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Starting Line / This week's auto racing

>Sprint Cup

Event: Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500. Site: Martinsville, Va.

Schedule: Friday, practice (Speed, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.), qualifying (Speed, 3-4:30 p.m.); Saturday, practice (Speed, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.); Sunday, race, 1 p.m. (FOX, noon-5 p.m.).

Track: Martinsville Speedway (oval, 0.526 miles).

Race distance: 263 miles, 500 laps.

Last year: Jimmie Johnson won the first of his seven 2009 victories en route to his record fourth straight series championship. Johnson nudged Denny Hamlin aside in the third and fourth turns with 15 laps left to take the lead.

Last week: Johnson won for the first time at Bristol Motor Speedway, powering from sixth to first in three laps after a late four-tire stop. Tony Stewart was second, and Kurt Busch was relegated to third after leading 278 laps. Johnson has three victories in five races this season.

Pit stops: The race marks the switch to the traditional spoiler from the rear wing that was introduced in 2007. NASCAR decided during the offseason to go back to the spoiler, partly in a hope that it improves competition. Martinsville was the earliest the change could be made because of the planning needed for such a technical change. . . . Johnson has won five of the last seven races at the track and six of the last 11. He has 50 Cup victories to tie Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson for 10th place on the career list. . . . Denny Hamlin won the 2008 spring race and 2009 fall event at Martinsville. . . . Kevin Harvick leads the series standings with 774 points, one more than Matt Kenseth. Johnson is third, 14 points behind Harvick. . . . Richard Petty won a record 15 Cup races at the track, four more than Darrell Waltrip. Jeff Gordon leads active drivers with seven Martinsville victories.

Next race: Subway Fresh Fit 600, April 10, Phoenix International Speedway, Phoenix.

On the net:



Next race: Nashville 300, April 3, Nashville Superspeedway, Nashville, Tenn.

Last week: Justin Allgaier raced to his first NASCAR victory, holding off Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski at Bristol Motor Speedway. Allgaier and Keselowski gave Penske Racing its first 1-2 finish in the Nationwide Series.

On the net:



Event: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Site: St. Petersburg, Fla.

Schedule: Friday, practice; Saturday, practice, qualifying; Sunday, race, 3:45 p.m. (ABC, 3:30-6 p.m.)

Track: Streets of St. Petersburg (street course, 1.8 miles).

Race distance: 181 miles, 100 laps.

Pit stop: Dario Franchitti is making his 200th major open-wheel start. He has 23 victories, 13 in 84 IndyCar races.


>Formula One

Event: Australian Grand Prix. Site: Melbourne, Australia.

Schedule: Friday, practice (Speed, 1:30-3 a.m.); Saturday, practice, qualifying (Speed, 1-3:30 a.m.); Sunday, race, 2 a.m. (Speed, 1:30-4 a.m.)

Track: Albert Park (road course, 3.3 miles).

Race distance: 191.12 miles, 58 laps.

Pit stop: Michael Schumacher is driving for Ross Brawn-led Mercedes GP. The 41-year-old German star has won a record 91 races, four at Albert Park.



Event: NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Site: Concord, N.C.

Schedule: Friday, qualifying; Saturday, qualifying (ESPN2, 7-9 p.m.); Sunday, final eliminations (ESPN2, 10-10:30 a.m., 5-7:30 p.m.).

Track: zMAX Dragway.

Pit stop: The event is the first in NHRA history with racing in four lanes instead of the traditional two. A center wall separates the second and third lanes.

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