Racing Preview: Texas, Bahrain, Long Beach, and More

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Racing Preview: Texas, Bahrain, Long Beach, and More
It's a worldwide weekend on the race track, with NASCAR going to Texas and F1 heading to Bahrain. Here, Adam Amick of the Rubbin's Racing Show gets you ready for all the globe-trotting action.
 
 
NASCAR: Nextel Cup and Busch Series at Texas Motor Speedway
 
After a weekend off to recover from the short-track "Car Of Tomorrow" races, the Nextel Cup Series gets back to basics at Texas Motor Speedway. 
 
The Samsung 500 is the second-most attended race of the season, after the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. Kasey Kahne sat on the pole and won the race last spring, and will look to use TMS to rebound from his early-season woes.
 
Mark Martin returns to the seat of the No. 01 U.S. Army car after a planned sabbatical and should run strong. Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, and Tony Stewart have also had success at Texas.
 
The big question concerns the Hendrick team.  Jeff Gordon is the current points leader, with an average season finish of 5.2.  TMS is one of three tracks on the circuit at which Gordon hasn't won (Phoenix and Homestead are the other two), but Hendrick's improved intermediate-track program and rainy weather during qualifying should help the 24 car stay out front.
 
The hype surrounding the bumping-banging finish between Gordon and teammate Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville two weeks ago has settled—but will likely be revived by the media this weekend. Jimmie has won three of the six races on the season, showing the kind of dominance that could produce a repeat Nextel champion. 
 
Also look for Kyle Busch to run strong in the No. 5 car. Busch's win at Bristol three weeks ago means Hendrick has taken four of six checkered flags in the young season. 
 
The Samsung 500 will air live on FOX Sunday at 1:30 p.m. EDT.  Practice and qualifying will be carried on SPEED Channel Friday and Saturday.
 
Carl Edwards didn't take Easter Weekend off—he showed why he's the best "flipping" driver in the Busch Series with a win at Nashville Superspeedway.
 
Carl performed his signature backflip off the car following his win in the Pepsi 300.  Edwards' point lead in the Busch Series appears all but insurmountable, even this early in the season. 
 
Dave Blaney continues to find a way to finish strong after nasty spins.  His third-place run at Nashville vaulted him to second in the points.  As it stands, the rest of the field is racing for "first loser," with defending champ  Kevin Harvick leading the way at third overall.
 
Not that there's nothing to get excited about. Newcomers Marcos Ambrose of Australia and Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia are duking it out for Rookie of the Year honors, with Montoya trailing the Aussie by 104 points after sitting out Nashville.
 
Montoya ran strong at Atlanta in his Cup car earlier this year, and will look to turn that experience into a good finish in both Busch and Cup action at Texas this weekend (TMS is a sister track to Atlanta Motor Speedway).
 
The O'Reilly 300 will air live on ESPN 2 Saturday at 2:30 EDT.
 
 
Formula 1: Grand Prix of Bahrain
 
Team McLaren-Mercedes is still relishing its 1-2 finish last weekend at Malaysia. 
 
Fernando Alonso never looked back after clearing pole-sitter Felipe Massa in the early going.  More surprising was Alonso's rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton, who moved from fourth to second in the twisting first two turns before driving a brilliant defensive race. 
 
Massa did everything he could to best the rookie—only to lock his brakes and slide off-course. The Spaniard returned to the track in fifth and was unable to improve his position.  Massa's Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen tested Hamilton again in the closing laps, but ultimately had to settle for third on the podium.
 
The F1 teams had the tough task of shuttling their equipment to Bahrain on short rest for this weekend's event.  Due to the time difference, practice, qualifying, and the race will start at 7:00 a.m. EDT.  You can catch second practice, qualifying, and the race live on SPEED Channel.
 
 
Long Beach Grand Prix: Champ Car and American LeMans
 
Will Power—yes, that's really his name—won the season opener for the Champ Car World Series last weekend on the streets of Las Vegas. 
 
The race saw a number of problems: Rookie Graham Rahal crashed in the first turn, the new Panoz DP01 chassis wouldn't take fuel properly, and three-time Champion Sebastien Bourdais had to park his McDonald's-sponsored car after a run-in with the wall.
 
Paul Tracy led early, but finished second after getting passed by Power.
 
NBC will carry the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach live on Sunday at 4 p.m.
 
The American LeMans Series is running in conjunction with the CCWS this weekend, and the races to watch will be in the Prototype 2 (P2) and Grand Touring 2 (GT2) classes. 
 
Acura outlasted the Porsches to win Round One at Sebring—but Roger Penske's RS Spyders showed their mettle in Round Two at St. Petersburg, going 1-2 in the P2 Class. 
 
Former F1 driver Mika Salo and Jaime Melo will try to make it three in a row in GT2.  Jorg Bergmeister, meanwhile, will look to return Porsche to the class' top spot after being bested by Ferrari in the first two races of the season.
 
Audi looks to dominate the P1 class again this weekend, but will have a new car in the chase: an AER-powered Lola, in the capable hands of Greg Pickett and Klaus Graf. Corvette, meanwhile, fields the only two entries in GT1, and will hope they've overcome the drive shaft failure that sidelined one of the C6Rs at St. Pete.
 
SPEED Channel will have the ALMS race on tape-delay at 8 EDT Saturday evening. Live timing and scoring will be available at the American LeMans website.
 
 
NHRA: Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals
 
Fans of John Force Racing will be happy to see the team back on the drag strip this weekend in Las Vegas. 
 
Team driver Eric Medlen died after being injured in a practice crash at Gainesville last month. The team's chassis and safety roll cages have been redesigned and certified as ready to race.
 
Qualifying will be on ESPN2 Saturday at 6 p.m., with eliminations airing Sunday at 7 p.m. on The Deuce.
 
 
World of Outlaws at Eldora
 
For all you fans of dirt-track racing, the sprint cars of the World of Outlaws will light up Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway this weekend.
 
Sammy Swindell won this event last year, but Joey Saldana leads the points this season in one of the most thrilling series around.
 
SPEED Channel will carry the races from Eldora on tape delay Sunday May 13th at 2 EDT, kicking off extensive coverage of the series through the summer.
 
 
For more on all things racing, including local track events, check out The Rubbin's Racing Show online at www.rubbinsracingshow.com. The Rubbin's Racing Show: Your Home for Racing Talk—By Race Fans, For Race Fans.
 
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