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Starting Line / This week's racing

>Nextel Cup

Event: Food City 500.

Site: Bristol, Tenn.

Schedule: Friday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 3:30 p.m.); Sunday, race (Ch. 29, 1:30 p.m.).

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway (oval, .533 miles, 36 degrees banking in turns)

Race distance: 266.5 miles, 500 laps.

Last race: Kasey Kahne won the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bill Lester finished 38th, becoming the first black driver to race in NASCAR's top series since 1986. Kahne, who led the final 80 laps, finished 1.929 seconds -- about 20 car lengths -- ahead of Mark Martin.

Last year: Kevin Harvick began shaking off an embarrassing cheating scandal and snapped a 55-race winless streak by taking the Food City 500. Harvick's crew chief, Todd Berrier, was serving the second of a four-race suspension for rigging the car's gas tank in Las Vegas.

Fast facts: Jeff Gordon had finishes of fifth and fourth in the last two races. . . . Greg Biffle led a race-high 128 laps at Atlanta but wound up 16th after running out of gas near the end of the race. . . . Martin has 20 top-10 finishes in 38 career Cup starts at Bristol, including two wins, and leads all active drivers with seven poles.

Next race: DirecTV 500, April 2, Martinsville, Va.

On the net:


>Busch Series

Event: Sharpie Mini 300.

Site: Bristol, Tenn.

Schedule: Saturday, qualifying (Speed Channel, Noon), race (Ch. 29, 3 p.m.).

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway.

Race distance: 159.9 miles, 300 laps.

Last race: Jeff Burton passed Matt Kenseth with 20 laps remaining and raced away to his first Busch victory in four years. It was Burton's 21st Busch win.

Last year: Kevin Harvick completed the Bristol sweep by holding off teammate Burton in overtime to win the rescheduled Sharpie Professional 250. Harvick, who started 38th, beat Burton by 0.159 seconds.

Fast facts: Harvick has six consecutive top-five finishes at Bristol. . . . Rick Wilson (1989) and Jason Keller (1999) are the only pole-sitters to win this race, which began in 1982. . . . Kenny Wallace has a series-leading 17 top-10 finishes at the track.

Next race: O'Reilly 300, April 8, Fort Worth, Texas.

On the net:


>Indy Racing League

Event: Toyota Indy 300.

Site: Homestead, Fla.

Schedule: Saturday, qualifying, 2:45 p.m.; Sunday, race (Ch. 7, 3:30 p.m.).

Track: Homestead-Miami Speedway (oval, 1.5 miles, 18-degree banking at bottom, 19-degree banking in middle, 20-degree banking at top).

Race distance: 300 miles, 200 laps.

Last year: Dan Wheldon led 158 of the 200 laps en route to a dominant win in the season-opening race.

Fast facts: Sam Hornish Jr. has won three of the five Homestead races, including the 2002 event from the pole. . . . Marco Andretti, the son of Michael Andretti and the grandson of Mario Andretti, is expected to make his series debut this weekend. At 19 years, 13 days, he will be the youngest driver to start an IRL race since A.J. Foyt IV at Homestead in 2002.

Next race: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, April 2.

On the net:

Associated Press

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