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This week in motor racing

Gearing Up

May 02, 2008|Jim Peltz | Times Staff Writer

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

1. New England Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss formed a NASCAR team, following other NFL stars who have taken ownership stakes in stock-car racing.

Moss Motorsports plans to enter NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series in selected races in the second half of this season and run full time next year.

The driver and sponsors of Moss' truck -- expected to be No. 81, the number he wears for the Patriots -- will be announced later.

"We don't have all the details in place just yet, but I am very excited about Moss Motorsports becoming a part of NASCAR," said Moss, 31, a 10-year NFL veteran.

He follows Joe Gibbs, the former Washington Redskins head coach who owns one of the top teams in NASCAR's premier Sprint Cup Series, and Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, who formed a Cup team two years ago, Hall of Fame Racing, before later selling their controlling interest.

2. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series resumes Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, which was not damaged by the tornadoes that hit central and southeastern Virginia this week.

The race marks the two-year anniversary since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his last points-paying event.

But Richmond also is a good opportunity for NASCAR's most popular driver to end his dry spell. Three of Earnhardt's 17 career Cup wins have come on the 0.75-mile RIR oval.

Dario Franchitti, meanwhile, will sit out the Richmond race and be replaced in the No. 40 Dodge by Ken Schrader.

Franchitti, the former Indianapolis 500 winner who drives for the team of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, broke his left ankle last Saturday in a crash at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. His return to the series is being evaluated on a week-to-week basis.

3. The Richmond race is formally called "Crown Royal Presents The Dan Lowry 400," because of the liquor company's contest that awards the race's naming rights to a fan each year.

Lowry, a 29-year-old engineer from New Waterford, Ohio, will have his name on the race's tickets and merchandise, serve as grand marshal and deliver the winner's trophy -- which bears his name.

Said Lowry, "The whole experience has been surreal."

4. The AMA Supercross series ends its season Saturday night at Las Vegas' Sam Boyd Stadium with Chad Reed and Kevin Windham set to decide the championship.

With preseason favorite James Stewart sidelined early by a knee injury, Reed got off to a fast start this year by sweeping the three races at Angel Stadium.

The Yamaha rider has eight wins overall but also is struggling with a shoulder injury.

Honda's Windham has surged into the title chase with four victories, including a win last weekend in Seattle, and now trails Reed by only 10 points heading into the finale.

5. In local racing Saturday night, Toyota Speedway at Irwindale has a five-race program led by late-model stock cars, while Perris Auto Speedway and Ventura Raceway also feature multi-race schedules.

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LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

Kyle Busch, who turns 23 today and plans to drive in three stock-car races this weekend:

'I'd be happy to celebrate my birthday with three trophies.'

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STAT OF THE WEEK

Melanie Troxel, above, is the defending winner in top-fuel dragsters at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis, site of this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals.

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

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