The News Journal from Wilmington, Delaware on May 21, 2006 · Page 59
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The News Journal from Wilmington, Delaware · Page 59

Wilmington, Delaware
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Page 59
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Cancel MAY 21, 2006 L SUNDAY NEWS JOURNAL D3 AUTO RACING Nagy persuades Elliott to join him in Arena r JSl-H TO on 0 0 APTOH STRATTMAN Sam Hornish Jr. leads Danica Patrick through the first turn In the final practice session before Saturday's Indianapolis 500 qualifying. Hornish can't be caught in race for pole Speed of 228.985 mph blows away Indy field By MIKE HARRIS Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS - Sam Hornish Jr. came up a bit short on his prediction but not on his speed. The fastest driver at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for most of the month did not disappoint Saturday, driving away with the pole position for the May 28 Indianapolis 500. After running a lap at 229.996 mph in the morning warmup - by far the fastest lap since practice began nearly two weeks ago - Hornish came back less than two hours later and proved it was no fluke with two more laps over 229 mph on the way to a four-lap qualifying average of 228.985 mph. "This car is about as perfect as I've ever had," Hornish said. "I was really about 99 percent happy with it." Hornish, who has failed to Finish the big race in each of his six previous starts, said he told his Marlboro Team Penske crew Thursday night he would qualify at 229 mph. "I made myself look bad to them because I didn't quite get there," he said, grinning. It didn't matter. None of the other 31 drivers who qualified Saturday could come close to knocking Hornish off the top spot. His big day gave team owner Roger Penske his 13th Indy pole, matching the record number of wins for the elite team. Two-time Indy winner Helio Castron-eves was the only driver able to even ap- J APDARRON CUMMINGS Indy Racing League driver Sam Hornish Jr. celebrates Saturday after winning the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 on May 28. proach teammate Hornish's performance. The Brazilian started with a lap of 227.741 before ticking off three straight trips around the 2.5-mile oval above 228 for an average of 228.008 to take the second spot. Hornish, a two-time IRL IndyCar Series champion, would like nothing better than to join the nine drivers who have won here for Penske and finally end his own Indy jinx that has seen him crash three times. "It's a long race next Sunday, and I want to make it through that. I want to make sure I make the full 500 miles," he said. "You know, it's not the guy who's the fastest here that wins this race; it's the one who makes the fewest mistakes." Defending Indy champion Dan Whel-don, the only driver able to beat Hornish for a day's fast lap this month, couldn't come close to Hornish's Saturday effort. Wheldon posted a solid run with four consistent laps over 227 mph, but his average of 227.338 was far short of what he'd hoped for, placing him tentatively on the outside of the front row of three. With each car allowed up to three attempts a day, Wheldon considered withdrawing his qualifying run and taking another shot at Hornish late in the day. But after some afternoon practice, Wheldon decided against it. "Maybe we'd have had something for Castroneves, but Hornish has been pretty quick all month," Wheldon said. "We've just been a couple of steps behind that Penske team since we got here." Castroneves' best was still nearly a full mile an hour slower than Hornish. "I think that's as fast as we can be, and Sam's been consistently strong for the whole month of May," Castroneves said. "We're very happy" Castroneves, who made a second try on pole day last year and fell from fourth to fifth in the lineup, was right when he said none of the other top drivers were likely to try to requalify in an effort to move up. Scott Dixon, Wheldon's Target Chip Ganassi teammate, was fourth-fastest at 226.921, followed by Tony Kanaan, last year's pole-winner, at 226.776 and 2005 race runner-up Vitor Meira at 226.156. Danica Patrick, the only woman in the field and last year's fourth-place starter, averaged 224.674 and will start 10th. Johnson wins Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Associated Press CONCORD, N.C.-There's a very clear reason why Jimmie Johnson considers Lowe's Motor Speedway his own personal playground: He owns the track. Johnson won the Nextel All-Star Challenge and its $1 million prize Saturday night, his seventh victory at the suburban Charlotte track. "Good job driver! Good job!" crew chief Chad Knaus radioed. "This is your house!" Indeed it is. Johnson, who also won the All-Star race in 2003, has won three-straight Coca-Cola 600s and will try to make it four in a row next Sunday night. Kevin Harvick, who won the second segment of the event, ROUNDUP took only two tires on the final pit stops while everyone else took four. It was a risky gamble, and Johnson wasted no time passing him for the lead when the final 20-lap sprint began. Johnson then pulled away and Harvick finished a whopping 1.729 seconds behind. Jeff Gordon was third, Carl Edwards was fourth and Ryan Newman was fifth. Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, fan-vote winner Kyle Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were the only other drivers to finish on the lead lap. Scott Riggs, who raced his way into the event by winning the preliminary race hours earlier, finished one lap down in 10th. He was the last car to finish the race, as the other 10 drivers were knocked out of the race. Bourdais to start Monterrey Grand Prix pole MONTERREY, Mexico Sebastian Bourdais spent all week complaining about just how tricky the curvy, slippery course can be. Then he went out and aced it -again. The 27-year-old Frenchman broke his own course record, finishing his best lap in 1 minute, 13.253 seconds at an average speed of 103.401 mph on Saturday to capture the pole for today's Monterrey Grand Prix. It will be the fourth straight year Bourdais has started first in the 76-lap event. He is the first Champ Car driver since Rick Mears between 1988 and 1991 to win the pole at the same race four years in a row. "Every time we come here we seem to elevate our game," Bourdais said. "We come here and we're always the one to beat." His time was 0.279 seconds faster than Justin Wilson, who took the provisional pole on Friday. The Briton reached an average speed of 103.008 mph in rounding the 2.104-mile road course at Parque Fundidora in 1:13.532 seconds. A.J. Allmendinger, the only American in the 17-car field, will start third after posting a top time of 1:13.796 on Saturday. Defending Monterrey champion Bruno Junqueira was fourth (1:13.911) and Paul Tracy came in fifth with 1:14.009. SSSBTTJ-gSti . I' if..'-; Blue Rocks Vs. Frederick Keys monday may 22 - 6:35 pm Autograph Books for the first 1,500 Kids Courtesy of the Red Clay Consolidated School District Safe and Drug-Free Schools TUESDAY MAY 23 - 6:35 PM Travel Mugs for the first 1,500 Fans Courtesy of Coldey Beacom College WSTW Terrific Tuesday 2 Box Seats, 2 Small Sodas, 2 Hot Dogs, 2 Baseballs & 2 Scorecards ONLY $22 WEDNESDAY MAY 24 11:05AM Youth T-Shirt for the first 1,500 Kids Courtesy of IMPACT Delaware Tobacco Prevention Coalition WJBR Wednesday Family FUN Day 4 Reserved Tickets, 4 Small Sodas & 4 Hot Dogs for just S32 Kids Character Appearance Get your tickets at or call IftrnTireTiTiTiEtti 1 r I CMS I V. l.-.-il''.lHr.i'WH Ex-UD teammates reunited with Georgia Force By KEVIN TRESOLINI The News Journal Before Matt Nagy could pass the football to Jamin Elliott again, he had to make a pitch to his former University of Delaware teammate. Cut by the Washington Redskins last year, Elliott was exploring various options when Nagy got him on the telephone. "We were keeping in touch and I gave him a buzz when I saw he didn't make the final cut with Washington," said Nagy, who quarterbacked the Arena Football League's Georgia Force to last year's ArenaBowl title game. "He brought up the 'C word' the Canadian Football League. I said, 'You've got to come down here and try the indoor league.' I told him all the good things. Not many people know how good it is." Elliott accepted Nagy's invitation and liked what he saw. So did the Force, which signed Elliott on Oct. 20. The reunion of the former Blue Hens continues today when the sixth-seeded Force (8-8) visits the third-seeded New York Dragons (10-6) in the first round of the AFL playoffs. Kickoff is at 3 at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. Arena Bowl XX on June 11 is the ultimate destination. Playing behind AFL veterans Chris Jackson and Derek Lee, Elliott is third on the Force in receptions (66), receiving yards (745) and touchdown catches (12). Nagy has become one of the AFL's premier quarterbacks. His 125.5 rating is the highest among playoff QBs. On the season, he has completed 372of-527 passes (70.6 percent) for 4,265 yards with 85 touchdowns and II interceptions. At Delaware from 1997 through 2000, Nagy threw for a school-record 8,214 yards. His passes covered a UD single-season record 3,456 yards in 2000, when the Blue Hens went 12-2 and reached the NCAA Division I-AA semifinals. Elliott, a junior that year, had 1,337 receiving yards in 2000 and 3,068 in his UD career. Now the prolific pair is reunited in the AFL. Nagy said the pass-oriented league suits him well. "It's a unique game that I've really started to love," said Nagy, who started his AFL career in 2002. "I think I've found my niche. It's perfect for me because it's not like I'm going to do a lot of running back there. "The field is a lot smaller, so every pass you throw is an important pass. You have to thread the needle and you have to have touch." Now Elliott, who resisted some NFL overtures in January and February to stay with the Force, is becoming more comfortable, too. Having a familiar arm throwing him the football has helped. "Being down here with Nagy has made the transition so smooth," said Elliott, who spent much of the 2003 season on the New England Patriots practice squad and earned a Super Bowl ring. "It's like if he throws the ball up there, he knows I'll be the one to go up and get it for him. That's what we do." Elliott did that in memorable APR MARSH STARKS Former UD quarterback Matt Nagy has thrown 85 TO passes for the Georgia Force this year. PLAYOFFS GLANCE WILDCARD National Conference TODAY: Georgia at New York, 3 p.m.; Soul at Austin, 3 p.m. American Conference SATURDAY: Arizona 57, Utah 34 TODAY: Chicago at Nashville, 3 p.m. DIVISIONAL ROUND National Conference Eastern Division MAY 27: TBD at Dallas, 3:30 p.m. Southern Division MAY 28: TBD at Orlando, 3:30 p.m. American Conference Central Division MAY 28: TBD at Colorado, 3:30 p.m. Western Division MAY 27: Arizona at San Jose, 3:30 p.m. CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP National Conference JUNE 3 OR 4: TBD, 3 p.m. American Conference JUNE 3 OR 4: TBD, 3 p.m. ARENABOWL At Las Vegas JUNE 11: TBD, 3 p.m. fashion at Delaware, making a tumbling 70-yard TD reception from Nagy in the Hens' 2000 1-AA quarterfinal win over Lehigh at Delaware Stadium. "Nagy called and said, 'We could use you down here in Georgia,' " Elliott said. "I kind of brushed him off at first because I was still trying to do my thing in the league NFL. I was getting good feedback from NFL teams but nobody was really looking to sign guys, so I figured I'd try Arena ball for a year if I had the opportunity. "I enjoyed my visit, everybody was good and I signed a contract. Now I've got confidence I can do well in this league." Contact Kevin Tresohni at 324-2804 or Rattlers 57, Blaze 34 PHOENIX Sherdrick Bonner threw five touchdown passes and also ran for a score to help Arizona beat Utah in the Arena Football League's wildcard round. Bonner was 16-of-26 passing for 238 yards for the Rattlers. GOLFERS WANTED! 2nd Annual Wildcat Cup Tournament Monday, June 5, DuPont Country Club All proceeds benefit Howard High School of Technology's Academy of Finance Program Funds raised through Wildcat golf tournament support this award-winning career program which trains students to work in the financial services field. The tournament also funds college scholarships for Academy students. Cost: $300 per golier Includes cookout lunch on the lower terrace from 1 1:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m, 1 8 holes of golf on the DuPont Country Club's Championship Course, dinner in the Crystal Ballroom, prizes, and the satisfaction of helping deserving students achieve their career goals. Shotgun Start at 1:30 p.m. Event Sponsor Hole-in-One Wins a citigroupj 2006 Dodge Charger! Associate Sponsor ProvidedbyCarnnanDodge Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Rom LLP Call TODAY Registrations accepted through Thursday, June 1st Call Marty Brennan at 323-5031,Jason Hale at 995-8020, or email ii;tii I'll i iitsrmrmffirirrmRiiEWim lheNewsJoumal J 052106 0000062612 osnym 000006KM T

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