell gave up two runs and four hits against the Royals. Tony Clark had two hits for Detroit, including his seventh home run of the spring. He hit a two-run drive off Pat Rapp, who allowed all eight of Detroit's runs on nine hits in 4 % innings. 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