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Burton cruises to fourth Busch win of season

Posted: Sunday, September 29, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Jeff Burton made his fourth Busch Series victory of the season look easy, beating rookie Kerry Earnhardt by more than three seconds in the Mr. Goodcents 300 on Saturday at Kansas Speedway.

Burton, who started on the outside front, took control after driving his Ford past Earnhardt's Chevrolet on the 172nd of 200 laps on the 1.5-mile tri-oval. Burton led 48 total laps.

''I wanted to win real bad, but I knew couldn't hold Jeff off,'' said Earnhardt, who led for nine laps -- his first lead of the season -- en route to his best finish of the season. ''Once he got an open track, he just ran me down in nothing flat.''

Joe Nemechek was third, followed by series leader Greg Biffle, who widened his lead over Jason Keller from 35 to 127 points. Tony Raines was fifth, followed by Jimmy Spencer, Jeff Green, Bobby Hamilton Jr., Lyndon Amick and Jamie McMurray.

Keller, who ran second for much of the early race, lost his engine after 169 laps and finished 30th.

''We're counting races down to the end here, and it's disappointing,'' Keller said. ''But there again, it's something we can't control. We felt like we were doing the things right that we can control -- running well, the pit stops were good.''

Burton is 13th in the Winston Cup standings going into Sunday's Protection One 400 and hasn't won on NASCAR's top circuit since his Coca-Cola 600 victory in May 2001. He has spent much of this race weekend defending Winston Cup drivers who also race in the Busch Series.

''You can make a case that the Busch Series is easy to win in,'' he said. ''But if you beat these guys, you've done a good day's work.''

While his Busch wins don't make up for his lack of Winston Cup success this year, he said, they do serve a purpose.

''If I run poorly tomorrow or run well tonight, I'll be able to separate the two (results),'' he said. ''On the other hand, if the Busch program had struggled like the cup program, that would hurt my confidence as a driver.''

Jeff Green, who won the inaugural Busch race at Kansas Speedway a year ago, finished seventh after taking a controversial -- but short-lived -- lead in the 156th lap.

Schumacher claims pole at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS -- Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello gave Ferrari its fifth front row sweep of the season in qualifying Saturday for the SAP United States Grand Prix.

The dominating Schumacher, with his fifth Formula One championship already clinched, took his sixth pole of the season and remains the only driver to win the Indy pole in the three years the race has been on the F1 calendar

Schumacher broke his own track record with a time of 1 minute, 10.790 seconds on the 2.606-mile, 13-turn circuit at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, beating the 1:11.708 set last year.

Barrichello, who wrecked his car in practice Friday when he spun and hit a concrete wall, was close behind his teammate at 1:11.058 in his rebuilt car.

Schumacher and Barrichello have not qualified worse than third in the 16 events this season.

The qualifying wasn't uneventful for Schumacher, who will try to extend his record for victories in a season to 11 on Sunday. He drove into the grass in his first lap and nearly spun.

''I went wide in the first corner and couldn't make the corner,'' Schumacher said.

Schumacher, who won the inaugural Indy race in 2000 and finished second to now-retired Mika Hakkinen last year, went back to his garage for new tires and stayed there until only a little over 25 minutes remained in the hour-long session. Three minutes later, his red Ferrari flashed past the finish line to complete his record lap and knock Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams-BMW off the top rung.

Neither of the Ferrari drivers was able to improve upon their early laps, but they were fast enough.

''It's difficult to fine tune here and there,'' Barrichello said. ''I never could really put all the sectors together. But looking at what happened yesterday, I'm happy.

''The car is exactly the same as yesterday. They changed the chassis but the car is as good as the other one.''

Montoya, who leads the series with seven poles this season, had taken the early lead with a lap of 1:11.414, but was unable to improve upon it and wound up fourth.

The McLaren-Mercedes of David Couthard barely knocked Montoya out of third on his last lap with a time of 1:11.413, just 0.001 quicker than the Colombian.

Among the other fast qualifiers were Montoya's teammate Ralf Schumacher at 1:11.587, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen at 1:11.633 and Jacques Villeneuve's BAR-Honda at 1:11.738.

Barrichello has a 17-point lead over Montoya in the battle for second place. Ralf Schumacher is one point behind Montoya, and Coulthard, five behind Schumacher, could finish as high as third.

Barrichello can wrap up the runner-up spot in Sunday's 73-lap event by finishing no worse than third, no matter what the others do.

It has certainly been a Ferrari year and Michael Schumacher said it has been far better than he expected.

''We are surprised (by dominance) and we know it won't last forever,'' he said. ''We would like to keep it as long as possible, but I think we have seen a very high peak and I think competition, you have to work for it.

''We have seen our opponents falling out of races, having engine reliability problems where we are strong and reliable altogether. I think we can keep this sort of level but the others will pick up their level and competition becomes tighter.''



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