A look at the weekend in racing

Updated: March 18, 2004, 3:55 PM ET

Nextel Cup

FAST FACTS
Event Carolina Dodge Dealers 400
Site Darlington, S.C.
Schedule Friday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 3:10 p.m.); Sunday, race (FOX, 1 p.m.).
Track Darlington Raceway (egg-shaped oval, 1.366 miles, 25 degrees banking in turns 1-2, 23 degrees in turns 3-4).
Distance 400 miles, 293 laps.

Last race: A week after he nearly was parked for running too slow, Dale Earnhardt Jr. zoomed by Jeremy Mayfield with 15 laps to go and sprinted to an easy victory at the Golden Corral 500 in Atlanta. The previous week at Las Vegas, Earnhardt was so far off the pace that NASCAR warned his crew he was right at the minimum speed.

Drivers to Watch
Check out a list of drivers to keep an eye on this weekend at Darlington.

Last year: Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch bumped and battled in the final two laps of the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 before Craven won by .002 seconds, the closest finish in Winston Cup history since the circuit went to electronic scoring in 1993. Craven only led the final lap.

Fast facts: Earnhardt and Matt Kenseth have two wins apiece through four races. ... Rookie Kasey Kahne was third in Atlanta - his third straight finish in the top three. ... Tony Stewart has three top-10 finishes in the first four races. ... Rusty Wallace's winless streak is at 102 races after finishing 35th at Atlanta.

Next race: Food City 500, March 28, Bristol, Tenn.

IRL

FAST FACTS
Event Copper World Indy 200
Site Avondale, Ariz.
Schedule Saturday, qualifying, 2 p.m.; Sunday, race (ABC, 4 p.m.).
Track Phoenix International Raceway (oval, 1 mile, 11 degrees banking in turns 1-2, 9 degrees in turns 3-4).
Distance 200 miles, 200 laps.

Last race: Sam Hornish passed teammate Helio Castroneves on the last lap with a surprising inside move to win the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead, Fla. Hornish took the lead on lap 173 from Tomas Scheckter, the driver who took his spot at Pennzoil Panther Racing when Hornish moved to Penske to replace the retired Gil de Ferran.

Drivers to Watch
Check out a list of drivers to keep an eye on this weekend at Phoenix.

Last year: Polesitter Tony Kanaan pulled away on a restart with three laps remaining and won the Purex Dial Indy 200 at Phoenix for his first career victory. Kanaan edged Helio Castroneves by .9328 seconds.

Fast facts: This race has been won from the pole three times, including the last two. There have been no repeat winners. ... Buddy Lazier became the first driver in IRL history to start last and finish first during the 2000 race. ... Hornish, 21, became the youngest winner in American open-wheel history by taking the 2001 event.

Next race: Indy Japan 300, April 17, Twin Ring Motegi.

Formula One

FAST FACTS
Event Malaysian Grand Prix
Site Kuala Lumpur
Schedule Saturday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 2 a.m.); Sunday, race (Speed Channel, 1:30 a.m.)
Track Sepang International Circuit (permanent road course, 3.443 miles, 15 turns).
Distance 192.808 miles, 56 laps

Last race: Six-time world champion Michael Schumacher won his fourth Australian Grand Prix title on March 7, pacing teammate Rubens Barrichello in a 1-2 finish in a probable preview for another Ferrari season domination of Formula One. Schumacher led from start to finish and completed the race in 1 hour, 24 minutes and 15.757 seconds -- 13.6 seconds clear of Barrichello.

Drivers to Watch
Check out a list of drivers to keep an eye on this weekend at Malaysia.

Last year: Kimi Raikkonen recorded his first F1 victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix, finishing 39 seconds ahead of second-place Barrichello. Michael Schumacher finished off the podium for the second straight race after placing sixth.

Fast facts: This event is normally run under hot temperatures. Last year's race was held in 96.8 degree weather with the track reaching 127.4 degrees. ... Michael Schumacher won the 2001 event despite rain, a botched pit stop and a ride in a backup car. ... Ralf Schumacher denied his brother, Michael, a third straight victory at the track by winning the 2002 event.

Next race: Bahrain Grand Prix, April 4, Bahrain

NHRA

FAST FACTS
Event Mac Tools Gatornationals
Site Gainesville, Fla.
Schedule Friday, qualifying, 11 a.m. (Saturday, ESPN2, 2:30 a.m., tape); Saturday, qualifying, 11 a.m.; Sunday, eliminations, 11 a.m. (ESPN2, 11:30 p.m., tape).
Track Gainesville Raceway.

Last race: Brandon Bernstein raced to his fourth career Top Fuel victory and first since his horrific crash last May by beating Doug Kalitta at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals in Arizona on March 7. Del Worsham beat defending series champion Tony Pedregon to win Funny Car while Kurt Johnson took his 28th career Pro Stock victory.

Last year: Bernstein won for the second time in just three races by capturing Top Fuel at the Mac Tools Gatornationals. Gary Densham took Funny Car after teammates John Force Jr. and Tony Pedregon were eliminated in the earlier rounds while Kurt Johnson won in Pro Stock.

Fast facts: Worsham is atop the Funny Car standings for the first time in his 15-year NHRA career. ... Force has won seven times at Gainesville, including his 50th career win in 1996. He holds the track's speed record of 324.05 mph. ... Kenny Bernstein recorded the sport's first 300-mph run at Gainesville in 1992.

Next race: SummitRacing.com Nationals, April 4, Las Vegas

Busch Series

FAST FACTS
Event Diamond Hill Plywood Co. 200
Site Darlington, S.C.
Schedule Friday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 1:30 p.m.); Saturday, race (FX, 1 p.m.).
Track Darlington Raceway (egg-shaped oval, 1.366 miles, 25 degrees banking in turns 1-2, 23 degrees in turns 3-4).
Distance SummitRacing.com Nationals, April 4, Las Vegas

Last race: Kevin Harvick took advantage of Matt Kenseth's late-race misfortune to grab the lead, then held off hard-charging Kasey Kahne to win the Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 6. Kenseth got caught up in a crash on a restart 21 laps from the end of the 200-lap event.

Drivers to Watch
Check out a list of drivers to keep an eye on this weekend at Darlington.

Last year: Todd Bodine bumped Jamie McMurray in the final moments of the darlingtonraceway.com 200 and slid across the finish line to win the rain-delayed race. McMurray's car was pointed to the wall after the contact but still finished second.

Fast facts: Last week NASCAR fined Johnny Sauter $10,000, docked him 25 points and placed him on probation for the rest of the season for cursing during a postrace radio interview at Las Vegas. ... Jeff Burton and Mark Martin are the only drivers to win three straight races at Darlington. Martin did it twice. ... The Busch Series returns to Darlington on Nov. 13 for the South Carolina 200.

Next race: Sharpie Professional 250, March 27, Bristol, Tenn.

Craftsman Trucks
Last race: Bobby Hamilton passed Mike Skinner in the final turn, then held on when they bumped coming to the finish line to win the inaugural EasyCare 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Next race: Kroger 250, April 17, Martinsville, Va.

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