Son Shines on Big Day for the Earnhardts

From Staff and Wire Reports

Dale Earnhardt was no intimidator Sunday--only a proud father and happy car owner.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., a 25-year-old rookie, was greeted warmly by his father in victory circle after running away to his first Winston Cup win in the DirecTV 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

The elder Earnhardt, a seven-time series champion with 75 victories, parked his seventh-place car next to victory lane and strode purposefully to greet his son as both a parent and the owner of the winning Chevrolet.

As Dale Jr.'s car came to a stop, the elder Earnhardt, a fearsome competitor known as the Intimidator, leaned into the driver's side window for a private moment with his son.

"He told me he loved me and then he said he just wanted to make sure I took the time to enjoy this and realize what we accomplished today," Dale Jr. said.

"That was pretty cool on his part to be thinking about that at that particular time. This was a product of his work. He's proud of his son, but he's also proud that he built this team and the team won the race."

It was a warm, calming moment for Dale Jr., the two-time Busch Series champion driving in only his 12th Winston Cup event. He went wild in the cockpit as he crossed the finish line on the 1 1/2-mile oval, and his screams of joy reverberated over the radio.

"Yeah, I was excited," Dale Jr. said. "I'm still excited. This is amazing."

The younger Earnhardt's best previous finish was 10th this season in Las Vegas. He dominated Sunday's 334-lap event, leading six times for a race-high total of 106 laps.

Jeff Burton, the winner of the inaugural Texas race in 1997, passed Bobby Labonte on lap 318 and finished second, six seconds behind Earnhardt. Labonte, the series point leader, was third, and pole-sitter Terry Labonte, the 1999 winner, was eighth for his second top-10 finish in a row. He led for only the first three laps.

Adam Petty, 19, the son of Kyle and grandson of Richard who became Winston Cup's first fourth-generation driver, was knocked out on lap 115 because of engine trouble. On lap 229, Kyle Petty, who didn't qualify, came in as a replacement driver for Elliott Sadler, who suffered a bruised shoulder in a two-car crash on lap 118.

Jeff Gordon was involved in a four-car accident on lap 112, but after several pit stops was able to finish the race in 25th place.

Soccer

Julio Dely Valdes beat goalkeeper Wilmer Cruz with a penalty kick in the 70th minute to lead Panama over Honduras, 1-0, at Panama City in a qualifier for the 2002 World Cup. Panama (2-0) leads Group B of the Central American region. Honduras is 1-1.

In Central America's other game, El Salvador beat Guatemala, 1-0, at Guatemala City on a 50th-minute header by Raul Diaz Arce of the Tampa Bay Mutiny. El Salvador (2-0) leads Group A; Guatemala is 1-1.

In second-round, first-leg games in the Caribbean region, Cuba beat Suriname, 1-0, at Havana on Osmin Hernandez's goal, and Trinidad and Tobago won, 3-0, at the Dominican Republic.

The second legs of the home-and-home, total-goals series are scheduled for April 16.

The United States has a bye until the semifinals of qualifying in the North and Central American and Caribbean region, which start in September.

Forty soccer fans were taken into custody and some were treated in hospitals for bruises following two hours of violence after an Italian second-division match at Bergamo, Italy. Police stopped the uprising by firing tear-gas bombs and charging the attackers. . . . Violence hit two English soccer games. In one game at Bristol, two fans ran from the stands and attacked a goalkeeper, who was not injured. At Birmingham, police said fans used cell phones to organize fights before the game. The violence is a blow to England's hopes of landing the 2006 World Cup. England has insisted that crowd trouble has been virtually eliminated.

Sailing

Olympians John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree won the Tornado class title at the U.S. sailing trials in Monterey Bay to qualify for the Sydney Games.

Lars Guck and P.J. Schaffer were tied for the lead after one race Saturday but dropped back to second Sunday. Only the first-place boat qualifies for Sydney.

Lovell and Ogletree finished eighth in the 1996 Olympics.

Washington's women mounted a comeback to win their ninth consecutive championship and the California men led throughout their race for their second consecutive title in the two major races at the 27th San Diego Crew Classic off San Diego. More than 3,000 rowers from 100 clubs and universities competed over a 2,000-meter course on Mission Bay in what is regarded as the first major regatta of the collegiate season.

Pro Football

Denver Bronco cornerback Dale Carter will be suspended for one year for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy if he loses an appeal, the Denver Post reported. The newspaper said Carter violated the policy twice in the past three months and had two previous violations during his career. The appeal is expected to be heard in 10 days.

Carter, who signed with the Broncos as a free agent in 1999, could lose his job as well as the $3.5 million he is to be paid next season. If he tests positive again, he could face a lifetime NFL ban.

Carter has a reputation for excessive hard tackling and has been accused of cheap shots and headhunting throughout his career.

Miscellany

Silas Mills, a former Utah State player, had 21 points and seven rebounds to lead the Yakima Sun Kings over La Crosse, 109-93, in the Continental Basketball Assn. championship game at Yakima, Wash.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation made it easier to win the 2000 Golden League Jackpot, reducing the number of winning events from seven to five. The jackpot is for a series of seven top track meets held throughout Europe. Under the old system, an athlete had to win all seven to get a share of the $1-million jackpot.

Lynda Blutreich set a U.S. record in the women's javelin with a throw of 188 feet 5 inches at the Raleigh (N.C.) Relays.

In the World Curling Championships at Glasgow, Scotland, the U.S. record dropped to 2-1 after a 9-6 loss to unbeaten Sweden. Canada also is undefeated.

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