NASCAR Winston Cup: Chad Knaus made the call of his life and immediately felt sick. Knaus, crew chief for rookie Jimmie Johnson, gambled on the team's last pit stop, sending his driver back onto the California Speedway oval after simply topping...
NASCAR Winston Cup:
Chad Knaus made the call of his life and immediately felt sick. Knaus, crew chief for rookie Jimmie Johnson, gambled on the team's last pit stop, sending his driver back onto the California Speedway oval after simply topping off the gas tank. Johnson made the fuel-only stop pay off, driving to his first Winston Cup victory in the NAPA Auto Parts 500.
It wound up being another battle of NASCAR's suddenly omnipresent young guns. The 26-year-old Johnson held off 23-year-old Kurt Busch, who got his first Cup win last month in Bristol, Tenn., by about six car-lengths on the 2-mile oval. Knaus also got his first win in only his second full season as a crew chief. His driver never questioned the gamble. The driver is from El Cajon, Calif., about 100 miles south of the track. It appeared Busch had the best car on the track in the first half of the 250-lap race, building a lead of 15 seconds before a caution flag on lap 141 took him back to the other contenders. After that, it a see-saw battle among Busch, former series champion Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd and Johnson. Those four were battling, with Jarrett out front, when Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr., two more of the twentysomething stars, wrecked in the fourth turn on lap 229, bringing out the fifth and final caution flag. The left rear tire on Harvick's car blew as he raced through turn three at highspeed. As the car began to veer down the banked track, Earnhardt's car slammed hard into the driver side, sending both into the concrete wall. Harvick was not injured, but Earnhardt bruised his right ankle and came out of the infield medical center on crutches. He was scheduled to have the swollen ankle checked again after arriving home in North Carolina. Most of the lead lap cars took advantage of the caution to pit, but Bill Elliott stayed on the track and was just ahead of Johnson for the restart on lap 237. Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet shot past Elliott's Dodge in the first turn and never trailed again.
NASCAR Busch Grand National Series:
Rookie Scott Riggs started last and finished first in the Auto Club 300 Busch Series race at California Speedway. Riggs, sent to the rear of the 43-car field after his team was forced to change the engine in his ppc Racing Ford, moved steadily to the front as Jack Sprague and Greg Biffle battled at the front. Riggs took the lead from Sprague, the series points leader, 49 laps from the end and held off former series champion Jeff Green to win for the second time in the last three races. Riggs finally took the lead on lap 102 of the 150-lap event and stayed there the rest of the way, taking two tires on his last pit stop to retain his track position. After Chad Chaffin hit the wall on lap 141, NASCAR brought out the red flag for six minutes, 40 seconds to give the safety crew time to get the track cleaned up and allow the race to finish under green. On the restart on lap 145, Green, now a regular in the Winston Cup Series, was able to pulled alongside the leader but couldn't get past. Riggs beat Green's Chevrolet to the finish line by 0.991 seconds -- about six car-lengths. The winner averaged 131.403 mph. Stacy Compton got past Sprague to finish third, with Jason Keller fifth and Mike McLaughlin sixth.
International Race of Champions:
NASCAR bad boy Kevin Harvick outdueled Bobby Labonte for a victory in the International Race of Champions Series event at California Speedway. Harvick, invited to take part in the four-race all-star series as the 2001 Busch Series champion, earned his first IROC victory in only his second start. Labonte, a two-time IROC winner and the series champion two years ago, stayed with Harvick throughout the 100-mile event, leading two laps early and then waiting for the final trip around the banked oval to make another try at the lead. Harvick crossed the finish line 0.149 seconds - less than two car-lengths - ahead, becoming the first IROC rookie to win a race since NASCAR's Jeff Burton in 1998. Dale Jarrett, finished third and Sterling Marlin, the current Cup points leader, was fourth, followed by last year's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Jack Sprague, now racing in the Busch Series; Daytona IROC winner and yet another NASCAR star Tony Stewart; and Helio Castroneves, last year's Indianapolis 500 winner and now racing in the Indy Racing League. The rest of the field included the IRL's Al Unser Jr., Buddy Lazier, Scott Sharp and Sam Hornish Jr., followed a lap down by World of Outlaws champion Danny Lasoski. Hornish, the defending IRL champion, was penalized for jumping the start of the race, with IROC officials making him drive through the pit lane at slow speed. He never got back into contention. Stewart holds the series lead with 35 points, followed by Harvick with 32 and Labonte 30. The next race will be July 13 in Joliet, Ill.
Michael Schumacher's 57th career victory was among his easiest. Schumacher led from start to finish, pulling away at one second per lap on the high-speed turns of the Circuit de Catalunya to win his second straight Spanish Grand Prix. The victory was the fourth in five races this season for Schumacher, who seemingly could have lapped the field. Instead, the four-time champion slowed, watching the action from the back. The victory was Schumacher's 16th in the last 25 races and moved him toward clinching a fifth Formula One season title before the schedule is half over. He already has 44 points, nearly double that of Juan Pablo Montoya (23). Montoya's BMW-Williams teammate, Ralf Schumacher, is third with 20 points, and McLaren's David Coulthard (9) is fourth. Schumacher dominated with his backup car after his main car developed hydraulic problems in morning practice. Schumacher, closing in on Juan Manuel Fangio's record of five season titles, slowed after his pit stop on the 47th lap to avoid tangling with traffic over the final 18 laps. Montoya was second, 35.6 seconds behind Schumacher, and was followed by Coulthard (42.6 seconds), Nick Heidfeld of Sauber, Felipe Massa of Sauber and Heinz-Harald Frentzen of Arrows. Schumacher averaged 126.606 mph in a winning time of 1 hour, 30 minutes, 29.981 seconds. Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello, who qualified second, stalled on the formation lap and then failed to get his car rolling from pit lane because of gearbox problems.
CART/FedEx Championship Series:
Bruno Junqueira had the speed to win the Bridgestone Potenza 500. Yet it was patience that paid off for the Brazilian driver. Junqueira, who had the fastest time in practice and started from the pole, used outstanding pit strategy to claim his second career CART FedEx championship series win. Junqueira, driving a Toyota-powered Lola, took the lead for good four laps from the finish of the 201-lap race at the 1.5-mile Motegi oval, north of Tokyo, and crossed the finish line with a total time of 2 hours, 5.882 seconds. Canada's Alex Tagliani held a brief lead after 162 laps but went in for a pit stop on the 169th lap and had to settle for second, 12.282 seconds back in his Ford-Cosworth Reynard. Scotland's Dario Franchitti was third in a Honda-Reynard. Junqueira made his final pit stop on the 190th lap. Franchitti took a brief lead, but lost it when he made his final pit stop on the 197th lap. The victory was the first for Toyota at the Honda-built oval, which opened in 1998.
National Hot Rod Association:
Whit Bazemore is not out of the points race just yet. Bazemore beat Gary Densham in the Funny Car category for his first win of the season during the second annual Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Raceway. Bazemore picked up the 11th win of his career driving his Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird to a 4.936-second run at 310.27 mph to beat Densham's 6.400 at 141.67 in Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang. Larry Dixon and Warren Johnson also won in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the sixth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Dixon beat Darrell Russell to earn his fourth Top Fuel victory of the season, and 20th of his career. Dixon drove his Miller Lite Dragster to a 4.644 at 317.87 to beat Russell's 4.977 at 268.01 in the Billstein Engine Flush Dragster. Warren Johnson became the sixth different Pro Stock driver to pick up the victory this season. Johnson earned the 88th win of his career with a 6.986 pass at 198.41 in his GM Perfor mance Pontiac Grand Am to beat Ron Krisher's 6.975 at 198.15 in his Eagle One Chevy Cavalier. Johnson is the defending champion in the Pro Stock class, but has yet to get a dominating handle on the car like he has in the past.
ARCA RE/MAX Series:
Frank Kimmel passed up competing in this week's Winston Cup race to run on the famous old Salem, Indiana bull ring where his father won in the 1960s. Kimmell kept battling to the front of the pack to win the race. Third generation driver Jason Jarrett was second and Penndel, Pennsylvania's Andy Belmont finished third. Kimmel led the race twice for a total of 85 laps including the last 60. Jarrett also led twice for 24 laps and Belmont also ran at the front of the field for a total of 73 laps. Belmont pitted for fresh tires while leading and later conceded that might have been a mistake saying that it would have been better to maintain track position on a track famous for its difficulty in passing.