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This Week in Auto Racing July 27 - July 29

This Week in Auto Racing July 27 - July 29

This Week in Auto Racing July 27 - July 29

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - All eyes turn to Indianapolis where the Nextel Cup Series races at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


Nextel Cup

Allstate 400 at the Brickyard - Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Indianapolis, IN

Following a rare week off, the Nextel Cup Series travels to the hallowed ground of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Except for races held at Daytona, the most highly coveted win in NASCAR is this race at Indy where so much history has been made. The names of Mario Andretti, Mark Donohue, Emerson Fittipaldi, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Rick Mears, Wilbur Shaw and Al Unser are just a few of the great drivers who have won at this track.

While racing began at Indy in 1909, Nextel Cup has only been coming here since 1994 when Jeff Gordon won the inaugural event. Gordon also won in 1998, 2001 and 2004. Other "Cup" drivers to win at Indy include: Dale Earnhardt (1995), Ricky Rudd (1997), Dale Jarrett (1996, 1999), Bobby Labonte (2000), Bill Elliott (2002), Kevin Harvick (2003), Tony Stewart (2005) and Jimmie Johnson (2006).

For the past two years, the winner at the Brickyard has gone on to win the series championship. All told, the winner of this race has won the title in six of 13 years.

Not only did Johnson win at the Brickyard and the Nextel Cup title in 2006, but he completed a rare sweep, winning Daytona and Indy in the same year, only the second time that it has been accomplished (Jarrett - 1996).

Johnson's lead was 1.212 seconds with 30 laps to go and 1.826 seconds with 20 to go as Johnson's No.48 Lowe's Chevrolet was flying around the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

A caution flag for debris erased Johnson's big lead and set up a short run (14 laps) to the finish. All the leaders followed Johnson down pit lane for fuel and tires although six backmarkers did stay on the track.

Kenseth was the first off pit road just ahead of Johnson however the race leaders were Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman and Joe Nemechek. Hamlin and Clint Bowyer took two tires only and came out fifth and sixth, respectively with Kenseth the first car on four new tires in seventh place.

Busch and Earnhardt Jr. jumped out to a big lead, but Johnson and Kenseth were charging through the field. With 11 laps to go, Johnson passed Bowyer for third place and took dead aim at the No.8 Budweiser Chevrolet. He caught him with 10 laps to go.

Earnhardt Jr. made the move past Busch and Johnson followed him through, but "Junior" never led a lap as Johnson continued his momentum and drove deep into the corner and into the lead. Kenseth also on four tires made his way past Busch and Earnhardt Jr.

Johnson's lead was 1.541 seconds with five laps to go and 1.977 seconds with four laps remaining. Only a driver error or a mechanical failure could prevent Johnson from a trip to Victory Lane and none was forthcoming.

Johnson won the race and went on to win the 2006 Nextel Cup Series championship as well.

Which brings us to Sunday's race.

The favorites to win the race include all the usual suspects. Top on the list is Gordon who has put together a spectacular season to date. Through 19 races, Gordon has earned four wins, 12 top-fives and 17 top-10s to forge a 303-point lead in the drivers championship.

Behind Gordon in the standings are: Hamlin, Kenseth, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Stewart and Johnson, any of which have the ability and the horsepower to win the race.

It should be a great race to watch.

One other note, Juan Montoya has a chance to become the first driver to win both the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400. Two former Indy 500 champions have raced in a Brickyard 400 - A.J. Foyt (finished 30th) and Danny Sullivan finished 33rd), both in 1994.


Kroger 200 - O'Reilly Raceway Park - Indianapolis, IN

While the "big boys" race at Indy, the Busch and truck series take to the short track around the corner. This Saturday's Busch Series race will be on the 0.686-mile O'Reilly Raceway Park oval.

Kevin Harvick won last year's race, leading 117 of 200 laps, but the 2006 series champion is not on the preliminary entry list. Edwards finished 10th in the race and as with every race this season will be one of the favorites in Saturday's race.

Edwards finished sixth last week and his lead ballooned to 852 points. He has crafted the lead by winning four times and putting his No.60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in the top-10 16 times in 21 starts.

David Reutimann is the driver in second place, but is primarily there because he has raced in all 21 events. Harvick is just 19 points behind Reutimann despite racing in just 15 events. Where as Reutimann has yet to win and collected just seven top-10s, Harvick has won three times and put his car in the top-10 on 13 occasions.

The race for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year is much more exciting. David Ragan leads the way with 194 points, but behind him are Marcos Ambrose (171), Juan Montoya (162) and Kyle Krisiloff (152).


Power Stroke Diesel 200 - O'Reilly Raceway Park - Indianapolis, IN

The race at O'Reilly Raceway Park is the 13th all-time and is one of four tracks that has hosted an event in every season (the others are Martinsville, Milwaukee and Phoenix).

Mike Skinner won the inaugural race in 1995 and again in 1996 and led every lap (350 in all). Skinner became only the fourth driver in NASCAR national series history to lead every lap in consecutive races at the same track.

Skinner is having a pretty good season in 2007 as well. He leads the series in points (2,238), driver rating (125.0), winnings ($479,300), laps led (789), wins (4), poles (7), top-fives (11) and top-10s (13). Skinner leads Ron Hornaday Jr. by 164 points (2,238-2,074). It's his largest lead of the season, but only the fifth-largest at this point of the season.

In 2000 Greg Biffle led by 290 points, the most after 13 events. Last year Todd Bodine held a 172-point lead and went on to win the title, but in 2005 Dennis Setzer held a 227-point lead and lost the crown to Travis Kvapil.

Kvapil just happens to be third (tied with Bodine) in the standings, 288 points back and still a possible challenger for his second series title.

Rick Crawford won last year's event, edging out Setzer by 0.790 seconds in a caution-filled race.


San Jose Grand Prix - Streets of San Jose - San Jose, CA

All has returned to normalcy in the Champ Car Series after Sebastien Bourdais won last week's race in Edmonton and regained the series points lead. It's a position he has held for three years and likely will continue to hold until he jumps to Formula One at the end of the current season.

"We had a decent lead on the first stint and when the yellow came out it bunched everyone up and we were a victim of our results in Toronto and had a bad pit box here," said Bourdais. "We overcame that and it was an awesome job from everybody from the McDonald's team. We stuck together and said 'Its not over.' We kept plugging away and it worked out and I couldn't be any happier. It is pretty spectacular to get the lead we have leaving here."

The three-time series champion has a 20-points lead on "rookie" Robert Doornbos. Doornbos is a former F1 driver for Minardi (2005) and Red Bull (2006) which were not really competitive against the giant teams of F1 like Ferrari and McLaren. But the team came to that realization and made the move across the Atlantic Ocean to Champ Cars.

Doornbos is finally getting to show what he can do when he gets in a competitive car. He opened his rookie Champ Car Series campaign with a second place finish at Las Vegas. Following his only bad outing at Long Beach (13th), Doornbos put himself on the podium four consecutive times including a win at Mont-Tremblant. He was on his way to another top-10 result last week when Alex Tagliani took him out in a late-race incident. Doornbos has earned six top-10s in eight starts.

Behind Doornbos is Will Power (-25) and Justin Wilson (-29). Both are still very much in the championship race.

Power had a tough day in Edmonton finishing 15th after suffering steering problems.

"Up until this point, Canada has been very friendly to us," said Power, who finished third in Mont-Tremblant and won the race in Toronto.

Wilson finished second to Bourdais in Edmonton. "We gave everything we had, but it wasn't quite enough," said Wilson. "The team did a fantastic job all weekend and I'm really pleased to get another podium here at Edmonton."

Now it's on to San Jose where Bourdais is the defending race champion.

The 2006 race went back to green with 39 laps to go. Oriol Servia and Charles Zwolsman, who still had one last pit stop to make, led the way, but Bourdais, who had made his final stop, had almost two seconds on Cristiano da Matta for the "real" race lead.

Bourdais didn't have to, but he passed Zwolsman on lap 73. He was also chopping about half-a-second per lap on Servia. His margin over da Matta was five seconds when Servia finally made his stop on lap 80. Andrew Ranger brought out a caution flag in turn one with 16 laps to go leaving one final shootout between Bourdais, da Matta and Wilson for the win.

The green flag dropped with 11 laps to go and Bourdais quickly established a working lead. In one lap the margin was 1.287 seconds. Three laps later the gap was 2.411 seconds and the race was over. The final winning margin was 6.686 seconds.

Bourdais may have been distracted in mid-season by his testing for a Formula One team, but it appears as if he is back on track. Expect a big effort by the Frenchman and a successful defense of his title.

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Re: This Week in Auto Racing July 27 - July 29

Allstate 400 at the Brickyard - Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Indianapolis, IN

Schedule: Saturday, qualifying (ESPN2, 10 a.m.); Sunday, race (ESPN, 1 p.m.).

Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (rectangular oval, 2.5 miles, 9 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 400 miles, 160 laps.

Last race: Tony Stewart won at Chicagoland Speedway on July 15, breaking a 20-race winless streak that dated to last season and turning around what had otherwise been a tumultuous week for the two-time series champion. The win came a day after a brief but intense lecture from Joe Gibbs about his rift with teammate Denny Hamlin.

Last year: Jimmie Johnson pulled off a gritty win at Indianapolis, battling back from an early tire problem to take the lead, only to see it evaporate when a late debris caution bunched up the field. It dropped him from first to eighth and forced him to slice his way to the front in the final 14 laps. But he did it with ease and pulled away for his second major victory of 2006.

Fast facts: After 19 of 36 races this season, Jeff Gordon has four wins - tied with teammate Johnson for the most in the series - 12 top fives, 17 top 10s and has been leading the points since Bristol, the fifth race of the season. ... Ginn Racing has replaced Sterling Marlin in its No. 14 Chevrolet with 23-year-old rookie Regan Smith, and released veteran Joe Nemechek. ... Hendrick cars have been shut out of victory lane for the past five races after taking 10 of the first 14. ... Matt Kenseth has four top-five finishes in seven career starts at Indianapolis, but no victories. ... Thirteen different drivers have won this season.

Next race: Pennsylvania 500, Aug. 5, Long Pond, Pa.

Kroger 200 - O'Reilly Raceway Park - Indianapolis, IN

Schedule: Saturday, qualifying (ESPN2, 4:30 p.m.), race (ESPN2, 7:30 p.m.).

Track: O'Reilly Raceway Park (oval, 0.686 miles, 12 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 137.2 miles, 200 laps.

Last race: Four races after switching crew chiefs and 61 after earning his previous Busch victory, Reed Sorenson avoided the pitfalls to win the caution-filled Gateway 250 at Madison, Ill. His previous victory came at the same track nearly two years ago to the date.

Last year: Kevin Harvick passed pole-sitter Denny Hamlin on lap 84, built a lead of more than 2 seconds with 20 laps left and held off Sorenson in the Kroger 200, for his series-high fifth win of 2006.

Fast facts: Points leader Carl Edwards was released early Monday from an Omaha, Neb., hospital after being injured Sunday night in a dirt track race in nearby Greenwood, a hospital spokeswoman said. Edwards' younger brother, Kenny Edwards, told the Omaha World-Herald it could be a dislocated thumb, caught in the steering wheel during a crash. ... Scott Wimmer earned his first pole position in 136 races last weekend. ... The last five winners of this race started in the top 10. ... There has been a different pole winner in each of the last 10 years of the event. ... Greg Biffle has started in the top 10 in all four of his Busch starts at ORP and recorded a top-five finish each time.

Next race: Montreal 200, Aug. 4

Power Stroke Diesel 200 - O'Reilly Raceway Park - Indianapolis, IN

Schedule: Friday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 4:30 p.m.), race (Speed Channel, 7:30 p.m.).

Track: O'Reilly Raceway Park (oval, 0.686 miles, 12 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 137.2 miles, 200 laps.

Last race: Mike Skinner completely dominated the Built Ford Tough 225 at Sparta, Ky., on July 14, leading 135 of 150 laps to earn his series-leading fourth victory of the season. Skinner, 50, became just the second driver 50 years or older to win a series race and set a record by leading his 13th consecutive race every one of the year.

Last year: Rick Crawford took the lead in a tight four-truck battle with 32 laps remaining, then held on to beat Dennis Setzer by 10 truck lengths in the Power Stroke Diesel 200

Fast facts: Skinner has completed every one of this season's 2,193 laps and has finished out of the top 10 just once while building a season-high 164-point lead over Ron Hornaday Jr. in the standings. He led every lap in winning both the 1995 and 1996 events. ... Seven drivers who participated in the inaugural event in 1995 have entered this weekend's race. Five of them are among the top 10 in the standings. ... No Indianapolis Busch winner has started outside the top five.

Next race: Toyota Tundra 200, Aug. 11, Lebanon, Tenn.

San Jose Grand Prix - Streets of San Jose - San Jose, CA

Schedule: Friday, qualifying, 5 p.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 5 p.m.; Sunday, race (ESPN2, 6 p.m.).

Track: Streets of San Jose (temporary road course, 1.448 miles, 11 turns).

Race distance: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Last race: Sebastien Bourdais won for the first time in four races and regained control of the title chase, driving away with the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton. He won on Edmonton's City Centre Airport circuit for the second time in three tries.

Last year: Bourdais raced to his fifth victory of 2006 and second win in a row on the downtown street course at the San Jose Grand Prix.

Fast facts: Former points leader Robert Doornbos has failed to place among the top five in each of the last two races after recording podium finishes in five of the previous seven events. He enters San Jose trailing Bourdais by 20 points and five in front of Will Power. ... Graham Rahal, the son of longtime racing star Bobby Rahal, recorded his second top-three podium finish of the season last weekend. ... Rookie Tristan Gommendy could miss the race after he injured his back in a crash during qualifying at Edmonton. Mario Dominguez replaced Gommendy and finished last with mechanical problems. ... The combination of a washboard-like track and looming concrete walls on the narrow downtown street circuit took out half the 18-car field during the 75-minute timed race in the inaugural 2005 event.

Next race: Generac Grand Prix, Aug. 12, Elkhart Lake, Wi

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Re: This Week in Auto Racing July 27 - July 29

Dalziel Injured, Will Miss Race

OXNARD, Calif. - Ryan Dalziel, driver of the No. 28 DP01 for Pacific Coast Motorsports suffered a broken collarbone while training on his bicycle Tuesday morning. As a result of the injury, Dalziel will miss the San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway. Dalziel will consult with Dr. Terry Trammell in the next few days to determine his eligibility for round ten of the Champ Car World Series at Road America. The Scottish rookie will be back in the car for his "home" races in Europe in September.

Currently 11th in the Champ Car World Series, Dalziel has made an impressive rookie debut. He's recorded five top-ten finishes, including his near podium finish two-weeks ago in Toronto. Last weekend, while competing at the notoriously challenging Edmonton Grand Prix, Dalziel recorded his best Champ Car start, when he took the green flag from eighth position. Dalziel posted a best start eighth and best finish of seventh this season, which are also Champ Car records for his rookie team, Pacific Coast Motorsports.

Pacific Coast Motorsports will announce the replacement driver for the No. 28 entry as soon as possible.

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Re: This Week in Auto Racing July 27 - July 29

Skinner has game plan for O'Reilly race

Craftsman Truck Series points leader Mike Skinner knows what's important Friday night in the Power Stroke Diesel 200 at O'Reilly Raceway Park.

And it's not winning on the tricky .686-mile short track that sits across town from famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Though that would be great.

"At the end of the day, ORP is exactly what it is," Skinner said. "It's just another racetrack that we have to survive. It's good to have had a victory this past week, to go there and say, 'We don't need to win this race. We need to finish in the top 10.' "

Skinner and the track have quite a history. He won there in 1995, the series' inaugural season, and went on to win the points championship. He made it two in a row at ORP in 1996. He started from the pole in both races.

Skinner can play it safe Friday night because his circumstances are different from 1995.

"In 1995, I was an aggressive driver that wanted to prove to the world that I needed to be in the Cup Series, that in top-notch equipment I could get the job done," he said. "It was a different attitude.

"Now ... I don't feel like my job's on the line. I actually think it makes you more productive."

Skinner, who has 240 Cup starts, is the dominant driver in 2007, leading second-place Ron Hornaday by 164 points with 12 races remaining. He says the team just needs to keep doing what it has done since Daytona in February.

"We're not desperate to win a pole," he said. "We're not desperate to win a race. We're not desperate for anything."

Then again, there's no reason to be desperate.

Skinner has been in the top 10 in all 13 races this season with 11 top fives and a series-leading four wins, including the last race at Kentucky two weeks ago. He is challenging his stellar numbers from 1995: Eight wins and 17 top fives in 20 races. He missed the top 10 only twice.

Skinner, who turned 50 in June, always thought he'd retire from racing at 50. Now halfway through a three-year extension with Bill Davis Racing and Toyota, he is chasing his second truck title, one some competitors say is Skinner's to lose.

"I certainly hope they're right," he said.

Fast facts

What: Power Stroke Diesel 200.
Where: O'Reilly Raceway Park; Indianapolis, Ind.
When: 8 p.m. ET Friday.
TV: Speed, 7:30 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN/Sirius Satellite.
Track layout: 0.686-mile oval short track.
Race distance: 200 laps/137.2 miles
2006 winner: Rick Crawford.
2006 polesitter: David Ragan.

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Re: This Week in Auto Racing July 27 - July 29

San Jose Pole for Wilson

Nearly every technology company in Silicon Valley is working to make their product better and faster and the same can be said for the teams and drivers in the Champ Car World Series. At the San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway, it was Justin Wilson (No. 9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who made his CDW car the fastest, claiming the pole position for Sunday’s race with a lap at 49.039 seconds (105.932 mph).

Wilson was the only driver to sit at the top of the time charts twice during the qualifying session that was only slowed once by a red flag. Graham Rahal (No. 2 Medi|Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) led both practice sessions today and was the first to set the pace in qualifying. Unfortunately, the 18-year-old rookie could not better his early time and wound up with the sixth starting position.

Up next at the point was fellow rookie Neel Jani (No. 21 Red Bull-Gulfstream Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who held the top spot for some time before being knocked off by Wilson. The Swiss driver, Jani, will start fifth. Wilson’s reign at the top was stopped with three minutes to go in the session when Oriol Servia (No. 7 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) posted his best lap. The Spaniard stopped the clocks at 49.106 seconds (105.787 mph) which was good enough for fourth on the grid.

Simon Pagenaud (No. 15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) then claimed the top spot, but because he brought out a red flag after spinning in Turn 6, his time at the top was short lived. Pagenaud’s penalty for the red flag meant he lost his fastest lap of the session. His second quickest lap was only good enough for ninth on the grid. Wilson retook the top spot with 90 seconds to go and only Dan Clarke (No. 4 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) challenged for pole. The speedy Brit came within six-hundredths of his countryman but was unable to set the fastest time.

Provisional pole sitter Sebastien Bourdais (No. 1 McDonald’s Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) struggled throughout qualifying, posting only the sixth best time. The three-time defending champion will start from the front row based on his performance during qualifying on Friday.

Alex Tagliani (No. 8 LXN2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) will start seventh with Tristan Gommendy (No. 22 Pay by Touch-Megaspiera Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) slotted in eighth. Gommendy is returning to his PKV Racing machine after injuring his back at Edmonton last week and missing the event. Bruno Junqueira (No. 19 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) will start tenth with Paul Tracy (No. 3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) starting eleventh.

Two of the top four drivers in the series standings struggled during today’s session as Robert Doornbos (No. 14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone), who is second in the standings, will start 15th and Will Power (No. 5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone), who is third in the title chase, will start 12th.

The San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway will begin at 3:00 p.m. local (6:00 p.m. ET) on Sunday. The race can be seen live on ESPN2 in the United States.

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Re: This Week in Auto Racing July 27 - July 29

Doornbos Survives San Jose

Coming back from a first lap accident, Robert Doornbos was able to rebound from 15th place to win the San Jose Grand Prix Champ Car World Series race on Sunday.

After a poor qualifying earlier in the weekend, the former Formula One driver was towards the middle of the pack and ran into the back Jan Heylen on the first lap.

However, after changing the front wing in the pits, the rookie driver was able to persevere and claim victory for the second time in his rookie campaign.

"It's true that in Champ Car anything can happen, and we proved that again today," said Doornbos, driver of the No. 14 Team Minardi USA Cosworth/DP01. "When I was 15th or 17th, it doesn't really make a big difference, you're at the back of the grid. We just topped it off with fuel, got a new front wing. I told the engineer, I said, it's great if we can go off the red tire and go on the black ones because then the car is just really quick. It was very easy to pass people and to save fuel. That's the best thing you have to do for strategies.

"We do make it difficult for ourselves, and I hope in the future we can start at the front and finish at the front because it's hard work."

Neel Jani finished second with Oriol Servia, Will Power and Sebastien Bourdais rounding out the top five.

Polesitter Justin Wilson had a problem early as well, as he suffered a broken drive shaft and toe link after getting hit from behind by Dan Clarke in Turn 6 of lap five. Although the team was able to get the car repaired and the Englishman was able to set fastest lap in the race, the driver of the No. 9 CDW car finished 13th overall, 20 laps behind.

"I do not know what Dan (Clarke) was thinking, he must not have been paying attention and just came flying into the back of me," said Wilson. "What was important for us was to pick up every point that we could. We got a point for the fastest race lap, along with the points for finishing 13th, so it was not a complete waste. We would have finished 17th if the guys did not work has hard as they could to get me back out there in the race, so that shows just how important it was for us today because we earned a few extra points and made the most out of it."

The Champ Car World Series returns to action in two week’s time with the running of the Elkhart Lake Grand Prix at Road America slated for August 12.

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