Racing Results: 9/29/2003

September 29, 2003


9/28 U.S. Grand Prix, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, IN (73 Laps; 1:33:35.997 Race Time) -- From seventh on the grid, Michael Schumacher made a great start to rocket up to fourth by the first corner, squeezing past teammate Rubens Barrichello at Turn One. Conversely, Championship rival Juan Pablo Montoya in the Williams BMW made a poor start and dropped to seventh. Polesitter Kimi Raikkonen’s McLaren-Mercedes made a strong start to lead, with Olivier Panis’ Toyota passing Barrichello, while Ralf Schumacher did likewise to take third. Ralf passed Panis on the next lap, but it was the Williams of Montoya that caught Barrichello on the outside under braking, as they turned into the left-hander side-by-side. Montoya went for the inside of the following right-hander, as did Barrichello, resulting in Montoya's right-front wheel clipping Barrichello's left-rear, contact that sent Rubens off track. Later Montoya was required to serve a drive-through pit penalty for causing an "avoidable incident”. As rain began to fall, the Michelin dry tires coped with the greasy surface better than the Bridgestones. Michael Schumacher’s Marlboro Ferrari fell back, although not before he passed Panis for third. Behind him, Montoya pulled a similar move on Jarno Trulli for seventh. Montoya then passed Alonso and Michael Schumacher in quick succession, before making his way to Coulthard. Michael had fallen back to sixth as the first pit stops approached, but as his Ferrari came on to pit road, the skies opened. This was when the race turned, as Montoya suffered a fuel rig failure, which caused a 15-second pit stop, and then had to serve the penalty. Staying out on dry tires too long, Montoya slid off the track before pitting for wets. Ralf Schumacher also stayed out on dry tires in the rain, only to slide off into the tire wall, ruining Williams' constructors championship hopes. Benefitting most from the rain were Jenson Button’s BAR Mugen-Honda, and Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s Sauber, not only because they were on Bridgestone wet tires, but because they had switched to them at their first pit stops. Button led briefly before Michael Schumacher outran both Button and Frentzen. Michael had already dismissed Raikkonen, who had trouble with Frentzen until the track dried and he was back on dry tires. By then Button's car had expired, and Kimi took second from Frentzen on lap 54. After that, Schumacher cruised to victory by 18.2 seconds over Raikkonen, and Frentzen held on to third. Montoya took sixth, but the points he scored aren't enough to keep him in the title fight. Next Race: 10/12 Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka International Racing Course, Suzuka, Japan (3.64-Mi. Road Course; 53 Laps; 192.986-Mi. Race Distance; 1:00 a.m. ET; SPEED Live)


9/28 EA Sports 500, Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, AL (2.66-Mi. Tri-Oval; 188 Laps; 156.045 MPH Ave. Speed) -- Michael Waltrip broke Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s hold on Talladega Superspeedway, sweeping high off the final turn and denying his teammate a fifth straight victory after a four-lap sprint to the finiish. When pole-sitter Elliott Sadler’s #38 M&M’s/Robert Yates Racing Ford got tangled up with Kurt Busch’s #97 Rubbermaid/Roush Racing Ford on lap 182 coming down the backstretch, flying through the air, sliding on its roof before flipping 4 1/2 times and coming to rest right side up at the start of Turn 3, NASCAR red-flagged the race to give the rescue crew time to clean up. A couple of laps under yellow followed, then Waltrip’s #25 NAPA Auto Parts DEI Chevrolet Monte Carlo led the pack as the green flag dropped. He never relinquished the lead, though Earnhardt was on his bumper the whole way. Coming off turn four for the final time, Waltrip went high to block Jeff Gordon Gordon’s #24 DuPont Refinishes/Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Earnhardt’s #8 Budweiser/DEI Chevrolet got a peek to the inside, but Waltrip dove to the bottom of the track to block his teammate and to win by 0.095 seconds for his second victory of the year and fourth of his career. Gordon slipped to fifth, while Tony Stewart’s #20 Home Depot/Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet took third, and the #12 AllTel/Penske Racing South Dodge of Ryan Newman wound up fourth. Dale Earnhardt Inc. cars have won nine of the last 12 restrictor-plate races at Talladega and Daytona. Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth, in the #17 DeWalt Power Tools/Roush Racing Ford, wasn't so fortunate. He failed to finish a race for the first time this year, blowing an engine while contending for the lead on lap 158. Kenseth finished a season-worst 33rd but still has a comfortable lead in the standings. With seven races left, he is 354 points ahead of Kevin Harvick and 384 in front of Earnhardt, who swapped places with Jimmie Johnson in the standings. Kenseth had not finished lower than 22nd all season. He placed among the top 10 in 22 of 28 races, failing to finish only two laps until his engine blew up. Next Race: 10/05 Banquet 400 presented by ConAgra Foods, Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, KS (1.5-Mi. Tri-Oval;12:30 p.m. ET; NBC)


Next Race: 10/4 Mr. Goodcents 300, Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, KS (1.5-Mi. Tri-Oval; 2:00 p.m. ET; NBC)


9/27 Las Vegas 350, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV (1.5-Mi. Tri-Oval; 146 Laps) – Brendan Gaughan picked up his fifth victory of the season by winning the Las Vegas 350. Gaughan’s #62 The Orleans Hotel Dodge led 107 laps after starting from the pole. He edged last year's winner, David Starr, by just under a second after a late caution erased a sizable lead. Gaughan extended his points lead to 67 over Travis Kvapil, who finished 4th in the #16. Gaughan covered the 219-mile race distance at an average speed of 123.826 MPH. The win also gave Dodge the 2003 series manufacturers championship, the truck maker's second on the series. Starr’s #75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet took second on the final lap when Jack Sprague, a three-time champion making his return to the series, had an engine let go in his #111 IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet in the final turn. Dennis Setzer’s #46 Acxiom/Computer Associates Chevrolet and Kvapil also passed Sprague's truck to finish third and fourth. Sprague managed to roll across the start-finish line in fifth. Gaughan took the lead for the third and final time on lap 103 when rookie Carl Edwards’ #99 Superchips/Roush Racing Ford made a pit stop for fuel and tires. Next Race: 10/04 John Boy and Billy 250, Big Daddy's South Boston Speedway, South Boston, VA (0.4-Mi. Oval; 4:30 p.m. ET; SPEED)


9/28 CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Rt. 66 Raceway, Joliet, IL -- Racing legend Kenny Bernstein moved past "Big Daddy" Don Garlits into second place on the all-time wins list in Top Fuel with his 36th victory in that class. Bernstein also has 30 wins in Funny Car. Joining Bernstein’s Bud King in the winner's circle were Tony Pedregon, who regained the POWERade Funny Car points lead Sunday, and Jeg Coughlin Jr., who dismissed a red-lighting Greg Anderson in the Pro Stock final.

Bernstein's first victory of his abbreviated season came at a track where he's had plenty of success. This was Bernstein's fourth victory in six final-round appearances at this track. It was also the sixth time he has beat beer rival Larry Dixon’s Miller Lite/Don Prudhomme Racing dragster when an event title was at stake. Dixon, who now leads the POWERade points by 323, got an early jump on Budweiser's Bernstein with a .057- to .073-second starting-line edge, but the 59-year-old crowd favorite had caught Dixon by the 330-foot timers and ran away from there, posting a 4.503 at 328.46 mph to Dixon's losing 4.638, 321.35. After surrendering the POWERade points lead he held for most of the season to rival Whit Bazemore six days ago in Memphis, Tony Pedregon answered back here with his seventh victory of the year, which leaves him a perfect 7-0 in final-round action. Pedregon's win in the Castrol Syntec/John Force Racing Ford Mustang, combined with Bazemore's unlikely first-round loss, pushed his lead to 69 points with four races left. Pedregon's 26th career victory came at the expense of Phil Burkart Jr., who was shut off at the starting line after completing his burnout when NHRA Chief Starter Rick Stewart noticed fluid leaking underneath his car. Pedregon might have been tough to beat anyway as he posted his best pass of the weekend in the title round, a 4.769, 316.52. Pedregon raced to his seventh final of the year and 47th of his career with a lot of help from his teammates. After beating Bob Bode in Round 1, he accepted what amounted to free passes from teammates Gary Densham and Force, who both smoked their tires just off the starting line. His good luck continued in the final when Burkart failed to answer the call to race. In just his third race in the Checker, Schuck's & Kragen/Worsham Racing Pontiac Firebird, Burkart proved he belonged among the sport's elite with his second career run to the money round of an NHRA national event. On this day he beat Scott Cannon with a 4.81, then Cory Lee, and Gary Scelzi’s Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T with a pair of 4.77s before his meltdown in the final. Pro Stock winner Coughlin, in the Jeg's Mail Order Chevrolet Cavalier, avenged his final-round loss of a week ago by beating series points leader Greg Anderson, who red-lighted by one-thousandth of a second. Anderson’s Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am had the numbers to win as he posted a 6.728, 204.91 to Coughlin's 6.749, 203.22, but the reigning champ took the trophy. Coughlin's win, his second of the season and 33rd of his Pro Stock career (45 overall), lifted him to within 150 points of second place, which is currently held by Kurt Johnson. Anderson is another 286 points ahead of that mark and could clinch the championship as soon as next weekend. Next Race: 10/12 O’Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, Texas Motorplex, Ennis, TX (6:00 p.m. ET; ESPN2)

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