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IRVIN'S DASH TO POLE IS TRIBUTE TO ALLISON

There was more than a touch of nostalgia Friday when Ernie Irvan took the pole for the DieHard 500 in a car bearing the number and colors of the late Davey Allison.

Allison, a local favorite from nearby Hueytown, Ala., died in July 1993 in a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway. Irvan was the driver tapped by team owner Robert Yates to take the place of the budding superstar.

Now it's Irvin who will be gone at the end of the season, moving to another team after Yates decided not to renew his contract. He will be replaced in 1998 by rookie Kenny Irwin Jr.

Asked how he feels about finishing out the string with Yates' team, Irvan said, "I want to win these next four races. There's no doubt it pays more to win, and all the guys on this team want to do that.

"The car is a tribute to Davey Allison," he added. "We remember him well and I really think everybody in the grandstands really loves to see this."

Million changing its name

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- The Winston Million will become the Winston No Bull 5 in 1998, offering drivers a shot at $5 million next season when NASCAR celebrates its 50th anniversary.

It will replace the Winston Million offered by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to any driver winning three of four designated races each season, since 1985. The new on-track program will begin with the season-opening Daytona 500 Feb. 15.

Double the money

LAS VEGAS -- The winner of tonight's Las Vegas 500k will get a chance to double his earnings in a game of chance fitting for the location of the Indy Racing League race.

After the race, the winning driver will spin a big wheel labeled with the number of each car in the field. If the wheel lands on that driver's number, the $100,000 first place prize money will be doubled.

If there's anything such as a home track advantage in auto racing, Davey Hamilton figures to have it.

"It's my home track and I'm looking for big things," Hamilton said. "I know the track as well as anyone out there."

Hamilton showed that in Thursday night's qualifying when he held the pole at 205.300 mph before teammate Billy Boat bumped him to the outside of the front row with a run of 207.413.

Tracy fired from team

READING, Pa. -- Marlboro Team Penske has fired driver Paul Tracy, who hasn't won a CART race in more than five months, the team said.

Tracy, 28, has a year remaining on his contract. No reason was given for his dismissal. The Toronto native, who won three consecutive races earlier this year, will be replaced by Andre Ribeiro.

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