The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on July 22, 2001 · Page 34
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The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 34

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Sunday, July 22, 2001
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C2 SUNDAY, JULY 22, 2001 THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR WWW.INDYSTAR.COM AUTO RACING CART exec says series may eventually By Steve Ballard STAFF WRITER BROOKLYN, Mich. - Joe Heit-zler was called upon to put out another fire Saturday. The Championship Auto Racing Teams president showed up with a gallon of water and a pint of fuel. Heitzler was forced to respond to comments made Friday by Michigan International Speedway president Brett Shelton regarding the track's switch from CART to the Indy Racing League next season. The weather fit the mood Saturday as qualifying for today's Har-rah's 500 was rained out. Shellon's often disparaging remarks centered on a perceived lack of direction for CART. Heitzler did his best to diffuse the situation because CART needs , to maintain a working relationship ; with International Speedway Corp., which counts the Michigan facility among its many track holdings. , But the first-year CART president ; couldn't resist responding in kind to some of Shelton's remarks. "He's employed by ISC. I'm em-; ployed by CART," said Heitzler, who met for about an hour Saturday Gordon, Jarrett begin 2nd half tied for lead By Eddie Pells ASSOCIATED PRESS LOUDON, N.H. Safety. Tragedy. Credibility. The subjects have hung over NASCAR for the past 14 months in the aftermath of the deaths of four drivers. Almost overlooked by those discussions is a rare treat: the makings of one of the best championship races in a decade. With 18 races completed and 18 to go, beginning today with the New England 300, Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett are tied, each Iwith 2,515 points in the Winston Cup standings. Jarrett's teammate, Ricky Rudd, is 18 points behind. One mathematician figured ', the odds against such a tie at this point in the season were 21 trillion-to-1 about the same as the odds against twice winning a lottery. "Certainly, the safety-aspect things have been brought to the forefront," Gordon said. "But as far as I'm concerned, right now, that's fine if the attention isn't on the championship battle. Let us go do our thing, then hope the attention is there at the end." Is?! wnmmJm.mmm a ...... ..... up.w.hwu n. u ,i . ...... u.. .1. ....i .1 .i in . u. ..... .nt.iMiiiMW' ,i.ihmiii.i. i.i.ii i . il - il - sf3 y -:- is I JMiA fl 4 III morning with Shelton and ISC senior vice president John Saunders. "I think I would know more about CARTs business plan than he does." Heitzler said he was a bit mystified because his conversations with ISC largely were with Saunders. As president and CEO of a publicly traded company, Heitzler said he deals only with "the highest source" of another company. "Maybe (Shelton) is upset that he's not in the loop," Heitzler said. "I have to deal with what I've been handed, and what I've been handed involves a lot more than managing Michigan International Speedway." Heitzler said he was assured by Saunders that the relationship between the two companies is solid and ISC wants to continue to do business with CART. The two recently severed their ties at Homestead, Fla., and Nazareth, Pa., but the CART season finale at ISC-owned California Speedway has a contract through 2004. They've got tracks; we've got cars," Heitzler said. "We're Important to them and they're important to us." Neither Saunders nor Shelton A i J Jeff Gordon will start from the pole in today's NASCAR Winston Cup race. Dale Jarrett has tied Gordon in the points race despite not winning since April. One of the oft-mentioned statistics from the NASCAR archives is that, since 1992, no driver who has held the lead after the Pepsi 400 in Daytona considered the traditional midpoint of the season has failed to win the title. That year, Davey Allison, Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki went into the' final race, each with a chance to win the championship. Allison needed to finish sixth or better to win, but he was involved in a crash. Elliott won the race, but Kulwicki won the title by only 10 points, the margin coming from lit 't 'mom r"'" " ,,,u would comment Saturday but both issued statements. "CART continues to be a healthy, viable and competitive series that will fit well at ISC facilities in the future," Saunders said. Shelton said the door is open for a possible CART return to Michigan at some point. With the track committed to the IRL for only one year, Heitzler said he fully expects that to happen. He reiterated that the sanctioning fee was a major stumbling block, which the day before Shelton had denied. "Someday we're going to come back," Heitzler said. "I don't want to be the person who interrupts tradition and history. I want to perpetuate it." In the meantime, negotiations are ongoing to keep a race in the Today's race What: New England 300 When: 1 p.m. TV: TNT Radio: WNDE-1260 AM bonus points he earned because he led the most laps in the race 103 compared to 102 for Elliott. A three-way race is shaping up this year, too, thanks to Rudd. He has the most momentum heading into the second half of the season. He has finished in the top five in four of the past five races. Jarrett hasn't won since April, but he has shaved Gordon's 126-point lead to nothing, partly because Gordon has finished 37th and 17th In his past two races. "At one time, we had a 140-point lead, we lost that, and it went to the other side," Jarrett said. "Now it's dead even." Gordon has been involved in a tight race before. In 1997, he held off Jarrelt and Mark Martin in what currently stands as the closest three-way race in Winston Cup history. t 4L,:J v l J ft fit i ''Someday we're going to come back. I dont want to be the person who interrupts tradition and history. I want to perpetuate it. " Joe Heitzler, CART president Detroit market, preferably at the current Belle Isle location if certain improvements are made. Practice speeds rule Seven cars had completed qualifying runs Saturday when the rain began. After a three-hour delay, CART officials announced the field would line up today according to the morning practice speeds, which put Team Rahal's Kenny Brack (229.812 mph) and Max Papis (228.695) on the front row. Walker Racing's Tora Takagi (227.913) lines up third, highest ever by a Japanese driver. "They can do it any way they want," said Brack, who would have started on the pole had CART gone by Friday's practice speeds or the "n-Tr" n.in- -5 .W " li- . r-SS- :- r- 1 - , - - - - JSUlK . rwf - - ,,-r Mur-vr s-- - -- r- ..- - b - -i"n --t , - - ' I. Associated Press Jim Cole Quick work: Jack Sprague (24) passes Willy Ribbs during the New England 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Sprague won the event, averaging a race-record 109.244 mph. Harvick repeats Busch win at Gateway He adds to his lead in the series points race by scoring his 3rd victory of the season. Associated Press Kevin Harvick raced to his second consecutive Busch Series victory at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, 111., on Saturday night, holding off Jason Keller in the Carquest Auto Parts 250. Harvick, also driving today in the Winston Cup race in Loudon, N.H., extended his lead in the season standings with his third victory of the year. He edged Keller by 0.165 seconds after taking the lead for the final time with four laps left. "It's fun winning by a long ways, but it's exciting when you have guys that close at the end," Harvick said. "Jason Keller raced us clean at the end." Harvick, coming off his second Winston Cup victory last week at Chicagoland Speedway, lost a 14-second lead over second-place Greg Biffle when Jay Sauter hit the wall in turn one to bring out the fifth caution period with 40 laps left. After taking four tires, Harvick was seventh when the race restarted with 30 laps left. After another caution period, Harvick moved into second place on lap 182, and took the lead from Jeff Green on lap 186. Keller surged to the front and traded the lead with Harvick before fading slightly at end. Harvick, elevated to a full-time Winston Cup ride a year ahead of schedule after Dale Earnhardt's death in the Daytona 500, will start 24th in the New England 300 today. The 25-year-old star led 110 of 200 laps on the 1.25-mile oval, and' averaged 103.448 mph in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Kevin Grubb was third, followed by Greg Biffle, the pole sitter. Biffle is second in the season standings, 158 points behind Harvick. Sprague cruises in trucks win By racing standards, Jack Sprague's victory Saturday was about as taxing as a leisurely, summertime drive through New England. Dominating from start to finish, Sprague parlayed his pole position into a victory in the New England 200 truck race in Loudon, N.H., averaging a track-record 109.244 mph to hold off rookie Travis Kva-pil. Dennis Setoter finished third and Ricky Hendrick was fourth, as Chevrolets swept the top four spots for the first time in a season dominated by Dodge. . return to season points standings. "We've got our bases covered, unless they do it by a lottery system." Points runner-up Michael An-dretti, who came from last to first to win last week at Toronto, lines up 18th, one position ahead of title contender Helio Castroneves. Dario Franchitti blew an engine in practice and starts 25th. Rookie Max Wilson will miss the race after bruising his ribs when he crashed in the morning practice. He was treated and released from a nearby hospital and returned home to Indianapolis last night. Three-time Michigan winner Bobby Rahal. taking a break from his Formula One duties to watch his front-row starters try to win CARTs last visit to the track, said he's saddened by the departure but also a bit relieved. "Because of the high degree of risk," he said, "whenever I left Michigan (as a driver), the sky was always a little bit bluer and the grass was always a little bit greener." Contact Steve Ballard at 1-317-444-6184 or via e-mail at steve.ballardindystar.com , Ait v 4 Xr , l t . , "i i Cjfii ?s 1 ,;rH J L h . L UL Associated ROUNDUP In winning his 21st career race, Sprague led 183 of the 200 laps. "This truck has been awesome for the last eight races," Sprague said. "On the one hand, I can't wait to go to the racetrack, because I know I have a pretty good piece. On the other hand, it's hard going, because I've been so worried about finishing." Sprague won his circuit-high fifth pole of the season this week, and his fourth in the past five races. But this was only his second victory, as engine problems and bad racing luck kept coming up. Alexander takes ARCA race Blaise Alexander won the ARCA Michigan 200 on Saturday in Brooklyn, Mich., putting a Pontiac in victory lane for the first time at Michigan International Speedway since 1980. It was Alexander's first victory in seven races this season. He finished second on the road course at Watkins Glen two weeks ago, his only other top-five finish this year. Frank Kimmel, the defending series champion, finished second, about six car-lengths behind Alexander after leading for a race-high 48 laps. Tim Steele was third and Rick Carelli fourth. Steele and Jeff Purvis are the only three-time ARCA winners at MIS. Alexander earned the pole with a i I W lilt.' I r-l tit i ' IT Michigan 7 Harrah's 500 (Lineup set by practice times) Driver Speed (mph) 1. Kenny Brack 229.812 2. Max Papis 228.695 3. Tora Takagi 227.913 4. Paul Tracy 227.783 5. Tony Kanaan 227.661 6. Michel Jourdain Jr. 227.301 7. Bryan Herta 226.943 8. Shinji Nakano 226.757 9. Christian Fittipaldi 226.657 10. Mauricio Gugelmin 226.529 Broadcast: 12:30 p.m., today, WRTV-6, WMYS-1430 AM One for the mantel: Blaise Alexander holds his trophy after winning the Michigan ARCA race at Michigan International Speedway. Alexander started on the pole for the race after qualifying at 183.650 mph, but he had to come back to take the lead with 20 laps left in the race. I f "f," : ' M.rv Press Carlos Osono lap of 183.650 mph, but he did not lead from start to finish. With 20 laps to go, he passed Steele and after a side-by-side battle, he maintained the lead. Alexander's average speed was 141.149 mph. Scelzi still leads Top Fuel Gary Scelzi led Top Fuel qualifying for the third consecutive event Saturday, topping the NHRA Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Morrison, Colo., with his Friday run of 4.646 seconds at 315.64 mph. Whit Bazemore blistered the track in his Funny Car with a track-record time of 4.951 at 304.74. Bruce Allen led the Pro Stock order for the third time this year with mark of 7.273 at 189.18. Antron Brown took his Pro Stock Motorcycle-leading fifth top spot of the season with a track-record time of 7.641 at 176.88. Capello takes Sonoma pole Points leader Rinaldo Capello took the pole position for today's The X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma (Calif.), the American Le Mans Series' first race in four months. The Italian averaged 110.979 mph in his Audi R8 Prototype on the 2.52-mlle, 12-turn Sears Point Raceway circuit. Former Formula One star Johnny Herbert of England will start third in his ALMS debut, co-driving an Audi R8 with England's Andy Wallace. )g'".r GivfACt t 1

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