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Auto Racing Roundup : Sullivan Finds 44-Second Victory No Cakewalk

July 07, 1986| From Times Wire Services

No matter how easy it looked, Danny Sullivan felt he earned his money.

Sullivan drove into the winner's circle for the second time in eight days Sunday after taking a 44.25-second victory in the Budweiser Cleveland Grand Prix Indy-car race at Burke Lakefront Airport.

The previous Sunday, he won the Meadowlands Grand Prix.

When told that competitor Tom Sneva called his latest victory "a cakewalk," Sullivan bristled.

"Sneva called it a cakewalk?" Sullivan asked. "I'm glad he thought it was. I didn't think it was that easy. Until we got to the last 20 laps, there were three guys in it and there was not a very big gap there."

Sullivan, 36, overcame oppressive heat and humidity, as well as a stop-and-go penalty, before finding himself with an enormous lead over runner-up Michael Andretti. Mario Andretti finished third.

In addition to the Andrettis, Sullivan was concerned with Emerson Fittipaldi of Brazil, the two-time world champion who led the first 28 laps and still was running second before his engine quit late in the race.

"When you're out there and you've got a 40-second lead, you're thinking 'Boy, what's going to go wrong?' and you're just being very careful," said Sullivan, who pointed out that Mario Andretti, Michael's father, had a big lead here last year when his car quit with four laps left.

"I knew Mario broke down last year with only a few laps to go and I was concerned about that. This place is tough, the car was new, the heat--you think about all those things. When you're racing somebody, that's all you're thinking about."

The attrition was very high in the race, with just 11 of the 25 starters running at the end as temperatures on the humid day nearly reached 90 degrees.

Sullivan, the 1985 Indianapolis 500 champion, joined Michael Andretti as a two-time winner after 7 of 17 CART races scheduled this year.

Rick Mears finished fourth and Sneva fifth, both of them getting back on the lead lap late in the race as Sullivan slowed to conserve fuel.

Darrell Waltrip, driving a car that has had many facelifts in a decade of racing, won NASCAR's first Busch Grand National Series road race at Gainesville, Ga.

"That car is 10 years old," Waltrip said. "I won the first race I ever drove in (with it) and hopefully I'll win the last. It's been a (Chevrolet) Nova, a Buick, an Olds, and now it's a Pontiac," Waltrip said. "It's been phenomenal wherever it's run."

Waltrip earned $8,775 for winning the 300-kilometer race over the twisting, hilly Road Atlanta course. He posted an average speed of 82.079 m.p.h. to finish 9.5 seconds ahead of pole-sitter Terry Labonte.

Dale Earnhardt was third, followed by Haskell Willingham and L.D. Ottinger.

Waltrip won the race as much in the pits as on the track, taking the lead from Labonte after his crew got him out of the pits six seconds faster.

"The team is just great," Waltrip said. "Regular racing is what keeps your crew sharp."

He finished with a comfortable margin over Labonte, who had cut the lead to as little as 3.5 seconds in the final laps.

Britain's Nigel Mansell, driving a Williams-Honda, won the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet, France, his third victory in eight races.

The victory enabled him to move into second place in the world championship point standings with 38 points, one behind reigning world champion Alain Prost of France, who finished second in his McLaren-TAG-Porsche.

Derek Bell, nursing bad brakes over the final 100 miles, posted an easy victory with teammate Al Holbert in the $345,000 Camel Continental 500 at Watkins Glen International Raceway.

The victory paid the veteran drivers $75,000, the highest-ever for a GT race.

Bell and Holbert drove their No. 14 Porsche 962 to a 9.377 seconds margin over Oscar Larrauri and Gianpiero Moretti who were driving another Porsche 962.

The margin was much higher than that in midrace, however, hitting 38 seconds at one point.

Whitney Ganz and Jim Crawford finished third, another lap back, in a Buick Hawk.

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