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DATE News (chronologically 4/19/01 to 4/23/01)
Casey Mears tests at Atlanta, waits for Indy - With Mears as his last name, one would expect that Casey would have grown up in the garages of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After all, his uncle, Rick Mears is a four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, and his father, Roger, put his off-road racing career on hold long enough to make two starts at the legendary Brickyard. But surprisingly, Mears only attended the Indianapolis 500 once, last year as a spectator sitting in the grandstands. This year he will make a second visit to the hallowed racetrack, now as a driver with Galles Racing and teammate to Al Unser Jr. One has to wonder, though, if having "Mears" as a last name puts any added pressure on the young driver, especially considering the success his uncle has had at Indianapolis, drinking the traditional winner's milk in 1979, '84, '88 and '91. "I have never felt any pressure in carrying the Mears name," he said. "The people that matter most know I am a young driver coming through the ranks doing the best job I can in a sport I love. I am very proud of where I've come from." Father Roger Mears has a different perspective. "I don't know," the senior Mears said about his son facing extra pressure in living up to the family legacy. "I guess it does (add more pressure) in some degree, but really, most of the pressure comes from within by Casey putting it on himself." Though a rookie in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, Mears is no stranger to the driver's compartment of a race car. In the 1999 season, Mears completed every lap of Indy Lights competition and was second in the points championship. Last season he finished fourth in his CART debut in Fontana, Calif., driving for Team Rahal. Mears also has had tremendous experience in off-road racing, winning races in the stadium SuperLite Series. With several driving opportunities offered to him last season, Mears chose Galles Racing and the Northern Light Series for one reason -- the Indianapolis 500. "My choice was based on what was the next best step in my career, and of course, the Indy 500 plays into that," Mears explained. "Winning the Indy 500 has always been a dream, and an opportunity such as the one I have with Galles Racing that gives me the chance to realize my dream was definitely the best choice." The 23-year-old driver was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week for the requisite Rookie Orientation Program. "I'm just kind of checking this place out, getting ready to go," Mears told the Indianapolis Star. "I can't wait." Mears, however, will have to wait a few days longer. He has to get through one more race before the Indianapolis 500, the April 28 Atlanta 500 Classic run at night under the lights of Atlanta Motor Speedway. This will be his first visit to the 1.54-mile, high-banked oval where speeds for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series cars regularly exceed 220 mph in competition.
Andretti beats Juan Montoya - Last year all the Indy regulars were amazed that it only took Juan Montoya four laps to be running flat out at the Brickyard during his first test.  Juan proved he was up to the task on race day too, winning handily.  Today, Michael Andretti returned to the Brickyard for the first time since 1995, and the first time with IRL equipment.  While last year was last year, and Juan took four laps, today in 40 mph winds, Michael Andretti said "by the third lap I was able to go flat out, so I’m pretty happy."  Last year Andretti and Montoya pretty much dominated the CART ovals, and their fabulous race long battle at the Michigan 500, and a side-by-side finish was one of the greatest races of all time.  Is Andretti a bit too confident?  Maybe, but with threatening weather tomorrow at Indy, he packed it in after just one day of testing instead of sticking around to wait out the weather.  He's ready.
Mario Andretti named Grand Marshall for Texas race - Racing legend Mario Andretti will serve as the Grand Marshal of the April 29 inaugural Firestone Firehawk 600, presented by Pioneer, at Texas Motor Speedway. Andretti, who retired from active driving in 1994, is a four-time Champ Car National Champion. He has won the Indianapolis 500 (1969), the Daytona 500 (1967), and numerous other events - 109 in all - over his five-decade career. Andretti's son, Michael, has driven in the CART FedEx Championship Series since 1983. 
Chat Live with Cristiano da Matta - CART points leader Cristiano da Matta will be chatting Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. on CBS Sportsline. Here's the link

Walker team tests at two tracks - Walker Racing’s CART and IRL teams tested late last week at both Richmond and Nazareth in preparation for their upcoming races at both racetracks. INDY Racing Northern Light Series sophomore sensation Sarah Fisher was back on the racetrack for the first time since her historic 2nd place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway on April 8. Sarah took part in a one-day IRL test at Richmond International Raceway on Friday, April 20 and got in a total of 136 laps in her #15 Walker Racing/Kroger Special/Oldsmobile/Dallara/Firestone car. She clocked a fast speed of 157.775 mph, 17.113 secs., on the .75-mile, D-shaped racetrack. “Richmond is definitely a driver’s track,” said Sarah. “It reminds me of driving my midget car at Anderson Speedway. You drive this track through the steering wheel of the car and you have to take the car deep into turn two – I was actually sliding and bending the car to get through. This is the first track that I felt like I was driving my IRL car more than the car was driving me, and it brings back a lot of memories from my sprint and midget racing roots, I think the race is going to be a blast!” CART FedEx Championship Series rookie Tora (Tiger) Takagi likewise took place in a one-day test, but his was at Nazareth Speedway. Tora completed a total of 186 laps/miles in the #5 Pioneer/DENSO/Toyota/Reynard/Firestone machine and posted a fastest time of 20.8 seconds around the .946-mile tri-oval racetrack. “Nazareth was a good productive test for us,” said Team Manager Rob Edwards. “This is a very tricky oval track for a new driver to learn. It’s quite different from the Phoenix and Homestead ovals we’ve been to with Tora before. It was important for us to be able to learn the Nazareth racetrack with only a few cars besides us running rather then trying to learn it race weekend with 27 other cars there. We have a good baseline to work from now when we go back for the race.” Both Walker Racing teams will be in action again this weekend. The Walker Racing IRL team will be at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the first night race of the IRL season. The Atlanta 500 Classis will be broadcast on Saturday, April 28 at 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN 2, while Walker Racing’s CART team will be at Texas Motor Speedway for the Firestone Firehawk 600 presented by Pioneer which will air on ESPN Sunday, April 29 at 3 p.m. (ET). 
CART Champion ready for Texas - Sunday's Firestone Firehawk 600, presented by Pioneer at Texas Motor Speedway is the third stop on the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series. For Brazil's Gil de Ferran, it is yet another opportunity to move closer to his primary focus this year - repeating as the CART champion. After finishes of second (Mexico) and third (Long Beach) to start the season, de Ferran is currently ranked second in the drivers championship standings coming into the race Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. De Ferran gave Roger Penske his tenth national championship by driving his Marlboro Honda Reynard to the 2000 CART title. "There's certainly a lot of fire there, I can tell you that," de Ferran points out. "Everybody is really fired up, including Roger (Penske). I think the mindset is not really 'What are we going to do for an encore?' -- I think everyone on the team realizes it was really difficult to win one championship and it is going to be just as difficult to have as good a season as we had last year and win a second one. "Obviously, we fancy our chances. I certainly think we have a shot at the championship again, but I don't think it's going to be easy at all. I'm sure Helio (Castroneves, his teammate) is in the same mindset." For de Ferran, the run of podium finishes has been impressive with seven podium results in his last 11 starts. That streak also includes finishes of second at Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca last year as well as third at Chicago, Houston, and California Speedway a year ago. "The 2001 car doesn't feel very different at all from last season's car," de Ferran says. "It is a mild development over last year. Obviously, even though it's a small change, we are hoping to get quite a bit of performance out of it. Most of the mechanical systems are the same. Basically, the biggest development has been on the aerodynamics." Whatever the changes, they have worked well for de Ferran and Castroneves. The Penske teammates rank second and third in points as they take the green flag Sunday for the Firestone Firehawk 600 Presented by Pioneer.
Sigma gears up for Texas - They say things are big in Texas and they are not kidding when it comes to the Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) with its size and high banking. Oriol Servia, the Sigma Autosport team, and the FedEx CART Championship comes to the Lone Star State for the first time this season, and for the first time in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as they compete in the Firestone Firehawk 600 Presented by Pioneer. After two races this year, Servia has had some mixed results. He has completed every lap of the Tecate-Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, but has just finished out of the points in both, with consecutive 14th place finishes. TMS will present a challenge for the sophomore driver. It is the first oval and super-speedway this season and its banking is a startling 24 degrees on the turns, the steepest on any CART track. Still, Servia and the Sigma team are confident they can bring the 2001 Sigma Autosport-Lola-Ford/Cosworth to a top 10 finish. Qualifying will be a key at Texas, but Servia should not have any problems as he has qualified a credible 8th at Mexico in the team's first CART contest, and he was briefly in the top three in qualifying at Long Beach. Servia's past record on super-speedways is something to marvel at as he was 8th in his debut on a super-speedway at Michigan, leading two laps towards the end of the race, and he ran strong at Fontana before going out because of an accident. In other Sigma Autosport news, the team plans on testing former Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert in May. The location of the test has yet to be determined. Herbert was recently tabbed as the Audi factory driver for the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans. Oriol Servia, Driver "I think this race is going to be a pretty interesting event for me and the (FedEx CART) other guys. The banking is a lot steeper than either Michigan or California Speedway and except for Kenny (Brack), no one has really raced here. I believe it's going to be exciting not only for the fans but, for us and for me. I already have a top ten finish on a super-speedway (Michigan), and it would be great not only for me but, for Tom (Wierenga) and the team to do that at Texas. To get a top ten finish in only our third race would be an incredible achievement, and I know it's something we are capable of doing."
Team Kool Green gears up for Texas - Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti look to score big for Team KOOL Green in the Lone Star State at the inaugural Firestone Firehawk 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, the first oval track event on the 2001 CART schedule. Paul Tracy, #26 Team KOOL Green Honda-Reynard: (First race at TMS; currently 4th in the standings with 26 points) "I look at the race in Fort Worth and see a bunch of points just waiting to be picked up. I like fast tracks (Tracy owns the track record at Michigan International Speedway at 234.949 mph) and side-by-side racing, and I think we'll see a lot of that during the race. Dario learned a little about this place when he was here testing, so I'm confident that between the two of us, along with the Team KOOL Green engineers, we'll get the setup we need. Fortunately, it's a long race so we can make adjustments if we need to. But I'd sure like to hit it on the money early in the weekend." Dario Franchitti, #27 Team KOOL Green Honda-Reynard: (First race at TMS; currently 7th in the standings with 12 points) - "This race is going to be a real challenge for the teams, and it's these situations where having excellent engineers really pays off. It's a new track for the series and there wasn't much testing done here during the off season. I was fortunate to get one day of testing in, so at least we won't be starting from ground zero at Team KOOL Green. But there's no doubt we've all got our work cut out for us. It's a big, fast track and you really want the car to be as close to perfect as possible every time you're out there." Barry Green - Team Owner "It's going to be an interesting weekend in Texas; it always is for Team KOOL Green. We've won two out of the three races we've run in the Lone Star state (Franchitti and Tracy won Houston in 1998 and 1999, respectively) and we intend to keep our winning percentage high. It's always a challenge when you're racing at a new venue. But we look at it as an opportunity. We've prepared and done all of our homework. Now, we're anxious for the test." TKG NOTEBOOK It may be CART's first visit to Texas Motor Speedway, but Team KOOL Green is no stranger to victory in the Lone Star state. Dario Franchitti scored the team's first Texas win in Houston in 1998, while Paul Tracy led Franchitti to a 1-2 finish at the same venue in 1999. TKG had the crowd on their feet at the premiere of Sly Stallone's new racing movie, Driven. After the crew showed off their award winning skills with a pit stop demonstration, Paul Tracy drove his #26 Team KOOL Green Champ Car down Hollywood Boulevard and stopped to pull a few donuts in front of the crowd. 
Nemechek to lose Oakwood Homes sponsorship - Breaking up is definitely hard to do but usually the hardest when neither party wants to do it. But that is what is happening with Oakwood Homes Corporation and Andy Petree Racing, Inc. Because of the current state of the manufactured housing industry, Oakwood Homes will not be a primary sponsor on Joe Nemechek’s #33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet beginning next season. That means Petree is seeking sponsorship. "We would like to be able to continue our association with Andy Petree Racing, Inc. and know Andy would like for us to stay," said Mike Taylor, Senior Vice President, Oakwood Homes Corporation. "The fact of the matter is we are not in a position to continue our sponsorship of the #33 car after this season. "We told Andy that because of ongoing cost reduction initiatives at Oakwood Homes, because of the deep downturn in the manufactured home industry, we are simply not able to exercise our option to extend, for a third year, our primary sponsorship," Taylor said. "This has been a tremendous association for us and one we have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. Outside forces, things that have nothing to do with the race car, are dictating this." Petree, who also owns the #55 Square D Chevrolet of driver Bobby Hamilton, said he understood Oakwood’s situation and also regrets Oakwood Homes will not be able to continue sponsorship of the #33 car after the 2001 season. "Everybody on our race team has really enjoyed working with the people at Oakwood Homes. They have been great to us and true supporters in every sense of the word," Petree said. "I feel bad for them because I believe they would have loved to have remained a part of this and, without the problems in their industry right now, most likely would have. "Now we’ve got to really beat the bushes and find sponsorship for this team," Petree added. "I feel really positive that someone is going to realize what a strong organization this is and come on board. Oakwood is working with us in every way they can, including allowing a new sponsor to begin before this season is out if they want to. That’s pretty big of them, and I really appreciate that." Said Taylor, "Andy Petree Racing is a tremendous marketing vehicle. We’ll do everything we can to assist Andy in securing a primary sponsor for the #33 car for next season. If finding that sponsor means we have to back off before this year is out, we would do that. We are fans of not just the sport and not just these two great race teams, but fans of the work-ethic and strong organizational skills at Andy Petree Racing Inc." Andy Petree Racing is coming off an incredibly successful run at the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway Sunday, which saw Hamilton win the race and Nemechek finish sixth. APR was the only team able to have all of its cars lead the race, and continued the strong working and team relationship Petree has developed.
Shakeup announced by CART, Heitzler continues to clean house - First it was  Pat Leahy and the CFO.  Today, Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) announced a reorganization and initial restructuring of the open-wheel sanctioning body’s Racing Division, resulting in the elimination of the positions of President of Racing Hal Whiteford and Vice President of Logistics Dennis Swan. The announcement was made by CART President/Chief Executive Officer Joseph F. Heitzler. “The re-evaluation process for Racing Operations is ongoing and I look forward to working with the Racing Operations team over the next few weeks as we further establish our direction,” said Heitzler. “Over the past three months, we have conducted comprehensive internal evaluation and done extensive research throughout the CART community as we gathered feedback and data to help us formulate our strategic initiatives,” added Heitzler. “It became clear as we did our evaluation that we must establish a new direction for our Racing Division, one that better meets the needs of all of our constituents. “All of us at CART want to thank Hal and Dennis for their commitment and dedication during their tenure at CART and wish them well in their future endeavors.” During the re-evaluation process, Tim Mayer, on an interim basis, will coordinate Racing Operations’ day-to-day activities and report directly to Heitzler. In addition, Kirk Russell now reports to Heitzler as well. The entire Racing Operations team will be involved in the re-evaluation process.
Updated times from Nazareth - While the time reported yesterday from Nazareth were from a stop watch, the PacWest team provided the following - "PacWest Racing driver Scott Dixon headed to Pennsylvania for a CART rookie test on Saturday, April 21. Joining Dixon were rookie drivers Bruno Junqueira and Nicolas Minassian of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and Tora Takagi of Walker Racing – all preparing for Round 4 of the CART FedEx Series at Nazareth Speedway on May 6, 2001.   Dixon, driving the team’s #18 Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota, completed approximately 187 laps and logged a quick time of 20.8s. Bruno Junqueira was the quickest of the day with a time of 20.4s, while Minassian and Tora Takagi both completed their fastest lap at 20.9s."

Shawna Robinson to race at Atlanta in Cup - Aaron's Sales and Lease Ownership and MK Racing have announced their partnership for the # 84 Aaron's Dream Machine Taurus for four NASCAR Winston Cup races this season with driver Shawna Robinson. Robinson's dreams come true next week in the Apr. 29 California 500 at Fontana, Calif., when she becomes the first female in nearly 12 years to start a NASCAR Winston Cup race. With the Dream Machine debuting at California, Robinson will run five additional races - three (Michigan, Indianapolis and Atlanta) under the Aaron's banner - to become the first female to run more than a handful of races in over 20 years. 

(Left) Shawna Robinson (center) poses with MK Racing President Michael Kranefuss (right) and Aaron's Rent President Ken Butler after a press announcement Saturday morning at Talladega. Aaron's Rent announced it would sponsor Robinson and MK Racing for four of the six NASCAR Winston Cup races the team plans to run the rest of this season.  (Right) Shawna Robinson prepares to start Saturday's Busch Grand National race at the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) SuperSpeedway. 

"When I first met Shawna, I was so very intrigued not only because she is the only female driver at the upper levels of national stock car racing but because she has proven that she would be here regardless of her gender," said Ken Butler, President of Aaron's. "She has worked her whole adult life to get to this level and she has proven her potential in the Busch Grand National Series and ARCA series. This is an absolute natural. We're fulfilling Shawna's dream and our dream of going Winston Cup racing. That's the whole idea of a Dream Machine." "This really is a dream come true," Robinson said. "I've always seen those ads that Aaron's drives dreams home, and they sure are driving one home for me, Michael Kranefuss and the guys on this race team." Robinson is not new to the Aaron's Dream Team. She ran the No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine (Michael Waltrip Racing) in the BGN Series in Texas and Nashville and will run this weekend at Talladega. She also ran the #8 Dream Machine (MK Racing) in the ARCA/REMAX Series race in Nashville where she finished third. Robinson has been racing in NASCAR for over 10 years. Her debut came in 1988 when she finished third in the Charlotte/Daytona Dash series Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway. While racing in her rookie year, she visited victory lane at the New Asheville Speedway in 1988, making her the only female to ever win a NASCAR national touring series race. Plus, she won the 1988 Most Popular Driver and Rookie of the Year awards. Robinson made her Busch Series debut in 1991. Three years later, she claimed the pole position at Atlanta Motor Speedway, making her the first and only woman to lead a starting field to the green flag in a Busch Series. In 2000, Robinson returned to racing after starting her family by joining Michael Kranefuss' ARCA RE/MAX race team. Robinson will continue her driving duties for Michael Kranefuss in the ARCA RE/MAX series (where she is 2nd in points) as well as a limited Winston Cup schedule and one more race as part of the No. 99 Aaron's Dream Team owned by Michael Waltrip.

HANS Device gaining acceptance - The majority of drivers in the 43-car field for the Talladega 500 will be wearing some form of head and neck restraint.  A count by NASCAR officials before the final practice for Sunday's race showed that 24 drivers plan to wear the much-discussed Head and Neck Support (HANS) device, with nine using several other forms of upper body and head restraint.  Only 10 drivers, including front-row starters Stacy Compton and Sterling Marlin, will race without any device.
Labonte wins IROC race at Talladega  Bobby Labonte won this years 2nd IROC round at Talladega today by 0.2 seconds over CART's Kenny Brack. The IRL's Buddy Lazier wound up third, followed by NASCAR's Ricky Rudd, Jeff Green, Eddie Cheever and Jeff Burton. "It was an interesting race. It was wild," Brack said. "I think I went into the grass on the backstretch on two consecutive laps. These NASCAR drivers really bang up each other. I don't know what they were doing. You take some and you give some, I guess." Brack couldn't get close enough at the end to challenge Labonte.  "I tried to catch Bobby at the end, but they went too wide behind me and I couldn't get any help," Brack said.  Dale Jarrett was the victim this time, getting hit from behind by Buddy Lazier, who had been knocked sideways by Cheever, his fellow Indy Racing League star, on the 36th of 38 laps. Jarrett's Pontiac slammed into the fourth-turn wall, bringing out the only caution of the event.  Under IROC rules, restarts revert to the running order from the last green flag lap. That left defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion Labonte third, behind Busch Series champion Jeff Green and fellow Cup driver Jeff Burton.  It stayed that way for one lap before Labonte, who had led briefly earlier in the race, mounted his charge. He slipped past Burton first, then took his car to the bottom of the banking off turn 4 and sped past Green, with Burton bumping him from behind. "That was more of a shove than anything," Labonte said. "We had a lot of pressure from behind. I pushed him as hard as we could to get by him. I knew there were only a couple of laps left." Labonte, who finished fifth in Daytona, moved into the series lead by 34-31 over former IROC champion Rudd. Brack is third with 29 points, followed by Jarrett with 28 and Cheever with 24. The third IROC event is scheduled June 9 at Michigan Speedway. The entire $1,025,000 million purse is awarded on the basis of final series points. 
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - In a press conference Friday morning at Talladega, the #8 Major League Baseball All-Star Game/Budweiser Chevy was unveiled. The car is scheduled to be run at The Winston (NASCAR’s All-Star race) and at Daytona in July. Adam Sewell
Lowe’s Racing Tire Carrier Recovering After Knee Surgery - Kevin Gabard, front-tire carrier and car chief of the #31 Lowe's Chevy, is recovering after knee surgery Monday to correct an injury sustained during the Virginia 500 at Martinsville. Dr. Gary Poehling of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center replaced the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Gabard's left knee during outpatient surgery Monday morning in Winston-Salem, N.C. Gabard has undergone surgery for a torn meniscus in the same knee seven times since 1991. His most recent surgery took place in November 1999. "We assessed Kevin's injuries and found he had a complete ACL tear," said Dr. John Birkedal, professor and chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Wake Forest University, who assisted Dr. Poehling in the procedure. "We completely replaced the ACL in his left knee but found there was no damage to the meniscus other than what he'd had from past injuries. Everything went very well." Gabard, 35, was injured during a late-race pit stop April 8 at Martinsville Speedway when a loose tire from another team rolled into the Lowe's pit and struck Gabard in the left knee as he stepped off of pit wall. Sean Irvan, a mechanic on the #31 team, will assume Gabard's front-tire carrier duties while he recovers from surgery. Irvan also substituted for Gabard in several races following his Nov. 1999 surgery. Dr. Birkedal said that Gabard will wear a knee brace for two weeks, at which time he will begin physical therapy for light strengthening and range of motion in his knee. Dr. Birkedal anticipates a recovery time of four to six months before Gabard is able to return to full activity. Adam Sewell
Bill Elliott  Bill Elliott will run the same car he ran in the Budweiser Shootout earlier this year at Daytona. Talladega’s always been a good track for me, especially before the restrictor plates. Now with the different roof blade on the Dodge, I have no idea what to expect. There’s nothing you can do to compensate. If it’s there, it’s there.”Adam Sewell
Dale Jarrett on safety  (Commenting on NASCAR’s efforts to improve safety) “NASCAR has always listened to (the drivers) when it comes to matters of improving safety. They’re listening now and they have their ideas and I think they’re doing a very good job. It’s just been that everybody doesn’t know everything that’s going on. We’ve become a society that thinks we have to know everything that’s going on, whether it’s the government or right here with NASCAR. It’s not necessarily best that everybody knows everything. What’s best for everybody to know is that there’s a lot of work and a lot of effort being made on the part of a lot of people to make this a safe sport.” Adam Sewell
Wallace comments on seat belt  (Commenting on the cut belt from an accident in last weeks BGN race from Nashville) “The belt was not failed, it had a knick in the end of it about a ½” deep. And they’re just telling drivers how important it is and how to install your belts correctly. A knick could be caused by anything…Again, it was not a belt failure, it was a small, small cut, and with what happened with Dale Earnhardt at Daytona has got everybody on alert right now, and so they’re looking at things like that, but I would think there was nothing wrong with the belt.  And the belt didn’t just cut by itself…something had to cause it, whether it be a welding burr from guys welding inside the car, or the way the driver was pulling on the belt, or something. Anything like that could cause it. But at least it didn’t fail. All I can say is a 3 ½” wide belt with a knick in the side about a ½” you still have a solid 3 inches and it held enough and the driver crashed so hard that it broke his collar bone but saved his life.” Adam Sewell
Mark Martin  Mark Martin will be using the same car that he did at both Talladega races last season. “JR-59 is a good car. The car we ran in the Daytona 500 this year was pretty much destroyed, so we’re going back to what worked for us last year. I just hope we can leave Talladega with this car in one piece so we have something proven to take to Daytona in July.” Adam Sewell
New pavement for Talladega and Daytona  "We're looking at it real hard," Talladega Superspeedway President, Grant Lynch said. "It does reach a point where the asphalt becomes brittle and you have to do something." Talladega may receive the new racing surface as early as next year. Estimates are being calculated for Daytona and Talladega, and early reports are between the $2 million and $6 million range. Adam Sewell
NASCAR to hold special test Monday  NASCAR officials are making plans to have a test session Monday after the race to research the current rules package in use at Daytona and Talladega. Several Winston Cup teams are scheduled to be at the session which is being used to research alternatives to the current package. Adam Sewell
PacWest Lights team test Kansas  PacWest Indy Lights drivers Dan Wheldon and Mario Dominguez tested at the new 1.5- mile oval at Kansas Speedway for the first time yesterday in preparation for round six of the Dayton Indy Lights Series on July 8, 2001.  Along with Wheldon and Dominguez, seven other drivers from four different teams participated in the test session. While times were not officially recorded, Wheldon posted an unofficial time of 30.7, and Dominguez lapped in the 31.1-second range.  The PacWest Indy Lights team will be in Texas next week for round three of the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Series at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 26.  DAN WHELDON - # 1 GEMSTAR PACWEST LIGHTS  “The test was really good and everything went very well,” said Wheldon. “We tried a couple of different things in the morning and continued to work on the car throughout the day, accomplishing everything we needed to achieve. It’s an excellent track, but it’s not as quick as we all thought it would be – it’s a combination of St. Louis and Fontana. I had a wicked day out there and really drove the car hard and fast. I’m looking forward to being on the podium once again when we race there in July.”  MARIO DOMINGUEZ - # 17 DEL VALLE CORONA TELEVISA PACWEST LIGHTS  “All in all it was a successful test for us and we accomplished a lot,” said Dominguez. “It was very windy, and the wind blew harder in the afternoon, which gave us the opportunity to test the car under these types of conditions. It’s a new and different track, so it will be a challenge for all of us, but I’m looking forward to it. The car ran great out there today, so I’m confident we’ll bring the #17 Del Valle Corona Televisa PacWest car to the podium.” 
Eddie Cheever has a bad day  Eddie Cheever had a very bad day today.  First he made a fool out of himself on RPM2Night by saying there are only two 'open' wheel series in the USA, NASCAR and the IRL.  Maybe he was still in shock about his sponsor news and had a bit of, shall we say, brain fade.  AT&T, the US telephone and cable television operator, said it would take a charge of $740m to $780m in the first quarter as a result of the financial difficulties at Excite@Home (Cheever's sponsor), the internet service provider. AT&T, which owns 23 per cent of Excite, said the charge would reduce first-quarter earnings by between $280m and $320m. The charge was disclosed in an SEC filing after the market close on Thursday. Excite on Tuesday warned that first-quarter revenues would be lower than expected due to weakness in the online advertising sector, and said it was running out of cash faster than had been forecast for the rest of 2001. The company said it expected to report a per share loss of between 14 cents and 15 cents in the first quarter, a steep slide from the one cent per share loss in the year-ago quarter. 
Chat live with Tony Kanaan Tony Kanaan, driver of the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-powered Reynard, will be the first featured guest of the season in the Club MNR chat room at 6 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 24. The young Brazilian started his second CART FedEx Championship Series season in the Mo Nunn Racing camp with consecutive seventh-place finishes in the opening two events at Monterrey, Mexico, and Long Beach, Calif. The fourth-year Champ Car driver and his teammate, Alex Zanardi of the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard, are preparing for next weekend's Firestone Firehawk 600, Presented by Pioneer, at Texas Motor Speedway. Chat room participants must register in the Club MNR section at, and may also submit questions in advance. The chat room will be open 15 minutes prior to the session start. Participants can choose to communicate in any of nine different languages (English, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Korean and Chinese) thanks to the chat room's automatic real-time translation feature.
DRIVEN specials to air It's going to be difficult to watch television over the next week and not come in contact with the presence of Championship Auto Racing Teams and the Warner Brothers film Driven, which debuts nationally on April 27 and was shot in conjunction with many of the races on the 2000 CART FedEx Championship Series schedule. Several programs that profile CART racing and the film have been produced and begin airing this weekend and run through the rest of the month. An MTV one-hour production titled, "MTV's Fast and Famous" airs for the first time Saturday, April 21 at 2 p.m EDT and PDT. The special was shot at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and features a variety of race weekend activities. The show includes several pieces on Driven; a story about the Toyota Pro Celebrity Challenge; a piece on CART and its Champ Car drivers; and a profile of the MTV 500, a go-kart race that features "regular driving-type guys," including a taxi driver and a limo driver. The program will be re-broadcast at 9 p.m. Saturday and on April 22 and 25. "We worked closely with the people at MTV during our Long Beach weekend to make this happen and it should be a fun and entertaining program," said CART Senior Vice President of Entertainment Jay Lucas. "Also, MTV reaches a great audience and demographic for us and places us in the same realm as the extreme sports they regularly cover." MTV Executive Producer for Sports and Specials Alvin Patrick liked what he saw during his CART racing weekend. "This is a first-time thing so we want to see how our viewers react and move forward from there," said Patrick. "I have a very good feeling about this based on our excellent experience with CART and its race weekend at Long Beach because it was a great event, nicely put together, and had lots of prime entertainment for the people in attendance." The TV coverage doesn't stop with MTV, though, as Former Formula One and Champ Car driver Derek Daly is the host for Speedvision's "Building a Better Race Picture: Making Driven," which airs for the first time on Monday, April 23 at 8 p.m. ET. The program features extensive interviews with Driven star and executive producer Sylvester Stallone as well as director Renny Harlin. The program also gives viewers a first-hand look at how state-of-the-art Hollywood entertainment is created in the digital age, with special attention given to the use and customizing of vehicles and to the technology involved in achieving the desired effect. Check listings for re-airs of this program. Also on tap over the next several days is the HBO program entitled "The Making of Driven," which airs six times through the end of April. The 15-minute program takes a look behind-the-scenes at the making of the racing film and is scheduled for broadcast on April 22, 24, 26, 27, 29 and 30. Check local listings for times. Another show that profiles the Driven film is, "ESPN Behind the Cameras: Driven." The half-hour program offers more behind-the-scenes observations into the making of the movie and will air at 10:30 a.m. on ESPN2 on April 23 and again on ESPN at 2:30 p.m. prior to the start of the Firestone Firehawk 600 Presented by Pioneer from Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 29. A high-tech, action drama set in the dangerous, exhilarating world of open-wheel racing, Driven centers on the lives and careers of four drivers chasing the ultimate adrenaline rush. The movie stars Academy Award-winning actor Sylvester Stallone as Joe Tanto, a former racing star hired by car owner Carl Henry, played by former Academy Award nominee Burt Reynolds, to tutor a talented but unfocused rookie driver, played by Kip Pardue, in his bid for the championship. The movie also stars Gina Gershon, Estella Warren, Robert Sean Leonard, Til Schweiger and Cristian de la Fuente and is directed by Renny Harlin, who co-produced with Stallone. Footage for the feature was filmed at numerous FedEx Championship Series venues during the 2000 season. Driven premieres nationally on Friday, April 27.
Upcoming interviews for Newman Haas drivers 
FRIDAY, April 20 An interview with Cristiano da Matta will be air tonight on ESPN Radio which appears nationwide between 8-9 PM ET in most markets. 
SATURDAY, April 21 Christian Fittipaldi will appear in the one-hour MTV special "Fast and Famous" tomorrow at 2 pm ET/PT and 1 pm CT. The show will be re-aired at 9 PM ET the same evening as well as Sunday, April 22 at 3:30 PM ET and Wednesday, April 25 at 9 PM ET. Footage of da Matta and fellow CART drivers Kenny Brack and Patrick Carpentier at band practice was also shot for inclusion in the special. 
MONDAY, April 23 
Speedvision will air a special called "Building a Better Race Picture: Making Driven" at 8 PM ET.
Martin leads True Value Man award  Mark Martin's countless hours of preparation, planning meetings and fundraising to fulfill his dream of building a quarter-midget track to give local kids a place to race, received the first quarter nomination for the NASCAR True Value Man of the Year Award. True Value, the Official Hardware Store of NASCAR, is once again sponsoring the NASCAR True Value Man of the Year. The award is designed to honor a driver not only for their accomplishments on the track but for their community service contributions and charitable efforts. The inspiration for this project was Martin's eight-year-old son Matt, who began racing a quarter-midget last year near Orlando, Fla. Martin saw the need to have a track closer to home for many of the local kids. "I started this project along with Robert Hart, owner of the New Smyrna track and several of our friends in the community to help kids in the area be able to have a place to race," said Martin, driver of the No. 6 Pfizer/Viagra Ford. "We wanted to provide kids in our area the opportunity to get a start in racing." Martin worked on this summer-long project in 2000 and watched as his dream became a reality with the grand opening of the track in February earlier this year. With support from fellow NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mike Skinner, just to name a few, Martin unveiled the New Smyrna (Fla.) Quarter Midget Racetrack. "I was so nervous," Martin said. "It's just awesome to be able to give kids a chance.".
Advance screenings planned for DRIVEN  Much like the excitement that builds toward the climax of a CART FedEx Championship Series race weekend, activity around the April 27 release of the motion picture Driven is speeding to its zenith.  Full Story.
Ten lucky fans at Nazareth  Through a new program called FANatics, Nazareth Speedway and CART are offering fans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be involved in pre-race activities for the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix presented by Toyota CART FedEx Championship Series race on May 6. Ten lucky fans will be in the middle of the action as CART's Champ Car teams prepare for battle on race day. The current top ten drivers in the point standings (Cristiano da Matta, Gil de Ferran, Helio Castroneves, Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Michael Andretti, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, Kenny Brack and Nicolas Minassian) will each be assigned to a fan. Each fan will then became part of the driver's team during key moments leading up the to green flag and if one of the ten drivers wins the race, the FANatic he is paired with will also participate in victory lane ceremonies. In addition, two of those fans will receive a special bonus. The fan who is paired with Michael Andretti will receive an authentic Martin Guitar and the fan who wins the opportunity to be with Gil de Ferran will have the unique opportunity to be in the starter's stand for the beginning of the race. The only way fans can win this opportunity is by registering for free at or by listening to radio station WZZO 95.1 FM in Allentown, PA. Radio personalities "The Bearman and Keith" will give away one FANatic experience each morning from Monday, April 23 through Friday, April 27. All current members of are already eligible to win a FANatic package and no purchase is necessary to enter. Each fan will have the opportunity to watch pre-race introductions and activities on the grid, meet the driver in a more personal 1-on-1 atmosphere and get candid photographs as the team readies the car and the driver situates himself in the cockpit. Fans involved in CART FANatics will be so close to the action they will be able to smell the methanol and tire rubber as the stars of the series are released from the grid to begin the race. The lucky fans will also be invited to a private VIP party at the track on Friday, May 4 where they will find out which driver they will be paired with for the race. Each FANatic will receive a FedEx package containing a variety of special FANatics promotional items, including four race tickets, a bright orange CART FANatics T-shirt and an autographed 'hero' card from their FANatics driver.
IROC News  Scott Goodyear, Buddy Lazier, Kenny Brack, Eddie Cheever and Jeff Green worked with True Value IROC test drivers Andy Hillenburg, Dick Trickle and Jim Sauter during Thursday’s practice session. The cars are identically prepared Pontiac Firebirds. To celebrate True Value IROC’s 25 Anniversary, the poll position is determined by a random drawing of one of the 11 participating car colors. Tony Stewart’s Orange Pontiac Firebird was selected as the poll winner for Saturday’s race. 2000 Busch Series champion Jeff Green (No . 11 Lime) -- These cars are about five seconds slower than we run. That slows everything down. The cars drive awesome. They’ve got a bunch of laps on the tires, but they still feel like they’ve got brand new tires on them. It’s just who helps you and who doesn’t help you that will determine what happens in the race. Test driver Dick Trickle -- We’ve been here since Monday and we’ve got the cars right. We’ll take one of the race cars out if it’s a troublesome car and work some stuff out with it, but right now we’re letting the drivers get some track time. (ON WORKING WITH THE OPEN-WHEEL DRIVERS) -- They’re all experts and have a lot of talent, but some of them are in a different setting. We give them constructive criticism if we see something they’re not doing and try to get that Winston Cup advantage shorten up so that these open-wheel guys can run with them. Test driver Jim Sauter -- “I know you hear this over and over again, but every race I’ve come to, there the best they’ve ever been. I’m not blowing smoke. It’s the truth. We have tweaks here and there that we do at each track and it seems to help the cars. I think you’re going to see a great race.” Scott Goodyear (No. 6 Aqua) – I’ve not raced here before, so just getting here and getting an opportunity to run on the track is a thrill. I’ve watched it on TV for years. It’s only my second IROC race or stock car race or race with any kind of roof on it. For me, it’s exciting, learning about these cars and this track, which is similar to Daytona, but it (Talladega) has its own characteristics. I’m having a lot of fun with it and learning from the guys who are experts with it. Eddie Cheever, Jr. (No. 3 Cream) -- Talladega is very fast, it’s a lot of fun in these cars. I don’t know if our open wheel cars would be that much fun around here. There is so much banking, it’s just fun racing these cars here. This place, just like Daytona, you’ve got to have a dancing partner for 10 or 20 laps. At the end of the race, you do all this work, and the guy you’ve done all this work with is the guy you’ve got to beat. It makes for very exciting racing at the end. 
Indy - Ray tops 223, Cheever 222  Greg Ray, winner of the coveted Indianapolis 500 Pole Award in 2000, turned an unofficial late-afternoon lap of 223.7 mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as private testing continued Thursday. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk reached 222.5 in the morning. Jeff Ward, the 1997 Bank One Rookie of the Year, and veteran Robbie Buhl took their first private testing laps at the 2.5-mile oval as Kelley Racing drivers Scott Sharp and Mark Dismore wound up their two days of testing. Ray, driving the No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone entry, thought more speed was there for the taking. "We did a 223.1 followed by a 223.7," he said. "I think we could've done a few more. Conditions were really good. We weren't really on the edge. But it was windy ... you were on the rev limiter one way and trying to dig out of a hole going the other way. "We didn't have the feel we wanted in the car (Wednesday) and we made improvements last night," Ray said. "This track requires a lot more finesse, a fine touch. You can't be overly aggressive here. We worked a lot just to get me comfortable. You don't want to ever come here and not remember it's different than other race tracks. We're trying to make the balance of the car better. There's nothing earth-shattering about what we're doing because track temperatures will be different in May." Luyendyk, driving the No. 5 Meijer G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone entry for Treadway/Hubbard Racing, figured his team was on target. "We've reached speed and we're happy with it," he said. "We hit 222.5 this morning. At this point, there's no need to go quicker and quicker. We've run some pretty decent speeds but we haven't learned anything we didn't know. It's not like we came out of the gate and hit the first setup." He added that he expects speeds to reach 224 during official practice, beginning May 6 with Opening Day at the Speedway. "(Speeds of) 224 and above is kind of my prediction," he said. "The last couple of miles an hour are pretty hard to find." Private testing continues daily through April 24. The 85th Indianapolis 500 is 11 a.m. (EST) Sunday, May 27. 
De Ferran opts out of IROC  Defending CART series champion, Gil de Ferran, has decided against running any IROC races this year.  A mid-winter Champ Car testing accident saw him miss the opening round of IROC in Daytona where Tony Stewart filled in for him.  Unable to test the IROC cars before this weekends Talladega race, de Ferran wisely opted out of the series altogether.  If IROC were contested with open wheel cars, we are certain de Ferran would have competed.  However, since IROC is essentially NASCAR racing, and heavily favors NASCAR drivers who stick together in the draft and leave the open wheel drivers out to dry, de Ferran basically said, no Thank You.  Perhaps it's time CART start their own IROC series with Indy Lights cars.  Invite CART, IRL, NASCAR and F1 drivers.  Contest the races on ovals and road courses.  Then perhaps we are have a more level playing field, one that doesn't make NASCAR drivers look like heroes and open wheel drivers look like chumps.
Cheever making progress with Infiniti engine  Eddie Cheever Jr., 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion, was the first Indy Racing Northern Light Series driver to win with an Infiniti Indy racing engine (last season at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo., June 18) since the 
company entered the series in 1997. Cheever's success last year gives Infiniti momentum and probably the best chance the manufacturer has had to compete for a victory at the upcoming Indy 500 May 27. With only 400 miles of testing done prior to the season's start in Phoenix in March, Cheever's team focused on further engine development in the weeks since in preparation for Atlanta and Indy. "I hope that testing will make a huge difference when we get to the Atlanta race," said Cheever, who is owner and driver of the #51 Excite@Home Dallara Infiniti Indy race car. "Our learning curve is so steep that it's mind-boggling. "The new engine is lighter and has more power up high in the rev band, where we race most of the time. The center of gravity is lower and the electronics are more advanced." Those features should further close the gap between Infiniti and Oldsmobile, but Cheever knows that with any new component on a race car, development will have to continue to improve to keep pace and even overtake the competition. But it's the support of Infiniti and their commitment to development that drove Cheever to make the switch from the Oldsmobile engine most all the other teams were using. "I was racing against other team owners that can afford to lose $5 or $6 million dollars a year if they choose," he said. "To compete against those teams is very difficult for me. So having the backing of a manufacturer just made a lot of sense. "It is like buying a new hunting rifle. It could be a fantastic rifle, but until you've got the site just perfect, and everything just right and you've got the trigger where you want it, you're probably going to miss your first two or three shots. "Yes, I believe it has an enormous amount of potential. And I think we are going to come into our own when we get to Atlanta." 
Da Matta looking forward to Texas Cristiano da Matta is off to a blazing start in the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series. He won the opening event in Monterrey, Mexico and is the current series point leader. And da Matta's prediction for the April 29 Firestone Firehawk 600, presented by Pioneer, at Texas Motor Speedway? It will be decided in the race's final moments.
"I think the race will be won on the last lap," predicted da Matta. "It's going to be a shootout in Texas and I hope I am part of it."  Da Matta moved to the Newman/Haas Racing Team at the start of the 2001 CART campaign. He promptly put the Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola into victory lane at the Mexican opening event. However, he has never competed at a facility such as Texas Motor Speedway's 24-degree high-banked superspeedway.  Besides on-track successes of their racing team, co-owners Paul Newman and Carl Haas are accomplished in their respective fields. Newman's movie roles have entertained the world for years while Haas' business ventures include the North American Lola car distributorship, co-owner of a NASCAR Winston Cup team, and race promotions at the Wisconsin State Fair Park Speedway in Milwaukee and the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston.  da Matta has history riding with him regarding a good finish at Texas. Teammate Christian Fittipaldi won the latest CART oval race in California last October. In the past five CART oval track events, all have been won by either a Newman/Haas driver or a car powered by Toyota.  "The track is absolutely unbelievable," continued da Matta. "Just driving up to the track impresses you. I haven't driven on it yet in anything faster than a van during a press day in January but the banking is pretty impressive. I'm sure it will be even more impressive in my Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Champ Car.  "I have never raced on a track with banking this steep. We didn't test at the track because the team has a good set-up for ovals so they decided to concentrate on more road course testing which definitely paid off (with a win) in Mexico and (second place in) Long Beach.  "I think the speeds will be much higher than when Kenny (Brack) tested because he was running alone and you go faster when you are drafting with other cars. With the cars running close and the kind of racing the banking of the turns is going to produce, I think we are going to put on a good show." Da Matta will face stiff competition in the Firestone Firehawk 600, presented by Pioneer. da Matta's teammate Fittipaldi is expected to be a frontrunner. Defending CART FedEx Championship Series title winner Gil de Ferran and Long Beach winner Helio Castroneves will head the Marlboro Team Penske effort. Other contenders are Michael Andretti, Adrian Fernandez, Paul Tracy, Dario Franchitti, Alex Zanardi and Jimmy Vasser.  "My first oval race with Newman/Haas will be interesting," said da Matta. "They have a different approach to many things and I'm sure oval racing will be the same way.  "We have done well on the road and street courses so far this season and the team has traditionally done very well on oval tracks so I am looking forward to many new experiences at Texas Motor Speedway - both with the new track in general as well as in my new home at Newman/Haas."
Texas race fans get rare opportunity to mix fact with fiction next weekend Race fans will be able to take in racing on both the big screen and in "real life" as the movie Driven opens Friday, April 27, the same weekend of the Firestone Firehawk 600, presented by Pioneer, at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 29.  "The timing of these two events is great," said speedway general manager Eddie Gossage. "It's sort of fun that the fans can get a dose of racing excitement from the silver screen and then drive down the road to see the real thing. I think fans will enjoy both events."  The high-tech action drama, starring Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds and Gina Gershon, is based on the CART FedEx Championship Series and features regular drivers from the series, including Mauricio Gugelmin, driver of the #17 Nextel PacWest Toyota and President of the Championship Driver's Association. "I was fortunate enough to participate in the movie premier activities in Los Angeles, and I also got a chance to see Driven for the first time," said Gugelmin. "I think for those of us in the racing business, there were obviously parts of the film that were a bit over-the-top, but that's the beauty of movies. They can take scenes and make them as dramatic as they want so people will want to see the film again and again. I think the general public will really like this film. There is a lot of action and some very good race scenes which made for some exciting moments.  "It's great to finally see the finished product because I know CART and PacWest spent a lot of time last year lending a hand to Renny (Harlin) and his crew so the film could be as authentic and up-close as possible. There aren't a lot of people who get the chance to see this level of auto racing up close and personal, so for them this movie will really give them a sense of what it takes to be involved in this sport. Hopefully, the movie will strike enough interest in the community to get more people to want to come to the track. It was also interesting to see the level of involvement my team (PacWest Racing Group) played in this film. The PacWest logo was everywhere, and I took great pride in seeing that on film. "In this business we work around cameras and the media all the time, but to see yourself on the big screen is something special. Someday, when I have grandchildren, I'll be able to pop in a DVD of this movie to show them what I did for a living. Also, the exposure that my sponsor, Nextel, will get out of their participation should pay dividends to them for a long time. Overall I'm happy with the finished product, and I'm sure it will be a great success."  There will be sneak preview screenings on Wednesday evening, April 25 around the Metroplex. 

SpeedFreaks at Texas and Fontana races (from SpeedFreaks PR) OK motorheads in Dallas and Southern California........ the Freaks have soooo many goodies to give away this weekend, Sunday the 22nd, it's truly crazy!!!!  Again we'll have another LIVE broadcast from Hooters in Pasadena, CA on Colorado Blvd. - so when you show up, not only will the Miller Lite be flowing but the Freaks will be able to give you loads of goods!! For those who attend, we'll have RACER magazines, RACER T-shirts and stickers, SpeedFreaks stickers, Blimpie coupons, 97.1 FM merchandise and fun with several guests - including CART pilot BRYAN HERTA - show up and give him crap, Winston West driver Eric Norris (the son of good 'ol Chuck Norris) and the fine folks from RACER magazine!!!!   Also on the phone, we'll have NCTS Joe Ruttman, NASCAR's Sterling Marlin and TMS President Eddie Gossage!!! Uh, wow - what a freakin' good show......... be there or don't be a freak! :-)  This Sunday's giveaways for all listeners:
Dallas audience: 
TMS CART Race Day tix for Sun. 29th 
'Driven' Special Screening tix for Tues. the 24th 
IDRC Passes (?) for Texas Motorplex 
RACER magazines!!!!!!!!!!
So. Cal. audience:
BUSCH race tickets for Sat. the 28th at Fontana
NASCAR WC Cali Suite tix for the 29th
Perris Auto Speedway SCRA tix
RACER magazines!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
Don't miss the fun this Sunday with the SpeedFreaks - as always, Dallas 9:00 p.m. on 105.3 FM and So Cal 7:00 p.m. on 97.1 FM
Waltrip endorses HANS Device  The Philadelphia Daily News reports that Darrell Waltrip said yesterday NASCAR should mandate its drivers use a specific safety device known as the HANS. Waltrip joined several hundred Dale Earnhardt fans at a tribute to the fallen driver at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. Earnhardt died Feb. 18 in a crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500. He was the fourth NASCAR driver killed in 12 months. Many, including Waltrip, say the HANS - short for Head and Neck Support - could have prevented those deaths. "That thing gives you a 60 percent better chance of surviving a wreck like that," said Waltrip, now a Fox television analyst. "If [NASCAR] won't make it mandatory, they ought to at least send out a bulletin that says, 'We highly recommend the HANS device.' And they should highly recommend it to the point where if a driver doesn't want to follow the recommendation, maybe his car has a little problem getting through inspection."
Soft Wall demo planned  Safari Associates Inc. of Amsterdam will conduct a live demonstration of its new "soft wall" technology at the Indianapolis Raceway Park. The wall is constructed of molecuthane, a patented, energy-absorbing material originally developed for the military. It is designed to reduce impact G-force by as much as 70 percent. The crash demonstration is planned for early July (2001) using NASCAR Craftsman-type trucks.  Related article
Zanardi looking to renew winning ways in CART  Alex Zanardi is back in CART after a two-year hiatus, and he couldn't be happier. The two-time CART FedEx Championship Series champion has been reunited with the team owner who was there in those glory days. Zanardi will be driving for his old friend, Morris Nunn, and Mo Nunn Racing in the Firestone Firehawk 600 presented by Pioneer at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 29. After winning his second consecutive CART title in 1998, the Italian born Zanardi bolted for the prestigious Formula One circuit. But one year of that circuit was enough for him, and he sat out of racing in the 2001 season.  "The whole story had been wrong since the beginning and was badly managed," Zanardi said of his F1 experience. "The cause was not the poor expertise of some people. Instead, it was due to the fact that we could not agree on the right approach so that we all could do our best." Zanardi was eager to return to his familiar surroundings of Mo Nunn Racing. The time away from the series may have rejuvenated him. It certainly has him endorsing the mission of the CART series. "I was looking for a challenge where, if you are a good driver, if you are capable to give your engineers the right information, eventually in the course of the season you will be able to make it, you will be able to succeed," Zanardi said. I think this is what CART is. It's a World Championship." Zanardi joins drivers from around the world next week for the inaugural Firestone Firehawk 600 presented by Pioneer at Texas Motor Speedway. For ticket information, contact the speedway ticket hotline at (817) 215-8500, go on line at, or visit any participating Ticketmaster location.
Is it Milk or Orange Juice?  Did you see that new game show "Weak Link" (a Do you want to be a Millionaire copycat) last night?  One of the questions was what is the beverage that the winner of the Indy 500 drinks.  The contestant answered "orange juice"!  Geez, one year Emerson asks for Orange Juice and it seems to have caught on with a lot of people.  So much for tradition.
Rahal under pressure at Jaguar  According to Autosport, Jaguar Racing CEO Bobby Rahal is under pressure from his bosses, and his long-term future with the team is on the line, according to a report in this week’s Autosport magazine.  Paddock sources have suggested that Rahal’s position is under threat after a disastrous start to the Formula 1 season. Neither Eddie Irvine or Luciano Burti have managed to score a point in the four races so far – only minnows European Minardi have a worse finishing record.
New Sony livery for Mayfield  When Penske Racing unloads at Talladega SuperSpeedway this week, they will not roll out the familiar blue and white Ford... In it¹s place, the silver and black with a hint of red; Jeremy Mayfield will pilot the Sony/WEGA Ford Taurus for the first time this season.  Sony Electronics and Penske Racing began their relationship prior to the 2001 season with Sony¹s eye on winning the Winston Cup Championship in their first-ever full season of NASCAR sponsorship. Jeremy hopes he can start that championship run with a big win Sunday.  "We¹ll have the Sony paint scheme on the car this week, and it looks great," said Mayfield, currently 22nd in the points race with two 3rd-place finishes to his credit. "Having Sony and WEGA on the car is a great deal, and we¹re really excited to have Sony on our team. They have added a lot to our race team in several ways. Talladega is a perfect example of that. The right line for qualifying is absolutely crucial. Having the WEGA high performance television gives me the chance to watch what other cars are doing for their qualifying runs, either live during the FOX Sports Net broadcast in the early part of qualifying or on tape from practice Friday morning. You hear about football and basketball coaches using tape to prepare. Well, it means a lot to race car drivers too. Watching the tapes and live broadcasts can show you a lot; having a high quality television like the WEGA gives us a chance to see all of the subtleties that the other teams are using."  Sony is happy to help any way they can to improve the performance of the race team. The award-winning FD Trinitron® WEGA® television has been the standard-bearer in television performance since it's introduction three years ago, and with a new line being introduced for 2001, Sony will continue to revolutionize the way the world watches television.  "We¹re so excited about this weekend," said Tim Alessi, director of Sony Electronics¹ Television Marketing Group. "This is really a big event for Sony. WEGA has raised the bar in television performance, and we're using our association with Jeremy Mayfield and Penske Racing to show race fans just how great a television can be. We're looking for more ways to incorporate it into our marketing plans through dealer events, our track exhibit and in other ways. This is the tip of the iceberg, really. There will be a lot of Sony eyes on Jeremy this weekend rooting him to victory."  And a victory this weekend is not unrealistic. Jeremy Mayfield is one of the most successful NASCAR Winston Cup drivers in 500-mile races the past few seasons.  In fact, no driver won more 500-mile races last season than Mayfield and his Mobil 1 Taurus. His recent career record in races of 500 miles in length or more is incredible - he has either led and/or won the pole and/or finished in the top 10 in 10 of the last 12 such races; 16 of the last 21 and 23 of the last 35.  Statistics, schmatistics though. Mayfield has a simple formula for success at a high-speed track like Talladega.   "Luck. Horsepower. Aerodynamics,² he says. ³Get all of those working for you and it can be a good day. That¹s what we¹re looking at doing with this Mobil 1 Sony/WEGA Taurus team."
Hakkinen tops F1 testing at Silverstone  Mika Hakkinen beat team mate David Coulthard to the quickest time in testing at Silverstone Wednesday, both beating the fastest time set by Jordan’s Heinz-Harald Frentzen yesterday. Despite bitterly cold conditions, and threat of rain, Hakkinen was on track when the surface was at its driest with about an hour of the session remaining. Both McLarens practiced starts in their pit boxes, as all teams prepared for the return of traction and launch control in the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix.

1 Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) Bridgestone 1m22.45s 61 
2 David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) Bridgestone 1m22.76s 27
3 Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan-Honda) Bridgestone 1m23.31s 56
4 Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW) Michelin 1m23.63s 45
5 Olivier Panis (BAR-Honda) Bridgestone 1m23.82s 52
6 Jacques Villeneuve (BAR-Honda) Bridgestone 1m23.95s 54
7 Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW) Michelin 1m24.16s 25
8 Luciano Burti (Jaguar) Michelin 1m24.32s 57
9 Eddie Irvine (Jaguar) Michelin 1m24.44s 76
10 Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer) Michelin 1m26.19s 69
11 Jonathan Cochet (Prost-Acer) Michelin 1m27.88s 37

Kenny Brack keeps busy  Shell CART driver Kenny Bräck hits the high banks of Talladega Speedway in this Saturday's IROC race (April 21) in search of his first 2001 racing victory. And Bräck has been pretty close in his first three competitions already this year. In the opening IROC event at Daytona in February, the 35-year-old Swede battled the 12-driver field down to the wire and led on several occasions. In the late stages, Bräck got right behind the Eddie Cheever-Dale Earnhardt tussle and lost momentum that cost him a chance at victory. "Driving a IROC car is so much different than my Shell car in CART," said Bräck, the 1999 Indy 500 winner. "If you get out of throttle in the IROC Pontiac, it takes some time to get back up to full speed. When I dodged Eddie and Dale in turn one, I lost my momentum and the pack was able to go high and pass me. But it's really fun to drive these IROC cars. You can bump a little and rub on the other guy's car. You can't do that with the open-wheel champ cars. That means big trouble for us." In the first two CART races in 2001, Bräck has been in contention to win too. Unfortunately, mechanical trouble has cost the 1998 IRL champ two possible wins. "At Mexico, we sat on the pole and had a great car," he explains. "We were leading and had an electrical problem that cost us the win. Then at Long Beach, I was right on Helio (Castroneves, the Long Beach winner) at the first pit stop and we had a rear end problem that knocked us out of the race. I think we had a winning car that day too." Bräck, last year's CART Jim Trueman "Rookie of the Year," returned to IROC this year after missing the 2000 international stock car series due to scheduling conflicts. Bräck finished sixth in the1999 IROC points. Last Monday night (April 16), Bräck did something in front of Mann's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard that few will ever do - drive a race car. As part of the world premiere for the upcoming film, DRIVEN, Bräck and fellow CART drivers Paul Tracy, Cristiano da Matta, Mauricio Gugelmin and Michel Jourdain Jr. opened the ceremonies in Hollywood with tire-spinning burnouts in open-wheel machines before walking the red carpet with stars Sylvester Stallone, Kip Pardue and Estella Warren. "It was a great experience walking the red carpet with the stars," said Bräck, who is part of the new movie. "I think the movie will show new people the excitement and competition in our sport.."  Bräck and CART drivers da Matta and Patrick Carpentier are working on a project outside the track. The three drivers are forming a rock band that they first discussed in their January appearance at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. Now, their idea is becoming a reality. Bräck and da Matta will play guitars with Carpentier on drums. "We got equipment donated for us and we've add some more members. We're all excited about the band." Bräck said the group hopes to debut at the Cleveland Grand Prix.

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