MARTINSVILLE, VA--NASCAR Winston Cup: Bobby Labonte isn't one for the bumping and banging that characterize short-track racing. So when the Pontiac driver found himself in prime position, he just had to drive. On a day when Kevin Harvick wasn't...
MARTINSVILLE, VA--NASCAR Winston Cup: Bobby Labonte isn't one for the bumping and banging that characterize short-track racing. So when the Pontiac driver found himself in prime position, he just had to drive. On a day when Kevin Harvick wasn't allowed to race, the Virginia 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race still featured plenty of banging, and one near gift from Tony Stewart that Labonte turned into his 19th victory. Harvick's growing status as NASCAR's bad boy was solidified hours before the race, when the governing body made him the first driver barred from an event because of rough driving in the series' 54-year history. Harvick's penalty came after he clashed several time with Coy Gibbs during the Advance Auto Parts 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday. Harvick's Richard Childress-owned Chevrolet was driven instead by fill-in Kenny Wallace, who spun out after 73 laps and wound up 32nd. Despite the buzz about Harvick and the unprecedented penalty in the garage area before the race, the 500 laps went on in typical Martinsville fashion with most every car leaving the track with marked-up exteriors. In all, there were 14 caution flags that slowed the pace for 104 laps, many caused by the nose-to-tail and side-by-side contact that typify short-track racing, and got Harvick in trouble with NASCAR officials. The race even ended under a final-lap caution after a crash, allowing Labonte to cruise home in the glow of the pace car's flashing lights. In all likelihood, he had Stewart to thank. Stewart led the race until Stacy Compton and Johnny Benson got together, Benson spinning into the wall to bring out the 11th yellow flag. Only 55 laps remained, but Stewart and Bobby Hamilton, who was running fourth, pitted to take on two new tires, giving Labonte the lead. Stewart came back out 13th and rallied for third despite the late cautions and a duel between runnerup Matt Kenseth and Dale Jarrett that had them battling side-by-side, effectively blocking Stewart's progress. Stewart initially declined to comment after the race, then accepted partial blame for the costly decision to come in for the two tires. The day proved a long one for pole-sitter and four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, who was running second when he got caught in a wreck on lap No. 210, cut a tire and dropped to 33rd in the field. He finished 23rd, a non-winner for the 16th consecutive race.The race had 19 lead changes among 13 drivers. Stewart led 152 laps.
NASCAR Busch Grand National Series: Scott Riggs led only once for the final 47 laps as he got his first NASCAR Busch Series victory in just his seventh start on the circuit at the Pepsi 300, tying a record for the quickest victory by a rookie. Riggs became the first rookie to win on the Busch circuit this season, as crew chief Harold Holly gambled in the final pit stop, taking only two tires and gas. He took the lead on lap 179 and started stretching out his lead in his Ford in winning with an average speed of 111.038 mph. Jack Sprague took four tires in his final stop and finished second for a second consecutive week. He was followed by Bobby Hamilton Jr., who came from a lap down for his best-ever Busch finish, Scott Wimmer and Jason Keller as Fords filled three of the top five positions. Sprague admitted he thought the race was 250 laps on the 1.33-mile, D-shaped oval. He found out he was wrong with 55 laps remaining out of 225. Sprague, the winningest driver ever on the Craftsman Truck Series, did take over the points lead. But he said he's not thinking about the points race after spending the past seven years worrying about his standings while winning three season titles.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series: Darrell Waltrip's return to racing ended long before the Advance Auto Parts 250 did, and Dennis Setzer passed Terry Cook with 43 laps to go and went on to his seventh career victory. Waltrip, who retired in from Winston Cup racing 2000, lasted only 86 laps as a one-race fill-in for NASCAR truck series driver Stacy Compton before the rear end in his leaking Dodge failed. Setzer had qualified fifth but was dropped to 33rd on the starting grid because of a technical problem. He raced through the field to get into the top 10 within about 50 laps, then waited for a chance to lead. It came with just over 43 laps to go when he nosed his Chevrolet underneath longtime leader Terry Cook's Ford heading into the third turn, emerging in front when they exited Turn 4 and surviving several restarts. Setzer's average speed was 64.628 mph, the second-slowest in eight truck events at Martinsville. His margin of victory was .422 seconds, and the triumph gave him a victory in five consecutive truck seasons. Mike Bliss rallied to finish second, also in a Chevy, followed by Rick Crawford in a Ford, Bobby Dotter in a Chevy and Cook.
ARCA RE/MAX Series: He played Nashville Superspeedway like a fine fiddle, although the reward was a Gibson guitar. Defending ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel, almost as if he was playing with the competition, dominated the PFG Lester ARCA 150 at Nashville Superspeedway. Kimmel, restart after restart, charged to the front and pulled away from the pack throughout the 150-mile race leading 74 of the 113 laps total en route to his career 34th series victory. In addition to the winner's purse, Kimmel's awaiting trophy was a brand-new, electric Gibson guitar. After a brief celebration and visit to the media center, Kimmel was off to Martinsville, Virginia to race in NASCAR's Winston Cup Virginia 500. Although the race finished under caution after a Robert Burroughs crash in turn four late in the race, Kimmel, like he had been for most of the day, was leading at the time and soon coasted across the finish line with the checkered and yellow flag waving together confirming his well-deserved victory.
CART/FedEx Championship Series: The only person not surprised when Michael Andretti found himself out front after his final pit stop in the Grand Prix of Long Beach was the leader. Andretti held off Jimmy Vasser to win the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, the first 1-2 American sweep in the CART FedEx Series since 1996. Andretti, who had to go to a backup car after crashing in Saturday's qualifying, had Vasser squarely in his mirrors the last 18 laps. Papis held on for third, followed by Brack and Michel Jourdain. Now the oldest driver in the Champ car series at 39, the win extended Andretti's record as CART's career victory leader to 42 and was his first since July of 2001 in Toronto. Heading into the third race of the season, April 27 in Motegi, Japan, Da Matta still leads the standings by five points over Andretti and Jourdain, with Dario Franchitti -- ninth on Sunday -- seven behind.
Formula One: Michael Schumacher celebrated another Ferrari record with a commanding 1-2 victory in a processional San Marino Formula One Grand Prix. Racing before a red army of Italian fans, the four-time world champion led from start to finish, except during his two pit stops when Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello took over. It was the first Ferrari 1-2 at the circuit, which bears the name of the team founder Enzo and son Dino, since Frenchman Didier Pironi and Canada's Gilles Villeneuve -- in the last race before his death -- were first and second in 1982. Barrichello was second, 17.9 seconds behind, as the expected rain held off and Williams failed to mount a real threat. Ralf Schumacher, winner here last year for his first career victory, was third ahead of Williams teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. Renault's young Briton Jenson Button was fifth, scoring for his third straight race, while David Coulthard had another disappointing race, finishing sixth for McLaren and suffering the ignominy of being lapped by the race winner.
National Hot Rod Association: John Force became the third driver in auto racing history to claim 100 victories by winning the O'Reilly Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park. Force's 100th victory came with a pass of 4.991 seconds at 310.20 mph and outran Tommy Johnson Jr. who ran a slower 5.170 at 288.77. Kenny Bernstein, Mike Edwards and Craig Treble also won their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the fifth of 23 races in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. With the milestone victory, Force, 52, joins two other auto racing legends as the only drivers in history to earn 100 victories or more in a major motorsports series. NASCAR Winston Cup drivers Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105) claimed the majority of their wins in the 1960's and '70's. Force, the most successful driver in the modern era, has scored all 100 victories in the last 15 years, an impressive feat in itself. The win extends Force's lead in the 2002 NHRA POWERade Funny Car points. Force's 423 points leads second place Del Worsham by 83 points. Bernstein won his 62nd career NHRA national event in Top Fuel as his Budweiser King dragster covered the quarter-mile in 4.695 at 319.37 to defeat Tony Schumacher who was late on the starting line and ran 4.900 at 304.94. Edwards becomes the fifth different Pro Stock winner in as many races. Treble picked up his second win in a row and the third of his career in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category.