Tight race in NASCAR | NevadaAppeal.com

Tight race in NASCAR

Roger Diez

Heading into tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington, four-time champion Jimmie Johnson trails Kevin Harvick by 10 points in the standings.

Two of Johnson’s Hendrick teammates also are in Chase contention at this point, with Jeff Gordon in sixth and Mark Martin 10th. And the fourth Hendrick driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is only four points out of the top 12.

Gordon may have his best chance so far this season to put one in the win column, provided luck stays with him. Gordon has seven wins at the “track too tough to tame,” by far the most of any active driver. So far this season, Gordon has shown a lot of the fire that won him four championships, but Lady Luck has not been his co-pilot. There’s also another incentive for drivers who haven’t posted a win this season or last – Darlington, and next week at Dover, are the last two chances to qualify for the May 22 All-Star race at Charlotte. And Darlington will be a homecoming of sorts for former Gibbs Racing driver J.J. Yeley, who has replaced Camping World Truck veteran Terry Cook in the No. 46 Dodge. Yeley put the car into 30th place on the grid for tonight’s race.

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The Formula 1 circus has returned from their Far East tour and will race in Europe for the first time this season at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. Friday’s practice indicated that not much has changed in the weeks since the last race, with Red Bull teammates Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel setting fast times. Most teams are rolling out chassis and aero updates this weekend, and Michael Schumacher appears to be the major beneficiary of the changes made to his Mercedes F1 car. He was third- fastest in Friday’s practice, ahead of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren. If you weren’t up at 5 a.m. this morning to watch qualifying on SPEEDTV, you can visit http://www.speedtv.com for the results.

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Formula 1 fans who have missed the U.S. Grand Prix since it left Indianapolis after the 2007 race, take heart. Rumors are flying that there are plans to host F1 as soon as 2012 at Liberty State Park in New York. A preliminary proposal for a 3.6 mile road course with lighting for a Singapore-style night race is being discussed. However, a group calling itself “The Friends of Liberty State Park” has already filed a complaint against a possible race there. On the positive side, the economic impact would be a boost for the area … not only the race itself, but the construction of infrastructure to build the track. And from a marketing standpoint, pairing a U.S. Grand Prix with the newly reinstated Canadian F1 race would give North America a doubleheader that would draw crowds from all over the eastern half of the continent.

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In locally-flavored action tonight, Hunter Colodny will race at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif. Colodny currently sits sixth in the season standings, just two points out of the top five. And Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon will see action tonight, with the IMCA Modified, Pro Stock, Hobby Stock, Mini Mod, Gen-X, Bomber and Rat Mod divisions joined by mug bog races, the latter in preparation for the upcoming Octane Fest in Fallon. Carson City drivers Dean Chicowitz and Gary Nevers are currently second and fourth respectively in Pro Stock points, while Shane Ramthun is the highest non-track member points scorer in the Hobby Stock division and Steve McGee tops the non-member runners in IMCA Modified.