The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 30, 2001 · Page 12
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 12

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Salina, Kansas
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Monday, April 30, 2001
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Page 12
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THE SALINA JOURNAL AUTO RACING MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2001 Brakes put on race CART drivers express , concerns over safety issues at Texas track By STEPHEN HAWKINS The Associated Press FORT WORTH, Texas — CART drivers refused to compete Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway over CART safety issues, saying G forces almost twice as high as normal 1 were causing vision and hearing problems. Series officials said there wasn't enough time to make changes and postponed the inaugural Firestone Firehawk 600 just before its scheduled start. The drivers balked after holding a lengthy meeting hours before the race. Some complained of vertigo during practice sessions. "The G forces were beyond what I could have ever imagined," said Michael Andretti, the biggest winner in CART history "This is something we never thought of happening. " Teams said the G forces were above 5, and that all but four of the 26 drivers experienced some sort of inner ear or vision problems after running more than 10 laps at time. The • others did not go those distances. "The Gs were exceeding what the human body should be able to tolerate," said Dr. Steve Olvey director of medical services for CART. "There was too high G-loading with the guys at this speed on this particular track. "This is a situation that in my 25 years involved in motor- sports I've never heard of or seen." G forces in the range of 3 are generally as high as drivers pull on most race tracks. CART CEO Joseph Heitzler said the sanctioning body was considering rescheduling the race for later in the year. He said there was no opportunity to make immediate changes to the cars or the racing surface. "We are in uncharted waters," he said. The postponement comes at a "It should have been sufficiently tested months and months and months ago." Eddie Gossage Texas Motor Speedway general manager over CART 'S dealings with the track time when safety is a top concern in racing, the attention heightened after the death two months ago of NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt in the season- opening Daytona 500. Four NASCAR drivers have been killed in the last 11 months, two at New Hampshire International Speedway Heitzler refused to blame the track for Sunday's action. "This is not an issue of safety at this track," he said. "This was safety of the drivers in their performance of their skills." The track had no input into the discussions Sunday morning, general manager Eddie Gossage said. But he was critical of CART for its dealings with the track. Gossage said questions about racing here were raised by track officials as recently as 10 days ago. There was no open testing, and the standard accepted by CART was the 220224-mph range Kenny Brack established in a private test. Brack won the pole for the race with a speed of 233.447 mph, and drivers were turning even faster laps in practice. The Indy Racing League has competed at TMS since 1997, and plans to return June 9 for the Casino Magic 500. Billy Boat set the IRL qualifying record of 225.979 mph in 1998. "It should have been sufficiently tested months and months and months ago," Gossage said. "Both TMS and the fans are frustrated by what has happened." At first, most drivers thought they were alone in their feelings about racing Sunday, but began a dialogue that grew into virtual unanimity Wallace tops Gordon Earnhardt's 50th birthday not forgotten by friend in victory By MIKE HARRIS The Associated Press FONTANA, Calif — Rusty Wallace celebrated old friend Dale Earnhardt's 50th birthday Sunday with a dominating victory in the NAPA Auto Parts 500. After holding off two-time California MASRAR Speedway win- don in a 19-lap shootout at the end of the 250- lap event, Wallace stopped across from his pit and waited while one of his Penske Racing South crewmen brought out a flag, bearing Earnhardt's colors and his famed No. 3. Wallace then drove slowly around the 2-mile oval, holding the flag high outside the driver's side window of his No. 2 Ford as many in the crowd of about 120,000 stood and cheered both the race winner and the memory of their longtime hero, who died in a crash on Feb. 18 in the Daytona 500. "He was such a great friend of mine," Wallace said of Earnhardt. "I wanted to do something for him." Referring to Earnhardt's longtime car-owner, Wallace added, "I wish I could have had Richard Childress ride with me on that victory lap, but it took too long to get our first win this year." Wallace's 54th career win came in the 10th race of the 2001 season and was his first since last Aug. 26 in Bristol, Tenn. The winner, who averaged 114.112 mph, started 19th in the 43-car field and took most of the first half of the race to move into contention. Once Wallace took the lead for the first time on lap 151, he was able to stay at or near the front, leading 95 of the final 99 laps, including the final 47. The Associated Press Rusty Wallace holds the trophy after winning the NAPA Auto Parts 500 Sunday. Wallace had built a lead of nearly 4 seconds — nearly a full straightaway — and appeared on the way to a runaway before a crash involving Ward Burton and Mark Martin brought out the sixth and final caution flag of the race on lap 224. Burton, somewhat disoriented after getting out of his battered car, was taken by helicopter to a hospital for a CT scan. He also had a small cut on his chin. When the green flag waved for the final restart on lap 232, Gordon's Chevrolet was tucked right behind Wallace's Taurus and the two quickly moved away from the rest of the pack. Gordon, who won two of the four previous Winston Cup races here, tried hard to catch the leader but never got closer than about two car-lengths before crossing the finish line 0.270 seconds — about four car- lengths — behind. "Once I got to two car-lengths, it seemed like my car just stopped," Gordon said. "That's as close as 1 could get to him. "The only way I was going to get him was if he made a big, big mistake, and a guy like Rusty doesn't do that. He deserved to win. He had the fastest car" Season Tickets _ n t m PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL Now On Sale! Tickets are available only at the Salina Bicentennial center. You may renew in person or by phone 826-7469 or toll free 1-888-826-7469. V "ri ^,»sSS^ SPECIAL ALL 2000 MODEL AIR CONDITIONERS MUST GOI! Whiripool Upright Freezer '1401b Capacity GET THAT FREE CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL WITH ANY MITSUBISHI BIG SCREEN!! SCREEN THEATER 6 Months No Intemt fivateble on selected appliances and etectronics onty. Mktlmum at 23.68% APR. 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