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Stewart likes driving home

By KEVIN KELLY

Revised August 9, 2000

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 1, 2000


It's not enough that Tony Stewart will drive in the fourth stage of the International Race of Champions and Brickyard 400 this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

He also plans to race a Silver Crown car Wednesday at Indianapolis Raceway Park and will watch the Craftsman Truck Series and Busch Grand National races Thursday and Friday at IRP.

"It's very hectic," said Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Pontiac owned by Joe Gibbs. "There are a lot of things happening there in a four-day period that most people would cram into a seven- or eight-day period."

But, for the native of nearby Rushville, Ind., this week is considered more fun than busy.

Stewart will see family and friends, eat at his favorite restaurants and drive at one of the tracks that helped get him to Indy Racing and eventually Winston Cup, where he won three races and was rookie of the year last year and ranks sixth in the standings this year.

"I grew up 45 miles away from the speedway," said Stewart, who finished seventh in the Brickyard 400 last year. "When you learn the history of the place and when you live that close -- even when I moved to Indianapolis and lived there, I used to drive by the speedway daily. Being on the outside of the fence looking in, I always wanted to win there."

GOOD DAY FOR BRAZIL: Cristiano da Matta and Rubens Barrichello are former housemates and fellow Brazilians.

They're now first-time winners.

Barrichello won the German Grand Prix on Sunday just hours before da Matta's win in the Target Grand Prix.

Da Matta, who won seven times in 27 Indy Lights starts before moving to CART last season, beat CART points leader Michael Andretti by 1.69 seconds to become the ninth different and fourth first-time winner in CART this season.

"It was incredible," da Matta said. "I've won some races in other series, but this was just a different emotion. And I'm so happy for Rubens. Both of us knew our day would come."

Barrichello, 28, started 18th and ran the last 10 laps on dry-weather tires in rain.

SCELZI SMOKING: Gary Scelzi won his sixth Top Fuel event of the season Sunday at Seattle International Raceway, tying him with Gary Ormsby and Cory McClenathan as the only Top Fuel drivers to accomplish the feat twice.

Scelzi's 20th career win increased his points lead to 123 over defending series champ Tony Schumacher.

"The key (Sunday) was lane choice," Scelzi said. "We ran quick enough every time to maintain it, and that's why we won. The left lane had a bump out there, and whenever anyone drove over it their car broke loose."

ROOKIE WINNER: Ron Hornaday might have had the toughest job in racing this season.

The former Winston West champion and Craftsman Truck Series driver replaced two-time Busch Grand National champ Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 3 Chevrolet. In his 21st start Saturday, he won his first Busch Grand National race -- the CarQuest 250 at Gateway International.

PIT STOPS: For the third time in three years, teammates Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti wrecked each other's cars during a CART race. In the Target Grand Prix, they both crashed after battling for 11th place on Lap 76. Tracy finished 19th and Franchitti finished 20th. ... Kerry Earnhardt, eldest son of seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt, will try to qualify Dave Marcis' car for the Pepsi 400 on Aug. 20 at Michigan Speedway. ... The protester who wandered around the course during the German Grand Prix on Sunday was released by police Monday after posting a $950 bail. The 47-year-old Frenchman told police he was protesting his dismissal for health reasons by Mercedes-Benz after 20 years of service.

- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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