Originally created 07/27/06

Ex-star Parsons battles cancer



CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Former NASCAR champion Benny Parsons has been diagnosed with lung cancer and began chemotherapy treatments Wednesday.

Parsons, the 1973 Cup champion and currently a NASCAR commentator on NBC and TNT, was diagnosed two weeks ago after he had trouble breathing.

"Needless to say this was a huge shock," Parsons said. "The first thing everyone asks me is, 'Are you a smoker?' The answer is that I smoked my last cigarette way back in 1978, and since then I've hated being around smoking.

"I don't even allow anyone in my foursome to smoke on the golf course."

The 65-year-old Parsons will undergo chemotherapy three days a week for three weeks, and also will receive radiation five days a week.

STEWART APOLOGIZES: Tony Stewart took responsibility for last weekend's accident at Pocono Raceway that knocked Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer out of the Pennsylvania 500.

"I'm taking 100 percent responsibility," Stewart said in a statement released by Joe Gibbs Racing. "It was totally my fault."

Stewart intentionally bumped Bowyer 32 laps into the race in retaliation for Bowyer squeezing Stewart's car up against the wall. The contact between Stewart and Bowyer sent Bowyer's car out of control and into Edwards' car.

The incident resulted in Edwards finishing 39th and slipping to 14th place in the points standings.

Bowyer finished 41st in the 43-car field.

Even Stewart's biggest supporters criticized him for the incident, including close friend and fellow driver Kenny Wallace.

"Tony is a good friend of mine off of the racetrack, but there's no doubt that there's two Tony Stewarts," Wallace said on a Tuesday teleconference.

"The Tony I know is the guy who is giving $1 million to the Victory Junction Camp and holding races at his dirt track and drinking a beer with at Paducah, Ky. The Tony I don't know is when he gets so mad. That's the Tony I don't know. Some people squeeze you up on the wall. It happens to me every other lap."

TESTING UNLEADED FUEL: Unleaded gas makes its Busch Series debut Saturday in the Silver Celebration 250. The race at Gateway International Raceway is the first of four during which NASCAR will test the use of unleaded fuel in stock cars.

The sanctioning body will evaluate the performance of the fuel following those races with the hope of switching from leaded gas to unleaded in the future.