Originally created 01/23/04

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Auto racing

NASCAR plans to add more soft walls

NASCAR officials hope to install so-called soft walls at most of its tracks by 2005, with Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Super Speedway adding them this season.

The barriers, which absorb impact and reduce G Forces to the drivers in a crash, cannot be installed in time for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 15, but will be in place at the 2.5-mile oval for the Pepsi 400 on July 3, Robin Braig, president of Daytona, told The Associated Press.

Talladega previously installed the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction system on the inside retaining wall of its 2.66-mile oval, extending from the exit of Turn 4, along the main straightaway and trioval and into the first turn - a distance of about 3,000 feet.

Talladega will add the barriers to the outside walls in all four turns in time for the Aaron's 499 on April 25, said Rick Humphrey, vice president and general manager of the track.

The energy absorbing system, designed by a team of engineers led by Dr. Dean Sicking, head of the research group at the University of Nebraska, is four steel tubes welded in 20-foot sections and bolted to the concrete walls. Between the steel and the concrete, pads of hard, pink foam are placed 10 feet apart, allowing the surface to bend and reduce force.

  • NASCAR hired an emergency medical technician to oversee and monitor the care given drivers and crewman during the Nextel Cup Series events.
  • The EMT will ride in the quick-response safety car used since midway through the 2003 season, but will not be a "hands-on" medical person, NASCAR president Mike Helton said.

    Wrestling

    Cross Creek holds annual tournament

    Cross Creek will hold the CSRA Championship on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the school's gymnasium. Thirteen local schools are participating.

    Women's Basketball

    Johnson wins honor from Gulf South

    Montevallo guard Edwina Johnson was named the Gulf South Conference's Eastern Division player of the week for last week. Johnson, the former Richmond Academy star, averaged 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in a pair of wins for the Falcons last week.

    Soccer

    Americans name roster for Olympics

    National team starters Lan-don Donovan, DaMarcus Beas-ley and Bobby Convey were among 22 players picked Thursday for the U.S. team that will try to qualify for the Olympics.

    All but one of the players on the under-23 team is with a Major League Soccer club. De-fender Zak Whitbread is in Liv-erpool's youth system in Eng-land.

    In addition to Donovan, Beasley and Convey, three oth-ers have national team experi-ence: Kyle Martino has three appearances, while forward Edson Buddle and Alecko Eskandarian have one apiece. The six have combined for 19 goals in 94 international ap-pearances, with Donovan scor-ing 15.

    Donovan, 21, was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team and scored a goal in the 3-1 win over Kuwait that put the Americans in the second round.

    The United States must cut its roster to 20 players by Jan. 31. The Americans play Panama (Feb. 3), Canada (Feb. 5) and Honduras (Feb. 7) in Guadalajara, Mexico.

    Figure skating

    United States takes lead over Canada

    Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto had a blast, and Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon had a breakdown.

    The U.S. ice dancing cham-pions jitterbugged into first place at the Four Continents meet by getting top marks for their original dance Thursday.

    Canada's champions had an uncharacteristic fall in relin-quishing the lead.