NASCAR from Daytona to Irwindale on tap for July 4 weekend
Most major motor-racing series are idle over the July 4 weekend, but NASCAR's top series returns to its most famous track, Daytona International Speedway, on Saturday night while one of its minor-league series does the same at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Carl Edwards leads the field for the Coke Zero 400 at the high-banked, 2.5-mile Daytona super-speedway.
Drivers again are expected to pair up in two-car drafts as they did in the season-opening Daytona 500 in February, when Trevor Bayne, who had just turned 20, won the race in a huge upset.
Bakersfield native Kevin Harvick, who won the July race at Daytona a year ago, is in second place in the Cup standings, 25 points behind Edwards, and reigning champion Jimmie Johnson is 33 points behind in third.
NASCAR's second-level Nationwide Series also is racing at Daytona on Friday night, where Danica Patrick will again take a weekend off from her IndyCar schedule to drive in a Nationwide event.
Patrick already has driven in more than a dozen NASCAR races and there is widespread speculation that Patrick will leave IndyCar next season to race stock cars full-time.
Also on Saturday night, the half-mile Irwindale track near the intersection of the 605 and 210 freeways will host NASCAR K&N Pro Series West drivers in the Southern California Toyota Dealers 200.
Greg Pursley of Newhall leads the K&N Pro Series West title standings after winning four of the series' first six races this season.
The Izod IndyCar Series, the NHRA Full Throttle drag-racing series and Formula One are all off this weekend.
-- Jim Peltz
Photo: Trevor Bayne, front, leads Carl Edwards, David Gilliland and Bobby Labonte to win the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20. Credit: Glenn Smith/Associated Press