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Archive for Monday, October 28, 2002

Auto Racing Roundup: Busch claims second straight win

Fast pit key to Winston Cup victory; Dominguez claims Honda Indy 300; Dixon, Force clinch titles

October 28, 2002

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— His Roush Racing crew was telling anyone who would listen Sunday morning that Kurt Busch would win the NAPA 500.

Their prediction came true, and the crew of the No. 97 Ford played a major role as Busch outran the competition and the weather, grabbing his second straight Winston Cup victory in the rain-shortened race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

After one long rain delay and threatening skies throughout, the race scheduled for 325 laps ended under a yellow flag on lap 248 as the wet weather finally arrived.

Busch's victory was sparked by some fast work by his crew during the last round of green-flag pit stops.

Busch's Taurus was the first of the contending cars to drive onto pit road, going into the stops third and leading when the last car had pitted. Busch stayed in front the last 43 laps on the fast 1.54-mile quad-oval, keeping the top spot when all the leaders made their final stops under yellow on lap 232.

"We can talk about it all we want," Busch said when asked about the prediction by his crew. "It's just a matter of getting it done."

The win on Sunday was the third of his career and the third of the year for the 24-year-old driver from Las Vegas. The first two came at Bristol and Martinsville, two of the three tracks shorter than a mile on the Winston Cup schedule.

"This one felt much sweeter. Now I can enjoy it. Just the adrenaline of running those last laps ... and holding off the (No. 25) car," Busch said, referring to runner-up Joe Nemechek. "Our crew did it again."

Before the decisive green-flag stop, Busch was watching Nemechek and series leader Tony Stewart battling in front of him.

"We got loose and got to sliding a little bit and that's what pushed us back," Busch said in the makeshift Victory Circle inside the empty Busch Series garage. "We kept digging and made an adjustment at the end. I told (crew chief) Jimmy (Fennig), I said, 'Do this, do that and it'll be perfect.' We drove ourselves right to Victory Lane."

Rookie Dominguez wins

Honda Indy 300

Surfers Paradise, Australia Rookie Mario Dominguez won the rain-shortened Honda Indy 300 Sunday, which started with a major crash that sent two drivers to the hospital.

Dominguez, who was involved in the accident, pitted four times once racing started. The event was stopped on the 40th lap because of a two-hour time limit. Patrick Carpentier was second, followed by Paul Tracy, Kenny Brack and Tony Kanaan.

Adrian Fernandez and Tora Takagi were carried off on stretchers after the starting-line accident. Fernandez broke two vertebrae; Takagi had a broken pelvis and bruised hip. Both were released from the hospital. Fernandez will not race next week in Fontana, Calif., while Takagi's status for Fontana is uncertain.

Dixon clinches dragster title

Las Vegas Larry Dixon clinched his first series crown with a second-round win, and went on to his record-tying ninth victory this year in the Las Vegas NHRA Nationals on Sunday.

John Force earned his 105th career victory, getting down the track with a run of 4.820 at 305.22. Jeg Coughlin won his second Pro Stock title en route to his 31st career win.

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