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In his own way, Speed nailed it

June 03, 2008|Jim Peltz | Times Staff Writer

It's pretty clear Scott Speed isn't one of NASCAR's good old boys.

A free spirit from Manteca, Calif., who spent 18 months as a Formula One driver, Speed is working his way up through NASCAR's second-tier ranks with hopes of one day driving in its premier Sprint Cup Series.

Speed won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Friday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in only his sixth series start -- after he had the tips of his toenails painted blue.

"That's going to become a tradition," Speed, 25, said of his pedicure after winning in a Red Bull Toyota.

His crew chief, Doug Wolcott of Bill Davis Racing, said Speed "told me when he got on the plane that he had his toes painted and that they feel better than they ever did.

"He thought he would have better [foot] throttle control," Wolcott quipped. "That's what let us pull away at the end."

Trivia time

Who has the most career wins in NASCAR's truck series?

Walk off

"Sweet is revenge," Lord Byron wrote, and Wichita State baseball player Clinton McKeever can completely relate.

McKeever came to Wichita State after failing to make Oklahoma State's pitching staff in 2005.

Fast forward to Sunday night, with Oklahoma State -- now the top-seeded team in an NCAA regional -- playing host to Wichita State.

In the ninth inning, McKeever singled to tie the score, 7-7, and force extra innings. Wichita State then won in the 10th when McKeever hit a grand slam for an 11-7 win that ended Oklahoma State's season.

"I've never been so excited after an at-bat in my life," McKeever said. His coach, Gene Stephenson, added: "It's a storybook ending."

Force of will

The irrepressible John Force won yet another funny car drag race in the NHRA's Powerade Series, but this was his first since suffering serious injuries in a 300-mph crash in September.

It was questionable whether the 59-year-old Force, a 14-time champion, would ever walk again after his legs were mangled in the crash at Texas Motorplex near Dallas.

But after months of rehabilitation, the Yorba Linda driver completed his comeback Sunday by beating series points leader Tim Wilkerson in the finals at Topeka, Kan., for his 126th career win. Force has won at least one race in 22 consecutive seasons.

"I didn't want to go winless, not after that wreck," Force said. "I needed this mentally."

Fill 'er up

The Minnesota Twins are trying to use the rise in gasoline prices to curb a drop in attendance.

Under a new promotion, fans can buy tickets to Twins games in specified sections of the Metrodome at a discount tied to the national average price for gas, according to Sports Business Daily.

So if the average price this week is $3.95 a gallon, the ticket price would be reduced by that amount. The discount will be adjusted weekly to reflect changes in fuel costs.

The Twins' average attendance is 24,760, down 10% from this time last year, even though Minnesota is hovering near the AL Central Division lead.

Trivia answer

Ron Hornaday Jr., with 34 wins. Hornaday finished third behind Speed on Friday and said that despite Speed's eccentric ways, "he's a winner in the Craftsman Truck Series now, so he'll fit right in."

And finally

The Beijing Olympic organizing committee issued a nine-page document spelling out for visitors what will and will not be permitted during the Olympic Games, Aug. 8-24.

Among the topics: Olympic tickets are no guarantee of a visa to enter China and any protest requires a police permit, the Associated Press reported.

Also, sleeping outdoors is banned to "maintain public hygiene and the cultured image of the cities."

--

james.peltz@latimes.com

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