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NASCAR racing glance

Staff Report • May 16, 2007 at 10:33 AM

Site: Concord, N.C.

Nextel Open Schedule: Friday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 6 p.m.); Saturday, race (Speed Channel, 7:30 p.m.).

All-Star Challenge Schedule: Friday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 7:15 p.m.); Saturday, race (Speed Channel, 9 p.m.).

Track: Lowe's Motor Speedway (quad-oval, 1.5 miles, 24 degrees banking in turns).

Race distances: Open 60 miles, 40 laps; All-Star 120 miles, 80 laps.

Last race: Jeff Gordon overcame a leaky radiator and used a gutsy late call to race to his third victory of the season at Darlington Raceway. Gordon made it four in a row for Hendrick Motorsports, which has won eight of the past nine Nextel Cup races and remained perfect in all five events in which the Car of Tomorrow has been used.

Last year: Jimmie Johnson won the Nextel All-Star Challenge and its $1 million prize, the Lowe's-sponsored driver's seventh victory at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Fast facts: Last week's race was washed out on Saturday and rescheduled for Sunday, making it the first NASCAR race run on Mother's Day since 1986. ... The top two drivers from the Nextel Open event, a 40-lap race with two 20-lap segments, plus the fan vote winner will join the automatic entries from the past decade's All-Star race winners and active Cup champions, along with the winners of the 2006 and first 11 Nextel Cup races of 2007 in the All-Star race. ... The All-Star race is 80 laps with four 20-lap segments (quarters); only green flag laps will count in the final quarter. ... There will be 21 drivers in this year's race, with the final one voted in by the fans. ... Three active drivers have won multiple All-Star races: Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. ... This event does not count in the standings.

Next race: Coca Cola 600, May 27, Concord, N.C.

Site: Concord, N.C.

Schedule: Friday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 4:35 p.m.), race (Speed Channel, 9 p.m.).

Track: Lowe's Motor Speedway (quad-oval, 1.5 miles, 24 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 201 miles, 134 laps.

Last race: Erik Darnell picked up his first career truck series victory at Kansas Speedway on April 28. Darnell dominated the race, snapping Mike Skinner's string of wins at three. A victory in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 would have given Skinner - who also won three straight races in 1996 - the series record. Instead he finished fifth.

Last year: Kyle Busch made it 2-for-2 at Lowe's Motor Speedway by driving away to an easy victory in the Quaker State and Lube 200. Busch crossed the finish line an impressive 3.154 seconds ahead of runner-up Terry Cook. Busch became the youngest winner in series history the previous year when he won the race at the age of 20.

Fast facts: Through five races, Mike Skinner leads the points race with 905. Both Todd Bodine (797 points) and Rick Crawford (777) have finished in the top five three times. ... Darnell won in his 31st series start and became the earliest non-winning Raybestos Rookie of the Year to break into the victory column. ... Nine of 11 top rookies have NASCAR Craftsman Truck wins. The remaining non-winners are Mike Stefanik (1999) and Todd Kluever (2005).

Next race: AAA Insurance 200, June 1, Dover, Del.

Last race: Denny Hamlin won the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 for the second straight year, again surviving a wreck-filled race at historic Darlington Raceway. Hamlin, a Virginia native, then paid tribute to the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre, taking a school flag along for his victory lap. Hamlin picked his way through a record-tying 10 caution periods to take his third checkered flag of the season. The race matched the 10 cautions from April 1984. A year ago, there were nine caution periods.

Next race: Carquest Autoparts 300, May 26, Concord, N.C.

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