Kansas City, KS (Sports Network) - The NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World
Truck Series are running at Kansas Speedway this weekend. The IZOD IndyCar
Series returns to action in Long Beach, Calif., while Formula One heads to
Sprint Cup Series
STP 400 - Kansas Speedway - Kansas City, Kan.
Kyle Busch has been on a roll the last several races, and he's hoping his
momentum continues this weekend at Kansas Speedway.
Since finishing 34th and 23rd in the first two races (Daytona and Phoenix),
Busch has scored five consecutive top-five finishes, including victories in
two of the last three events. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver led 125 of 200 laps
to win last month's race in Fontana, Calif. He won again this past Saturday at
Texas after running in front for 171 of 334 laps.
Kansas has not been one of Busch's best racetracks in the past. He has
finished no better than seventh in 11 Sprint Cup starts at this 1.5-mile
track. His only other top-10 finish here came one year ago when he placed
"I thought we were running decent there last year," Busch said. "I was
leading, and I spun myself out while I was leading so, that was dumb. So
hopefully we have a good car like that this time around. I don't make a
mistake like that."
After its spring race last year, Kansas received a new coat of asphalt on its
surface. The track was also reconfigured with variable banking of 17-20
degrees in all four turns.
When the series most recently competed here last October, every driver in the
qualifying field eclipsed Matt Kenseth's track record of 180.856 mph, with
Kasey Kahne topping out at a blistering 191.360 mph.
But Kahne's record at Kansas might be "dust in the wind" with NASCAR's new
Sprint Cup race car, the Gen-6, running at this track for the first time.
"Kansas is newly repaved, and it's got a winter on it now, so we'll see how
that changes things," Busch said. "I still expect it to be fast. It's a place
that you want to run well at, because it is a Chase race. So we've got to
develop our notes in Kansas (this) weekend."
Since the Gen-6 made its competition debut at the start of the season, there
have been new track qualifying records set at Bristol, Martinsville and Texas.
Roush Fenway Racing driver Carl Edwards, who hails from nearby Columbia, Mo.,
recently tested at Kansas, which he considers his home track.
"Kansas is a really tough racetrack right now to figure out where you need
speed, because it's so smooth, and it's so fast," Edwards said. "We saw 208
miles an hour or something like that in testing. That's a very fast racetrack,
especially since it doesn't have a lot of banking. It's not a really high-
banked track. It's just very smooth and has a ton of grip. It's very, very
Martin Truex Jr. has been perhaps the best driver at Kansas lately. Truex
finished second in both races here last year. In the spring event, he put on a
dominating performance by leading 173 of 267 laps, but Denny Hamlin passed him
for the top spot with 31 laps to go. Hamlin went on to score the victory.
Six months ago, Truex challenged Matt Kenseth for the lead in the closing
laps, but Kenseth held him off at the finish by 0.5 seconds for the win.
Truex also finished second at Texas. He held the lead late in that race, but
Busch beat him off of pit road during the last round of pit stops with 20 laps
left. Truex has finished in the runner-up spot six times now since his lone
Sprint Cup win almost six years ago at Dover.
"It seems like our mile and a half big track program is pretty good and kind
of like Kansas, so I look forward to going there," Truex said. "I think it's
going to be a lot different from last year, but it's the same racetrack."
Brian Vickers will once again drive the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in
place of Hamlin, who continues to recover from a compression fracture in his
lower back. Hamlin suffered the injury during an accident on the final lap of
last month's race at Fontana.
Forty-five teams are on the preliminary entry list for the STP 400.
Camping World Truck Series
SFP 250 - Kansas Speedway - Kansas City, Kan.
Defending Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher is hoping
Saturday's race at Kansas Speedway will help jump start his somewhat sluggish
beginning to the season.
Buescher, who is attempting to become the first driver to win back-to-back
titles in the Truck Series, has yet to post a top-10 finish in the first three
races this year. He sat eighth in the point standings after last Sunday's race
at Rockingham, N.C., but Ron Hornaday Jr.'s loss of 25 points as part of his
penalty for wrecking Darrell Wallace Jr. during a caution at Rockingham,
allowed Buescher to move up to seventh in the rankings. He is 42 points behind
leader Johnny Sauter.
"There's no question the season hasn't started off the way our team was
hoping," Buescher said. "It's not because we haven't run well. I feel like we
are always in contention for a win, but we've just been bitten by some bad
luck so far and don't have the end result to show for it."
Kansas has become a special place for Buescher. The Turner Scott Motorsports
driver recorded his first career truck win at this 1.5-mile racetrack. He won
three more races during the 2012 season to capture the series championship.
"Kansas is definitely a special place to me and getting my first Truck Series
win there was a dream come true," he said. "With the track being repaved last
summer, I feel like it is a totally different track, but I feel like we can
get a handle on the new surface and get the finish this team deserves."
While Buescher might be a little bit behind at this point of the season,
rookie Jeb Burton isn't. The 20-year-old Burton has won the pole for the last
two races -- Martinsville and Rockingham. He has finished no worse than
seventh this year and is presently second in points (-16).
"This season has started out just the way we wanted it to, and I'm ready to
keep the momentum going," Burton said. "Getting my first pole award at
Martinsville Speedway was awesome, but doing it two weekends in a row really
shows how hard my team is working for the results we're getting. I don't have
a lot of experience at Kansas Speedway, so I'm definitely looking to gain more
this weekend and walk away with another solid finish."
There have been 12 different winners in as many truck races at Kansas. Todd
Bodine (2005), Hornaday (2008), Sauter (2010) and Buescher (2012) are those
drivers competing in this race that have previously won here.
Kyle Busch and Logano are those Sprint Cup Series regulars on the entry list
for this event. Busch will drive his own No. 51 Toyota, while Joey Logano is
behind the wheel of the No. 19 Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing. Logano
finished second at Rockingham. Kyle Larson won the race there but is not
entered for Kansas.
Thirty-six teams are on the preliminary entry list for the SFP 250.
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Streets of Long Beach - Long Beach, Calif.
The IZOD IndyCar Series heads out west for the first time this season to
James Hinchcliffe kicked off the season on March 24 by winning his first
career IndyCar race on the streets of St. Petersburg, FL. Ryan Hunter-Reay,
the defending series champion, started on the pole and took the checkered flag
for the April 7 event at Barber Motorsports Park.
With podium finishes in the first two races this year -- second at St. Pete
and third at Barber -- Helio Castroneves holds a nine-point lead over Scott
Dixon, who has a pair of top-five finishes. At this point of the season last
year, Castroneves held a two-point advantage over Dixon.
Hunter-Reay started off the season with a disappointing 18th-place finish at
St. Pete but moved up to third in points after his victory at Barber. He is
presently 13 points behind Castroneves.
"In IndyCar, the momentum can swing at any point, because the competition is
so close and the drivers are so talented," Hunter-Reay said. "You could be
going to your best racetrack, have a little bit of a mistake in qualifying, be
10th or 11th. Your weekend is changed at that point."
The series will run its third race of the season this weekend on the 1.968-
mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit in Long Beach. Hunter-Reay won this
event three years ago, leading 64 of 85 laps.
"I'm really happy to have some much needed momentum going into one of my
favorite race events of the year," he said. "We'll be looking to follow up a
huge win at Barber with another big weekend in Long Beach. As past winners of
this race, we know what we need to do to get the job done."
This year's race at Long Beach has been trimmed from 85 laps to 80. It is one
of four events on the schedule this year that IndyCar is attempting to improve
the competition. The sanctioning body wants to discourage teams from fuel-
mileage racing, which would better match traditional fuel windows for each one
of those races.
Will Power won here last year. Power qualified second but received a 10-grid
position penalty for an engine change. The Team Penske driver conserved enough
fuel in the late stages, driving the final 21 laps without pitting. He beat
then rookie Simon Pagenaud to the finish line by just under a second.
Power has won the pole in three of the last four races at Long Beach. His
first victory at this street circuit came in 2008 when Champ Car ran its final
event ever before unification with IndyCar.
"Long Beach has a lot of history, and it's a great location," Power said.
"Everyone loves going there. It's a very cool street circuit. I've won it
twice now. The cool thing about winning that race is you get your face on the
plaque (trophy) there in victory lane."
Power won three of the first four road/street course races during the 2012
season. He has finished 16th and fifth in the first two events this year.
Power is currently eighth in points (-32).
Twenty-seven teams are on the entry list for Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of
Long Beach. Mike Conway is scheduled to compete in his first race this season,
driving the No. 17 car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Conway scored his
first career IndyCar win two years ago at Long Beach.
Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit - Sakhir, Bahrain
Fernando Alonso from Ferrari comes to one of his best tracks on the Formula
One schedule after winning last Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.
This weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix is round 4 on the 2013 calendar, and Alonso
has won this event more times than any other driver. The Spaniard has claimed
three victories in Bahrain since F1 started competing in this Middle East
country in 2004.
Alonso won the Bahrain GP in consecutive seasons from 2005-06 when he drove
for Renault. His most recent victory there came three years ago when he made
his maiden start for Ferrari. Bahrain was the 2010 season-opener for F1.
In China, Alonso passed Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton for the lead early in the
race and then dominated from there. He finished 10 seconds ahead of Lotus'
Kimi Raikkonen for his 31st career F1 win but his first since the German Grand
Prix last July (13 races ago).
Alonso started his season with a second-place finish in Australia but had a
retirement in Malaysia after he damaged his front wing during an accident on
the opening lap.
"I don't think we are the car to beat at the moment, just because we have this
one victory," Alonso said. "In Australia, we were clearly not the quickest,
and in Malaysia, we struggled a bit. In China, on race pace, Sebastian
(Vettel) was quickest in all the stints but had chosen a strange strategy for
"We need to keep improving and to be a little bit faster. There are some new
pieces for this race and new components coming to Barcelona (May 12) and
Monaco (May 26). So hopefully in the next month and a half, we can be at the
level of the best cars."
Right now, Vettel from Red Bull leads the world championship standings with 52
points, followed by 49 points for Raikkonen and 43 for Alonso. Vettel, the
three-time defending F1 champion, finished fourth in China. He placed third in
Australia and then won in Malaysia.
"We need to be consistently on the podium if we want to fight for the
championship," Alonso said. "Not having Sebastian on the podium in China is
good news at the moment, only because he is currently leading the
championship. I would feel the same if it was Lewis or Webber, for example, in
the lead. It's not because it's Sebastian the person, it's because he's
Vettel won the Bahrain GP for the first time last year.
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