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'Magical debris' irks Rudd

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 10, 2000


He did not want to say anything, but Ricky Rudd did anyway.

The driver of the No. 28 Ford was leading the UAW-GM Quality 500 on Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway when caution flags came out 27 laps from the finish.

"We had a magical debris caution out there," Rudd said. "That bunched us back up and changed the outcome."

Rudd and Bobby Labonte took four tires during yellow-flag pit stops. On the restart, Labonte blew by to win, and Rudd finished third.

"I don't know where he came from at the end of that race," said Rudd, who hasn't won since 1998. "But he was definitely a rocket ship, and it took our car a long time to get going after a restart."

Rudd, 44, cannot be too disappointed with his showing. It was his fourth consecutive top-five.

"It just continues to get better," Rudd said. "A lot of guys are getting used to working with one another. The team chemistry between the 28 and 88 (teammate Dale Jarrett's team) is getting better, and it's just getting stronger and stronger each week."

PROGRAM CHANGE: Delayed once because of concerns about the FieldTurf at Tropicana Field, the inaugural Baja Challenge "microtruck" race scheduled for Oct. 21 has been canceled.

But a race will be at the facility if organizer Eric Canonico's plans for a reality-based motorsports television show pan out.

Canonico plans on racing road rally-type cars in 14 cities, with the first race March 24 at the Trop.

Sixteen amateur drivers will be picked to compete based on applications received at the series/program's Web site, which won't be in place until December. Drivers will be followed by cameras day and night as they learn to race.

The race winners will compete for a $1-million prize at the end of the season.

"It's kind of like Survivor leaves Big Brother in the rear-view mirror," Canonico said.

LONG TIME COMING: His third career Formula One championship means a little more to Michael Schumacher.

The German won the Japanese Grand Prix to give Ferrari its first championship since Jody Scheckter won the world championship in 1979.

"Here at Ferrari we have been working for five years, getting very close three times and not making it three times," said Schumacher, who also won the U.S. Grand Prix on Sept. 24. "That obviously adds certain emotions. Therefore, (this championship) is not comparable to any of them."

DIXON RELEASED: NHRA Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon was released from a Memphis hospital Monday, one day after crashing during his Top Fuel final against Gary Scelzi.

Dixon broke a bone in his left ankle but may be able to drive this weekend at Dallas.

His crash was the second serious one involving a Top Fuel car during the weekend.

Tony Schumacher broke the fibula in his left leg and had surgery Monday at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

"Eighth win of the season and worst of my career," Scelzi said. "To go through what we went though this weekend with Tony and Larry -- I just thank God they're okay. The win means nothing. It was Larry's win. It will be hard to smile in the trophy picture. It's a tainted win.

"I can't believe this weekend. We'll probably live the rest of our lives and never see this again."

PIT NOTES: One day after Winston Cup driver Jeff Burton finished sixth in the UAW-GM Quality 500, wife Kim delivered the couple's second child, Harrison Brian Burton, born at 12:26 p.m. in Charlotte. ... A.J. Foyt will field a team in the Busch Grand National series next season, buying it from Winston Cup driver Dale Earnhardt. Foyt's 23-year-old son, Larry, will drive the car.

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

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