Racing Results: June 24-26, 2005

June 27, 2005

By John Gardner

It was a busy weekend on the motorsports front. NASCAR’s Nextel Cup went road-course racing atSearsPoint (Infineon), while the Busch and Truck series were at historic Milwaukee. IRL was at the Richmond bullring, while the Champ Cars were strafing the runways at Cleveland’s BukeLakefrontAirport, along with the Trans-Am, World Challenge and Toyota Atlantic series. The NHRA was smokin’ some hides at Gateway, the World Rally Championship was in Greece and, for good measure, the 83rd annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb took place in Colorado.

Gentlemen (and ladies), start your reading glasses…

NASCAR: Stewart Smokes ‘Em at Infineon

Tony Stewart further enhanced his reputation as one of NASCAR’s most versatile drivers by winning the Nextel Cup race at California’s Infineon (nee Sears Point Raceway) on Sunday, his first win in the past 30 races and his second at Infineon.

Pre-race paddock chatter had singled out Stewart’s car as the best of bunch following strong showings in practice, and that proved to be the case. Following the last round of pit stops he was able to run down and pass veterans Rusty Wallace and Ricky Rudd, despite being hampered by fautly gearbox that forced him to hold it in gear in third and fourth gears and drive with one hand on the fastest parts of the track.

Rudd, who gambled on fuel, hung on to finish second on fumes (he stopped on course on the cool-off lap), ahead of defending series champ Kurt Busch, Wallace and Dale Jarrett (the latter two likewise gambling on fuel). Elliott Sadler, Jeremy Mayfield, Ron Fellows (who started last as a stand-in for Bobby Hamilton Jr.), Ryan Newman and Brian Simo completed the top 10.

Speaking of gearbox troubles, Stewart’s was only one (and the least costly) of many. Hendrick Motorsports was using a new-type box in this race, and it was a costly change. Polesitter Jeff Gordon, points leader and second-fast qualifier Jimmie Johnson and their teammate Kyle Busch all had shifting problems and were forced to pit for repairs. Johnson’s 36th-place finish cost him the championship lead to Greg Biffle (who started 41st and finished 14th). Also suffering with gearbox trouble was Robby Gordon, who ran in the top three early and finished 16th.

Perhaps the worst luck of the day befell Dale Earnhardt Jr., who could hardly afford it. Also suffering with gearbox woes, he had a run-in with Mike Bliss in the opening laps, cut down a tire and smacked the wall. He returned after repairs but finished 42nd.

The series is at the halfway point, and heads to Daytona Beach next weekend to kick off the second half.

NASCAR Nextel Cup Top Five:

1) Tony Stewart, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 200 laps

2) Ricky Rudd, No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford Taurus, 110 laps

3) Kurt Busch, No. 97 Roush Racing Ford Taurus, 110 laps

4) Rusty Wallace, No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge Charger, 110 laps

5) Dale Jarrett, No. 88 Robert Yates Racing Ford Taurus, 110 laps

Driver’s Championship: 1) Greg Biffle, 2250; 2) Jimmie Johnson, 2228; 3) Elliott Sadler, 2073; 4) Tony Stewart, 2052; 5) Mark Martin, 2022.

Complete Race Results

Busch Series: Homeboy Sauter Bulletproof at Milwaukee

As soon as he got out of his racecar at The Milwaukee Mile, NASCAR Busch Series race winner Johnny Sauter should have gotten on a plane and headed straight to Las Vegas. It was just that kind of night.

The race was shortened from 250 to 200 laps due to rain, but that only stopped the bleeding for Sauter’s competitors. The Wisconsin native absolutely dominated on his home track to win the race and claim his third career Busch Series victory on Saturday night, even overcoming a black flag for rough driving. He took the pole earlier in the day with a track-record time, and went on to lead 162 laps in the race. He was black-flagged on Lap 113 for bumping into Tony Raines as Raines was slowing to enter the pit road, and lost a lap. However, he had been the only car on the lead lap and fell to second behind Randy LaJoie, who pitted just two laps later. From that point on, it was a done deal.

When the rain began to fall, Sauter was running in front of defending series champ Martin Truex Jr., who leapfrogged Reed Sorenson in the point standings to take the championship lead. Another Wisconsin native, Paul Menard, finished third ahead of J.J. Yeley and David Stremme. Denny Hamlin, LaJoie, Kenny Wallace, Raines and Clint Bowyer filled out the top 10.

The series will rejoin the Nextel Cup Series next weekend in Daytona.

NASCAR Busch Series Top Five:

1) Johnny Sauter, No. 1 Phoenix Racing Dodge Charger, 200 laps

2) Martin Truex Jr., No. 8 Chance 2 Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 200 laps

3) Paul Menard, No. 11 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 200 laps

4) J.J. Yeley, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 200 laps

5) David Stremme, No. 14 FitzBradshaw Racing Dodge Charger, 200 laps

Driver’s Championship: 1) Martin Truex Jr., 2320; 2) Reed Sorenson, 2313; 3) Clint Bowyer, 2279; 4) Carl Edwards, 2241; 5) Kenny Wallace, 2133.

Complete Race Results

Craftsman Truck Series: Setzer Stinks Up Show at Milwaukee

Dennis Setzer won his second Craftsman Truck Series race in a row at The Milwaukee Mile on Friday night, and for a guy who’s supposed to be a short-track specialist, he sure seemed to have everyone fooled.

Setzer was just about untouchable on Beer City’s historic flat oval, his dominance over the rest of the field assisted by the fact that there was only one caution flag during the 200-lap race.

Jack Sprague was the only driver who was even in the same zip code as Setzer, and he finished almost four seconds back. Ted Musgrave was third, ahead of Ron Hornaday and Brendon Gaughan. Defending series champ Bobby Hamilton, Gaughan’s teammate Steve Park, Rick Crawford, rookie Todd Kluever and Terry Cook rounded out the top 10.

With the victory, consistent Setzer vaulted himself into the championship lead, demoting Hamilton to second, 35 points back.

The series heads to Kansas Speedway next weekend, where it will support the headlining IRL Indycar Series race.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Top Five:

1) Dennis Setzer, No. 46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado, 200 laps

2) Jack Sprague, No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado, 200 laps

3) Ted Musgrave, No. 1 Ultra Motorsports Dodge Ram, 200 laps

4) Ron Hornaday, No. 6 Kevin Harvick Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado, 200 laps

5) Brendon Gaughan, No. 77 Orleans Racing Dodge Ram, 199 laps

Driver’s Championship: 1) Dennis Setzer, 1614; 2) Bobby Hamilton, 1579; 3) Ted Musgrave, 1570; 5) Ron Hornaday, 1493; 5) Ricky Craven, 1473.

Complete Race Results

IRL: ‘Spiderman’ Returns to

Victory Lane
at Richmond

It’s been awhile since Helio Castroneves got to climb a fence. Since Texas last October, in fact. But the genial Brazilian, who gained his nickname “Spiderman” after climbing the the fence at Indy after claiming his first of two consecutive wins there in 2001, got to show off his “Spidey” skills Saturday night after winning at Richmond International Raceway.

It was obvious from the time the cars rolled off the trucks on Friday that Penske Racing’s Toyota-powered Dallaras were the hot ticket, confirmed by the fact that they went 1-2 in qualifying, with Castroneves’ teammate Sam Hornish Jr. taking pole with a track-record lap at 176.244mph/15.3197sec. (Just take a moment and think about that; one lap every 15.3sec, averaging over 175mph on a ¾-mile oval!)

The race did little to disprove that notion, as the Penske teammates dominated the race, except for a 56-lap stint up front by Dario Franchitti. Hornish crashed out on Lap 165 due to what he described as “driver error,” and Castroneves led the rest of the way home, holding off Franchitti by a half-second to claim his seventh series victory in a last-lap shoot-out following a late caution. Patrick Carpentier got his best result since migrating from the Champ Car series with third, ahead of Texas winner Tomas Sheckter and Indy winner Dan Wheldon.

Alex Barron, Tomas Enge, Bryan Herta, Kosuke Matsuura and Danica Patrick (who started next-to-last in 21st) completed the top 10.

Castroneves was nursing a sore shoulder from a testing crash last week, but it didn’t seem to hamper either his driving (or climbing) abilities. He also climbed past teammate Hornish in the points standings, to fourth place, just three points behind defending champ Tony Kanaan, who had a miserable weekend with crashes in both qualifying and the race. Wheldon currently leads the championship with an 83-point cushion over Kanaan.

The series will be in Kansas, Toto, next weekend for its annual stop at Kansas Speedway.

IRL IndyCar Series Top Five:

1) Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Toyota, 250 laps

2) Dario Franchitti, No. 27 Andretti-Green Racing Dallara/Honda, -0.559sec

3) Patrick Carpentier, No. 83 Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota, -1.814sec

4) Tomas Scheckter, No. 4 Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet, -3.067sec

5) Dan Wheldon, No. 26 Andretti-Green Racing Dallara/Honda, -3.540sec

Driver’s Championship: 1) Dan Wheldon, 292; 2) Tony Kanaan, 209; 3) Helio Castroneves, 206; 4) Sam Hornish Jr., 198; 5) Dario Franchitti, 187.

Complete Race Results

Champ Car: Tracy Rocks Cleveland

Paul Tracy won his second Champ Car World Series race of the season on the wide-open runways of Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport on Sunday. The 2003 season champ became the first driver to win two races this season, pushing his career win total to 30 and vaulting him into the championship lead.

Last week’s winner, 2002 champ Cristiano da Matta, started second alongside polesitter Tracy and used smart pit strategy to get the lead early in the race. He looked like a shoo-in for the win, consistently running faster laps than Tracy, until a run-in with rookie Marcus Marshall put him out of the race.

From that point on, Tracy was the man to beat. He held off A.J. Allmendinger (who came back from a hard crash in practice to equal his career-best result) and Oriol Servia (substituting for injured Bruno Junqueira) to win with a margin of victory of just over three seconds in a race that was shortened by two laps to meet the TV time-limit window. Alex Tagliani and defending series champ Sebastien Bourdais filled out the top five, with Jimmy Vasser, Justin Wilson, Andrew Ranger, Ricardo Sperafico and Timo Glock rounding out the top 10.

The series heads to Tracy’s home track, the street circuit in Toroto, in two weeks.

Champ Car World Series Top Five:

1) Paul Tracy, No. 3 Forsythe Championship Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola, 91 laps

2) A.J. Allmendinger, No. 10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola, -3.113sec

3) Oriol Servia, No. 2 Newman-Haas Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola, -3.913sec

4) Alex Tagliani, No. 15 Team Australia Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola, -10.184sec

5) Sebastien Bourdais, No. 1 Newman-Haas Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola, -13.261sec

Driver’s Championship: 1) Paul Tracy, 128; 1) Sebastien Bourdais, 127; 4) A.J. Allmendinger, 102; 3) Justin Wilson, 95; 5) Jimmy Vasser, 82.

Complete Race Results

In the support races at Cleveland, hometown boy Randy Ruhlman picked up his second Trans-Am win of the season after starting last, finishing ahead of John Baucom and Joey Scarallo. Porsche 911 driver Robin Liddell got his first series win with the closest finish in World Challenge GT history (0.038sec) over Cadillac CTS-V teammates Max Angelelli and Andy Pigrim. Three-time series champ Pierre Kleinubing won his third consecutive race in the Speed World Challenge Touring event, bumping past then-leader and Acura TSX teammate Peter Cunningham and pole-sitting Mazda 6 driver Charles Espenlaub to take the lead in the first turn on the last lap. In the Toyota Atlantic series, Dutch rookie Charles Zwolsman swept both ends of a double-header

WRC: Loeb Dominates Yet Again in Greece

Sebastien Loeb is having a career year. He had one last year, too. After yet another dominating performance in the Acropolis Rally, the Frenchman is starting to be compared regularly to Michael Schumacher.

The Acropolis win was Loeb’s fifth in a row, unprecedented in World Rally Championship history, and his sixth of the season (tying his own record shared with Didier Auriol, who duplicated the feat in 1992. The record-book authors should keep their pens sharp, because we’re only halfway through the season!

Loeb took the lead on Friday, after a couple of very impressive performances in the opening stages by Ford privateer Mirko Hirvonen, and led the rest of the way, finishing more than a minute and a half ahead of Ford factory driver Toni Gardemeister.

Loeb’s cause was helped somewhat by the fact that two of his customary competitors, Subaru’s Petter Solberg and Peugeot’s Marcus Gronholm, suffered driveshaft failures, but it is doubtful the outcome would have been much different had they not encountered trouble.

Finishing third was Loeb’s teammate, two-time WRC champ Carlos Sainz, who was lured out of retirement two races ago to replace the erratic Francois Duval. With a fourth-place finish in Turkey and a third in Greece, Citroen has taken the lead in the manufacturer’s championship over Peugeot, and Sainz’ mission is accomplished. He will now return to retirement, and Duval will be back with the team at the next event.

Gronholm fought back from his driveshaft problem to finish fourth, ahead of privateer Hirvonen, who impressed everyone by winning one stage on Friday and two on Sunday. Mitsubishi teammates Harri Rovenpera and Gigi Galli and Peugeot’s Markko Martin claimed the final points-paying positions.

The championship will travel halfway around the world to resume in Argentina in three weeks’ time.

WRC Acropolis Rally Top Five:

1) Sebastien Loeb, No. 1 Citroen Xsara WRC, 4h12:53.7

2) Toni Gardemeister, No. 3 Ford Focus RS WRC 04, -1:36.2

3) Carlos Sainz, No. 2 Citroen Xsara WRC, -2:11.1

4) Marcus Gronholm, No. 7 Peugeot 307 WRC, -2:56.4

5) Mirko Hirvonen, No. 24 Ford Focus WRC 03, -3:13.2

Driver’s Championship: 1) Sebastien Loeb, 65; 2) Petter Solberg, 42; 3) Toni Gardemeister, 39; 3) Markko Martin, 39; 5) Marcus Gronholm, 37.

Complete Race Results

Pikes Peak: Donner Wins a Third Time

Men and machines have been testing their mettle against the Pikes Peak Hill Climb since 1916, making it one of the world’s oldest motorsports events. A man named Spencer Penrose built the

12.4-mile Pikes Peak Highway
and created the event as a way to promote it. The event made household names out of the Unsers and Dallenbachs, and not-so-household names out of the Vahsholtzes and Donners.

The first race winner was a man named Rea Lentz, who traversed the highway to the clouds in 20:55.6, and the current course record is held by Rod Millen, who did it in 10:04.06. The 83rd edition of “The Race to the Clouds” was held on Saturday.

This year’s overall winner was David Donner, driving in the Open Wheel class, who claimed the title for a third time. His time was 11:15.685. The Open Wheel division saw its top three qualifiers – Jimmy Keeney and brothers Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Paul Dallenbach (racing together at Pikes Peak for the first time in 10 years) – suffer DNFs.

Leonard Vahsholtz returned to his regular position at the top of the podium in the Super Stock Truck/SUV division, while his son Clint kept his streak of Pikes Peak domination alive with his 10th consecutive Super Stock Car victory, thanks to a run of 11:58.403. Mike Ryan won the Big Rig division for a second time with a clocking of 12:46.815, breaking his old record. Randy Schranz continued his tradition of breaking his own propane-powered Exhibition class record. His latest record, which he’ll likely try to break next year, is 12:16.184.

Other class winners were: Todd Cook, Mini Sprint, 11:53.963; John Guynn, Championship, 12:27.660; Koichi Horiuchi, Unlimited, 11:34.568; Brian Moody, Pikes Peak Open, 12:24.364; and Randy Schranz, Exhibition, 12:16.184.

Complete Race Results

NHRA: Bernstein, Capps and KJ Win at Gateway

There was a lot of emotion as the NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series visited Gateway International Raceway outside St. Louis, both good and bad. The final-round winners all snapped long losing streaks on the good side, but memories of a racer who was killed at this event last year and the loss of one racer’s mother on Saturday tempered the celebrations.

Brandon Bernstein picked a good place to win his first Top Fuel final in the last 26th outings, right in sponsor Budweiser’s hometown. To do it, King Kenny’s kid had to dust off sentimental favorite Morgan Lucas, who took over Joe Amato’s dragster after Darrell Russell was killed in it at this event last year, with the lowest E.T. of the event at 4.533sec.

In Funny Car, Ron Capps broke an even longer losing streak, claiming his first win since 2003 in his third final-round appearance of the season over a tire-smoking Tim Wilkerson in his fifth career final-round appearance. It was a double heartbreak for Wilkerson, whose mother died Saturday after a long window with heart disease.

Kurt Johnson was very consistent all weekend in Pro Stock, and beat Greg Anderson in the final for the first time out of the nine that they have faced each other in the final round, snapping his own 33-race losing streak. Anderson red-lighted to give it away to KJ, but he responded with the quickest and fastest Pro Stock pass of the weekend for good measure.

The teams get a three-week break now before meeting up again in Denver for the Mile-High Nationals, July 15-17.

NHRA Final Round Results:

Top Fuel:

1) Brandon Bernstein, Budweiser King Dragster, 4.533sec/324.59mph

2) Morgan Lucas, Lucas Oil Dragster, 4.793sec/314.31mph

Funny Car:

1) Ron Capps, Brut Dodge Stratus, 4.862sec/321.04mph

2) Tim Wilkerson, Levi, Ray & Shoup Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 7.808sec/112.65mph

Pro Stock:

1) Kurt Johnson, AC Delco Chevrolet Cobalt, 6.729sec/205.19mph

2) Greg Anderson, Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac Grand-Am, 6.735sec/204.32mph

Complete Race Results

Racing on TV This Week (all times ET):

6/30

8:00 pm, Speed: Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race, Daytona International Speedway

7/1:

1:30 pm, Speed: NASCAR Busch Series qualifying, Daytona International Speedway

6:00 pm, TNT: NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying, Daytona International Speedway

8:00 pm, TNT: NASCAR Busch Series race, Daytona International Speedway

7/2:

7:00 am, Speed: FIA Formula 1 World Championship qualifying, Magny-Cours

3:00 pm, Speed: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, Kansas Speedway

7:30 pm, NBC: NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race, Daytona International Speedway

7/3:

6:30 am, Speed: GP2 Championship race, Magny-Cours (tape delayed)

7:30 am, Speed: FIA Formula 1 World Championship, French Grand Prix, Magny-Cours

1:00 pm, ESPN: IRL Indycar Series race, Kansas Speedway

7/4:

3:00 pm, Speed: American Le Mans Series race, LimeRockPark

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