Sunday, July 27, 2003

Auto racing insider

Man in kilt enlivens F1 racing; Intrusion leads to exciting finish

Not that we want to give the guy in the kilt any credit for infusing some excitement into the Formula One British Grand Prix last weekend, but by running onto the track, he did force some entertaining racing.

Yes, the crazy guy in a kilt who ran onto the Silverstone track on the 12th lap last week may have done more good than harm to F1 racing. His daring venture onto the track with cars speeding by brought out the safety car and forced most of the field to pit early. That unplanned event, in turn, produced some actual racing that included passing for the remaining 60 laps. That's the type of racing that hasn't been going on in F1 lately, which has made the sport more about high-speed driving than racing.

So far, everyone from drivers to fans expressed their enjoyment over last week's race. If Formula One wants to catch on in the United States, it's going to need more of those action-packed races and less parades.

STIMULANT TESTING? The Ephedra herbal supplement debate is not limited to baseball and football. NASCAR President Mike Helton testified this week before a Senate subcommittee that NASCAR tests for, but does not ban Ephedra. Helton said NASCAR has put limits on acceptable amounts of Ephedra. He also said that NASCAR could not control sponsorships of Ephedra-based products because of the individual teams and tracks involved in stock car racing.

YATES SHOOTS DOWN RUMORS: Robert Yates isn't selling his Winston Cup teams after all. A report from the Winston-Salem Journal says that the rumor that Yates was going to sell his teams to Chip Ganassi or Joe Gibbs is false. Apparently the rumors started when Yates began inquiring about interested buyers in Ricky Rudd's old race team shop.

NO TIME FOR A NAP GARFIELD: Kyle Petty's No. 45 Dodge will feature a Garfield paint scheme at the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis next Sunday. The new paint job commemorates the 25th birthday of the cartoon cat.

BUY A BRICK: In a desperate move for sponsorship, Brett Bodine's No. 11 Ford team is continuing to ask fans to buy a brick and help sponsor his car at the Brickyard 400. For $500, fans can get some space on Bodine's car. The promotion will continue up until race weekend.

This is certainly a creative idea and a good way to test fan loyalty, but maybe it's time to call it a season when you have to resort to asking the fans for financial support. As if they don't already pay enough for a ticket to the race.

DUEL CLASS ATTEMPTS: Three drivers, Kenny Bernstein, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Gary Scelzi are trying to join Ron Capps as the only two-class NHRA winners at Pacific Raceways this weekend. Bernstein needs a top-fuel win, while Johnson and Scelzi are going for the Funny Car title.



Today's races


Pennsylvania 500

Site: Long Pond

Schedule: Today, race (TNT, 1 p.m.).

Track: Pocono International Raceway (triangular oval, 2.5 miles, 14 degrees banking in turn 1, 8 degrees in turn 2, 6 degrees in turn 3).

Race distance: 500 miles, 200 laps.

Last race: Jimmie Johnson stretched his final tank of fuel for 93 laps and held on to win the New England 300 at Loudon, N.H.

Last year: Bill Elliott stalked Sterling Marlin throughout the race, finally passed him with 21 laps remaining, and took the crash- and rain-delayed Pennsylvania 500 to set a record with his fifth career victory at Pocono Raceway.

Next race: Brickyard 400, Aug. 3, Indianapolis.


Molson Indy

Site: Vancouver, British Columbia

Schedule: Today race, 4 p.m. (Speed Channel, 9:30 p.m., tape).

Track: Concord Pacific Place Street Circuit (temporary road course, 1.781 miles).

Race distance: 178.10 miles, 100 laps.

Last race: Paul Tracy led every lap of the Molson Indy to win on his home track in Toronto for the first time in 10 years. Tracy widened his lead in the CART standings to 15 points over third-place finisher Bruno Junqueira.

Last year: Scotland's Dario Franchitti drove away from Canadian teammate Paul Tracy in a five-lap sprint in a Vancouver Molson-Indy race full of crashes and attrition.

Next race: Mid-Ohio Grand Prix, Aug. 10, Lexington, Ohio.


Michigan Indy 400

Site: Brooklyn, Mich.

Schedule: Today race (2:30 p.m., Chs. 9, 2).

Track: Michigan Speedway (d-shaped oval, 2 miles, 18 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 400 miles, 200 laps.

Last race: Two cautions caused by Buddy Lazier in the final six laps helped Gil de Ferran win the Firestone Indy 200 under a yellow caution flag at Nashville Superspeedway. The Brazilian cruised in for his second victory of the year under caution after Lazier brushed the outside wall in Turn 2, bringing out the final yellow flag just as de Ferran was taking the white flag for the final lap.

Last year: Rookie Tomas Scheckter raced to his first IRL victory, beating teammate Buddy Rice by 1.703 seconds in the inaugural Michigan Indy 400. Next race: Power Stroke Diesel 200, Aug. 1, Indianapolis.

Higher goals await Bengals
Bengals Q&A
Ex-Bengal Spikes proclaims Buffalo LB corps the best

Reds 8, Mets 3
Daugherty: Nuxie not ready to be yanked
Welcome to the world of hurt
Reds Q&A
Encarnacion earns his way back to Chattanooga
Reds chatter
Notebook: Larson shipped back to Louisville

Murray, Carter ready for Hall
Gary Carter Career Statistics
Eddie Murray Career Statistics
Pirates' dismantling doesn't make sense
Is claim of helping Twins full of hot air?
MLB power ratings
NL: Dessens beats L.A. with one-man show
AL: Benitez blows save, BoSox beat Yanks

Sports flicks chock full of characters
Tale of the Tape: Tony La Russa vs. Daniel LaRusso
Enquirer Page Two power rankings

'Fly-Man' won't take off Metro

Familiarity present at tourney finals

Dow: College basketball insider
Search for missing player yields decomposed body
Murky images of Bryant's accuser
Officials investigate threats against DA prosecuting Bryant

Stevens balances horses, Hollywood

Dow: Auto racing insider
Tracy shakes off penalty to grab Molson Indy pole

Mason keeps Sr. British lead

Armstrong's set to join an elite club
Live updates from the AP

Sunday sports on TV, radio