Elliott tries to set Pocono record with a victory today

Sunday, July 28, 2002

LONG POND, Pa.-- Bill Elliott knows the value of a fast lap, and hopes to parlay his latest into a record-setting victory Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

"In any race as competitive as all these cars are, it's important to start up front," Elliott said.

But he realizes the qualifying lap Friday that gave him a record-tying fifth pole on the mountaintop won't be worth much unless his Dodge is still healthy in the waning laps of the Pennsylvania 500.

Elliott was reminded of that a week ago, after his pole-winning effort at New Hampshire International Speedway became a 34th-place finish when a carburetor failed him.

Under NASCAR's new one-engine rule, a premium is placed on engine durability. Still, Elliott won't attempt to maintain a pace below all out when the green flag waves Sunday.

"I don't know if you can get away with that," he said. "Everybody seems to run to the limit all day long."

  • IRL: Tomas Scheckter, Buddy Rice and Eddie Cheever Jr. made Indy Racing League history Saturda with a 1-2-3 finish in qualifying for today's Michigan Indy 400, the inaugural IRL race at Michigan International Speedway near Brooklyn, Mich.

    Despite earning his third pole of the season -- two more than any other IRL rookie ever -- Scheckter isn't happy.

    "We came into this qualifying with a little bit of a disadvantage," Scheckter said. "A lot of the performance parts that were on my car prior to this race were not on my car anymore. We've dealt with it good. I've got a setup on my car that was pretty hard to drive, and we managed to pull it off.

    "It feels like we've been pushed to the underdog team."

    CART: Cristiano da Matta won the pole for the Vancouver Molson-Indy at Vancouver, British Columbia.

    Until Saturday, the one-hour qualifying sessions this season had been 40 minutes of waiting followed by a 20-minute, highspeed traffic jam. Da Matta couldn't wait.

    "We decided to go a little early because traffic was horrible yesterday," the diminutive Brazilian explained. "Maybe we didn't have the best track, but I had a couple of clear laps with a clear track.

    "Everything that went wrong yesterday went right today," da Matta added.

    He turned his quick lap of 1 minute, 0.339 seconds and 106.260 mph on his fifth lap around the twisting 1.781-mile temporary street circuit, just nine minutes into the session. That earned da Matta his fifth pole of both the season and his career -- all on road or street courses.

    The speed also broke the track record of 1:00.872, 105.239, set last year by Alex Tagliani.

    BUSCH SERIES:Hank Parker Jr. used fuel economy to win the NetZero 250 on Saturday, easily holding off Busch Series leader Greg Biffle at Pikes Peak International Raceway near Fountain, Colo.

    Parker, who started 23rd in his Dodge, beat Biffle by 11.452 seconds after making only two pit stops in the 200-mile race. Parker also gambled on fuel to win last year at California Speedway, his only other Busch Series victory.

    "Our car was good on long runs. It wasn't like we were just kind of throwing it up for fuel," said Parker, who led the final 17 laps after Kevin Lepage pitted for fuel.

    ARCA: Casey Atwood won the Pepsi-ARCA 200 race at Pocono International Raceway in Long Pond, Pa..

    CRAFTSMAN TRUCKS: Robert Pressley won the Michigan 200 for the Craftsman Truck Series at the Michigan International Speedway, in Brooklyn, Mich.

    -- From wire reports

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