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Gearing Up

This week in motor racing

July 20, 2007|Jim Peltz | Times Staff Writer

What's new in motor sports heading into this weekend:

1. It's a rare weekend off for NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series, which returns July 29 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for one of its biggest races of the year, the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

But NASCAR's Busch Series is racing Saturday night at Gateway International Raceway, a 1.25-mile oval in Madison, Ill., near St. Louis.

2. The MotoGP motorcycle racing series returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., on Sunday for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.

American Nicky Hayden, the reigning series champion, has won the race the last two years but is struggling this season and is ninth in the points. Casey Stoner of Australia leads the standings with a 32-point lead over five-time series champion Valentino Rossi of Italy.

3. The IndyCar Series arrives at the 2.26-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, for the Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio on Sunday.

The Champ Car World Series ends its three-race swing in Canada on Sunday with the Rexall Grand Prix in Edmonton. And the Formula One series holds the Grand Prix of Europe at Nuerburgring in Germany.

4. Three-time and reigning Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais tested again with the Formula One racing team of Scuderia Toro Rosso, but there was no immediate word on whether he would drive for the team next year.

The Frenchman wants to switch to Formula One amid speculation that Toro Rosso might hire him to replace Scott Speed, the Manteca, Calif., native who has struggled. Speed is the only American driver in the series.

5. Saturday night late-model stock cars head the programs at Irwindale Speedway and Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, while Ventura Raceway's lineup includes sprint cars. Perris Auto Speedway is closed this weekend.

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THE RACES

NASCAR BUSCH

Gateway 250

* When: Saturday, qualifying (ESPN2, 1:30 p.m.), race (ESPN2, 5 p.m.).

* Where: Gateway International Raceway (egg-shaped oval, 1.25 miles, 11 degrees banking in Turns 1-2, 9 degrees in Turns 3-4), Madison, Ill.

* Race distance: 250 miles, 200 laps.

* 2006 winner: Carl Edwards.

* Next race: Kroger 200, July 28, Indianapolis.

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CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES

Grand Prix of Edmonton

* When: Today, qualifying, 2 p.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 1 p.m.; Sunday, race (ESPN, noon).

* Where: JAGflo Speedway at City Center Airport (temporary street course, 1.973 miles, 14 turns), Edmonton, Canada.

* Race distance: 172.48 miles, 88 laps.

* 2006 winner: Justin Wilson.

* Next race: San Jose Grand Prix, July 29.

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FORMULA ONE

Grand Prix of Europe

* When: Saturday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 5 a.m.); Sunday, race (Speed Channel, 4:30 a.m.).

* Where: Nuerburgring (permanent road course, 3.196 miles), Nuerburgring, Germany.

* Race distance: 191.919 miles, 60 laps.

* 2006 winner: Michael Schumacher.

* Next race: Hungarian Grand Prix, Aug. 5, Budapest.

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INDY RACING LEAGUE

Honda 200

* When: Saturday, qualifying, 8:50 a.m.; Sunday, race (Channel 7, 10:30 a.m.).

* Where: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (permanent road course, 2.4 miles, 15 turns), Lexington, Ohio.

* Race distance: 191.93 miles, 85 laps.

* 2006 winner: This is the inaugural event.

* Next race: Firestone Indy 400, Aug. 5, Brooklyn, Mich.

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NHRA

Schuck's Auto Supply Nationals

* When: Friday, qualifying, 3 p.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2, 8:30 p.m., taped); Sunday, eliminations, 11 a.m. (ESPN2, 4 p.m., taped).

* Where: Pacific Raceways, Kent, Wash.

* 2006 winners: Tony Schumacher (top fuel); Whit Bazemore (funny car); Roy Johnson pro stock).

* Next event: Fram Autolite Nationals, July 29, Sonoma, Calif.

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Associated Press

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STAT OF THE WEEK

Nextel Cup driver Carl Edwards holds a whopping 716-point lead in NASCAR's second-tier Busch Series and is the defending winner of Saturday's Busch race at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill.

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

Sam Hornish Jr., IndyCar Series champion, on seeing the Mid-Ohio track, where the series races Sunday, as a kid: 'I was too little to see over everyone else, so I sat on the top of the fence pole all day long . . . thinking how cool that would be to someday drive there.'

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