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    Swinging in the hammock Ilikai's Avatar
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    Richmond Speedway

    Water on track leads to lengthy delay

    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Michael Waltrip won the pole for the Busch Series race after water on the surface at Richmond International Raceway delayed qualifying for nearly four hours Thursday.


    It was the Winston Cup regular's 14th career Busch pole and fifth on the three-quarter-mile oval where he won in 1990.

    The session was delayed for 3 hours, 40 minutes because water from recent rainfall was seeping onto the track. The stoppage came after Dion Ciccarelli and Jason Rudd, the first two drivers to make runs, crashed before completing a lap.

    After Rudd's crash, officials inspected the track, detected the water and began spreading drying agents in the areas where water was visible. They also cut narrow grooves in the surface, trying to disperse the water.

    NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said the decision to qualify was made after consultation with several drivers, who were split on what to do.

    "The whole idea is we have 49 cars here," he said after qualifying resumed. "We want all of them to have an opportunity to make the race."

    Waltrip turned a fast lap of 125.523 mph in a Chevrolet to win the top spot on the grid for Friday night's Hardee's 250.

    "I was a little surprised that we went that fast," Waltrip said. "I messed up three and four a little bit. Generally, if you mess up a turn, you can't get a pole. It's too tight, especially on a short track."

    Waiting out the delay wasn't a problem, said the two-time and reigning Daytona 500 champion, who turned 40 Wednesday night.

    "That's one advantage about being old," he said. "Nothing bothers me."

    Defending race champion Jason Keller took the outside of the front row in a Ford. Next came the Chevys of Stacy Compton, Shane Hmiel, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. Scott Riggs was seventh in a Ford.

    Kasey Kahne's Ford and the Chevys of Randy LaJoie and Johnny Sauter completed the top 10.

    With more rain in the forecast for the weekend, Hunter said NASCAR and track officials would consider other measures, including cutting vertical 6-inch-wide grooves in the track, allowing the water to drain and filling the gaps with concrete.

    Drainage ditches had to be dug last June when the surface at Pocono Raceway started oozing water after several days of heavy rain. Texas Motor Speedway had a similar problem several years ago.

    Only one other driver, Ashton Lewis, had problems in the session. He spun in second turn before taking the green flag for his first lap.

    The delay marked the start of what could turn into another long weekend at the track many NASCAR drivers say is their favorite. A year ago, a new sealer on the asphalt caused numerous tires to blister.

    That led Winston Cup star Rusty Wallace to suggest "black glue" had been used to seal the surface.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" -- Steve Parker

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    Harvick wins Hardee's 250

    Harvick wins crash-filled Hardee's 250 at RIR
    May 3, 2003
    12:10 AM EDT (0410 GMT)
    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Kevin Harvick took the lead with 51 laps to go Friday night, but needed a late caution to hold off Scott Riggs and win the crash-filled Busch series event Friday night at Richmond International Raceway.
    An event-record 14 cautions slowed the Hardee's 250 for 93 laps, including a crash by Mike Bliss that brought out the 13th yellow flag after 241 laps. After a brief red flag delay while the track was cleaned, Harvick had trouble pulling away from Riggs in a single-file restart.

    But Ron Hornaday's crash with four laps to go ended the suspense. Busch races end under yellow if it comes in the final five laps.

    "Scott Riggs probably had the best car," said Harvick, who pancaked his Chevrolet against an outside wall out of a turn late in the race. "We felt we had the second- or third-best car, but I was trying too hard."

    Riggs thought he had a chance before the crash. "When I got to his bumper, I was trying to get it out of my windshield and put it in my rearview mirror," he said. "We were trying to make the pass and the caution came when I thought I had a pretty good run on him."

    The victory was Harvick's 10th in the Busch series, where he won the championship in 2001, and his second on a short track this season. It also gave him six top-10 finishes in as many starts in the series in 2003.

    The race was run in a somber atmosphere, starting only a few hours after Winston Cup driver Jerry Nadeau was airlifted from the track after a crash in practice crash.

    Nadeau was in critical condition at Medical College of Virginia Hospitals, but details of his injuries were not released.

    The 250-lap event also marked the debut of Martin Truex Jr. as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s hand-picked prodigy for Dale Earnhardt Inc. It was going well until the car's engine quit with Truex running second.

    Trailing only Harvick on a restart with 54 laps to go, Truex's car lost power as it crossed the start-finish line and was rammed from behind by Randy LaJoie's third-place car. The impact ruined LaJoie's radiator.

    Points leader Todd Bodine finished 29th, his worst showing of the year. His lead shrank from 99 points over Hornaday to 40 over David Green, who finished ninth.

    Hornaday wound up 15th and also was passed in the points by Shane Hmiel, who finished eighth and is 44 back.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" -- Steve Parker

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    Terry Labonte Wins Pole for 400

    T. Labonte wins first Bud Pole Award since 2000



    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Terry Labonte won his first pole in more than three years in Bud Pole Qualifying at Richmond International Raceway.

    Labonte was surprised when the 126.511-mph lap he posted early in the session withstood challenges from 31 other drivers. It is his 27th career pole and first on the three-quarter-mile oval since 1997.


    Labonte is running a special paint scheme this weekend at Richmond. Credit: Autostock
    "After I qualified, I thought, 'Well, that probably could be a top 10,' " the two-time Winston Cup champion said. "Then, when I was sitting there watching, I thought, 'Gosh, this could probably be a top five.'

    "Then I got kind of nervous for the last two. I thought, 'I'm going to be kind of mad if these two guys beat us. It's so close up there.' "

    Labonte's Chevrolet bumped that of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Joe Nemechek to the outside of the front row for Saturday night's Pontiac Excitement 400. Nemechek's fast lap was 126.369.

    "I would have been happy to get a top-10," Labonte said.

    Nemechek, like Labonte, said his car was fast all day long.

    "We made quite a few changes today. We made a lot of run," Nemechek said. "Every change we made, it seemed to make the car faster."

    Only driver error might have cost Nemechek a shot at the pole.


    "My first lap was my fast lap and the second one I didn't drive it quite hard enough to go any faster," he said. "But that is one of those things you do here. If you drive it too hard, sometimes you go slower."

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Bobby Labonte qualified in the second row, giving Chevys a sweep of the top four positions. Ryan Newman was fifth in a Dodge.

    The Hendrick team wound up with four qualifiers in the top 10. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon -- twice a Richmond winner _ will start sixth, and Jimmie Johnson will line up 10th in the 43-car field.

    Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart, the winner of this race the last two years and a three-time winner here overall, qualified ninth. Chevys took seven of the first 10 spots.

    Kurt Busch, the winner last week in Fontana, Calif., wound up seventh in a Ford. Kyle Petty was eighth in a Dodge.

    Earnhardt, who trails series leader Matt Kenseth by 44 points after 10 races, had the car to beat after practice, but wasn't quite able to back it up.

    "We were just a couple hundredths (of a second) from getting the pole, and I think I could go back over my lap and know exactly where I lost it," he said, adding that his car was too loose going through the third turn.

    The track showed no signs of the water seepage that delayed Busch series qualifying for 3 hours, 40 minutes Thursday. Hunter said crews worked until almost 2 a.m. cutting grooves in the track to aid in draining the surface.

    Kenseth qualified 18th.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" -- Steve Parker

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    Pontiac 400 results

    Pit mishap can't keep Nemechek from win


    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Blunders like missing pit road have surely cost Joe Nemechek in his career. The mistake cost him 24 spots Saturday night, but this time he had 173 laps and the car to more than make up for it.


    With help from a no-pit gamble that paid off with 100 laps left, three late-race cautions and rain that halted the race with seven laps to go, Nemechek won the Pontiac Excitement 400 for his third career Winston Cup victory.

    It almost didn't happen after Nemechek and crew chief Peter Sospenzo miscommunicated on when the driver should pit, and he missed the pits and dropped from first to 25th when he finally pitted on his own.

    "In the heat of the battle, I wanted to choke him," Nemechek said of his crew chief. "I wanted to get out and wrestle right there. It's just one of those things. We're leading and then, dang, I missed it."

    Before the blunder, Nemechek looked like he had the dominant car. After it, he had to prove it, and with a lot of cars in front of him.

    "Man, there was a lot of cars line up there, and I was in the back, but everything worked out," he said. "The car was so fast. I passed an awful lot of race cars there. As soon as that car started going fast again and I started passing all those cars, I never thought about it again."

    At the end, the last three of a track-record 15 cautions for 91 laps helped, and so did the free pass after the rain shower came.

    "It was an unbelievable night," he said. "Everything was perfect. It was a great team effort and I had a lot of fun out there tonight. When you see a car that good, run high, low, wherever it wanted to go, it was fun.

    "It didn't matter what we did to the car. It was strong all night."

    Bobby Labonte was second for the third consecutive race, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Robby Gordon, who rallied from three laps down early on and gave Chevrolet a sweep of the top four spots.

    "Three first places would be better, but three second places is the next best thing," Labonte said. "We've got a lot of confidence."

    Mark Martin was fifth in a Ford.

    The rain might have deprived Labonte and Earnhardt from making a late push.

    "We really didn't need any of those cautions," Earnhardt said. "We needed long, long runs and I think we were better than most of them."

    Earnhardt did cut Matt Kenseth's points lead from 44 to 20.
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. (8) couldn't hold off Bobby Labonte (18) for second.

    Labonte didn't think he could have caught Nemechek "unless something happened and he slipped up the race track or something like that. My car was a little bit tight and his car looked a little bit better."

    Gordon and Nemechek gambled by staying on the track with four others during a caution with 100 laps to go.

    When the race went back to green, Gordon was leading, Nemechek was fifth and a handful of contenders were right behind them, counting on fresher tires to carry them forward.

    On lap 331, Nemechek passed Gordon for the lead, then pulled away trying to extend his advantage. Chief among his pursuers was Earnhardt, who moved into second on lap 355 as the crowd of 100,000 roared wildly.
    Jason Keller finished 32nd in his Winston Cup debut. Credit: Autostock
    Jason Keller finished 32nd in his Winston Cup debut. Credit: Autostock

    Nemechek had built his lead as high as almost two seconds and was easily disposing of lapped traffic when Dale Jarrett spun out on the 363rd lap, the caution erasing the lead and setting up a possible closing shootout.

    Nemechek held onto his lead through three more restarts, taking advantage of a duel for second in which Labonte finally passed Earnhardt, and then was handed the last seven laps when the race was called.

    Nemechek led six times for 155 laps, winning for the first time since November 2001 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. His only other career victory in nine years came at Loudon, N.H., in September 1999.

    The second five included Kevin Harvick, the Fords of Kenseth and Roush Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Jeff Burton, and Rusty Wallace's Dodge.

    Busch passed Jeff Gordon for third place in points, 167 behind.

    Among those not enjoying the night were two-time defending champion Tony Stewart, who apparently ran over some debris, crashed and was 41st.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" -- Steve Parker

    Help feed a dog or cat http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/c...s/CTDSites.woa

  5. #5
    Premium Member glennajo's Avatar
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    Nice to see Nemechek get a win. Jr.'s sitting pretty 20 points out of the lead. It may be his year.
    Stewart's not doing good at all. Maybe he should have stayed with Pontiac. At least he could win a few with those cars. (Not that I want him to!)

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