Jeff Gordon passed Dale Jarrett with 43 laps to go and went on to an easy victory Sunday in the Goodwrench Service 400 at Rockingham, N.C., giving him wins in the first two races of the 1997 season and in five of the last nine NASCAR Winston Cup events.
Jarrett looked nearly invincible through the first 350 laps of the 393-lap event on North Carolina Motor Speedway’s 1.017-mile oval. He led 323 of those laps, and his Robert Yates Racing Ford appeared to have everybody covered, including Daytona 500 winner Gordon.
But the 25-year-old Gordon, driving a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, stayed among the top five throughout the race and finally, on lap 350, began to challenge Jarrett.
On lap 351, Gordon, using the high lane on the banked oval, got the nose of his multihued No. 24 ahead of Jarrett’s No. 88 and began to pull away. Gordon drove off to a 2.43-second win--beating Jarrett to the finish line by a quarter of a straightaway.
Gordon’s average speed of 125.927 mph broke the Rockingham record for a 400-mile race. The previous mark, set by Ricky Rudd last fall in the ACDelco 400, was 122.320.
Playing in his first final at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Michael Chang beat Todd Woodbridge, 6-3, 6-4 in 1 hour, 39 minutes.
It was Chang’s first title this year. He will move up one place to No. 3 in the today’s rankings with the 260 points he earned along with the $120,000.
Chang made his debut as a pro at the St. Jude Classic in 1988 thanks to a wild card given to him as a 15-year-old player. He has repaid that courtesy by coming back each of the past 10 years, although he had never won here.
Marc Rosset of Switzerland won a tournament for the first time in a year by beating England’s Tim Henman, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4, in the European Community Championship at Antwerp, Belgium. . . . Iva Majoli of Croatia won the Faber Grand Prix at Hanover, Germany for the second consecutive year, fighting back from match point to edge top-seeded Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.
Top-seeded Lindsay Davenport defeated her occasional doubles partner Lisa Raymond in straight sets to win the IGA Tennis Classic at Oklahoma City. The 6-4, 6-2 victory was the eighth of Davenport’s career.
Leading 2-1 in the first set, Davenport converted on her sole break point opportunity of the set to take a 3-1 lead. Her three remaining service games went to deuce, but she was able to hold serve each time.
In the second set, Raymond started making more unforced errors and Davenport closed out the set in 28 minutes.
Track and Field
Ato Boldon of Trinidad tied the year’s fastest time for 60 meters, then ran the season’s best for 200 when he charged to spectacular victories at the BUPA Indoor Grand Prix meet at Birmingham, England.
The Olympic bronze medalist at both 100 and 200 meters was pulling away from the field when he crossed the finish line in the 60 in 6.49 seconds at the National Indoor Arena. That tied the time set by Jamaica’s Michael Green at Lievin, France, a week ago.
Nigeria’s Davidson Ezinwa was second in 6.53 and Jamaica’s Ray Stewart third in 6.55.
In the 200, Norway’s Geir Moen took the early lead, but when the field reached the final bend, Boldon was ahead and he crossed the line in 20.35. Moen ran 20.47, his best of the year.
Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey, owner of more medals in major championships than any other woman, was beaten in the women’s 60 by Nigeria’s Christy Opara-Thompson. Opara-Thompson clocked 7.09 to beat Ottey by .01 second.
Austrian Hermann Maier upstaged skiing’s stars by winning the super giant slalom for his first World Cup victory, at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
Maier, 24, discovered by Austrian coaches two years ago, beat Italy’s Kristian Ghedina by more than a half-second, while Norwegians Atle Skaardal and Lasse Kjus tied for third.
Maier, racing in only the third super-G of his career, charged down the 2,070-meter icy and demanding Kandahar course to post a winning time of 1 minute, 21.64 seconds, .52 seconds ahead of Ghedina, who clocked 1:22.16.
Olympic champion Lyubov Egorova of Russia won the World Nordic Ski Championship at Trondheim, Norway.
Egorova covered the women’s cross-country sprint distance in 13 minutes, 29.9 seconds, edging Russian countrywoman Elena Valbe by 2.8 seconds. Stefania Elmondo of Italy was third, 5.1 seconds back.
Kenji Ogiwara of Japan won the Nordic combined, finishing 30.8 seconds ahead of Bjarte Engen Vik of Norway in the final 15 kilometer freestyle cross-country ski event.
Names in the News
Elvis Grbac appears to be the first choice of the Kansas City Chiefs in their search for a quarterback. Jim Steiner, Grbac’s agent, told the Kansas City Star that the Chiefs have begun discussing contract terms with Grbac, who has been Steve Young’s backup with the San Francisco 49ers. . . . Harold Nichols, a national champion wrestler who went on to become one of the sport’s most successful and respected coaches, died at 79. He retired after the 1984-85 season with an overall record of 492-93-14 that included five years at Arkansas State and 32 at Iowa State, where he won six NCAA and seven Big Eight team championships. . . . Steve Pate of the PGA Tour hosts a charity pro-am golf tournament today at Wood Ranch Golf Club in Simi Valley to raise money for drug rehabilitation centers. Duffy Waldorf, Keith Clearwater, Mike Reid, Dave Rummels are among those who will play.