Racing Roundup: Jeff Burton, Lewis Hamilton Set New Marks

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Racing Roundup: Jeff Burton, Lewis Hamilton Set New Marks
Miss the action on the track this weekend? Adam Amick of the Rubbin's Racing Show gives you the skinny on what went down from Texas to Bahrain.
 

NASCAR: Texas Motor Speedway Comes of Age
 
For all the naysayers (myself included), this weekend showed that The Great American Speedway has finally matured into a track with some of the best racing on the NASCAR circuit. 
 
Bankings have been changed, the track repaved, French drains installed—and most recently, the "Earnhardt Dip" was raised.  The cost: tens of millions of dollars...but it seems to have been worth every penny.
 
Busch Series: Kenseth Edges Out Hamlin after Early Spin
 
Matt Kenseth nearly put his Arby's Ford in the meat grinder on lap 54 of Saturday's O'Reilly 300, sliding sideways going into the first turn and blowing out the tires.  The ensuing caution resulted in turmoil, as the field was in the process of cycling through green-flag pit stops. Lap 67 saw the Texas version of "The Big One," with six cars getting together in a chain-reaction crash on the front stretch.
 
Kyle Busch was the class of the field and led the most laps, but faded and finished eighth. Mark Martin finished 12th in his final Busch Series start for Jack Roush.  Rookie Juan Pablo Montoya brushed the wall and was then run into it by Marcos Ambrose, which took both drivers out of contention with only handful of laps remaining.
 
Kenseth drove through the field and passed leader Denny Hamlin with seven laps to go, then fended off Hamlin as the two crossed the line a car length apart—the closest finish in TMS Busch Series history. Busch Whackers took the top twelve spots, with Jason Leffler coming home 13th to lead the series regulars.
 
Carl Edwards now holds a 403-point lead over Dave Blaney in the standings after eight races.  For reference, Kevin Harvick's point lead wasn't more than 400 until after race 24  last year.
 
The biggest news in the Busch Series this past week was the signing of seven-time Supercross champion Jeremy McGrath to a development contract with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports.  The move follows former Supercross star Ricky Carmichael's transition from motorcycles to stock cars last month, under the tutelage of Mark Martin. Interestingly, both their late-model modified cars are sponsored by Monster Energy Drink.
 
Nextel Cup: Burton Drives to Victory on the Final Lap
 
With qualifying canceled due to severe weather conditions, points leader Jeff Gordon found himself in an unfamiliar position at Texas: on the pole. 
 
Gordon led the most laps of the Samsung 500, but a late-race brush with the wall in turn four dropped him to fourth. Matt Kenseth assumed the top spot at that point, only to be chased down by former teammate Jeff Burton.
 
Kenseth and Burton battled over the last half-dozen laps, with Burton's No. 31 Chevy overtaking Kenseth's No. 17 as the white flag flew.  A bobble sealed Kenseth's fate, and Burton became the first driver to win two Cup races at Texas.
 
Kenseth settled for second. Mark Martin returned from a two-race hiatus to place third, his fifth top-10 of the season. Gordon finished fourth to maintain a slim points lead over Burton, and Jamie McMurray came in fifth.
 
Other notables were Juan Pablo Montoya in eighth, Tony Raines 13th, Brian Vickers 14th, Tony Stewart 25th, Kevin Harvick 29th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 36th, and Jimmie Johnson 38th.
 
Both the Busch Series and Nextel Cup teams pack up for a quick-turn to run in Phoenix next Friday and Saturday night.
 
 
Formula One: Massa Redeems, Hamilton Makes Headlines
 
Rookie Lewis Hamilton has done what no one in the history of the FIA Formula One World Championship has ever done: stand on the podium at each of his first three races. 
 
Hamilton finished second behind Ferrari's Felipe Massa in Bahrain, with Massa leading flag-to-flag. Hamilton is now tied for the points lead with Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren-Mercedes teammate Fernando Alonso. Raikkonen finished third on Sunday; Alonso was fifth.
 
Nick Heidfeld finished fourth for the second race in a row, and Robert Kubica was sixth—a good showing for the BMW/Sauber Team.  Renault continues to struggle, with Giancarlo Fisichella finishing eighth. The series now takes a month off before the Grand Prix of Spain on May 13th.
 

American LeMans: Penske P2s Go 1-2 Overall, Audi Falters
 
The American LeMans Series (ALMS) held the third round of its 2007 season on the streets of Long Beach, with the Prototype 2 (P2) cars outshining their big brethren in the P1 class. 
 
Dario Franchitti started from the overall pole in the Andretti-Green Acura, but clever pit strategy by the Penske Porsches allowed them to make their required driver changes under the yellow flag—and right at the time limit. 
 
They never looked back. 
 
Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas took the overall victory, and teammates Ryan Briscoe and Sascha Maassen followed in their tracks to complete the one-two sweep—the second time Penske has pulled out the broom in a year.
 
Some missteps by the Audi team resulted in a penalty that relegated the car of Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish to seventh overall.  The other Audi of Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner suffered from an early spin and finished ninth overall.
 
Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta brought their Corvette C6-R home in tenth overall, and their teammates Jan Magnussen and Johnny O'Connell came in 11th. The two pairs were the only entries in GT1.
 
Mika Salo and Jaime Melo started on the GT2 Class pole and scored their third win in three races this year.
 
The ALMS will travel to Houston for the Lone Star Grand Prix next weekend.
 
 
Champ Car World Series: Bourdais Wins, Tracy Out Three Months
 
Sebastien Bourdais started on the pole and rode that momentum to victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach—a good recovery after his crash last week in Las Vegas. 
 
Will Power, who claimed the checkered flag in Sin City, brought his Team Australia Panoz home third and remains atop the CCWS points after two events.
 
Paul Tracy suffered a compression fracture to his spine in a practice crash on Friday, and will be out of action for three months. He was replaced by Oriol Servia, who brought the Forsythe car home in second.
 
The CCWS will share the road around Houston's Reliant Stadium with the ALMS next weekend.
 
 
NHRA: Records Fall, Medlin's Ghost Drives Team Force to Win

History was made at Las Vegas on Friday as John Force Racing returned to the quarter-mile following the death of team driver Eric Medlin.  It marked the first time in 20 years that Force failed to qualify in the Funny Car class.  Mike Ashley also made made the record books by running 334.32 miles per hour in qualifying—a new high in Funny Car.

Sunday's finals brought redemption for JFR , as driver Robert Hight took the win in FC by beating Ron Capps, who had won the previous two races.  The entire John Force team was emotional as they celebrated their return to the top.
 
Brandon Bernstein, son of drag legend Kenny Bernstein, ran a 4.52-second quarter-mile at 330.07 miles per hour to win in Top Fuel. Greg Anderson won the Pro Stock final by roughly seven feet over Jeg Coughlin, coming in at just over 205 mph.
 
For more racing news and commentary—including an audio version of this report—check out the Rubbin's Racing Show website at www.rubbinsracingshow.com.
 
 
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