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NASCAR Impounds Tony Stewart’s Car

From Staff and Wire Reports

Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart’s car was impounded Friday because it didn’t meet specifications, a punishment never before handed out by NASCAR.

Stewart was forced to use his backup Chevrolet at the opening practice for Sunday’s Samsung/Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

“The cars all look the same from where I’m sitting,” Stewart said. “I’ve got three things I’m in control of -- a steering wheel, the shifter and the pedals. All our cars are good, whether they’re primary or a backup.”

Trying to match the right car with the track, Stewart had never used this particular car. But the Joe Gibbs Racing entry failed inspection because it didn’t meet the exact specifications for “the area around the back of the car, back window to back deck,” NASCAR President Mike Helton said.

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“We decided to impound the car instead of letting them cut it up and try to fix it, if they wanted to,” Helton said.

Helton said the car will be sent to the sanctioning body’s new research and development facility in Concord, N.C., for further study.

NASCAR had never impounded the entire car of a Winston Cup driver. Stewart’s team could face other penalties or fines.

“This was as big a shock to me as it was to the people at NASCAR,” said Stewart’s crew chief, Greg Zipadelli.

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“There’s a measurement between the offset of the deck lid and the roof, and it wasn’t exactly where it needed to be.”

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Bobby Labonte, Stewart’s teammate, won the pole for the Samsung/Radio Shack 500.

Labonte earned his second pole of the season and the 23rd of his career with a lap of 193.514 mph on the 1 1/2-mile oval.

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Moving into the backup car prepared hurriedly by his team, Stewart qualified 22nd in the 43-car field with a lap at 190.154.

Labonte was followed by Elliott Sadler, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson.

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Irwindale Speedway opens its fifth season of motor racing tonight with four main events on the half-mile paved oval.

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Super late models, the premier division of the NASCAR Weekly Series, will compete in the 100-lap Jani-King feature race. Also scheduled are features for NASCAR late models and super stocks and Ultra Wheel super trucks.

Gates open at 4 p.m. with an on-track autograph session at 6 and the first race at 7.

Pro Football

Middle linebacker Zach Thomas signed a five-year, $33.75-million contract extension with the Miami Dolphins. The contract includes a $10.5-million signing bonus and extends through the 2008 season.

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Thomas, 29, was entering the last year of the five-year, $22.5-million contract he signed after the 1999 season.

John Kaleo tied a team record with eight touchdown passes and became the seventh player in Arena Football League history to surpass 20,000 yards passing in the Tampa Bay Storm’s 68-39 victory over the Arizona Rattlers at Tampa, Fla.

Swimming

Ian Crocker won the 100-yard butterfly in 45.67 seconds and helped Texas set a record in a relay at the NCAA men’s swimming and diving championships at Austin, Texas.

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Crocker swam the anchor leg as the Longhorns set a record in the 200 medley relay in 1:24.46, breaking the old record of 1:24.47 set by Texas in 2001.

Auburn leads with 449 points. Texas is second with 282, followed by Stanford (272), California (238) and USC (190).

Miscellany

Cross-country skier Bente Skari of Norway is retiring, ending a career in which she won five Olympic medals and five world titles as one of the most successful women in the sport’s history.

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Skari, 30, also won four World Cup overall championships and 44 World Cup races, a women’s record.

Lance Armstrong finished 23rd in the Catalan Week cycling race at Vic, Spain, as he prepares for an attempt at his fifth consecutive Tour de France title.

He finished the event in 20 hours 17 minutes 2 seconds, 1:11 behind winner Dario Frigo of Italy.


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