ON THE TRACKS | This weekend's events
NASCARNEXTEL CUPSubway Fresh Fit 500Avondale, Ariz.
Schedule: Saturday, race (FOX, 8 p.m.)Track: Phoenix International Raceway (tri-oval, 1 mile, 11 degrees banking in turns 1-2, 9 degrees banking in turns 3-4).Race distance: 312 miles, 312 laps.Last race: Jeff Burton passed Matt Kenseth on the final lap to become the first repeat winner at Texas Motor Speedway, winning 10 years after he won the inaugural race. His victory also ended a four-race winning streak by Hendrick Motorsports.Last year: Kevin Harvick completed a sweep at Phoenix, winning the Subway Fresh 500 to go along with his Busch Series victory the day before. Harvick drove a car that ran in the top 10 but never challenged for the lead. He made his move late, passing Greg Biffle with 10 laps to go to get the victory.Fast facts: The Car of Tomorrow returns this weekend and will make its debut on a 1-mile track. The cars previously competed at Bristol and Martinsville and produced winning margins of 0.064 and 0.065, respectively. ... Jeff Gordon finished fourth at Texas for his fifth top-five finish in the seven races this season. But his lead in the standings shrunk to eight points over Burton. ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. has not won in 33 races since his victory at Richmond last May. ... In 1957, 1977, 1987 and 1997, the winner of the eighth race of the season has gone on to win the championship. ... The 2005 event was the first Cup race run under the lights at PIR. ... In 20 years, no pole-winner has won this race and only two winners -- Jeff Burton in 2000 and Kurt Busch in 2004 -- have come from the No. 2 position.
BUSCH SERIESBashas' Supermarkets 200Avondale, Ariz.
Schedule: Today, qualifying (Speed Channel, 5:30 p.m.), race (ESPN2, 9 p.m.)Track: Phoenix International RacewayRace distance: 200 miles, 200 laps.Last race: Matt Kenseth ended Carl Edwards' two-race Busch winning streak by pulling his car out of a spin without hitting the wall early in the race, then overtaking Denny Hamlin with nine laps left to win at Texas Motor Speedway.Last year: Kevin Harvick won his second consecutive Busch race, holding on through several late cautions and an overtime finish at Phoenix.Next race: Aaron's 312, April 28, Talladega, Ala.
CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIESGrand Prix of Houston
Schedule: Today, qualifying, 3:10 p.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 2:30 p.m.; Sunday, race (ESPN, 3 p.m.)Track: Reliant Park (temporary street course, 1.615 miles, 9 turns).Race distance: 185.725 miles, 115 laps.Last race: Sebastien Bourdais led 58 of 78 laps to win the Grand Prix of Long Beach for the third straight year. It's the longest winning streak at Long Beach since Al Unser Jr. won a record four in a row from 1988-1991.Last year: Bourdais opened the 2006 season with two straight wins after holding off Paul Tracy by 1.238 seconds to take the inaugural Grand Prix of Houston.Next race: Zhuhai City, May 20, China.
INDY RACING LEAGUEIndy Japan 300Suzuka
Schedule: Today, qualifying, 12:30 a.m.; Saturday, race, midnight (Sunday, ESPN, noon, tape).Track: Twin Ring Motegi (oval, 1.5 miles, 10-degree banking in turns).Race distance: 300 miles, 200 laps.Last race: Helio Castroneves cruised to an easy victory on April 1, running a nearly perfect race to win the Honda St. Petersburg Grand Prix for the second straight year. Castroneves, who started from the pole, led for all but five of the 100 laps on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit. He pulled away from runner-up Scott Dixon on restarts after several caution flags and won by 0.6007 seconds -- about eight car-lengths. Kanaan finished third for the same 1-2-3 finish as last year.Last year: Pole-sitter Castroneves took the Indy Japan 300 for his second straight win. Castroneves dominated throughout the 200-lap race and crossed the finish line 6.3851 seconds ahead of defending champion Dan Wheldon.Next race: Kansas Lottery 300, April 29, Kansas City.
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