PEORIA, Ill. -- Racing columnist Jane Miller on the Brickyard and more.
There are many things about the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard that are different from the other races on the Nextel Cup circuit.
The most practical of these is the fact that the Cup series is the only one racing at the track that weekend -- all other support races are at O'Reilly Race Park west of Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- so that makes the on-track schedule look a little sparse.
For example, on Friday, there are just two hours of practice for the Cup cars at IMS. But fans who are making the race a three-day weekend will not have to worry about being bored.
On Friday morning, 10 drivers and car owner Richard Childress will take part in the RC Driver challenge in the Flag Lot on the infield. Also beginning at 9 a.m. will be a series of Chevrolet driver autograph sessions (no Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon, though) in the Plaza Pavilion, and a question-and-answer session at the Chevy Stage in the East Lot by the Museum.
Performances by Tracy Lawrence (noon) and DJ Orion (2:30) also are featured.
Cup practices are at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
Qualifying is at 10:10 a.m. Saturday, with practices at 1:30 and 3:30. There also is a concert by Gretchen Wilson that begins at 4:45 p.m. on the stage behind the Museum.
Two concerts -- by Jeff Taylor at 10:30 a.m. and Jo Dee Messina at noon -- will keep fans entertained Sunday until the 14th running of the Brickyard starts at 2 p.m. EDT.
Pro Stock drivers Greg Anderson and Jeg Coughlin and Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Matt Smith are the first to be assured of spots in the NHRA's new championship format.
The top eight drivers in each of the four pro categories heading into the U.S. Nationals advance to the four-race Countdown to 4. Those four drivers then have two races to determine the champion.
The NHRA will announce other finalists as they are locked in.
Rahal Letterman Racing made a sudden driver change Thursday. Ryan Hunter-Reay replaced Jeff Simmons and is in the car this weekend at Mid-Ohio.
Hunter-Reay spent three seasons in Champ Car, winning two races and earning one pole. He's starting 10th in the race today.
Simmons had replaced Paul Dana, who was killed practicing for the season-opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year.
Ken Schrader overcame a flat left front tire to win the Modified feature Friday night at Macon Speedway during its third NASCAR
Galesburg's A.J. Fike won the 40-lap Midget feature, topping a field that included Tony Stewart. Stewart won his semi-feature to make the main event, started 18th out of 23 cars and made his way to sixth before spinning.
Starting Monday, ESPN will celebrate the return of Cup racing to the network with a series of five daily documentaries chronicling NASCAR's history.
The programs are titled "The Explosion," "The Dirt," "The Cars," "Speed and Danger" and "The Families."
The show airs at 7 p.m. Monday and Friday and 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
A DVD with extra episodes goes on sale July 31.
Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello have been confirmed as Honda's two Formula One drivers for 2008. The team is having a dreadful year this season with Button having one championship point to none for Barrichello. . . . Ken Schrader will rejoin BAM Racing for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. After that, Mike Bliss, who left the team a month ago, will return to the seat. . . . The Best Western Busch show car will be on display Aug. 18 and 19 at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield in conjunction with the USAC and ARCA races that weekend. . . . Ken Coolbeth won the AMA Flat Track Twins race July 14 at Virginia Motor Speedway. Jared Mees finished second and continues to lead the Twins points.
Jane Miller is the Journal Star motorsports columnist. Write to her at 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call (309) 686-3207 or e-mail to email@example.com.