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TWO GAIN TRACTION IN NHRA PLAYOFFS

Compiled from Times wires

CONCORD, N.C. - Cory McClenathan and Robert Hight shot up the playoff rankings by winning their first races of 2009 on Sunday at the NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMax Dragway.

McClenathan won Top Fuel with a pass of 3.857 seconds at 312.64 mph to beat Shawn Langdon and take over first place in the Countdown to 1.

Hight went from 10th to third by beating Matt Hagan in 4.097 seconds at 307.02 mph in his Funny Car. Regular-season champ Tony Pedregon remained in first and Ashley Force Hood moved up a spot to second.

Mike Edwards won Pro Stock in 6.618 seconds at 209.39 mph to take over the top spot for the first time this season.

Formula One: The Renault team will learn its fate today at a hearing into how its former driver, Nelson Piquet Jr., was ordered by management to deliberately crash his car. F1 has been shaken by the news that Renault ordered its struggling Brazilian driver to plow his car into a concrete wall so that teammate Fernando Alonso could win the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Renault faces a points deduction, suspension or even exclusion from the championship. Renault, which has not contested the charges, could escape with a significant fine since it has since split with team principal Flavio Briatore and engineering executive director Pat Symonds, who allegedly plotted the crash.

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