Archive for Monday, October 4, 2004

Earnhardt storms to Nextel victory

Winning driver might be penalized points for cursing during postrace interview with NBC

October 4, 2004

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— Dale Earnhardt nearly was perfect on the racetrack. His only real slipup Sunday came in Victory Lane during a postrace television interview.

Junior, who charged from 11th place to a victory and the series points lead in the last five laps of the NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway, put that lead in jeopardy by cursing during an NBC Sports interview.

"I'm worried about losing some points (as NASCAR penalty)," said Earnhardt, who moved into the series lead by 13 points over Kurt Busch, who finished fifth Sunday.

NASCAR official Denise Maloof said Nextel Cup director John Darby and vice president for competition Robin Pemberton were "aware of the situation and would address it on Tuesday or Wednesday. That doesn't necessarily mean that he will be fined or lose points."

Although he was at or near the front for virtually the entire EA Sports 500, leading a race-high 78 of the 188 laps, Earnhardt fell behind when crew chief Tony Eury Sr. gambled on two fresh right-side tires on his final pit stop.

Eury decided to take advantage of the fact that Earnhardt already was on pit road for his final stop when a yellow flag came out for a crash involving Sterling Marlin and Bobby Labonte.

Still, other drivers raced ahead of Earnhardt by staying on the track or taking only fuel on their final stops during the last of five caution periods in the race. But it made little difference once the green flag waved for lap 184.

Earnhardt held off Kevin Harvick's Chevrolet, driving across the finish line 0.117 seconds -- about two car-lengths -- ahead. It was his 14th career victory. Dale Jarrett finished third.

Fernandez edges Kanaan

Fontana, Calif. -- Adrian Fernandez won a one-lap sprint to the finish in Sunday's Toyota 400, nosing out Tony Kanaan, whose runner-up finish was good enough to clinch the Indy Racing League series point title. Fernandez outdueled Kanaan during the final trip around the two-mile oval after a restart following a caution flag. The victory was the second in a row, third of the year -- and third in the last five IRL events -- for the native of Mexico City.

Fernandez led 18 laps and averaged 178.826 mph and only was a blink -- .0183 seconds -- in front of Kanaan at the end of the 400-mile event at California Speedway.

NHRA leaders upended

Joliet, Ill.-- Three NHRA Powerade points leaders earned a trip to the final round at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. None won. Doug Herbert (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car) and Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) drove to victories in their categories.

Herbert beat Tony Schumacher in the final with a 4.516-second pass at 329.75 mph. Worsham beat John Force for a fifth win. Connolly continued his recent chase of two-time defending Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson.

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