Sunday, March 7, 2004

Harvick wins wild Las Vegas race

Auto racing

The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS - Kevin Harvick took advantage of Matt Kenseth's late-race misfortune to grab the lead, then held off hard-charging Kasey Kahne to win Saturday's Busch Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Kenseth appeared to have the best car on the 1 1/2-mile oval but got caught up in a crash on a restart 21 laps from the end of the 200-lap Sam's Town 300. The reigning champion in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series, a part-time Busch driver, was able to continue, but the damage to his car slowed Kenseth considerably.

After the restart on lap 186, Harvick took only one lap to grab the lead from his fellow Cup star.

Kahne, who finished second to Kenseth two weeks ago in the Cup race at Rockingham and will start from the pole in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 here today, took second place from the slowing Kenseth on lap 192.

NEXTEL CUP: Mark Martin doesn't expect much to change today when NASCAR's new, softer tires and rear spoiler combination gets its first real test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"My read on it is the guys that had it going last year are just making the adjustments that they need to and still have the same kind of advantages that they had last year," Martin said Saturday as his team prepared his Roush Racing Ford for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.

Over the winter, NASCAR shaved three-quarters of an inch off the rear spoilers, decreasing downforce, and asked Goodyear to bring a softer tire to most of tracks.

The idea was to promote more passing and, therefore, more excitement for the fans, particularly at the intermediate tracks like the 1 1/2-mile Vegas oval.

FORMULA ONE: Six-time series champion Michael Schumacher won his fourth Australian Grand Prix title, leading teammate Rubens Barrichello in a 1-2 finish today for Ferraris in the season-opening race at Melbourne, Australia.

Schumacher led from start to finish and completed 58 laps on the Albert Park circuit in 1 hour, 24 minutes and 15.757 seconds, 13.6 seconds clear of Barrichello.

In what seemed to be a separate race among the other nine teams, Fernando Alonso earned his fifth podium finish for Renault, 34.6 seconds behind in third.

Williams drivers Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya were fourth and fifth, more than one minute off the pace. BAR-Honda's Jenson Button was sixth.

Defending champion David Coulthard was eighth, one place behind Renault's Jarno Trulli.

Schumacher led Barrichello for one to two seconds for most of the race, extending the edge to nine with his fastest lap.

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