The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on April 15, 2002 · Page 30
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The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 30

Indianapolis, Indiana
Issue Date:
Monday, April 15, 2002
Page 30
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D8 MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2002 en SpOllS THEINDIANAPOLISSTAR-WWW.INDYSTAR.COM- AUTO RAGING " Labonte wins slam-bang affair at Martinsville Steve Helber Associated Press Beatin' and bangin': Bobby Labonte (18) passes Rusty Wallace at Martinsville Speedway. The race at the tight, half-mile track featured 14 caution flags. Aiu IX i if. v 1 . a-i .... 1 . j . Fill'er up: Jimmy Vasser pits during the Vasser started on the pole and led laps "I started wondering what was going to happen. I've led a lot of races here and had some freakish thing go wrong. ... it was finally meant to be after all these years." Michael Andretti Long Beach Grand Prix (Top finishers) Driver Car 1. Michael Andretti R-H 2. Jimmy Vasser L-F 3. Max Papis L-F 4. Kenny Brack L-F 5. Michel Jourdain Jr. L-F 6. Tora Takagi R-T 7. Paul Tracy R-H 8. Cristiano da Matta L-T 9. Dario Franchitti R-H 10. Adrian Fernandez L-H Chassis: L-Lola, R-Reynard Engines: F-Ford, H-Honda, T-Toyota Points leaders: da Matta 27, Andretti 22, Jourdain Jr. 22, Franchitti 20, Papis 18 Schumacher, Ferrari dominate San Associated Press World champion Michael Schumacher led a 1-2 Ferrari finish Sunday to win the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, Italy, for his third victory in four races this season. The German beat Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello by 17.9 seconds on Ferrari's home circuit for the 56th victory of his career. "I'm very happy and pleased with this victory in front of our fans," he said. Ralf Schumacher, Michael's younger brother, was third in a Williams BMW, 19.7 seconds behind the winner. Michael Schumacher started from the pole and gradually increased his lead, his anticipated duel with Juan Montoya never materializing. The Colombian driver for Williams BMW failed to draw close to the world champion and finished fourth, 44.7 seconds behind. Schumacher won for the fourth ! A I V-l 'is AT.TEljlfc S vi Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. 47 through 60. But Vasser made Andretti Veteran driver takes victory in race he first won 16 years ago. From D1 me," Andretti said. Starting his Honda-powered Reynard so far back in the field, Andretti and team owner Kim Green decided they had nothing to lose by rolling the dice on pit strategy. "Our car just got better and better, and I can't say enough about Michael," Green said. "What a fantastic drive. He handles those pressure situations so well." The 1-2 finish by American drivers was CART's first in six years. Honda, in what likely was its last trip to Long Beach, thumbed its nose at race sponsor Toyota by winning for the seventh year in a row. Another streak came to an end. Cristiano da Matta, trying to carry NewmanHaas Racing to a CART record-tying fourth consecutive victory, was denied the opportunity when he and Adrian Fernandez collided on pit road. Da Matta started alongside Vasser on the front row and passed him for the lead on the first turn of the first time at Imola, giving him 34 points in the championship standings. He is 14 ahead of his brother, who is in second place. Schumacher and Barrichello embraced and kissed each other. Fans wearing red caps and playing trumpets cheered as the two stepped on the podium. This was the first Ferrari 1-2 finish this season. Both drivers used the new F2202 model. "It was wonderful to place second here," Barrichello said. "The F2002 is a wonderful car." Schumacher lapped all but four drivers, completing the 62 laps in 1 hour, 29 minutes, 10.789 seconds. Only 11 cars finished. Ralf Schumacher had a good start from the second row, overtaking Barrichello but slipping to third. "The good work of the team was not enough today," he said. Michael Schumacher is aiming for his fifth driver title, which would tie D Pontiac driver's pit strategy helps deliver win; NASCAR bans Harvick from race for rough driving. Associated Press MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Bobby Labonte pulled away on a restart with seven laps to go Sunday and won the Virginia 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race, an event that featured plenty of banging even without Kevin Harvick. Harvick's growing status as NASCAR's bad boy was solidified hours before the race, when the governing body made him the first driver barred from an event because of rough driving in the series' 54-year history. Harvick's Richard Childress-owned Chevrolet was driven instead by fill-in Kenny Wallace, who spun out after 73 laps and wound up 32nd. Harvick's penalty, finalized by NASCAR early Sunday, came after he clashed several times with Coy Gibbs during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at the .526-mile track on Saturday. Harvick finally rammed Gibbs' truck from behind on the 188th lap, causing Gibbs to spin out while Har- a mistake during a late caution that and out of the pits without giving up lap. The Brazilian led 30 laps before being nailed while exiting his pit stall as Fernandez was entering. "I didn't expect him to brake and turn in so quickly," said da Matta, who rallied to finish eighth and retain the season points lead. "I don't blame him and I don't think I did anything wrong." Andretti and fifth-place finisher Michel Jourdain Jr. are tied for second in the season standings, five points behind da Matta. Finishing in between Team Rahal's Vasser and Jourdain were Papis and Kenny Brack, last year's Team Rahal tandem. Papis gave his Sigma Autos-port team its first podium finish. "This is like a win for Sigma," the Italian driver said. "It's a very, very, very special moment." The 16 years between Long Beach wins, a CART record for one driver at one venue, was on Andretti's mind as Vasser dogged him through the closing laps. "I started wondering what was going to happen. I've led a lot of races here and had some freakish thing go wrong," he said. "We had the right strategy and in the end we had the race car to do it. "It was finally meant to be after all these years." Call Steve Ballard at 1-317-444-6184. the record of the late Juan Manuel Fangio. The next race is the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona on April 28. Force takes 100th win John Force claimed the Funny Car title at the O'Reilly Spring Nationals on Sunday in Baytown Texas, the 100th victory of his 15-year career. Force won with a pass of 4.991 seconds at 310.20 mph, outdistancing Tommy Johnson Jr., who ran 5.170 at 288.77. Kenny Bernstein, Mike Edwards and Craig Treble were also winners. The 52-year-old Force joins NASCAR Winston Cup drivers Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105) as the only drivers to earn 100 or more victories. Bemstein won his 62nd Top Fuel title, covering the quarter-mile in 4.695 at 31937, beating Tony Schumacher, who ran 4.900 at 304.94. Edwards claimed his 10th Pro Bobby Labonte won at Martinsville when his team's decision to not pit under a caution with 55 laps left gave him the lead. vick drove on, and Harvick was quickly told by race officials to park his truck for the rest of the afternoon. On Sunday, just before the Winston Cup race, NASCAR announced that Harvick was "parked" for the afternoon. Despite the buzz about Harvick and the unprecedented penalty in the garage area before the race, the 500 laps went on in typical Martinsville fashion with most every car leaving the track with marked-up exteriors. In all, there were 14 caution flags that slowed the pace for 104 laps, many caused by the nose-to-tail and side-by-side contact that typify short- Mark J. TerrlU Associated Press allowed Michael Andretti to slip in the lead. mi wit tins 4 (i Rich Schmltt Associated Press Winning feeling: Michael Andretti holds up his winner's trophy. He started 15th on the grid and gambled on pit strategy to get up front Marino GP Stock victory with a pass of 6.892 at 199.70, just ahead of Kurt Johnson's 6.910 at 200.77 in his Chevrolet Cavalier. Treble earned his second consecutive Pro Stock Motorcycle title with a run of 7.246 at 18437, just ahead of Geno Scali's 7322 at 17933. Driver dies at New Jersey track Race driver Michael R. DeSantis died Saturday after crashing at Wall Township (N.J.) Speedway. DeSantis, 53, of South River, crashed his mini stock car into a wall on the eighth lap of the Legends feature race, said Charlie Roberts, a spokesman for the speedway. DeSantis was pronounced dead at Jersey Shore Medical Center. An autopsy determined blunt trauma to the head as the cause of death, a state police spokesman said. It was not known whether DeSantis was wearing head and neck restraints at the time of the crash. track racing, and got Harvick in trouble with NASCAR officials. Matt Kenseth finished second after a bumping-and-grinding duel with Dale Jarrett over the final seven laps, and Tony Stewart grabbed third. Jarrett held on for fourth, just ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. "That's as hard and close racing as I've seen here," the defending race champion said. "It was fun. Everyone was beatin' and bangin.' " The race ended under a final-lap caution after a crash, allowing Labonte to cruise home with a sparkling escort to his 19th career victory. For Labonte, who has long been considered a non-contender on tracks shorter than a mile, it was a triumph made possible by his team's decision to not pit and assume the lead under a caution with 55 laps left. Stewart led the race until Stacy Compton and Johnny Benson got together several times, Benson's Pontiac finally spinning into the wall in the fourth turn to bring out the 11th yellow flag of the race. Stewart and Bobby Hamilton, who was running fourth, pitted for tires, giving Labonte the lead and the dominant Stewart a huge deficit to make Ganassi 3 drivers for 500 without Stewart O CART team owner says month is reason NASCAR By Steve Ballard LONG BEACH, Calif. - Any chance of Tony Stewart returning to the Indianapolis 500 this year ended when he crashed in a NASCAR race last month at Darlington, S.C. That's the opinion of team owner Chip Ganassi, who supplied a car to Stewart last year and was prepared to do so again had the Indiana native decided to attempt the grueling 1,100-mile daily double for a third time. "He dinged himself up a little bit in that crash," Ganassi said. "I think that probably did it." Ganassi said the consensus after meetings involving himself, Stewart and sponsor Home Depot was that it wasn't going to work out this year "so let's not force it." Stewart will concentrate on trying to win the Coca-Cola 600 Winston Cup race at Charlotte, N.C., while Ganassi hopes to still have three chances at winning his second Indy 500. He'll field cars for his two Championship Auto Racing Teams drivers, 1999 Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack and Bruno Junqueira, and his Indy Racing League driver Jeff Ward. As for Stewart, there's always next year. "I'm around and he's around," Ganassi said, "so I'm sure our paths will continue to cross." No room for Improvement Patrick Racing general manager Jim McGee said he isn't as concerned about getting parts for the team's Reynard chassis as he is being hamstrung if rival Lola significantly improves its car during the season. With Reynard in receivership, the teams it supplies are in technological limbo. "The bad thing is it will stop development of the car," McGee said. "We don't have the kind of budget to develop the car ourselves. Parts-wise we can survive, but if Lola comes up with some big development in their car, we might get left behind." Notes Brazilian veteran Roberto Moreno, let go by Patrick Racing after last season, was roaming the pits this weekend looking for work. He said he i mm mT . w No competition: Germany's Michael ia. i.. l.:- &u:.j t r- iidiy, nib uuru iii Tuur r-i races inis up. He came back out 13th, and with clearly the fastest car on the track. Two more cautions and the duel between Kenseth and Jarrett, whose side-by-side battling formed a wall between Stewart and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, allowed Labonte to build a comfortable lead. He won with an average speed of 73.951 mph, becoming the 10th different driver to win in the series' past 10 visits to Martinsville. Virginia 500 (Top finishers) 1 Driver Car 1. Bobby Labonte Pontiac 2. Matt Kenseth Ford 3. Tony Stewart Pontiac 4. Dale Jarrett ' Ford" 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 6. Terry Labonte Chevrolet ; 7. Ricky Rudd Ford ; 8. Mark Martin Ford' 9. Jeff Burton Ford ; 10. KurtBusch Ford ; Series points leaders: Sterling Marlin , '-, 1,209, Kenseth 1,182, Martin 1,080, 'l- Rusty Wallace 1,070, Stewart 1,062- plannin; crash at Darlington last ; star decided to skip Indy. - CART NOTEBOOK Ric Fold Associated Press No double: Tony Stewart (above) ZZZ drove for Chip Ganassi in last year's; Indianapolis 500, then hopped a jet " and raced at NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C., later that day., has turned down offers for sports-car rides and is working on a deal for the Indy 500. "All I can do is try hard, just like I always have," he said. . . . Dani-ka Patrick, 20, winner of the pro division in Saturday's Toyota ProCelebrity Race, is getting help from CART owner Bobby Rahal in her search for a Toyota Atlantic ride. "He believes in me, not merely as a girl who can wear makeup and model jeans but someone who can go out there and win races," she said. ,.. Sarah Fisher said she could have an announcement as early as today on her Indy Racing League future. Fisher, who finished third behind Patrick in the pro division, declined to elaborate. . . . NewmanHaas Racing is going to go through a lot of decals this season. Eli Lilly and Co., sponsor of Christian Fittipaldi's car, plans to leverage the sponsorship to highlight various products. ... The merger of Chevron and Texaco means Cristiano da Matta will drive the Chevron car in some markets and the Havoline car in others. . . . Michael Valiante passed Alex Gurney on the 21st of 29 laps to win the Toyota Atlantic race Sunday morning. ... Paul Gentilozzi won the Trans-Am season opener here Sunday. Call Steve Ballard at 1-317-444-6184. 4 1 1 t , 1 V.i , J v a i v u . ., Alex Trovatl Associated Press Schumacher celebrates his win at Imola;' t i n i . . season, rie lappea an out tour drivers t:lf V V

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