It's a Very Tight Finish, but Craven Gets the Win

From Staff and Wire Reports

Ricky Craven won the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 by inches Sunday, finishing alongside Kurt Busch after their cars hit repeatedly on the closing straightaway at Darlington, S.C.

The unofficial margin of victory was two thousandths of a second -- the smallest since NASCAR introduced electronic timing in 1993.

Craven earned the second win of his career by charging from fourth place with 23 laps to go. He moved up to second place on Lap 271 of the 293-lap event when pole-sitter Elliott Sadler bounced off the wall and lost ground.

Busch had taken the lead the previous lap after Jeff Gordon banged off the wall while trying to fend off Busch.

Busch appeared to have the race won at that point but a power steering problem that got progressively worse gave Craven his chance.

Craven's Pontiac inched closer on every lap, and he finally pulled alongside Busch's Ford twice on Lap 291. As they drove into the first turn on the next lap, Craven bumped Busch and nearly sent him into the wall as he took the lead.

Busch gathered in his sliding car and bumped past Craven in the second turn, nearly putting Craven in the wall.

"When we got together in Turn 1, I don't know how he saved it," Craven said. "Then, I don't know how I saved it. That was wild."

Busch retained the lead until the final turn of the race when Craven moved to the inside of Busch's car and the two started bouncing off each other and grinding toward the finish. Craven was in front at the end, though.

Craven averaged 126.214 mph but was slowed by seven cautions for 34 laps. Dave Blaney was third, the best finish of his career.


Rookie Brandon Bernstein earned his second victory in three NHRA events this season by winning the top-fuel division at the Mac Tools Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. He turned in a 4.594-second pass at 315.90 mph to beat John Smith, who went 4.718 and 315.90.

Gary Densham defeated Del Worsham in the funny car final. Densham's 4.876 at 320.85 in a Ford Mustang beat Worsham's 4.906 at 315.67 in a Pontiac Firebird. Kurt Johnson beat Jeg Coughlin in the pro stock division.


Gus Vildosola of Mexico teamed with Rob MacCachren of Las Vegas to surprise a field of 249 starters and win the overall title Saturday at the 17th Annual Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 desert race.

They won the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck class in their Vildosola Racing Ford F-150, covering the rugged 227.79-mile course in 3 hours 48 minutes 17 seconds with an average speed of 59.93 mph.

With the second-most racers in the history of this event competing in 24 Pro and five Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, American Honda factory team stalwarts Steve Hengeveld of Oak Hills and Johnny Campbell of San Clemente were the overall motorcycle winners.

Winter Sports

Kalle Palander finished second in the final slalom this season and became the first Finnish skier to win a World Cup title.

Palander, who had won four consecutive slaloms, was runner-up to Giorgio Rocca of Italy and held off a late challenge in the standings from defending champion Ivica Kostelic of Croatia.

Rocca had a two-run time of 1:45.44 on the Olympia course at Hafjell, Norway, site of the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, for his second win this season. Palander finished 0.41 behind Rocca. Manfred Pranger of Austria was third, 0.54 off the pace.

Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., was disqualified on the second run. Erik Schlopy of Park City, Utah, tied for ninth and Chip Knight of Stowe, Vt., finished 16th.


Anja Paerson won the World Cup giant slalom title by finishing fifth in the final event this season. She beat Karen Putzer of Italy 514 points to 513.

Paerson, 10th after the first run, became the first Swedish woman to win the giant slalom title by holding off a challenge by Putzer, who won the race on Lillehammer's Olympic course.

Putzer had the fastest opening run and completed the two runs in 2:27.55. Denise Karbon of Italy was second, 1.03 behind Putzer, and Nicole Hosp of Austria was third, 1.33 behind.


Kirk Johnson stopped Lou Savarese in the fourth round to win the World Boxing Council intercontinental heavyweight title Saturday night at Dallas. Johnson (34-4-1) landed a strong right hook and an uppercut to knock down Savarese (43-4), who got up before the 10 count. But the referee stopped the fight at 1:52 of the fourth round to give Johnson (34-1-1) the title.... Acelino Freitas of Brazil retained his World Boxing Assn. and WBO junior-lightweight titles Saturday night at Chicago, stopping Juan Carlos Ramirez of Mexico in the fourth round.


Former National Basketball Assn. player Roy Tarpley will serve 33 days in jail at Denton, Texas, after pleading guilty to violating his probation for a 1998 misdemeanor assault conviction.

Tarpley accepted a 90-day sentence and will get credit for time served, his lawyer said. He surrendered last month for violating several terms of his probation, including a condition that he not leave Texas.


The Ice Dogs (18-39-4) ended an eight-game winless streak in a 3-2 shootout win over the Fresno Falcons (30-25-8) on Saturday night in a West Coast Hockey League game in Selland Arena at Fresno.

Danielle Dube (2-10-0) earned her first win with the Ice Dogs. She defeated Anchorage while on loan to Bakersfield earlier this season.

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