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Rookie survives wet, wild Honda Indy 300

©Associated Press
October 28, 2002

SURFERS PARADISE, Australia -- Rookie Mario Dominguez won the rain-shortened Honda Indy 300 on Sunday, which started with a major crash that sent two drivers to the hospital.

Dominguez, who was involved in the accident, pitted four times once racing started. The event was stopped on the 40th lap because of a two-hour time limit.

Adrian Fernandez and Tora Takagi were carried off on stretchers after the starting-line accident. Fernandez broke two vertebrae. Takagi had a broken pelvis and bruised hip. Both were released from the hospital. Fernandez will not race next week in Fontana, Calif., while Takagi's status is uncertain.

Dominguez, who had led one lap in 16 previous races, took advantage of a rule instituted this year that forces drivers to pit at least every 20 laps. It prevented Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser from having a chance to win, while Dominguez was able to stay on the track.

"I just feel like the luckiest guy in the world," Dominguez said. "That accident at the beginning was terrible. I couldn't see a thing."

Dominguez's win was the first for the Herdez Competition team, in its 17th year on the CART circuit.

After the opening crash, in which nine cars were totaled, CART officials scheduled a full restart, meaning drivers not injured in the accident could use backup cars.

Before the scheduled 50-lap restart, drivers met with CART president Chris Pook to discuss track safety. The restart with 16 drivers began nearly 90 minutes after the accident and under a caution flag for the first three laps because of the wet track.

The opening crash came when cars driven by Vasser and Fernandez touched and spun, blocking the course and causing a pileup that Dominguez and Andretti didn't see until they came through the area at high speed.

NHRA NATIONALS: Larry Dixon clinched his first series crown with a second-round win and went on to his record-tying ninth victory this year in the Top Fuel division in Las Vegas.

Dixon raced down the quarter-mile in 4.613 seconds at 320.28 mph, ahead of Tony Schumacher, who had a run of 4.674 and 314.75.

John Force earned his 105th career victory in his Funny Car, Jeg Coughlin got his second Pro Stock title with his 31st career win and Angelle Savoie won her third straight Pro Stock Bike series title and earned her 28th career victory.

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