Buddy Lazier spent 208 laps driving around Charlotte Motor Speedway like he had been at the track all his life. Then he confirmed his status as a rookie at the Concord, N.C., facility.
Lazier used some artful dodging on Saturday night to outduel Billy Boat and win the Vision-Aire 500, the inaugural Indy Racing League event at a track that for decades has stood as the cradle of NASCAR racing.
But with a larger-than-expected crowd of 73,039 on its feet to cheer his triumph, Lazier drove down pit road and couldn’t locate Victory Lane. By the time he did, he had driven past the turnoff and had to back up and try again.
Scott Goodyear finished third, followed by Affonso Giaffone then Kenny Brack.
Sadler wins Gateway inaugural
Elliott Sadler overcame sweltering heat to win the inaugural Gateway 300 Busch Grand National race at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., his second straight victory in the series.
Sadler, who won at Myrtle Beach, S.C., two weeks ago, became the first repeat winner since Spokane’s Chad Little in 1995.
Sadler, who wrecked his car 45 minutes before qualifying on Friday and was forced into his backup car, held off a last-lap charge from Jason Keller by .223 seconds for his third win of 1997.
Berger wins GP pole
At Hockenheim, Germany, Gerhard Berger won the pole position for his Formula One comeback at the German Grand Prix.
The Austrian, who missed the previous three Grand Prix races because of sinus surgery, drove his Benetton-Renault to the fastest lap on the 4.093-mile Hockenheimring in a vintage display of speed and skill.
Giancarlo Fisichella finished second and will share the front row of the starting grid today.
Pruett enjoys return to Michigan
Scott Pruett has had enough good things happen at Michigan Speedway that he wasn’t the least bit surprised to win the pole for today’s U.S. 500 IndyCar race.
Pruett won a 500-mile race on Michigan’s 2-mile, high-banked oval in July of 1995, and led the Marlboro 500 last July until engine failure knocked him out of the top spot with nine laps remaining.
On Saturday, Pruett turned a lap of 233.857 mph to win his third career pole and will occupy the top starting spot today for the first time since the Detroit race in June 1996.
Mauricio Gugelmin of Brazil, the fastest driver in practice both Friday and Saturday morning, wound up second at 233.493 in a Reynard-Mercedes.
Raul Boesel, another Brazilian, and Pruett’s Brahma Sports teammate, was third at 232.769 in his Ford-powered Reynard. Jimmy Vasser was next in a Reynard-Honda at 232.506.
Hill crashes, escapes serious injury
Drag racer Eddie Hill, 61, of Wichita Falls, Texas, escaped with nothing more than a slight burn to his shoulder and a contusion of the foot when he crashed during qualifying for the Autolite Nationals at Sears Point Raceway at Sonoma, Calif.
Hill had just completed a 4.674-second run at 310.88 mph, moving him to No. 1 in the top fuel field. Just as quickly, the problems started.
The dragster went out of control, spun around, hit a retaining wall and slid down the track into a sand pit.
No driver bettered Hill’s time in the final qualifying session, so he remained No. 1 heading into today’s eliminations. However, Hill’s car was damaged beyond repair and he won’t be able to participate in eliminations.
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