Sports Briefs

Posted: Friday, July 02, 2004

Midnight Sun finishes fourth day in Reno

The Peninsula Midnight Sun Volleyball under-16 team completed day four of play at the Volleyball Festival in Reno, Nev., Wednesday. The club went 3-1 on the day.

The area players began the day with a win over Banks, Ore., Volleyball Club by scores of 28-26 and 25-18. Midnight Sun then absorbed a 20-25, 25-16, 15-9 loss to Zuma Bay Volleyball Club of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The local club finished the regular play for the day by defeating Vintage Volleyball Club of Temecula, Calif., by scores of 25-19 and 25-17. This created a three-way tie and forced a playoff.

In the playoff, the team from the peninsula defeated Vintage 25-16 and Zuma Bay 25-19 to finish first in the pool and take the No. 137 seed.

Gordon takes pole at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Jeff Gordon had a hunch his Hendrick Motorsports team had closed the gap on Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s dominance at Daytona International Speedway.

His intuition proved correct Thursday night, when he won the pole for the Pepsi 400, his third straight on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit.

Gordon's lap of 188.659 mph bested DEI's Michael Waltrip, who qualified second to put a pair of Chevrolets on the front row. It was the fourth pole of the season and 50th of Gordon's career.

''This weekend is working out really awesome for us so far,'' said Gordon, who also had the fastest practice speed. ''For the first time I felt like the car was really good from the minute we unloaded it and the Hendrick power has been strong.''

Tracy wins provisional pole at Cleveland

CLEVELAND Paul Tracy wouldn't dare complain about this official ruling.

Tracy, fined $15,000 last week for criticizing Champ Car officials, was awarded the provisional pole at the Cleveland Grand Prix on Thursday when racing stewards determined Sebastien Bourdais blocked competitors during qualifying.

Nearly four hours after the qualifying session ended, officials completed their review and announced that Bourdais, the defending champion, as well as Patrick Carpentier were penalized for impeding other drivers.

Officials did not say which drivers had been blocked.

Tracy left the track thinking he had again finished second to Bourdais, who edged him in last year's race on the temporary course at Burke Lakefront Airport.

But the official's ruling made Tracy's time of 58.361 seconds the fastest during a 35-minute qualifying session that was twice stopped by red flags.

Earlier, Tracy bit his lip when asked about officiating.

''I'm not going to comment on the officials,'' he said with a smile.

The defending series champion was slapped with a $10,000 penalty for criticizing officials and another $5,000 for making an obscene gesture at them following a race two weeks ago in Portland, Ore.

In addition to being dropped to fourth in qualifying with a one-lap time of 58.731 seconds, Bourdais also lost his spot in the record book for now.

As the provisional pole winner, he had been guaranteed a spot in the front row for Saturday's race. He has started a race in either the No. 1 or No. 2 spot at all four previous stops on the circuit this season.

Until his penalty, Bourdais was the first Champ Car driver since 1979 to earn five consecutive starts in the front row. Tracy did it four times last season.

''It's a huge disappointment,'' said Bourdais, who can reset the record if he wins the pole on Friday.

Carpentier's blocking offense dropped him from fourth overall to ninth.

Tracy gets one point in the series standings for having Thursday's fastest time, and is now in fourth place with 80 points. Bourdais' infraction drops him back to third place with 98 points, one behind Carpentier and seven back of leader Bruno Junqueira.

After the officials stripped Bourdais, Junqueira wound up with the second-fastest qualifying time 58.500 seconds.

It was a major accomplishment for the Brazilian, who crashed during a morning practice run while coming through turn 8. Hours later, Junqueira was at a loss to explain the mishap.

He was barely moving through the corner when he suddenly left the track.

''I just lost it,'' said Junqueira, second in Portland two weeks ago. ''I don't understand it. I just lost the grip. What's important is that I'm OK. I'll be a little sore tomorrow.''

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