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Schumacher captures points lead

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 25, 2000


INDIANAPOLIS -- A heavy foot by David Coulthard and a fiery engine in Mika Hakkinen's car helped Michael Schumacher win the U.S. Grand Prix Sunday, his seventh victory of the season.

It gave Schumacher the Formula One points lead. He leads Hakkinen by eight points with two races remaining.

"I know eight points mathematically leaves things open," Schumacher said. "I'll start to think about the championship once it is over, not before."

Hakkinen, the two-time defending series champion, finished 19th after his engine caught fire on Lap 26. He was in second place behind Schumacher at the time.

"We have two races to go," said Hakkinen, who started Sunday with a two-point lead. "It's very, very difficult indeed now and getting tougher.

"I don't know what to say. It's going to be a fight to the end," he said. "This race is not over yet."

LEADER OF THE PACK: When Schumacher gets a big lead, Ferrari team principal Jean Todt gets worried.

"Michael always makes us nervous when he has a big lead, but we know him well by now," Todt said. "He's like that. He finds it hard to drive slowly."

Schumacher, who became the first Ferrari driver to win a Formula One race in the United States in 21 years, led the U.S. Grand Prix by as many as 40 seconds but spun out five laps from the finish.

"I wasn't concentrating because I was cruising after the team told me to slow down," Schumacher said. "(Technical director) Ross Brawn told me on the radio to concentrate and I replied, "I'm awake now.' "

CREWMEN INJURED: Two crewmen for the Minardi team were injured after getting hit by Gaston Mazzacane's car.

Mazzacane, who finished 14th, locked his wheels in preparation for a pit stop and slid to the right of the pit box.

Sandro Parrini (right foot) and Ricardo Pozzati (right leg) were taken to the infield hospital for examination.

"A big approval to them both because, despite the incident, they completed their job, tire change and refueling respectively," Gian Carlo Minardi said. "Soon afterward, the race was not important anymore. We took care of what happened in the garage, which was much more important to us."

BACK AT INDY: A pair of driving legends didn't fare well in the Porsche Super Cup support races during the weekend.

Mario Andretti finished 17th and 18th. Al Unser Jr. was 20th in both of his races.

"I'm totally pleased that I did it," Andretti said. "No regrets."

Said Unser: "A little better than yesterday because today I didn't crash. It went really well. ... Today, we were just taking it easy and having fun."

PIT NOTES: Ruben Barrichello's second-place finish and Schumacher's first marked the third time this season they've swept the top two spots. ... The U.S. Grand Prix starting grid was moved back 13 yards in response to concerns voiced by Schumacher and Coulthard about possibly spinning their tires on yard-wide swathe of bricks at the finish line. ... Jacques Villeneuve, who won the 1995 Indianapolis 500 and 1997 Formula One world championship, finished fourth.

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