NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
 
                 === This Week in Auto Racing Oct. 25 - 27 ===
 
 By Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor
 
 Martinsville, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Round seven in the Chase for the Sprint
 Cup championship takes place at Martinsville Speedway. The Camping World Truck
 Series  will join Sprint Cup at Martinsville. Formula One resumes its schedule
 with the Indian Grand Prix.
 
 
 NASCAR
 
 Sprint Cup Series
 
 Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 - Martinsville Speedway - Martinsville, Va.
 
 After  competing  at  its  biggest racetrack,  Talladega  Superspeedway,  last
 weekend,  the Chase  for  the Sprint  Cup  championship has  moved  on to  the
 smallest track on the schedule, Martinsville Speedway.
 
 Sunday's  500-lap race  at Martinsville -- 0.526-mile in length -- is the only
 short-track  event  in the Chase. It's  also the one track that current points
 leader Jimmie Johnson looks forward to the most during the 10-race playoffs.
 
 Johnson's  13th-place finish  compared to a 20th-place run for Matt Kenseth at
 Talladega allowed Johnson to take a four-point lead over Kenseth.
 
 It's  the first  time Johnson has led  in the Chase point standings this year.
 Kenseth  had been atop the rankings for the first five Chase races. Johnson is
 attempting to win his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship.
 
 "When  we're leading in points, it's certainly helpful," Johnson said. "It's a
 place  where I'd  rather be, in the  lead defending, than trying to get points
 and get ahead. I like the position that we're in.
 
 "In  years  past, the pressure has  weighed on me differently. I think through
 the  experience of  winning those five (series championships) and being in the
 sport  as long as I have been, that I'm really in a position that I want to be
 in, and I hope to stay here for the rest of the year."
 
 Johnson has started on the pole and won the past two races at Martinsville. In
 April,  he  led 346  of 500 laps.  Johnson ran  in front for  193 laps in last
 year's Chase event here.
 
 In  23 races  at  Martinsville, Johnson  has scored  eight  wins, 16  top-five
 finishes,  20  top-10s and  three poles.  His average finish  of 5.348 is tops
 among all active drivers at this track.
 
 Johnson  has won  three  consecutive races  at Martinsville  in  the past.  He
 claimed  the victory  in the October 2006 event and then scored a season-sweep
 here in 2007.
 
 "It's  been good to us in the past," he said. "We've got to go there and race.
 There  is  going to be a  lot of strong competition.  We will make sure we get
 buttoned  up and  ready to go for this  weekend's race and go up there to that
 paperclip and see what we can do."
 
 Every  Chase-era  champion has finished  among the top-10  in the fall race at
 Martinsville.  Brad  Keselowski's sixth-place finish  here one year ago is the
 worst  by the  champion. Tony Stewart won  at this track en route to his third
 series title in 2011.
 
 Kenseth  has struggled  at Martinsville in the past, recording just three top-
 five  finishes and eight  top-10s in 27 races. His best finish here is second,
 which  came  in the spring of  2002. He has  finished 14th in the previous two
 events at this track.
 
 After Martinsville, the Chase heads to Texas (1.5-mile track) and then Phoenix
 (1-mile) before the season concludes at Homestead (also 1.5-mile).
 
 This  is Kenseth's  first season as driver  of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs
 Racing,  and four of his series-leading seven wins this year have come at mile
 and a halfs.
 
 "I think I have one of the greatest teams out here, obviously, and I feel like
 we  can go everywhere  else, and honestly, we can race with anybody when we're
 at  our  best," Kenseth said.  "Hopefully, we'll be at  our best the next four
 (races), and we'll give them a run for their money."
 
 Kyle  Busch  and Kevin Harvick  are both 26  points behind Johnson, while Jeff
 Gordon,  a four-time  series champion and seven-time Martinsville race winner,
 trails his Hendrick Motorsports teammate by 34 points.
 
 Dale  Earnhardt  Jr. is sixth  in Chase points  (-52), followed by Greg Biffle
 (-53), Clint Bowyer (-57) and Kurt Busch (-61).
 
 Tenth  through  13th are: Carl  Edwards (-68),  Ryan Newman (-72), Joey Logano
 (-75) and Kasey Kahne (-101).
 
 Chevrolet  can clinch  its 11th  consecutive and  37th overall  Manufacturers'
 Championship  in NASCAR's top series this weekend at Martinsville. If the top-
 finishing  driver  for Chevrolet finishes  ahead of the top-placing driver for
 Toyota,  then Chevrolet  will secure the title  in the first year of the Gen-6
 race car.
 
 Aric  Almirola will  run the  No.  41 Ford  at Martinsville,  rather than  his
 customary  No. 43, in honor of NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Maurice Petty, the
 chief  engine  builder for  Petty Enterprises  during its seven championships.
 Petty ran nine of his 26 career Cup races in the No. 41.
 
 Forty-three  teams are  on the entry list for the Goody's Headache Relief Shot
 500.
 
 
 Camping World Truck Series
 
 Kroger 200 - Martinsville Speedway - Martinsville, Va.
 
 What a week it's been for Johnny Sauter in the Camping World Truck Series.
 
 Sauter  won last  Saturday's truck race at Talladega, and then two days later,
 his  No.  98 ThorSport  Racing  team  acquired  new sponsorship  with  Nextant
 Aerospace for the 2014 and '15 seasons.
 
 Sauter's  three victories  this year is the best among points-eligible drivers
 in  the series. He began the season by winning at Daytona and the spring event
 at Martinsville, but struggled during the middle part of the year by finishing
 outside  the top-10 in five straight races. Sauter fell back as far as 10th in
 the point standings. He is currently sixth.
 
 After  Sauter led  in points  for the  first three  races, his  teammate, Matt
 Crafton, took over the top spot in the standings with his win at Kansas (April
 20)  and  has been  there  since.  Crafton  finished  ninth at  Talladega  and
 increased his points lead to 57 over Ty Dillon, who finished 14th there.
 
 "It's  awesome," Crafton  said.  It  just shows  what  (ThorSport Racing  team
 owners)  Duke and Rhonda Thorson have done and gave us to work with to be able
 to  lead the points.  Johnny led the first quarter of the season, and I've led
 up  to  here, and that just  shows what Duke  and Rhonda Thorson have done and
 have been so loyal to the Truck Series. It's going to be huge for us if we can
 pull it off. We've just got to be smart and hopefully be lucky."
 
 Martinsville  has hosted  two truck races each season since 2003. Mike Skinner
 is  the  only driver  who has  scored a season-sweep  at this 0.526-mile short
 track.
 
 "I  think anytime  you race somewhere twice  in one season what you did in the
 spring  race  is very relevant as  far as setups," Sauter said. "Strategy will
 probably  be a little  bit different. The race was 250 laps in the spring, and
 this  time it's only 200. I think that puts a bigger emphasis on getting where
 you  want  to be  in a  hurry. I  think you're  going to  see some guys gamble
 (Saturday) to try to make it a one-stop race."
 
 Sauter  won at Martinsville  for the first time in the spring of 2011. Crafton
 finished second to him here earlier this year.
 
 Kevin  Harvick and Denny Hamlin are those Sprint Cup Series regulars competing
 in  this race. Hamlin is driving the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
 He  has won the  last two fall events here. Harvick is behind the wheel of the
 No.  14  Chevrolet for NTS  Motorsports. He has  three truck victories at this
 track.
 
 Thirty-eight teams are on the entry list for the Kroger 200.
 
 
 FORMULA ONE
 
 Indian Grand Prix - Buddh International Circuit - New Delhi, India
 
 It could be celebration time for Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull this weekend in
 India, as the champagne is ready to be put on ice.
 
 Vettel  is  in great shape to  clinch his fourth consecutive Formula One world
 championship,  while his Red  Bull team is on the brink of securing its fourth
 successive constructors' title.
 
 Heading  into Sunday's  Indian Grand  Prix, which  is the  16th round  in this
 year's 19-race calendar, Vettel holds an insurmountable 90-point lead over his
 closest competitor, Fernando Alonso from Ferrari.
 
 Vettel  will  capture the championship  if he finishes  fifth or higher in the
 Indian  GP, even  if Alonso were to  win the race. If Alonso finishes third or
 lower, Vettel will still claim the title, regardless of his result.
 
 After  India, F1 heads  to Abu Dhabi (Nov. 3) and then Austin, Texas (Nov. 17)
 before the season wraps up in Brazil (Nov. 24).
 
 The  Red  Bull driver has  been unstoppable  lately, winning the previous five
 grand  prix --  Belgium,  Italy,  Singapore, Korea  and  Japan.  Based on  his
 previous performances in India, it's likely he'll collect his sixth victory in
 a row. He started on the pole and won the first two Indian GPs (2011-12).
 
 On  Friday, Vettel was  quickest in each of the two practice sessions at Buddh
 International  Circuit. His  teammate, Mark Webber, was second fastest in both
 sessions.
 
 Wherever  Vettel clinches  the title, he will become just the fourth driver in
 the history of the sport to win four championships. He'll also be the third to
 win four in a row, joining his German compatriot Michael Schumacher as well as
 Juan Manuel Fangio. Alain Prost had quadruple titles during his F1 career.
 
 "To  tell the  truth, I am happy that  I am on that list of champions at all,"
 Vettel said. "It was almost unbelievable when I won the first title, as it was
 almost my dream, becoming Formula One world champion. But when you dream these
 things  as a kid, the chances that it really happens are rather slim, and when
 you really do it, then it's hard to put it into words or emotions."
 
 There  are many scenarios for Red Bull in clinching the constructors' title in
 India.  The team presently  has 445 points for the season, compared to 297 for
 nearest  rival Ferrari. If  Vettel or Webber wins the Indian GP, then Red Bull
 will earned its fourth championship, regardless of what Ferrari does.
 
 "I think that should we achieve a quadruple double-championship it would be an
 amazing  feat for  every single  member of  the team  to achieve  such results
 against such illustrious opposition," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner
 said.  "But those thoughts really aren't in our minds at the moment. Our focus
 is very much on this event.
 
 "The  championship tables  obviously look  very healthy,  but it's  never done
 until  it's  mathematically impossible for  anybody else  to win. So the whole
 team's focus is very much on getting the most out of this weekend."
 
 This  3.192-mile,  16-turn circuit is  one of the most technically challenging
 tracks on the F1 calendar. It has the second-highest average speed of the year
 after Monza (Italian Grand Prix).
 
 "It is not an easy track because of a few complicated rhythm-breakers that are
 in  there," Vettel said.  "The most difficult part is the uphill entry to turn
 3,  because  seeing the apex is  practically impossible. So to drive a perfect
 lap around the Buddh circuit, you need a good driving instinct.
 
 "So far, everything has always gone perfectly for us in India. There is also a
 very  nice  trophy at the  end of the  race. So it would  be great to hold one
 again  this year. It's  a circuit that I like, in a country that is very, very
 impressive every time we go there."
 
 The last time a driver recorded six or more consecutive F1 grand prix wins was
 in  2004 when  Schumacher  scored seven  in  a row  between  the European  and
 Hungarian GPs.
 
 10/25 15:47:01 ET

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