Busy weekend at the tracks

This is another one of those super-busy race weekends, and it also promises to be a nice weekend, weather-wise. So it's fortunate that pretty much all the live local racing and televised racing is scheduled in the evening; that way you can get some of that spring yard work done before you sit down, grab a beverage, and settle in to get your weekend speed fix.

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Locally, tonight will be the second night of the newly re-opened Reno-Fernley Raceway's 3/8 mile clay oval. On tap are the IMCA Modified, Pro Stock, Hobby Stock and Rat Mod divisions. Gates open at 3:30 p.m., and racing starts at 6 p.m. General admission is $7.

And if you are a fan of motorcycle and quad TT racing, Thunder Bowl Speedway in Mound House has a full program tonight, also starting at 6 p.m., also $7 for spectators.

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If you are a bit less robust of spirit and prefer your racing on the tube, NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage on FOX will begin at 5 p.m. this evening, with Formula 1 from Shanghai, China, on SPEED at 11 p.m. today. And Sunday, the Indycar Series makes its debut on the Long Beach street course, televised on the VERSUS cable network. I'm not sure of the channel on Charter or DirecTV, but VERSUS is channel 151 on Dish Network. The Long Beach Grand Prix has been around for more than 30 years, first with Formula 1, then with CART/Champ Car, and now Indycar. In fact, the first race held there was the old SCCA Formula 5000 series, run as a test to check out the track prior to Formula 1 sanctioning. Drivers who ran at Long Beach in the Champ Cars won't really have an advantage, as the Indy cars don't have the turbocharged horsepower or the "push to pass" feature. Expect lap times to be at least 2-3 seconds slower, and passing much more difficult.

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Jimmie Johnson will be trying to win his fourth consecutive Phoenix race tonight. If he does so, he will duplicate a feat he accomplished at Lowe's Motor Speedway in 2004-2005, winning four consecutive races at that track. But four in a row is far from a record. In fact, four wins in a row at the same track has been accomplished 10 times in NASCAR history, and has been topped three times. Darrell Waltrip won five races in a row at North Wilkesboro and a record seven in a row at Bristol along with his four at Nashville. Waltrip's record of seven tied with Richard Petty's seven consecutive victories at Richmond, and Petty also scored four in a row at South Boston. Other NASCAR drivers who have achieved the "four in a row" record are: Bill Elliot (Michigan); Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Talladega); Bobby Isaac (Hickory and Greenville); Cale Yarborough (Bristol); Fred Lorenzen (Martinsville); and Rex White (Winston-Salem). Just to illustrate how much more difficult it is today to string that many victories together at a track, only Johnson and Earnhardt Jr. have accomplished the feat since Cale Yarborough did it in the mid-1980s, more than 20 years ago.

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Later on tonight, Jensen Button will be trying for three wins in a row with his Brawn GP F1 car, with his now-legal rear diffuser still in place. The FIA ruled earlier in the week that the diffusers on the Brawn, Toyota and Williams teams met the rules, and appeals of the protests filed by Ferrari, McLaren and BMW at Australia were denied. This means that those teams will be burning the midnight engineering oil re-designing their diffusers. Ferrari for one has reorganized their technical staff and assigned a working group to examine the team's performance (outside of the diffuser issue) and make Ferrari competitive again. They will be using a modified front wing and some other tweaks in Shanghai.

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Finally, local racer Dallas Colodny took his second top five in as many races in the Late Model Division at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif., Saturday night. After running in second for much of the race, Colodny missed a shift on a restart, falling back to seventh, and then recovering for a fifth-place finish. He also turned the third-fastest lap in the race.

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