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CART's Moreno making most of his first top-flight opportunity

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000


He doesn't have the youthfulness of Juan Montoya, and he hasn't had the stability of Michael Andretti.

But in his first full season in CART since 1996, 41-year-old Roberto Moreno is leading the points standings after eight races.

"I think I still have another five or seven years of being competitive," said Moreno, who has three of his five career podium finishes this year. "I've only just achieved what I've been looking for for so many years. I'm a low-mileage racer. I might be old in terms of age but not in terms of actual racing.

"If you look carefully at the number of miles I have in a competitive race car, you'd be surprised. It's very little. And when you're racing in a competitive car, it's a different game. I haven't done much. I've just achieved that position. So I'm trying to enjoy this as much as possible."

The Brazilian, whose best success came in the 1980s in Europe, holds a 68-67 points lead over Gil de Ferran heading into the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland on Sunday.

PETTY IN: In addition to driving the No. 44 Pontiac in the Winston Cup series, Kyle Petty will drive the No. 45 Chevrolet in the Busch Grand National series for the remainder of the season.

American Speed Association veteran Scott Hansen will qualify the car for the DieHard 250 on Sunday at the Milwaukee Mile because Petty will be driving in the Pepsi 400.

Petty will start the race.

Petty's son Adam, who drove the car full time, was killed in a practice accident May12 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

FINED: Joe Garone, crew chief for Scott Pruett, was fined $50,000 by NASCAR on Tuesday.

Officials cited the use of an illegal liquid brake cooling device, discovered during a post-race inspection Sunday at Sears Point Raceway.

In addition to the fine, Pruett was docked 50 driver points and car owner Cal Wells lost 50 owner points.

The fine matches the second-largest NASCAR has levied against a Winston Cup team. The largest was $60,000 against crew chief Ray Evernham for illegal suspension parts on a Jeff Gordon-driven car in the Coca-Cola 600 in 1995 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

500 CLUB: The Pepsi 400 will mark Rusty Wallace's 500th consecutive start. Since the Daytona 500 in 1984, he has won 50 races and 32 pole positions.

Wallace has yet to win in 34 tries at Daytona International Speedway. He started fifth and finished 11th after leading 75 laps in the Pepsi 400 last year.

BIFFLE STREAK: Looking for the most dominant driver in any series right now?

Greg Biffle has won four of the past five NASCAR Truck races and tries to become the first driver to win four straight this weekend at the Milwaukee Mile.

Biffle, who drives for Roush Racing, has a 54-point lead on second-place Jack Sprague and set a record with nine victories last season. Mike Skinner (1996) and Ron Hornaday ('97) are the only other series drivers to win three consecutive races.

LITTLE GONE: Winston Cup driver Chad Little will not drive the No. 97 Ford next season.

Little and Roush Racing announced Wednesday that the two have agreed not to extend their contract beyond this season. Little, in his third year with the team, is 20th in points and has never won a race or a pole position.

He will continue to drive the car through the end of the year. Roush Racing intends to continue to operate the team in 2001. No driver has been chosen.

PEPSI 400 FORECAST: The race has been delayed and cut short because of rain twice, in 1996 and 1997.

According to the Web sitehttp://www.weather.com, there is a 50 percent chance of rain for qualifying today and a chance of showers and thunderstorms Friday and Saturday.

If rain washes out qualifying today, NASCAR will attempt to hold both rounds Friday.

Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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