NASCAR Makes Changes to Level the Playing Field

From Staff and Wire Reports

After the new Ford Taurus' dominant performance in the Las Vegas 400 on Sunday, NASCAR announced rule changes Monday that should benefit Chevrolet and Pontiac drivers.

Starting next Sunday at the Primestar 500 in Atlanta, rear spoilers on both makes of Ford cars will be lowered one-quarter of an inch. The Taurus, which is phasing out the Thunderbird in the Winston Cup series, will have a 4.75-inch spoiler. Thunderbird spoilers will be lowered to 4.5 inches.

Lowering the spoiler height is supposed to slow cars in the turns and make the racing more competitive. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo will keep its 5-inch rear spoiler, and the Pontiac Grand Prix will stay at 5.375 inches.

Front air-dam clearance will be unchanged for all four approved models.

Taurus drivers took the first seven spots and 13 of the top 14 in the inaugural Las Vegas 400. Chevy and Pontiac drivers complained bitterly that earlier rule changes gave the edge to the Fords.

Pro Football

Ted Washington will remain with the Buffalo Bills under a five-year package worth more than $27 million, rather than shop himself to the rest of the NFL, according to the Buffalo News.

The Pro Bowl nose tackle's contract includes a franchise-record signing bonus of $6.5 million, the newspaper reported. It also provides for Washington, who turns 30 next month, to receive about 70% of his money in the first three years.

The NFL Players Assn. and the league's Management Council announced a settlement late last week that replaced the Bills' franchise label on Washington with a less restrictive transition tag.

Washington's contract, the richest in team history, averages slightly more than $5.4 million a season and surpasses the six-year, $28.2-million contract defensive end Bruce Smith signed last year.

CBS is expected to name Verne Lundquist its No. 2 play-by-play announcer on the NFL and pair him with Randy Cross. It is believed Lundquist will continue to announce NBA games for TNT and TBS.

The Miami Dolphins re-signed running back Bernie Parmalee and signed free agent wide receiver Kevin Alexander, each to two-year contracts. Alexander was with the New York Giants the last two seasons. . . . The Philadelphia Eagles, hoping to fill a vacancy in their offensive line, signed former Pro Bowl guard Keith Sims to a two-year contract. Sims started four games for Miami last season before being released after surgery for arm and elbow injuries. He was subsequently signed by Washington. . . . Quarterback Jim Miller, who split time with Jacksonville and Atlanta last season, signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Lions. Miller started the Pittsburgh Steelers' 1996 opener. . . . The Denver Broncos signed veteran free-agent defensive end Marvin Washington, a nine-year veteran who spent eight years with the New York Jets and last season with San Francisco.


Casey Martin returns to competition this week in the Nike Tour's Greater Austin Open at the Hills Country Club outside Austin, Texas.

Martin, who sued the PGA Tour for the right to ride a cart because of a birth defect that weakened his right leg, is among 144 players in the tournament.

It will be Martin's first tournament since a federal judge in Oregon last month ruled for Martin in his lawsuit against the PGA Tour under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Martin could have made his PGA Tour debut this weekend at the Doral-Ryder Open under a sponsor's invitation. Instead, he kept his commitment to the Nike Tour and plans to play circuit events four of the next five weeks.

CBS earned a 6.0 overnight rating for its final-round coverage of the Nissan Open, the highest overnight rating for the tournament since 1989.

Names in the News

Michelle Kwan has signed an endorsement deal to represent a deodorant soap.

Esco Sarkkinen, an All-American football player at Ohio State, died at age 79.


Randy Harvey is on vacation.

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