NASCAR Busch Grand National Series: After 95 winless starts in the NASCAR Busch Series, Bobby Hamilton Jr. found the winning groove. Powering through the pack in the final 60 laps, Hamilton won the Busch 200 at the New Hampshire International...
NASCAR Busch Grand National Series:
After 95 winless starts in the NASCAR Busch Series, Bobby Hamilton Jr. found the winning groove. Powering through the pack in the final 60 laps, Hamilton won the Busch 200 at the New Hampshire International Speedway for his first victory. Hamilton, whose Ford is sponsored by the Marine Corps, jumped out of his car and waived the Marine flag before doing a quick spin at the finish line. Todd Bodine, who started third and was in contention most of the way, finished second. Jack Sprague was third, and rookie polesitter Shane Hmiel was fourth, his best finish. Hamilton appeared to have his first victory in the Hardee's 250 at Richmond, Va. one week before.. But, leading with 11 laps left, he ran out of gas and finished 25th. This time, Hamilton, whose previous best finish was third last month at Nashville, came from behind to win. Hamilton was leading when he went in for a pit stop, but he had to return to the pit moments later to have a track bar adjusted. He came out for the 140th lap in 15th place.
Using the new 12-foot groove on the turns that was put in for this race to create more passing opportunities, Hamilton began his push through the field. By the 153rd lap, he was 11th. Three laps later he was ninth. By the 163rd lap, he moved up to seventh. He passed Bodine on Turn 3 of the 186th lap, and passed Hmiel at nearly the same spot one lap later. Hamilton cruised home, winning by 2.4 seconds. His average speed over the 1.058-mile track was 110.340 mph. He also credited the new groove that some drivers believed would not make a difference. Hamilton was the 16th different winner in 16 Busch races at the speedway. Hamilton, who started next to Hmiel on the front row, passed Hmiel on the 12th lap to take his first lead. He wound up leading for 83 laps, while Hmiel led for 61 and Bodine 48. Defending champion Jason Keller, who started the race as the series leader, and Winston Cup driver Jeff Burton were out of the race early. Burton, looking for his third Busch victory of the season, had engine problems and was gone after five laps. Keller sustained front-end damage after getting hit from behind and pushed into another car during a restart on the 20th lap. After going to the garage area, he returned, but dropped out after 72 laps. Sprague took the points lead with 1,613, while Keller fell to second with 1,549.
ARCA RE/MAX Series:
Frank Kimmel capped off a wild night of racing under the lights at Kentucky Speedway with a victory in the Channel 5-155. With a stand-alone crowd of 30,000 looking on, Kimmel passed race leader Chad Blount with less than 10 laps remaining and then fought off the determined Blount to earn his 36th career ARCA RE/MAX Series victory and third consecutive on the tour. In addition, it was Kimmel's third consecutive win at the Sparta, Kentucky speedplant. Blount, with three laps remaining, took one final run at Kimmel in turn one. The 22-year-old Walkerton, Indiana rookie drove inside of the eventual winner through the corner but Kimmel carried more steam off on the high side and drove away down the backstretch. Blount, who missed out on an Atlanta win earlier this year by .001 seconds, trailed Kimmel across the final stripe by less than three-tenths of a second. Blount, in Todd Braun's unsponsored Dodge Intrepid, had a five-length advantage over Kimmel with less than ten laps remaining and appeared to be headed toward his career-first victory. However, it all changed when lapped traffic spun directly in front of the leaders off turn two with nine laps remaining.
Jason Rudd, in only his second superspeedway start, finished a very respectable third in the Graybar Electric Dodge giving Dodge second and third in the final running order. Old Milwaukee polesitter John Metcalf bounced back from a disastrous pit stop to finish fourth in the RE/MAX Int'l Chevrolet. Andy Belmont, with new sponsorship from Wheel Control, charged from the 21st starting position to finish a solid fifth. Nine cautions for 38 laps for a variety of wrecks, spins and wall-bangers kept the field tightly bunched throughout the 155-mile event while eight lead changes among four drivers kept things fairly busy up front. Outside polesitter Kimmel, who won the Loctite Halfway Leader award, led the most laps with 72 followed by Belmont with 16. Blount led 12 while AJ Henriksen led four. Belmont was also the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger of the race for advancing the most positions while Blount earned Highest Finishing Rookie honors. Ron Cox, who was running fourth late in the race in the Buffalo Wild Wings Chevrolet, was awarded the Landrum Spring Hard Luck award after being involved in an accident with a lapped car. There were no injuries. Dutch-born driver Michael Vergers finished sixth in the BruichLaddich.com Ford ahead of veteran Mark Gibson in the Williams Brothers Lumber Ford in seventh. 16-year-old Shelby Howard, in the iHigh.com Chevrolet, continued to impress with a solid eighth while Damon Lusk, in the Dynatek-One Race America Chevy, nursed a broken transmission home in ninth. Billy Venturini, in the Jeff Wyler Chevrolet, rounded out the top-ten.
Indy Racing League:
Bruno Junqueira pushed the limits, winning the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 with a four-lap average of 231.342 mph. The quiet Brazilian was the first driver to make a qualifying attempt and the first of 24 to make it into the field for the May 26 race. He got it just right, though, starting with a lap of 231.635 and going just a bit slower on each trip around the 2 1/2-mile oval before completing the 10-mile run with a lap of 230.952. A year ago, when he was a raw rookie for Ganassi in the CART series and at Indy, Junqueira qualified 20th and finished fifth here. The increased speed is almost entirely attributed to the speedway's decision over the winter to smooth out the historic asphalt track by grinding it down rather than resurfacing it. Other than short delays for two brief showers, qualifying activity was virtually continuous for the first 4 1/2 hours of the seven-hour session. The track then remained open for practice until the final moments when Luyendyk, a two-time race winner, warmed up for what would have been his third attempt. He pulled off the track before taking the green flag and still has one attempt left in that car. Four of the top five spots in the tentative lineup were taken by Brazilians. Surprisingly, Castroneves was not one of them. American Robbie Buhl also waved off his first attempt despite an average around 229. He started his second run with a lap of 229.576, then stacked three consecutive laps over 231 for the second-fastest average of the cool, overcast day. He went 231.033. Raul Boesel, who qualified for the 2001 race but was replaced in the Team Menard entry by fellow Brazilian Felipe Giaffone for race day because of a sponsor obligation, got another shot this week after PJ Jones was injured in a crash during practice. Team owner John Menard put Boesel in Jones' seat and the veteran of 12 Indy starts, put the car on the outside of the front row at 230.612, just ahead of Giaffone's 230.326. Tony Kanaan, a regular in the CART series and an Indy rookie, had one qualifying attempt wiped out after three laps by a light mist, but went out immediately after the rain stopped and qualified at 230.253. Eddie Cheever Jr., the 1998 race winner, was sixth at 229.786, followed by defending IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. at 229.585, Sharp at 229.486, Sarah Fisher, Buhl's teammate and the only woman in the field, at 229.439, and two-time Indy winner Al Unser Jr. at 229.058.
Fisher, only the third women to race here, qualified for her third Indy start after going through the first part of the IRL season without a ride. Second day qualifying was lost to a day of rain leaving only "Bump Day" to fill the field of 33 cars. At least 15 drivers are expected to try for the remaining 9 spots in the field.
Michael Schumacher took one of the most controversial wins of his Formula One career in Austria as his Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello ceded the lead to him seconds from the finish. It was the second Ferrari 1-2 of the season, Schumacher's fourth victory in a row, the 58th of his career and Ferrari's 149th. But it was an undeserved triumph, a cynical win that came at the same circuit where team orders last year also forced Barrichello to yield -- in that case for second place. There was uproar and consternation when Barrichello, who had led from pole, slowed just meters from the checkered flag as Schumacher sped past for his first win in Austria.
The victory completed the German's set of grand prix trophies, having now won at every circuit on the calendar and the four-time world champion now has a lead of 27 points in the championship race over Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, who was third. The furor was barely abated by Schumacher allowing Barrichello, who seemed to be fighting off the tears, to stand on top of the podium alongside him at the end of an action-packed and potentially tragic race. Until the final few seconds, Barrichello had done everything right. He had been fastest in practice, qualified on pole and led for 70 of the 71 laps. Schumacher had never challenged him during the race or attempted to overtake and the German said he too was unhappy at how the race had ended. Montoya took advantage of the two appearances of the safety car to get in front of his Williams teammate Ralf Schumacher, who started in second place on the grid but finished fourth. Italian Giancarlo Fisichella picked up Jordan's first points of the season in fifth place and McLaren's David Coulthard was sixth.