Ernie Irvan had only a bruised lung and a mild head injury after crashing yesterday at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn, five years to the day after a near-fatal wreck on the same track. Irvan was in fair condition at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in nearby Ypsilanti. He will not race this weekend, and will be replaced Sunday in the Pepsi 400 by Dick Trickle.
Irvan, 40, was knocked unconscious in the crash during a Busch Grand National practice session, but became responsive as he was being transported to the infield medical center.
Rescuers trying to get Irvan out had to cut the roof off his car. The Winston Cup star appeared to lose control of his Pontiac and spun in Turn 4 of the two-mile superspeedway. The rear quarter panel of his car struck the concrete wall before the driver's side made contact.
Yesterday's crash brought back horrible memories when Irvan crashed in Turn 2 during a Winston Cup practice on Aug. 20, 1994, and was unconscious for two days. Irvan had critical brain and chest injuries and was given only a 10 percent chance of survival. But he returned to the circuit on Oct. 1, 1995, in North Wilkesboro, N.C.
Meantime, Ward Burton won his first pole of the season, setting a Michigan Speedway record with a lap of 188.843 mph. . . .
Helio Castro-Neves tops the speed chart after two days of practice at the brand-new Chicago Motor Speedway.
The CART driver turned a lap of 161.285 mph, followed by Max Papis at 161.229 and "Super Sub" Roberto Moreno at 160.977.
Sampras Hurt at RCA
World No. 1 Pete Sampras retired in the third set from his quarterfinal match at the RCA Championships in Indianapolis with a right hip flexor strain, enabling fellow American Vince Spadea to move into the semifinals. Sampras felt the injury when he hit an overhead in the second set. . . .
Intermittent drizzle followed by heavy rain forced postponment of quarterfinal action at the $1.05 million du Maurier Open in Toronto. Third-seeded Mary Pierce of France was leading countrywoman Sandrine Testud, 6-1, 4-2, when the match was delayed by rain.
Meanwhile, Anna Kournikova of Russia, who was forced to withdraw from the du Maurier Open because of a minor stress fracture in her right foot, also withdrew from the U.S. Open.
Yankee Stadium Changes
Disabled sports fans will have an easier time securing good seats at reasonable prices after the federal government struck an interim deal with the New York Yankees and the city of New York.
The deal requires the Yankees to substantially change ticketing and pricing policies for the rest of the season, according to U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White. The government had joined a private lawsuit that alleged the Yankees and the city had discriminated against the disabled by failing to make the ballpark accessible to those who need special accommodations.
Armstrong Places 6th
Lance Armstrong, riding in his first major U.S. competition since winning the Tour de France, placed sixth in the national championships of mountain bicycling in West Dover, Vt.
Reid to Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks signed veteran forward J.R. Reid to a multiyear deal.
Ayala Jr. Wins in Return
Sixteen years after a rape conviction ended his promising young career, Tony Ayala Jr. (23-0, 21 knockouts) returned to the ring last night at Freeman Hall in San Antonio to stop an outclassed Manuel Esparaza (19-5-1) in the third round of their middleweight fight.
Before a sellout crowd of hometown fans cheering his every move, Ayala showed flashes of the punching power that made him one of the most feared fighters of the early 1980s before he was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Ayala, who was the No. 1 junior middleweight contender at the age of 19, also showed a little rust fighting for the first time since Nov. 20, 1982.
Red Wings Get Defensive
Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, torn between an NHL career and the desire to raise his children in Sweden, agreed to a three-year, $22 million contract with the Red Wings.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings have suspended defenseman Uwe Krupp until he provides the team with medical records regarding a back injury that sidelined him for most of last season. Krupp signed a guaranteed four-year, $16.4 million contract last summer. NHL rules prevent a suspended player from being paid, although the collective bargaining agreement says a team must honor a contract in the event of a hockey-related injury.
Junior Grand Slam
Jenny Suh, 13, from Fairfax, tied for sixth at the Independent Insurance Agent Junior Classic in Houston. The 72-hole stroke-play tournament, held at Northgate Country Club, is one of the most prestigious junior golf tournaments in the country and one of the four legs of the junior golf circuit's Grand Slam.