Ripken gears up for Dover start

NASCAR `Ripken' race to precede O's home finale

September 11, 2001|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Cal's goin' racin'.

Major League Baseball, NASCAR and the Orioles are expected to announce before tomorrow's game against the Toronto Blue Jays that third baseman Cal Ripken will serve as honorary starter for the Sept. 23 MBNA-Cal Ripken 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway in Dover, Del.

The race date coincides with the celebration surrounding the final home game of Ripken's career. Ripken will attend the race with his family then helicopter back to Baltimore for a 7:05 p.m. game. The Ripken Farewell Tour logo also will be placed on Bobby Labonte's Interstate Battery car for the race, officials said.

Ripken spokesman John Maroon yesterday confirmed he had been contacted by race and sponsor officials and only needed to gain the player's final consent.

Major League Baseball authorized a change in game time that accommodated Ripken's double duty. An original 1:35 p.m. game was moved back and will be nationally televised.

Ripken has never attended a NASCAR event but spoke expectantly of the possibility last weekend. Labonte's car will be rolled onto the field before tomorrow's game as part of an announcement.

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