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THE INSIDE TRACK | NEWSWIRE

Fernandez Makes the Most of Tough Drive in Paradise

October 16, 2000|From Staff and Wire Reports

Adrian Fernandez of Mexico drove his way through a course strewn with accidents to win the Honda Indy 300 Sunday at Surfers Paradise, Australia.

Fernandez, driving a Ford Reynard, came from 17th place to win a CART race marked by five caution flags for 19 of the 59 laps that were completed before a two-hour time limit took effect. The race ended six laps short of its planned distance.

The 20 points for the win and another point for leading for the most laps moved Fernandez into second place in the CART FedEx championship standings, five behind points leader Gil de Ferran going into the season's final race on Oct. 29 at California Speedway in Fontana.

"We struggled all week in qualifying, but I knew if we could just stay out on the course, we'd have a chance of winning," Fernandez said. "We didn't have the best car, but we managed to stay out there."

Only 13 of 25 starters finished, seven of those hitting the wall or other cars, including a first-turn collision between Juan Montoya and De Ferran.

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Dale Earnhardt, who loudly proclaims his displeasure with the horsepower-sapping restrictor plates used for more than a decade at NASCAR's biggest tracks--Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway--showed his mastery there again by charging from behind to win the Winston 500 at Talladega, Ala.

Earnhardt, driving a Chevrolet, slashed through a crowd at 185 mph, racing from 18th to first in four laps, then held off the desperate efforts of Kenny Wallace (Chevrolet) and Joe Nemechek (Chevrolet) to pick up his 10th win at Talladega and 22nd victory with a restrictor plate.

Earnhardt, who led seven times for 34 of the 188 laps, nearly fell victim to the shifting fortunes of a race in which 25 cars were constantly battling in a pack at the front of the field. There were 49 lead changes among 21 drivers.

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Scott Goodyear, driving a Dallara-Oldsmobile, won the fastest race in Indy Racing League history as Buddy Lazier took the season championship by finishing fourth in the Excite 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

Lazier, driving a Dallara-Oldsmobile, needed to finish 14th or better to win the Northern Light Cup season title and $1 million but did much more. He led 38 consecutive laps near the end and was running with the front pack throughout the 208-lap race.

The average winning speed was 175.276 mph, breaking the IRL record of 169.182 set by Scott Sharp at Texas Motor Speedway on June 11 when he beat Robby McGehee by only .059 seconds--still the closest finish on the 5-year-old circuit.

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With only a handful of Irwindale Speedway regulars on hand for the NASCAR Grand American Modifieds race, Steve Luecht of Chula Vista took the early lead and pulled away for the victory in the 40-lap event Saturday night.

Tennis

Martina Hingis won a title for the first time in her home country, delighting a foot-stomping crowd with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Lindsay Davenport in the Swisscom Challenge at Zurich, Switzerland. Davenport, coming back after a three-week layoff because of injury, lost for the first time in 21 matches in Switzerland.

"It means twice as much to win here," Hingis said after winning her 33rd WTA singles title. "I'm sorry I had to beat Lindsay and end her winning streak here, but I really wanted to win."

Tim Henman of Britain, pounding his chest in satisfaction, won his first singles title in two years when he defeated Tommy Haas of Germany, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, in the final of the CA Trophy tournament at Vienna, Austria.

Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands upset fourth-seeded Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, to win the Japan Open men's title at Tokyo, while Julie Halard-Decugis of France beat Amy Frazier, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4, for the women's title.

Miscellany

Soccer stadiums were empty across Greece, marking the start of a two-week league suspension called in response to government reforms for a sport derided as "totally rotten." The Greek Soccer Federation ordered the suspension after lawmakers criticized Greece's 2-0 loss to Albania in a 2002 World Cup qualifier Wednesday. The suspension was widely seen as an attempt by entrenched soccer officials to challenge the reforms by sports minister Giorgos Floridis.

In cycling, Latvia's Romans Vainsteins was the surprise winner of the men's road race at the world championships, beating Zbigniew Spruch of Poland and Oscar Freire of Spain at Plouay, France. Vainsteins upset Michele Bartoli of Italy. . . . In distance running, Kenya's Ndereva Nelson won the Beijing Marathon, for the second time, with a time of 2 hours 13 minutes 52 seconds. China's Wei Yanan took the women's race in 2:26:34. . . . Georgia swimmer Kristy Kowal, a silver medalist in the Sydney Olympics, was announced as the NCAA's woman of the year, an award honoring excellence in academics, athletics, community service and leadership. . . . USA Swimming, for the first time, has approved a proposal to provide $370,000 in bonus money for coaches of U.S. swimmers winning medals at the FINA World Championships next summer at Fukuoka, Japan.

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