Sunday, August 3, 2003

Brickyard 400 Notebook

Schrader's failure his first since 1984

Enquirer news services

INDIANAPOLIS - With 52 drivers vying for 43 starting spots in the Brickyard 400, nine went away disappointed after Saturday's qualifying session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Probably none was more disheartened than Ken Schrader, whose streak of 579 consecutive Winston Cup starts came to an end. The long journey began in 1984 on the road course at Riverside, Calif.

Schrader had been third on the Cup circuit's Ironman list behind Ricky Rudd, who has 700 consecutive starts, and Rusty Wallace, with 609.

Mark Martin, who has started 493 in a row, moves into third place.

Ted Musgrave, a veteran Winston Cup driver who now races full time in the Craftsman Truck Series, had a car fast enough to make the starting field but lost out when it started raining during his qualifying run.

"It's just our luck," Musgrave said, adding that he radioed to his crew that it was raining but got no response.

STEWART RUMOR: Joe Gibbs said Saturday he isn't concerned about rival car owner Chip Ganassi's interest in driver Tony Stewart.

Ganassi fielded an IRL car for Stewart two years ago in the Indianapolis 500. He said Friday he has talked with Stewart about the possibility of joining up again when his contract with Gibbs ends after the 2004 season.

"I just know we have a year-and-a-half left and we're working as hard as we can to get things solidified for the future beyond that," Gibbs said. "We're just working through a process here."

Gibbs is currently negotiating with sponsor Home Depot and crew chief Greg Zipadelli on contract extensions to keep the entire team together past 2004. Those deals are believed to be close to done, and Stewart has said no switch is imminent.

FOYT CRASH: Winston Cup rookie Larry Foyt blamed himself for a crash on his second qualifying lap Saturday.

The son of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt qualified at 178.845 mph but felt he was slowed on that lap by a brief rain in the third turn.

"I knew I had to get in on speed, so I probably tried to make it up a little too much," Foyt said.

As he started his second lap in hopes of bettering his speed, the No. 14 Dodge got loose in the first turn and struck the outside wall with the right rear. The car made a half-spin and hit the wall again.

Foyt was not injured.

"I knew we were going to be loose qualifying," he said. "We just took a gamble, and it just didn't pay off."

ANOTHER MEARS AT INDY: Casey Mears, a Winston Cup rookie, will be the third member of his family to race at Indianapolis.

His father, Roger, and his uncle, Rick, drove in the Indianapolis 500.

"Obviously, Indy is a very special place. It's great," Roger Mears said of his son's first qualification for the Brickyard 400.

BUSCH WINS IROC: Winston Cup drivers dominated the final installment of the four-part International Race of Champions series. Jimmie Johnson took the lead on a restart at the halfway mark and led the rest of the way to win the 40-lap dash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kurt Busch took the series championship with a fourth-place finish.

Both wins were IROC firsts for Johnson and Busch.


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