Sunday, August 31, 2003

Youngsters combine to dominate Busch race

NASCAR notebook: Vickers, 19, gets second career victory

The Associated Press

DARLINGTON, S.C. - Teenage teammates Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch finished 1-2 in the Busch Series Winn-Dixie 200 at Darlington Raceway Saturday.

The 19-year-old Vickers trailed veteran Winston Cup driver Michael Waltrip late in the race when Scott Wimmer's crash brought out the fifth caution flag.

A quick stop got Vickers back onto the track just ahead of Waltrip.

Green-flag racing resumed with 16 laps to go and Vickers pulled steadily away, moving out to a lead of more than two seconds before the 18-year-old Busch - brother of Winston Cup star Kurt Busch - passed Waltrip for second.

Scott Riggs finished 17th and saw his points lead over David Green, who finished 14th, shrink from 28 to 19. The win vaulted Vickers from fifth to third in the standings, just 67 points behind the leader with nine races remaining.

PEACE OFFERING: Kurt Busch offered to buy Sterling Marlin a six-pack of Coors Light as a peace offering for spinning him out last week.

Marlin said he's not interested.

"I get them for free, so he can keep his $5.50," said Marlin, whose No. 40 Dodge is sponsored by Coors Light.

Marlin was second last week when Busch spun him out as he tried to pass him at Bristol Motor Speedway. It ruined any chance Marlin had of racing for the win and brought a fresh round of criticism to Busch, NASCAR's newest villain.

Busch immediately was apologetic, and Marlin said the young driver called him Monday. But Marlin said he did not return the call.

"I figure if you're going to talk, you might as well do it face to face," Marlin said. "Maybe I'll see what he has to say, but I ain't much into listening to him right now."

LEFFLER'S NEW RIDE: Jason Leffler is leaving his truck behind to join Winston Cup.

Leffler was released from his contract to drive in the Craftsman Truck Series this week and signed on to drive the No. 0 Pontiac of Haas CNC Racing for the rest of this season and into next year.

Leffler, who drove in Winston Cup for owner Chip Ganassi in 2001, qualified 36th Friday for today's Southern 500.

Leffler had eight poles last year and finished fourth in the Craftsman Truck standings. He won at Dover International Speedway earlier this year.

DARLINGTON WEEKEND: Terry Labonte comes to Darlington with the longest current streak of races without a DNF - 30. The last time Labonte didn't finish a race was the EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway last fall. ... Ricky Rudd will run in his 54th Darlington race today, more than any other active driver. ... Nineteen of 100 Winston Cup races here have been won from the pole and 66 by drivers starting in the top 10.

NASCAR today

Race: Southern 500, Darlington, S.C.

Time/TV: 1 p.m./Ch. 5, 22.

Track: Darlington Raceway (egg-shaped oval, 1.366 miles, 25 degrees banking in turns 1-2, 23 degrees in turns 3-4).

Race distance: 501.3 miles, 367 laps.

Next race: Chevy Rock and Roll 400, Sept. 6, Richmond, Va.

Point standings

1. Matt Kenseth 3,592
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 3,241
3. Kevin Harvick 3,128
4. Jimmie Johnson 3,063
5. Jeff Gordon 3,060
6. Kurt Busch 2,990
7. Ryan Newman 2,971
8. Michael Waltrip 2,960
9. Bobby Labonte 2,907
10. Robby Gordon 2,835

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