Sunday, May 25, 2003

Catalyst can cut amount of carbon monoxide

NASCAR notebook

Enquirer news services

CONCORD, N.C. - NASCAR has approved a catalyst that will reduce carbon monoxide and allow drivers to breath easier, and made the filter optional for today's Coca-Cola 600, the year's longest race.

NASCAR's research has shown the device can reduce carbon monoxide as much as 75 percent by filtering the air the driver breathes.

"During the study, the experts concluded that the levels of carbon monoxide were not at an alarming level," said Gary Nelson, NASCAR's managing director of research and development. "But we wanted to ensure our drivers the best possible environment to compete in."

The catalyst costs around $400 to build and can be installed in a car in about two hours. Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart used one of the devices last month at Martinsville, Va., and other teams tried them at California and Richmond. The catalyst sits on the floor in the car next to the driver and sends clean air to the driver's helmet. It's the same theory as catalytic converters used in street cars to diminish pollutants in the exhaust, "but this is a low-temperature catalyst."

ELLIOTT TO DRIVE ON: Bill Elliott will drive his No. 9 Dodge this weekend despite a broken foot.

"He's driving the car. It's what he wants to do," owner Ray Evernham said. "I know in Bill's heart and mind he believes he can do a better job than anybody else we could put in it right now."

Elliott broke three bones in his left foot in a wreck last Saturday in The Winston. Elliott got carbon fiber inserts from CART surgeon Dr. Terry Trammell to put in his shoe.

He walked with a slight limp Saturday after practice, and he has a touch of flu. Ted Musgrave will be on hand if Elliott can't drive.

ROBBY GORDON'S TRAVELS: Robby Gordon's plans to race in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 hit a logistical snag, with heightened security complicating his travel arrangements. The Federal Aviation Administration has banned helicopter flights in and out of Indy and Lowe's Motor Speedway for one hour before and one hour after the races. So Gordon plans to ride a golf cart out of Indy with a police escort to take him to his rental car nearby.

He'll drive himself to the Indianapolis airport with the police escort. He will fly from Indianapolis to the Concord airport, then take a van with police escort into the Coca-Cola 600. Final plans were subject to change today.

Ron Hornaday will drive if Gordon cannot get back in time for the start of the 600, or if Gordon is too fatigued.

BUSCH GETS EXTENSION: Kurt Busch, who started his Winston Cup career with no sponsor at all, announced a three-year extension with Rubbermaid, the current sponsor of his No. 97 Ford.

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