AUTO RACING: NASCAR heads to Texas, Indy debuts all-star event and F1 heads Down Under

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EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix

Site: Austin, Texas.

Schedule: Saturday, practice, 10 a.m., and qualifying, 11:30 a.m.; Sunday, race, 3:30 p.m. (FOX).

Track: Circuit of the Americas

Race distance: 68 laps, 231.88 miles.

Last year: Tyler Reddick won after starting second.

Last race: Denny Hamlin passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. in the closing laps and won what became a tire management race at Bristol.

Fast facts: The victory was Hamlin’s second in a row at Bristol and fourth overall. It also was Hamlin’s 52nd career win. … Truex was second, followed by Brad Keselowski in a Ford, Alex Bowman, and Kyle Larson, both in Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets. … They were the only drivers to finish on the leap lap, the first time so few drivers did that since 2004 at Dover. … For the second consecutive race, the JGR Toyotas dominated, combining to lead 383 of the 500 laps. Hamlin led a race-high 163 laps, Ty Gibbs led 137, Truex 54 and Christopher Bell 29. … The race featured a short track record 54 lead changes, breaking the mark of 40 set in 1991 at Bristol.

Next race: March 31, Richmond, Va.



Focused Health 250

Site: Austin, Texas.

Schedule: Friday, practice, 5:30 p.m., and qualifying, 6 p.m.; Saturday, race, 5 p.m. (FS1).

Track: Circuit of the Americas

Race distance: 48 laps, 156.86 miles.

Last year: A.J. Allmendinger won from the pole position.

Last race: Chandler Smith moved to the lead after a blown tire cost Justin Allgaier a big lead and got a huge jump on an overtime restart to hold off Jesse Love and Sheldon Creed at Phoenix, giving Toyota its second straight victory in the series.

Fast facts: Smith and Austin Hill are the only drivers that have finished in the top five in all four races this season. Sheldon Creed has done it three times. … Smith, Hill and Brandon Jones are the only drivers to have completed all 694 laps. … Jesse Love had led the most laps with 191.

Next race: March 30, Richmond, Va.



XPEL 225

Site: Austin, Texas.

Schedule: Friday, practice, 3:30 p.m, and qualifying, 4 p.m.; Saturday, race, 1:30 p.m. (FS1).

Track: Circuit of the Americas

Race distance: 42 laps, 143.22 miles.

Last year: Zane Smith won after starting seventh.

Last race: Christian Eckes passed Kyle Busch for the lead on Lap 159 and held off the career truck series victory leader by 0.141 seconds at Bristol.

Fast facts: Eckes led the final 92 laps for his first win of the season, his first at Bristol and sixth overall. … Zane Smith was third, three-time series champion Matt Crafton fourth and Tyler Ankrum fifth. … Eckes was passed for the lead by Corey Heim with six laps to go last fall at Bristol, costing him a spot in the championship final four, then won the season finale.

Next race: April 5, Martinsville, Va.



Australian Grand Prix

Site: Melbourne, Australia.

Schedule: Thursday, practice, 9:30 p.m.; Friday, practice, 1 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 1 a.m.; Sunday, race, midnight (ESPN).

Track: Albert Park Circuit

Race distance: 58 laps, 190.216 miles.

Last year: Max Verstappen won from the pole position.

Last race: Verstappen, the three-time defending series champion, led another dominating 1-2 finish for Red Bull to win in Saudi Arabia.

Fast facts: Verstappen has won nine consecutive races dating to last season and 19 of the last 20. Another victory on Sunday would allow him to match his F1 series record of 10 consecutive victories set last season when he won 19 of 22 races overall.

Next race: April 7, Suzuka, Japan.



$1 Million Challenge

Site: Thermal, California.

Schedule: Friday, open test session 1, noon, and open test session 2, 5 p.m.; Saturday, open test session 3, noon, open test session 4, 4 p.m., qualifying group 1, 8 p.m., and qualifying group 2, 8:27 p.m.; Sunday, heat race 1, 12:15 p.m., heat race 2, 12:45 p.m.; and all-star race, 1:50 p.m. (NBC).

Track: The Thermal Club

Race distance: 20 laps, 61.34 miles.

Last year: Debut event.

Last race: Josef Newgarden won from the pole position in the season-opener in St. Petersburg.

Fast facts: Pato O’Ward of Arrow McClaren finished second at St. Petersburg to disrupt a Team Penske sweep of the top three spots as Newgarden teammates Scott McLaughlin and Will Power finished third and fourth. … The layout is 3.067 miles with 19 turns, tight corners, long straightaways and changes in elevation. … The 12-driver all-star race has a purse of $1.756 million, the largest for the series outside of the Indianapolis 500.

Next race: April 21, Long Beach, California.



Last event: Shawn Langdon won in Top Fuel and JR Todd won in Funny Car in Gainesville.

Next event: March 24, Pomona, California.



Next events: March 22, Ennis, Texas; March 23, Kennedale, Texas.



AP auto racing:

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