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AUTO RACING ROUNDUP

Newman on top at Dover

Gordon is third, takes points lead

Ryan Newman ran away from the field, while four-time series champion Jeff Gordon took the NASCAR Nextel Cup points lead yesterday at the MBNA America 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

But the victory did little to enhance the long-shot title hopes of Newman, who finished 33d last week at New Hampshire International Speedway because of engine failure late in the race. He's eighth in the standings with eight races remaining, trailing Gordon by 107 points.

Gordon finished third behind Mark Martin and is one point ahead of Kurt Busch, who finished fifth and lost the points lead when he was passed by Dale Jarrett with six laps to go.

Gordon said his car was good at times and far off at others. He also believes he can run better next week.

"I just hope that doesn't mean we have a bull's-eye on us at Talladega," said Gordon, a winner there in April.

New Hampshire winner Busch came to The Monster Mile tied for the series lead with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who fell to third in the title chase by finishing ninth. He's 18 points behind Gordon.

Although he was unable to make a large gain, Newman demonstrated the power of his Dodge by leading 325 of 400 laps. Newman, who started second, was ahead by a half-lap for much of the final quarter of the race with the margin reduced only because a caution flag bunched the field on the 327th lap.

Formula One -- Rubens Barrichello won the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai to clinch second place in the driver's standings while Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher had a rare rough race -- spinning out and finishing 12th, more than a lap behind. Barrichello completed the 56 laps on the new 3.388-mile Shanghai International Circuit one second ahead of Jenson Button of BAR-Honda. Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren-Mercedes was third, almost catching Button at the end.

"It's been a season I was playing catch-up to Michael," Barrichello said. "Now I am going through a good phase."

The Brazilian started from the pole and led virtually the entire way in a race seen as a marketing bonanza in China, a country of 1.3 billion people. He recorded his ninth Formula One career victory and second straight following his win at the Italian GP two weeks ago.

It guaranteed him second in the drivers' standings behind Schumacher, who has a record 12 wins this season and has clinched his seventh title. With two races left, the top three places in the standings are set: Schumacher (136 points), Barrichello (108), and Button (79).

"It was just the fact of winning the race, a new race, a new venue, a new track, and everyone starting from zero," said Barrichello, who celebrated by spraying Ferrari chairman Luca Di Montezolo with champagne.

Renault's Fernando Alonso was fourth, keeping alive the BAR-Honda and Renault team race for second place. Juan Pablo Montoya of Williams was fifth. Jacques Villeneuve was 11th in his debut for Renault.

Champ Car -- Sebastien Bourdais held off Newman-Haas teammate Bruno Junquiera in a side-by-side battle to win the Las Vegas 400 Saturday night. Bourdais, the series points leader, took the lead 58 laps into the 167-lap event. By the 83d lap, Junquiera was closing in, and with 20 laps remaining, the wheel-to-wheel racing began.

Bourdais took the faster low lane, but Junquiera stayed with him, leading by inches with three laps to go. Bourdais prevailed by .066 seconds, barely a car length, in the sixth-closest Champ Car finish since 1979.

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