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MOTOR RACING ROUNDUP

Schumacher Hardly Fazed By Fire in Austrian Victory

May 19, 2003|From Associated Press

Michael Schumacher watched the orange flames rise near his head during a fiery pit stop, yet remained focused on racing.

The Ferrari crew doused the fuel-loading fire and the driver, and not long after, Schumacher was spraying champagne in Victory Lane, celebrating his win at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday at Spielberg.

Schumacher beat Formula One leader Kimi Raikkonen for his third win in a row and the 65th of his career, closing within two points of first place in the standings.

"Seeing the fire was not nice, but I think the guys reacted very well with the extinguishers," Schumacher said. "I guess the mechanics thought I was a little too cool and wanted to warm me up."

The five-time Formula One champion, who failed to finish in the top three in the first three races of the season, has 38 points, compared to Raikkonen's 40 after six races.

Schumacher, who started from the pole, finished 3.3 seconds ahead of Raikkonen's McLaren-Mercedes in the 69-lap race on the 2.69-mile A1-Ring. Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello, was third, 3.9 seconds behind. Jenson Button was fourth in a BAR-Honda, and David Coulthard of McLaren finished fifth.

"It was an interesting and entertaining race," Schumacher said. "It started to run our way and then the pit stop came."

Schumacher's crew had to battle flames during a pit stop after the 23rd lap when a fuel hose would not come off, sparking the blaze and forcing crew members to use fire extinguishers.

"A small amount of fuel was still in the nozzle from the previous refueling, which dripped onto the car and caught fire," Ferrari team boss Jean Todt said.

Through it all, Schumacher remained calm, staying in his car and nonchalantly wiping fire extinguishing foam from his visor.

"I was watching around and seeing what was going on," Schumacher said. "You know you have protection. You have the overalls. You know you can survive for a good while."

Schumacher's stop took more than 20 seconds, well over the usual 10 seconds. He left the pits and moved into third place behind Juan Pablo Montoya and Raikkonen.

The order changed quickly on the 32nd lap. As Montoya's engine failed in a trail of smoke, Schumacher passed Raikkonen and moved into the lead, stretching his advantage to 2.6 seconds after 33 laps.

Schumacher pitted after the 42nd lap and slipped to third behind Raikkonen and Barrichello. He regained the lead when Raikkonen and Barrichello pitted after the 51st lap and was not challenged the rest of the way as he maintained a lead of nearly 10 seconds over Raikkonen.

*

Ron Hornaday beat Brian Vickers by less than half a second in the Busch Series race at Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway to end a 63-event winless drought.

Hornaday led 148 of the 200 laps in the Goulds Pumps ITT Industries 200, taking the lead for good by passing rookie David Stremme on No. 146. He finished the 200 miles in 1 hour 57 minutes 7 seconds.

Mike Bliss was third, David Green fourth. Green still leads the Busch Series standings, with Todd Bodine second and Hornaday jumped from sixth place to third.

The track has been significant for Hornaday. It was the scene of his Busch Series debut in May 1998, and his first series victory in July 2000. He won the next month at Indianapolis Raceway Park -- and then didn't taste victory again until Sunday.

"The fans really pump me up here," Hornaday said. "And it's a great track, a driver's race track."

Hornaday, driving a Chevrolet, started the race in the third position, behind pole-sitter Randy LaJoie and Stacy Compton. LaJoie held the lead until Hornaday passed him on the 14th lap.

*

Doug Kalitta won his second Top Fuel event of the season at the NHRA K&N Filters SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.

Whit Bazemore and Greg Anderson also won their divisions at the $2.1 million race.

Kalitta, who earned the top qualifying spot for the sixth time in eight events, earned his 13th career Top Fuel victory when he covered the track in 4.494 seconds at 328.54 mph to beat points leader Larry Dixon.

Bazemore took his first Funny Car victory in more than a year by crossing the finish line in 4.869 at 306.81 to hold off Ron Capps. The win marks the first time a Dodge has won in Funny Car since September 1998.

Anderson earned his third Pro Stock win of the season in 6.724 at 205.98 to edge Darrell Alderman, giving him the lead in the points standings by 10 points over Kurt Johnson.

*

Ricky Carmichael lost his first moto in nearly two years but came back to win the Hangtown Motocross Classic at Sacramento.

The win was the 89th combined AMA Motocross/Supercross victory for Carmichael, tying him with Jeremy McGrath for the most ever.

Kevin Windham won the first 250cc moto over Carmichael, the first time Carmichael had been beaten in a 250cc moto since July 2001.

Ryan Hughes won the 125cc division, his first AMA national win in nearly eight years.

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