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Motor Racing | MOTOR RACING ROUNDUP

Martin Loses Appeal on NASCAR Penalty

November 17, 2002|From Staff and Wire Reports

Mark Martin's appeal of a 25-point penalty was turned down Saturday, making his bid to overtake Tony Stewart for the Winston Cup championship that much tougher.

Martin was docked the points for using an unapproved spring in his car in the Nov. 3 race at Rockingham, N.C. His Roush team argued that the infraction was not intentional and that the penalty was too severe.

"This was an unbelievable situation that in a championship hunt, a penalty on a nonperformance issue might come into play," Roush team President Geoff Smith said.

Martin will go into the season-closing Ford 400 today at Homestead-Miami Speedway trailing Stewart by 89 points. Stewart will win the championship if he finishes 22nd or better, no matter what Martin does in the race.

A three-person panel from the National Stock Car Racing Commission also denied appeals of team owner Jack Roush's 25 car-owner points penalty and crew chief Ben Leslie's $5,000 fine.

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Stewart ran into trouble in the garage area at Homestead, bumping a photographer with a forearm.

NASCAR said Stewart apologized for what the driver called an accident, and the apology was accepted by the photographer, Rusty Jarrett of Getty Images.

Stewart is on probation for punching a photographer after an August race.

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Smooth-running Steve Ostling of Corona won the 50-lap main event at Perris Auto Speedway, winning the Sprint Car Racing Assn.'s sixth Jack Kindoll Classic.

Ostling won his second event this season and his first Kindoll Classic after taking the lead on Lap 30 and holding off Charles Davis Jr., of Buckeye, Ariz.

Ostling started fourth, and Davis fifth, which was nothing compared to the Torrance duo of Rickie Gaunt and Mike Kirby.

Gaunt, who finished third, started the race in 13th position, and Kirby, who finished fourth, started in 17th. Mike Spencer of Temecula finished fifth.

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Scott Wimmer, capitalizing when leader Jason Keller ran out of gas, coasted by to win the Ford 300, the Busch Series season finale, at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Hank Parker Jr., who lost his sponsor last week, finished second and Joe Nemechek was third. Greg Biffle, who wrapped up the series title last week at Phoenix, was fourth.

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Despite losing more teams and drivers, CART series officials promised exciting new drivers, closer races and at least one new team in 2003 as they prepared to close out the year in Mexico City.

"You're going to see a whole different level of competition on the racetrack," CART President Chris Pook said during the final day of qualifying for today's Mexico Grand Prix.

Bruno Junqueira claimed the pole position with the fastest time on both days of qualifying in his Lola-Toyota. Christian Fittipaldi will start beside him and Dario Franchitti qualified third.

The CART losses next season include this year's champion Christiano da Matta (to Formula One), engine builders Toyota and Honda, and longtime CART team leaders such as Barry Green.

Only a few of the 19 drivers are committed to return to CART next year.

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