(SportsNetwork.com) - The NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series are race at Kansas Speedway, while the IndyCar Series is running on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Formula One is beginning its "European season" with the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
Sprint Cup Series
SpongeBob SquarePants 400 - Kansas Speedway - Kansas City, Kansas
Jeff Gordon is hoping to become the next driver to punch his ticket into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship this weekend at Kansas Speedway.
One year ago, Gordon scored his first victory of the season in the inaugural night race at Kansas. He virtually guaranteed himself a spot in the 2014 Chase with his win here. Gordon also won at Indianapolis and Michigan during the regular season and secured the second seed in the playoffs.
This is his 23rd and final season in NASCAR's premier series.
There have been eight different winners in the first 10 races this season. Kevin Harvick (Las Vegas and Phoenix), Jimmie Johnson (Atlanta and Texas), Joey Logano (Daytona 500), Brad Keselowski (Fontana), Denny Hamlin (Martinsville), Matt Kenseth (Bristol), Kurt Busch (Richmond) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Talladega) have all but assured themselves a position in this year's Chase.
Can Gordon be the next one to join the Chase party?
Gordon, the four-time Cup Series champion, leads all drivers with three wins at Kansas. He won the inaugural race at this 1.5-mile track in 2001 and then followed up with another victory here in 2002.
"This has been a great track for us ever since we first started coming here," Gordon said. "I've always enjoyed this racetrack. It's suited my driving style."
Gordon's most recent victory in the series occurred 17 races ago at Dover -- the third round in last year's Chase.
In the 18 Cup races held at Kansas, Gordon has the most top-five finishes with 10. He has also recorded 12 top-10 finishes at this track. Gordon placed 14th here this past October.
In last year's night race at Kansas, Gordon prevailed during a late-race round of pit stops under green when he was the quickest off of pit road. Harvick had started on the pole and led a race-high 119 laps, but Gordon was able to wrestle the top spot away from him with eight laps to go.
"Last year, we proved that we can still be very competitive here," Gordon said. "We had a great race. Kevin (Harvick) was very strong, but we were right there with him. Under the green-flag (pit) stop, we were able to get the lead.
"This year, we're certainly optimistic coming back here. Hopefully, we can repeat from last year's performance. I'm excited about the weekend."
Kansas is the fourth 1.5-mile track on the schedule this season. Gordon finished 41st at Atlanta and then 18th at Las Vegas before he placed seventh at Texas.
"I think our chances are always good when we come to Kansas, but I'm certainly the first one to admit that our mile-and-a-half program is not up to par with a couple of other teams (Johnson and Harvick) that seem to be beating us on these types of tracks," he said. "But nobody is working harder than (crew chief) Alan Gustafson and our group - all of us working together to find that extra speed and get ourselves in the position to win races more consistently."
Forty-four teams are on the entry list for SpongeBob SquarePants 400.
Weather could be a factor in Saturday's race at Kansas. According to the National Weather Service, there is a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the Kansas City area.
Camping World Truck Series
Toyota Tundra 250 - Kansas Speedway - Kansas City, Kansas
After taking the past five weeks off, the Camping World Truck Series returns to action on Friday night at Kansas Speedway.
The 250-mile race will be the fourth race of the season.
Matt Crafton, the two-time defending series champion, is atop the point standings but holds just a two-point lead over Tyler Reddick and a six-point advantage over Erik Jones. Crafton took over the top spot in the standings following his second-place run in the March 28 race at Martinsville.
Reddick won the Feb. 20 season-opener at Daytona, while Crafton scored the victory at Atlanta on Feb. 28. Joey Logano, a Sprint Cup Series regular, became a first-time race winner in trucks when he took the checkered flag at Martinsville.
There have been 14 different winners in as many Truck Series races at Kansas. Kyle Busch won last year's race there, but Busch is not competing in this event, as he continues to recover from a fractured right leg and left foot he sustained during an accident in the Feb. 21 Xfinity Series race at Daytona.
Crafton is the only driver who has competed in each of the previous 14 truck races at Kansas. He won there in 2013 and finished second in last year's event.
"I love coming to Kansas - the whole facility, the racetrack," Crafton said. "They repaved it (in 2012) and the new pavement was a little bit of a bear at the beginning, but it's starting to get some weathering. It's getting better. The racing is getting better, and they're starting to get a second groove to it."
Rookie Cameron Hayley topped the speed charts in Thursday's lone and shortened practice session. There were two sessions scheduled, but rain washed out the first 60-minute practice. The start of the second practice was delayed by about 30 minutes. Hayley's best lap was recorded at 175.798 mph. Crafton was ninth fastest (174.149 mph).
Thirty-two teams are on the entry list for the Toyota Tundra 250. Ryan Newman is the only Sprint Cup regular entered in this race. Newman is scheduled to compete in his first truck event since July 2013 at Eldora. He is driving the No. 8 Chevrolet for SWM-NEMCO Motorsports (co-owned by Joe Nemechek).
VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES
Angie's List G.P. of Indianapolis - Indianapolis Motor Speedway (road course)
The IndyCar Series will run on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.439-mile, 14- turn road course for the second time this weekend.
Simon Pagenaud won last year's inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Pagenaud, who drove for Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports during the 2014 season, gambled on fuel late in the 82-lap race and then held off Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves in the closing laps for the victory. Pagenaud is driving a new fourth entry for Team Penske this season.
Saturday's race at the IMS road course is the fifth event on this year's IndyCar schedule. There have been four different winners this season: Juan Pablo Montoya (St. Petersburg, Florida), James Hinchcliffe (NOLA Motorsports Park), Scott Dixon (Long Beach, California) and Josef Newgarden (Barber Motorsports Park). Newgarden became a first-time winner in the series.
Montoya enters this race atop the championship standings. He holds just a three-point lead over Castroneves, his teammate at Team Penske, and a 13 point advantage over Dixon from Chip Ganassi Racing.
In Thursday's two practice sessions here, Dixon posted the fastest lap overall in 1 minute, 10.6971 seconds.
"It's always a lot of fun when you're at Indianapolis, road course or oval," Dixon said. "I think this track is a lot different from the other ones because you trim out so much. It can be frustrating at times, trying to piece a lap together, but I think when you do, it's rewarding."
Penske's Will Power, the defending IndyCar champion, was second quickest in 1:10.8118. He is currently fifth in the point standings (-24).
"Whenever you get (to Indianapolis), you realize that this is one of the nicest places we come," Power said. "It's smooth, and it's like a European- style track. I like it, and it's a lot of fun. It's very technical."
In Friday's final practice session, held prior to qualifying, Castroneves topped the time charts in 1:10.3756.
Castroneves, the driver of the No. 3 car for Penske, is scheduled to make his 300th career start in IndyCar. The Brazilian will also turn 40 years old on Sunday. He has driven for Roger Penske's team in CART/IndyCar since 2000. Castroneves' first career start occurred in a CART race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 1998 when he drove for the Bettenhausen Motorsports team.
"What a special moment for me to wake up every day and do something that I love 300 times," said Castroneves, who has won the Indianapolis 500 three times in his career (2001, '02 and '09). "It's fantastic, and it's a blessing. I'm just a person living out my dream, and I'm very fortunate to be able to keep doing it with the same enthusiasm that I had in my first race.
"I can still recall that first race at Homestead in 1998. I was just hoping to make it to 50 starts or 100 starts. To have this type of longevity means that I've been fortunate to have a great team around me. We have been able to do a lot of special things and we still have plenty more to do. Hopefully, we end the day on Saturday with a big celebration because that will mean we have put the No. 3 Verizon Chevrolet in Victory Lane at Indianapolis again."
Castroneves will become the seventh driver in IndyCar with 300 or more starts, joining Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Jr., Al Unser, Michael Andretti and Johnny Rutherford.
Twenty-five teams are on the entry list for the Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Spanish Grand Prix - Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya - Barcelona, Spain
The Spanish Grand Prix is the fifth round of the 2015 Formula One world championship, but it begins the European leg for the racing circuit.
Two-time and defending F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has been atop the point standings since the start of the season. Hamilton has won three races in 2015, including the last two -- China (April 12) and Bahrain (April 19). He is also the defending winner of the Spanish GP.
In Friday's two practice sessions at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit, Hamilton topped the time charts in practice 2 with a lap in 1 minute, 26.852 seconds, while his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg, was quickest in practice 1 (1:26.828). Hamilton was just 0.07 seconds behind Rosberg in P1.
"It's been a fairly decent day - mainly working on setup, tweaking the balance bit by bit," Hamilton said. "It's often hard to get a good comparison between the sessions with the track and wind conditions changing. The wind was quite strong at times (Friday) and really inconsistent around the lap. The car is quite affected by that, and it was pretty hot out there in the afternoon too. So I think maybe the temperatures also had an effect on lap times.
"The priority was understanding the tires and how they wear because, ultimately, the race is the most important part of the weekend. We've not analyzed the times yet, but our pace felt pretty strong."
In P2, Rosberg was third quickest, while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel had the second fastest lap, clocked at 0.408 seconds behind Hamilton.
"I think it's quite straightforward that the medium (tires) are the faster tires, but today it was a bit slippery for all the cars," Vettel said. "I think we can improve the car, but the gap with Mercedes is still there. It was not the best lap today, but I believe that in these (hot) conditions, it is difficult for everybody.
"The difference between the two tire compound is quite big on a lap for us, while on the long run, it is a lot smaller, but then when you slide so much, you can't really extract the performance out of the tires. Today, everyone was sliding a lot, so it's not entirely fair to judge the new pieces on the car. But most important, there's nothing wrong with them. They're working as expected, so we can hopefully build into that."
While Hamilton has accumulated 93 points this season, Rosberg is 27 points behind. Vettel is only one point in back of Rosberg.
In last year's Spanish GP, Hamilton and Rosberg staged a thrilling battle, with Hamilton crossing the finish line just 0.6 seconds ahead of Rosberg.
Hamilton started on the pole and only relinquished the lead when he first pitted on lap 22 and then the final time on lap 44. He had an advantage as high as five seconds, but Rosberg cut that margin to less than a second with six laps to go. It was the fourth consecutive victory for Hamilton in the early 2014 season.