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Cowlitz, ISC discuss track

Associated Press

The Cowlitz Indian tribe has met with International Speedway Corp. in Longview, Wash., and proposed a plan to build a track for NASCAR races somewhere in the southern part of the state.

Tribal spokesman David Barnett has not publicly discussed possible sites, but any spot in south Cowlitz County would be near the tribe’s proposed $400 million casino and resort in the La Center area.

“The goal is to help a distressed county – create some economic development that would allow people to come back to work and also complement our casino in northern Clark County,” Barnett, son of Cowlitz tribal chairman John Barnett and the tribe’s point man on the casino project, told the Associated Press on Thursday.

Barnett said he met Tuesday with Grant Lynch, vice president of International Speedway Corp., which is considering several potential sites in Washington and Oregon.

Fisichella holds edge in Australia

Giancarlo Fisichella took the lead in qualifying for Renault before rain caused havoc today at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Fisichella had the fastest lap of one minute, 33.171 seconds during preliminary qualifying.

A sudden downpour over Albert Park 35 minutes into the session made the track slippery for the last eight drivers, including defending Australian GP and series champion Michael Schumacher.

Fisichella was 2.1 seconds faster than Toyota’s Jarno Trulli.

Mark Webber of Williams placed third and former world champion Jacques Villeneuve of Sauber recovered from a spin to finish fourth.

Felipe Massa was on the track when the heavy rain started and didn’t set a time.

Schumacher was next out in his Ferrari and could only manage 1:57.931 in driving rain — 7 seconds behind the slowest Minardi, the regular stragglers.

He was the slowest of the 18 cars that finished.

Under the new F1 format, qualifying spans two days. Another session will be held on Sunday morning, scheduled to finish three hours before the start of the GP.

Rice leads IRL opening day

It was only the first day of practice for the 2005 Indy Racing League season and already the competitors were wheel-to-wheel on the track.

Buddy Rice, last year’s Indianapolis 500 winner and one of the favorites for the IndyCar Series championship this season, led the way on the 1 1/2 -mile oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a fast lap of 213.514 mph.

Three-tenths of a second separated Rice’s Honda-powered Panoz from the 13th-place Dallara-Toyota of IRL champion Tony Kanaan.

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