YOU'RE A NASCAR fan who has attended races at Pocono and Dover. Oval racing is your passion. Why then should you be interested in the Grand-Am Rolex series races at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville this weekend?
Veteran racer Scott Pruett, who leads the Rolex Sports Car Series points standings with teammate Memo Rojas, offers this take:
"The excitement of it all and the challenge for the driver," Pruett said on a conference call. "When you're on an oval, you're just working on your [racing] line.
"[On] ovals, you virtually never shift, you do a little bit of braking. You kind of work on that line at each end, how to get the car through.
"When you're on a road course, there's upshifting, downshifting [and] braking, a lot of precision going on from inside the cockpit. We have to be on our toes all the time. Fans are going to see a lot of passing. You're going to see us pass two or three cars a lap."
Despite not winning any of the first three Daytona Prototype races, Pruett and Memo Rojas hold a two-point lead in standings. They've finished sixth, third and second. Pruett-Rojas won last year's NJMP race on the 2.25-mile 14-turn Thunderbolt Raceway course.
Jeff Segal, from Wynnewood, and teammate Emil Assentato are driving Ferraris this year in the GT series. Switching to Ferraris from Mazdas, they are atop the points chart by three.
"The reason I'm racing a Ferrari this year is because that opportunity presented itself," Segal said. "I don't think there's any race car driver, anybody involved in this industry, whether openly or secretly, that doesn't want to drive a Ferrari at some point in their career. To be a part of this new program, it was something I jumped at very quickly.
"The timing worked out perfectly with Ferrari coming back to the Rolex Series. Personally, I have a lot of connection to the Ferrari brand, both in the Ferrari Challenge, where I got my first race when I was 17, and the Ferrari driving experience in Canada over the last few years.
Segal, 27, and Assentato won the GT championship 2 years ago.
Among the area teams competing Saturday at NJMP in the Grand Sport class race are the Subaru Road Racing Team from Phoenixville (Andrew Aquilante and Bret Spaude) and Delaware's Al Carter and Hugh Plumb.
Sunday's races will be on Speed TV at 1 p.m. For more information, go to www.njmp.com
DARLINGTON . . . FINALLY
I've never covered a race at Darlington Raceway, but 2 months ago, I finally made it to the historic racetrack. NASCAR's first superspeedway opened in 1950.
The track nicknamed "Track Too Tough to Tame" is located so close to the Harry Byrd Highway, you can almost touch the road from the backstretch grandstand.
Riding around the grounds with Dennis Worden, the track's public relations director, you definitely feel the sense of history. NASCAR's greats all raced here.
Starting in 2005, Darlington was reduced to only one Cup race annually. This weekend's races, Nationwide Friday night and Sprint Cup Saturday night, are the only racing events Darlington now hosts.
HELPING A GOOD GUY
Friends of Al Robinson are uniting to help the former Dover International Speedway public relations director. Robinson suffered a stroke a year ago and now needs 24-hour care in Waverly, N.Y.
The Delaware racetrack, which hosts a NASCAR weekend June 1-3, has created a special auction package to benefit Robinson. The package includes passes to a luxury suite and an overnight stay at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino.
Visit http://bit.ly/DoverMonster for details. The auction ends Monday.
Friends near Robinson's home are hosting an event this weekend at Shangri-La Motorspeedway in Tioga Center, N.Y. All proceeds go to Robinson.
CAPTAINS CARL, JEFF
Cup series drivers Carl Edwards and Jeff Burton will serve as captains for the Team Dover vs. Team Pocono softball game Tuesday at Campbell's Field in Camden. The game, featuring representatives of the area two racetracks and media members, is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Fans with tickets to the Camden Riversharks-Lancaster Barnstormers Atlantic League game at 7:05 will be admitted to the softball game.
THIS WEEK'S RACE
Bojangles' Southern 500
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV/radio: Fox/WNPV (1440-AM)
Race course: 1.366-mile oval
Race distance: 367 laps/501.3 miles
Race forecast: partly cloudy, mid-70s
Last year's winner: Regan Smith
Last year's pole winner: Kasey Kahne, 181.254 mph (track record)
Track facts: In gaining his first Sprint Cup series victory, Regan Smith led only the final 11 laps. Carl Edwards was second, Brad Keselowski third. Kasey Kahne led the most laps (124); he finished fourth. Smith is 27th in points this season . . . Jeff Gordon's seven wins at Darlington are the most among active drivers. On the down side, three consecutive poor finishes have dropped Gordon to 23rd in points, 67 points out of 12th place . . . David Ragan (seventh), David Gilliland (13th) and Travis Kvapil (16th) had their best finishes of the season at Talladega . . . Also in the last three A.J.Allmendinger has qualified first, fourth and second; best finish: 15th . . . Danica Patrick will make her second Cup race appearance this year Saturday night.
Wins: Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, 2 each; Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, 1 each.
1 Greg Biffle 378
2 Matt Kenseth 371
3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 369
4 Denny Hamlin 351
5 Kevin Harvick 333
6 Martin Truex Jr. 332
7 Tony Stewart 328
8 Jimmie Johnson 324
9 Kyle Busch 308
10 Clint Bowyer 302
11 Carl Edwards 300
12 Brad Keselowski 299
Up next: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, May 19, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.,