CASTRONEVES WINS POLE: Helio Castroneves walked into the room with a huge grin, put one hand on Sam Hornish Jr.'s shoulder, then started pumping his fist.
Always excitable, Castroneves was thrilled that the Marlboro Team Penske Racing teammates had just earned spots on the front row today in the Honda Indy 225 in Fountain, Colo.
Of course, Castroneves probably should have expected it the way he and Hornish have dominated the short ovals in the Indy Racing League circuit this season.
Castroneves earned his first pole in nearly two years, edging Hornish by 0.0023 seconds on Saturday for the team's third straight pole on short tracks. The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner finished the mile tri-oval in 20.5218 seconds (175.423 mph), earning his first pole since October 2003 at Texas Motor Speedway.
"I feel better because you basically have to drive the car," Castroneves said. "At some of the other tracks, you're just along for the ride. I guess, especially at the short ovals, we've been working extremely hard and our best chance of seeing victory and running really, really fast is at those tracks. I'm very happy to see both cars sitting on the front row."
Rookie Danica Patrick had the day's fastest practice time, finishing in 20.546 seconds during the second session. But when the temperatures cooled and the wind switched in qualifying, her team had trouble getting the setup right, ending up fifth at 20.6435 seconds.
FEDERER RALLIES: At Mason, Ohio, Roger Federer took everything that the afternoon and Robby Ginepri could throw at him, and found a way to overcome it. Federer rallied for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 semifinal victory Saturday in the $2.45 million Cincinnati Masters, leaving no doubt that the world's No. 1 player is back in form and ready for the U.S. Open's top spot.
Federer will try for his ninth tournament title of the season today against Andy Roddick, who beat third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the other semifinal. History weighs against Roddick, who is 1-9 career against Federer and has lost their last five matches, including the last two Wimbledon finals.
Overall, Federer has won the last 21 times he reached a tournament final.
He took five weeks off after winning his third consecutive Wimbledon title, getting some rest and letting a sore foot heal. Federer was out of sync when he showed up in Cincinnati, looking to regain his edge and confidence.
A few matches were all he needed.
"I really feel I've got my confidence back," said Federer, who is 63-3 this season, including 37-1 on hard courts. "My footwork is back, the eye is back — watching the ball, reading the game. Definitely I'm feeling really good right now."
MCENROE IN FINALS: At Amagansett, N.Y., John McEnroe defeated Guillermo Vilas 6-3, 6-0 Saturday to reach the finals of the Champions Trophy. McEnroe, winner of seven Grand Slam titles including four U.S. Opens, will face Aaron Krickstein in today's final. Krickstein beat Anders Jarryd 6-2, 6-3.
SNYDER REVENUE HIGH: Dan Snyder's marketing savvy pushed the Washington Redskins' revenues last year to $300 million, nearly double the amount the team was grossing when he bought the franchise in 1999.
Snyder outlined some details of the Redskins' finances in a document he filed this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with his attempted takeover of Six Flags amusement parks.
While the Redskins were already considered a profitable franchise, the documents reveal that the franchise belongs in the upper echelons of moneymaking in U.S. sports. The document puts the Redskins' annual revenues at $162 million in 1999, when Snyder bought the team and its stadium for $800 million.