Sunday, November 10, 2002

Will Fittipaldi be first of new wave of drivers?


NASCAR notebook

Enquirer news services

AVONDALE, Ariz. - Christian Fittipaldi could be a trend-setter.

The Brazilian driver, a star in the struggling CART Champ car series, will make his first Winston Cup start today in the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Fittipaldi comes from an open-wheel heritage, the son of former Formula One driver Wilson Fittipaldi and the nephew of F1 champion and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi.

He began the transition last year, racing in a NASCAR Busch Series event in Homestead, Fla., where he crashed and finished 39th after driving just over halfway.

This year, getting into stock cars only sporadically as he ran the full CART season, Fittipaldi finished 35th and 43rd in his only Busch starts.

Despite his lack of experience in cars with roofs, Petty Enterprises hired Fittipaldi, planning to run him in a combination of ARCA, Busch and Winston Cup races in 2003. Driver changes in Petty's No.44 Dodge prompted team boss Kyle Petty to give Fittipaldi an unexpected shot at a Cup race during an off weekend between the last two CART races of the season.

The 31-year-old driver responded by qualifying 17th Friday, ahead of a number of drivers with a lot more experience.

"I'm happy to qualify this way for my first race," Fittipaldi said. "Jumping from one car to another isn't helping a lot."

Some success here by Fittipaldi could herald the beginning of a steady flow of open-wheel drivers to the Winston Cup garages. Max Papis and Jimmy Vasser, both without open-wheel rides for 2003, have been making the rounds, sounding out NASCAR team owners.

Papis, an Italian driver who lost his CART ride early this season when his team ran out of money, said he is scheduled for a test drive with an unnamed team after the season is over.

MILITARY INVOLVEMENT: The U.S. Army will sponsor a Winston Cup car in 2003. A spokesman said the Army will be the primary sponsor for 27 of 36 races next year for an MB2 Pontiac driven by Jerry Nadeau. It will remain on the car as an associate sponsor for the other nine races.

PHOENIX STAT: Fords have won 10 of the 14 Winston Cup races at Phoenix and have at least two top-five finishes in each of the events.

BUSCH SERIES: Scott Wimmer won the Basha's Supermarket 200 under a yellow flag, but this was Greg Biffle's day.

Biffle clinched the NASCAR Busch Series championship on Saturday, leading all but the last 16 laps of the 200-lap race at Phoenix International Speedway. He wound up third, just ahead of series runner-up Jason Keller.

Biffle is the only driver to have won titles in both the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series (2000) and has given team owner Jack Roush his only NASCAR championships.

Wimmer, one of the hottest drivers in the circuit in the last half of the season and a distant third in the standings, won for the third time in the last seven races.




BENGALS / NFL
Ravens 38, Bengals 27
Blake empathizes with former mates
Bengals' defense will need to step up once again
The Edge
Isolation booth: Johnson vs. Demps
Levi: Life as a Rookie
Bengals, Ravens stats
Bengals-Ravens by the numbers
NFL notebook, standings
Are you ready for some Monday Night Football history?
Curnutte's NFL power rankings

UC BEARCATS
Sloppy UC still slams NKU
Daugherty: Wrath - not grapes - seems more Huggins' style
Center position still work in progress
UC women win C-USA soccer crown

XAVIER HOOPS
Cole ponders redshirt season
XU women win exhibition

REDS / BASEBALL
Bowden mum regarding free agent wish list
Reds Q & A
Phils set to spend on Thome

OHIO FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
Elder, Colerain at Nippert Saturday
Where to buy football tickets
Elder 31, Wayne 3
Colerain 28, Lebanon 7
Ohio scores | Ohio pairings
Fans enjoy atmosphere at Paul Brown Stadium
Kings 36, Edgewood 19
Reading 41, Coldwater 38

KENTUCKY FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
Kentucky scores | Kentucky pairings
CovCath 54, Harrison Co. 6
Beechwood 55, Fairview 7
Boone Co. 34, Oldham Co. 28
Dixie Heights 43, Lou. Ballard 41
Eastern 22, Conner 7
Highlands 56, Anderson Co. 0
Holy Cross 35, Nicholas Co. 14
Lex. Catholic 52, Holmes 20
Lloyd 51, East Carter 20
Louisville Trinity 48, Ryle 9
NewCath 57, Paris 14
Russell 31, Newport 14
Scott 53, Bourbon Co. 22

INDIANA FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
East Central 38, Whiteland 30


OHIO VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Ursuline unseats St. Ursula as Div. I champs
GGCL players rule all-state team

OHIO SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIPS
St. Ursula loses soccer final
Wyoming girls denied soccer title
Madeira boys win state title

KENTUCKY CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
St. Henry boys take cross country title
Highlands girls run to state title

PREP INSIDER COLUMN
Prep Insider: Late coach was ahead of his time


COLLEGE FOOTBALL
With backs to wall, Buckeyes battle to 11-0
Hail Mary heave halts fun for UK
Bowen corners market at Miami
Huskies stun BGSU, take first in division
Mount St. Joseph thumped by undefeated Hanover 49-14
Miami crushes Vols
Texas shows Baylor some attitude
Texas A&M ruins party for Sooners
Irish escape Navy
Syracuse topples No. 8 Virginia Tech in 3OT
Big Ten roundup
Top 25 roundup
How the Top 25 fared
College Football Today

COLLEGE HOOPS
Hoops: Big matchups come early, often
Dayton player's parents don't believe son lied

REGIONAL INTERESTS
MSJ football finally growling
Five questions with Brandon Miree
Enquirer Page Two power rankings

NATIONAL HEADLINES
Dredge leads Volvo Masters
Mighty Ducks blank Barons
Kolzig slams door on Flyers
Second-half scoring surge lifts Pacers over Raptors
Women's soccer: U.S. 2, Canada 1
Serena Williams, Capriati advance to WTA semis
Will Fittipaldi be first of new wave of drivers?
Stewart on cusp of Cup title