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ON THE TRACKS | This weekend's events


Published: Fri, March 17, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


NASCARNEXTEL CUPGolden Corral 500Hampton, Ga.
Schedule: Today, qualifying (Speed Channel, 7 p.m.); Sunday, race (FOX, 1 p.m.)Track: Atlanta Motor Speedway (oval, 1.54 miles, 24 degrees banking in turns)Race distance: 500 miles, 325 laps.Last year: Carl Edwards won the Golden Corral 500 for his first Cup victory. Edwards pulled off a daring move on Jimmie Johnson coming off the final turn and narrowly won a side-by-side sprint to the finish line.Fast facts: Edwards will try to become the first driver to win three straight Cup races at Atlanta. He also won the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at the track on Oct. 30. ... Herb Thomas (1952) and Bill Elliott (1992) are the only drivers in Cup history to have three wins in the first four races. Elliott won four of the first five. ... Ryan Newman has claimed the pole in each of the last six Atlanta races, one shy of Buddy Baker's record for most at the track.
BUSCH SERIESNicorette 300Hampton, Ga.
Schedule: Saturday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 1 p.m.), race (FX, 3 p.m.)Track: Atlanta Motor SpeedwayRace distance: 300.3 miles, 195 lapsLast year: Carl Edwards raced to his first Busch victory and moved atop the series standings after holding off several Nextel Cup stars in the Aaron's 312 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Edwards took the lead with 11 laps remaining and outlasted a charging Tony Stewart for the victory.Fast facts: Matt Kenseth has five top-five finishes in seven career Busch starts at Atlanta, including a win in 2004. ... Kevin Harvick and J.J. Yeley are the only drivers to have top-10 finishes in all four races this season. ... Shawna Robinson qualified at 174.330 mph in 1994, making her the first and only woman to win a pole in any of NASCAR's three major series.Next race: Sharpie Mini 300, March 25, Bristol, Tenn.
CRAFTSMAN TRUCKSJohn Deere 200Hampton, Ga.
Schedule: Today, qualifying (Speed Channel, 5 p.m.), race (Speed Channel, 9 p.m.)Track: Atlanta Motor SpeedwayRace distance: 200 miles, 130 lapsLast year: Ron Hornaday Jr. won the World Financial Group 200 with the third-closest finish in series history, edging Bobby Labonte by about a foot at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The only tighter finishes came in 1995 -- the series' debut season -- on short tracks in Colorado and Richmond.Fast facts: Mark Martin will try to become the fourth truck driver to win three consecutive races. Mike Skinner, Hornaday and Greg Biffle are the others. ... Terry Cook is expected to make his 200th consecutive truck start this weekend. ... Two rookies occupied the first row for the first time in series history in 1994, when David Reutimann won the pole followed by Robert Huffman.Next race: Kroger 250, April 1, Martinsville, Va.
FORMULA ONEMalaysian Grand PrixKuala Lumpur
Schedule: Saturday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 1 a.m.); Sunday, race (Speed Channel, 1 a.m.)Track: Sepang International Circuit (permanent road course, 3.443 miles, 15 turns)Race distance: 192.808 miles, 56 lapsLast race: Defending Formula One champion Fernando Alonso won the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, holding off a challenge from Michael Schumacher. Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren-Mercedes finished third after he started last on the grid due to car failure in qualification.Last year: Alonso won the Malaysian Grand Prix in 1 hour, 31 minute, 33.736 seconds to give Renault its second straight victory. Schumacher finished seventh.Fast facts: Schumacher won his 65th career pole at Bahrain to tie Ayrton Senna's record. It was his first pole since the Hungarian GP in 2005. ... Alain Dassas was named head of the Renault team on Monday. He will replace Patrick Faure, starting on April 3. ... Schumacher won the 2001 event despite rain, a botched pit stop and a ride in a backup car. ... Ralf Schumacher denied his brother a third straight victory at the track by winning the 2002 event.Next race: Australian Grand Prix, April 2, Melbourne.
NHRANHRA GatornationalsGainesville, Fla.
Schedule: Today, qualifying, 11:30 a.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 11:30 a.m. (Sunday, ESPN2, 12:30 a.m., tape); Sunday, eliminations, 11 a.m. (ESPN2, 5 p.m., tape)Track: Gainesville RacewayLast event: Warren Johnson raced to his record 96th Pro Stock victory at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals in Chandler, Ariz., on Feb. 26, beating Greg Anderson with a quarter-mile run of 6.770 seconds at 206.13 mph. Rod Fuller won the Top Fuel competition and Tommy Johnson Jr. topped the Funny Car field.Last year: Doug Kalitta outraced Larry Dixon in the Top Fuel final of the Gatornationals. Whit Bazemore (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Bike) also won their divisions.Fast facts: Johnson's victory last weekend was his first since the Mile High Nationals on July 17. ... Defending Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi was eliminated in the first round last weekend to fall to ninth in the standings. ...Tony Schumacher had four 4.4-second passes during Top Fuel qualifying last weekend, the third time a racer has accomplished the feat.Next event: O'Reilly Spring Nationals, April 2, Baytown, Texas.
Associated Press
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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