the latest news from around the world, courtesy of press snoop Lynne Huntting

AL UNSER JR of Albuquerque NM announced Wednesday that he would retire from driving. The 42-year old Indy car driver said "I have always said that I would get out of the race car if driving stopped being fun for me and if I felt that I was no longer competitive on the track. After careful thought, I came to this conclusion just after the Richmond race and knew that it was time for me to retire. So, true to my word, I am stepping out of the car."

Patrick Racing + announced who will race the car this weekend in the Argent Mortgage Indy 300 race at Kansas Speedway.

Unser said he woke up Sunday after last weekend's race at Richmond International Raceway and wasn't sure about racing. He had a long telephone call with his father, AL UNSER, himself an Indy car racer. After that call Unser Jr called team owner, PAT PATRICK, for another long conversation. Patrick was supportive, and asked Unser to remain with the team in another capacity, any capacity. Unser will remain as an advisor to the team he joined midseason this year, at the Indy 500. Saturday night was his third race with the team.

Little Al has been racing open wheel Indy cars since 1982, and in his 327 starts, he has won the Indianapolis 500 twice out of 17 starts, both while it was a CART race. In 1990 he won the CART Championship with Galles Racing, and again in 1994, a year before the split between CART and TONY GEORGE, who split off to form Indy Racing League. Unser Jr raced more in CART and then moved to IRL.

Unser Jr holds the Champ Car Modern Era records for most wins in a season and most consecutive victories.

Al Unser Jr won the Indy 500 twice, once with Galles in 1992 in the closest ever finish, .043 seconds ahead of SCOTT GOODYEAR; and in 1994 from the pole, while racing with Penske Racing. That was the year he was named the ABC Wide World of Sports Athlete of the year, as well as Driver of the Year by a national media panel, and ESPY Auto Racing Performer of the year.

Al Unser Sr is a four-time winner of the Indy 500, and Little Al's uncle, BOBBY UNSER, won it three times. Other Unsers who have raced the Indy 500 include the late Uncle JERRY UNSER, and cousins ROBBY UNSER and JOHNNY UNSER.

Next in line is Little Al's son, who is known as Just Al. It was announced Wednesday that ALFRED RICHARD UNSER will make his debut in the IRL Infiniti Pro Series this weekend with the Keith Duesenberg Racing team, racing Saturday in the Aventis Racing For Kids 100 race at Kansas Speedway. Just Al, 21, has an open wheel background, including 2002 Rookie Champion in the Skip Barber Dodge Western Series, with six wins and four top-10 finishes last year in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. That series is not running this season, but he ran the Champ Car Toyota Atlantic Series race at Long Beach in April. That was an inauspicious start with a crash on the first lap.

NASCAR opened the Penalty Box Wednesday. TONY STEWART/No.20 Home Depot Chevrolet used another one of his Get Out of Jail Free cards this week with NASCAR after his fracas last weekend with Rookie BRIAN VICKERS/No.25 GMAC Chevrolet. Stewart escaped being stood in the corner this coming weekend in Daytona. He was fined $50,000, penalized 25 Driver points and placed on suspension until 28 August 2004. His points loss moves Stewart from fifth to sixth overall in the standings, so he is still within reach of The Shootout in the last ten Nextel Cup races.

Stewart will get to race this weekend at Daytona, in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Pepsi 400 race Saturday night and the Grand Am Rolex Series Paul Revere 250 Thursday night, after Cup qualifying.

Stewart said "I understand and accept NASCAR's penalty. With NASCAR's continued growth, and their rise in mainstream popularity, I realize their rules have become stricter than they were in the past. And after meeting with BRIAN FRANCE (NASCAR CEO/Chairman) I know it's my job to live within those rules. I'm putting the incident behind me and I plan no further comment."

Team owner, JOE GIBBS, also lost 25 Owner Points. His son, JD Gibbs, JGR President, said "On behalf of everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing, we agree with NASCAR
that Tony Stewart's action after the Sonoma race were unacceptable. We understand the reason for the penalties handed down by NASCAR, and we accept their

Stewart is co-driving in the Rolex race with ANDY WALLACE, who qualified sixth Wednesday in the No.20 CITGO-Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype. There are 18 Daytona Prototypes in a field of 38 cars. Stewart will have a busy evening Thursday night.

The Rolex pole is held again by the Target Chip Ganassi duo, SCOTT PRUETT and MAX PAPIS, in No.1 CompUSA Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype, with a time of
1:46.881. It's the fourth consecutive pole position for Pruett, who finished third in last weekend's Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway, racing a third Ganassi Dodge.

CASEY MEARS/No.41 Target Dodge - don't quit your day job. It must have been fun to do a cameo on a popular NBC soap opera, playing yourself ... but stick to racing.

Ditto KENNY WALLACE, who insists on starring in ubiquitous sponsor commercials. His voice could shatter glass.

Now DALE EARNHARDT/No.8 Budweiser Chevrolet and MICHAEL WALTRIP/No.15 NAPA Chevrolet doing the NAPA commercials are another story. They're funny. Little E does so well as deadpan straight man to loquacious Waltrip.