Saturday, May 3, 2003

Crash leaves Nadeau in critical condition

Driver struck wall during practice for Pontiac 400

The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. - Terry Labonte won his first pole in more than three years in qualifying before Jerry Nadeau was critically injured in a crash while practicing Friday at Richmond International Raceway.

Nadeau, who qualified 12th, was airlifted from the track with what doctors said was "the potential for serious injuries" after slamming his Pontiac into the wall. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Nadeau was in critical condition at the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals.

Hunter provided no specific information on Nadeau's injuries. He said the hospital was prevented from saying more while awaiting the driver's wife, Jada, who was traveling from South Carolina after attending her grandfather's funeral. NASCAR sent a plane for her.

Nadeau's wife arrived around 11 p.m. after enduring weather delays, and was en route to the hospital, Hunter said. He said no further information about Nadeau's condition would be available until this morning.

Rescue crews cut the roof off Nadeau's car to get him out. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said the 32-year-old driver from Danbury, Conn., was alive at the time, but Hunter didn't know if Nadeau was conscious.

When practice resumed, Busch series driver Jason Keller drove Nadeau's backup car.

Earlier, Labonte was surprised when the 126.511-mph lap he posted early in the session withstood challenges from 31 other drivers. It is his 27th career pole and first on the three-quarter-mile oval since 1997.

"After I qualified, I thought, 'Well, that probably could be a top 10,' " the two-time Winston Cup champion said. "Then, when I was sitting there watching, I thought, 'Gosh, this could probably be a top five.'

"Then I got kind of nervous for the last two. I thought, 'I'm going to be kind of mad if these two guys beat us. It's so close up there.' "

Labonte's Chevrolet bumped that of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Joe Nemechek to the outside of the front row for tonight's Pontiac Excitement 400. Nemechek's fast lap was 126.369.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Bobby Labonte qualified in the second row, giving Chevys a sweep of the top four positions. Ryan Newman was fifth in a Dodge.

BUSCH SERIES: Kevin Harvick took the lead with 51 laps to go Friday night but needed a late caution to hold off Scott Riggs and win the crash-filled Hardee's 250 at Richmond International Raceway.

An event-record 14 cautions slowed the race for 93 laps. A crash by Mike Bliss brought out the 13th yellow flag after 241 laps. After a brief red-flag delay while the track was cleaned, Harvick had trouble pulling away from Riggs in a single-file restart, but Ron Hornaday's crash with four laps to go ended the suspense.

CART: The series is considering staging races in China or South Korea by 2005 and adding a third event in Europe.

"What we're trying to do is create a marketing platform for companies who wish to sell primarily in North America. We can also give them value in Europe and in the Pacific Basin," said Champ car series president and chief executive Chris Pook.

Indianapolis-based CART has had difficulty cracking the Formula One-centered European market.

FORMULA ONE: Michael Schumacher drove his new Ferrari to the best time in pre-qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix. The five-time series champion was timed in 1 minute, 17.130 seconds on the 2.93-mile Circuit de Catalunya.

Pre-qualifying determines the order of today's official qualifying session.

Schumacher was driving the new Ferrari model F2003-GA, which made its debut after being delayed after a few crashes.

Second was the Renault of Jarno Trulli in 1:17.149, and Rubens Barrichello in the other Ferrari was third at 1:17.218. Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren, was eighth in 1:17.862.

Today's Saturday's session will have the drivers in reverse order to determine the starting grid. The strategy for the race will play a part, as the teams will not be able to add fuel or change tires until Sunday.

Auto racing this weekend


Pontiac Excitement 400

Site: Richmond, Va.

Schedule: Today, race (FX, 7:30 p.m.).

Track: Richmond International Raceway (Tri-oval, .75 miles, 14 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 300 miles (400 laps).

Last race: Kurt Busch became the first two-time Winston Cup winner of the season, passing Jamie McMurray 12 laps from the end of the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. Busch has five wins and three runner-up finishes in his last 15 starts.

Last year: Tony Stewart pulled away on a restart with 17 laps to go and won the rain-delayed Pontiac Excitement 400 by avoiding a record number of accidents. Stewart, the defending race champion, moved his Pontiac past Ryan Newman on lap No. 373 and led the last 27 laps.

Fast facts: There have been 11 different winners in the last 13 spring races at Richmond. Terry Labonte (1995 and 1998) and Stewart are the only multiple winner in that span. ... No driver has won three straight spring races at Richmond since Richard Petty, who did it from 1971-73. ... Matt Kenseth had his lead in the standings cut from 51 to 44 points after his ninth-place finish at California Speedway. ... Rusty Wallace has gone 72 races without a win since his victory at California Speedway in 2001. ... Ricky Rudd made his 655th consecutive start in last year's race to tie Terry Labonte's series mark. ... Lee Petty came from 42nd place in 1953 to win the inaugural race in Richmond. Lee's son, Richard, has 13 victories in Richmond. He won seven consecutive races at the track from 1970-73. ... Winston Cup holds its unofficial All-Star event, The Winston, on May 17. It does not count in the season standings.

Next race: The Winston, May 17, Harrisburg, N.C.


Hardee's 250

Site: Richmond, Va.

Schedule: Thursday, qualifying, 4 p.m.; Today, race (FX, 7:30 p.m.).

Track: Richmond International Raceway (tri-oval, .75 miles, 14 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 187.50 miles (250 laps).

Last race: Matt Kenseth held off a challenge by Michael Waltrip on a restart with seven laps to go and won the 300 in Fontana. It was the 13th Busch victory for Kenseth and his first in four races this season.

Last year: Jason Keller passed Bobby Hamilton Jr. with 12 laps to go and won the Hardee's 250 in the first night event of the 2002 season. The victory was Keller's first at Richmond.

Fast facts: Points leader Todd Bodine may miss the race because he doesn't have a sponsor. Bodine, a Winston Cup regular, has six top-10 finishes in 10 Busch starts this season. ... Part-time Busch Series competitors from the Winston Cup series - known as ``Buschwhackers,'' have now won eight of nine Busch races this season. Winston Cup regulars swept the top three positions at Fontana. ... Jason Keller is the only current Busch regular to win at Richmond, doing it last May. It marked only the second time in the previous nine Busch Series races at Richmond that a Busch regular won and first since Jeff Green in 2000. ... Michael Waltrip holds the Richmond record for most poles with four and is the only driver to sweep both races at the track in one season (1990). ... Randy Jajoie is expected to make his 300th career Busch start this week.

Next race: Gateway 250, May 10, Madison, Ill.


London Champ Car Trophy

Site: Kent, England.

Schedule: Today, qualifying, 9:30 a.m.; Sunday, qualifying, 9:45 a.m.; Monday, race, 9 a.m. (CBS, May 10, 1 p.m., tape).

Track: Brands Hatch (Road course, 1.192 miles).

Race distance: 202.250 miles (165 laps).

Last race: Paul Tracy became the first CART driver to begin a season with three victories after winning the Grand Prix of Long Beach by 4.544 seconds over second-place Adrian Fernandez on April 13. The 34-year-old Canadian is also the first driver in American open-wheel racing to start with three wins since Al Unser did it in 1971.

Last year: Inaugural race.

Fast facts: Tracy is trying to become the fourth driver in CART history to win four consecutive races, joining Unser Jr. (1990), Alex Zanardi (1998) and Cristiano da Matta (2002). A fourth win would also push him closer to 67-time Champ Car race winner A.J. Foyt, who claimed the first seven events of the 1964 season. ... This race marks the third consecutive season that CART will compete in England, moving to the short circuit at Brands Hatch after two seasons of oval racing at Rockingham Motor Speedway. The series has not competed in Kent since 1978, when Rick Mears won. ... CART adopted a single-car qualifying format for this race. Each driver will have six laps to chase the pole position, with four of those laps being timed. The fastest car in each qualifying session is guaranteed a front-row starting spot. ... The mandatory pit windows have been revoked for this event. Instead, each car must complete two pit stops under green-flag conditions, which must include a four-tire change. Cars may pit under caution, but only to add fuel. ... Fernandez has posted consecutive top-five finishes for the first time since taking over as the circuit's only owner/driver in 2001.

Next race: German 500, May 11, Lausitz, Germany.


Spanish Grand Prix

Site: Barcelona.

Schedule: Today, qualifying (Speed Channel, 8 p.m.); Today, qualifying (Speed Channel, 8 a.m.); Sunday, race (Speed Channel, 7:30 a.m.).

Track: Circuit of Catalunya (Road course, 2.937 miles).

Race distance: 190.905 miles (65 laps).

Last race: Michael Schumacher won the San Marino Grand Prix for his first victory of the season, racing after his mother died hours earlier. It was the first top-three finish of the year for the five-time Formula One champion, who won for the fifth time at San Marino.

Last year: Schumacher recorded his fourth victory in five 2002 races at the Grand Prix of Spain. Despite being forced to a backup car when the primary one failed in the morning warm-up, he took the lead from the pole position and was never challenged en route to his 57th career victory.

Fast facts: Schumacher's win at San Marino was also his first top-three finish of the season and moved him into third place in the standings. His previous best was fourth in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. ... Kimi Raikkonen leads with 32 points and has four straight top-three finishes after placing second at San Marino. ... Juan Pablo Montoya had an embarrassing moment during last year's race when he pulled away from the pits with the fuel hose still attached to his car. His team's lollipop man, Carl Gaden, tried to stop Montoya by jumping in front of his car and got his foot run over. ... Ferrari is expected to debut its new F2003-GA in Barcelona. The car was supposed to appear in time for the San Marino race, but worries over reliability saw its introduction pushed back. ... The track is known to be a true test of a car's aerodynamics, with a good combination of fast and slow corners.

Next race: Austrian Grand Prix, May 18, Spielberg.

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