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NASCAR from Daytona to Irwindale on tap for July 4 weekend

June 30, 2011 | 12:33 pm

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.

Bayne 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.

When they resume July 10, IndyCar will race on the streets of Toronto, the NHRA will be in Joliet, Ill., and Formula One will be at the Silverstone circuit for the British Grand Prix.

-- 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