Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on June 7, 1998 · Page 41
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 41

Detroit, Michigan
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 7, 1998
Page 41
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6D The Detroit News Sunday, une 7, 1908 Detroit Grand Prix Indy Lights: Detroit News 75 are earns first pole l'sD Ohio team has top two qualifiers; Da Matta is second. By Bill Halls The Detroit News DETROIT - The Tasman Motorsports Group, which has dominated Indy Lights racing in Detroit since it began in 11)93, has the inside track in The Detroit News 75 today at 'Belle Isle. The Ohio-based Tasman cars took the top two qualifying spots for today's noon start on the revamped 2.36-mile track. Airton Dare, a Brazilian, won his first career pole position with a clocking of 102.340 miles per hour lap Saturday. Right behind was Indy Lights points leader and fellow Brazilian Christiano da Matta. His best lap was Fatherhood frightens fearless Zanardi By Angelique S. Chengelis The Detroit News DETROIT There is little, it seems, that unnerves racer Alessandro Zanardi. He has bravado and machismo on the track, finding skinny passing lanes that others might never see or attempt. In his native Italian, this inherent quality he possesses is called "brio", the spark that makes him liven a conversation as soon as he joins in, and lifts him above everyone else during a race. Zanardi, the defending Championship Auto Racing Teams series winner, has won 10 races including two this year and 10 poles, more than any of his rivals the last two seasons. He also has created modern-day racing legend, with a brilliant, daring last-lap move on Bryan Herta in the Corkscrew turn of Laguna Seca Raceway to win the race two years ago. It is now simply referred to as "The Pass". But there is one thing that frightens Zanardi, and it is impending fatherhood. He and Notebook Gentilozzi wins Motor City 100 Trans-Am By Angelique S. Chengelis The Detroit News DETROIT - Paul Gentilozzi has always wanted to win the Trans-Am series championship, and he took another step toward that goal Saturday by taking the Motor City 100 at Belle Isle. Gentilozzi, a 48-year-old Detroit native who lives in Lansing, went wire-to-wire from the pole in the Autolink Chevrolet Corvette. He has won three of the four Trans-Am races this season. "This is the most satisfying thing I'm going to do in motor sports," said Gentiloz?i. the series points leader. "I could quit tomorrow and be satisfied. Leighton Reese was second and Bruce Qyale third. Course fans Imagine this: Drivers actually praising the Detroit Grand Prix course on Belle Isle. Read this: They actually are. The course was lengthened to 2.36 miles and features a long, fast straightaway and wider, pass-friendly turns. Drivers competing in today's ITT Automotive Detroit Grand Prix said the circuit is vastly improved and the racing will reflect that. "It's my No. 1 road course of the season," said Patrick Racing's Adrian Fernandez, who will start third. "I want to congratulate the organizers who made this possible. This is a really fun race track to drive on." Coming off the front straight, and going into Turn 3, is expected to be the busiest area for passing. "That first lap could be pretty exciting in Turn 3, not only for the front row but for every row," said Greg Moore, the pole-sitter and defending champion. Tough going The track surface has been tricky to handle this weekend for a number of reasons, including the switch from asphalt to Today's schedule 8:30-9 a.m., Barber Dodge race. 9:15-9:45 a.m., Neon race. 10-10:15 a.m., Indy Lights warm-up. 10:30-11 a.m., CART warm-up. 11:15-11:45 a.m, PPG on-track activities. Noon-1 p.m., Indy Lights race. 1:15-1:45 p.m., PPG on-track activities. 1:45 p.m., Grid CART cars. 2:30-4:30 p.m., CART race. 102.095. All of the racing teams drive Lola cars with V6 engines. "I'm happy winning the pole," said Dare, who has a top-10 finish in each of the four races he has finished this sea rwi wife Daniela are expecting a son in late September. "Very scared," Zanardi, 31, said, referring to the Zanardi prospects of being a father. "I am scared I am going to be too oppressive with my son, like, 'Don't do this, don't do that."' As a child in Bologna, Italy, Zanardi, who is known as "Alex" in the United States, said he was terrible and mischievous. Like any parent, he does not want his son to follow in his foolishness. "I don't think I was a brave kid," Zanardi said. "I was simply, totally unconscious. I was never, ever afraid of danger. I just didn't think anything could happen to me. I was invincible." Some might think he still believes he is invincible on the race track. He has made an art form of dramatic passes and late finishes. At Cleveland last season, he came from last on the concrete in the newer areas, and the rain and the cocl temperatures that could provide problems for tires. Through two days, there have been 27 incidents as minor as a wall tap involving 18 drivers. One of the more significant accidents involved Christian Fittipaldi, who went hard into a tire barrier during qualifying Saturday. Fittipaldi was unable to compete in Milwaukee last weekend after he slammed into the wall and was knocked unconscious. His neck, still sore from last weekend, was checked Saturday and he will be able to race today. Stomping rumors Grand Prix officials emphasized there is no threat of losing ITT Automotive as race sponsor, even though the Auburn Hills company might be sold. "I can understand how there could be speculation," said Bruce Wagner, vice-president of marketing and communications at nT Industries. "We will fulfill all commitments. There will be no actions taken that will get in the way of full and complete sponsorships." CART has a contract to race in Detroit through 2003, and ITT's sponsorship contract is through 2001. "Champ car racing will be in Detroit forever," said Bud Stan-ner, president of the motor-sports division of International Management Group, which runs the Grand Prix. Briefly Jeff Simmons will start this morning's Barber Dodge Pro series race from the pole, and Will Langhorne will start from the outside. ... The attendance for Satur day's session was 42,677, an increase from 41,519 last year. ... Jimmy Vasser on his incident with Alex Zanardi in the short chute between Turns 12 and 13 during Saturday morning's practice: "Christian (Fittipaldi) is Si. 1 son. "I will have to concentrate much more Sunday. We've never run this car more than eight laps with the way it is set up now. So it will be a test at 32 laps." Tony Renna of DeLand, Fla., took the No. 3 position despite ramming into a safety tire barrier near the end of Saturday's qualifying runs. He was not injured and had a best qualifying lap of 101.620. "Something snapped in the front end of the car, and I went into a tire barrier," said Renna. "Someone told me I ran over some debris. But everything seems to be fine." Rookie Guy Smith of England, who led the qualifying field in the rain on Friday, finished fourth at 101.495. His speed Friday was in the 98 m.p.h. range. Tasman has never lost a race on the twisting Belle Isle circuit. Steve Robertson won lead lap after enduring a black-flag penalty, and made pass after pass until he amazed everyone, and himself, by winning. He did the same thing at Long Beach this season. He was written off late in the race, but suddenly was there, passing Dario Franchitti and Herta for the victory. "In the past two years, I have overtaken a lot of drivers," said Zanardi, the CART rookie of the year in 1996. "They certainly try to not make mistakes when I come around, and they watch the mirror when I'm around. I'm not sure if I intimidate them. It's not up for me to say." Privately, some drivers have expressed displeasure with Zanardi and referred to him as an egomaniac. He can, they said, be a hot-head and blame anyone but himself for on-track incidents. Paul Tracy and Zanardi have had their share of friction. In the race at Australia last season, they collided. Several weeks later, they had an altercation dur Detroit Grand Prix lineup (Car number in parentheses) Driver Car Time Speed 1. (99) Greg Moore Reynard Mercedes 1:13.530 114.859 2. (1) Alex Zanardi Reynard Honda 1:13.822 114.405 3. (40) Adrian Fernandez . ' Reynard Ford ' 1:13.842 . ' 114.374 4. (10) Richie Hearn Swift Ford 1:13.995 114.137 5. (8) Bryan Herta Reynard Ford 1:14.061 ' 114.036 6. (21) Tony Kanaan Reynard Honda 1:14.391 113.530 7. (12) Jimmy Vasser , Reynard Honda ' 1:14.420 113.486 8. (27) Dario Franchitti Reynard Honda 1:14.513 113.344 9. (5)GildeFerran Reynard Honda 1:14.582 113.239 10. (11) Christian Fittipaldi Swift Ford 1:14.709 113.047 It (6) Michael Andretti Swift Ford 1:14.729 113.016 12. (7) Bobby Rahal Reynard Ford 1:14.812 112.891 13. (2)AIUnserJr. Penske Mercedes , 1:14.821 112.877 14. (16) Helio Castro-Neves Reynard Mercedes 1:15.037 112.552 15. (26) Paul Tracy Reynard Honda 1:15.067 112.507 16. (33) Patrick Carpenlier Reynard Mercedes 1:15.131 112.412 17. (20)ScottPruett Reynard Ford ,. 1:15.133 112.409 18. (19) Michel Jourdain Reynard Ford 1:15:270 112.204 19. (25) Max Papis ' Reynard Toyota 1:15.523 111.828 20. (24) Robby Gordon Reynard Toyota 1:15.700 111.567 21. (18) Mark Blundell ' - Reynard Mercedes'. ' 1:16.367 , 110.592 22. (17) Mauricio Gugelmin Reynard Mercedes 1:16.554 110.322 23. (9)Jjlehto Reynard Mercedes 1:16.717 110.088 24. (98) PJ Jones Reynard Toyota 1:16.885 109.847 25. (3) Andre Ribeirb C , Penske Mercedes , 1:18.333 107.817 26. (36) Alex Barron Reynard Toyota 1:18.762 107.229 27. (77)ArndMeier Lola Ford ' 1:20.641 104.731 28. (34) Dennis Vitolo Reynard Ford 1:21.303 103.878 At JhIo ' 1 ' Iff. , . Detroiter Paul Gentilozzi gives Reese a champagne bath. . never one to do anything that doesn't 100 percent benefit him. There's other guys out there like that, too. 1 backed off for Tasman in 1993 and 1994. Tony Kanaan now racing in CART, won in 1996 and 1997. Tasman did not compete in Detroit in 1995. Kanaan was on hand Saturday to give some tips on the new track layout to Dare and da Matta. Asked why Tasman performs so well in Detroit, da Matta said: "It's nothing magic. I think the setup (of the cars) fits the track perfectly." Da Matta also said the race should be much more interesting for the fans this year because there are more opportunities for the drivers to pass on the track. It's impossible for da Matta to lose his lead in the overall point standings, even if he has a poor day. He has a 32-point lead over Japan's Shigeaki Hattori. The most points a driver can win in a weekend is 22. ing practice at Milwaukee. Zanardi felt Tracy had blocked him, and they collided. "(Zanardi) ran up to me and said, 'I'm going to fight you! I'm going to fight you!'" Tracy said. "We've had our run-ins, but now working with Honda, I've gotten to know him better. We've really had a chance to talk and clear the air. I really get along with him much better now. He's had run-ins with guys. But it's still a fact, he's going to go through no matter what." Jimmy Vasser, the 1996 CART champion and Zanardi's teammate at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, said the fact not all drivers re enamored of Zanardi is simple to explain. "It's more jealousy," said Vasser, who, like his teammate, has two victories this season. "They don't like the guy winning all the time. If anybody was able to question him, it would be more me. I work with him closely, and I see him working more than anybody, and I have nothing but praise for him. I'm a pretty down-to-earth per Todd MclnturfThe Detroit Newt runner-up Leighton to try to get a lap. I was going too slow in the groove. I saw Alex coming fast on a lap. It was a chain-reaction thing. r -r-f t ": ; " u ' j - (I x "M .- Vv K v v . , 1 ' ' r ! ' ' " ; . !,v " h . " X . !' J ' - ' ,' ' . ' Vl BANESTADO :- . . j, . -xi t ( y r X , - , - - Airton Dare of Brazil qualified with a speed of 102.340 mph son, and I don't find Zanardi overbearing or arrogant. I find him very gentle. He's an aggressive race-car driver, but that's his style. He's aggressive, and he pulls off great moves, but I don't feel he puts people in a dangerous position. He's very calculated." . Zanardi must now calculate his future, which might be trickier than any move he's made on the track. Rumors are rampant that he will return to Formula One, where he last raced with the Lotus team. Zanardi said he wants to wait as long as he can before making a decision. "It is hard because whatever I will decide to do, I will regret something," Zanardi said. "If I decide to stay here, I regret that the opportunity (in Formula One) may no longer be in the future, and I have to be prepared to spend other years away from my home, which is the main concern that I have right now. (And) if I go and do something different, I will certainly regret what I am leaving behind me, which is a lot." Christian made me slow down." Both cars were damaged when Zanardi caught Vasser from behind, after Vasser was slowed by Fittipaldi. The cars were repaired for qualifying. ... Moore, a Canadian who nearly chose a future in hockey over racing, attended the Red Wings' game Friday night and likes their chances to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. "It's going to be another goal-tenders duel," Moore said of the series with Washington.. ."Detroit seemed to be able to capitalize when they had an opportunity (Friday). From watching Detroit, I think they're going to be tough." Leave a message for Angelique S. Chengelis at (313) 222-1491. . Barber Dodge Pro Series Gurney made right turn into driving By Angelique S. Chengelis The Detroit News Dan and Evi Gurney tried as hard as they could, but they admit now they were living in denial. They were sure their youngest son Alex's affinity for golf and tennis would somehow lead him away from the lure of auto racing. They were wrong. "They were both against it from the beginning," said Alex, 23, who lives with his parents in Newport Beach, Calif. "They tried to steer me away from it as much as they could." How could Alex resist? After all, his father is considered one of the greatest American race car drivers in motor sports history, having won in Formula One, Champ cars, NASCAR and sports cars. Dan Gurney remains in racing as team owner of All American Racers in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series. In less than a year, Alex Gurney, who resembles his dashing father, has been pegged as a driver to watch. He will compete in the Barber Dodge Pro Series race Sunday at Belle Isle, which will be the first time his parents have seen him race. "I might not look at the start," Evi Gurney said, with a laugh. That he is racing is somewhat of an upset, considering his parents did not encourage it and would not allow him to pursue the sport until after he earned a college degree. "No one believes it," Alex said of his late start. "Just because of the name, they would just assume that I'd be in it. They think I must Motor Sports: Roundup Terry Labonte takes Pontiac Excitement 400 RICHMOND, Va. - Rusty Wallace spun out Jeff Gordon while racing him for the lead with 28 laps remaining Saturday night, and Terry Labonte overtook Dale Jarrett with two laps to go to win the Pontiac Excitement 400. It was Labonte's first victory of the season and came under a last-lap caution after Grand Rapids' Johnny Benson brought out the final in a series of late yellow flags by spinning into the wall in Turns 1 and 2 on the 398th lap. Jarrett finished second, followed by defending champion Rusty Wallace, Ken Schrader, Mark Martin and new series points leader Jeremy Mayfield. The race was shaping up as a duel between Wallace and Gordon, arguably the series' best short-track racers. But it turned into a crash-fest when Wallace helped Gordon into the wall in Turn 2, ending the defending series champion's night, as well as his latest turn atop the point standings. Gordon had been following Wallace, often on his bumper, , for more than 20 laps after the third caution ended with 51 laps to go. When Gordon finally got around Wallace entering Turn 1 on lap 372, Wallace bumped the left rear of Gordon's Chevrolet, sending it spinning into the wall Todd MclnturfThe Detroit News on the 2.36-mile track. have been in a go-kart since I was 1." ' ' . .; Gurney never disagreed with his parents' plan of first getting a degree, which he did at the University of Colorado. But he made it clear upon graduation last year that he would venture into racing, and his parents, he said, "caved" in. - "In our family, it almost seems unavoidable," Evi Gurney said. "Racing always was wonderful for us with bringing up the children. They were all so interested in racing and cars. It's different than when your dad is a divorce lawyer. "We were not parents who gave our kid a go-kart or any of those things. But we also felt, he's ' a grown-up and it's his decision, and we support it." Apparently, young Gurney is talented and a quick learner. He won the four SCCA regional races he entered in 1996 and set track records in two. He competed in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Series last year and finished second in points while earning rook-ie-of-the-year honors. Gurney has taken his lumps through two races this season, by no fault of his owa In his first Barber Dodge race in March, Gurney was bumped off the road and fin-' ished 20th, and two weeks ago at rain-soaked Lime Rock, he got caught behind a multi-car wreck and finished 19th. Although Dan Gurney has yet to see his youngest child race, the two spend time at home going over Alex's data from races and tests. "He wants me to learn on my own and see what I can pick up myself," Alex said. of Turn 2. That ended Gordon's night, to the delight of fans who roared when his battered new car stalled in Dale Earnhardt's pit stall. ' ' Briefly David Coulthard won his third Formula One pole of the seasoa knocking McLaren teammate MDca Hakkinen out of the top spot by .069 seconds in the closing moments of qualifying for today's Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal. Hakkinen appeared to have locked up his third straight pole when Coulthard zoomed past in 1 minute, 18.213 seconds with less than a minute remaining in the qualifying session. Coulthard's speed was 127.181 mph. ; Porsche was closing on its third consecutive victory at Le Mans, as two of its factory models were well ahead of the field at the halfway point of the race in France, After 12 hours, a Porsche GTi driven by Alan McNlsh of Britain and France's Laurent Aiello and Stephane Ortelll was in the lead, having completed 181 laps. The car was less than one lap ahead of another, Porsche, driven by Jorg Muller and Uwe Alzen of Germany and France's Bob Wolleck. ' Detroit News wire services.

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