The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 25, 1998 · Page 13
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 13

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Monday, May 25, 1998
Page 13
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MONDAY, MAY 25, 1998 SPORTS THE SALINAJOURNAL T AUTO RACING Gordon wins Coca-Cola 600 Pole-sitter gets redemption, foils strong bids by Wallace, Labonte to collect big bonus By JOE MACENKA Tlie Associated Press CONCORD, N.C. — Eight days after making a losing call, Jeff Gordon's crew redeemed themselves with a winning one in NASCAR's longest race. Giving their driver four fresh tires while the rest of the leaders gambled on just two during the final pit stop, Gordon's crew set up their driver to charge through the pack and win a 16-lap sprint to the finish in the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night. "That was a Rainbow Warrior win," Gordon said of his pit crew. "All it took was four tires. The other guys took two. They couldn't take the gamble, we didn't have anything to lose." Gordon's 32nd career Winston Cup victory and his third in the Coca-Cola 600 broke up strong bids by Rusty Wallace and Bobby Labonte to collect a $1 million bonus from series sponsor R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Wallace, who wound up second, and Labonte, who came in third, were two of five drivers eligible for the bonus by virtue of their top-five finish in the circuit's first so- called No Bull 5 race, the season-opening Daytona 500. But nobody had anything over the final laps for Gordon, who eight days earlier lost the circuit's annual all-star race at Charlotte when his crew miscalculated and he ran out of gas while leading with less than one lap remaining. "This is an awesome, awesome team and Jeff is an awesome driver," said Ray Evernham, Gordon's crew chief. "The fans, this one is for you, for the mistake I had the other night." Gordon's victory was worth $346,500. "Are you kidding me? No way. I had no idea we were going to win," Gordon said. "This reminded me of Winston, and these guys redeemed themselves. Wallace was just ahead of Labonte, with Gordon running fifth, when Gary Bradberry brought out the eighth and final caution flag by slamming into the fourth-turn wall on lap 378. The top five cars on the ensuing restart — Wallace, Labonte, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett and Johnny Benson — all took on just two tires for the final sprint. The time it took Gordon to get four tires dropped him to sixth on The Associated Press Jeff Gordon (left) shares a laugh as Rusty Wallace (foreground) passes by In victory lane after Gordon captured Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. the restart, but it was worth it. He needed less than four laps to move into second, then went high on lap 390 and powered past Wallace and into the lead. "When we turned underneath Rusty, I was either going to wreck or win this thing," Gordon said. He spent the rest of the race pulling away and wound up 0.41 seconds — about 15 car- lengths ahead at the finish. The five drivers eligible for the $1 million bonus at the next No Bull 5 race, the Brickyard 400 on Aug. 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will be Gordon, Wallace, Labonte, Martin and Jarrett. "I really thought we had it," Wallace said. "But we did good. We finished second. I'm happy. We got a lot of points." Labonte said his crew kept adjusting the car. "We worked hard throughout the race," he said. "We w.ere right on Rusty, even on tires, and looked like we'd be OK. We came in and got two (tires) and Jeff got four. But when he came by those cars, I knew we were in trouble." The eligible drivers Sunday were Wallace, Labonte, Dale Earnhardt, Jeremy Mayfield and Ken Schrader. Earnhardt, Mayfield and Schrader all struggled early and never led. Schrader finished 10th, one lap down; Mayfield was 19th, two laps off Gordon's winning pace, and Earnhardt wound up 39th in the 48-car field. Labonte was leading and Martin was fifth on lap 337 when Earnhardt and Randy LaJoie, both one lap down, tangled in the fourth turn and slammed into the concrete retaining wall, bringing out the seventh caution flag. When all the leaders pitted, Martin and Benson took on fuel only and got out first and third, respectively. Gordon, who took on fuel and two tires, got out second, and Wallace, who got fuel and four tires, was fourth. When the race went back to green, Gordon quickly overtook Martin for the lead, but he was able to stay up front until Wallace went by him on the outside on lap 355. Wallace stayed in the lead, with Labonte never more than 20 feet from his rear bumper, until Bradberry brought out the race's eighth and final caution. Mayfield, the series points leader who is still looking for his first victory on stock car racing's premier circuit, saw his chances for the bonus evaporate during a round of green- flag pit stops just past the 100-lap mark. T PRO BASKETBALL Despite loss, Bulls remain confident Chicago's Kerr: 'We don't feel teams can beat us four times' By CHRIS SHERIDAN The Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS — The euphoria of winning didn't last long for the Indiana Pacers. They awoke Sunday realizing they need another victory right away before they can truly feel they've clawed their way back into this series. One victory was nice; one more loss would be devastating. That was the overriding thought the Pacers mulled over as they prepared for Game 4 today. "Yesterday was the biggest game of the season — until tomorrow," Jalen Rose said Sunday after the Pacers practiced at Market Square Arena. Gone was the giddyness personified by Reggie Miller, who pranced on his sprained ankle into the arms of teammate Chris Mullin while the Pacers were on their way to Saturday's victory. Gone was the rabid crowd that sent decibel meters off the charts when' Miller scored 11 points in rapid succession late in the fourth quarter. "People are pretty excited when they beat us, but they've got to beat us four times to win a series," Steve Kerr of the Bulls said. "That's what we feel is ultimately going to do it for us — we don't feel teams can beat us four times, although they might beat us once or twice." Kerr's comments were representative of what all the Bulls were saying. After all, Chicago hasn't lost two straight in the Eastern Conference portion of the playoffs since 1995 — the year Jordan abandoned baseball and rejoined the Bulls for the stretch run. "If we win tomorrow, or when we win tomorrow, certainly we EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS (Best-of-7) Game 4, today Chicago at Indiana, 2:30 p.m. (NBC) (Bulls lead series, 2-1) want to go home and close it out," Michael Jordan said. Coach Phil Jackson, asked about Indiana's bench, was bold enough to say: "Wait until we get to Utah." A cocky confidence surrounds the Bulls, who haven't trailed in a playoff series with Jordan playing a full season since the 1993 conference finals. The way they see it, Game 3 would have been theirs if Jordan and Steve Kerr hadn't missed one foul shot each and Toni Kukoc hadn't missed two in the closing moments. Jordan and the rest of. the Bulls said they fully expected to see Miller back on the court for Game 3 despite his sprained ankle. Miller did not practice Sunday and the team listed his status as day-to-day. Chicago also expects to see more of backup point guard Travis Best, who played the entire fourth quarter of Game 3 while starter Mark Jackson sat. By sticking with Best, a better penetrator but a worse finisher than Jackson, the Pacers didn't have to overcome Scottie Pippen's suffocating backcourt defense. . "Everyone felt they gave us one or we stole one," Antonio Davis said. "I just felt like the first two games they wanted it a little more than we did. "We need to come out with the same attitude, the same aggressiveness and believe in ourselves," Davis said. BRIEFLY T COLLEGE BASEBALL Georgia Tech reaches Midwest finals Donaghey, Hood belt ninth-inning home runs as Yellowjackets rally By The Associated Press WICHITA — Stephen Donaghey ; and Jay Hood hit ninth-inning ; home runs Sunday to lift Georgia '. Tech over Oklahoma State 6-5 and ! advance to the championship ; game of the NCAA Midwest Regional. The second-seeded Yellowjack- ets were scheduled to play Arizona St. for the title later Sunday night, but the game was postponed until today at 11 a.m. by rain. With the Yellowjackets (41-21)' down 5-1 in the ninth, Oklahoma State reliever Frank Bludau gave up a leadoff single to Scott Prather and hit Eric McQueen with a pitch. Two strikeouts later, Donaghey homered to cut the lead to 5-4. Matthew Boggs then singled off reliever Danny Prata before Jay Hood's shot sailed just over the left field fence to put Georgia Tech ahead. Georgia Tech reliever Simon Young (3-2) pitched a hitless ninth for the win. Central • MISSISSIPPI STATE 11, TEXAS A&M 5 — At College Station, Texas, Mississippi State re- Florida Florida State Long Beach State Louisiana State Miami, Fla. Mississippi State Southern California liever Chris Reinike pitched 6 2-3 scoreless innings and the Bulldogs advanced to the College World Series for the seventh time. Reinike (6-6), who entered the game with one out in the third and the score 5-5, didn't allow a hit until a seventh-inning single by Jason Tyner. He allowed five hits and struck out eight. The Aggies (46-20) led 5-0, but the Bulldogs (41-21) tied it in the bottom of the second on two-run homers by Barry Patton and Chris Lotterhos and an RBI-single by Brad Freeman. Mississippi State added three in the third on run-scoring hits by Patton and Lotterhos and Freeman's solo homer. South II • LSU 14, CAL STATE FULLERTON 3 — At Baton Rouge, La., Brad Cresse homered twice in a 10-run fourth inning as two-time defending national champion LSU earned a return trip to the College World Series with a 143 victory over Cal State Fullerton on Sunday. The Tigers (46-17) won the South II regional and will play in the CWS for the 10th time in the last 13 years. LSU set an NCAA tournament record with five homers in one inning. Atlantic I • MIAMI 7, NORTH CAROLINA 4 — At Coral Gables, Fla, Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff each hit a two-run homer and top-ranked Miami advanced to the College World Series for the fifth time in as many seasons under coach Jim Morris. Miami (49-10), which won national championships in 1982 and 1985 under Ron Fraser, hit 24 home runs in five regional games. Atlantic II • FLORIDA STATE 16, AUBURN 10 — At Tallahassee, Fla., Matt Diaz went 4-for-6 and drove in six runs as Florida State advanced to the College World Series for the 16th time. The top-seeded Seminoles (5318), who took a 13-0 lead after three innings, avenged last year's regional final loss to Auburn (46-18). Diaz hit .750 with seven homers and 19 RBIs in the four regional games. Florida State scored 76 runs in the regional, setting a record with 19 per game. East • SOUTHERN CAL 4, SOUTH ALABAMA 3 — At Clemson, S.C., Jack Krawczyk pitched 3% nerve- wracking innings to record his 21st save — one short of the NCAA record — and Southern California returned to the College World Series for the first time since 1995. Jason Lane (8-1) allowed one run over 5 % innings to earn the victory for the top-seeded Trojans (4416). South I • FLORIDA 7, ILLINOIS 6 (11) — At Gainesville, Fla, Derek Nicholson's RBI-single capped a two-run rally in the bottom of the llth inning to give Florida the victory and their second trip to the College World Series in three years. West • LONG BEACH STATE 5, ALABAMA 3 — At Stanford, Calif., Terrmel Sledge hit a grand slam and Darren Merrill escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning as Long Beach State advanced to the College World Series for the fourth time in 10 seasons under coach Dave Snow. Hardesty wins IMCA Modified A feature Dave Hardesty took the lead on lap three of the IMCA Modified A feature and drove to victory in Saturday night's action at Salina Speedway. Hardesty was chased to the finish by second-place driver Brian Knoell, winner of the hard charger award. Ken Sweet drove to third place. Dusty Kuntz took the lead on lap three of the Pro Stock A feature for the win. Daryl Fergusson ran second and Dwight Housh was third. Scott Phillips won a yellow flag filled A feature in the Strictly Stock division. Jeff Welsh was second and Ronny Robins third. The Fuller brothers continued their domination of the Mini Stock division as G.W. drove to victory and Billy placed second. Corey Lagroon was third in the feature. Saturday will be Kids night at Salina Speedway. Kids 14-and-under will be admitted free. The Dwarf Cars will make their first appearance of the year on the 3/8 mile track. Races begin at 7:30 p.m. Salinan Smith places 2nd at junior qualifier WICHITA — Salina's Stephanie Smith finished second in the girls' 14-under division of the Kansas District Tennis Association Junior Qualifier this past weekend at the Riverside Tennis Center. Smith is one of three girls in her age division that received Kansas District endorsement into the National Qualifier I Tournament to be held June 8-12 in Springfield, Mo. From Staff Reports Indy / Transmission problems sink Luyendyk FROM PAGE B1 33-car field, is expected to take more than $1.5 million from the nearly $9 million purse when it is presented Monday night at the annual victory dinner. He is the first owner-driver to win since A.J. Foyt in 1977. Cheever pulled away from Lazier, the 1996 Indy winner, after the 12th and final caution period, racing off to a 3.191-second win — about a third of the last straightaway. "At the start of the race we really went down," Lazier said. "We had to make an unscheduled pit stop, but my guys never lost heart. They pushed hard, got me back into contention. We just didn't have enough for Eddie." The race began 40 minutes late because of early morning rain and was almost immediately under caution when J.J. Yeley spun in turn one, but somehow avoided the wall. The 21-year-old stalled the engine and had to be towed, but came back to finish ninth. He was one of four rookies in the top 10. Tony Stewart, the 27-year-old Indy Racing League champion and the favorite to win his first Indy 500, started fourth and got to the lead on lap 21, passing surprising front-row starter Greg Ray. But the lead lasted only seconds as smoke and fire billowed from Stewart's vaunted Team Menard Dallara-Aurora as he sped toward the first turn on lap 22. The disgusted Stewart stopped at the exit of turn one, yanked his steering wheel from its stem, scrambled from the car, stripped off his gloves and pitched them into the empty cockpit. He then turned to the packed grandstand and raised his arms high in the air in a gesture of frustration. Ray was no luckier than Stewart, going out while leading on lap 32 when his transmission broke. Transmission problems also finished two-time winner Luyendyk. He lost first gear early in the race and had to be pushed out of the pits after each stop. He was leading on lap 150 when he made a routine stop, but then he stalled on his way back to the track, done for the day. "The clutch was a problem all day," said Luyendyk, who was trying to become the first repeat winner since Al Unser in 1970-71. "It really hurt me on the restarts." The biggest accident of the day came on lap 50 when rookie Sam Schmidt got his left-side wheels into the third-turn grass and spun into the outside retaining wall. Mark Dismore and Stan Wattles tried to slow behind him, but got together and slid into the wall, too. Jim Guthrie then ran through the grass, over a piece of debris from Schmidt's car and skidded almost head-on into the wall. Guthrie was in good condition at Methodist Hospital after undergoing surgery for a broken right arm. Steve Knapp, another of the eight first-year Indy starters, finished third, the only other driver on the lead lap. He was followed by Davey Hamilton, Unser and front- row starter Kenny Brack. Brack was in contention until he ran out of fuel and had to coast slowly from the backstretch to the pits on lap 88. Pole-starter Billy Boat, Brack's Foyt Racing teammate, had gearbox problems and wound up out of the race after 104 laps. Cheever, who led 76 of the 200 laps, took the lead for the final time on lap 178 when he beat Lazier off pit road after the leaders made their final fuel stops. Following the restart on lap 183, Cheever moved off to a lead of more than three seconds, turning his fastest laps of the day at more than 213 mph. Call 1 -900-526-1666 $2.19 per minute. To listen to these area singles describe themselves and to leave them a message. You must be 18 years of age or older to use this service. DEDICATED Educated, hardworking DW dad of one, 48, 6'4", 250lbs., grey hair, blue eyes, enjoys spending time with his son, the outdoors and more, seeks a SWF, 36-48, who knows what It takes to make life work. Ad#.7370 FORWARD Intelligent SWF, 42, medium build, blondlsh-brown hair, hazel eyes, pro-- fesslonal, enjoys bowling, playing pool, spring time, rodeos, old rock music and candlelit dinners. 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