Originally created 09/05/97

Overtime: Earnhardt cleared to run at Richmond



Questions about why Dale Earnhardt fell asleep at the wheel of his race car last weekend remain unanswered Thursday, but the doctor who performed the tests cleared Earnhardt to drive this weekend.

Dr. Charles Branch of the neurosurgery department at Bowman Gray Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., said the seven-time Winston Cup champion can get back in the car, NASCAR said.

In last Sunday's Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C., Earnhardt fell asleep at the wheel twice while waiting for the race to start. He then wrecked on the first lap and had trouble finding his way back to pit road.

Branch's clearance came after Earnhardt underwent four days of testing at two hospitals. The results were reviewed by specialists at two other hospitals, then sent to NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla.

NASCAR's statement gave no details about what caused Earnhardt's sleepiness or what Branch found. It said the answers would come from Branch and Earnhardt during a news conference this morning.

  • Michael Waltrip won the pole position for the Autolite Platinum 250 in first-day qualifying on Thursday, but that doesn't mean he thinks he was necessarily faster than runnerup Steve Park.
  • Waltrip's lap of 122.227 mph around Richmond International Raceway's 3/4 -mile oval edged Park's 122.216. The time difference between the front-row pole starters was .002 seconds.

    It was Waltrip's 10th career pole in the Busch Grand National series, and fourth at Richmond International Raceway. He also started first in this race last year, but finished 38th after crashing midway through the race.

    BOXING: Augusta's Jacob Hudson was named to the first team of the U.S. squad that boxes in the Muhammad Ali Cup beginning Sept. 20 in Louisville, Ky.

    Hudson, a 132-pounder, will fight in the amateur event that has more than 20 countries participating. Tommy Stepp, a 156-pounder from Atlanta, also will be on the team.

    BASKETBALL: First, UNLV lost top recruit Lamar Odom over a test score controversy. Now, the Runnin' Rebels face the prospect of playing half the season without their star center and another prized recruit.

    A trip to Florida paid for by a registered sports agent prompted the NCAA to suspend center Keon Clark for 11 games and ban recruit Kevin Simmons for 14 games.

    UNLV filed an appeal Thursday on Clark's suspension, hoping to get the penalty reduced. The school did not challenge the penalty to Simmons.

    FOOTBALL: Todd Marinovich, the former Southern California and Raiders quarterback, pleaded guilty in Laguna Niguel, Calif., to a felony charge of cultivating marijuana. He was sentenced to six months in jail.

    Marinovich, 27, entered his plea to the felony count, and a misdemeanor charge of possessing prescription drugs not in his name. He must begin the jail term on or before Nov. 7.

    CYCLING: Eleven months after discovering he had testicular cancer, Lance Armstrong he intends to find a new cycling team and return to European competition next year.

    Armstrong's cancerous testicle was removed Oct. 3, the day after diagnosis. Soon it was discovered that the disease had spread to his lungs, stomach and brain. Chemotherapy and brain surgery followed.

    Doctors told him the chances of future surgery were "almost zero" and death is almost "totally out of the picture," said Armstrong, who lives in Austin, Texas.

    Last week's news wasn't all good. Cofidis, the French cycling team, told Armstrong it would not exercise the second year of a two-year contract, forcing him to seek another team. His agent, Bill Stapleton, said they have a 4-6-week window in which to find a new team. Armstrong said he hasn't had the chance to seriously discuss contracts yet.

    ROWING: Fifteen boats from USRowing's national team have landed in the finals of the World Rowing Championships on Lake Aiguebelette near Chambery, France.

    Five boats led by women's lightweight single sculler Sarah Garner and men's single sculler Jamie Koven qualified during Thursday's semifinals. Others are men's lightweight single sculler Steve Trucker, men's pair Adam Holland and Ted Murphy and women's pair Mary and Betsy McCagg.