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Supersub finally wins his first race

Marconi victory a long time coming for the Brazilian

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CLEVELAND — The sound of a 900-horsepower Ford engine couldn't drown out Robert Moreno's ecstatic scream.

The howl just went on and on as the Brazilian drove a victory lap at Burke Lakefront Airport, celebrating a win in the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland that ended 15 years of racing frustration.

Nearly the entire career of the 41-year-old driver — the oldest in the CART FedEx Series — has been an uphill climb.

He made it to Formula One, but drove only slow, noncompetitive cars. When he arrived in CART in 1985, Moreno had limited success and fell into a pattern of driving for teams near the back of the field.

"I'm telling you I always believed he was underrated," said Michael Andretti, the winningest driver in the CART series. "Roberto is young at heart. It doesn't surprise me that he won."

Moreno, who finally won in his 70th CART start, said he never gave up believing he could win. Still, his postrace celebration was incredibly emotional.

"Imagine as a comparison, you dream about getting to the moon and people are saying, 'Are you crazy?' But you believe and you push and you push and you push and, finally, you get there," Moreno said. "It's just incredible."

The victory in the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland was never in doubt as Moreno started from the pole and led 91 of the 100 laps on Burke's wide, bumpy 2.106-mile, 10-turn road course.

"That's what happens when they give you a good race car," Moreno said. "It's the same setup we had yesterday. We did a little fine tuning. . . . This has been great for me. I even got my green card in America this year."

Moreno, whose only full-time seasons in CART were in 1986 and '96, ran his first race in the series in the New Jersey Meadowlands in June 1985. He earned the nickname "Supersub" over the last few years, filling in for injured and released drivers.

But Moreno finally got a great opportunity this year with Patrick Racing, long one of the top teams in the open-wheel series. He is taking full advantage.

The slender, balding Moreno drove into the points lead with a second-place finish June 25 in Portland, Ore., came up with his first career pole here Saturday, then dominated the race.

As he drove his black Ford-powered Reynard slowly around the course after beating runner-up Kenny Brack to the finish line by 0.826-seconds — about five car-lengths — Moreno began to scream.

When he reached turn one, still hollering at the top of his lungs, he spun the car in a doughnut reminiscent of the on-track celebrations of two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi — with black smoke boiling from the tires.

Finally, scrambling from the cockpit, Moreno raised his right thumb and pumped his right arm in a blur, then turned and leaped into the arms of a crowd of Patrick crewmen.

On the victory podium, he drew a roar from the crowd as he draped a Brazilian flag over his shoulders and even sang a bit of the country's national anthem — off key — when a recording could not be found.

"It's almost as good as when my daughters were born," Moreno said, tears coursing down his cheeks. "It's a feeling I cannot describe. It's fantastic.

His last victory of any kind came in the European Formula 3000 series in 1988 when he won four races and the series title.

DIEHARD 250: At West Allis, Wis., Jeff Green raced to his fourth NASCAR Busch Series victory of the year Sunday, beating Jeff Purvis by 0.797 seconds in the DieHard 250 at The Milwaukee Mile.

Green, who started from the pole in his Chevrolet, has won three of the last four races to open a series-record 388-point lead over Todd Bodine in the season standings. Green is tied with Winston Cup star Mark Martin for the series victory lead.

"Our focus when we leave the shop is to win practice, win qualifying and win the race," Green said. "My job's easy, driving the race car.

"I know we've got the other guys second guessing what we're doing and maybe that's an advantage if they're thinking about our car instead of what they're doing."

Green finished second last year on the flat mile oval after Casey Atwood bumped past him on the final corner.

"I had a lot better car then I had last year and I knew I could get away from them," Green said. "Jeff Purvis was a gentlemen."

Green led the final 29 laps and 207 of 250 overall en route to his eighth career Busch Series victory.

"He's strong right now, they've done their homework," Purvis said. "They were strong at the end of last year and that's what's paying off."

Randy LaJoie finished third, followed by Tim Fedewa, Jason Keller, Elton Sawyer, Hank Parker Jr., Kyle Petty, Jimmie Johnson and Ron Hornaday. Bodine finished 31st.

Petty, who drove in the Winston Cup Series' Pepsi 400 on Saturday night in Daytona Beach, Fla., replaced his late son, Adam, in the No. 45 Chevrolet. Adam Petty was killed in a practice session at New Hampshire International Speedway on May 12.

Green averaged 89.206 mph in the race slowed by seven cautions periods covering 35 laps. Rain forced officials to red-flag the race twice for a total of about an hour.

FRENCH GRAND PRIX: Magny-Cours, France, David Coulthard passed Michael Schumacher on the way to victory in the French Grand Prix, his third Formula One win of the season. Coulthard finished in 1 hour, 38 minutes, 5.538 seconds, for an average speed of 116.283 mph. He beat McLaren teammate Mika Hakkinen by 14.7 seconds.