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STARTING LINE
THIS WEEK'S RACING

Event: Ford 400. Site: Homestead, Fla.

Schedule: Friday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 1:30 p.m.); Sunday, race (Ch. 2, 1 p.m.)

Track: Homestead-Miami Speedway (oval, 1.5 miles, 8 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 400 miles, 267 laps.

Last race: Jimmie Johnson won for the fourth time in five races and moved within 18 points of standings leader Kurt Busch by taking the Mountain Dew Southern 500 in Darlington, S.C. Five drivers head into this weekend's finale separated by just 82 points.

Last year: Bobby Labonte won the Ford 400 after Bill Elliott's rear tire exploded on the last lap.

Fast facts: The last time a points race was this close heading into the final event was 1992, when six drivers were separated by 113 points. Alan Kulwicki won that year. . . . The pole-sitter has won this race two of the last three years. . . . Tony Stewart won the first two Cup races at Homestead in 1999 and 2000. . . . NASCAR Chairman Brian France announced Monday that the new points system will be retained next year.

On the Net: Nascar.com

Event: Ford 300. Site: Homestead, Fla.

Schedule: Today, qualifying, 2:45 p.m.; Saturday, race (Ch. 2, 1 p.m.)

Track: Homestead-Miami Speedway (oval, 1.5 miles, 8 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 300 miles, 200 laps.

Last race: Martin Truex Jr. clinched the series championship with his fourth-place finish in the Bi-Lo 200 in Darlington, S.C. Truex entered the race with a 160-point lead over Kyle Busch, who damaged his car in a collision early before getting into another accident on lap 100. Jamie McMurray won for the second straight week.

Last year: Brian Vickers, 20, became NASCAR's youngest champion ever, claiming the Busch title with an 11th-place finish behind first-time winner Kasey Kahne. David Green finished ninth and wound up 14 points back, the second-closest margin in series history.

Fast facts: This is the final race of the season. . . . Truex is the first driver to win a Busch championship in his first full season on the circuit since Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the first of his two consecutive titles in 1998. . . . Busch needs one more victory to surpass Greg Biffle's rookie season record of five set in 2001. . . . Ron Hornaday will be appearing in his final Busch race before moving to the Craftsman Trucks next year.

On the Net: Nascar.com

Event: Ford 200. Site: Homestead, Fla.

Schedule: Today, qualifying, 1 p.m.; Friday, race (Speed Channel, 3 p.m.)

Track: Homestead-Miami Speedway (oval, 1.5 miles, 8 degrees banking in turns).

Race distance: 200 miles, 134 laps.

Last race: Kasey Kahne, a Nextel Cup rookie, won the Darlington 200 in his first truck start. Dodge claimed the top five places and the manufacturer's title.

Last year: Controversy clouded the finish of closest championship in series history, with Travis Kvapil winning the title and Ted Musgrave winding up angry in third at the Ford 200. Musgrave was penalized for darting out of line during a caution and pulling to the left alongside Dennis Setzer before they reached the starting line. Bobby Hamilton won the race.

Fast facts: This is the final race of the season. . . . Bobby Hamilton expanded his lead over Setzer in the standings to 70 points after finishing second in Darlington. Hamilton, who entered the race with a seven-point advantage, has 12 top-five finishes this season. . . . Deborah Renshaw, who joined the series in July, became the first woman to lead a race in the division's 10 seasons when she moved to the front during an early caution lap in Darlington. . . . Bobby Labonte is expected to make his third career truck series start this weekend, teaming with Setzer.

On the Net: Nascar.com

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