Former F1 driver might race in U.S.

Scott Speed, who was the only American driver in Formula One until the Scuderia Toro Rosso team fired him several weeks ago, might be heading back to the United States to race next season.

Speed spent 1 1/2 seasons in F1 but failed to score any championship points before 19-year-old Sebastian Vettel of Germany replaced him.

The 24-year-old Californian said he will take a “fact-finding tour, looking to various racing series and talking with some of the top American teams.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi of Italy also will lose his Toro Rosso ride in 2008, with Champ Car World Series driver Sebastien Bourdais replacing him.

Speed reportedly could wind up replacing Bourdais at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in Champ Car.

• OPEN WHEEL — Reigning World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz will merge his team into Tony Stewart Racing at the end of the season and become Stewart’s second driver in the winged sprint-car series.

The announcement came a few hours before Schatz won Saturday’s Knoxville Nationals in Iowa for the second straight year. The win paid $150,000.

• DRAG RACING — This weekend’s NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series event at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., is the last race before the inaugural Countdown to the Championship begins.

The top eight in points in each of the NHRA’s four professional divisions at the Reading event will remain in contention for respective season titles and have four races to make the final cut to four.

The finalists race Oct. 25-28 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the following weekend in Pomona, Calif., to determine the four pro season champions.

The following have clinched spots in the Countdown: points leader Rod Fuller of Las Vegas, Brandon Bernstein, Larry Dixon, Tony Schumacher and J.R. Todd in Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Robert Hight, Mike Ashley, John Force, Jack Beckman, Tony Pedregon and Gary Scelzi in Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Jeg Coughlin, Dave Connolly, Allen Johnson and Jason Line in Pro Stock; and Matt Smith, Andrew Hines and Angelle Sampey in Pro Stock Motorcycle. …

Winners in Saturday’s Jerry’s Nugget Championship Drag Racing Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s dragstrip were Bill Webber (Kingman, Ariz.), Super Pro; Russ Stryker (Truxton, Ariz.), Pro; Scott Parsons (Monroe, Utah), Sportsman; and Sean Conner (Boulder City), Motorcycle.

Racing at the dragstrip continues with Wednesday Night Street Wars and an E.T. bracket test-and-tune from 7 p.m. to midnight.

• NASCAR — Las Vegan Alex Haase had mechanical problems Saturday at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and finished 20th in the NASCAR Grand National West California 125. He is ninth in the standings.

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