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This week in motor racing

Gearing Up

Five things to look for in motor sports entering this weekend:

June 29, 2007|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

1 Now that Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have all been hit hard by penalties this season, the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 on Sunday from New Hampshire International Speedway represents the dawn of a new era in NASCAR, one in which conspiracy theorists must find someone else who the circuit is favoring. Oh, wait, there's still Juan Pablo Montoya.

2 After going 36 consecutive races without a victory, dating to 2005, Larry Dixon has won two in a row entering the National Hot Rod Assn.'s debut this week in Norwalk, Ohio. With his 40th win on Sunday, Dixon surpassed Kenny Bernstein for second all-time in top fuel to Joe Amato's 52 victories. Dixon's victories book-ended Father's Day. Since becoming a father, Dixon won five straight years on Father's Day, and lost in 2006 in his only finals of the year. And you thought Don Garlits was drag racing's "Big Daddy."

3 The Champ Car World Series returns to the 2.65-mile Mont-Tremblant road course in Quebec for the first time since 1968. It's the first leg of the recently christened "Canadian Triple Crown." A trophy and bragging rights go to the two-car team that averages the best finishing position Sunday, on the streets of Toronto on July 8, and on the airport layout at Edmonton on July 22.

4 At the midway point of the season at Richmond International Raceway, Scott Sharp is seventh in the Indycar Series, 14 points ahead of Danica Patrick.

Patrick left Rahal Letterman Racing for Andretti Green Racing, ostensibly to have a better chance of winning. Sharp replaced her. With a 32-point lead over Jeff Simmons, the other Rahal Letterman driver, Patrick is closer to 11th place than she is sixth-place Helio Castroneves.

5 Saturday is a big night at local tracks. San Fernando's Rip Michels goes for his sixth consecutive victory in Super Late Models at Irwindale Speedway. Tom Smith of Lakewood is seven for seven in figure-8 races at Orange Show Speedway as the 15-race season reaches its halfway point. Mark Shackelford of Riverside holds a three-point lead over Ed Perry of Carpinteria in Super Stocks, the featured class at Perris Auto Speedway.

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