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Starting Line / This week's racing

*NASCAR Nextel Cup

Event: DIRECTV 500.

Site: Martinsville, Va.

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

Track: Martinsville Speedway (oval, 0.526 miles, 12 degrees banking in turns)

Race distance: 263 miles, 500 laps.

Last race: Kurt Busch brashly bumped Matt Kenseth -- his old teammate -- out of his way with four laps to go to win the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, his fifth victory in the last nine races on the half-mile track. It was his first win since joining Roger Penske's team at the start of the season.

Last year: Jeff Gordon was four laps down early in the Advance Auto Parts 500, but rallied to win his sixth race at Martinsville Speedway. Gordon followed Mark Martin past Ryan Newman on the 461st lap, went underneath Martin to move into second three laps later and passed leader Sterling Marlin with 34 laps remaining.

Fast facts: Gordon was fined $10,000 by NASCAR on Tuesday for shoving Matt Kenseth following last week's race. Kenseth made contact with Gordon on the final lap, sending Gordon spiraling backward from a third-place finish to 21st. . . . Gordon swept both Martinsville races last year and has seven wins at the track, most among active drivers. . . . Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson's crew chief, returned from his four-week suspension last weekend.

Next race: Samsung/RadioShack 500, April 9, Fort Worth, Texas.

On the net: www.nascar.com

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*NASCAR Craftsman Trucks

Event: Kroger 250.

Site: Martinsville, Va.

Schedule: Saturday, qualifying, 12:05 p.m., race (Speed Channel, 3 p.m.).

Track: Martinsville Speedway.

Race distance: 131.5 miles, 250 laps.

Last race: A spectacular four-wide pass gave Todd Bodine the lead and the momentum to pick up his first victory of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 17. Bodine finished second behind Nextel Cup star and part-time truck racer Mark Martin in the first two events this season, losing both in overtime duels.

Fast fact: Former truck champion Bobby Hamilton has a cancerous growth in his neck and will miss most of the season while undergoing treatment. Bobby Hamilton Jr. will step into the No. 18 Dodge until he returns.

Next race: Dodge Ram Tough 200, April 29, Madison, Ill.

On the net: www.nascar.com

***

*Indy Racing League

Event: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Site: St. Petersburg, Fla.

Schedule: Saturday, qualifying, 1:45 p.m.; Sunday, race (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.).

Track: Streets of St. Petersburg (1.8 miles, 14 turns).

Race distance: 180 miles, 100 laps.

Last race: Rookie Paul Dana died after a two-car crash during the warmup for the season-opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race went on as planned, with defending champion Dan Wheldon beating Helio Castroneves by a nose cone.

Fast fact: Carpenter came away from the crash with a bruised lung and was released from the hospital Monday. He hopes to be ready for the race.

Next race: Indy Japan 300, April 12, Suzuka.

On the net: www.indyracingleague.com

***

*Formula One

Event: Australian Grand Prix.

Site: Melbourne.

Schedule: Friday, qualifying, 10 p.m. (Saturday, Speed Channel, midnight, tape); Saturday, race (Speed Channel, 10:30 p.m.).

Track: Albert Park Circuit (3.28 miles, 16 turns).

Race distance: 190.24 miles, 58 laps.

Last race: Giancarlo Fisichella finished 4.5 seconds ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso to win the Malaysian Grand Prix on March 19.

Fast fact: Alonso hasn't been off the podium since last year's Hungarian GP in July -- a run of eight straight races.

Next: San Marino Grand Prix, April 23, Imola, Italy.

On the net: www.formula1.com

***

*NHRA

Event: O'Reilly Spring Nationals

Site: Baytown, Texas.

Schedule: Friday, qualifying, 4 p.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN 2, 8 p.m., tape); Sunday, eliminations, noon (ESPN 2, 4 p.m., tape).

Track: Houston Raceway.

Last event: Angelle Sampey won the Pro Stock Motorcycle event in the ACDelco Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla., on March 19 and two other female drivers advanced to the finals. Dave Grubnic beat Melanie Troxel in the Top Fuel final and Tom Martino edged Erica Enders in the Pro Stock championship. Ron Capps beat John Force in the Funny Car final.

Fast fact: Troxel has advanced to the final in each of the last four events dating to last season.

Next event: SummitRacing.com Nationals, April 9, Las Vegas.

On the net: www.nhra.com

Associated Press

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