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NASCAR levies more penalties

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Published October 7, 2004

DAYTONA BEACH - A day after hitting Dale Earnhardt Jr. with a $10,000 fine and the loss of 25 points for cursing during a postrace TV interview, NASCAR handed down 12 more penalties for rule violations at Talladega Superspeedway.

The hardest hit Wednesday was Roush Racing, which received four of the penalties for making unapproved rear spoiler adjustments on the No. 16 Ford of Greg Biffle.

Biffle was penalized 25 points, and car owner Geoff Smith, also the Roush team's general manager, lost 25 points. Also, crew chief Doug Richert was fined $25,000 and crew member Michael Hillman Jr. was suspended until Oct. 20 and placed on probation until Dec. 31.

Biffle remained 21st in the standings, falling to 46 points behind 20th-place Jeff Burton.

Evernham Motorsports was handed three penalties for an unapproved spoiler modification to the No. 9 Dodge of Kasey Kahne, the top rookie in the Nextel Cup series. Kahne and team owner and car owner Ray Evernham were docked 25 points apiece and crew chief Tommy Baldwin was fined $25,000.

The loss of points dropped Kahne from 14th to 15th, eight points behind Bobby Labonte.

Pat Tryson, crew chief for Mark Martin's No. 6 Ford, was hit with fines totaling $15,000 for two separate violations. NASCAR dunned Tryson $10,000 for an unapproved air directional device and $5,000 for an unapproved windshield mounting on the Roush-owned car.

Peter Rondeau, crew chief for Kenny Wallace's No. 1 Chevrolet, was fined $10,000 for using unapproved spring mounting plates and bolts; Michael McSwain, crew chief for Ricky Rudd's No. 21 Ford was fined $1,000 for using unapproved windshield clips and Doug Rudolph, crew chief for Scott Riggs' No. 10 Chevrolet, was assessed $500 for using seat belts with an expired manufacturer's date.

TRIPLE DUTY: Competing for NASCAR's Nextel Cup championship should be enough to keep Mark Martin busy. It isn't.

Despite seeking his first championship in 18 years on the circuit, Martin set a daunting schedule for himself later this month at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

He will begin a hectic weekend of racing Oct. 29 in the ASA 150. The 45-year-old Martin began his career in the American Speed Association, winning 22 of 143 races and four championships before heading to NASCAR.

He also will race the next day in the Aaron's 312 Busch Series event. Martin, the career leader with 45 Busch victories returned to the series earlier this year after retiring in 2000. He finished second at Michigan in August, then ran eighth last month in Dover.

Currently fifth in NASCAR's new 10-man, 10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup showdown, Martin also will race in the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 Cup race on Oct. 31.

"This will give me a whole lot more chances to win in Atlanta," he said.

FOLLOW THE LEADER: Tony Kanaan and Thiago Medeiros have a lot in common, including 2004 driving championships.

Shortly before Kanaan won his first title in the Indy Racing's League's featured IndyCar Series last Sunday at California Speedway, the lesser known Medeiros wrapped up the title in the IRL's steppingstone Infiniti Pro Series.

While Kanaan won his championship with consistency, recording 14 consecutive top-five finishes, including three wins, Medeiros dominated Pro Infiniti with five wins and seven poles in 11 races.

Both drivers hail from northern Brazil and started racing in go-karts in Sao Paolo. Both honed their skills and trained extensively at Interlagos in Sao Paulo, the same track that prepared Brazilian drivers such as Emerson and Christian Fittipaldi, Rubens Barrichello, Cristiano da Matta and Helio Castroneves.

"I pretty much followed in Tony's steps," said Medeiros, who like Kanaan raced in the Formula Chevrolet Series in Brazil after a successful go-karting career. "We drove in the same series when we were learning about racing."

While Medeiros stayed in South America to race in Formula 3 before joining the IRL's development series, Kanaan went to Europe before joining Indy Lights in 1996. Roger Bailey, executive director for the Infiniti Pro Series, also oversaw Kanaan in Indy Lights.

"I don't think you can make comparisons between any of the guys, because the two series were so different," Bailey said. "I do think guys who win on this level go on to win in bigger levels."

RECORD RUNS: Coming back from a rare off year, John Force can clinch his 13th NHRA Funny Car championship Sunday at Reading, Pa., in the Lucas Oil Nationals. Force, coming off a record-breaking performance last weekend in Joliet, Ill., is 237 points ahead of runner-up Del Worsham.

If he can raise that lead to 277 points in Reading, that will close the door on Worsham, who beat Force in the finals at Route 66 Raceway but still lost ground thanks to the 20-point bonus Force got for lowering the Funny Car elapsed time record to 4.665 seconds.

Force got no bonus points for it, but he also raised the national speed record for Funny Cars to 333.58 mph, breaking the record of 333.41 by Brandon Bernstein.

In qualifying, Force became the first Funny Car driver to break the 4.7-second barrier, getting through the quarter mile in 4.697.

Force's string of 11 straight championships ended last year when he was beaten by then-teammate Tony Pedregon.

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