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This week in motor sports

Gearing Up

July 27, 2007|Jim Peltz | Times Staff Writer

What's new in motor sports entering this weekend:

1. Formula One opted Thursday not to punish the McLaren Mercedes race team for possessing confidential information on the car design of rival Ferrari, a decision Ferrari sharply criticized.

The Federation Internationale de L'Automobile ruled that McLaren Mercedes did have sensitive Ferrari documents, but that there was insufficient evidence that the data were misused to gain a competitive edge. McLaren Mercedes says the breach involved one employee who was suspended.

But Ferrari said FIA's decision not to punish the team "legitimizes dishonest behavior in Formula One and sets a very serious precedent."

2. Veteran Mark Martin co-drives the No. 01 Chevrolet for Ginn Racing and, at a news conference Thursday to discuss this week's merger of Ginn with Dale Earnhardt Inc., he was asked whether he might take over Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 8 Chevy next year when Earnhardt moves to Hendrick Motorsports.

"I'm pretty certain I'll be in the 01 car but, you know, I learned two years ago to ... never say never," he said.

3. The Champ Car World Series returns to California with the San Jose Grand Prix on Sunday.

Reigning series champ Sebastien Bourdais won the race last year on the 1.45-mile temporary San Jose street course. Bourdais, who might be headed to Formula One next year, also won last week's Champ Car race in Edmonton, Canada.

Meanwhile, Champ Car driver Tristan Gommendy of PKV Racing was cleared to drive in the San Jose race after missing the Edmonton race because he injured his back in a crash during qualifying.

4. The NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series also moves west this weekend with the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. The defending winner in the top-fuel category is J.R. Todd, who won the race as a rookie last year. Todd said this week he's also mulling a switch to funny cars next year.

5. In local racing Saturday night, Irwindale Speedway and Perris Auto Speedway feature late-model stock cars, and a figure-eight race is part of the multi-race program at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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THE RACES

NASCAR NEXTEL CUP

Allstate 400 at the Brickyard

* When: Saturday, qualifying (ESPN2, 7 a.m.); Sunday, race (ESPN, 11 a.m.).

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

* Race distance: 400 miles, 160 laps.

* 2006 winner: Jimmie Johnson.

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NASCAR BUSCH

Kroger 200

* When: Saturday, qualifying (ESPN2, 1:30 p.m.), race (ESPN2, 4:30 p.m.).

* Where: O'Reilly Raceway Park (oval, 0.686 of a mile, 12 degrees banking in turns), Indianapolis.

* Race distance: 137.2 miles, 200 laps.

* 2006 winner: Kevin Harvick.

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NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCKS

Power Stroke Diesel 200

* When: Today, qualifying (Speed Channel, 1:30 p.m.), race (Speed Channel, 5 p.m.).

* Where: O'Reilly Raceway Park.

* Race distance: 137.2 miles, 200 laps.

* 2006 winner: Rick Crawford.

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CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES

San Jose Grand Prix

* When: Today, qualifying, 2 p.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 2 p.m.; Sunday, race (ESPN2, 3 p.m.).

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

* Race length: 1 hour 45 minutes.

* 2006 winner: Sebastien Bourdais.

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NHRA

Fram Autolite Nationals

* When: Today, qualifying, 3 p.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2, 3 p.m., delayed); Sunday, eliminations, 11 a.m. (ESPN2, 5 p.m., delayed).

* Where: Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Calif.

* 2006 winners: J.R. Todd (top fuel); Eric Medlen (funny car), Jason Line (pro stock); Chip Ellis (pro stock motorcycle).

Associated Press

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LEADERS

*--* NASCAR Nextel Cup standings Pl. Driver Points Behind 1. Jeff Gordon 2,911 -- 2. Denny Hamlin 2,608 303 3. Matt Kenseth 2,565 346 4. Jeff Burton 2,491 420 5. Carl Edwards 2,473 438 6. Tony Stewart 2,429 482 7. Jimmie Johnson 2,423 488 8. Kevin Harvick 2,337 574 9. Kyle Busch 2,314 597 10. Clint Bowyer 2,281 630 11. Martin Truex Jr. 2,208 703 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,151 760 13. Ryan Newman 2,121 790 14. Kurt Busch 2,074 837 15. Jamie McMurray 2,040 871

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STAT OF THE WEEK

* Nextel Cup driver Kyle Petty is scheduled to make the 800th start of his career Sunday in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His father, NASCAR legend Richard Petty, holds the record with 1,185

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