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This week in motor racing

Gearing Up

July 04, 2008|Jim Peltz | Times Staff Writer

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

1) Borrowing a page from late President Gerald Ford, the people who sell authentic NASCAR memorabilia are trying to help cash-strapped fans by lowering prices.

Motorsports Authentics said it would cut prices of Sprint Cup team jackets by $30 and standard die-cast car models by $10, among other reductions, starting with this weekend's race at Daytona International Speedway. The twill jackets normally retail for $120 and the die-casts for about $75.

The promotion is called "Whip Inflation Now," the name given to Ford's attempt in 1974 to encourage the public's help in curbing rising prices.

"We know times are hard for all Americans right now," said Mark Dyer, chief executive of Motorsports Authentics, adding that the price cuts apply to sales at tracks and online.

2) NASCAR holds its summer Cup race Saturday night at Daytona, with drivers bracing for the typical wild ride that comes with the carburetor-restrictor plates used at the 2.5-mile oval in Florida.

The plates are intended to cap speeds, but they also cause the cars to race in freight-train-like packs, with multi-car crashes and close finishes often the result.

A year ago, Jamie McMurray won the race by beating Kyle Busch by inches, or 0.005 seconds, the closest finish since NASCAR began using electronic scoring in 1993.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said his most memorable summer trip to Daytona came in 2001, when he won the race only a few months after his father was killed in a crash at the season-opening Daytona 500.

"Still to this day, I just don't believe that happened the way it did," Junior said. "That will be hard to top."

3) David Coulthard, who won 13 Formula One races but never the series championship, says he will retire after this season.

The 37-year-old Scotsman, who drives for Red Bull Racing, made the announcement before Sunday's British Grand Prix at the Silverstone track -- where Coulthard won back-to-back for McLaren in 1999-2000.

He has not won a Formula One race since the Australian Grand Prix in 2003.

"My decision to retire was taken earlier in the year and is based on a desire to stop while I am still competitive," Coulthard said, adding that he would remain a consultant to the Red Bull team.

4) New England Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss bought a 50% stake in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team, Morgan-Dollar Motorsports, that is now called Randy Moss Motorsports.

The team will debut July 19 at Kentucky Speedway, with Willie Allen driving a Chevrolet with the No. 81 -- the number Moss wears for the Patriots.

Moss had said earlier this year that he wanted an ownership interest in NASCAR, following other NFL greats such as former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs who have gone into stock-car racing.

5) In local racing tonight, Toyota Speedway at Irwindale hosts a NASCAR Camping World Series West stock-car race as part of its program, while USAC/CRA Sprint Cars are featured at Perris Auto Speedway. Both tracks also will have fireworks shows.

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Have a motor sports question for Jim? E-mail him at james.peltz@latimes.com

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STAT OF THE WEEK

Scott Dixon, above, has won all three IndyCar Series races at Watkins Glen, site of Sunday's race, since the series began competing at the New York road course in 2005.

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LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

Tony Stewart, NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and frequent victim of bad racing luck this year, describing the good-luck trinkets he has received from fans:

'I've got enough stuff to fill up the trunk and the passenger side of the car.'

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