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Schumacher slows, and Barrichello wins

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 30, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS -- Payback was sweet for Michael Schumacher and even sweeter for Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello.

Barrichello was delighted -- and surprised -- to find himself the winner of the United States Grand Prix on Sunday, a race in which he chased his teammate without much success for all but the last two of the 73 laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

When Schumacher slowed to let Barrichello catch him, it was the opposite of what happened on May 12 in Austria.

That was the day Barrichello -- obeying team orders -- allowed Schumacher to pass on the final straightaway at the A1-Ring for the victory. At the time, Schumacher had yet to clinch his fifth Formula One title.

"Today was a payback and I'm completely happy with the situation," Barrichello said of the finish that likely will cause a wave of criticism like the one that followed the Austrian race. "I pushed every button I could to pass him. At the end, we were close together. If people want to think I won Austria and he won Indy, that's it."

The two cars were side by side as they crossed the yard of bricks that designate the finish line on the oval portion of the speedway's 2.606-mile, 13-turn road course.

Barrichello won by 0.011 seconds, the closest finish in Formula One since Peter Gethin beat Ronnie Peterson by 0.01 second in the 1971 Italian Grand Prix.

"It took me three-quarters of a lap to realize I'd won because I was pointing at him and he was pointing at me," Barrichello said.

At Indy, Schumacher, who secured the championship in July, was fastest in every practice, set a track record in qualifying and was nearly untouchable in the race.

With a four-second lead and just four laps remaining, it appeared he was on the way to an easy victory that would have been his record 11th of the season.

That's what made the finish so surprising.

As the leaders shot out of the last turn onto the main straightaway, Schumacher slowed perceptibly, and Barrichello pulled alongside. The cars crossed the finish line together with the more than 100,000 fans standing and roaring.

* * *

GURNEY'S PARTNERS: Road-racing legend Dan Gurney offered some background information on the businessmen involved in the American-based Formula One team he is pursuing with Phil Hill, the 1961 world driving champion.

Gurney, 71, said he plans to act as "elder statesman" to a team that is pursing an engine contract from Ford Cosworth and major American sponsorship. Gurney said the business plan is being mapped out by Bob Balachowski, an experienced Wall Street broker with a background in the securities and banking industries.

Gurney's other business connection is Lef Olsen, a marketing executive from Florida who has been connected with the British American Racing F1 team built around Canadian Jacques Villeneuve and Philip Morris.

NHRA NATIONALS: Tony Pedregon raced to his third consecutive Funny Car victory at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. Pedregon's run of 4.924 seconds at 310.84 mph gave him his sixth win this season.

Doug Kalitta captured a Top Fuel victory in a run of 4.594 at 323.27. Jeg Coughlin topped Pro Stock in a run of 6.875 at 200.89, moving him into third place on the all-time Pro Stock win list with 29 career victories.

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