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By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 8, 2002


CONTENT WITH CONSISTENT: Rusty Wallace surrenders. After years of winning poles and races but never a championship, he concedes consistency is more satisfying than occasional glory.

CONTENT WITH CONSISTENT: Rusty Wallace surrenders. After years of winning poles and races but never a championship, he concedes consistency is more satisfying than occasional glory.

Sort of.

Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Ford, is fifth in the Winston Cup standings, 211 points behind leader Sterling Marlin. The rub? He is the only driver in the top 15 without a top-five finish.

"I tell you, I don't know how we can be in that position," Wallace said. "The neat thing is, I've done all that stuff -- won poles and races -- and it never won me a championship. I've done all the hero stuff. Now, I'm higher up in the points and I'm more consistent than I have been in a long time."

Two years ago, Wallace won nine poles and four races but finished seventh in points. Through 13 races this season, he has seven top 10s, including a season-best sixth at Atlanta. A 25th at Richmond is his only finish worse than 18th. He has completed all but six of 4,450 laps.

"Yeah, I need to win some races now," said Wallace, who has 54 career wins, including at least one in each of the past 16 seasons. "If I can win the races, I can say I've done it right this year -- finally."

DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL: The Indy Racing League returns tonight to Texas Motor Speedway for some of the season's most exciting action -- in any series. The open-wheel cars will race two- and three-wide for most of the 200-lap race.

Just don't call it dizzying.

Last year, the CART series canceled at TMS the day of the race because speeds of 235 mph caused drivers to experience vertigo. That means Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran, who moved to the IRL this season with Team Penske, will make their debuts at the 1.5-mile track.

"You have to really pay attention here," Castroneves said. "I watched the races here on TV last year and I tried to learn from it. But it still will be a new thing when we get on the track."

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