Winners, sinners keep fans abuzz

Knight Ridder Newspapers

DETROIT -- Though the white flag has yet to be unfurled, the 2003 motor racing season is fast coming down to the final laps in what has been a feast for some and a famine for others.

As usual, heroes and villains have emerged along the way, which has kept fans entertained in the stands and busy chatting online at night.

With just 11 of 36 NASCAR Winston Cup races left and a handful of IRL, CART and Formula One races remaining, here's one view from the pits on the good, the bad and the ugly in racing this year:

Hats off to Matt Kenseth, a class act, who is running away from the field in the Winston Cup championship. The Ford driver has been criticized for winning only one race but is nearly 400 points clear of his nearest rival, Chevy's Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kenseth, who drives for Roush Racing, makes no excuses for being consistent.


A slap on the wrist to open-wheel racing in America, which continues to struggle and will until personal agendas are forgotten and a single-series championship is contested.

Good-bye to good guy Gil de Ferran, the 2003 Indy 500 winner, who'll retire at the end of the season. De Ferran, who drives for Roger Penske, has been an ornament to the sport in his years in CART and the IRL.

Tough year for vets Rusty Wallace, Johnny Benson, Ricky Rudd, Kyle Petty, Kenny Schrader and John Andretti, who haven't won one Winston Cup race among them all year.

Kudos to defending Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart, who may not be up to speed this year but has managed to keep his cool.

Penalize pit speeders, a major menace to crewmen everywhere.

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