Drivers take cautious approach until sun sets

Updated: September 5, 2005, 1:24 AM ET
Associated Press

FONTANA, Calif. -- It's tough enough driving a NASCAR stock car at speeds at speeds close to 200 mph in heavy traffic without having to do it blind.

Because of the late afternoon starting time for the Sony HD 500 at California Speedway, the 43 Nextel Cup drivers faced a blinding sun as they drove into the third turn on the 2-mile oval for the first half of the 250-lap event.

"It's just real tough," said Elliott Sadler, who won the inaugural September race at the California track last year. "You can't see anything going into [turn] three and then you can't see anything in your rearview mirror on the front straight."

After dealing with the situation a year ago, drivers tried a number of different methods of blocking out the sun on Sunday, including tape on some windshields, tinted tear-offs on the visors of their helmets, and sunglasses under their visors.

"It's pretty difficult because it's hard to find something that works to allow you to see heading into the sun without making it too dark when you're not going in that direction," veteran racer Dale Jarrett said. "You just have to kind of wait it out and try not to get too close to the guys around you.

"After the sun sets, there's no more problem."

Donation
Kyle Busch didn't take long to decide what to do with the $241,065 winner's share of the $5 million purse.

He dedicated the victory to the Katrina victims, telling team owner Rick Hendrick, "We're going to donate your share and my share to them down there. I saw Carl Edwards [the Busch Series race winner on Saturday] do that last night and I thought it was a real class act, so I'm going to do the same."

Rudd rund well
Ricky Rudd attended the funeral of his father on Friday, arrived in California from Virginia on Saturday, then ran well enough to finish ninth on Sunday.

He had to start from the rear of the 43-car field after replacing Jon Wood, who practiced and qualified Rudd's car in his absence. Wood, the son of Wood Brothers co-owner Eddie Wood, qualified 39th.

Rudd's father, Al, a former racer himself, died Tuesday.

Brother act
The Wayans brothers, a sort of comedy conglomerate, are getting into NASCAR racing -- seriously.

The brothers are partnering with racing professionals and others to establish STAR Motorsports. The organization plans to field teams in the NASCAR Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series.

One goal is to ensure that women and minorities are represented in the sport.

Plans are for the organization's first car, STAR-Team Wayans, to compete in the 2006 Nextel Cup Series.

Marlon Wayans said he and brothers Keenen, Damon and Shawn believe it's time for their family to join the NASCAR family, and help expand the rapidly growing fan base.

No driver or crew chief has been named.

"Hopefully we will have it together by next season, even if we have to put Marlon behind the wheel," Keenen said.

The Wayans aren't the only ones hoping to send out a team next season. Former NFL receiver Tim Brown also plans to launch one, with the help of team owner Jack Roush.

"We think we are going to be able to race Cup series starting in '06," Brown said. "We have two or three companies that are very interested."

He may try to convince a fellow pro football receiving great to sign on.

"Maybe I can talk my good friend Jerry Rice into the same thing," Brown said.

Spark plugs
It didn't take long for the first caution flag to come out: J.J. Yeley spun and hit the wall in turn four in his Chevrolet on the second lap and had to have extensive repair work before returning to the track. … Among the spectators were TV's Josh Duhamel of "Las Vegas," the race's grand marshal; Frankie Muniz of "Malcolm in the Middle" and news correspondent Lesley Stahl. … Tommy Lasorda, the honorary starter, was amazed at the convoy that accompanied the Los Angeles Dodgers' Hall of Fame manager into the track some 50 miles east of Los Angeles. "I'm so impressed that I had a seven-car police motorcycle escort," Lasorda said. "I've had escorts before, but nothing like this."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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