DIEZ: Harvick seeks three-peat in Texas

Kevin Harvick, variously known as "The Closer" and "Where Did He Come From?", will be going for a three-peat at Texas Motor Speedway tonight after winning back to back NASCAR Sprint Cup races at California and Martinsville. Harvick is the only driver with two victories so far this season, which puts him in a good position to secure one of the two "wild card" spots in the Chase if he falls out of the top 10 in points. However, he will have to contend with a charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. tonight. Many pundits are picking Junior to win at Texas and/or next week at Talladega. Junior looked strong at Martinsville last weekend, leading late in the race until Harvick reeled him in and passed four laps from the end. The other drivers currently in the top 10 in points will also be gunning for the checkered flag: points leader Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, Matt Kenseth, and Mark Martin. And don't forget the other 31 drivers who are trying to race their way into the top 10. FOX will air the Cup race beginning at 4 pm PDT this afternoon.

Besides NASCAR in Texas, it's a very busy race weekend elsewhere as well. Formula 1 is halfway across the world in Malaysia, and the second F1 race of the season will be televised on SPEED at 12:30 tomorrow morning. In practice, the usual suspects were at the top of the charts: Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, and McLaren pilots Lewis Hamilton and Jensen Button. And the IndyCar series will run their second race of 2011 at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. The race will be televised on VERSUS at noon PDT tomorrow, with qualifying scheduled for 3 pm PDT today. The Firestone Indy Lights are also running at Barber, as are the Rolex Sports Cars. These two races are being televised on Sunday morning, the Lights live on VERSUS, and the Rolex series on tape delay on SPEED.

The clay oval at Reno-Fernley Raceway has a play day scheduled for noon tomorrow. With overnight snow showers in the forecast, the weather may not be conducive to going fast. I spoke with promoter Jay Hodges yesterday afternoon, and he said they would be open for business for whoever shows up. I plan to go out to the track myself and see what's in store for their first season under NASCAR sanction.

And in other NASCAR news, former F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen tested a Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) last week. The test, conducted at Gresham Motorsports Park in Georgia, went very well according to both Raikkonen and KBM general manager Rick Ren. Raikkonen logged almost 400 laps during the two day test, and pronounced the truck "a lot of fun." His first race for KBM will be a Charlotte in May.

Another test coming up, tentatively set for July 7 at Kentucky Speedway, will be the first on-track outing for the new fuel injection system for Sprint Cup cars. After most of the automotive world has been using fuel injection for thirty-plus years, NASCAR is finally set to transition from carburetors for the 2012 season. The test will be held in conjunction with the first Cup series race at Kentucky on July 9.

Finally, don't jump up to adjust the color on your TV set during victory circle ceremonies at Texas motor Speedway tonight. You will probably want to when you see the Miss Sprint Cup ladies dressed in green uniforms rather than their usual black and white attire. The three Miss Sprint Cup members, Kim Coon, Paige Duke, and Monica Palumbo, are wearing green to help raise awareness for Sprint's Focus on Driving and green sustainability programs. The ladies will also be sporting the bright green uniforms at Talladega in recognition of Earth Day, which takes place the Friday after the race on April 22.


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