It's been three years since stock cars first crashed (O.K., poor
word choice) the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In the interim,
NASCAR has supplanted the Indy Car circuit as the nation's--and
the Brickyard's--favorite spectator speed sport. This year's
running will mark the 400's fourth straight sellout, whereas
scalpers at May's Indy 500 were selling ducats at half price. Is
it any wonder that Winston Cup points leader Jeff Gordon, winner
of the inaugural 400, is the first driver to appear in a
mustache ad for milk, heretofore linked with the winner of the
ABC, 1 PM
TRACK & FIELD
World Outdoor Championships
Despite her initials, M.J., and the fact that as a freshman
guard she helped lead the North Carolina basketball team to the
NCAA title, Marion Jones (left) is more often compared with
history's greatest track and field athlete than with the world's
greatest hoopster. It's a comparison she downplays. "My name is
Marion Jones and not Carl Lewis," said Jones, 21, after winning
the 100 meters and the long jump at last month's nationals in
Indianapolis, where the Palmdale, Calif., native turned in what
then were this year's best marks in the world in both events
(10.92 seconds and 22'9"). This week in Athens Jones also will
run in the 4x100 relay when the swiftest and strongest from 200
NBC, SATURDAY, 2 PM, AND SUNDAY, 1 PM (TAPE-DELAY)
Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Whether pushing the baseball forward with his fingernail grip or
managing the female Colorado Silver Bullets, Phil Niekro has
refused to knuckle under to baseball convention. Now
knuckleballer Niekro (318-274 lifetime) makes the pilgrimage to
Cooperstown, to be inducted with late Chicago White Sox second
baseman Nellie Fox, Negro leagues shortstop Willie Wells and
former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, the 14th
skipper to be enshrined--"but the first Italian," Lasorda says.
"Don't forget that." His speech alone may be worth tuning in for.
ESPN2, 5:30 PM
Raiders at Cowboys
Football coaches seem to say "Bye, George" more often than does
My Fair Lady's Henry Higgins. Quarterback Jeff George, Oakland's
newest dead-end-kid signee, is playing for his third NFL club in
eight seasons. But that's not why George will don number 3 for
Oakland's preseason opener at Texas Stadium. Raiders owner Al
Davis pushed the jersey on him in hopes that George might assume
the attributes of a previous wearer, Daryle Lamonica, who
pioneered Oakland's vertical passing game in the '60s. "The
number's not really important to me," says George (above, in a
practice jersey). "But if it's important to others, I'll [wear]
TNT, 8 PM
Montell Griffin vs. Roy Jones Jr.
How about an undercard of Montel Williams against Jenny Jones?
Or dilettante pugilist Geraldo Rivera against Phil Donahue,
whose 1986 fracas with a nuclear-weapons supporter led the
no-nukes, pro-dukes talk show host to say, "If you drop a bomb
on my neighborhood, I can't prove that I'm tough"? It was Roy
Jones (34-1) who landed two bombs--a right, then a left--on the
mug of Griffin (27-0) in the ninth round of their WBC light
heavyweight title bout in March. Trouble was, Griffin (below,
left, in their first fight) had gone to one knee before the
punches landed, and Jones was disqualified. Having won the title
lying facedown, Griffin wants to retain it standing. "He hit me
with a cheap shot," says Griffin. "I just want to get the man
back in the ring."
PAY-PER-VIEW, 9 PM
All times Eastern. Schedules are subject to change.
COLOR PHOTO: ANDY LYONS/ALLSPORT [Marion Jones jumping]
COLOR PHOTO: AP PHOTO/ERIC RISBERG [Jeff George throwing football]
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONO [Montell Griffin and Roy Jones Jr. boxing]
THE ! ZAPPER
"If I'm not mistaken," says Katie Haas, the sparkplug cohost of
Motor Madness (TNN, Friday, 8 p.m.), "our highest-rated show has
been a demolition derby." With this week's installment bringing
live coverage of the Great Lakes Car Wars from Hamburg, N.Y., we
wondered why viewers seem to be so mad about watching cars
intentionally crash into each other. Haas has some theories.
"It's like a pillow fight," she says. "No one really gets hurt.
Or maybe our viewers just identify with these drivers the most."
Anyway, if things get ugly later this evening in the parking lot
at the Piggly Wiggly, you'll know why.