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DATE News (chronologically)
01/12/08
ga
Frisselle Sibling Rivalry Takes a Different Turn for 2008  From a Porsche-powered Doran Daytona Prototype to a Pontiac GTO GT class entry to a Lexus-motivated Riley, Burt and Brian Frisselle have shared a lot of fast race cars the last few years, but as the 2008 Rolex Sports Car season gets underway, the two brothers enter the season as competitors, rather than co-drivers, for the first time in their young careers.

AIM Autosport has signed Brian Frisselle to a full season co-driving with Mark Wilkins in the No. 61 Exchange Traded Gold Riley, which will now employ Ford power. After sharing the driving duties in that car with Brian last year, Burt will open up the 2008 Rolex season in a familiar place as Mike Shank has once again brought the Colorado youngster in for the season-opening endurance challenge.

While the two brothers relished their time together as co-drivers, it’s no surprise that these two highly competitive siblings are now looking forward to doing battle on the track.

“It’s a little bit weird not to be sharing a car with my brother this year, but I think we are both in really good, competitive situations, and I think it’s going to be fun to see where we end up in the results,” said Brian. “It’d be great to share a podium with him, just so long as I’m looking down at him from the top!” More ...
01/12/08
f1
Button says Honda should aim for title in 2009  

Jenson Button

Honda should be in a position to come back strongly this year and be Formula One championship contenders in 2009, Jenson Button said on Saturday.  "I think we will be a lot closer to the front in 2008, and in 2009 we have to be fighting for the world championship," the driver said on stage at the Autosport International show in Birmingham.

"If we can get to that position with a good car, then this team will win the world championship. As a team, we are very, very strong," he added.

Button has just one win to his credit from eight seasons in Formula One, his Hungarian Grand Prix victory with Honda in 2006.

Button, who will be 28 next Saturday, scored just six points in a dismal 2007 season for the Japanese team while experienced Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello drew a complete blank.

Since then, former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn has joined as team principal and Honda are confident they have corrected the aerodynamic failings of last year's car.

"I'm so happy that we've got Ross," said Button. "When he first walked into the team, there was the biggest round of applause I've ever seen.

"On his own he's not going to turn the team around but I think that everyone is positive and doing a great job. He's fitted in quicker than everyone imagined and the way of working in the team has changed a lot already." Reuters

01/12/08
f1
dtm
F1 drivers not talented enough for DTM  

Schumacher sticks foot in mouth by saying he and brother Ralf not talented enough

Michael Schumacher advises his brother not to go to DTM. According to him both of them don't have the talent to be competitive in the German Touring Car championship. Schumacher commented to the rumors about his brother at the Ferrari Press day at Madonna di Campiglio. I wouldn't recommend it to him at all", Michael said. "I don't think Ralf and I have the talent to be fast in a DTM car. I'm to slow in it and I've already tried it once. I don't think Ralf would have the pace either."

"When you have the time to fully commit to it, it might work out. But most of the drivers that went from Formula 1 to DTM only had a few minor successes, but nothing more", Michael Schumacher continued.

"The DTM is a completely different world. The competition there is very intense. You have to work equally hard in DTM as in Formula 1, but you're driving a car there that you can't set up to you're own likings. In F1 you can do that."

01/12/08
nascar
NASCAR Settles with Family of Plane Crash victim  NASCAR has agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement with a man who lost his wife and son when a NASCAR owned plane slammed into their Sanford Florida home. That plane crash last July set off a massive fire. Joe Woodard lost his wife Janice and his 6 month old son Josiah. In the home next door four year old Gabreila DeChat died and her brother 10 year old Daniel Happy is still recovering in the Shriners’ Burn Center in Cincinnati. The plane was piloted by Dr. Bruce Kennedy the husband of Lesa France Kennedy president of International Speedway Corporation. NASCAR pilot Michael Klemm was also killed. DeChat’s parents were also burned but have since recovered from their injuries. Woodward’s attorney wouldn’t discuss the terms of the settlement. Fox News Orlando
01/12/08
industry news
Lamborghini CEO sees 5 pct/yr output growth  Production at Italy's sports car maker Lamborghini, a unit of Volkswagen's Audi, is already fully booked for 2008 and will not be increased due to demand, Auto Motor und Sport reported.  "We are concentrating on a healthy and controlled growth of roughly 5 percent per year," Chief Executive Stefan Winkelmann said in an interview to be published on Thursday.

Sales increased as forecast to some 2,400 sports cars last year from 2,087 in 2006, he said, adding that the group's pretax profit margin of 10.4 percent in the first half of 2007 did not contract in the second half.  "Our first half profit was 26.4 million euros ($39.0 million) and we booked a double-digit million euro amount in the second half as well," he continued.

01/12/08
f1
Domenicali meets the press at Madonna di Campiglio  

Stefano Domenicali, Piero Ferrari and Luca di Montezemolo

Ferrari's new team principal Stefano Domenicali covered many subjects at his press conference on Wednesday at the team's Wrooom press meeting at Madonna di Campiglio in the Italian Dolemites. Among the subjects were his new responsibilities, McLaren, the 2008 season, Michael Schumacher and the spy saga.

"Clearly there is a lot of responsibility," said Domenicali of his new job, "but I want to tackle it with the spirit that I've always had over the years: concentration, work, a positive approach vis-à-vis all that is to be managed. So from a personal point of view, I'm not changing, I'm the same person as I was before.

"Clearly, with this new task, there are maybe some times during which, due to my new job, I will have to be slightly different. However the spirit with which I approach this new responsibility is exactly the same. As for the values and principles of our team, they are always the same and each one of us defines them vis-a-vis one's own being, one's own character, personality. This is a fundamental point on which you can be sure of." More ...

01/12/08
industry news
Big 3 try to overcome gloom  Detroit automakers hope to wow the world at the 2008 North American International Auto Show next week with a slew of eye-catching concepts and hot new vehicles. But all the glitz and hype of the nation's pre-eminent car show won't change the stark realities facing the Big Three.

The hometown carmakers enter the year in a brutal fight for their home turf against foreign companies better prepared to weather an anemic U.S. vehicle market and potential recession. This could be a year in which Toyota Motor Corp. outsells General Motors Corp. worldwide and one in which foreign car companies sell more vehicles in the United States than the Big Three.

Much is at stake for GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC with important new products hitting the market as they continue to restructure. At the same time, all automakers are coping with shifting consumer attitudes about the kind of vehicles they want, new government regulations, growing concerns about the economy and sales that are forecast to be the lowest in a decade. A recession is obviously question No. 1 for the entire industry," said Paul McCarthy, an economist with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. "If it comes it comes. The big question is, what will it look like?" More ...

01/12/08
f1
No agreement on cost-cutting measures  Yesterday, the F1 team bosses met with Max Mosley in Paris for a meeting about the radical cost-cutting plans of the FIA president. We hear that the bosses and Mosley failed to agree on the details of the cost-cutting measures. 

The meeting was organized by the President of the FIA, Max Mosley, to give more details on the cost-cutting proposals that include limitations on aerodynamic testing, rig testing, design and manufacturing, suspension and brakes, hydraulic systems, bodywork, weight distribution, circuit testing and the number of personnel at races.
The one point on which everyone is in agreement is that costs do need to be cut and with this in mind there will now be a period of lobbying and discussion before proposals are put together. Without unanimous agreement of all the teams it is too late to make changes to the rules at such short notice - per the F1 regulations.
01/12/08
ga
Zonta cleared to drive  The Proto-Auto test program with the new Lolas continued at Daytona International Speedway January 4-6, 2008, when Krohn Racing brought the two new Lola chassis for testing in preparation for the 2008 season.

Krohn Racing team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, and teammates Eric van de Poele and Oliver Gavin, tested in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola. Nic Jönsson, Ricardo Zonta and Darren Turner tested in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola.

Zonta's crashed Rolex 24 car

Ricardo Zonta had an off-track excursion on his second lap at the famous 3.56, 12-turn speedway road course and at the request of the team’s medical advisor, Dr. Vincenzo Tota, the Brazilian former Formula One driver went to the infield medical center and subsequently the local hospital for a CAT scan. After the test weekend Ricardo was cleared to fly. The Krohn Team has had many inquiries to his condition and is happy to report that, as of this morning, he has satisfactorily passed all the necessary tests and was cleared to drive for the race. Ricardo will resume his driving duties for both the Lola testing program and the 2008 race season with Krohn Racing.

The Krohn Racing team will return to Daytona International Speedway on January 24-27, 2008 with two Pontiac Rileys for the 46th annual running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the initial race for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The team was not able to put the amount of miles on the new Lolas during the Daytona Test to sufficiently complete a satisfied test in order to run the 24-hour endurance race later this month.

01/12/08
f1
Q and A with Michael Schumacher  

Michael Schumacher
Ferrari

The Ferrari F1 drivers along with seven-time world champion and Ferrari test driver Michael Schumacher, made their annual winter trek to the mountains of Italy in the town of Madonna di Campiglio to spend a couple of days talking to the media about the upcoming season.

Q. What do you think of the new car?

Michael Schumacher: I have a positive feeling. It looks good but how good we will see after the first two or three races.

Q. Will you test again?

MS: It's possible, if they need me, but there's no schedule. Probably helpful for the team to have me around and to have a third opinion about what's going on. So if the team wants me, and it's not too much, then I'm happy to do this. Test driving is not part of the agreement but because of the rule changes, they asked me for at third opinion.

Q. It could be before the start of the championship?

MS: I don't know yet. We will see. But it's probably more likely and makes more sense to have maybe before the championship starts rather than during the championship.

Q. What is your role within the team?

MS: I'm a consultant. I help develop the road cars which is a lot of fun, and obviously advise the Formula One team.

Q. Do you attend technical briefings?

MS: Yes, I have to be there and from time to time to translate the results. From time to time, me and the team need to come together. I feel I have good input to better understand what the drivers are saying. More ...

01/12/08
f1
Alesi thinks Renault will win in 2008  Former Grand Prix driver Jean Alesi told Autosport that Renault will return the winners' circle in 2008, but is cautious about Renault's title chances for the forthcoming year.

"They have learned from what happened last season, they have the same engineers and they are so determined to come back," said the Frenchman on stage at the Autosport International Show.

"I am sure Fernando power, plus his motivation, will help the team to get back on the top. But Ferrari and McLaren had such an advantage compared to the other teams I don't think it can be so easy for Renault to be back for the world championship. But to win some Grands Prix, yes."

01/11/08
f1
Schumacher tips BMW, Renault  At Ferrari's annual media ski event 7-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher said he believes Renault and BMW can improve this season and threaten Ferrari and McLaren at the top of the sport.

"I would expect to see a very close fight between the two main teams but then I would see Renault and BMW able to close the gap and they may enter into the top two," the Ferrari consultant told reporters on Friday at the team's ski retreat.

The German also said Honda's recruitment of former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn was a step forward.

"Ross is the perfect man to make Honda come back in the right direction because he is very capable. But it will take time," he said.

The 39-year-old said he would probably test again before the season opener in Melbourne on March 16 but again ruled out competing in Formula One even if Kimi Raikkonen or Felipe Massa were ever unavailable for Ferrari.

"It is pretty sure that at one stage I will go out in the car. If the team wants and it is not too much, then I'm happy to do this. It is probably more likely and makes more sense before the championship starts," he said, before reacting with a blunt 'No' when asked if he would ever race again.

"I will come to some of the races, mainly European races. I don't like to travel too much," he added.  (See full interview)

01/11/08
nascar
Another sign that NASCAR's seen its better days?  The Orlando Sentinel announced last week in a staff memo, ". . . we've decided to eliminate our national NASCAR coverage and focus more on local sports coverage. Following a joint decision by the Sentinel, Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Sentinel, we won't be covering as many NASCAR races and will spend more of our budget on local news. With this decision, award-winning reporter Ed Hinton has decided to leave the company. He is the best NASCAR writer in the nation, winning more awards than anyone, and will be missed dearly."
01/11/08
f1
McLaren ends its first MP4-23 test runs  The McLaren Mercedes team today concluded the first testing sessions with its 2008 car, the MP4-23, with Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen at the controls. Each driver completed about 400 kilometers during today's runs, which were held under various weather conditions as occasional showers fell upon the Spanish circuit.

Following the launch event last Monday at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, the MP4-23 has completed three positive test days at the Jerez track.

Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen and Pedro de la Rosa all participated in the testing sessions, which ran two MP4-23 chassis without any major issues and saw the new car cover 1,999 kilometers over 452 laps.

The McLaren Mercedes engineering team will spend the weekend analyzing and working with the intelligence gathered from the three-day session as the pre-season development program continues with force.

The test team will then return to track action on Monday with Pedro de la Rosa alongside Gary Paffett, who will be taking the wheel of the MP4-23 for the first time. Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen will both take over the driving duties on Tuesday and Wednesday.

01/11/08
nascar
Morgan-McClure Motorsports closes shop  Morgan-McClure Motorsports closed its doors today [Friday], laying off 28 employees and further damaging any slim hopes the last Virginia-based Sprint Cup team has of competing in its 26th season. Team Manager and co-owner Larry McClure said earlier this afternoon that if the team did not find sponsorship money by the end of today, there would be mass layoffs. The layoffs happened around 3pm. "It's been a good 25 years," McClure said after the announcement. "Circumstances made us take a step back." McClure said he and co-owner and President Tim Morgan would work with their marketing team to continue to search for sponsorship to run the full season. They are working on an agreement to have Mike Wallace drive the #4 Chevy in the Daytona 500, a race Morgan-McClure has won three times. McClure did say if sponsorship came together in the next several weeks, the team would have cars available to race at Daytona. Richmond Times Dispatch
01/11/08
f1
TC ban will help us, says Mallya  Vijay Mallya reckons the ban on traction control in 2008 will help to level the playing field and help Force India as it will allow its two drivers to make more of a difference to its performance.

Force India’s owner believes that both new signing Giancarlo Fisichella and team-mate Adrian Sutil have the ability to take advantage of the change.

“The removal of traction control is going too mean there’s a lot more in the hands of the driver, and that’s where I think we are going to perform well,” he said during the team’s press conference in India on Thursday.

“Driver talent will come to the fore; Giancarlo is extremely experienced and he knows what to do.

“What impressed me most about Adrian was when he scored his first point in the Japanese Grand Prix: when you’re quick in the wet it shows a lot.”

Fisichella and Sutil agreed that F1’s move away from traction control would create more enjoyment for the drivers.

“I think it’s good for us [Force India] especially, but also for the drivers’ side,” Fisichella said.

“I drove for two days in Jerez without all the electronic stuff and I enjoyed it - it was much more difficult but more human.

“It’s easy to make mistakes, difficult to save the tires, and the stability under braking is much more difficult.”

01/11/08
f1
Renault R28 shakedown on 21st of January  It will be a busy month for the ING Renault F1 Team. Next week, Fernando Alonso will come in action for Renault for the first time since he rejoined the French outfit. Nelson Piquet Jr. will drive the first day of the three-day test session and on day 2 and 3, Alonso will come in action.

On January 17th, Alvaro Parente, who won the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 title, will get his F1 test with the team at the circuit of Jerez.

Less than a week later, on January 21st, the R28 will be on track for the first time for a shakedown at Valencia. During the three-day test session at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo from January 22 to 24, the race drivers will get the first taste of the new machine.

On January 31st, the R28 will officially be launched in Paris.

01/11/08
industry news
GM plans to unveil compact Hummer  

The HX is engineered to run on gasoline or E-85 ethanol

General Motors Corp. plans to introduce a more compact Hummer concept vehicle Sunday at the North American International Auto Show.

While still a four-wheel-drive vehicle, the four-seat concept vehicle is intended to have a youthful, entry-level appeal. The HX has removable doors and roof panels to provide drivers with the ability to quickly convert from a closed vehicle to an open one. It also has removable fender flares for additional trail or rock clearance while off-roading.

The Hummer HX concept is scheduled to debut at the 2008 North American International Auto Show on Sunday.

01/11/08
industry news
Rolls-Royce to cut 2,300 jobs  Rolls-Royce Group PLC, a leading manufacturer of aircraft engines, said today that it intends to trim nearly 6 percent of employees from its payroll.
The company aims to cut up to 2,300 managerial, professional and clerical staff in Britain, the United States, Germany, the Nordic countries and elsewhere.

In Britain, it said it hoped to achieve staffing cuts by voluntary departures. The group will continue to recruit graduates, apprentices and those required directly to deliver growth," the company said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.

The company said the staff cuts would help to mitigate factors such as increasing raw material costs and the weak U.S. dollar.

In July, Rolls-Royce reported net first-half profit of 306 million pounds $600 million, half that of the same period in 2006.

The company said then that the dollar's weakness had raised its costs by $78 million, and that costs of raw materials were also rising.

As of November, Rolls-Royce employed 39,500 people: 23,300 in the U.K., 8,300 in North America, 2,300 in Germany, 3,400 in the Nordic countries, nearly 700 in Asia and about 1,500 elsewhere.

Rolls-Royce has a 49 percent share of the wide-body commercial aircraft engine market and a 34 percent share of the business jet engine market. The company had annual sales of $14.5 billion in 2006. More at Detroit News

01/11/08
nascar
NCTS Drivers on Daytona Test  NASCAR Preseason Thunder on SPEED Friday recapped the day’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series testing session at Daytona.  John Roberts hosted the on-site special with assistance from Ray Dunlap and Phil Parsons.  Additionally, SPEED will return to Daytona to cover the second session of Sprint Cup testing Jan. 14-17 at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Following are excerpts from Friday’s show, including interviews with Johnny Benson, Ron Hornaday, Mike Skinner and Jack Sprague, as well as analysis from Dunlap and Parsons.

Mike Skinner:  “Every year we come down here and run really good at the test, qualify well and we’re good in practice, but as soon as that green flag drops, all 36 trucks are sideways loose.  Pretty soon you’re supposed to figure that out so we’re trying to adjust our truck a little differently and thinking about how it will be when the green flag comes out in the evening.” 

Ron Hornaday:  “The trucks punch such a big hole in the air here at Daytona and we didn’t get in the draft today.  A lot of guys did and I can already see that a couple of them got messed up and bent some fenders already.  If you can put yourself in position on the last lap, you’ve got a shot at winning. I’ve tried it from seventh on the last lap to try to win and I’ve tried it from second on the last lap.  It doesn’t matter.  We’re just trying to get our truck to handle really well so we can go wherever we want.” More ...

01/11/08
cc
cca
PCM to Appear on Modern Marvels/Jr. Team Tests  
Modern Marvels: The History Channel will feature Pacific Coast Motorsports on their hit television show “Modern Marvels,” this Monday, January 14th at 8:00 pm/7:00 pm Central. Titled “Carbon,” the episode was filmed in October at the team’s Oxnard, California headquarters.  The episode will feature Alex Figge and his DP01 Champ Car, the PCM team and corporate partners.  It will also feature crash footage from the 2006 incident at Road America, involving Champ Car driver Katherine Legge.  The crash footage is used as an example of the safety characteristics of carbon fiber, one of the principal materials of the Champ Car’s composition.

Jr. Team Update: Pacific Coasts Motorsports’ Jr. Team, US RaceTronics Atlantic team completed their first test of the year yesterday.  As confirmed by team owner Shane Seneviratne last fall, American standout Carl Skerlong will return to the Bakersfield-based squad to run for the championship in 2008.  Skerlong completed two days of testing yesterday at Thunderhill Raceway.  He was joined at the test by Frankie Muniz who is evaluating options for his 2008 sophomore season; it was his second test with US RaceTronics.  Seneviratne discussed the test, “We had two great days at Thunderhill this week, both drivers completed right around 250 trouble-free miles over the two day test.”  He continued, “This test was a good opportunity for us to try the updates the Atlantic Series has implemented for 2008.  We had a steady day of rain on Thursday, so both Carl and Frankie had the opportunity to complete nearly 125 miles in the rain.  Obviously this was valuable because you cannot control Mother Nature and we will race in the rain this year.  We were actually lucky to log test miles in those conditions and it was great practice for both drivers.  We are looking forward to the Series first open test at Sebring next month.”  US RaceTronics will enter a two-car effort in the 2008 Champ Car Atlantic Championship.  Skerlong is confirmed and the team hopes to announce their complete line-up in the coming weeks.

01/11/08
cca
Barrett completes Atlantic test  

Patrick Barrett

Team USA Scholarship winner and 2007 Pacific F2000 Champion Patrick Barrett acquitted himself well on Wednesday in testing one of the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda race cars from PR1 Motorsports at Buttonwillow Raceway.

The 18-year-old Barrett earned the test as one of his prizes for taking the Pacific F2000 title and was made possible by Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and Cosworth, which are partners common to both Champ Car Atlantic and Pacific F2000. Under nearly ideal weather conditions, Barrett completed 170-180 miles in the test, and used two sets of Cooper Atlantic Racing Slicks. Barrett won his Pacific F2000 title driving for PR1 Motorsports, and the Los Osos, Calif. resident tested alongside Champ Car Atlantic veteran Mike Forest.

“It was really nice to be able to work with Patrick outside of our norm,” said PR1 Motorsports owner Bobby Oergel. “The kid did a great job! He built all day and had some pretty respectable lap times, especially toward the end of the day. Mike also did a great job and—as these things tend to go when you’ve got two cars on track—he and Patrick pushed each other all day. We’re pretty pleased. It really was a great day. I have to thank Cooper, Cosworth and Champ Car, as well as Pacific F2000 and Buttonwillow Raceway for making this test happen for us.” More ...

01/11/08
nascar
Wimmer out for Daytona 500  Scott Wimmer won’t race in the Daytona 500 this year as he had hoped. Wimmer drives part time in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series for Richard Childress Racing, but Kirk Shelmerdine, who won four championships as a crew chief with the team, drove RCR’s fourth car in the opening Sprint Cup testing this week at Daytona International Speedway.  “It was a race that maybe we were going to run but we weren’t 100% sure; we didn’t have sponsorship,” said Wimmer, who placed third in the 500 in 2004. “Kirk ended up coming with some sponsorship dollars. I’ll still be there in the Busch car, and I’m looking forward to doing some more testing in the Cup car and maybe running some races after Daytona.”  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
01/11/08
industry News
Chrysler, Nissan agree on small-car deal  Nissan and Chrysler have reached a deal to have Nissan Motor Co. supply cars to Chrysler LLC for sale in South America under the Chrysler brand starting next year, the automakers said today.

The model, based on the Nissan Versa sedan, will be supplied under what is called an OEM, or "original equipment manufacture," agreement in the auto industry.

"This kind of tactical partnership allows us to maximize product offerings yet minimize costly investments," said Chrysler President Tom LaSorda, adding that the agreement will allow Chrysler to add a small car in its lineup.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

01/11/08
f1
cc
Rahal Completes Four Days of Exhibition Runs in BMW Sauber F1 Car  

Graham Rahal in BMW F1 car

The grin belied his indifferent pose as Champ Car star Graham Rahal returned to Central Ohio today, fresh off of four days of exhibition runs in the BMW Sauber F1 Team racing car.

“Oh, it was OK,” Rahal reported. “Pretty fun, but long days.”

Then came that familiar Rahal grin, as he thought for a second about what it was like to have full control over a multi-million dollar F1 car for the first time.

Graham Rahal smokes the tires in the BMW F1 car

Rahal participated in the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park exhibition earlier this week in Las Vegas in an elaborate display of motorsports muscle held in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Graham contributed four times a day to the maelstrom of power by firing the engines on the BMW Sauber machine and joyfully turning donuts in a section of the parking lot surrounding the city’s convention center.

“It was a real thrill for me to experience the Formula 1 car even though it wasn’t on a proper racing circuit,” Rahal said. “BMW and F1 have always held a special allure for me and it was an honor for me to have had my first experience in an F1 car in a BMW Sauber machine.”

Graham Rahal with SPEED TV's Steve Matchett

Graham made four exhibition runs in the F1 car each day from Monday through Thursday of this week, sprinting up a small straight before turning donuts to the delight and awe of the crowds that gathered each day. The Pit Lane Park display also contained simulators, interactive displays where fans could change tires and test their reaction times against those of the BMW Sauber F1 team.

The 19-year-old native of New Albany, Ohio earned his shot in the F1 car after a strong rookie season with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in the Champ Car World Series. Rahal became the youngest driver in the 98-year history of the series to earn a podium finish when he placed second at Houston. He finished fifth in the final championship standings, becoming the youngest driver to ever earn a top-five season result in the series.

01/11/08
industry news
GM looks to speed up Corvette excitement  

Click image to watch video

Prior to the beginning of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, General Motors (GM) will host a public viewing party for the 2009 Corvette ZR1, the company's fastest car to date. While performance estimates are expected to be announced closer to the ZR1's summer 2008 launch, GM anticipates the Corvette to achieve a top speed of at least 200 miles-per-hour. The vehicle features a LS9 6.2 L small-block engine, carbon-ceramic brake rotors (which are generally found in exotic and higher-priced cars), a six-speed manual transmission and a carbon fiber body. The sports vehicle will be unveiled to the public for the first time Jan. 12 during the automaker's GM Style party – an event that will include musical performances and fashion shows featuring both clothing designs and cars.
01/11/08
track news
Speedway Motorsports Completes Purchase of New Hampshire Facility  
Closing documents were completed today, finalizing Speedway Motorsports, Inc.'s purchase of New Hampshire Speedway, Inc. d/b/a New Hampshire International Speedway, from Bob and Gary Bahre for $340 million in cash. The completed purchase was announced today by O. Bruton Smith, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Smith also announced, to better align with other SMI-owned speedway brands, New Hampshire International Speedway was being renamed New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a wonderful addition to our strong portfolio of tracks and provides the opportunity for our company to expand into a new market," said Smith. "Bob and his staff have made this a smooth transition since we announced our agreement in Texas on November 2. We look forward to many successes in our operation of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway." Earlier, Smith announced the promotion of long-time SMI executive Jerry Gappens to Executive Vice president and General Manager of the facility, which hosts two NASCAR Sprint (formerly NEXTEL) Cup Series events each year. Gappens has relocated from Charlotte, N.C. and has assumed his new duties at the Speedway.

"Thanks to the support of our loyal fans, dedicated sponsors, and wonderful employees, the Speedway has grown more than Gary and I ever could have imagined," said Bob Bahre, former Chairman of the Board. "We are looking forward to working with Bruton, Jerry, and their team and fully supporting them in their efforts to take this to a higher level for our fans." Bahre will remain associated with the facility he built as a consultant. Located on approximately 1,100 acres, the multi-use complex is the largest sports facility in New England and features a 1.058-mile oval speedway, with chairback seating for 92,000 spectators, and a 1.6-mile road course. The Speedway hosts the only Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide (formerly BUSCH) Series and Craftsman Truck Series events in the six-state New England region. Both Sprint Cup Series races regularly sell out and exceed the NFL Super Bowl in attendance. With the addition of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, SMI will own race tracks in the Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, and West, including four of the nation's top-10 metropolitan markets. Speedway Motorsports, Inc. will promote 13 NASCAR-sanctioned Sprint Cup races in 2008 and nine NASCAR-sanctioned Nationwide Series events. Combined seating for the seven SMI facilities will exceed 850,000 permanent seats. Tickets for all NASCAR events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, including the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on June 29 and the SYLVANIA 300 on September 14, are available online at www.nhms.com or by calling Guest Services at (603) 783-4931. NHMS PR

01/11/08
superleague
Portugal team debuts new Superleague car  

The FC Porto car is unveiled

Portuguese club FC Porto has kicked off the debut year of Superleague Formula by unveiling their fire breathing blue and white 750 horsepower racer at Dragon Stadium today.

Announced as one of the original four clubs in the championship in April last year, the Jesualdo Ferreira-coached squad came face to face today with their own blue and white Dragon which actually does breath fire.

Powered by the Menard Competition Technologies V12 engine, the car was unveiled by the players for the local media at the club's home ground – the state-of-the-art venue which hosted the opening game of the Euro 2004 championship.

With the first race scheduled to kick off at Donington Park in England in August this year, Superleague Formula has now reached the half way mark in filling the grid.

FC Porto joins AC Milan, PSV Eindhoven, Olympiacos, Borussia Dortmund, RSC Anderlecht, Flamengo, FC Basel and Galtasaray SK.

With nine clubs already on board, a Brazilian-based team has also been signed and will be the next club officially confirmed. Superleague Formula has also agreed terms with additional clubs from the UK, Spain, France, Mexico, Korea, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates and these are scheduled to be announced during the coming weeks. More ...

01/11/08
Racing News
50 Years ‘Lola Hall of Fame’ poll  
In 2008 Lola Cars celebrates a memorable 50 years in motorsport, during which it has recorded more  race  and  championship  victories than any other racing car manufacturer in the world. As part  of  the  ‘50th  Anniversary’  celebrations  the  Huntingdon  based  marque  invited  leading journalists and drivers to vote for their top 10 favorite Lola cars of all time.

A number of notable voters included ITV F1 expert Mark Blundell, who set the fastest ever pole position lap at Le Mans in 1990 with the Lola built Nissan Group C car, Brian Redman, a regular race and title winner in a variety of Lola’s from T70’s, F2 cars and F5000 designs; three times Cart Champion Bobby Rahal and ALMS race winner Chris Dyson.

In 50 years Lola has mastered all disciplines of the sport including Formula 1, Le Mans, Daytona 24 Hours, Can-AM, Champ Car and Indy 500. Lola has an established reputation for producing ground-breaking race car designs, having manufactured almost 4000 competitive cars during the last  five  decades,  so  it  was  always  going  to  be  a  tough  task  for  anyone  to  narrow  down  their selection to just 10 favorite Lola Cars.

Lola T70 MIIIB

1st Place - T70 MIIIB: The  T70  MIIIB  took  the  checkered  flag,  finishing  the  50  Years  ‘Lola  Hall  of  Fame’  poll  in  first position. Acclaimed as one of the most beautiful Sports-Prototype cars of all time, the Lola T70 MIIIB was the successor to the T70 Can-Am. The T70 MIIIB was an immediate success, when the sleek  design  of  the  new  coupe  claimed  victory  in  the  1969  Daytona 24 Hours to secure Lola’s status in world motorsport.

2nd Place – T70 Can-Am: The  T70  Can-Am  won  a  closely  fought  battle  to  claim  second  position.  The  T70  Can-Am  was famed for John Surtees winning the 1966 inaugural Can-Am Championship in this open cockpit design. During the same year, under an ‘All American Racers’ banner, Dan Gurney drove the car to victory at Bridgehampton, New York, which marked Ford’s only win in the Can-Am.

Lola T332 F5000

3rd Place T332 F5000: After an overwhelming response, the Lola car voted in third position was the T332 F5000, which won a hat-trick of SCCA/USAC titles from 1974-1976, and added the UK title in 1974.  The US success was masterminded by Carl Haas, while the car was driven by Brian Redman, so it was little surprise that the legendary British driver voted the T332 as his favorite Lola. Regular drivers behind  the  wheel  of  the  T332  also  included  David  Hobbs,  Frank  Gardner,  Guy  Edwards,  Ian Ashley, Derek Bell and F1 ace Clay Regazzoni. In 1974 Lola set a record at Oulton Park when the top six cars finishing the F5000 race were all T332 models.

Lola’s  Executive  Chairman,  Martin  Birrane,  himself  an  avid  fan  of  the  T70  series,  said:  “Many racing  enthusiasts  have  fallen  in  love  with  T70’s  over  the  years.  When  you  consider  that  the original  car  was  built  over  40  years  ago,  it’s  an  amazing  testament  to  the  design  team  how modern the car still looks today. Some of the original staff that built the first series of T70’s still work at our Huntingdon factory, so it will always hold an affectionate place in the history of Lola.”

The top 10 Lola cars, as voted by the media and drivers, were as follows:
1.    T70 MIIIB
2.    T70 Can-Am
3.    T332 F5000
4.    T90/10
5.    Mk6 GT
6.    Mk 1
7.    B01/60 LMP2
8.    T93/00
9.    T212
10.  T260

01/11/08
alms
ALMS top-10 greatest moments  After four rounds of voting, sports car racing fans around the globe have chosen the 10 Greatest Moments in the history of the American Le Mans Series. From an original list of 75 choices plus write-ins, the final 10 include representation from all four classes and six years of Series competition.

These 10 moments will be celebrated throughout the season during Series broadcasts on ABC, NBC Sports and SPEED. The voting isn’t finished however. The final phase begins today with voters having a chance to pick their three “podium” finishers as the Series seeks its single-greatest moment.

The poll can be found here.

The voting is part of the Series’ celebration of its 10th season of world-class sports car racing. Throughout the season, Series fans also will have the opportunity to choose the Drivers of the Decade, hottest cars, fiercest rivalries, fantastic finishes, best races, top teams and many others.

01/11/08
f1
Schu to help develop Ferrari race cars  

Still fast enough to smoke today's current crop of drivers

(GMM)  Michael Schumacher said on Friday that it is not yet decided if he will test Ferrari's new F2008 single seater in the near future.

At the team's global media event at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort, the seven time world champion told La Gazzetta dello Sport that his role within the Maranello based outfit has finally been defined.

"It has taken some time, but now my role within Ferrari is clear: we had to find out where my presence would be most useful," the 38-year-old said.

Schumacher revealed that he will be involved specifically with the development of Ferrari's racing cars.

As for any upcoming tests in the 2008 F1 machine, he answered: "We have not yet established any dates, nothing is decided.

"We will evaluate depending on the situation," Schumacher added.

"If the team need me to drive I will, but not too often."

01/11/08
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

01/11/08
  • Williams delays 2008 car track debut
  • No number 23 for Hamilton in 2008
  • Klien to consider race post outside F1
  • Force India in talks with Indian sponsors
  • Ferrari equality to be flexible says Raikkonen
  • Ferrari not ready to move on from spy saga
  • Honda may appoint second test driver
  • Drivers to help groom Indian to race in F1
  • Schu tests 'won't hurt' Ferrari says Raikkonen
  • Heidfeld gets new F1 manager New
  • BMW confirms Deutsche Telekom deal New
  • Sutil disputes Fisi's 'number one' claim New
  • Fisi disappointed by Renault snub New
  • Force India to spend extra $50m in 2008 New
  • No number one at Toyota says Trulli New

Williams delays 2008 car track debut
(GMM)  The track debut of Williams' new Toyota-powered car for 2008, the FW30, has been delayed by an extra week.

The car had been scheduled to turn its first laps at Jerez next Monday (14 January), but the German trade journal Auto Motor und Sport reports that Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima will instead take to the Spanish circuit with the existing 2007 model, the FW29.

"The schedule was always going to be tight," said the Oxfordshire based team's Australian technical director, Sam Michael.

"So instead of rushing the car out, we would rather wait to do it at the following test in Valencia," he explained.

The team's 2007 car, however, will in Jerez feature the 2008-spec gearbox, to also be used by Toyota, which this season must for the first time last four races.

"For us that is no problem," Michael insisted.  "We had already built the 2007 transmission according to the regulations for 2008."

No number 23 for Hamilton in 2008
(GMM)  Contrary to a statement made by team boss Ron Dennis at McLaren's recent Stuttgart launch, Lewis Hamilton will not carry the number 23 on his new car in 2008.

"It is Lewis' birthday today, we've gone to a lot of trouble ... he is 23, it is the MP4-23 and he will carry 23 on the car, but that is more by accident than judgment I must say," Dennis told reporters on Monday.

But although the single seater featured at the launch event indeed wore 23, it has emerged that Hamilton's Finnish teammate Heikki Kovalainen will actually carry the number this season.

The official 2008 entry list published by the FIA shows Hamilton with the number 22 for 2008, and the Briton made his debut in the car at Jerez on Thursday with the lower number.

Hamilton ended Thursday with a best lap time of 1.19.132, which was a few tenths quicker than Kovalainen, who was also on track at the exclusive McLaren test.

"For me in particular the car is very different from last year, and I have been focusing on that side of things," said Kovalainen, who in 2007 made his formula one debut for Renault. More ...

01/11/08
cc
Uncertainty surrounds Champ Car yet again  UPDATE #2 Another reader writes, With all due respect to John Costello, if you want AN open wheel series, supporting TG through buying a Brickyard 400 ticket is a step in the wrong direction.  What has become of the IRL has proven the reasons for splitting the sport were wrong.  TG's series is nothing more than a crappy, lowbrow version of CART, and like a Chinese toy, is dangerously flawed.  A 'stupid' car (thanks Mario) is put on tracks never designed for AOW cars, let alone cars that exceed 200 mph.  Where is NOSHA on the IRL car, on the IRL, period?

I say this in all seriousness as it is inevitable one of those flying IRL cars lands in the grandstands, kills a bunch of fans, and ends AOW outright.  What is going on in Champ Cars pales in comparison to the irresponsible management of the IRL that puts not just AOW but all of motorsports in serious jeopardy.  And now you are going to put money in the pocket of AOW's version of Darth Vadar?  Perhaps if I read your name as the man who was arrested for spitting in TG's face I might understand.  But to give money to AOW's biggest terrorist, wow, that really plays into the forces that turned AOW into the very thing that you are now turning your back on.  Think about it at least.  Andy Fogiel, Lansing, MI

01/11/08 A reader writes, I've been since my youth (age 17) to Riverside (hot, ugh), Laguna Seca (5 times in '80s), Long Beach ('84 to present) and Denver once.  I've even got in a yelling match with a media guy from LB who hates Champ Car and is now working for a national paper (USA Today I think).  I'm done.  I'll do LB on Saturday (the best day) ... but my 12 year old son and I are going to the Brickyard 400. 

Hopefully in my lifetime (age 45) we will again have AN open wheel series... that is about racing and not the midget girl from Phoenix. How sad is it that in my life we have gone from Mario (World Champ, 78 LBGP F1 winner and multiple LB champ car winner) to the Miss Prissy Mouse who has NEVER won a race above go-carts.

Ugh.  When is Daytona?  John Costello, Long Beach, CA

01/11/08 Beyond a doubt, Champ Car is its own worst enemy.  As pointed out in this ESPN.com article, we are in another off-season period and Champ Car is yet again fraught with uncertainty over who will drive in the series in 2008.  With teams inability to land sponsorship themselves, the series once again is waiting for ride buyer checks to arrive before announcing their driver lineups.  The drivers are this sports athletes, and the athletes inevitably are around which every successful sport is based.  Without a stable staple of drivers there is no basis for the series.  They tried the' festival of speed' concept trying to fool the paying public that they were buying a ticket to a party instead of a professional sporting event.  That failed and drove TV ratings below that of infomercials.  Then the focus was on the new car, like that was going to draw in new fans, but again they found it isn't the car that attracts real race fans, it's the drivers. 

You cannot run a successful race series that way, yet Champ Car management apparently cannot see it......as the series continues to flounder like a wet fish laying on the cutting board groping for air as it awaits the filet knife.  The biggest news of the off-season has been the possible departure of Champ Car's biggest star, Paul Tracy, to the rival IRL.  While that never happened, it's sad when the only real news is bad news about the athletes around which the series should be built.  And so we have our latest 2008 Champ Car Silly Season page lined with much uncertainty (speculation) and many unanswered questions; questions that must be answered before any real marketing effort can be made for the 2008 season, just three short months away.

01/11/08
irl
Danica says no to DWTS role  

Patrick admits she isn't 'warm' enough to make the cut

Danica Patrick heads the list of people "Dancing with the Stars" champion Helio Castroneves has recommended to show organizers in selecting future participants, but Patrick said she isn't interested.  "No way," she said this week during a visit to Indianapolis for the Indy Racing League's annual drivers meetings/physicals. "I'm telling you, no way."

Patrick doesn't think her personality is warm enough for cameras to beam her to

Jamie Little, the 'hot' ESPN racing TV announcer, might be the right fit

more than 20 million people a night, and in a way, she said Castroneves proved that last fall.  "His personality is so infectious," she said. "He smiles all the time, he plays to the camera, and he loves (the attention). I'm a little too serious. People at home would be going, 'What's wrong (with her)?'  Besides, it won't be enough to do (the show) now; you'll have to win."

Castroneves said he has also recommended ABC broadcaster Jamie Little, a natural fit, and Detroit Tigers catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, though the lengthy baseball schedule will keep Rodriguez out.  "I kind of want to see if one of the Colts guys can do it (during the spring show)," Castroneves said. "I might call (coach) Tony Dungy to see who he thinks might represent Indianapolis well."  The Indianapolis market led the nation in "DWTS" voting during the fall season. IndyStar

01/11/08
f1
New technology partner for BMW Sauber  The BMW Sauber F1 Team will line up for the 2008 season with a new technology partner on board. T-Systems, the business customer subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, will work together with the team under the extreme conditions of motor sport to develop innovative Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions.

The company logo will be visible on both the outside and inside of the BMW Sauber F1.08 cockpit area and on the car’s nose section, as well as on team clothing and the drivers’ helmets.

As BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen explains: “The latest IT and telecommunications technology represents an integral part of motor racing. The partnership of T-Systems and BMW brings together two leaders in innovation to create tailor-made solutions for our team. Our new partner possesses both IT and telecommunications know-how and experience and expertise in the automotive sector. This makes T-Systems an ideal partner for us in the development of future technologies which can also offer key benefits for series production.” More ...

01/11/08
f1
New management for Nick Heidfeld  Andre Theuerzeit, Managing Director of the sports communications agency b.a.n.g., is to be Nick Heidfeld's the new manager. Heidfeld and his new management team have taken on Cologne-based lawyer Dr. Stefan Seitz as their legal adviser. The management contract between Nick Heidfeld and his previous manager, Werner Heinz, is due to run out at the end of December. Meanwhile, Werner Heinz will steer Andre Theuerzeit and his b.a.n.g. agency towards taking over sole responsibility for management from January 1st next year.  Throughout 2008, Andre Theuerzeit and Werner Heinz will be working together to implement a smooth transition process, sharing the management and the marketing of the BMW Sauber driver.  Heidfeld finished the 2007 season in a solid fifth position overall.  b.a.n.g.
01/11/08
nascar
Air Force returns to the #21 in 2008  

Jon Wood

Wood Brothers Racing announced the United States Air Force will not only be the primary sponsor for nine Sprint Cup Series races in 2008, but will also play a role in the Wood Brothers' upcoming campaign in the Craftsman Truck Series as an associate sponsor. The United States Air Force is entering its eighth year of marketing, recruiting and sponsorship of the Wood Brothers' family-based team. Third-generation drivers-and cousins-Jon Wood and Keven Wood will share the Wood Brothers Racing #21 Ford F-150 entry in the Craftsman Truck Series for the 2008 season. Jon is the 26-year-old son of Eddie Wood; Keven is the 23-year-old son of Len Wood. Jon Wood is anxious to get back to racing after the off-season break. "I'm very enthusiastic about this year's schedule as I will be representing the United States Air Force in both the Sprint Cup Series and Craftsman Truck Series," said Jon, a two-time winner in the Truck Series. "It'll be a lot of fun to share time with Keven in the truck because it's something we've always known would happen-and now it's here." Jon and Keven are grandchildren of Glen Wood, who founded the team in 1950 and was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. Crew chief Gene Nead will lead the efforts of the #21 Ford Fusion in the Sprint Cup Series. John Monsam will return as the crew chief for the #21 F-150 in the Craftsman Truck Series. Wood Brothers Racing PR
01/11/08
nascar
Said throws out challenge to Stewart  Fresh from winning his second straight NASCAR Bobsled Challenge at Lake Placid, N.Y., Boris Said has thrown a challenge out to Tony Stewart.  Said, the son of former U.S. national bobsled team driver Bob Said, defeated drag racer Morgan Lucas in this year's championship run. In the three-year history of the Geoff Bodine-sponsored event, Said has won five of his six races.  “I'd love to get Tony Stewart to race next year,” said Said. “That would be great. Tell Tony I'm throwing out a challenge.”
01/11/08
nascar
Said to drive in five Sprint Cup races  Fresh from winning his second straight NASCAR Bobsled Challenge at Lake Placid, N.Y., Boris Said has set his schedule for the 2008 season.

Now a regular on ESPN's “NASCAR Now,” Said is to drive in only five NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season, starting with the Daytona 500.
“But we could be in a little trouble there,” said Said. “There are only six spots open and there are seven Toyotas going for them. We've made it every time before, but Ford is the only program without a new engine this season.”

Plus, Said's Carlsbad-based No Fear team hasn't had as much time in the Car of Tomorrow, which will be making its Daytona International Speedway debut with the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, as most other teams in the garages.

In addition to the Daytona 500, Said plans to enter the second Sprint Cup race in Daytona in July plus the road races at Sears Point and Watkins Glen and the fall race at Talladega.

He also plans to run the three road-course races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series plus selected sports car races to include the 24 Hours of Daytona (in a Mustang GT) and the 12 Hours of Sebring.  SignOnSanDiego.com

01/11/08
industry news
Porsche’s race-bred 911 ‘an unforgettable thrill’  

Porsche 911 GT3

The auto editors at Edmunds’ Inside Line, Edmunds.com’s online automotive magazine, had a tough job in 2007 as they tested and reviewed 268 new cars and trucks and were then asked to select only the best for their 2008 Editors’ Most Wanted Awards.  In the end the Porsche 911 GT3 endured their expert scrutiny, scoring a victory and driving off with this very prestigious and important award.

This year Scott Oldham, Inside Line editor-in-chief, had only one rule: the editors must have tested the car or truck by Dec. 1, 2007.  All vehicles were eligible for all six slots -- speed, luxury, hauling, commuting, family and instant classic.  With no price cap or restrictive ’new models only’ or similar requirements, the editors were allowed to simply pick their personal favorites. More ...

01/11/08
f1
Watch the Toyota TF108 unveiling  

Click to watch video

Panasonic Toyota Racing unveiled the TF108 at the team’s technical centre in Cologne, Germany, on Jan. 10, 2008. The new Formula 1 car differs from its predecessor on the outside and inside, as a result of the team’s search for improvement, as well as regulation changes. With an increased wheelbase, the team aims to achieve more stability and greater aerodynamic development potential. The TF108 also features a new gearbox and a new electronic control unit (ECU) for the RVX-08 engine. Further development will continue up to and beyond the first race of the season in Australia on March 16. Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock and Kamui Kobayashi were presented together at the event as Panasonic Toyota Racing’s 2008 drivers.
01/11/08
tv news
Weekend USA TV Reminders  
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Friday
New Year, No Limits (12/31/07)
Robbie Maddison jumps football field on Motorcycle
Rhys Millen -360 degree pickup truck back flip Las Vegas
12:00am-12:30am (R) ESPN Classic
NASCAR Preseason Thunder -Daytona Craftsman Truck Testing Daytona 7:00pm-7:30pm (SDD) SPEED
Saturday
German Touring Cars
Zandvoort  12:00pm-1:00pm (7/29/07)
Nurburg: 1:00pm-2:00pm (9/2/07)  SPEED
Australian V8 Supercars Finale  Phillip Island
2:00pm-3:00pm (12/2/07) SPEED
Documentary: The Kentucky Kid (2005)
MotoGP racer Nicky Hayden & his quest to win a world championship 
5:00pm-7:00pm MTV2
Chili Bowl Tulsa
8:00pm (L)  HBO PPV
Sunday
Summer Shootout Lowe's
12:00pm-1:00pm -Round 6 SPEED
AMA Supercross Phoenix
6:00pm-7:00pm (1/12/08) SPEED
The SPEED Report 
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com

01/10/08
industry news
Toyota, GM in tight race for No. 1  Toyota said today that its global group sales rose 6 percent last year to 9.37 million vehicles, making for a tight race against General Motors, the world's biggest automaker. GM has not released its annual sales tally but earlier estimated 2007 sales would come to 9.3 million vehicles.

Toyota has marked booming sales lately on the popularity of models reputed for good mileage, such as the Camry sedan and the Prius gas-electric hybrid, at a time when soaring gas prices have dramatically boosted their appeal. 

Detroit-based General Motors Corp. has been fiercely fighting back, boosting its overseas business and could still keep the top industry spot, which it has held for 76 years.

But many analysts say it's just a matter of time before Toyota beats GM to become the biggest automaker in global sales.

When asked recently by The Associated Press how he felt about becoming the world's biggest automaker, Shoichiro Toyoda, a member of the founding family and former Toyota president, even denied Toyota was becoming No. 1.

"We are not No. 1," he said, adding that the spot may be transient and hinting it may hold little meaning for an automaker.

"It's just one moment," he told The AP at a New Year's reception for auto manufacturers earlier this week. "We need to just keep working harder."

01/10/08
ips
Panther Racing tests Brent Sherman  Former NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Brent Sherman is the latest driver to audition in Panther Racing's Indy Pro Series car.

Sherman, with more than 60 starts in the Busch Series and six in Nextel Cup, tested on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course. Last month, prospective drivers Leilani Münter and P.J. Chesson tested with the team at Sebring International Raceway.

Sherman's test was a return to open-wheel cars. He competed for two years in the Barber Dodge Pro Series and, in 2000, tested a Toyota Atlantic car before making the move to the Hooters Pro Cup and ARCA the next season.

"Drivers at this level - it doesn't matter if it's IndyCar, NASCAR, or wherever - are professionals," said Sherman, 33. "And everybody is a good driver. But a lot of your success is based on the team, and how good the team is. And, for whatever reason, I never found that perfect situation in NASCAR. I love open-wheel racing, this is where I started my career, and I'm glad to be back."

01/10/08
f1
Massa: "We hope the car is going to be 100 percent reliable at the start"  

Felipe Massa

It was the turn of the drivers to address the press today at the Wrooom Ferrari and Ducati press ski meeting at Madonna di Campiglio in Italy. Both drivers will be taking to the snow during the week, and racing against Michael Schumacher tomorrow, but for the moment, Felipe Massa covered subjects from married life to his future racing prospects.

"Last year was very good," he began, "and it ended with a very nice celebration for the championship and my wedding, a really special day for me, so I was really happy."

But is he under more pressure this year? It was a mixed reaction. "I don't feel any pressure. It's going to be more or less the same, but we were under pressure to win because we had not been winning for two years and we won. We continue to have the pressure to be in front because we won last year, so the pressure is going to be the same. When you race for a team such as Ferrari, you are always under pressure but one thing is to do your job and even if what people say, it's what counts when you drive. What counts is the mentality of the team."

That mentality also affects Felipe's view of the arrival of Stefano Domenicali as team principal. "I've known Stefano for a long time already. I've known him since the first day I went to Ferrari. Jean Todt is still there and will be part of the team this year. Stefano will operate to different rules, just as Jean has done until now. But Stefano has great potential. In the past, Ferrari has changed people but the mentality has always been there, it's the same mentality as a group." More ...

01/10/08
f1
Raikkonen: "I wish we can have a slightly stronger start"  

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen addressed the press at the Madonna di Campiglio Wrooom ski meeting on Thursday. The World Champion was happy to be back in the snow, feeling more relaxed than he did a year ago when he made his debut wearing the red of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.

Did he ever think he would be returning as World Champion? "For sure we were hoping for it but you never know. We try to do all our work as well as we can and hopefully to achieve what everybody wants, every year, to win the championship. We won two championships last year so I'm very happy for that and it's much nicer to come back here now, one year later, than it was a year ago when I didn't know the people, I didn't know the team, but now it's much easier for me also."

And that's going to make the start of the 2008 season easier as well, even if the man himself is the same. "I don't think I have changed myself too much. Sure, I have achieved what I wanted in my life, so it's a nice thing, but I wouldn't say that winning the World Championship has changed me as a person.

"Coming to this new season, it's hopefully going to be more easy-going, the first part of the season, than it was last year. It's a new season but it's with the same team, so it's going to be much easier for me and much easier for the team, so I wish we can have a slightly stronger start to the year and then we will go from there." More ...

01/10/08
irl
IndyCar Series Telecasts Elevated to High Definition  Fans of the IndyCar Series will be treated to a new look for event telecasts in 2008 as ESPN will televise all 16 events of the series in high definition for the first time. ESPN on ABC’s coverage of the 2007 Indianapolis 500 was the first IndyCar Series event ever to be televised in HD.

All cameras used in ESPN’s IndyCar Series coverage will be HD, including in-car cameras and those used in the pits and for other points of view. Included will be an HD onboard camera that can provide a rotating 360-degree view.

“The Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series are very important to ESPN and our affiliates,” said Bryan Burns, ESPN vice president, strategic business planning and development. “Taking our coverage to the next level with high definition has been a priority for us and the series, and will enhance the breadth of our HD services. We’re happy that sports fans will be able to reap the rewards all season.”

The IndyCar Series will appear on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC in 2008, including seven events on both ESPN2 and ABC and two on ESPN. The networks also will cover Indianapolis 500 qualifying May 10-11 and 17-18, and high definition coverage is extending to ESPN2’s telecasts of the 16 Indy Pro Series races this season.

“We are extremely pleased to be working in conjunction with ESPN to showcase the speed and excitement of IndyCar Series racing in the clarity and wide-screen format of high definition television,” said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series and the Indy Pro Series. “The addition of the 360-degree, onboard camera for the first time in the United States continues the IndyCar Series’ role as a leader in innovation and technology while offering our teams added value for their sponsors.” More ...

01/10/08
f1
Hamilton impressed by new McLaren  Lewis Hamilton has given a thumbs up to McLaren's new 2008 car after driving it for the first time in Jerez, Spain.

"It was fantastic to get my hands on it. I saw the completed car for the first time on Monday and have been impatient since then," said Hamilton.

"You can't read all that much into so few laps but the feeling is positive."

His teammate, Heikki Kovalainen, also liked his first experience of the new car, as did team test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

"First impressions are good. The car's performance is definitely an encouraging starting point," said the Finn. On Wednesday we covered 69 laps in total between Heikki and me, which is a good start," said De la Rosa. "The car felt positive and it has been an encouraging day."

01/10/08
alms
Drayson-Barwell confirm ALMS entry  Aston Martin is returning to the American Le Mans Series grid on a full-time basis in 2008 with a pioneering GT2 effort that enhances the Series' platform of alternative energy usage. Drayson-Barwell is a partnership between Lord Drayson, a former high-ranking member of Britain's House of Lords, and GT and Touring Car title-winning outfit Barwell Motorsport.

The joint venture is an Official Partner Team of Aston Martin Racing and will enter the first Aston Martin Vantage (chassis 001) to be built by Aston Martin Racing. Drayson-Barwell will work exclusively with Aston Martin Racing on the development of the bio-ethanol powered GT2 car. In 2007 Barwell and Paul Drayson successfully pioneered the use of the fuel in the British GT series, and this environmental leadership in motorsport will continue. The Vantage GT2 car will run on bio-ethanol fuel in the American Le Mans Series.

The GT challenger will compete alongside other prestigious marques such as Ferrari, Porsche, Panoz, Dodge and Ford in a wide-open GT2 class. The Drayson-Barwell Aston Martin Vantage will run in the familiar Aston Martin Racing Green color scheme made popular by the works team. More ...

01/10/08
nascar
New Crew Chief for Vickers  

Brian Vickers

Red Bull Racing Team announced Kevin Hamlin to crew chief the #83 Red Bull Toyota Camry piloted by Brian Vickers for the 2008 Sprint Cup Series season. Hamlin’s past crew chief roles include his most recent stint with Dave Blaney’s #22 Toyota, preceded by nine years of crew chief duties with RCR drivers including Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, and the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. To date, Hamlin has amassed nine Cup wins; five of those with Earnhardt Sr. Despite Hamlin’s “nine” theme, there are no plans to change the #83 to #89. Red Bull Racing Team Competition Director Elton Sawyer: “Finding the right crew chief for the 83 team was a pivotal decision in an effort to restructure the foundation on that team. We need a crew chief with not only the right experience and background to work effectively with our driver and crew, but someone who also shares the same vision for success. We found that package with Kevin Hamlin. Our focus between now and Daytona is not only getting our cars up to speed for the season opener, but also getting Kevin up to speed working with Red Bull, Brian (Vickers) and the 83 team.” Red Bull Racing PR
01/10/08
f1
Richards rules out Prodrive team in future  

Dave Richards

(GMM)  F1's new commercial agreement means that Prodrive will not enter the sport in the near future, David Richards said on Thursday.

The Oxfordshire based company's chief had earlier left open the option of reassessing Prodrive's plans in 2009, having withdrawn his entry to become formula one's twelfth team this season because of the 'customer car' furor.

But Autocar reports that Richards now definitively considers the Prodrive F1 project a "dead duck", following the finalization of the new Concorde Agreement.

The British automobile magazine says the sport's belated commercial agreement for 2008 and beyond makes it mandatory for teams to ultimately be constructors.

Richards, at the Autosport exhibition in Birmingham, said the clause will make it "not financially viable for smaller teams to enter the sport"

He added that, for a small team like Prodrive, it would be "too impractical to be competitive".

01/10/08
f1
Hamilton makes fast debut in 2008 mount  (GMM)  Lewis Hamilton made an immediate impression on the stop watch at Jerez on Thursday as he completed his first laps in McLaren's new car.

After just 34 tours of the Spanish circuit at lunch, the 23-year-old Briton had bettered test driver Pedro de la Rosa's Wednesday best in the same configuration by more than half a second.

2007 championship runner-up Hamilton's fastest lap at lunch was a 1.19.132, compared with de la Rosa's 1.19.655 after a full day in the MP4-23 on Wednesday, and Finnish teammate Heikki Kovalainen's 1.20.559 in a second chassis.

"My first impressions are good," Hamilton, who had first exited the pits shortly after 9am, said.

"You can't really read all that much into a car after so few laps, but the feeling is positive," he added.

Hamilton, as well as Kovalainen, will be in action again on Friday.

01/10/08
ga
Wayne Taylor and son to be teammates in Rolex 24  Notable father-and-son driving combinations have played a significant role in the history of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the annual Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season-opening marathon that pits man and machine against the clock for 24 grueling hours each January. Some of racing’s most notable racing families have seen multiple generations tackle this world-renowned event over the years – names like Andretti, Unser, Gurney, Pearson and Allison.

For the 2008 edition of the Rolex 24, set for Jan. 26-27 on the 3.56-mile Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road circuit, add Taylor to that growing list of father-and-son driving duos as two-time event winner and three-time sports car champion Wayne Taylor will be joined behind the wheel of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley for the first time by his 18-year-old son Ricky. Along with regular, season-long drivers Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante, they’ll be trying to bring SunTrust its second Rolex 24 victory in the last four years. Angelelli and Wayne Taylor spearheaded SunTrust’s 2005 Rolex 24 victory en route to that year’s Rolex Series championship.

“We have never done anything without a total focus on winning races and winning championships,” said Wayne Taylor, whose team recently concluded a successful three-day test at Daytona with his son, Angelelli and Valiante in preparation for this year’s Rolex 24. “The most important thing is that Ricky has the full support of SunTrust, as well as Max, Michael and the entire Wayne Taylor Racing organization as we try to bring home another Rolex 24 victory for SunTrust. A year ago, we set out on a testing program that would work toward putting Ricky behind the wheel for the Rolex 24. After what we saw from him at Daytona in November, and again this past weekend, he proved to us that he has all of those things that are necessary to be a part of a race-winning lineup. And from the standpoint of being his father, it’s obviously something very special for me, personally.” More ...

01/10/08
f1
Force India confirms '08 driver lineup  

(L to R): Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India F1, Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1, Vijay Mallya (IND) CEO Kingfisher, Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 and Dr Colin Kolles (GER) Force India Team Principal. Force India Driver Announcement, Mumbai, India, 10 January 2008.

The Force India Formula One Team is delighted to announce that Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil will lead the team for its debut 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship campaign. To further strengthen resources, Vitantonio Liuzzi will fulfill a test and reserve driver role for Force India. We have now, therefore, finalized our 2008 F1 Silly Season Page.

Thirty-four-year-old Giancarlo, from Rome, Italy, impressed the team with his strong contribution during Force India's four-day test in Jerez, Spain, at the end of 2007, while Tonio Liuzzi's solid feedback and insight stood out over the two days of testing he completed in November and December. Adrian is retained for a second season with the team on the back of his solid 2007 form.

New recruit Giancarlo will bring 12 years of F1 experience to the team following stints at Minardi, Force India's predecessors Jordan, Benetton, Sauber and most recently Renault. With three wins, three pole positions and 267 points to his credit, he is one of the most successful drivers on the current F1 grid.

Adrian will contest his second year of the FIA Formula One World Championship. In the latter half of 2007 he was regularly pushing more established drivers, which culminated in his, and the team's, first championship point in the Japanese Grand Prix. Adrian joined the team as the 2006 Japanese F3 champion, and runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in the 2005 F3 EuroSeries. More ...

01/10/08
gp2
Ho-Pin Tung to race in 31 GP2 races in '08  

Ho-Pin Tung

Dutch-Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung has signed a contract with the GP2 Trident racing team for 2008. Ho-Pin will not only compete in the European GP2 series but will also race in the new GP2 Asia series. In two weeks time the first of the extraordinary amount of 31 races will start in Dubai. “Having completed my rookie season in GP2 last year, I look forward to race with top team Trident in 2008. This year, victories and podiums are the target,” says Ho-Pin determined. It’s no secret he is trying hard to achieve his ultimate goal: Being the first ever Formula 1 racing driver. A successful second season in GP2 will help to make his dream come true. Significant is the agreement with the (Formula 1)  Circuit of Shanghai which will partner Ho-Pin Tung this season; the GP2 driver will promote the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix. “I am very honored being invited to promote the Chinese Grand Prix all over the world, particularly also in China.”

Yesterday Trident-team principal Alessandro Alunni Bravi and Ho-Pin Tung signed the agreement for the Asian and European GP2 Championship at the teams headquarters in Milan. Tung will be partnered by team mate Mike Conway which provides Trident a strong line up, the forthcoming season. Both drivers made their debut in this Formula One feeder category last year. Ho-Pin Tung’s best result was 4th place in Belgium at Spa Francorchamps whereas Mike Conway achieved his best result with 2d place in Great Britain at Silverstone.

The Trident team started in the GP2 series in 2006 and already has an impressive track record. Highlight of last season was the team’s victory in Monaco. “It’s a young and dynamic team which presents itself with style. More important is that the team is extremely professional and makes no concessions when it comes to quality, resources, technological choices and efficiency”, according to a enthusiastic Ho-Pin Tung, immediately after signing his contract. “I have been here a couple of times now and I am impressed by the resources and dedication and by the technological level of the team.’ More ...

01/10/08
alms
lmes
Lola reveals new LeMans coupe  

New Lola coupe prototype

Lola Cars International Ltd today announced the addition of the latest generation of LMP Coupe to its  vast  ancestry  of  world-beating  sportscars.  Lola  also  releases  the  first  images  of the all-new Lola B08/60 LMP1.

The car will compete in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours and Le Mans Series in the hands of existing Lola  sportscar  customer  Charouz  Racing  System,  who  will  race  the  new  design  with  an  Aston Martin V12 engine and engineering support from Aston Martin Racing.

The Lola B08/60 LMP1 Coupe is the result of over 12 months research, design and aerodynamic testing  at  Lola’s  renowned  technical  base  in  Huntingdon,  Cambridgeshire.  Utilizing  significant upgrades  in  CFD  (Computational  Fluid  Dynamics)  and  wind tunnel  equipment,  Lola  is  the  first constructor to get a customer LMP Coupe on to the track. More ...

01/10/08
a1gp
Kerr looks to kick-start the New Year  Robbie Kerr will be back in the driving seat for A1 Team GBR next weekend as the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport™ heads to Taupo, New Zealand for Round 5.

As the half-way point of the season draws close, the British team heads to the beautiful surroundings of Lake Taupo on New Zealand's North Island still firmly in the title hunt. The New Year also sees the introduction of one of the most important environmental initiatives in the series' history. The Taupo race will mark A1GP becoming the first global motorsport body to switch to a 30 per cent biofuel mix to help reduce its environmental footprint.

A1GP visited the 3.5km circuit for the first time last season but the British squad was blighted with problems and Kerr  will  be  keen  to  get  the  team  back  to  winning  ways.  This season, Kerr's last race appearance was in the Czech Republic where he scored second position in the Sprint Race. With A1 Team GBR currently sitting 4th in the  Championship,  the  Leicestershire  racer  will  draw  on  his  track  experience  from  the  2007  race  and  look  to score some vital points as the team chases current leaders, Switzerland. Circuit alterations since last year have changed  Turn  12  from  a  smooth  fourth  gear  corner  to  a  90  degree  left-hander,  creating  another  overtaking opportunity in a race that is set to provide a thrilling start to 2008. More ...

01/10/08
nascar
RCR reaches agreement with garage company Slide-Lok  Richard Childress Racing has agreed to licensing terms with garage interiors and home storage market leader, Slide-Lok, for the categories of garage cabinets, garage flooring, Slat-Wall storage and closet systems for a multi-year term. Slide-Lok's most recent licensing agreement with Richard Childress Racing, which comes in the wake of their latest announcement with NASCAR, Inc. and Roush Fenway Racing, includes the signing of Richard Childress Racing's drivers #29-Kevin Harvick and #31-Jeff Burton. The RCR drivers will be notably featured in Slide-Lok's new "Racing Garage" product line which will brandish the names, numbers, color schemes and signature logos of the top drivers of NASCAR integrated into Slide-Lok's patented plywood garage cabinets, Slat-Wall storage, closet systems and garage floor coatings. The unveiling of the new Slide-Lok Racing Garage line is set for early 2008. For more information on Slide-Lok garage cabinets, garage floor coating systems, garage storage and their patented, innovative design advantages, contact Slide-Lok directly at 800-835-1759 or visit them on the web at www.slide-lok.com. Marketwire
01/10/08
f1
New drivers, same ambitious goals for floundering Toyota team  

(L to R) Glock, Kobayashi and Trulli

Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock and Kamui Kobayashi were presented together for the first time as Panasonic Toyota Racing's 2008 drivers at the team's pre-season event in Cologne, Germany today.

Jarno begins his fourth full season as a Panasonic Toyota Racing race driver, with Timo joining as his new team-mate after winning the GP2 Series title in 2007. Kamui, a product of the Toyota Young Drivers Program, is the new third driver and combines his role with racing in the GP2 Series.

The new TF108 is the product of an exhaustive research and development process, into which Jarno has contributed the benefit of his considerable Formula 1 experience, giving him confidence for the season ahead.

"My hopes are always high because normally I am very positive," he says. "I think that the team has got the potential, the resources, the people and everything necessary to bounce back to the position where we belong. I believe we can produce a good car for next year.

"I have been giving input into this car since the middle of the 2007 season, helping to develop the car to adapt to the new rules which ban traction control and engine braking. There is quite a big change in terms of electronics this year and I have spent time working with the team on this. I am doing all I can in order to help the team to step up." More ...
01/10/08
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

01/10/08
  • New McLaren fast on track debut
  • F1 expert plays down McLaren ECU fears
  • Honda to have 'new livery' in 2008
  • Kimi could stay beyond 2009 says Ferrari boss
  • Asmer to test for BMW-Sauber again
  • Wurz named Honda test, reserve driver New
  • Toyota reveal 2008 car in Germany New
  • Fisi, Liuzzi, join Force India - Mallya New
  • Bourdais never worried about Alonso factor New

New McLaren fast on track debut
(GMM)  McLaren's newly launched car, the MP4-23, made a trouble-free and fast debut on Wednesday at the start of a three day exclusive test session.

Following Monday's launch in Stuttgart, Pedro de la Rosa took the same chassis onto the Spanish circuit shortly after 9am, with Heikki Kovalainen joining him in action in a second completed MP4-23 in the afternoon.

"The first impressions of the new car are good," said Finn Kovalainen, who was also making his debut in a Mercedes-powered car after starting in formula one with Renault in 2007.

His best lap time was nearly a second slower than de la Rosa's, who went marginally faster than the 2007 car had managed at Jerez last month.

"The car's performance today is definitely an encouraging starting point," Kovalainen noted.

To the German newspaper Bild, Mercedes-Benz's Norbert Haug added: "The performance was a good sign, if you look at the lap time done with last year's car."

F1 expert plays down McLaren ECU fears
(GMM)  F1 expert and former grand prix driver Hans-Joachim Stuck has played down formula one teams' fears about using standard electronics developed by a McLaren subsidiary in 2008.

Rivals of the Mercedes-powered team, notably Renault, Ferrari and BMW-Sauber, have expressed concern not only about the apparently troublesome ECU supplied by Microsoft-MES, but its links with McLaren, a current competitor that was recently involved in espionage scandals.

But Stuck, the German veteran of 74 grands prix in the 70s, and newly appointed Motorsport Representative for Volkswagen, told Bild newspaper: "It is clear that the teams are worried.

"But Mercedes would never be so stupid as to get involved in anything chancy like that.  For the faint-hearted, I try to reassure them," he added. More ...

01/10/08
nascar
NASCAR announces pit road rule changes  NASCAR officials distributed two rules changes that will be in affect this season in regards to pit road regulations: “Cars may not be pushed past the flag person at the end of the pit road. Unless otherwise authorized, once the race is underway, cars may be started by hand pushing in the pit area only, but under no circumstances is any car to be hand pushed more than three pit boxes away from their assigned pit box or into the acceleration zone or onto the race track from the pit area. Cars may not receive any assistance after the white flag has been displayed, except those cars making pit stops …”.

“A team member must be in contact with the outside tire(s) until the outside tire(s) reach the inside half of the pit box before the car leaves its assigned pit box. Any tires let in the outside half of the assigned pit box, or beyond, will result in a time or other penalty.“ These changes came about as a way to promote a safer pit road after several incidents occurred during the 2007 season where tires were being knocked around like projectiles by cars on pit road because they were not under the control of crew members. NASCAR felt like they had to take control of these tires better and this policy is something that teams will have to follow as the 2008 season starts. FoxSports
01/10/08
f1
Mallya 'cautiously optimistic for 2008' - Photos of new car  


First photos of new Force India car

Force India owner Vijay Mallya is cautiously optimistic ahead of his team's first season in Formula One.

Mallya, together with Dutch entrepreneur Michiel Mol, purchased the Spyker team towards the end of last year's Championship, promising to give the team the funds needed to succeed in F1.

And although he has not revealed the team's budget for 2008, it is reportedly around the €65 million mark, which should give Force India the potential to move up the grid.

The team is already set to spend some of the money on the soon-to-be-announced former Renault driver and past race winner Giancarlo Fisichella. The Italian is expected to be confirmed as a Force India driver later today.

And the signing of Fisi, coupled with the potential of Force India's F1 car, has left Mallya feeling confident about his team's future.

"I think that the car always had a lot of potential," Mallya told The Times, "but that the team in the past was not in the position to get more experienced drivers to show that potential, which we are now able to do.

"I am cautiously optimistic for the 2008 season, although I don't want to promise too much."

01/10/08
f1
Glock feels ‘positive pressure’  Toyota’s new signing Timo Glock has played down the pressure he will face on his return to Formula 1 this season.

The reigning GP2 champion, who contested four grands prix for Jordan in 2004, will team up with Jarno Trulli at Toyota following Ralf Schumacher’s departure from the team.

Speaking at the launch of the new TF108 car in Cologne on Thursday, Glock said he will be starting from ‘ground zero’ after his four-year absence from F1 competition.

“At the moment I’m still quite relaxed but when I’m in the plane to Australia I’m sure I will be excited,” said the 25-year-old German, who was BMW’s test and reserve driver last year.

“It will be different because in F1 I’m driving against the 21 best drivers, and Jarno is really good in qualifying.

“I stepped out of F1, had to come back, and at the end it was a hard time. Now it’s like a zero line and I’m very excited to join the team.”

Despite his lack of F1 racing experience, and a rapid team-mate in Trulli, Glock is undaunted by the challenge ahead.

“I don’t feel the pressure, I feel more the motivation,” he said.

“The first time I was here, looked around the facility and had my first test, I was more motivated.

“I feel positive pressure maybe, but more motivation to bring the team back [to success].”

Glock is aiming to emulate fellow GP2 graduates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, who won the feeder series title in 2005 and 2006 respectively and have proved their skills in F1.

“I think in the end the GP2 title is quite important – when you look at Nico and Lewis, they both performed quite well and that’s my goal too,” he said.

01/10/08
f1
Q and A with Toyota's Pascal Vasselon  

Pascal Vasselon

Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis at Panasonic Toyota Racing, has answered several questions regarding the Cologne based squad’s newly launched 2008 challenger, the TF108, including major changes, lessons learnt from their 2007 car and their goals for the coming season….

When did development of the TF108 begin?
We made our first decisions about the direction we would take with the TF108 towards the end of the 2006 season. Since then, gradually we have increased our work on the TF108 in parallel to developing the TF107 throughout the season. However, after the Japanese Grand Prix in September, we switched our efforts 100% to the new car.

Has there been a major change for the TF108?
The aerodynamic concept of this car has changed. The TF107 was an evolution of the TF106 but this time the new package is a departure from recent Toyotas. The primary aerodynamic design philosophy for the TF108 is geared towards optimizing the entire package to minimize balance and downforce changes throughout a lap, thereby producing a more drivable, aerodynamically robust car. In addition to the aerodynamic philosophy, another fundamental change is the wheelbase, which is longer. In mechanical terms we felt we had a strong basis in the TF107’s characteristics so we have focused on making a few refinements. We have made refinements to improve the weight over stiffness ratio with better structural efficiency, so we achieve the same stiffness values with less weight.

Why change the wheelbase?
This was a decision we had to take at the very beginning of the TF108 project, for obvious reasons as it has a huge impact. The main reason for making this decision is to achieve more stability, but secondly we also expect greater aerodynamic development potential, giving our aerodynamicists wider surfaces so more space to play with. More ...

01/10/08
f1
Wurz returns to Honda in test roll  

Alex Wurz

The Honda Racing F1 Team is pleased to announce that Alex Wurz has joined the team in the position of Test and Reserve Driver.

Alex brings significant depth of experience to Honda, having competed in 69 Grands Prix from 1997 to 2007. The 33 year old Austrian is considered to be one of the best development drivers in Formula One and will share the track testing responsibilities with the team's race drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. Together they will form the most experienced driver line-up currently competing in Formula One. Alex will also attend all of the races this season as the team's Reserve Driver.

Alex will commence his testing role with the Honda Racing F1 Team on Tuesday 22 January in Valencia, joining Jenson and Rubens at the Spanish circuit for the team's first test of the year. He will spend this test acclimatizing to the team, its systems and last year's RA107 to provide a reference for his onward development role. The race drivers will be at the wheel of the team's new RA108 challenger, which will run in its interim colors in advance of the team's technical and livery launch at its Brackley headquarters on 29 January. More ...

01/09/08
nascar
New seat specs draw interest in wake of Rudd injury  Seats and helmets were hot topics at NASCAR's annual safety meeting for drivers and crew chiefs Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway. Attendance is mandatory for the gatherings, which continue this month with a second Sprint Cup test and sessions for the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck series.

Tom Gideon, safety director for GM Racing, said drivers were particularly interested in new seat specifications in the wake of Ricky Rudd's Sept. 2 crash at California Speedway. Rudd, who made a NASCAR-record 788 consecutive starts, suffered a severely separated left shoulder and missed five races, the first time he had been sidelined by an injury.

"They have rigid seats now with shoulder and head support, and they want to make sure there's nothing in the seat to hurt the shoulder," Gideon said. "There can be edges of the seat that can get into the shoulder, and that might have happened in Ricky's case." USATODAY.com
01/09/08
nascar
Ganassi puts pressure on Montoya  Chip Ganassi was careful to couch expectations on Juan Pablo Montoya last season, when the former Formula One star began his first full year in NASCAR.

Now that the rookie stripe is off Montoya’s bumper, the car owner is ready for results. Ganassi didn’t back down Wednesday from the

“Chase or bust” declaration he made late last season, insisting he expects the Colombian driver to compete for the Sprint Cup championship this year.

“It’s Chase or bust, and in a macro-sense I mean it,” Ganassi said. “Yes, it’s a lot of pressure, but that’s what this business is about. We’re not in the Wizard of Oz, you know.” It’s a stark contrast from what Ganassi preached this time last year, when he cautioned observers not to expect miracles from Montoya. The switch from sleek, sophisticated F1 cars to the boxy, bulky stock cars was going to be a wild transition, and he insisted Montoya’s unique talent level wouldn’t insulate him from frequent struggles.

So the car owner tempered expectations at every turn, even after Montoya delivered the winning car in the prestigious Rolex 24 sports car race. His performance in that event last January showed that he was getting the hang of different cars, and led many to believe Montoya might race out of the gates in NASCAR. More ...
01/09/08
nascar
Toyota continues to flex muscle at Daytona  Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch paced the NASCAR Sprint Cup drafting practice Wednesday morning at Daytona International Speedway.  Busch turned a top lap of 187.786 mph in his Toyota. The manufacturer actually had the top two speeds in the session, with Red Bull Racing's AJ Allmendinger posting the second-fastest time with his lap of 187.375 mph.

The second Cup test session begins Jan. 14.  Wednesday morning's speeds from the NASCAR Sprint Cup test session at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, with position, driver, team and speed:

1. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 187.786 mph
2. AJ Allmendinger, No. 84 Red Bull Racing Toyota, 187.375
3. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 187.207
3. Kurt Busch, No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge, 187.207
5. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 187.149
6. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 187.106
7. Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 187.048
8. Mark Martin, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 186.916
9. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 186.625
10. Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 186.455
11. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 186.447
12. Jacques Villeneuve, No. 27 Bill Davis Racing Toyota, 186.355
13. Jeremy Mayfield, No. 70 Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet, 186.339
14. David Reutimann, No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 186.224
15. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 186.150
16. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 186.050
17. Casey Mears, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 184.392
18. Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 183.771
19. Joe Nemechek, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, 183.767
20. Kyle Petty, No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge, 183.591
21. J.J. Yeley, No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota, 183.456
22. Robby Gordon, No. 7 Robby Gordon Motorsports Ford, 183.419
23. Jason Keller, No. 98 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 182.441
24. Travis Kvapil, No. 28 Yates Racing Ford, 182.330
25. Kirk Shelmerdine, No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 182.002

01/09/08
nascar
Goodyear tire issues at Daytona (again)  Carl Edwards told reporters tire blistering appeared to be an issue with the new race car on Tuesday. Edwards said his Ford experienced blistering with its right front Goodyear tire. #5-Casey Mears blew a right front tire before his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy car brushed the wall. #41-Reed Sorenson blew a right rear tire and spun his Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge. "I believe every set we've put on that's (blistering) been the limiting factor in single car runs and in the draft," Edwards said. "I don't think it's a function of the draft. We have worked with the camber a little bit and gotten it better. That's the No. 1 issue right now." Goodyear's Rick Heinrich acknowledged issues with tires. "We have a new car and we have a new tire and what these test sessions are all about is for the teams to experiment and get dialed in and to figure out where they need to be when they come back for Speedweeks," he said. "Right now we've got, some of the teams have got a lot of heat in the right front tires and we have seen some blistering but then what the situation is from there is it's up to the team to make adjustments and improve on that condition." #19 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge driver Elliott Sadler said his team also experienced some blistering but he wasn't concerned. "I think this is a normal issue in winter testing until we get some rubber down on the race track," he told reporters. "By the time we have the 24-hour race and stuff like that, there will be plenty of rubber down, we'll slide around a little bit more and tire problems will take care of themselves." Florida Today

AND Despite a bunch of blistered Goodyear tires Tuesday in Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway and one crash that might have been a result of that issue, NASCAR vice president for competition Robin Pemberton said don't expect any tire changes before Speedweeks 2008. Pemberton said teams were using a different tire at Daytona than was used in the COT's previous outing on a similar racetrack, last October at Talladega Superspeedway. He said the Daytona tire had "more stagger," or more circumference from the right to the left side to aid the cars' turning. NASCAR.com

[Editor's Note: When is NASCAR going to switch to a tire manufacturer that does not have these tire issues year in and year out?]

01/09/08
f1
Encouraging start for McLaren at Jerez  


Following Monday’s launch at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-23, made its track debut at the Circuito de Jerez in southern Spain today. The team had two of its 2008 cars in action. Driving duties fell to Heikki Kovalainen and Pedro de la Rosa who were at the wheel of chassis 2 and chassis 1 respectively.

Pedro took to the track for the first time at 09:05, with Heikki leaving the garage in his MP4-23 at 14:19.

Pedro’s car was the chassis at the event in Stuttgart. It was completed at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking on Sunday afternoon before being transported to the launch. At 02:00am on the morning of Tuesday 8th, the car left Stuttgart airport for Jerez. The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes test team took receipt of the car early on Tuesday morning in Spain and spent the day preparing the MP4-23 for today’s running.

Heikki’s car left the McLaren Technology Centre on Tuesday 8th and travelled directly to Jerez, arriving at the earliest possible opportunity when the local airport opened at 06:00 this morning. During the course of the morning the test team worked to install the set-up on the car prior to Heikki taking to the track at 14:19.

This week’s test is a private session, allowing the team to achieve its filming and photographic requirements with the MP4-23 alongside the test program. This will focus on familiarization with the car and running through a range of installation and set-up checks.

The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes test program will remain in Jerez until Wednesday 16th January before moving onto Valencia from Tuesday 22nd January.

Heikki Kovalainen “It was really great to get on track today with the MP4-23. It was my first session as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver. I always really enjoy the first day a new car runs, there is always a very unique atmosphere, you know a little bit tense, a little bit excited. The first impressions of the new car are good. We have a comprehensive development schedule to work through over the next couple of months. The car’s performance today is definitely an encouraging starting point. Today was also my first real opportunity to meet the test team, which was good because we will be spending a lot of time together over the next few weeks!”

Pedro de la Rosa “We covered 69 laps in total today between Heikki and me, which is a good start. The car felt positive and it has been an encouraging day. This is the second time I have had the opportunity to make the track debut with our new car, it is also the eighth car I have driven for the team. It is great for me to be in the car from the very beginning, as I am able to instantly build up an understanding of the car and how it works, and then start to put this knowledge into the testing program. This time of the season, from when a new car is launched until the first race, is probably the busiest time of the year for the test team. We have 18 track days scheduled, including today, before the MP4-23s leave for Australia and a lot of work to complete in that time, but the motivation is huge with all the guys here.” McLaren PR

01/09/08
alms
Peugeot added to Sebring test  

Peugeot on the outside at the start of last year's 24 Hours of LeMans

Peugeot is among the list of entries for the American Le Mans Series’ annual Winter Test at Sebring, joining Series prototype regulars such as Audi Sport North America, Penske Racing and Dyson Racing from the Porsche camp, three Acura teams, Mazda’s B-K Motorsports and Intersport Racing.

An impressive list of the Series’ top GT2 teams with representation from Dodge, Ferrari, Ford and Panoz also are entered for the three-day Test, scheduled from January 28-30 at Sebring International Raceway. It serves as a warm-up for the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on March 15, the opening race for the 2008 American Le Mans Series.

The entry of a diesel-powered Peugeot 908 leads many to believe the French factory will enter Sebring and provide a rematch of last year’s clash at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Peugeot began on pole position there but Audi led every lap of the race with the trio of Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro/Marco Werner taking their second straight victory in the Audi R10 TDI. They won by 10 laps over the Peugeot of Sebastien Bourdais/Pedro Lamy/Stephane Sarrazin. The Audi trio also won last year at Sebring. More ...

01/09/08
f1
Ferrari drivers to be equal in 2008 - boss  (GMM)  Ferrari's new team boss has backed Felipe Massa's call for driver equality at the Italian team in 2008.

Despite his teammate Kimi Raikkonen winning the championship last season, the Brazilian 26-year-old pointed out that Ferrari won both titles in 2007 "thanks to team work".

The Maranello based team operated on the basis of equality when Raikkonen arrived last year, and Stefano Domenicali on Wednesday said Ferrari's approach will be the same in 2008.

"The priority is the well being of the team.  In this sense Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa start off equal," he told a news conference at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in northern Italy.

01/09/08
f1
New McLaren hits track in Spain  

McLaren MP4-23

(GMM) McLaren's newly launched 2008 car, the MP4-23, made its track debut at the start of an exclusive three day test at the Jerez circuit on Wednesday morning.

At precisely 9.05am, the single seater rolled onto the Andalucion circuit in dry conditions in the hands of test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

The car featured a 'bridge'-style front wing that the Mercedes-powered team pioneered in 2007, unlike the version that was unveiled in Stuttgart earlier this week.

Finnish team newcomer Heikki Kovalainen is expected to join the action later on Wednesday in a second completed version of the 2008 design, ahead of his 2008 race teammate Lewis Hamilton's first try on Thursday.

01/09/08
dakar
Monteiro is disappointed to have to stay home  

The former F1 and Champ Car driver is now driving just a WTCC car.  Another waste of good talent.

The Lisbon-Dakar is over before it even began, cancelled because the safety of the competitors could not be guaranteed. Tiago Monteiro's feelings on the subject reflect those of all the participants, disappointed and professionally hurt by the cancellation, the first in the history of the Dakar.

"The overriding sentiment is one of immense frustration, but I understand the reasons behind the organizers' decision because safety comes first," Tiago declared, "I worked for five months to put this project together and our desire to meet this challenge was huge. In the past few days I have felt the spirit of solidarity that unites the Dakar competitors and I am aware that some were thrust into a much worse situation than I was.  For me the Dakar was an isolated project. I think that the tragedy is even greater for the fans who had gambled everything they had in this adventure and who may not get a second chance. It is sad that terrorism can put an end to one of the greatest sporting events in the world."

The Lisbon-Dakar had a unique dimension for Tiago Monteiro with a competitive challenge tied to a humanitarian project, that nothing will stop. More ...

01/09/08
nascar
Yet another NASCAR sponsor leaves  AAA's national motorsports sponsorships will hit the end of the road after the 2008 season.

The primary sponsor on Roush Fenway Racing's No. 6 car and the official auto insurance for International Speedway Corp. tracks, AAA has decided that it will not renew those deals at the end of this season.  [This continues a trend that has seen sponsors leave NASCAR at an alarming rate indicating they no longer believe NASCAR delivers the value it once did.]

AAA's exit at ISC could open the door for Nationwide Insurance, the new title sponsor of NASCAR's No. 2 circuit, formerly known as the Busch Series. ISC tracks are the site for 19 of NASCAR's 36 Sprint Cup events.

Sources say ISC has reached out to Nationwide and possibly other insurance companies in an effort to fill that category beginning in 2009. Nationwide owns status as the official insurance company at Speedway Motorsports Inc. tracks.

AAA's status as the official auto club and auto insurance of the Indianapolis 500 also will end after this season. AAA made its decision this early in the year based on deadlines that were in its agreements. More at Sporting News

01/09/08
industry news
Chrysler aims to trim rentals  Already bracing for a slowing U.S. market, Chrysler LLC wants to reduce sales of vehicles to government and commercial buyers, such as rental-car companies, by perhaps as many as 200,000 autos this year.

The newly private automaker is undergoing dramatic changes -- from slashing as many as 25,000 jobs to cutting nameplates -- and the change in its sales strategy is part of Chrysler's efforts to make it a retail-based company that relies on what Chrysler President Jim Press calls a "pull-driven system."

Recently Press and Chief Executive Officer Bob Nardelli indicated the company wants to cut its fleet sales toward 20% of its total sales.

"We're looking for a very small increase in retail but we're going to be reducing our dependency on fleet substantially," Press said of 2008 goals. "That's part of a plan that we have to become a more of a retail-oriented company, improve our residual values and improve our focus in terms of production, to meet retail demand versus fleet demands."

J.D. Power and Associates estimates that Chrysler's fleet sales last year were about 30%. The market-research company estimates the industry fleet average is about 21%.

One industry official familiar with Chrysler's sales results corroborated that the automaker's U.S. sales are 30% for fleet purchases and that a reduction to 20% would mean the loss of about 200,000 sales -- about the same as the number of vehicles made at a typical factory in a full year. Chrysler sold about 2.1 million cars and trucks in the United States last year -- a 3% decline from 2006.  More at Detroit Free Press

01/09/08
cc
Tracy: Age has not slowed me down  

Tracy celebrates his only win last year - in Cleveland

Paul Tracy recently celebrated his 39th birthday, but he feels there's no reason that should prevent him from winning the Champ Car championship this season.

The Scarborough native has signed a new contract with Gerald Forsythe, the principal owner of Forsythe Pettit Racing, ending speculation his five-year stint with the team was over and he might wind up in the rival IRL.

"I feel good, but I know it's not going to get easier to win championships," said Tracy yesterday from his home in Las Vegas.

"I have no illusions that I can do the same things that I could at 29 or 22. But I still feel that I have the speed. With the right people around me and everybody focused on the job at hand, we can win the championship."

"Everybody involved was pretty frustrated over how last year went," he said. "I think everything came to a boiling point."

That meeting resulted in the hiring of Ken Siwieck, the former assistant manager of Newman-Haas/Lanigan Racing, who will be in charge of Tracy's car.

Siwieck said he feels Tracy has not lost his fearlessness, which some drivers lose as they approach the twilight of their careers

"There's a saying in motor racing that if you don't crash once in a while you're not trying," he said. "There are a lot of guys who will sit back and finish sixth or seventh. If that's the kind of car you've got that's one thing. But we intend to field a car that can win.'' Toronto Star

01/09/08
ga
Pruett Fastest Overall in Three-Day Rolex Test  Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) veteran road racer Scott Pruett topped the time charts (1.41.232) in the No.01 TELMEX/Target Riley at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) in preparation for the Rolex 24 At Daytona during a three-day test which hosted 60 Rolex sport cars that will compete on January 26-27.

Pruett was joined in the No.01 Daytona Prototype by CGRFS NASCAR teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti along with his 2008 TELMEX teammate, Memo Rojas.  To complete the team’s eight driver line-up, the No.02 Target/TELMEX Riley was piloted by Target IndyCar teammates Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon, reigning Indy Pro Series champion Alex Lloyd and Salvador Duran. 

The team’s focus throughout the weekend was to have all eight drivers acclimated to the car and tally as much seat time as possible.  Dixon, Montoya and Wheldon returned to the car for the first time since last year’s race while Franchitti returns to a DP after a two-year hiatus.

Without any major hitches throughout the weekend, the team now focuses on becoming the first team to win the prestigious endurance race a record three consecutive times.  Last year saw Montoya, Pruett and Duran bring home the overall title while Wheldon, Dixon and Casey Mears made it to victory lane in 2006.

01/09/08
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Aguri to launch 2008 car in February
  • Rio plans to demolish former Brazil GP track
  • Confusion over status of McLaren sponsor
  • Only racing lure keeps de la Rosa in F1
  • F2008 to suit Raikkonen better - Ferrari
  • Theissen adds voice to McLaren ECU rhetoric
  • Schu is Ferrari 'third driver' - Montezemolo
  • F1 trio criticizes new technical era
  • NewsCorp buys into German F1 broadcaster

Aguri to launch 2008 car in February
(GMM)  Super Aguri will launch its new car for 2008 at Barcelona next month, the Japanese formula one team announced on Tuesday.

The Honda-powered single seater, to be called the SA08, is scheduled to be unveiled at the Circuit de Catalunya on 19 February -- less than a month before the 2008 season kicks off in Australia in mid March.

Super Aguri, likely to again field Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson this year, began winter testing in November with a car that strongly resembled last year's works Honda RA107.

The so-called 'customer car' situation in F1 is highly contentious, with Prodrive's 2008 entry falling by the wayside.

The former Spyker team, meanwhile, is pressing ahead with arbitration against both Super Aguri, which is run by former grand prix driver Aguri Suzuki, as well as Toro Rosso.

Rio plans to demolish former Brazil GP track
(GMM)  A piece of formula one history in Brazil has come under threat by Rio de Janeiro's bid to host the Olympic Games in 2016.

The city on Tuesday released details of the bid, including plans to demolish the Jacarepaguá race track, which hosted the Brazilian grand prix ten times until 1989.

The site, a reclaimed flat marshland that was cleared for the so-called Autodromo Internacional Nelson Piquet in 1978, would be used as a base for a number of Olympic sports, according to the plans.

Jacarepaguá has more recently been used for CART and MotoGP races, and survived plans in 2005 to demolish the circuit to make room for the Pan American Games.

Nigel Mansell won the last F1 race there, but Alain Prost won at Jacarepaguá five times. More ...

01/09/08
nascar
Toyota teams begin to flex muscle at Daytona  J.J. Yeley posted the fastest lap during a drafting session Tuesday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.  Yeley, who has moved to Hall of Fame Racing for 2008, turned a fast lap of 187.359 in the No. 96 Toyota. Johnson had led the first three sessions this week.

"We ended up fifth overall in single-car runs and fastest in drafting," Yeley said. "It doesn't necessarily mean much, but the car drove really good. I was able to come from the back of the pack to the front a couple of different times, in a couple of different packs."

The first week of testing at the 2.5-mile track concludes Wednesday with two drafting sessions. Cumulative speeds through Tuesday afternoon's session of the NASCAR Sprint Cup test at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, with position, driver, team and speed:

1. J.J. Yeley, No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota, 187.359 mph
2. Kurt Busch, No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge, 187.317
3. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 187.149
4. Joe Nemechek, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, 187.137
5. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 187.134
6. Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 187.130
7. David Reutimann, No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 187.029
8. Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 186.997
9. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 186.889
10. Robby Gordon, No. 7 Robby Gordon Motorsports Ford, 186.796
11. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 186.567
11. Mark Martin, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 186.567
13. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 186.278
14. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 186.254
15. Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 186.212
16. Casey Mears, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 186.073
17. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 185.774
18. Jeremy Mayfield, No. 70 Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet, 185.667
19. Jacques Villeneuve, No. 27 Bill Davis Racing Toyota, 184.858
20. Travis Kvapil, No. 28 Yates Racing Ford, 184.676
21. AJ Allmendinger, No. 84 Red Bull Racing Toyota, 184.049
22. Kyle Petty, No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge, 183.486
23. Aric Almirola, No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 183.367
24. Jason Keller, No. 98 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 182.741
25. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 182.493
26. Kirk Shelmerdine, No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 181.763

01/09/08
nascar
Joe Gibbs resigns as Redskins coach  UPDATE Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs said his role would not change even though his father and team owner Joe Gibbs resigned as coach of the NFL's Washington Redskins and will return to the race team.

JD Gibbs and Denny Hamlin

"As far as my role with the team goes - nothing changes, just like nothing really changed when he went back to the Redskins in 2004," J.D. Gibbs said in a news release. "I guess it's a good thing I never moved into his office. We're all working really hard to win races and championships, just like we always have."

J.D. said it will be "be great to have him back" at the shop.

"It's a biased opinion because he's my dad, but there's so much that he brings to the table," J.D. Gibbs said. "He has such a gift for leading a team. He's been coaching for 40 years and a leader of this race team since we formed it in 1992.

"Having him back will be a huge encouragement to our 430 families and a benefit to all of our corporate partners. I know my dad loves the Redskins and thinks the world of [Redskins owner] Dan Snyder. As a huge Redskins fan myself, I'm thrilled he will remain in partnership with Dan as a consultant, helping the Redskins wherever he can in the years to come."

01/08/08 NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs resigned as coach and team president of the Washington Redskins on Tuesday, three days after his team's playoff loss concluded a season marked by the killing of safety Sean Taylor.  The Redskins said in a statement that Gibbs will remain part of the Redskins family and serve as a special adviser to owner Dan Snyder. Gibbs was to discuss his decision at a 3 p.m. news conference at Redskins Park.
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