Auto Racing Glance

Published 9:26 am Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Site: Hampton, Ga.

Schedule: Friday, qualifying (ESPN2, 7 p.m.); Sunday, race (ABC, 2 p.m.).

Track: Atlanta Motor Speedway (quad-oval, 1.54 miles, 24 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 500.5 miles, 325 laps.

Last race: Jimmie Johnson won at Martinsville Speedway, padding his lead in his bid for a third straight title with four races to go. The two-time defending series champion led 339 laps as he and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates again dominated on this track. Johnson won the fall race for the third consecutive time on the smallest, trickiest circuit in the Sprint Cup Series. It was his fifth career victory on the oval and fourth in the last five races. Teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second, followed by Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon, giving Hendrick three of the top four spots. Last year: A two-tire stop for Jimmie Johnson paid off with a victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway, making the Chase a virtual dead heat at the top between the reigning champion and Gordon.

Fast facts: Johnson is one race closer to getting his third straight title, the last to win three consecutive title was Cale Yarborough 1976-78. Johnson leads Greg Biffle by 149 points and Jeff Burton by 152 with four races remaining.

Next race: Dickies 500, Fort Worth, Texas, Nov. 2

On the Net:



Kroger On Track for the Cure 250

Site: Memphis, Tenn.

Schedule: Saturday, qualifying (ESPN Classic, 10:30 a.m.); race (ESPN Classic, 3:30 p.m.; SPEED, 4 p.m., joined in progress).

Track: Memphis Motorsports Park (oval, .75 miles, 11 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 187.5 miles, 250 laps.

Last race: Kyle Busch, NASCAR’s dominant workhorse, won his 20th race of the season. Busch cruised to a win in the soggy, wreck-filled Dollar General 300 for his ninth victory in the second-tier series. He has won eight Cup races and three more in the Craftsman Truck Series. The busy Busch’s 70th race of the season gave Joe Gibbs Racing 18 wins in the 31 Nationwide races. Points leader Clint Bowyer finished fourth and Carl Edwards was fifth.

Last year: David Reutimann kept his slim championship hopes alive by winning the caution-filled Sam’s Town 250 at Memphis Motorsports Park. Carl Edwards needed to finish eighth to clinch the title, but placed 25th. It was the 37-year-old Toyota driver’s first Busch victory in 63 starts, and owner Michael Waltrip’s first victory for the manufacturer.

Fast facts: Of the nine Nationwide races at Memphis, Martin Truex (2004) and Jeff Green (1999) are the only polesitters to win. … Kevin Harvick is the only driver with two wins at Memphis (2000 and 2006). … Green has three Top-5 finishes in this race. … Last year’s race had 25 cautions, the most at Memphis. … Reutimann led last year’s race for 194 laps, the most for any of the nine winners.

Next race: O’Reilly Challenge, Fort Worth, Texas, Nov. 1.

On the Net:



E-Z-GO 200

Site: Hampton, Ga.

Schedule: Saturday, qualifying (SPEED, 9 a.m.); race (SPEED, 1:30 p.m.).

Track: Atlanta Motor Speedway (quad-oval, 1.54 miles, 24 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 200.2 miles, 130 laps.

Last race: Johnny Benson passed Ron Hornaday Jr. with 46 laps to go and won the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway. The victory, Benson’s fifth of the season, allowed him to go from 39 points behind Hornaday for the series lead to 65 points ahead when Hornaday ran out of gas with three laps to go. Hornaday, who started on the pole, had led every lap until Benson got underneath him in turns three and four on the 0.526-mile oval. Hornaday wound up 29th, while Kevin Harvick, his truck owner, also ran out of gas before the finish and dropped from second to 17th.

Last year: Kyle Busch made the most out of a lucky break, pulling away from Hornaday to win at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Busch was rolling along in third place with 26 laps to go in the 130-lap race when he was blackflagged by NASCAR for having the driver-side window net unhooked. Seconds before he would have had to pit, a crash brought out the caution flag and allowed the Nextel Cup star to make his stop under yellow and remain in contention. Busch took full advantage, passing Hornaday on a restart with eight to go and pulling away to his fifth truck victory.

Fast facts: Busch has won the previous two truck races at Atlanta Motor Speedway, including the American Commercial Lines 200 on March 7. Busch has three wins in the eight truck races held at the track. … Two polesitters have won at the Speedway, Mike Skinner in 2007 and Todd Bodine in 2006.

Next race: Chevy Silverado 350k, Fort Worth, Texas, Oct. 31

On the Net:



Nikon Indy 300

Site: Surfers Paradise, Australia

Schedule: Friday, qualifying (11:30 p.m.); Saturday, race (ESPN Classic, 10:30 p.m.).

Track: Street Circuit (temporary road course, 2.795 miles, 14 turns).

Race distance: 167.7 miles, 60 laps.

Last race: On Sept. 7, Helio Castroneves won at Chicagoland Speedway in the closest finish in the history of the IndyCar Series, but it wasn’t enough to stop Scott Dixon from taking his second championship. Castroneves came from last place to win the PEAK Indy 300, but Dixon, who knew coming in he only had to finish eighth or better to win the title, took the lead with a perfect pit stop late in the race and then nearly held off Castroneves for the victory, crossing the finish line inches behind the winner.

Last year: Race not held.

Fast facts: This is a non-points race. … Dixon finished with 646 points, 17 ahead of Castroneves. In 17 races, Dixon won six poles, had six wins and 14 Top-5 finishes. Castroneves, Dan Wheldon and Ryan Brisco had two wins apiece.

Next race: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.), April 5, 2009.

On the Net:



Last race: Lewis Hamilton won the Chinese Grand Prix, leaving the McLaren driver just short of clinching the 2008 Formula One title. Hamilton led from start to finish in a tepid race, finishing 14.9 seconds ahead of rival Felipe Massa, who took second thanks to Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen letting him through late in the race. The result extended Hamilton’s lead in the drivers’ championship to seven points with one race remaining.

Next race: Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Nov. 2.

On the Net:



Last event: Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon and Pro Stock pilot Dave Connolly won at the Virginia NHRA Nationals to go from afterthoughts to challengers in the race for the NHRA POWERade Series championships. The other winner at the fourth of six races in the NHRA Playoff was Top Fuel ace Tony Schumacher. He has 14 victories this season. Schumacher eliminated all but Hillary Will (212 points back) from championship contention and all he’ll have to do at Las Vegas to clinch his fifth straight and sixth overall POWERade Series world championship is qualify. Pedregon beat first-place Tim Wilkerson in the semifinals and second-place Jack Beckman in the final to climb from sixth to third place. Connolly defended his Virginia NHRA Nationals race win over Cagnazzi Racing teammate Jeg Coughlin. Connolly moved to within 77 points of Coughlin and within three of second-place Kurt Johnson.

Next event: ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Nov. 2

On the Net:



NASCAR Developmental Series

CAMPING World SERIES WEST: Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Thunder Valley Casino, All American Speedway, Roseville, Calif, Saturday.

MEXICO SERIES: Hermanos Rodriguez Autodrome, Mexico City, Sunday.

On the Net: