The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 15, 1997 · Page 24
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 24

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Thursday, May 15, 1997
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D4 THURSDAY, MAY 15, 1997 AUTO RACING THE SALINA JOURNAL Pikes Peak Raceway promises to bring world-class racing back to the Rockies By JOHN MOSSMAN The Associated Press F OUNTAIN, Colo. — It rises phoenix- like from the site of a defunct horse- racing track, its soaring 43,000-seat grandstand framed by Cheyenne Mountain and Pikes Peak. In a matter of months, mounds of dirt have been transformed by bulldozers and cranes into Pikes Peak International Raceway, a state-of-the-art facility that promises to bring world-class auto racing back to the Rockies. Construction crews have been racing to meet today's deadline for completion, which raceway general manager Lex Dudas called "a realistic target, although there will still be some minor work left to be done. We will, however, be ready for sure by our first race." Pikes Peak International Raceway has six dates on its inaugural-season schedule, starting with USAC races for short- track and midget cars on June 7-9. The highlight of the season will be a stop by the Indy Racing League on June 29, a month after the same drivers go in For fans, the view of the race track is unparalleled. The infield is five feet lower than the track surface, and the first row of the grandstands is 16 feet above the track, ensuring that fans can see every inch of the track. the Indianapolis 500. IRL drivers Scott Goodyear and Arie Luyendyk took several test laps on the new track in late March and predicted qualifying speeds of 180-185 mph for the race. That would make PPIR the fastest one-mile track in the country. Those speeds are possible because of the smoothness of the track and the fact that both turns and straightaways are banked. "It's one of the smoothest tracks I've been on," Goodyear said. Goodyear also said the D-shaped oval is "going to be very challenging. It's got a real neat 1-2 turn combination because you go in there and it starts to bank on you. It's very wide and there's a lot of room for racing. The fans are going to see a great show." Another new track, the glittering, 150,000-seat Texas Motor Speedway north of Fort Worth, was criticized by NASCAR drivers at a race earlier this year. They said the track was too narrow, making passing difficult and dangerous. Amenities at the Texas speedway, however, drew rave reviews, and that's also a goal of PPIR. "We've worked with the best race-track architects in the industry to make our concession stands, restrooms and retail facilities as user-friendly as possible," Dudas said. For fans, the view of the race track is unparalleled. The infield is five feet lower than the track surface, and the first row of the grandstands is 16 feet above the track, ensuring that fans can see every inch of the track, even with 36 garages in the infield. Thirty-two luxury boxes sit atop the grandstand. The $44 million facility is the brainchild of construction magnate C.C. Myers, who rebuilt the earthquake-ravaged Santa Monica Freeway 74 days ahead of schedule. Despite the demise of the Denver Grand Prix, which went bankrupt in 1991 after two races through the streets of downtown Denver, Myers saw the potential for racing in the Rockies. PPIR's only real competition is Colorado National Speedway, although Dudas insists he wants to work with CNS. CNS and NASCAR have long-time ties, which could prevent PPIR from getting some NASCAR races. Pikes Peak will be the site of a NASCAR Winston West 500-kilometer race on July 27 — but only because CNS didn't want the event. Winston West is a West Coast version of NASCAR, and such drivers as Kenny Schrader and Michael Waltrip are committed to competing here. Other races on PPIR's calendar this year are AMA superbikes, SCCA Trans- Am and SportsCar, the former IMSA series. Martin, Tracy on roll Mark Martin went 42 Winston Cup races without a victory and Paul Tracy endured 27 CART Indy-car events without a win. Now both of them are riding two- race winning streaks. That's just an example of the surprising streaks that can be found in auto racing right now. Martin, who also races part-time in the Busch Grand National Series, actually has a personal three-race win string, if you count the Busch Series event two weeks ago at Talladega, Ala. Also streaking is Rich Bickle Jr., who had not won in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series until a few weeks ago and is now the owner of a two-race winning string. "Every time I win, the first thing I wonder is if I'll ever win again," Martin said. "There are no guarantees in racing, and it's so hard to win races these days because of the competition." HIS WEEK TV All Tlmea Eastern • Winston Select qualifying 6 p.m. • Friday • SV • Winston Select Preview 7 p.m. • Saturday • TNN • Winston Select 7:30 p.m. • Saturday • SV, TNN • Bush Cora States 200 6 p.m. • Friday • ESPN WINSTON CUP 1. Terry Ubonte, 1,544. 2. Jofl Gordon. 1,505. 3. Dale Jarrett. 1,492. 4. Mark Martin. 1,394. 5. Bobby Labonte, 1,329. 6. Date Earnhaidl, 1,287. 7. Jeff Burton, 1,277. 8. Ricky HlKld. 1,172. 9. Michael WaMp. 1.126. 10. Bobby Hamilton, 1,121. MITCH 1. Randy UJoto. 1.754. 2. Todd Bodine, 1.748. a.Jelf Green, 1,608. 4. Phil Parsons, 1,623. 5. Stove Park. 1,470. 6. Dick Tnckto. 1,449. 7.TmFedewa, 1,415. 8. Elton Sawyer, 1.380. 9. Mlko Mclaughlin, 1,376. 10. Buckshol Jones, 1,355. THUCK 1. Rich Bickle, 980. 2. Jack Sprague. 929. 3. Mike Bliss. 874. 4. RonHornaday. 871. 5. Butch Miller. 840. 6. Kenny Irwln. 837. 7.0oeHuttman. 793. 8. Jay Soulor. 768. 9. Chuck Bown. 760. 10. Dave Rezendes, 759. WINSTON CUP: Mark Martin ran the fastest race in Winston Cup Series history, winning the Winston 500 by three car lengths over Dale Earnhardt. For the first time In Talladega Super- speedway history, a 500-mile race was run without a single caution flag. Martin dominated the race, leading the final 31 laps and holding off Earnhardt for the winning. Martin countered one dive by driving low himself as the six-car lead draft came out of turn four. Jeff Gordon and John Andrettl tried to make passes in the closing laps, only to end up losing spots on the lead pack. BUSCH GRAND NATIONAL: Mike Mclaughlin, once a New England Modified star, captured the race on the region's signature track. New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon. CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES: Rich Bickle made it two in a row, just like Martin, with his victory at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. Weekly rankings by NASCAR This Week writer Monte Dutton. Last week's ranking Is In parentheses. 1. Jeff Gordon (1) Gunning for greatness 2. Mark Martin (4) A "marked man," twice 3. Terry Ubonte (3) Leads the points 4. Dale Jarrett (2) Suddenly struggling 5. Dale Earnhardt (6) Leading laps again 6. Rusty Wallace (5) Happy to leave Alabama 7. Bobby Ubonte (8) Loves Charlotte 8. Jeff Burton (7) Texas winner 9. Ricky Rudd (9) Does his best 10. Bill Elliott (10) Bad luck again ON THE SCHEDULE Pol.' Wlnn«f Aprils April 13 April 20 May 4 May 10 May 17 May 25 Junel June 8 June 15 June 22 Julys July 13 July 20 Aug. 2 Aug. 10 Interstate Batt. 500. Fort Worth, Texas D. Jarrett Food City 500, Bristol, Tenn. Wallace Goody's 500, Martinsville, Va. Wallace Save Mart 300, Sonoma, Calif. Manln Winston 500, Talladega Andretti The Winston, Charlotte (Gordon) Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte (Gordon) Miller 500, Dover, Del. (Gordon) Pocono 500, Long Pond. Pa. (Gordon) Miller 400, Brooklyn, Mich. (Hamilton) California 500, Fontana, Calif. x Pepsi 400, Daytona (Gordon) Jiffy Lube 300, Loudon, N.H. (Craven) Pennsylvania 500, Long Pond, Pa. (Martin) Brickyard 400, Indianapolis (Gordon) Bud at the Glen, Walkins Glen. N.V. (Earnhardt) Jeff Burton Gordon Gordon Martin Martin (M.Wallrtp) (Jarrett) (Gordon) (Gordon) (R Wallace) x (Marlln) (In/an) (Wallace) (Jarrell) (G. Bodine) John Andrattl vs. otter drivtn Andrettl, whose Winston Cup career has been marktd by ttrug- gk*. feats all atone In «w Takedega draft, vrtwi* cooper***) can nuka the dMaranca batwaan vktory and defeat. 1 want tor the lead and fcund out I didn't have any Irianfc," Andretti said. The Ford driver claimed the only drivers who would hak>hfcn \rnra Ward and JaN Burton and JaN Gordon.-Emy lima I want for a paw, I was by rnyaeK." OaJXXIMoraporte Writer Mont* DuMon ghwiihla opinion: 'Andratt is undatMandaUy bittw, but this typa of thing happens In an •ports, Orag Maddux gets a lot of sHai cans on the comer, and •• Michael Jordan seldom gets a bad can from the rattraaa. At Daytona and TUadaga, tha top drban work with other drivers they tad *«y san trust. H John continue* to run up to*. rw>« 9*1 tte ratpact r» HE WINSTON CUP CIRCUI COMING UP: The Winston on May 17. WHERE: The 1.5-mlle Charlotte Motor Speedway In Concord, N.C. ABOUT TH€ TRACK: Charlotte Motor Speedway Is the flag- shlp ol Bruton Smlth'« Speedway Motor- sports fleet ot track* In May, the track hosts a series Of wants that rivals hdtanapoHi ALMOST HOME COOKING The Sandwich Construction Company began the fashion of stock-car racing theme restaurants, and the food is great. NASCAR paraphernalia, Including a pair of race cars on the roof, covers every Inch of available space. It's located near the speedway on Hwy. 49, near the divergence of Hwys. 29 and 49. famous •Month of May." M. Waltrip CHAMPION.-Michael Waltrip. OTHER FAVORITES: Date Earnhardt ha» been the dominant driver In thfe event, winning three itanes. Among active driven, Jeff Gordon won In 1996, Geoff Bodine In 1994, Rutty Wttace In 1968, Ihrry Uborte rn 1968, BW ENMt h 1986 and DarreH WaHrlp In 1985. THWEE WHO COULD 8URMWC: Neither Mark Martin, Dale Jam*! nor Bobby U*onte has ever won The Winston, but all three are tormMaMa performem «t Charttta. KEY TO THE MCE: The ttwaMegrrwnt race features a field Invention after the first 30 laps, so the format favors a driver, like Earnhardt who Is adept at cutting through traffic and returning to the front. Also, qualifying mctudee a two-tire pit stop, so pit work plays a crucial rote In establishing the starting grid. THE BUSCH cm- corn NASCAR'S Busch Grand National Earnhardt ! SwIesptolnPeonsyl- vanla this weekend for the Core States ZOO on Sunday. CRAFTSMAN TRUCK 8ERC8: The NASCAR truck racer* take the weekend off before heading to Missouri May 24 tor the 1-70 Speedway race. yagw«»M i»'im>n*M«m«o*^a««*Mp^»g»«»i« MMB Jeremy Mayfield John ClmWASCAR Thto Wnk Jeremy Mayfield has switched sponsors after driving for RCA last year. For more than two years, Jeremy Mayfield has seemed poised on the verge of Winston Cup stardom. Mayfield Is from Owent- boro, Ky., a town famous for producing stock car drivers. The Brothers Wattrtp (Darrell and Michael) and Green (David, Jeff and Mirk) come from Owensboro along with Mayfield. Mayfield Is one of three active Winston Cup drivers to have earned at least $1.5 million while still In hit 20s. Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton are the other two. • AGE: 27 • SPOUSE: Christina • CHILDREN: None. • CAR: No. 37 Kmart/RC Ford Thunderblrd, owned by Michael Kranefuss and Carl Haas. • HOMETOWN: Bom In Owensboro, Ky., lives In Davidson, N.C. • RECORD: 87 starts, 0 wins, 1 WHY I LIKE... Tall us In too word* or leu why Jeremy MayflaM Is your fevorte driver. One MMt wM tie drawn from the entries end the winner win recelvs a NASCAR This Week hat. Send your entry ,to:" • . . . HMCM nilW*sVWli| I Uii; rfwUlslM.,t***ll > N.C. ' ; jEMMc. • . • '••' ,••'-;- ' The winner of Why I Lk« Ward Burton wa* 1*ny Sitphsne of -" " •• pole, 2 top fives, 7 top 10s, over $1.5 million In earnings. • LAST RACE: Finished 23rd In Winston 500. • WHY DO YOU THINK YOUR RACE PERFORMANCES HAVE BEEN BETTER THAN YOUR QUALIFYING PERFORMANCES? "I don't know. We're working on our qualifying package each week, but I think we've shown this team is capable of doing some pretty good racing. The past few races have been strong for us. We were on the back stretch at Martinsville but ran a smart race and again had a good car, and we finished seventh. At Sears Point we were look- Ing a top 10 square In the eye. We had that good a car." I NEITHER YOU NOR YOUR TEAM HAS EVER WON A WINSTON CUP RACE. HOW CLOSE ARE YOU? This Is a good race team, and I think more and more people are recognizing that fact. Nobody expected much from us this year at Daytona, but I think the people who really look at It closely know we're Improving and that it's just a matter On the road course, everybody figured the driver was under-experienced and overmatched but the car was great and the driver did OK. That would have been a top-10 finish with no problems." 1. Wto was tha flnst stock car driver to corn- Plata a qualifying »Mmpt at Indianapolis Motor SpsadwVir? ?. In tha firat Daytona 600, In 19W, Ue Petty wcfl In a photo «rtah over what driver? WHO'S HOY... WHO'S NOT WHO'S HOT: Mark Martin, after faUng to win tor 42 races over 18 months, all of a sudden h»» two In a row. WHO'S NOT: Robert'rates Racing taammata* Dala Jarratl and Ernie Irvan both had disappointing days at Talladega. A tour engine cost Jarrett the polnte laad. Copyright 1W7The Oaston (N.C.) Gazette • Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate (800) 2554734 • For rebate week of May 1» Excaamant? YOUR TURK READERS ASK THE QUESTIONS Dear NASCAR This Week, My question is about winnings. Take Jeff Gordon, who won $99,225 at Martinsville, Va. How much of that money goes to him; the crew, car owner, etc.? Mark Kerr Taunton, Mass. Dear NASCAR fan, That varies on a team-by- team basis according to the contract between driver and owner. In almost every instance, crew members work on a salary basis and do not receive a share of the winnings, though there may be bonuses in the contract related to the team's performance. Dear NASCAR This Week, 1 am a devoted NASCAR fan for as long as I can remember. I am 20 years old and enrolled in a High Performance Automotive Associated degree program at a school in the Midwest. My pipe dream is to ultimately be a pit crew member on a Winston Cup NASCAR team. My only problem is: How can I prepare myself for such a great job? Can you tell me how others before me got their start? 1 will be graduating a year from now. Kurt Howard Lima, Ohio Dear NASCAR fan, A number of young men who are interested in stock car racing as a career move to the Charlotte area, where the racing industry is a vibrant part of the local economy. Many mechanics begin their careers by working on race teams in their home areas, then move to Charlotte, the unofficial capital of stock car racing, once they have acquired practical experience. If you've got a question or a comment, write: NASCAR This Week Your Turn, c/oThe Gaston Gazette, 25 E. Franklin Blvd., Gastonla, N.C. 28054 CrwwttUwWfMk JUmAn*»« matched a caraarba«tby«ni*ningtourti , ki ttwWbMon 500, and « good shore gJ the cradtt goat to »* CatoYarborouehMotorapwt* pit craw, lad by Tony Furr, which parlwmad wcejtonl riopa during «tacau*n«aa rase.' 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