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Earnhardt: Rebuild the California Speedway

Times Staff Writer

Some view NASCAR races at the California Speedway as boring because there isn’t enough passing, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. offered a blunt solution Friday: Start over in Fontana.

“Dig it up and rebuild it,” he said when asked how to generate closer racing on the two-mile, D-shaped oval. “They do it at other places, so I don’t see why we couldn’t do it here.

“It’s a little too flat,” Earnhardt continued. “The banking is flat in Turns 1 and 2 and it’s not conducive to good racing.”

All four corners have 14-degree banking.

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“We’re going 196 [mph] down the front straightaway into a flat corner,” Earnhardt said. “How are you supposed to race around that? You do your best just to get around it uneventfully, you know, much less try to pass somebody.”

The track’s banking is flatter than some Nextel Cup tracks, but others have even less banking in the corners, including the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Then again, Fontana hasn’t been kind to the driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet. In nine starts at the California Speedway, Earnhardt has no wins and only two top-10 finishes.

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Several NASCAR drivers found out firsthand that drifting, motor sports’ newest variation, is harder than it looks.

Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Robby Gordon were among the Cup drivers who joined U.S. and Japanese stars from the D1 Grand Prix drifting series Thursday night at Irwindale Speedway.

Drifting, born in Japan and gaining popularity in the U.S., involves cars, racing in pairs, that slide sideways, or drift, on a twisty course.

More than 7,000 fans were at Irwindale to see how the Cup drivers fared.

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They were clearly tentative at first as they maneuvered through the course, with some spinning too much and just moving in circles.

“We had a good time,” said Kahne, who organized the event to raise money for his namesake charity. With each try, he said, the Cup drivers “got better and better.”

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james.peltz@latimes.com

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