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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This week's top auto races

Associated Press

Eastern Times


Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500

Site: Martinsville, Va.

Schedule: Friday, practice (Speed, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.), qualifying (Speed, 3-4:30 p.m.); Saturday, practice (Speed, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.); Sunday, race, 1 p.m. (FOX, noon-5 p.m.).

Track: Martinsville Speedway (oval, 0.526 miles).

Race distance: 263 miles, 500 laps.

Last year: Jimmie Johnson won the first of his seven 2009 victories en route to his record fourth straight series championship. Johnson nudged Denny Hamlin aside in the third and fourth turns with 15 laps left to take the lead.

Last week: Johnson won for the first time at Bristol Motor Speedway, powering from sixth to first in three laps after a late four-tire stop. Tony Stewart was second, and Kurt Busch was relegated to third after leading 278 laps. Johnson has three victories in five races this season after winning four of the final nine last season.

Fast facts: The race marks the switch to the traditional spoiler from the rear wing that was introduced in 2007. NASCAR decided during the offseason to go back to the spoiler, partly in a hope that it improves competition. Martinsville was the earliest the change could be made because of the planning needed for such a technical change. ... Johnson has won five of the last seven races at the track and six of the last 11. He has 50 Cup victories to tie Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson for 10th place on the career list. ... Denny Hamlin won the 2008 spring race and 2009 fall event at Martinsville. ... Kevin Harvick leads the series standings with 774 points, one more than Matt Kenseth. Johnson is third, 14 points behind Harvick. ... Richard Petty won a record 15 Cup races at the track, four more than Darrell Waltrip. Jeff Gordon leads active drivers with seven Martinsville victories.

Next race: Subway Fresh Fit 600, April 10, Phoenix International Speedway, Phoenix.

On the Net: http://www.nascar.com

Kroger 250

Site: Martinsville, Va.

Schedule: Friday, practice (Speed, 1-2 p.m.), qualifying (Speed, 4:30-5:30 p.m.); Saturday, race, 2 p.m. (Speed, 1:30-4:30 p.m.).

Track: Martinsville Speedway (oval, 0.526 miles).

Race distance: 131.5 miles, 250 laps.

Last year: Kevin Harvick won the rain-delayed race in a Monday finish for the first of his three 2009 series victories. He took the lead from Kyle Busch with just over nine laps left and held on through an abbreviated final restart.

Last race: Harvick won at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 6. The Sprint Cup driver has won three straight starts in the series and five of his last nine.

Fast facts: Harvick finished last season with consecutive victories at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami, then skipped the season-opening race at Daytona. He has seven victories in 102 Trucks starts. ... Johnny Benson, the 2008 series champion, is driving the No. 15 Toyota for Billy Ballew Motorsports. Benson won the 2008 fall race at Martinsville for the last of his 14 series victories. ... Former Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan is making his Trucks debut. The first series driver from India, Karthikeyan will race the No. 60 Chevrolet for newly formed Starbeast Motorsports. ... Rick Crawford is making his series-record 325th start, all for Tom Mitchell and Circle Bar Racing. Crawford has five victories, including the 2004 Martinsville spring race. ... Todd Bodine leads the season standings with 340 points, four more than Daytona winner Timothy Peters. ... Peters won the October race at Martinsville. ... Toyota has won six of the last eight races at Martinsville.

Next race: Nashville 200, April 2, Nashville Superspeedway, Nashville, Tenn.

On the Net: http://www.nascar.com


Next race: Nashville 300, April 3, Nashville Superspeedway, Nashville, Tenn.

Last week: Justin Allgaier raced to his first NASCAR victory, holding off Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski at Bristol Motor Speedway. Allgaier and Keselowski gave Penske Racing its first 1-2 finish in the Nationwide Series.

On the Net: http://www.nascar.com

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Site: St. Petersburg, Fla.

Schedule: Friday, practice; Saturday, practice, qualifying; Sunday, race, 3:45 p.m. (ABC, 3:30-6 p.m.)

Track: Streets of St. Petersburg (street course, 1.8 miles).

Race distance: 181 miles, 100 laps.

Last year: Ryan Briscoe won the season-opening race, outdueling Ryan Hunter-Reay and Justin Wilson for the first of the Penske driver's three 2009 victories.

Last race: Australia's Will Power won the rain-shortened season opener on March 14 in Sao Paulo, passing Hunter-Reay with three laps to go. The race ended at the two-hour time limit with only 61 of the 75 scheduled laps completed.

Fast facts: Dario Franchitti is making his 200th major open-wheel start. He has 23 victories, 13 in 84 IndyCar races. ... Helio Castroneves won at St. Petersburg in 2006 and 2007. ... Danica Patrick was 15th in Sao Paulo.

Next race: Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, April 11, Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala.

On the Net: http://www.indycar.com

Australian Grand Prix

Site: Melbourne, Australia.

Schedule: Friday, practice (Speed, 1:30-3 a.m.); Saturday, practice, qualifying (Speed, 1-3:30 a.m.); Sunday, race, 2 a.m. (Speed, 1:30-4 a.m.)

Track: Albert Park (road course, 3.3 miles).

Race distance: 191.12 miles, 58 laps.

Last year: England's Jenson Button led Brawn GP to a 1-2 finish in the season-opening race. Brazil's Rubens Barrichello was second. Button went on to win six of the first seven races and took the world championship.

Last race: Spain's Fernando Alonso led Ferrari to a 1-2 finish March 14 in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher was sixth in his first race in three years.

Fast facts: Schumacher is driving for Ross Brawn-led Mercedes GP. The 41-year-old German star has won a record 91 races, four at Albert Park. ... Button is driving for McLaren. Button was seventh in Bahrain, while new teammate Lewis Hamilton was third. ... Teams are no longer allowed to refuel during races, forcing them to start with about 330 pounds of fuel.

Next race: Malaysian Grand Prix, April 4, Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

On the Net: http://www.formula1.com

NHRA Four-Wide Nationals

Site: Concord, N.C.

Schedule: Friday, qualifying; Saturday, qualifying (ESPN2, 7-9 p.m.); Sunday, final eliminations (ESPN2, 10-10:30 a.m., 5-7:30 p.m.).

Track: zMAX Dragway.

Last year: Inaugural event.

Last event: Six-time defending series champion Tony Schumacher won the Gatornationals on March 14 for his first Top Fuel victory of the year. Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won. Mike Edwards won the rain-delayed Arizona Nationals Pro Stock event in Gainesville.

Fast facts: The event is the first in NHRA history with racing in four lanes instead of the traditional two. A center wall separates the second and third lanes. ... Schumacher leads the Top Fuel standings. ... John Force, the Funny Car leader, won the season-opening race in Pomona, Calif., to end a 20-month victory drought. The 60-year-old Force has an NHRA-record 127 victories and 14 season titles. ... The series will return to zMAX Dragway in September for the Carolinas Nationals.

Next event: O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals, April 9-11, Houston Raceway Park, Baytown, Texas.

On the Net: http://www.nhra.com


WORLD OF OUTLAWS: Late Model: Friday, Battleground Speedway, Highlands, Texas; Saturday, Lonestar Speedway, Kilgore, Texas. Super Dirtcar: Saturday, Hagerstown Speedway, Hagerstown, Md. On the Net: http://www.worldofoutlaws.com

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Sunday, Streets of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Fla. On the Net: http://www.indycar.com