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This Week in Auto Racing June 1 - June 3

This Week in Auto Racing June 1 - June 3

This Week in Auto Racing June 1 - June 3
May 29th, 2007

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Though it can't compete with the drama of last Sunday, this weekend will still be an active one for racing fans.


Nextel Cup

Autism Speaks 400 - Dover International Speedway - Dover, DE

Another race, another victory for Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports. Through the first 12 events of 2007, Chevrolet owns 11 wins. More to the point, Hendrick Motorsports leads the way with nine of the 11 Chevy victories, while Kevin Harvick (Daytona) and Jeff Burton (Texas) have the other two.

Only Matt Kenseth's victory at California is keeping the "Bow-Tie" from a clean sweep.

Kenseth also happens to be the defending champion in the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway. He edged his Roush Fenway Ford teammate Jamie McMurray for the win.

With 20 laps to go, Harvick was leading McMurray but the No.29 Chevrolet was putting on heavy pressure. The side-by-side battle allowed Kenseth to catch up. Seven laps from the finish Kenseth made an inside pass of Harvick for second and with three laps to go went inside of McMurray in turn two for what was the winning pass.

A Ford-powered car has won this race the past three years. To be more specific, a Roush Ford has won the last three years - Kenseth in 2006, Greg Biffle in 2005 and Mark Martin in 2004.

So the concrete "Monster Mile" has been very good to Ford and Roush. But this is 2007 and the "Car of Tomorrow" is the bailiwick of Hendrick Motorsports.

Therefore, the question is can anyone find a way to compete with HMS?

They will have their work cut out for them at Dover. The COT test at Dover was cancelled earlier this month due to weather problems.

And Hendrick Motorsports is five-for-five with the COT. Kyle Busch won the first COT race and was followed by two Jimmie Johnson wins and two Jeff Gordon wins.

Gordon was cruising to a spot in the "Chase" until last week's unfortunate accident at Charlotte. Gordon is still the points leader, but his 231 point lead was chopped to 132 points after a 41st-place finish on Sunday.

After starting towards the back, Gordon was driving his No.24 DuPont Department of Defense Chevrolet up through the field when he was clipped by the No.96 of Tony Raines. The car went head first into the outside wall, only to be sent momentarily airborne by A.J. Allmendinger. The damage ended his evening far too early for his many fans.

"I tell you what, when the car is driving like that, you drive from 32nd to the top-five, the way we did, I was liking it," said Gordon of his car before the accident. "We have been having so many things go our way...This will be the one bad race."

Gordon is still in very good shape, although there is a chance he will have to miss a race due to the birth of his daughter (due on or about June 24). According to sources, Gordon has asked Mark Martin to drive the No.24 Chevrolet should he need to miss a race and after checking with Ginn Racing, Martin said yes.

Martin will fly to Sonoma, during a weekend when he was slated to be idle from racing. If Gordon doesn't require his services, Martin will remain on hand to coach Regan Smith.

Martin is scheduled to drive at Michigan the week before and at New Hampshire the week after and if needed Regan Smith would get in the No.01 and Martin would drive for Gordon at either location.

Should Gordon miss one race, he would still likely have a 500-point lead over the 12th-place driver in the standings (the last position to qualify for the 'Chase').

The race for the final spot in the "Chase" is warming up nicely.

McMurray currently holds the positions with 1320 points (-601) behind Gordon. But there is no margin for error. Just behind him is Dale Earnhardt Jr.(who is dealing with a 100-point penalty). "Junior" is just 13 points back. Also right in the heat of the battle for the final spot are J.J. Yeley (-59), Martin Truex Jr. (-88), Bobby Labonte (-89) and Ryan Newman (-106). And still on the edge of contention are Biffle, Elliott Sadler, David Stremme and Juan Montoya. All are less than 200 points out of the "Chase."

There are still 14 races to go in the "regular" season, but the playoff race should be very exciting this year.


Dover 200 - Dover International Speedway - Dover, DE

Edwards continues to pace the series without serious challenge. He owns a 423- point lead over Kevin Harvick and 592 over third place Dave Blaney. Edwards owns two wins and an amazing nine top-fives in 13 starts.

The most interesting name in the top-10 is Regan Smith who sits in a tie for fifth place 682 points behind Edwards.

The 23-year old Cato, NY native has performed well in his first year with Ginn Racing. After 84 starts and only one top-10, Smith has earned four top-10s in just 13 races this season.

Last week in Charlotte, Smith collected his second top-five. And he could have had more success except for "driver error" in Mexico City and Las Vegas.

"Mexico and Las Vegas were shoo-in top-10s, but driver error in one and an accident in the other ruined those racing days," said Smith on his team's website.

"Regan not only has an incredible amount of skill, but also a very strong work ethic," said crew chief Doug Randolph.

With Randolph's help and the coaching of NASCAR great Mark Martin, his co- part-time driver in the No.01 Ginn Racing Nextel Cup Chevrolet, Smith has been solid in both the Nextel Cup and the Busch Series.

"I know I have a lot to learn and that's why I listen intently when Mark speaks. Mark has been a huge help - he has taught me so many things that are making a difference on the track," said Smith. "Without his advice I am pretty sure I would not have had some of those top-10 finishes.

Smith finished all three Nextel Cup races on three very tough tracks (Bristol - 25th, Martinsville - 26th and Talladega 24th).

"I couldn't be in a better position at this stage of my career," said Smith.

With Ginn Racing and Hendrick horsepower, Smith should continue to improve as the season progresses. A top-five finish in the final standings is certainly with reach.


AAA Insurance 200 - Dover International Speedway - Dover, DE

Many people, including NASCAR drivers will tell you the most exciting racing takes place in the Craftsman Truck Series.

It is certainly the most competitive of NASCAR's three National series'. Carl Edwards is running away with the Busch Series and more than 500 points separates first-place Jeff Gordon from 10th-place Clint Bowyer.

But in the truck series, less than 375 points separates first from 10th. The series includes six former or current series champions.

"When the series first was going, you had (Jack) Sprague, (Mike) Skinner, (Ron) Hornaday and a couple other guys that pretty much dominated every week, but now you have 15 trucks that could win any week," said 2006 Craftsman Truck Series champion Todd Bodine.

Skinner, the 1995 champion, leads the series with five poles, three wins and seven top-10s. With all that, he is still just 121 points ahead of Hornaday Jr.

Hornaday Jr. is a two-time champion (1996, 1998) and has a win and six top-10s. He is the series' all-time leader with 30 wins.

In third place is Bodine. In 2006 Bodine collected three wins and 16 top-10s en route to the title. Though he has yet to win in 2007 he has six top-10s.

Behind Bodine is Ted Musgrave, the 2005 champion, sixth-place Sprague, the only three-time Craftsman Series champion and Travis Kvapil the 2003 champion.

Last week on the half-mile at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway it was Dennis Setzer edging Sprague for the victory. It required more than seven hours from green flag to checkered flag but Dennis Setzer and Spears Motorsports returned to Victory Lane for the first time since August 2005.

Now its on to the concrete "Monster Mile" in Delaware where Mark Martin will attempt to defend his 2006 win.

"Any fan would have a ball watching the race from the base of the track in the infield at Dover," said driver Terry Cook. "Watching the vehicles drive off into the corner there is breathtaking. That's the way it is from the driver's seat, too."


ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Indy 225 - Milwaukee Mile - West Allis, WI

Having just completed their most important race of the year at Indianapolis, the IndyCar Series continues on, though with much less fanfare. At Milwaukee they will race in front of 45,000 fans instead of 450,000 and first prize will be worth in the neighborhood of $125,000 instead of $1,645,233 for the "500."

But in the championship race, a win on the flat one-mile oval of Milwaukee is worth the same as Dario Franchitti's historic win at Indy.

Franchitti, a native of Edinburgh Scotland but a resident of Nashville, TN, led the race on three different occasions, but took the lead for good on lap 155 when his Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan pitted for fuel. A multi-car accident brought out a caution flag on lap 163 and when rain began to fall on lap 165, Franchitti hydroplaned his way across the start/finish line for the victory.

The win brings Franchitti (181 points) to within three points of Scott Dixon (184), the series points leader. Dixon was the runner-up at Indianapolis. Between Dixon and Franchitti is Dixon's Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon just one point behind the leader. Helio Castroneves (-13), Kanaan (-33) and defending series champion Sam Hornish Jr. (-33) are all within striking distance.

Kanaan won last year's race at Milwaukee crossing the finish line a solid 1.8276-seconds ahead of Hornish Jr.

Under caution with 20 laps to go, Kanaan led Marco Andretti, Franchitti and Hornish Jr. On the first green flag lap, Hornish Jr. flew past Franchitti for third place and took aim on Andretti and Kanaan. Two laps later he gobbled up Andretti and was 1.6444 seconds behind Kanaan. But Kanaan wasn't about to let this one get away and managed to keep Hornish Jr. far enough away that he couldn't make a final passing attempt.

In three races at "The Mile." Kanaan has never finished worse than fourth. Even better is Hornish Jr. who has never finished worse than third including a win in 2005.

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Re: This Week in Auto Racing June 1 - June 3

Auto racing glance
May 30, 2007

Nascar : Nextel Cup

Site: Dover, Del.

Schedule: Friday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 3:15 p.m.); Sunday, race (FOX, 1:30 p.m.).

Track: Dover Downs International Speedway (oval, 1 mile, 24 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 400 miles, 400 laps.

Last race: Casey Mears shored up his job security by stretching his fuel to the finish line to win the Coca-Cola 600 for his first Nextel Cup victory. Mears, struggling through his first season at elite Hendrick Motorsports, ran strong all night and took the lead when others ducked onto pit road. Mears and his team gambled and pushed their Chevrolet to the finish, running out of gas moments after he took the checkered flag. It was Hendrick's fifth straight win and the ninth in the past 10 Nextel Cup races.

Last year: Matt Kenseth collected his first Nextel Cup win at Dover International Speedway and second win of the season, topping teammate Jamie McMurray by .787 seconds. Kenseth had sat on the pole twice at Dover, but had never won in 14 Nextel Cup starts. He finally conquered the Monster Mile, jumping from third to first in three laps. Kenseth passed McMurray with three laps remaining.

Fast facts: J.J. Yeley finished second for the first top-five finish of his career and Kyle Petty was third, his first top five in 10 years. ... Mears is the nephew of Rick Mears, a four-time Indianapolis 500 champion. ... Jeff Gordon, who started last week's race with a 231-point lead in the standings, finished 41st and saw his lead shrink to 132 points over Jimmie Johnson. ... This race was shortened to 400 miles in 1997 to try to make it more competitive. It was 500 miles from 1971-96.

Next race: Pocono 500, June 10, Long Pond, Pa.

Nascar : Busch

Site: Dover, Del.

Schedule: Saturday, qualifying (ESPN2, 11 a.m.), race (ESPN2, 3 p.m.).

Track: Dover Downs International Speedway (oval, 1 mile, 24 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 200 miles, 200 laps.

Last race: Kasey Kahne raced to his first victory of the season, pulling away on a late restart to win at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Casey Mears never got close and had to settle for second. Clint Bowyer was third and was followed by Jeff Burton, Regan Smith, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch as Cup drivers took the top eight spots.

Last year: Jeff Burton had the biggest come-from-behind win ever in a Busch race, overcoming a 36th-place starting position for his second victory of the season. Burton's average speed was 103.791 mph, the fastest spring Busch race since Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s track record of 130.152 in 1998.

Fast facts: Joe Nemechek is the only polesitter to win in 24 spring races at Dover, doing it in 2003. ... Carl Edwards finished 17th last week and extended his lead in the standings to 423 points over Kevin Harvick. ... Greg Biffle, who comes into the weekend 10th in the Busch Series standings, is a two-time Dover winner.

Next race: Federated Auto Parts 300, June 9, Lebanon, Tenn.

Nascar : CTS

Site: Dover, Del.

Schedule: Friday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 10:30 a.m.); race, 4:45 p.m. (Speed Channel, 8:30 p.m., tape).

Track: Dover Downs International Speedway (oval, 1 mile, 24 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 200 miles, 200 laps.

Last race: Dennis Setzer outwitted the competition for his 17th career NASCAR Craftsman Truck series victory, running the entire rain-delayed Ohio 250 without a pit stop at Mansfield Motorsport Park. Setzer, driving a Chevrolet, took the lead on the 239th of 250 laps around the half-mile oval when leader Rick Crawford cut down a tire in the fourth turn. Jack Sprague finished second for the third consecutive year after winning the inaugural Mansfield race in 2004.

Last year: Mark Martin won the AAA Insurance 200 at the Monster Mile, when he led 86 of 200 laps en route to the victory. His win established a new Dover NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race record of 120.200 mph. Martin is the only driver to have won at least one race in the Nextel Cup Series, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series at Dover.

Fast facts: The AAA Insurance 200 will mark the 300th race in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history. ... Mike Bliss, the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion, will drive Bobby Hamilton Racing's No. 4 Open Joist Dodge in 11 of the remaining 18 events. ... Tyler Walker has been suspended from competition indefinitely by NASCAR, for violating the substance abuse policy. ... Mike Skinner, winner of five straight poles, leads the standings by 121 points (1,217-1,096) over Ron Hornaday Jr.

Next race: Sam's Town 400, June 8, Fort Worth, Texas


Site: West Allis, Wis.

Schedule: Friday, qualifying, 4:45 p.m.; Saturday, race (ABC, 4 p.m.).

Track: The Milwaukee Mile (oval, 1.032 miles, 9 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 232.20 miles, 225 laps.

Last race: Dario Franchitti gambled on the rain and won the Indy 500, another bittersweet day for the Andretti family at America's richest race. The Scotsman, one of five Andretti Green Racing drivers in the field, inherited the lead by staying on the track when the leaders pitted for fuel. He then drove slowly to the checkered flag in a downpour when the race was stopped 10 laps later after 415 of the scheduled 500 miles. Franchitti won the race under a caution light brought out when teammate Marco Andretti crashed three laps from the abbreviated end. Scott Dixon was second, followed by Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr.

Last year: Tony Kanaan held off a late charge by Sam Hornish Jr. to win at the Milwaukee Mile. Kanaan and his three Andretti Green Racing teammates dominated the top five positions for most of the race. Hornish, who qualified second, lagged in the first half of the race, but suddenly found speed when it counted. Hornish couldn't catch Kanaan at the end and finished second, retaining the series points lead. Kanaan, the 2004 series champion, took the lead from Castroneves with a pass on lap 32. Kanaan had led only 21 laps in the first nine races of the season.

Fast facts: Three points separate the top three drivers in the standings: Scott Dixon (184), Dan Wheldon (183) and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti (181). ... Dixon is the only driver to finish in the top five in each of this years' five races.

Next race: Bombardier 550, June 9, Fort Worth, Texas

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Re: This Week in Auto Racing June 1 - June 3

RacingOne Weekend Preview

A NASCAR tripleheader at Dover International Speedway headlines a busy weekend of racing that includes the IndyCar Series, ARCA, the NHRA and the World of Outlaws in action.

Dover's "Monster Mile" weekend is highlighted by Sunday's NEXTEL Cup Series Autism Speaks 400, the first time NASCAR's new "Car of Tomorrow" will tackle the one-mile, concrete oval.

Matt Kenseth is the defending race winner and is shooting for his second win of the season, also hoping to stop the Hendrick Motorsports steamroller which has won the last five series races.

RacingOne will have comprehensive coverage from Dover beginning with Friday's Live Qualifying session for the Autism Speaks 400 beginning at 3:15 p.m. (ET).

Immediately following qualifying, the Craftsman Truck Series takes center stage for the AAA Insurance 200 at 4:45 p.m. (ET). SPEED and MRN will handle the coverage.

Saturday afternoon the Busch Series headlines the action with the Dover 200 at 3 p.m. (ET). ESPN2 and MRN will have coverage as Jeff Burton shoots for a second straight win.

Sunday's Autism Speaks 400, the 13th race of the NEXTEL Cup season, is slated for a 1:30 p.m. (ET) start with FOX and MRN providing live coverage.

Elsewhere in the racing world, the traditional post-Indianapolis 500 date for IndyCars returns to the Milwaukee Mile this year for Sunday's A.J. Foyt/ABC Supply 225. Tony Kanaan is the defending race winner. ABC's coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. (ET).

The NHRA roars back into action at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas for the O'Reilly Summer Nationals. ESPN2 will have final round elimination coverage beginning at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.

ARCA visits the Iowa Speedway Saturday night for the Prairie Meadows 250. Steve Wallace won last year's inagural race at the track his father Rusty designed. SPEED will have live coverage at 9 p.m. (ET).

The World of Outlaws has a doubleheader weekend on tap with a Friday night show at Ohio's Sharon Speedway and a Saturday night round at Eldora Speedway.

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