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Sunday, September 28, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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A.M. Briefing

A.M. Briefing -- Gugelmin Record: Lap At 240.942 Mph

Seattle Times News Services

Mauricio Gugelmin made it official yesterday, running the fastest qualifying lap in the history of Indy-car racing as he captured the pole position for the Marlboro 500. He said he was moving so fast he felt he was "on a different planet."

"It's just a great number," the Brazilian said after turning a lap of 240.942 mph on the two-mile oval at the new California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. "It's just unbelievable a car can get around this place at a speed like that.

"The speed is linear," said Gugelmin, whose 242.333 in the morning practice was the unofficial fastest lap in an open-wheel racer. "You almost don't slow down in the corners. It feels like one long straightaway."

It is the third pole of his Indy-car career, all this season for the PacWest Racing Group.

The blazing speeds also took their toll this week, with PPG CART World Series champion Alex Zanardi and top series rookie Patrick Carpentier knocked out of today's race by concussions suffered in crashes during Friday's practice.

Gugelmin was last in the qualifying line and gave the crowd a dramatic finish, running his first lap at 240.736 and then bumping that up to the record.

"Today, we made history," Gugelmin said. "It's a great feeling."

-- Mika Hakkinen of Finland grabbed the first pole position of his career in qualifying for the Grand Prix of Luxembourg in Nuerburgring, Germany.

-- Rich Bickle, who had an appendectomy 2 1/2 weeks ago, ran away from the field on three late restarts and won the Hanes 250 NASCAR Craftsman Trucks race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

NBA

Eric Fleisher, Kevin Garnett's agent, said he would meet with Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to revive contract talks.

The Timberwolves have a Wednesday deadline to sign Garnett or else they can't negotiate with the 21-year-old forward until July 1, when he becomes a free agent. Fleisher rejected a $103.5 million, six-year contract offer for Garnett last month.

Tennis

South Africa's Amanda Coetzer upset Martina Hingis 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3) in the semifinals of the Leipzig Open in Germany; it was only the third loss of the year for the Swiss teenager.

Coetzer will face Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic, who squeaked past Anke Huber 6-7 (6-8), 7-5, 6-4 in 2 1/2 hours.

-- In Munich, Germany, Pete Sampras was pelted by 37 aces from the fastest server in tennis but defeated Greg Rusedski 3-6, 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 to earn a shot at the jackpot in the $6 million Grand Slam Cup finals.

In today's final, with a $1.5 million prize at stake, he will face Patrick Rafter.

-- Nicolas Kiefer, dizzy and confused and needing a timeout in the third set, advanced to his first professional final by beating Alex Radulescu in the $400,000 Toulouse Open in France.

Kiefer won 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (8-6) in a semifinal between the two Germans and will face defending champion Mark Philippoussis in the title match. Philippoussis defeated Vince Spadea 7-5, 6-4 and will go for his fourth tournament title of the year.

Boxing

Johnny Montantes, 28, who was knocked out, underwent brain surgery and was listed in critical condition.

Montantes, a junior welterweight, was knocked down by a hard right hand from James Crayton in the fifth round of the bout Friday night in Las Vegas.

Running

Isaac Viciosa of Spain and Paula Radcliffe of Britain won their divisions of the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York. Viciosa became the first to win the men's elite race three consecutive years, finishing in 3 minutes, 53.66 seconds, and Radcliffe became the first to win the women's elite race two straight years, finishing in 4:22.96.

Cycling

Swiss cyclist Alex Zulle all but clinched his second consecutive Tour of Spain by winning the 27-mile time trial in 51 minutes, 35 seconds. Zulle is 5 minutes, 7 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Spaniard Fernando Escartin, in the overall standings going into the race's 22nd and final stage today, from Alcobendas, Spain, to Madrid.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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