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Montoya has fastest F1 lap

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 15, 2002

MONZA, Italy -- Juan Pablo Montoya raced the fastest lap in Formula One history Saturday in qualifying for the Italian GP.

The Williams BMW driver, who earned the pole position for today's race, turned the 3.6-mile track in 1 minute, 20.264 seconds. He beat his record, set in last year's qualifying, by about two seconds.

Montoya also set a record average speed of 161.46 mph. That topped the mark of 160.95 by Keke Rosberg in 1985.

"I was told by an engineerthat a record was possible at this track, but records are made to be beaten, again and again," Montoya said.

The Monza circuit is considered the fastest in F1 racing. Montoya's speed could lead the auto racing governing body FIA to ask Italian organizers to make changes to slow the cars and improve safety.

It was Montoya's eighth pole this season as he edged Michael Schumacher by 0.257 seconds.

Schumacher enters the race with the F1 title secured and with a record 10 GP wins this season.

Stewart back in the news

LOUDON, N.H. -- Tony Stewart, on probation by NASCAR for punching a photographer and under criminal investigation for shoving a fan, is now being accused of punching an emergency medical technician.

Phil Jewett, who works at New Hampshire International Speedway, where Stewart is racing today, told the Concord Monitor that the driver hit him two months ago after crashing out of the New England 300.

NASCAR says it spoke with the EMT a day after the race and found no evidence to support his claim.

"It's a closed issue," vice president Jim Hunter said.

A representative for Stewart said the driver would not comment, and the track said Jewett could not be immediately reached.

Jewett told the newspaper that Stewart refused help from medical team after crashing July 21. EMTs help a driver exit a wrecked car and escort him to an ambulance or the track's medical care facility.

"As soon as he saw me in the corner of his eye, he swung at me and hit me in the left arm," Jewett said. "I was pretty shocked."

Jewett said he was upset with NASCAR because president Mike Helton did not get back to him with a status report. But the sanctioning body never promised to do so, Hunter said.

NEW HAMPSHIRE 300: Rookie Ryan Newman, coming off consecutive second-place finishes, has more on his mind than just winning his first Winston Cup race.

Although he's 10th in the series standings, the 24-year-old driver is thinking about winning the championship in the last 10 races. So he's considering today the first frame in the big picture.

He points to the title run of the Alan Kulwicki in 1992, who trailed by 278 points with seven races left. "We're 263 points out," Newman said. "It can be done."

Also, Mike Skinner, still sore from a fiery crash while practicing last week at Kansas Speedway, expects to race but said he might need a relief driver.

ROCKINGHAM 500: With 38 laps remaining, Dario Franchitti snatched the lead from Kenny Brack with a seamless pit stop and went on to win the CART race in Corby, England.

"It came down to the last pit stop," said Franchitti, who as a Scotsman was the crowd favorite in CART's only stop in England this year. "I've been giving my guys a very hard time about the pit stops, and if they ever needed to do one, that was a peach."

Brack was on pit road and a mistake turned the stop into another bad moment in a long season. He sat in his Lola and watched a crew member drop a wheel nut changing tires. Brack, the pole-sitter, finished eighth, continuing his run of misfortune after finishing second in the series last year.

Franchitti beat points leader Cristiano da Matta by .986 seconds.

CHEVY 500: Helio Castroneves made his chase to catch Sam Hornish Jr. a little longer.

Castroneves, the only driver with a chance to overtake Hornish for the IRL title, will start seven spots behind the points leader after qualifying Saturday.

"It was a surprise to us," Castroneves said after his lap of 218.770 mph put him 10th. "It's not quite where I wanted to start."

Hornish ran a lap of 220.859 mph and had a spot on the front row until rookie Vitor Meira, the last driver to qualify, went 221.594 mph to win the pole. That dropped Hornish to third, his 12th top-5 start in 15 races this year.

LUCAS OIL NATIONALS: Tony Schumacher led Top Fuel qualifying for the first time in more than two years, taking the top spot in the NHRA at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pa. Schumacher had a quarter-mile run of 4.555 seconds at 321.81 mph in his dragster to pace the 16-car field.

* * *

TODAY ON TV: NASCAR, New Hampshire 300, 1, Ch. 8; F1, Italian Grand Prix, 1, Ch. 28 (taped); ARCA stock car racing, 1, SC; NHRA, Lucas Oil Nationals 4:30, ESPN2 (taped).

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