Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 18, 2001
A Green St. Patrick's Day
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Busch Grand National champion Jeff Green finally found the winning touch this year, holding off Matt Kenseth the final 25 laps to win the SunCom 200 at Darlington Raceway Saturday.
Green, whose team switched from Chevrolets to Fords this season, beat Kenseth out of the pits on Lap 123 and finished less than a second in front for his first victory at the track.
"This is a great day," said Green, who has 17 BGN wins. "We knew it was going to take us a little while to get used to the change and it's getting better every week."
Green's season started slowly after a spectacular 2000, when he took the driver's title by 616 points over teammate Jason Keller. Even though he had four top-10 finishes and leads the points, it was uncertain if Green's Ford would have the same muscle as his Chevy.
He and his crew showed it did the final 20 laps.
Kenseth, who led 66 of the 147 laps, looked like he had the most powerful car.
Kenseth passed Green on Lap 80 for the lead and increased it to nearly four seconds.
But Kenseth had a 17-second pit stop, Green's team bettered it and Kenseth was left behind.
"We're were pulling away from him, I thought we had him," Kenseth said. "It was just bad luck at the end."
Keller was third, followed by Kenny Wallace and Mike McLaughlin.
PENNZOIL 200: Team Penske made its much-anticipated Indy Racing League debut and Greg Ray won another pole at Avondale, Ariz. Ray turned a lap of 177.663 mph on the mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway to earn his series-high 10th pole for the season opener.
"Unfortunately, I'm not the championship leader with three points," Ray said, referring to the rule change that eliminated qualifying points (three for first, two for second, one for third) this season.
Penske's Gil de Ferran, the defending champion in the rival CART series, qualified fifth. The other Penske entry, Helio Castroneves, qualified 17th in the 27-car field. Both raced in CART last week and are appearing at PIR as a tuneup for the Indy 500 in May.
MALAYSIAN GP: Michael Schumacher won his sixth straight pole, and nearly had his younger brother beside him at Sepang. The three-time champion's Ferrari led qualifying at 130.24 mph.
Ralf Schumacher, in a Williams, led much of the way but wound up third when overtaken in the final seconds by Rubens Barrichello of Ferrari to prevent what would have been the first 1-2 brother combination on the grid.
OSH 250: Pole-sitter Ted Musgrave becoming the first two-time winner this season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series event at Bakersfield, Calif. Musgrave, who led a race-high 119 of 250 laps in a Dodge, passed Brendan Gaughan on the 218th Lap around the 1/2-mile track. He won by .858 seconds over Jack Sprague.
TODAY ON TV: IRL, Pennzoil 200, 4, Ch. 28.