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The Inside Track | MORNING BRIEFING

Driver Draws on This Fan's Support

September 17, 2003|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

Derrike Cope is ranked 45th in the points standing on the NASCAR circuit. But to Seneco Tedford, 12, of Lebanon, Conn., Cope is a big winner.

Seneco won a coloring contest, sponsored by a restaurant chain, and Cope was to use her design of royal blue and hundreds of ice cream cones on his car at last weekend's Winston Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway.

But Cope failed to qualify. He wasn't planning to race at Dover, Del., this weekend because he doesn't have a sponsor. But Cope decided to go to Dover at his expense and race the car because of Seneco.

"This is just the right thing to do," Cope said. "I felt bad we missed the race at New Hampshire, but I really felt bad for Seneco. For some people, it's easy to let things slide. This is something I felt I had to do."

Trivia time: Who was the former Ram running back who married gymnast Cathy Rigby?

Youth not served: Sarah Fisher, who'll be racing at speeds of more than 220 mph in Sunday's IRL Toyota Indy 400 at California Speedway in Fontana, says one problem she has is renting a car.

"I'm 22, and you have to be 25 to rent a car," she said.

Hardened criminal? There have been plenty of instances of Olympic athletes who have been caught cheating. But the recent case of Vera Shimanskaya was unusual, to say the least.

Shimanskaya, an Olympic gold-medal winner from Russia, and a male companion were arrested in the Spanish tourist town of Pucol after the owner of a casino complained they were playing with marked cards.

Shimanskaya's sport? Would you believe rhythmic gymnastics?

It'll never happen: From Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, writing about things he'd love to see: "A track athlete flunks the doping test and says, 'I knew I wasn't quite up to medal caliber and I figured I'd take a chance. They caught me fair and square.' "

Ruffling feathers: The Montreal Alouettes' bird mascot, Blitz, drew a 15-yard penalty in Sunday's game against Ottawa after pecking an official on the cheek during a touchdown celebration.

"If I can, I'll guarantee he will be cut," Alouette Coach Don Matthews said.

Blitz, it turns out, won't be plucked from the roster but rather limited to the sidelines, according to Associated Press.

Trivia answer: Tommy Mason.

And finally: It was noted in Tuesday's Morning Briefing that the Rams' Willie Ellison set an NFL single-game rushing record in 1971. Dan Daly of the Washington Times, a statistical guru, e-mailed to say another Ram running back, Touchdown Tommy Wilson, briefly held the record after rushing for 223 yards in the 1956 season finale against Green Bay. Jim Brown broke the record with 237 yards against the Rams the next season.

Interestingly, the game story in The Times after Wilson's big game didn't mention the record until the fifth paragraph.

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Larry Stewart can be reached at larry.stewart@latimes.com.

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