Extreme G-Forces Prompt Race Cancellation

Russell, who talked to both drivers, said there appeared to be no mechanical problems with either car. He believes the accidents was caused by the G-force stress on the cars and drivers, and the affect of turbulence from other cars.

‘Not an Issue of Track Safety’

CART President Joe Heitzler said attempts would be made to reschedule the race, and that determinations would be made on what changes could be made to the cars to make them safer at TMS.

"This is not an issue of safety at this track," Heitzler said. "This was safety of the drivers in their performance of their skills."

This was supposed to be the first of three CART races under the contract signed last summer. Gossage said track officials would be considering their options.

Gossage said it could be hard to clear a weekend date for CART for the rest of 2001. TMS is the only speedway in the country with every major form of American automobile racing — Winston Cup, Busch, NASCAR trucks, Indy Racing League and American Le Mans — and also is booked almost daily with racing schools.

The Indy Racing League has competed at Texas since the track opened, and returns June 9 for the first of two IRL races there this year. The IRL qualifying record of 225.979 mph was set by Billy Boat in 1998.

Heightened Concern After Earnhardt Crash

The postponement comes at a time when safety is a top concern in racing, the attention heightened after the death two months ago of NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt in the season-opening Daytona 500.

Four NASCAR drivers have been killed in the last 11 months, including truck series driver Tony Roper last October in the only fatal accident at Texas Motor Speedway since it opened in 1997. Roper was killed when he lost control of his truck in traffic on the frontstretch and slammed into the wall head-on.

CART drivers had a lengthy meeting last year after Patrick Carpentier crashed in practice for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey in Laguna Seca, Calif. A year earlier, rookie Gonzalo Rodriguez was killed while practicing on that track.

Changes were made to the road course last year, and the race went on.

Based on his own experience driving Winston Cup cars in Texas, Rusty Wallace felt CART probably made the right decision. Wallace, who won the NASCAR race at California Speedway on Sunday, drives for CART veteran Roger Penske.

"I know the CART cars are so doggone fast and Texas is a little bit rough," Wallace said. "For those guys to run over 240 miles per hour, you've got to be some brave individuals to do that. I think the guys probably ran out and the brains started kicking in because to hit a wall over 240, that's a bad deal."

At the Harrah's 500 earlier this month at Texas, Dale Jarrett won with an average speed of 141.804 mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was on the pole at 190.678.

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