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Unchanging rule: Both sides whine

It seems the whining between Ford and Chevy teams in NASCAR Winston Cup is going to go on forever.

Now, it's the Chevy guys who aren't happy, complaining that the Fords, which have won seven races to Chevy's 10, have an advantage now that NASCAR allowed them to lower their back roofs for improved aerodynamics.

Chevy folks point out that Fords finished 1-2-3 at New Hampshire two weeks ago and 1-2-3-4 at Pocono last week.

Said Chevy driver Terry Labonte: "The rules are so far out now, it's ridiculous. (NASCAR) has got it all out of whack."

Countered Ford driver Rusty Wallace: "I said at the first of the year I wasn't going to talk about rules, but I think they're close enough now (that) it's time to go racin'. I feel like the competition between Ford and Chevy is even."

Don't be surprised if NASCAR makes a rule change soon favoring Chevy, which will get the Ford guys in a huff again.

VASSER'S INDYCAR PUMPKIN: For a while, Jimmy Vasser could do no wrong. But the IndyCar World Series points leader, who started the year with four victories in the first six races, is back to being mortal.

In his past five starts, Vasser has finished eighth, 12th, 13th and 10th twice. Vasser, who once led the point standings by 44, has a 10-point margin over Al Unser Jr.

"Something's just not clicking now," Vasser said. "We're running farther back than we ought to be. We need to get back on track."

IT AIN'T OVER: Don't hand Damon Hill the Formula One championship just yet. At least that's what his Williams-Renault teammate, Jacques Villeneuve, is saying.

Coming into today's German Grand Prix, Hill leads Villeneuve by just 15 points after running away with the early part of the season, when he won six races.

"I'm confident about being able to keep closing the gap in the remaining six races," said Villeneuve, last year's IndyCar World Series champion who is in his first year of F1. "Williams has a big lead in the team standings, and Damon and I are free to fight each other for the championship."

Question is, will winning the F1 title be enough to save Hill's job with Williams, which reportedly is looking to replace the British star next season?

DID YOU KNOW?: In addition to new tracks being built in Texas and California, another one is planned for suburban St. Louis.

The $20-million facility, to be located in Madison, Ill., will include a drag strip, a 1.25-mile banked oval track and a road course. The drag strip should be completed by September, with the rest of the facility finished by next summer.

The track's developers also have purchased Memphis International Motorsports Park and plan to refurbish it.

HAIL TO THE REDSKINS: Joe Gibbs, the former Washington Redskins coach, had his No. 18 Chevy Monte Carlo repainted in the Redskins' colors for today's DieHard 500. The paint scheme is in honor of Gibbs' induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

DALE'S SETTING SUN?: Dale Earnhardt fans, brace yourselves. The "Intimidator" already has started planning for the day when he'll retire as a driver.

He soon could be an owner/driver or just an owner.

"In 1998, I may have a full-time Winston Cup team, maybe," Earnhardt said. "That's not definite, but I'm looking at that time frame."

Earnhardt, 45, has three adult children _ Dale Jr., 21, Kerry, 26, and Kelley, 23 _ who could one day drive for him.

For now, Earnhardt's Truck Series driver, Ron Hornaday, helps develop the children's driving skills.

"Ron's really better at working with them than I would be because it's different coming from somebody different than the father figure," Earnhardt said. "They trust my racing ability and what I know about racing, but they argue with me because I'm their dad. I argued with my dad, you argued with your dad.

"You don't think they know what they're talking about, but sure enough, when it comes to the end of the deal, Dad was right."

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report; Darrell Fry's e-mail address is frysptimes.com

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