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NASCAR

This Week in Auto Racing August 19 - 21

The NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series head to the Irish Hills of Michigan, while the Nationwide Series runs on a road course for the second weekend in a row in Montreal.

NASCAR

Sprint Cup Series

Pure Michigan 400 - Michigan International Speedway - Brooklyn, MI

Now that the dust has settled from a frantic race on Monday at Watkins Glen International, the Sprint Cup Series moves on to the wide two-mile Michigan International Speedway.

Marcos Ambrose is on cloud nine this week after claiming his first Sprint Cup win at Watkins Glen. The 34-year-old Australian became the fourth foreign-born race winner in NASCAR's premier series, joining Mario Andretti (Italy), Earl Ross (Canada) and Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia).

Ambrose's victory also placed him in wild card contention. He currently sits 22nd in points but is only one marker outside the top-20. It will be a busy week for Ambrose. He is scheduled to compete in Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Montreal.

"We're gonna go to Montreal to win that one, and we're gonna go to Michigan on Sunday and try to win it," he said. "I don't know about points, and I really don't give a hoot about it. I've just got to win races, and [Monday] we won.

"I think we're all gonna get a bit of mojo, a bit of confidence about us and keep fighting, keep trying and you never know. We're not out of the Chase, that's for certain, but looking at points aren't gonna help you. You've just got to go out there and try to win races."

Right now, Denny Hamlin and Michigan-native Brad Keselowski hold the two wild card positions. Keselowski, 14th in points, occupies the first spot by virtue of his two wins (Kansas and Pocono).

"Coming back home to Michigan and having your name at the top of the wild card list and a strong potential to be in the Chase is a great feeling," Keselowski said.

Keselowski finished an impressive second at Watkins Glen, driving with a broken left ankle and sore back he sustained from a crash while testing two weeks ago at Road Atlanta.

He finished 25th at Michigan in June.

Hamlin has won two of the last three races at Michigan, including a victory here earlier this season.

"Michigan has been a good track," Hamlin said. "We haven't finished any worse than second over the last three races, so we need to go there and perform well."

Hamlin finished 36th at Watkins Glen due to a late-race crash. He dropped one spot to 12th in the rankings (33 points behind 10th-place Tony Stewart).

Indianapolis race winner Paul Menard is 15th in points. David Ragan, who won the July race at Daytona, saw his playoff hopes take a big hit at Watkins Glen. Ragan finished 28th after he was involved in a vicious multi-car crash on the last lap. He is now four points outside the top-20.

The top-four drivers in points -- Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick -- could clinch a position in the 12-driver Chase field at Michigan.

After his 31st-place run at Watkins Glen, Greg Biffle remained 13th in the standings. He is a distant 49 points behind Stewart. Biffle has yet to win this season after posting two victories last year. He is a two-time winner at Michigan.

Biffle is optimistic about one thing this weekend. Boris Said will not be at Michigan following their post-race brawl at Watkins Glen. Said will attempt to win at Montreal for the second year in a row.

The track surface at Michigan is scheduled to be repaved following Sunday's 400-mile race. Pit road was reconfigured immediately following the June event.

"It won't change that much for us," Hamlin said. "Unless it really changes the configuration and things like that, it won't change really what we do. You have to run a certain speed. One thing it will let you do is get into the [pit] boxes a little bit more aggressive if there's newer pavement than what there was in the past."

Forty-six teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Pure Michigan 400.

Camping World Truck Series

VFW 200 - Michigan International Speedway - Brooklyn, MI

After taking a week off, the Camping World Truck Series resumes its season on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.

Just 23 points separate first-place Austin Dillon from fourth-place Timothy Peters. Johnny Sauter originally held the lead following his fourth-place run at Pocono earlier this month, but Sauter was docked six points after his No.13 Chevrolet failed post-race inspection. Officials discovered the right-rear bed panel on his truck was too high.

Sauter is only one point behind Dillon.

Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Mark Martin are those Sprint Cup Series regulars entered in this race. All three drivers also competed in the Pocono truck event.

"The No.2 KHI team is coming off of a win at Pocono, so we'll look to carry that momentum into this weekend at Michigan," Harvick said.

Harvick conserved enough fuel and held off Busch during a green-white- checkered finish to win the Pocono race, which was delayed one day due to rain.

Martin finished seventh in his first truck appearance since 2007. Michigan will be the second and final race that Martin drives the No.32 Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports this season.

There have been nine different winners in 11 previous truck races at Michigan. The last six races at this track have been won by a different driver, including three first-time winners in the series (Johnny Benson, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun).

Greg Biffle and Travis Kvapil are the only drivers who have multiple truck wins at Michigan. They are not competing in this race.

Thirty teams are on the preliminary entry list for the VFW 200.

Nationwide Series

NAPA Auto Parts 200 - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve - Montreal, QC, Canada

The Nationwide Series travels north of the border to Montreal for the third and final road course race of the 2011 season. Reed Sorenson won in June at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI, while Kurt Busch took the checkered flag this past Saturday at Watkins Glen, NY.

Last year's race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve ended in thrilling fashion. Boris Said passed Robby Gordon for the lead during a green-white-checkered finish. Max Papis then challenged Said for the win during the final two laps, but he edged Papis at the finish line by only 0.012 seconds, making it the fifth closest margin of victory in series history.

Said captured his first win in his 22nd Nationwide start. He returns for this year's race, driving the No.30 Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports.

"I am excited to go back to Montreal and defend my win with Turner Motorsports," Said commented. "They are a great organization that has proven they can win."

Several drivers will attempt the Michigan/Montreal combo. They are: Carl Edwards, Joe Nemechek, Trevor Bayne, Gordon and Marcos Ambrose, who won his first Sprint Cup race on Monday at Watkins Glen.

Edwards won at Montreal in 2009. He has also claimed two poles and led the most laps here with 149. Edwards considers this track to be one of the most challenging on the Nationwide schedule.

"Montreal is twice as hard on the brakes as any of these other race tracks we go to," he said. "It has long straightaways, stop, right-left, long straightaway, stop, right-left, it's a very taxing race track on the brakes. It's unlike any other track I've ever driven on."

Nine Canadians are scheduled to compete in this race, including Jacques Villeneuve, who is driving the No.22 Dodge in place of Brad Keselowski. Villeneuve was slated to drive the Penske Racing car well before Keselowski was injured at Road Atlanta.

Villeneuve finished third in front of his home crowd last year. He also placed third in June at Road America.

The 2.710-mile, 14-turn Montreal circuit is named after Villeneuve's late father.

Danica Patrick is expected to make her stock car debut on a road course. It will also be Patrick's first Nationwide race since July at Daytona, where she finished 10th.

Scott Speed will make his first series start since 2009, driving the No.33 Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. comes to Montreal with a 10-point lead over Sorenson. Elliott Sadler is 24 points behind the leader.

Fifty teams are on the preliminary entry list for the NAPA Auto Parts 200.