NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

 
                  === This Week in Auto Racing Nov. 2 - 4 ===
 
 By Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor
 
 Philadelphia,  PA (Sports  Network) -  The eighth  race in  the Chase  for the
 Sprint  Cup championship  highlights NASCAR's  triple-header weekend  at Texas
 Motor Speedway. Formula One heads to Abu Dhabi.
 
 
 NASCAR
 
 Sprint Cup Series
 
 AAA Texas 500 - Texas Motor Speedway - Fort Worth, Texas
 
 Jimmie  Johnson is in  control with three races remaining in the Chase for the
 Sprint Cup championship.
 
 After  winning last Sunday's 500-lap race at Martinsville, Johnson took a two-
 point  lead over Brad Keselowski, who finished sixth. Keselowski held a seven-
 point advantage over Johnson heading into Martinsville.
 
 Sunday's  race  at Texas Motor  Speedway is round  eight in the 10-race Chase.
 Phoenix (Nov. 11) and Homestead (Nov. 18) follow Texas.
 
 Even  though  Johnson's win at  Martinsville came later  than any of his other
 first  Chase  wins during a  season, the five-time  Sprint Cup champion is the
 only  driver to  score a victory in  each of the nine Chases. NASCAR began its
 playoff format for its premier series in 2004.
 
 Can  Johnson  continue his winning momentum  and increase his points lead over
 Keselowski at Texas?
 
 "Texas  is a  total opposite  from a  setup standpoint  than what  we had  (at
 Martinsville),  demands  on the car, the  way you drive," Johnson said. "We'll
 take  whatever mental  momentum and confidence that (Martinsville) brought us,
 but we have to go to work again this week, and it's a whole new battle.
 
 "We'll  do  more of the  same. We have  to be the best  to be the champions. I
 think we're showing we're in form and ready to do that."
 
 Johnson, who drives the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, has one win and
 13  top-10 finishes in  18 races at Texas. His average finish at this 1.5-mile
 racetrack is 9.7.
 
 "I  see a  good opportunity, and I know  we'll have a fast race car," he said.
 "Our mile and a half stuff has been very strong. We finished second (at Texas)
 in  the spring. So from a performance standpoint, we're ready to show up there
 and race."
 
 Johnson's win at Texas came in Nov. 2007. It was his third consecutive victory
 during  the  '07 Chase.  He went  on to win  the following  week at Phoenix to
 extend his streak.
 
 The  last time Johnson won back-to-back point races was in June 2010 -- Sonoma
 (Calif.) and New Hampshire.
 
 By  no  means is Keselowski concerned  about losing the points lead with three
 races to go. This year, Keselowski and his No. 2 Penske Racing team have found
 success  at tracks  where  it had  normally  eluded them.  He  has matched  or
 bettered his previous finish at 15 different tracks.
 
 "When  you  have a team  like we have,  it's easy to stay  calm in the face of
 adversity,"  Keselowski said. "We all have each other's back. We like our role
 is  in  this Chase. While  we aren't being overlooked  by any means, there are
 many  who think  that we are still  too young of a team to seriously challenge
 (Johnson's)  team.  We like it that  way. In reality,  we are a very good race
 team  that is  primed  to  take this  fight  right down  to  the  last lap  at
 Homestead-Miami Speedway."
 
 Keselowski  has yet to  post a top-10 finish in eight races at Texas, with his
 best  run there 14th, which came in April 2010. His worst finish there of 36th
 came earlier this year.
 
 "I'm  very  confident in our  abilities at Texas  this weekend," he said. "The
 mile-and-a-half  tracks have  been really  good  to us  this year.  We had  an
 awesome  car in April at Texas, probably the best car I've ever had there. But
 fuel  issues kept us from challenging for the win. This weekend, I'm expecting
 to challenge for the win."
 
 Clint  Bowyer is  26 points  behind Johnson,  while Johnson's  teammate, Kasey
 Kahne, trails by 29. Bowyer won at Charlotte and then finished sixth at Kansas
 before placing fifth at Martinsville.
 
 "All I can do is worry about running well and putting ourselves in position to
 win  races every  week," Bowyer said. "Bad  luck is not something I can really
 wish  upon the other  guys in front of us or even worry about. We are going to
 need some help from the other guys to stay in this deal."
 
 Kahne  moved from  fifth to fourth in the Chase rankings after his third-place
 run at Martinsville. He has one win at Texas, which came in April 2006.
 
 "I  still feel like  I have a chance because of the way the points are," Kahne
 said.  "We definitely still  have a shot, but we're a ways out. I wish we were
 within 20 or 15 (points). I think we'd be a lot more legit at that point."
 
 Fifth  through  12th in Chase  points right now  are: Denny Hamlin (-49), Jeff
 Gordon  (-54), Martin  Truex Jr. (-63), Matt Kenseth (-65), Greg Biffle (-69),
 Tony Stewart (-71), Kevin Harvick (-88) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-140).
 
 Stewart  won at  Texas one year ago,  and Biffle took the checkered flag there
 earlier this season.
 
 No  member in  the Chase  field has  been mathematically  eliminated from  the
 championship  yet,  but any driver  who is  97 points or  more out of the lead
 following Texas will be out of title contention.
 
 Forty-six teams are on the preliminary entry list for the AAA Texas 500.
 
 
 Nationwide Series
 
 O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge - Texas Motor Speedway - Fort Worth, Texas
 
 After  taking  last week off,  the Nationwide Series  will run its final three
 races  of the  season, beginning with Saturday's 300-mile event at Texas Motor
 Speedway.
 
 Elliott  Sadler currently holds a six-point lead over Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the
 defending  Nationwide  champion, and  a 26-point  advantage over rookie Austin
 Dillon, who is Sadler's teammate at Richard Childress Racing.
 
 Stenhouse  won  the Oct. 20 race  at Kansas after he miraculously bounced back
 from  an accident  with pole  sitter Joey  Logano and  then a  two-lap deficit
 during  the mid-stages  of the event. Stenhouse has won six races this season.
 Five  of those  victories have come on 1.5-mile racetracks -- Las Vegas (March
 10), Texas (April 13), Atlanta (Sept. 1), Chicagoland (Sept. 15) and Kansas.
 
 "We're taking our Chicago car that we won with back to Texas," Stenhouse said.
 "We're  going to take  our setup that we won with at Texas earlier in the year
 on that race car, so we feel like we'll have a good showing at Texas."
 
 Two of the last three races will be contested on the mile and a half tracks --
 Texas and Homestead (Nov. 17). Phoenix (Nov. 10) is one mile in length.
 
 Sadler  has performed well  on the mile and a halves this year as well. He won
 the  July  22 race  at Chicagoland  and finished  third at  both Las Vegas and
 Charlotte (Oct. 12). Sadler placed 12th at Texas earlier this season.
 
 "We  had a pretty good run there in the spring, but a bad vibration toward the
 end  of the race hurt our chances," Sadler said. "I've had success at Texas in
 the past, including a win in the Sprint Cup Series in 2004, so I'd love to add
 a  Nationwide Series  win  to it  this  weekend. Every  race,  every point  is
 important as we head into the final stretch."
 
 Dillon's  average finish of 4.8 on the 1.5-mile tracks this year is tops among
 the  top-three drivers  in points.  His average  starting position  of 2.8  at
 those  tracks is also  the best among them. Dillon started on the pole and won
 both Kentucky races this season. He finished fifth at Texas in April.
 
 "We're  still in  this championship hunt, but  it is so hard to gain points in
 the  NASCAR Nationwide  Series, because the top competitors finish so close to
 each  other each  week," Dillon said. "You  never know what is going to happen
 coming  down to  the last three races on  the schedule, but I can say for sure
 that our No. 3 team will be giving 110 percent."
 
 Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman are those
 Sprint Cup Series regulars competing in this race. This will be Newman's first
 Nationwide  event of the season. He is driving the No. 30 Chevrolet for Turner
 Motorsports. His last appearance in the series came in Feb. 2011 at Phoenix.
 
 Forty-seven  teams  are on  the preliminary  entry list  for the O'Reilly Auto
 Parts Challenge.
 
 
 Camping World Truck Series
 
 WinStar World Casino 350 - Texas Motor Speedway - Fort Worth, Texas
 
 The Camping World Truck Series will kick off NASCAR's triple-header weekend at
 Texas Motor Speedway on Friday.
 
 Texas,  Phoenix  (Nov. 9) and  Homestead (Nov. 16)  are the remaining races on
 this year's truck schedule.
 
 James  Buescher's sixth-place  finish coupled with a 28th-place run for rookie
 Ty  Dillon  last Saturday at Martinsville  allowed Buescher to take a 21-point
 lead over Dillon.
 
 Buescher, who hails from nearby Plano, Texas, is hoping for a better finish at
 his  home track  after placing 15th and  19th in his past two races there. All
 four of his truck wins this season have come at 1.5-mile racetracks -- Kansas,
 Chicagoland and both Kentucky races.
 
 Could Texas be win No. 5 for him?
 
 "I'm looking forward to this weekend," Buescher said. "I thought we had a shot
 to  win the summer race there earlier this year and just got taken out with 30
 laps  to go leading  the race. It's a place that we always have a lot of speed
 at,  and  our team tends to  do pretty well at  the mile and a halves. I'd say
 that's why we have four wins already on mile and a halves this year."
 
 Buescher's  best finish in seven truck races at Texas is sixth, which occurred
 in the spring and fall events in 2010.
 
 "It  would definitely  mean a  lot to  me to  be able  to win  in front  of my
 hometown  crowd," he said.  "It's a racetrack that I've been going to since it
 opened,  and  it means a lot  to me. It's where  I got started in racing. I've
 spent a lot of time there, and all my family and friends will be there."
 
 Dillon  entered the Martinsville race with a one-point lead over Buescher, but
 late  in  the event, Dillon suffered  a flat right-front tire and made contact
 with the wall, putting him six laps behind after making multiple pit stops for
 repairs. His worst finish of the season came in the second Martinsville race.
 
 "We  have to focus on the next race and do our best to win," Dillon said. "I'm
 not  thinking about Phoenix or Homestead. I'm just thinking about what we have
 to do in Texas this weekend."
 
 Dillon  finished  third in  his first  truck start  at Texas  one year ago. He
 placed seventh there in June.
 
 Timothy  Peters is currently 25 points behind Buescher, while Parker Kligerman
 trails by 36 points.
 
 Aric Almirola and Kyle Busch are those Sprint Cup Series regulars competing in
 this race. Busch is entered in all three NASCAR national touring series events
 at Texas this weekend.
 
 Thirty-seven  teams  are on the  preliminary entry  list for the WinStar World
 Casino 350.
 
 
 FORMULA ONE
 
 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit - Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE
 
 Two-time defending Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel will attempt to
 win his fifth consecutive grand prix this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
 
 Vettel's  winning  streak began on Sept.  23 in Singapore. The Red Bull driver
 then  claimed  victories in  Japan, Korea  and India. It's  the first time the
 young German has won four straight F1 races in his career.
 
 "It's  pretty  amazing," Vettel said. "It's  very hard to target those kind of
 things.  I think they either happen, or they don't happen. I think the secret,
 if  there  is any, is  that we  didn't approach the  first of those four races
 thinking we can win four. We focused on the first one, then on the second one,
 then on the third one, then on the fourth one."
 
 Vettel  also  led every lap in  Japan, Korea and  India. It's the first time a
 driver  has led all laps in three straight F1 events since Ayrton Senna did it
 in 1989.
 
 Prior  to Singapore, Vettel trailed Fernando Alonso from Ferrari by 39 points.
 Vettel  is now 13 points ahead of Alonso, as three races remain. Austin, Texas
 (Nov. 18) and Brazil (Nov. 25) follow Abu Dhabi.
 
 Alonso  has  remained very much  in the title  hunt with podium appearances in
 four  of the  last five grand prix.  The Spaniard finished second to Vettel in
 India.  His title hopes,  though, took a big hit in Japan, where he was forced
 to retire after crashing on the opening lap.
 
 "I  think  we need to bring  some new parts  to Abu Dhabi, hopefully improve a
 little bit more then competitiveness of the car, try to be a little bit closer
 to  Red  Bulls on Saturday  and hopefully on  Sunday," Alonso said. With three
 races  remaining,  the championship is the  main target, so we need to recover
 some  points.  It will be nice  to finish in  front of Sebastian in Abu Dhabi,
 whatever the position it is. If we can win the race, it will be even better."
 
 If  Vettel can win on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, he would become the sixth different
 driver  in F1  history  to win  five  or more  grand prix  in  a row.  Michael
 Schumacher  was  the last driver to  accomplish that feat in 2004, winning the
 first  five races of the season and then scoring seven victories in a row from
 May-August.
 
 Abu  Dhabi, which has become one of the most popular grand prix on the current
 F1  calendar, has  been a special place  for Vettel. He won the inaugural race
 there  in 2009.  The following year, Vettel  not only won at Abu Dhabi for the
 second  straight  time but clinched  his first  F1 world championship there as
 well, as he ended the season just four points ahead of Alonso.
 
 "In  just three  years, the race has grown  to be one of the highlights of the
 season,"  Vettel  said. "Starting at  dusk and finishing  in the dark makes it
 something unique and impressive. I have special memories of the circuit. I won
 there  in  2009 and then  repeated the  victory in 2010  to win my first world
 championship,  so  it's an  event I  will never forget.  The circuit itself is
 impressive."
 
 Lotus'  Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber from Red Bull and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton
 are  the only other drivers who remain mathematically eligible for this year's
 championship.  Raikkonen  is presently  67 points  behind Vettel, while Webber
 trails his teammate by 73. Hamilton, who won last year's race in Abu Dhabi, is
 75 points out of the lead.
 
 The  3.451-mile Yas  Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi features nine right turns and
 12 left turns. It's one of the few circuits on the F1 calendar that runs in an
 anti-clockwise direction.
 
 11/01 13:01:47 ET

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