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Gearing Up

This week in motor racing

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

September 28, 2007|Jim Peltz | Times Staff Writer

1 NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series, which changes its name to the Sprint Cup Series next year, unveiled its 36-race schedule for 2008 with only minor changes.

Among them: The race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., will be held at night for the first time July 12.

2 The 19-state schedule has one other notable change: The series will no longer have a two-week break after the first two races, a pause that aggravated many fans who wanted more continuous racing at season's start.

Next season opens Feb. 17 with the Daytona 500, followed by races at California Speedway in Fontana on Feb. 24 and at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 2.

The series won't pause until the Easter holiday in March, after five races. It's a change "designed to be even more fan friendly," said NASCAR Chairman Brian France.

The second race at California Speedway next year is Aug. 31.

3 The Cup series' Team Red Bull, whose publicists enjoy issuing tongue-in-cheek bulletins, listed 10 reasons why it's "gung-ho for Kansas" ahead of Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway.

Among them: "Kansas City has the cleanest tap water in the United States" and "it's not tornado season."

4 The Formula One series refocuses on racing Sunday at the Japanese Grand Prix after two months of upheaval.

The series was rocked by a spying scandal, in which McLaren Mercedes was found to have technical data about Ferrari's cars.

Formula One's governing body fined McLaren $100 million, but its drivers -- rookie Lewis Hamilton and reigning champion Fernando Alonso -- were not penalized.

Hamilton leads Alonso by two points with three races left in the season.

5 In local racing Saturday, late-model stock cars are featured at Irwindale Speedway and Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, the USAC/CRA sprint-car series returns to Perris Auto Speedway, Ventura Raceway has USAC midget cars and the Fairplex in Pomona hosts the LG World Championships of Freestyle Motocross.

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