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Archive for Saturday, September 11, 2004

World champion Schumacher blazes

Formula One driver secures fastest time during Italian Grand Prix practice sessions

September 11, 2004

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— Michael Schumacher, his seventh world title already secured, recorded the fastest time Friday during practices for the Italian Grand Prix at Ferrari's home track.

Schumacher, racing in a helmet with Italian colors, needed just two laps in the morning practice to set his leading time. He covered the 3.6-mile Monza circuit in 1 minute, 20.526 seconds -- faster than the 1:20.963 that earned him pole position last year.

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen was timed in 1:20.846 for the fastest time of the afternoon session.

Raikkonen edged Ferrari's No. 2 driver, Rubens Barrichello, by 0.05 seconds, while Schumacher was 0.23 seconds back in the afternoon practice.

Newman nabs Richmond pole

Richmond, Va. -- None of the 20 poles Ryan Newman has won in his short NASCAR career were as important as the one he earned at Richmond International Speedway.

Newman will start tonight's Chevrolet 400 from the front spot, the perfect place to be for the last event before NASCAR resets the field and begins the 10-race playoff.

Newman, who qualified first with a lap at 128.700 mph in his No. 12 Dodge, currently is in eighth place in the standings. But he's clinging to that spot, and the slightest mishap could send him spiraling out of the top 10 and disqualify him from racing for the Nextel Cup title.

Mark Martin, currently holding the 10th and final spot in the race for the chase, qualified second with a lap at 127.407 mph in the No. 6 Ford.

Gordon takes Busch title

Richmond, Va. -- Robby Gordon went from third to first in a three-car battle with 15 laps to go Friday night and held off Casey Atwood's charge the rest of the way for his first NASCAR Busch Series victory.

Gordon, running third as Atwood and series leader Martin Truex Jr. dueled for the lead on the 235th lap, slid under both for the lead when Truex's Chevrolet wiggled into Atwood's, opening the lowest groove.

Atwood regained his command and quickly pulled up onto Gordon's bumper, but Gordon repeatedly closed off Atwood's favored outside lane on lap after lap and won the Emerson Radio 250 by 0.177 seconds.

The victory came in his 23rd career start in the Busch Series.

Carpentier first in California

Monterey, Calif. -- Patrick Carpentier won the provisional pole for Sunday's Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

While Carpentier's fast lap of 1 minute, 9.918 seconds (115.232 mph) guaranteed him his first front row start of the season, current series leader Sebastien Bourdais wound up second at 1:10.130 (114.884) and Paul Tracy third at 1:10.214 (114.746). The challengers will get another chance in today's final qualifying to beat out Carpentier, last year's pole winner, for the top spot.

The point Carpentier received for taking the provisional pole moved him into sole possession of fourth place in the standings, ahead of Alex Tagliani and trailing Bourdais by a daunting 76 points with four races remaining.

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