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Auto racing briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2000

Record lap gives de Ferran pole

FONTANA, Calif. -- Gil de Ferran turned in the fastest official closed-course lap in the history of auto racing Saturday to win the pole for today's Marlboro 500.

More important, the 241.428 mph lap on California Speedway's 2.5-mile oval gave the Team Penske driver one more championship point and a little bit more of an edge in the closest title battle in CART's history.

With 21 more points available today -- 20 for winning the race and one for leading the most laps -- de Ferran boosted his lead over Adrian Fernandez to six points and over the third-place duo of Paul Tracy and Kenny Brack to 19.

Roberto Moreno, who came into the weekend with only a slim mathematical chance at winning the championship, was eliminated when he failed to capture the pole.

None of the other contenders came close to de Ferran's performance.

Fernandez wound up 14th at 233.659, with Brack eighth at 236.297, Tracy ninth at 236.213 and Moreno 19th at 231.672.

MOTOROLA 200: Rookie of the year Kurt Busch closed out his Craftsman Truck season with a record-setting victory at California Speedway.

Busch, 22, who will make a full-time move to Winston Cup next season, beat Andy Houston to the finish line by 0.775 seconds in winning for the fourth time this season.

It gave Jack Roush Racing the first 1-2 championship finish in the series' six-year history.

Teammate Greg Biffle, who wrapped up the championship on Oct. 13 at Texas Motor Speedway, finished fifth Saturday, behind Joe Ruttman and Jack Sprague.

Busch averaged a race-record 144.260 mph. The record was 141.844, set in 1998 by Sprague.

SAM'S TOWN 250: Jeff Green won the Busch pole and only needs to start today's race to win his first series championship.

Green won the pole with his first lap during qualifying and turned his second in a record 22.45 seconds, better than his mark of 22.63 last year at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park.

Green has won seven poles this season with six victories.

Green edged rookie Kevin Harvick, who took the second spot at 22.50 on the three-quarter mile oval, with an average speed of 119.734 mph. Casey Atwood will start third (22.578), ahead of Elton Sawyer (22.62) and Todd Bodine (22.64).

MATCO SUPERNATIONALS: Bruce Sarver led Funny Car qualifying for the first time in his NHRA career at Baytown, Texas. Sarver's run of 4.876 seconds at 310.55 mph edged John Force (4.878 seconds). Mike Dunn (Top Fuel), Kurt Johnson (Pro Stock) and Angelle Seeling (Pro Stock Motorcycle) lead their divisions going into today's finals.

DRIVER KILLED: German driver Ulricch Plattenhardt was killed and Swiss driver Daniel Kuenzli injured when they crashed during the Ferrari Challenge, an event to celebrate the automaker's Formula One championship. Plattenhardt, 66, died at the track medical center at Mugello, Italy, near Florence. Kuenzli, 51, had minor head injuries and a bruised shoulder.

* * *

TODAY ON TV: Busch series, Sam's Town 250, 1, TNN; CART, Marlboro 500, 2:30, ESPN; NHRA, Matco Tools Supernationals (taped), 7:30, ESPN2.

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