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Argentinean named as 3rd AWR driver Argentinean named as 3rd AWR driverAndersen Walko Racing's Dan Andersen is pleased to announce that he has signed Ramiro Scuncio of Argentina as the team's third full-time driver for the 2006 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. 

Scuncio, 16, joins Brad Jaeger of Cincinnati and Gerardo Bonilla of Orlando, Fla. on the driving squad for the Fairfield, N.J.-based team for all 12 races in 2006.  Other drivers are expected to race for the team, widely regarded as one of the best in North American formula car racing, in selected events.

Scuncio comes to American racing from the Chilean Formula 3 series, where he won a race last year in his rookie season.

He is managed by former IndyCar and Formula One driver Eliseo Salazar, who also arranged to have Pablo Donoso drive for Andersen Walko Racing last year. Donoso, of Santiago, Chile, was victorious at one of the Star Mazda races at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. in 2005 while driving for AWR, posting two other podium finishes and three poles last year too. He is competing in the USAC Silver Crown series in 2006 in the hopes of catching the eye of a NASCAR team owner.

"It will be a big step for Ramiro to follow in Pablo's footsteps this year because the Star Mazda series is quite different than what Ramiro has done in the past, but both he and his family are very committed to the effort," said Salazar, who was at Phoenix International Raceway with Donoso for this weekend's USAC Silver Crown season opener at the Copper World Classic.  "We expect for Ramiro to run in the top 10 this year, and learn enough so that he can contend for the Star Mazda championship in 2007. He's looking forward to our next test at Road Atlanta very much."

"Relationships are very important in racing, as they are in all other businesses, and it's nice that Eliseo is again endorsing the work we do by bringing another driver to our team," noted Michelle Kish, team manager.

Scuncio's signing followed a successful test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. recently.  That track will hold the 2006 Star Mazda season opener March 17 as a support event to the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race.

"We were all very impressed with Ramiro at the test, and we're looking forward to an exciting season," Kish added.

Rossella Manfrinato will be Scuncio's engineer. She was Jonathan Klein's engineer last year for his second season with AWR. Klein will drive for Andretti Green Racing in the Indy Racing League's Indy Pro Series this year.

Houston story is spot on Houston story is spot onUPDATE As Chuck Kosich, GM of the Houston GP told us below, you will note the revised placement of some of the grandstands in this latest track diagram (right) as well as the slight track reconfiguration (last three corners) that has taken place since the original diagram was released below.


01/12/06 Dear AutoRacing1.com, Your story about the entire state being behind the Grand Prix of Houston is Real!  We announced the Grand Prix Of Houston only 60 days ago and the Fan and Business support has been over the top. We have already made  a minor change to the track in order to add more seats and Hospitality.

Chuck Kosich
General Manager
Grand Prix Of Houston

Houston GP tickets on sale next week Houston GP tickets on sale next weekHouston - Officials announced today that tickets for the 2006 Grand Prix of Houston will go on sale at 10 a.m. (CST) on Monday, Jan. 23. The highly anticipated return of the Grand Prix will take place on May 11 - 13 at Reliant Park and promises to be a hot ticket for hard-core racing enthusiasts and casual fans alike, with a thrilling schedule of three days and nights of speed and entertainment. 

The 2006 Grand Prix of Houston will feature an unprecedented combination of racing and activities, highlighted by world-class events from American Le Mans Series and Champ Car. On Friday night, racing fans will welcome the all-new Lone Star Grand Prix, part of the American Le Mans Series of car endurance racing events patterned after the world-famous "24 hours of Le Mans" which features cars such as Audi, Corvette, Porsche, Maserati, and Aston Martin. The next night, fans will witness the awesome power of Champ Car when Saturday's main event features some of the top drivers in the world competing in the Bridgestone Presents Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.  Never before have two world-class racing events raced together on the same weekend at the same location, so Houston is in for an unforgettable racing experience.

In addition to the high-speed thrills of world-class racing, a wide variety of entertainment and activities is being scheduled for people of all ages. Live music and other entertainment will take place on multiple stages throughout the fan-friendly Reliant Park grounds, and the Grand Prix Kid Zone will have interactive games, rides, inflatables, and other attractions for children. zzzz 

"The Grand Prix of Houston will be a three day/three night festival and is truly one of the "can't-miss" events of 2006. Houston should get ready for a high-octane party," said Robert Dale Morgan, Executive Director of the Grand Prix and the President and Chief Executive Officer of the 2004 Houston Super Bowl XXXVIII Host Committee.

Beginning Jan. 23, a full assortment of ticket options and packages will be available, ranging from single-day general admission tickets starting at $10 to a 3-Day Reserved Grandstand SuperTicket for $129. Paddock Passes will also be available, giving fans access to Reliant Arena which will house many of the race cars, large transporters, and garages for all of the race teams.  Fans can rub elbows with drivers, mechanics, technicians and team owners and view the high-powered American Le Mans and Champ Cars up close. The SuperTicket is expected to be a popular option, since it provides an economical way to purchase an all-inclusive package of three days of reserved seating and paddock access.

A variety of individual and corporate hospitality options are also available, including Pit Lane Suites, the Grand Prix Club and the Executive Chalet Village. The most unique hospitality offering is the Stadium Club, located in Reliant Stadium, which gives fans air-conditioned comfort and an excellent view of the cars racing around the Reliant Astrodome and towards the finish line.

Tickets for the Grand Prix will be available online at www.grandprixofhouston.com or www.ticketmaster.com, in person at the Reliant Stadium South Box Office, by phone at 713-629-3700, and at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers including Houston-area locations of Foley's, Fiesta, and Wherehouse Music. For group (25 or more) and hospitality ticketing information, fans should contact the Grand Prix of Houston office at 713-659-RACE (7223) or via email at info@grandprixofhouston.com. For more information on the Grand Prix of Houston, please visit http://www.grandprixofhouston.com.

For a complete list of ticket prices, packages, and locations, please visit: http://www.grandprixofhouston.com/tickets.html 

Hendrick power back on top Hendrick power back on topWednesday afternoon Nextel Cup test times from Daytona
Pos. No. Driver Make Best Time Best Speed
1 5a Kyle Busch Chv 47.306 190.251
2 07 Clint Bowyer Chv 47.329 190.158
3 45a Kyle Petty Dge 47.351 190.070
4 42x Casey Mears Dge 47.378 189.962
5 15 Paul Menard Chv 47.385 189.934
6 11a Denny Hamlin Chv 47.390 189.913
7 14b Sterling Marlin Chv 47.447 189.685
8 10a Scott Riggs Dge 47.479 189.557
9 22 Dave Blaney Dge 47.573 189.183
10 7 Robby Gordon Chv 47.613 189.024
11 2a Kurt Busch Dge 47.614 189.020
12 92a Chad Chaffin Chv 47.620 188.996
13 25b David Green Chv 47.624 188.980
14 16a Greg Biffle Frd 47.625 188.976
15 22a Dave Blaney Dge 47.636 188.933
16 61a Kevin Lepage Chv 47.641 188.913
17 09a Mike Wallace Dge 47.643 188.905
18 95 Stanton Barrett Chv 47.653 188.865
19 01b Joe Nemechek Chv 47.662 188.830
20 96r Terry Labonte Chv 47.670 188.798 zzzz
21 29 Kevin Harvick Chv 47.683 188.747
22 6a Mark Martin Frd 47.686 188.735
23 45 Kyle Petty Dge 47.714 188.624
24 66 Jeff Green Chv 47.746 188.497
25 99a Carl Edwards Frd 47.749 188.486
26 99b Carl Edwards Frd 47.779 188.367
27 10b Scott Riggs Dge 47.808 188.253
28 88b Dale Jarrett Frd 47.815 188.225
29 26a Jamie McMurray Frd 47.830 188.166
30 16b Greg Biffle Frd 47.868 188.017
31 55 Michael Waltrip Dge 47.914 187.837
32 66x Jeff Green Chv 47.921 187.809
33 09 Mike Wallace Dge 47.929 187.778
34 42 Casey Mears Dge 47.952 187.688
35 18a J.J. Yeley Chv 47.973 187.606
36 11b Denny Hamlin Chv 47.977 187.590
37 89 Morgan Shepherd Dge 48.060 187.266
38 49a Brent Sherman Dge 48.076 187.204
39 32a Travis Kvapil Chv 48.086 187.165
40 15a Paul Menard Chv 48.192 186.753
41 14a Sterling Marlin Chv 48.343 186.170
42 49 Brent Sherman Dge 48.368 186.073
43 18b J.J. Yeley Chv 48.372 186.058
44 32 Travis Kvapil Chv 48.626 185.086
45 00a Hermie Sadler Frd 48.802 184.419
46 96t Terry Labonte Chv 48.926 183.951
47 27 Kirk Shelmerdine Chv 49.502 181.811
Track News
Lowe’s replaces Chevy with Toyota Lowe’s replaces Chevy with ToyotaLowe’s Motor Speedway has signed a lucrative contract with Toyota for the Japanese car manufacturer to become the exclusive vehicle supplier of the North Carolina superspeedway. The move ends a long relationship with Chevrolet.
Extra practice for Mexico’s Martinez Extra practice for Mexico’s MartinezDavid Martinez has decided to take in extra single-seater mileage before heading to South Africa to race for A1 Team Mexico in the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Durban, KwaZulu Natal at the end of January.

The 24-year-old who ranked fifth in last year’s North American Toyota Atlantic series will be testing a Formula 3000 car at the Misano circuit in Italy in preparation for the street race. His only outing for A1 Team Mexico thus far was in the second round, at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz in Germany, in which he finished eighth in the Sprint and then 13th in the Feature race.

Zanardi carries Olympic Torch Zanardi carries Olympic TorchUPDATE Below are two photos of Zanardi carrying the Olympic Torch.


01/17/06 Alex Zanardi, the former Formula One driver and two-time CART champion, carried the Olympic torch earlier today in Padua, Italy. Zanardi lost both legs in a collision during a CART race in 2001 and has two prosthetic legs.

Zanardi walked with a crutch under one arm while holding the torch aloft with his other arm.

Don't expect Simmons to boost IRL Don't expect Simmons to boost IRLThis SI.com article says, The Indy Racing League would like nothing more than to turn the wayback machine to the 1970s, when the Indy 500 was still the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and Indy drivers were celebrated for their death-defying derring-do in an open-wheel cockpit.

Of course, it's the Daytona 500 and NASCAR's more marketable drivers that dominate America's motorsports consciousness, while Indy and its half-brother CART are relegated to the second team, save for the occasional curiosity of Danica Patrick.

But in hopes of reclaiming past glory, the IRL has reached back to an icon from the '70s --- rock star Gene Simmons of KISS. It's either an act of desperation ... or an act of sheer genius.

I happen to think it's the former ... and I take that stance with much regret.

I have to admit the relevancy of Simmons and the KISS name is lost on anybody who doesn't consider it a watershed event when Gene and the boys first took off the makeup.

I'm sure Simmons, who has already co-authored the IRL's official theme song, will bring unbridled enthusiasm to its marketing campaign. "We intend to go places where perhaps no one initially thought of going," Simmons said at a recent news conference.

Hopefully, that means more than spewing fire and sticking out a ridiculously long tongue.

But despite being a former member of the KISS Army, I just don't think Simmons wields the kind of magic to make the IRL significantly more popular. In fact, I'm not sure anybody short of Bono can save the IRL --- and I'm pretty sure Bono has more important issues to work on.

Simmons and KISS once sang of putting the X in Sex. Just don't expect him to put the relevancy in the IRL.

No A1 Grand Prix for Dixon No A1 Grand Prix for DixonDespite testing “Black Beauty” at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Dubai in December, Indy Racing League frontrunner Scott Dixon’s hopes of racing for A1 Team New Zealand in the rounds at Monterrey in Mexico and Laguna Seca in the USA have been scuppered as the IRL team for which he races, Chip Ganassi Racing, wants him to focus on pre-season testing and the sorting of a new Dallara chassis and a new Honda engine after campaigning a Toyota-engined Panoz in 2005.

A1 Team New Zealand chief executive Bob McMurray said: “Scott drives with a great deal of national pride, so to deny our request was very difficult for them. Their thinking is that if Scott is able to accomplish his personal goal to win races, the Indy 500 and the championship, New Zealand will benefit that it has with Michael Campbell winning the 2005 US Open.”

Dixon is due to start his IRL testing commitments at Phoenix next week, working towards the opening round at Miami on 26 March, and the A1 Team New Zealand seat will continue to be shared between Matt Halliday and Jonny Reid. A1GP

Lyons plans more Champ Car testing Lyons plans more Champ Car testingUPDATE Q: Do you have anything else lined up in Champ Car?

"At the moment I'm speaking to a few different teams, keeping close to Rocketsports specially since they were the ones to give me an opportunity to test in Champ Car. But I'm realistic, and I know that they don't have a title sponsor right now and unless they find one it would be hard for them to run me. So I'm keeping my options open.

"[But] my heart is set in Champ Car. Even if we can't land a full-time ride, we'll try and do a few races this year and then build up for the 2007 season, which I think is going to be easier [to get rides]."  SPEEDTV.com

12/21/05 A week after testing a Champ Car Richard Lyons is back in Ireland for the holidays and is still riding a high from the experience.  

"I had the best time ever driving the Champ Car," Lyons told AutoRacing1.com.  "It has given me a new motivation in my racing career and I will concentrate my full focus on driving in the series in 2006.

"Rocketsports were really such a nice bunch of guys and also very professional which made the transition to a new environment very smooth.

"I want to be testing again in January and I'm not sure what possibilities are out there but for sure I'll do whatever it takes to get behind the wheel of one of those cars again soon!"

Micklewright high on new Atlantics series and drivers Micklewright high on new Atlantics series and driversNeil Micklewright, General Manager of Forsythe Racing, is very high on the new revitalized Atlantics series and the four drivers they have hired for their 4-car superteam.

"I think that the way that the new Champ Car Atlantic is heading, I think we're going to perhaps see a return to the heady days of the late '70s and early '80s where it is very much the breeding ground for the majority of the very best drivers. I think the series will get an opportunity for the very best to shine. I probably anticipate each of these four young men [Leonardo Maia, Richard Philippe, Andreas Wirth, and James Hinchcliffe] winning races in this coming year, and at least one of them being the champion."

Forsythe Racing didn't have the opportunity to test these drivers. How did the team go about selecting these four rising stars?

"Yeah, you're correct, we did not have the opportunity to test them. I'm not altogether convinced that had we been able to test them that we would have learned anything that made it any easier for us to make our decisions. In view of the fact that the car we're going to be using is brand new, that puts everybody pretty much in the same situation. So what we did was to take a very close look at the past performances and what we viewed to be the future potential of these of the people that we selected. It was not an overnight thing.

"We also had lists that we narrowed down, and I'm just overjoyed that they were able to get what I viewed as being the best four up-and-coming drivers in the world right now."

Wednesday drafting speeds from Daytona Wednesday drafting speeds from DaytonaNote, these are drafting speeds, hence higher than past speeds.
Rank Car# Driver Make Speed
1 88b Dale Jarrett Ford 189.215
2 07 Clint Bowyer Chevy 189.127
3 09 Mike Wallace Dodge 189.012
4 99b Carl Edwards Ford 188.945
5 16b Greg Biffle Ford 188.917
6 26b Jamie McMurray Ford 188.834
7 29 Kevin Harvick Chevy 188.715
8 5a Kyle Busch Chevy 188.711
9 01b Joe Nemechek Chevy 188.533
10 45a Kyle Petty Dodge 188.486
11 26a Jamie McMurray Ford 188.411
12 09a Mike Wallace Dodge 188.367
13 16a Greg Biffle Ford 188.316
14 66 Jeff Green Chevy 188.292
15 55 Michael Waltrip Dodge 188.225
16 22a Dave Blaney Dodge 188.222
17 61a Kevin Lepage Chevy 188.218
18 01a Joe Nemechek Chevy 188.159
19 6a Mark Martin Ford 187.954
20 11a Denny Hamlin Chevy 187.950
21 18a J.J. Yeley Chevy 187.825
22 96r Terry Labonte Chevy 187.825
23 2a Kurt Busch Dodge 187.770
24 10b Scott Riggs Dodge 187.723
25 42x Casey Mears Dodge 187.723
26 95 Stanton Barrett Chevy 187.692
27 22 Dave Blaney Dodge 187.649
28 25b David Green Chevy 187.570
29 66x Jeff Green Chevy 187.496
30 89 Morgan Shepherd Ford 187.375
31 14b Sterling Marlin Chevy 187.363
32 99a Carl Edwards Ford 187.196
33 32a Travis Kvapil Chevy 187.036
34 15a Paul Menard Chevy 186.962
35 10a Scott Riggs Dodge 186.904
36 49 Brent Sherman Dodge 186.498
37 18b J.J. Yeley Chevy 186.413
38 45 Kyle Petty Dodge 186.389
39 07a Clint Bowyer Chevy 186.293
40 11b Denny Hamlin Chevy 186.100
41 29a Kevin Harvick Chevy 185.916
42 14a Sterling Marlin Chevy 185.521
43 7a Robby Gordon Chevy 184.631
44 7 Robby Gordon Chevy 184.509
45 92a Chad Chaffin Chevy 184.498
46 42 Casey Mears Dodge 184.475
47 15 Paul Menard Chevy 184.275
48 96t Terry Labonte Chevy 184.139
49 32 Travis Kvapil Chevy 183.516
50 49a Brent Sherman Dodge 183.348
51 27 Kirk Shelmerdine Chevy 182.500
Gehl joins Graham Rahal Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Atlantic effort Gehl joins Graham Rahal Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Atlantic effortLas Vegas, NV — The Mi-Jack Conquest Racing (MJCR) Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama car of Graham Rahal will carry the colors of Gehl, a West Bend, Wisconsin-based light construction and agricultural equipment manufacturer in a unique partnership between Rahal/Letterman Racing and MJCR.

Gehl, which has been involved in motorsports with the Champ Car World Series since 1990, will sponsor the Rahal Champ Car Atlantic effort in addition to an integrated marketing program with Rahal/Letterman Racing, the Ohio-based open-wheel team owned by former Champ Car champion Bobby Rahal and late-night television personality David Letterman.

“Having Graham Rahal fighting for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic championship with Gehl Company sponsorship will provide a new level of excitement for our customers and dealers throughout the season,” said Dan Keyes, Gehl Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Graham is a fine young man, not to mention one of the top up-and- coming drivers in the country. He will be a perfect spokesman for our company and our products.”

The relationship marks a new level of participation for Gehl, which is already active in motorsports as the "Official Construction Equipment" of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Milwaukee Mile, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI. Gehl is also an "Official Supplier" to the Champ Car Safety Team.
“This new association is a natural extension of our long-standing motorsports marketing program,” said Keyes. “This year we‘ll have a larger presence than usual at all of the major racing events throughout the country and in Canada and Mexico as well.”  zzzz 
For Rahal, who recently celebrated his seventeenth birthday, Gehl’s participation is one that is important not just to him, but to the entire Atlantic field.
“I am excited about having Gehl sponsor my Atlantic effort—some of the tracks we will be racing on this season couldn’t be built without their equipment,” said Rahal. “This is going to be a very competitive championship, and I am looking forward to working with Gehl, and hopefully we can get them to the top of the podium often this season.”
MJCR will campaign a two-car Atlantic effort for the 2006 season and is anticipating a highly competitive championship battle.
“We are happy to welcome Gehl to Mi-Jack Conquest Racing for Graham’s Atlantic effort this season,” said Mi-Jack Conquest Racing co-owner Eric Bachelart. “We are excited about the opportunity, and look forward to a very strong season with Graham in his rookie season in Atlantic competition.”
About Gehl Company
With roots dating back to 1859, Gehl Company is a producer of high quality capital goods. Gehl has targeted two principal market sectors with our equipment: agriculture and light industrial construction applications worldwide. Gehl has growing market positions in each of these two large industries -- one essential to the world's food supply and the other to its transportation and shelter needs.
Gehl became a publicly owned company in 1989. Shares are traded on the NASDAQ National Market System under the symbol GEHL.

Button tops Wednesday testing in Jerez Button tops Wednesday testing in JerezHonda's Jenson Button set fast time on the second day of Jerez Formula 1 testing activities this Wednesday, his best time of 1:18.398 outpacing Toyota's Jarno Trulli by 0.259.:
1) Jenson Button, Honda (M), 1:18.398, 96 laps
2) Jarno Trulli, Toyota (B), 1:18.657, 43
3) Anthony Davidson, Honda (M), 1:18.674, 133
4) Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren-Mercedes (M), 1:19.235, 99
5) Paffett, McLaren-Mercedes (M), 1:19.300, 90
6) Alex Wurz, Williams-Cosworth (B), 1:20.306, 59
7) R.Schumacher, Toyota (B), 1:20.587, 39
8) Nico Rosberg, Williams-Cosworth (B), 1:20.841, 41
Gordon to run DEI engines Gordon to run DEI enginesRobby Gordon will run Dale Earnhardt Inc. engines instead of Menards engines in 2006.  Menards and DEI have a technical relationship (along with Paul Menard as one of its drivers), and Menards is still a co-sponsor of Gordon's No. 7 Nextel Cup car.  Gordon ran a DEI motor the last two races of 2005, posting an eighth and a 14th.

"John Menard is a great sponsor and they build really good Indy car engines, [but] it's just different," Gordon explained to a group of fans during the annual Preseason Thunder Fan Fest. "The Nextel Cup engine builders have 20 years of experience, and you just can't go out there and gain that experience overnight." NASCAR Daily Scene

Bourdais to co-drive Ford at Rolex 24 Bourdais to co-drive Ford at Rolex 24The son-and-father duo of Sebastien and Patrick Bourdais will compete as teammates on January 28 at Daytona International Speedway in the 2006 Grand Am season-opening Grand-Am Cup 200. Both Bourdais have competed -- and been successful -- in a number of different race cars on a number of different types of race tracks.

This special Grand Am Cup team entry -- a gift from Ford Racing for winning the Champ Car title - will feature 2005 Champ Car World Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais and his father, eight-time LeMans participant and endurance specialist Patrick Bourdais.

The team will drive a Ford Racing FR500C Mustang fielded by Multimatic Motorsports, which in 2005 campaigned the car that won the Grand Am Cup GS Championship with drivers Scott Maxwell and David Empringham.

For Sebastien, racing has been a case of "like father, like son." "I guess the best way to describe it is that he was the one that really got me involved in racing," Sebastien said. "He was a racer himself. I pretty much grew up at the race track. That was the main reason I wanted to drive because when you're a kid you see things that you want to try for yourself. That's pretty much how everything started." zzzz

"Sebastien has received many awards in recognition of his many championships over the years, but we wanted to offer him something truly unique that he'd be sure to remember," said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. "Having the chance to spend time with your father doing something you both love is something I think we all can appreciate. I can assure you that they'll have a very fast Mustang and a great team campaigning the car. All they have to do is go out and have fun -- and I'm sure they will."

Sebastien Bourdais is fresh off capturing back-to-back (2004-2005) championships in the Champ Car World Series. In 2005, Bourdais, driving the No. 1 McDonald's Ford-Lola-Bridgestone, won six races and five poles, both series' bests, and earned podium finishes in seven of 13 Champ Car races. Last year at Daytona in the Rolex 24, Sebastien teamed with his Champ Car team owner Paul Newman, Michael Brockman and Cristiano Da Matta in a Ford powered Crawford Daytona Prototype.

Patrick Bourdais won the 1991 French Renault Clio Cup Championship. He is an eight-time LeMans participant. For the past two years he has driven at LeMans for the Panoz Motor Sports team. Ford Racing

TV News
Over 70 hours of Speedweeks coverage Over 70 hours of Speedweeks coverageSPEED, celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2006, will be live from Daytona Speedweeks for 10 days, beginning Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. ET with Speedweeks on SPEED.

“NASCAR’s Daytona Speedweeks has been a signature event for our network since 2002, when Fox launched the re-branded SPEED,” said Hunter Nickell, SPEED Executive VP and General Manager. “There is a unique pride and energy that everyone at the network is a part of for two weeks in February, and this year marks our most ambitious effort to date -- 10 days, 70-plus hours, live action, comprehensive documentaries – the total Speedweeks package.

“SPEED does big-event motor sports programming better than anyone else,” Nickell added. “It’s in our DNA. It’s the 10-year anniversary of the network, and the fifth year of NASCAR on SPEED, so the viewers should expect something special this year. And they are going to get it.”

In addition to live coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race (Feb. 17, 8 p.m. ET), the IROC race (Feb. 17, 6 p.m. ET), the ARCA race (Feb. 11, 4 p.m. ET), SPEED also will air multiple practice and qualifying sessions from all of NASCAR’s three major divisions. SPEED favorites, including Trackside, Inside Nextel Cup, NASCAR Live, NASCAR Performance, SPEED News and NASCAR Victory Lane also will be on-site, with a new high-energy pre-race show entitled NASCAR RaceDay set to make its Daytona debut.  zzzz

“NASCAR RaceDay will take the team from NASCAR this Morning and add several new segments, including tech reports from crew chiefs Chad Knaus and Bootie Barker, off-track items from Vicki Johnson and Craig Reynolds and long-form interviews with the weekend’s storymakers,” said Chris Long, SPEED VP of Studio Production. “John Roberts, Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace will continue to anchor the show and offer their no-holds-barred perspective, something our viewers have come to expect from SPEED. NASCAR RaceDay will set the tone for the entire weekend.”

SPEED will have multiple stages on-site, including its 53-foot mobile stage truck just outside the main tunnel entrance, a central location inside the track in the FanZone and a third stage positioned atop the viewing garage in the NASCAR Nextel Cup team area.

“It’s all about bringing the fans at home into the middle of the action,” Long said. “We want them to feel like they are totally immersed in the Daytona experience.”

SPEED also has multiple specials planned for Speedweeks, including NASCAR Five Years Later, a look at NASCAR five years after the loss of Dale Earnhardt, a Daytona documentary hosted by Dave Despain, a look back at Toyota’s NASCAR experience and Champions Quest, a one-hour special on the Rolex 24 at Daytona efforts of NASCAR champions Tony Stewart and Rusty Wallace.

“In concert with the expansion of SPEED’s off-track efforts during Speedweeks, we will once again bring all of the on-track action to life with the insights of the best analysts and play-by-play broadcasters in NASCAR,” said Rick Miner, SPEED SVP Programming & Production. “SPEED’s ability to pull from FOX, NBC and SPEED's own talent group gives the NASCAR fan the best 10 days of auto racing coverage of the year.”

As part of its coverage, SPEED will announce the 2005 SPEED Channel Driver of the year with a special one-hour program on Feb. 15 beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

LeMans 2006 automatic entry confirmations LeMans 2006 automatic entry confirmationsFollowing usual protocol, the ACO has named the following teams as invited to participate in this year's 24 Hours of LeMans.
Pescarolo Sport
Pescarolo Sport
Zytek Motorsport

Paul Belmondo Racing
Intersport Racing
Miracle Motorsports

Corvette Racing
Corvette Racing
Aston Martin Racing
ACEMCO Motorsports
BMS Scuderia
Convers Team

White Lightning Racing
Sebah Automotive
Scuderia Ecosse

Not yet named are Champion Racing, which won LeMans last year, Alex Job Racing, Dyson Racing, and Chamberlain Synergy. The teams have until midnight tonight to file their application to the ACO. LMSR

Dodge-Davis Lawsuit to go to jury trial Dodge-Davis Lawsuit to go to jury trialUPDATE A multimillion-dollar breach of contract lawsuit between DaimlerChrysler and Bill Davis Racing is expected to get under way today in U.S. District Court in Detroit. DaimlerChrysler says Bill Davis Racing, based in North Carolina, violated the terms of a six-year contract in 2003 by passing confidential information to Toyota. The suit says Davis was helping the Japanese automaker develop a prototype Tundra truck for NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series. At the time, Davis was under contract to prepare DaimlerChrysler vehicles for the NASCAR Winston Cup series, now the Nextel Cup series. After terminating the contract and suing Davis, DaimlerChrysler says it learned that Davis had signed a contract in February 2003 to provide a car to General Motors for the Winston Cup series. DaimerChrysler is seeking $6.5 million in damages and an injunction to prevent Davis from divulging confidential automotive data acquired from DaimlerChrysler. Davis has denied the charges, countersued and is seeking $8.5 million to $9.8 million from DaimlerChrysler for breach of contract. Davis intends to run two Dodges in the Nextel Cup series this year with drivers Michael Waltrip and Dave Blaney. In the truck series, he will run three Toyota Tundras with drivers Johnny Benson, Mike Skinner and Bill Lester. U.S. District Judge George Steeh will preside over the trial, which is expected to last 2-3 weeks. Detroit Free Press

01/13/06 The Bill Davis-Dodge lawsuit is to go to jury trial in federal court in Michigan next week and could last two weeks. The long-running legal battle is over Dodge's decision two years ago to withdraw financial sponsorship of Davis' NASCAR team because of his racing ties with Toyota. Davis has Toyota truck teams and is expected to have one of Toyota's lead teams when Toyota steps up to the Nextel Cup tour in 2007. Winston Salem Journal

Lepage backed by Peak Performance again Lepage backed by Peak Performance againPeak Performance Motorsports announced Tuesday that it has signed Kevin Lepage to drive its #61 Ford in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series this season. "We are beginning the season on a high note with this announcement," team owner Jeff Stec said. "Kevin has performed well for the team in the final nine races of 2005 and proved that we are capable of producing excellent results for out sponsors both on and off the track." Crew chief Greg Conner returns with the team as does primary sponsor Peak Fitness. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Johnson Hits the Big Screen at Atlanta Johnson Hits the Big Screen at AtlantaWhile his Hendrick Motorsports teammates were hitting the Daytona pavement testing their stock cars, Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus were hitting the big screen at Atlanta Motor Speedway today, filming an upcoming episode of the hit NBC TV series "Las Vegas." Johnson, playing himself, starred with Nikki Cox, who gets driving tips from the two-time winner at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Knaus, Johnson's crew chief, also plays himself in the episode which is tentatively set to air on February 6. While Johnson may seem like a natural on the track, he admits acting isn't quite so easy for him. "You have a writer trying to write things that you would say and you have to make it sound like what you would say," the driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet said. "Fortunately, I am playing myself, so I can turn to the writers and say 'I would do it like this,' and they are OK with that." Johnson also admits that it could be even more difficult for him. "Remembering the lines and trying to look like you're not thinking about the lines that you have to deliver is the most difficult part," Johnson commented. "If I was playing someone else and there was a particular way I had to deliver lines and have a certain personality, I would be in big trouble." AMS PR
Hermie Sadler to run 20-22 races Hermie Sadler to run 20-22 racesHermie Sadler says he is partnering with Mike and Bonnie Anderson, friends of his from Virginia, to form MBA Racing, with plans to run 20-22 NASCAR Nextel Cup races this season in a #00 Ford. Sadler will have sponsorship from Aaron's rentals for eight races in a partnership with Michael Waltrip Racing. As a new team, the group does not have one of the 35 guaranteed starting positions for the opening five races. Sadler, who is testing at Daytona International Speedway this week, also plans to test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway later this month. Sadler has 52 Nextel Cup starts in his career, mostly in cars he owned. "The bug is hard to get rid of," Sadler said. "The situation with Michael came along and the situation with Aaron's, and things kind of fell into place. Hopefully there won't be as much pressure this time, because we do have a little help. We're going to put all of the effort we can into these first five races and see where it takes us." Kevin Caldwell is crew chief for the team, which will run Roush-Yates engines and has purchased cars from Robert Yates Racing and ppc Racing. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
QinetiQ extends partnership with the WilliamsF1 Team QinetiQ extends partnership with the WilliamsF1 TeamOxford, UK. WilliamsF1 today announced their extended technical partnership with QinetiQ, the leading defense and technology solutions company. The existing relationship will now continue into 2006, with the QinetiQ identity remaining in its established location on the drivers’ helmets.

WilliamsF1’s alliance with QinetiQ commenced in May of last season, with the intention of injecting ground-breaking technologies into the design and development of the team’s racing cars, drawing on the best of British expertise.

Over the year, the team has benefited from the advice and consultation from QinetiQ’s scientists, engineers and specialists, notably in the areas of predictive aerodynamic disciplines, materials science and the application of GPS technology for data acquisition at test sessions. For QinetiQ, Formula One has proved to be an important platform to communicate its standing as a world leader in the provision of ground-breaking technologies and the depth of its scientific skill base. zzzz

The renewal will afford further opportunities for QinetiQ to showcase its core disciplines to a global audience, while the team will continue to benefit from a mutual sharing of technological competencies and innovation.

Of the partnership extension, Sir John Chisholm, QinetiQ’s Executive Chairman, commented, “There is an important link between QinetiQ, its aerospace heritage and the F1 motor racing industry. The aerospace business is a powerful vehicle for pulling through numerous technologies which in turn feed into other industries. It would be difficult, for example, to imagine the existence Formula One in this country without the innovative influence of aerospace technology, so it is entirely appropriate that QinetiQ should be working so closely with the Williams team.”

The WilliamsF1 Team’s Team Principal, Frank Williams, confirmed, “To date, QinetiQ have opened the door to several interesting technologies which may be of help to us in the future, so I’m delighted that they have decided to extend their association with the team and look forward to our continued partnership.”

Blue Jeans for MF1 Racing Blue Jeans for MF1 RacingMF1 Racing - the Formula One team owned and operated by Midland Group - is pleased  to  announce  a  partnership  agreement  with  Garcia Jeanswear, one of Europe's trendiest and most successful casual clothing brands. The Garcia logo will appear on all of the team's race cars, transporters and official stationery.

"MF1 Racing's partnership with Garcia Jeanswear is important to the team for many reasons,"  said Colin  Kolles,  MF1  Racing's  Managing Director.  "It  demonstrates Garcia's confidence in our approach to Formula One and affirms the marketing value to be derived through involvement in the sport. It also associates the team with a stylish brand that is on the rise - an image that meshes well with the way we are positioning ourselves and generates momentum for us commercially and enables the team to achieve its goal of continuous improvement, both on and off the track."

"In 2005 we entered Formula One for the first time with the aim of building brand recognition and extending our distribution in Europe. The impact of that sponsorship exceeded  our  expectations,"  added  Paul Burema,  Managing  Director  of Garcia Jeanswear. "In markets where we were traditionally strong, the demand increased. Furthermore, we were also able to add some nice Garcia countries to our map. It was not a difficult decision for us to follow Christijan Albers to his new team, MF1 Racing. It is ambitious, professional and it aims to be fashionable. This positioning fits us perfectly. Hopefully, it will add even more color to our jeans brand."  zzzz

Garcia  Jeanswear  (www.garciajeans.com),  founded  in  1977,  is  a  successful, innovative jeans and casual clothing brand that is developed and produced under the Dutch company, Eurobrooks b.v. The roots of the company lie in Italy, but production is now undertaken in various locations worldwide. Garcia Jeanswear has sales offices in Holland, Belgium, Germany, Greece and Portugal and exports to 10 other European countries. As a trendy brand name, Garcia Jeanswear has firmly established its place in the European market. Originally known for the diversity of its range of blue denim that it offered, Garcia Jeanswear has continued to build on this strength while expanding its extensive line of denim. With trendy collections and a clear vision toward the future, Garcia Jeanswear is striving to meet the needs and desires of its customers worldwide.

Racing News
Duckworth Memorial Service Duckworth Memorial ServiceThe Memorial Service for the late KEITH DUCKWORTH O.B.E. will be held on Thursday 23rd February 2006 at 3.00pm at All Saints' Church George Row, Northampton, England.

Location and car park details can be found on: www.allsaintsnorthampton.co.uk

Along with his life-long colleague and friend, Mike Costin, Keith had set up Cosworth Engineering in 1958, and guided it to unprecedented success in the field of high-performance automotive engineering. It was Keith who personally designed the legendary Cosworth DFV V8 Formula One engine which, with 155 GP victories, is the most successful engine ever to be used in the sport. Keith was an inspiration to everyone and he will be missed very dearly by everyone at Cosworth.

MF1 Racing announces Biaggi test MF1 Racing announces Biaggi testMotoGP  star  Max  Biaggi  will  test  a  MF1  -Toyota  Formula  1  car  at Silverstone later today. The flamboyant Italian, known in bike circles as "The   Roman   Emperor",   has   been   invited   to   have   this   Formula   1 experience  at  the  3.1-mile  British  Grand  Prix  and  World  Superbike venue by  MF1 Racing,  the  Formula  One team owned  and operated by the Midland Group.

"I am really excited about driving the Midland F1 car," said Biaggi, who is 34  years  old. I must thank everyone  in  the team for giving me  this opportunity  and I  look forward to comparing  the thrills of MotoGP and F1."

Biaggi had a seat-fitting with the Silverstone-based team yesterday and he will take over driving duties from regular MidlandF1 driver Christijan Albers, who is testing for the team this morning. MF1 Racing

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Alonso won't slow down - Villeneuve
MotoGP's Biaggi to test for Midland
Teams working on new test accord
New BMW-Sauber smooth and fast
Testing resumes at Jerez
Dennis has 'no respect' - Briatore
BMW coy on Villeneuve's future
BMW serious about F1
F1 dispute nearing end - BMW
Renault 'planned' test lull
We won't beat Williams, yet - BMW
Spy charge leaves Brunner stunned
Trulli urges Toyota to up its game
Webber failed to shine in '05 - BMW
Vickers recovers after surgery Vickers recovers after surgeryBrian Vickers' #25 GMAC Chevy was sixth fastest in Monday's test session at Daytona International Speedway, but he was back home in North Carolina having surgery to repair a hernia. Team spokesman Chris Haid said Vickers, 22, was resting comfortably Monday evening after a successful operation.  David Green was in the car today and set 6th fastest time with it.  Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Yet again Hendrick powered car on top Yet again Hendrick powered car on topOnce again a Hendrick Chevy powered car sits atop the speed charts at Daytona as Kyle Busch was again fastest on Tuesday.  Want to go fast in 100% throttle racing?  Hire the best engine builder money can buy.

Day 5 - PM Testing
Pos No. Driver Make Time Speed
1 5 Kyle Busch Chv 47.842 188.119
2 07a Clint Bowyer Chv 48.155 186.896
3 29a Kevin Harvick Chv 48.176 186.815
4 88b Dale Jarrett Frd 48.246 186.544
5 66 Jeff Green Chv 48.387 186.000
6 25a David Green Chv 48.409 185.916
7 14b Sterling Marlin Chv 48.415 185.893
8 01a Joe Nemechek Chv 48.420 185.874
9 14a Sterling Marlin Chv 48.420 185.874
10 10a Scott Riggs Dge 48.453 185.747
11 66x Jeff Green Chv 48.579 185.265
12 01b Joe Nemechek Chv 48.590 185.223
13 11b Denny Hamlin Chv 48.592 185.216
14 18b J.J. Yeley Chv 48.593 185.212
15 2a Kurt Busch Dge 48.604 185.170
16 45 Kyle Petty Dge 48.610 185.147
17 16a Greg Biffle Frd 48.625 185.090
18 16b Greg Biffle Frd 48.687 184.854
19 26a Jamie McMurray Frd 48.712 184.759
20 18a J.J. Yeley Chv 48.738 184.661 zzzz
21 11a Denny Hamlin Chv 48.759 184.581
22 99b Carl Edwards Frd 48.819 184.354
23 10b Scott Riggs Dge 48.828 184.320
24 7 Robby Gordon Chv 48.830 184.313
25 61a Kevin Lepage Chv 48.843 184.264
26 00a Hermie Sadler Frd 48.854 184.222
27 6b Mark Martin Frd 48.861 184.196
28 00b Hermie Sadler Frd 48.880 184.124
29 42 Casey Mears Dge 48.902 184.042
30 55 Michael Waltrip Dge 48.906 184.026
31 96r Terry Labonte Chv 48.928 183.944
32 99a Carl Edwards Frd 48.947 183.872
33 32 Travis Kvapil Chv 48.958 183.831
34 88a Dale Jarrett Frd 48.973 183.775
35 5a Kyle Busch Chv 48.985 183.730
36 26b Jamie McMurray Frd 48.992 183.703
37 6a Mark Martin Frd 48.995 183.692
38 07 Clint Bowyer Chv 48.997 183.685
39 32a Travis Kvapil Chv 49.029 183.565
40 42x Casey Mears Dge 49.031 183.557
41 2 Kurt Busch Chv 49.043 183.512
42 7a Robby Gordon Chv 49.125 183.206
43 96t Terry Labonte Chv 49.161 183.072
44 45a Kyle Petty Dge 49.212 182.882
45 89 Morgan Shepherd Frd 49.257 182.715
46 15 Paul Menard Chv 49.326 182.460
47 09a Mike Wallace Dge 49.357 182.345
48 22a Dave Blaney Dge 49.381 182.256
49 49a Brent Sherman Dge 49.395 182.205
50 25b David Green Chv 49.410 182.149
51 92a Chad Chaffin Chv 49.445 182.020
52 22 Dave Blaney Dge 49.524 181.730
53 52a Larry Gunselman Chv 49.567 181.572
54 95 Stanton Barrett Chv 49.568 181.569
55 15a Paul Menard Chv 49.619 181.382
56 09 Mike Wallace Dge 49.727 180.988
57 27 Kirk Shelmerdine Chv 49.742 180.934
58 92b Chad Chaffin Chv 49.823 180.639
59 52b Larry Gunselman Chv 49.872 180.462
60 49 Brent Sherman Dge 50.080 179.712

Franchitti to visit Camp Heartland Franchitti to visit Camp HeartlandAndretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti will visit Camp Heartland, a year-round facility in Willow River, Minn., for children affected by HIV and AIDS, on Jan. 18. Franchitti's visit to the camp was arranged by Argent Mortgage, which presented Franchitti with the Argent Fastest Lap Award at the end of the 2005 season. Franchitti will meet with 45 participants from the camp. The visit will include a brief autograph session and a remote control car race. "My wife does a lot of work with HIV and AIDS all over the world," Franchitti told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "This is something very close to my heart".
Wheldon to receive "Baby Borg" Wheldon to receive "Baby Borg"Dan Wheldon has waited for this day like an expectant father. Finally, after almost eight months, his "baby" will be coming home.

Wheldon, the 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner, on Jan. 18 will receive his Borg-Warner Championship Driver's Trophy - the "Baby Borg" - during the Automotive News World Congress Gala in Dearborn, Mich. The one-of-a-kind replica of the famous Borg-Warner Trophy has a place of honor waiting at Wheldon's home in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The sterling silver trophy -- 14 inches high and weighing 5 pounds -- rests on a 4-inch by 8-inch beveled black marble base that includes a hand-crafted three-dimensional sterling silver image of the winning driver's face, and also includes an inscription of the winning driver and year of victory.

BorgWarner established the trophy in 1988 (Rick Mears was the initial recipient) as a keepsake for the winning driver - in lieu of the 5-foot-plus Borg-Warner Trophy that is on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. zzzz

"It's been an honor and privilege to win the Indianapolis 500, and it's one of the those races where you realize you can't take the big trophy home but you look forward to getting the 'Baby Borg,''' said Wheldon, who went on to win an IndyCar Series-record six races and 2005 series championship. "May to January seems like an awfully long time to wait.

"It's a great honor to collect that trophy, and I have a very special place for it at home."
Wheldon climbed from the 16th starting position to hold off Danica Patrick and then Vitor Meira and Bryan Herta for his first victory in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." It also was the first victory for Andretti Green Racing team co-owner Michael Andretti, a 14-time starter, as an owner or driver.

BorgWarner chairman and CEO Tim Manganello will present the Team Owner's Trophy to Andretti and team co-owners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree. It also is a replica of the Borg-Warner Trophy, but has a band of art-deco racing cars accentuated in gold to symbolize the importance of teamwork in auto racing and the automotive business. It was initially presented in 1998 (to Fred Treadway) to mark the company's 70th year as a pioneering innovator in the automotive industry.

"Winning the Indianapolis 500 is one of the most coveted achievements in racing," Manganello said. "BorgWarner is extremely proud to have been associated with this legendary event since 1936. We congratulate Dan Wheldon and the Andretti Green team owners for their shared 2005 victory, and look forward to sending them home with tangible symbols of an exceptional feat."

Wheldon hopes to add to his collection. He'll be among the favorites in May for the 90th running of the 500-Mile Race, driving the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara.  "After accepting this award, we'll have to focus on trying to win another Indy 500, probably the most difficult race in the world to win," he said.

Who is Ted Horn and What Feat Does Bourdais Hope to Duplicate in 2006? Who is Ted Horn and What Feat Does Bourdais Hope to Duplicate in 2006?Ted Horn is the only driver to earn three consecutive open-wheel championships -- a feat no one has been able to duplicate since he did so in 1946, 1947 and 1948.
Bourdais will set out to become the first driver in 58 years to match this benchmark when the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season opener on April 9 in Long Beach.  To find out more about Ted Horn click on this link.
Ralf has engine trouble at Jerez Ralf has engine trouble at JerezFresh from the weekend's pre-season event at the Toyota manufacturing facility at Valenciennes in France, Toyota Racing's race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli returned to track action today.

Jarno Trulli had a productive day of work around the Jerez circuit in Southern Spain as he continued to put the new TF106 through its paces. Ralf Schumacher was less fortunate, missing out on most of the afternoon's running for an engine change.

Both are scheduled to spend a total of three days at the Spanish circuit collecting more data for setting up the TF106 with its Bridgestone tires. zzzz

Jarno Trulli
"This has been an enjoyable day of running here at Jerez. I spent the morning looking at different set-ups and we got through some useful work. Then in the afternoon we switched to a Bridgestone tire test. We are still early in our relationship but with every day of running we make progress and today was no exception. The car was reliable and we completed our programme. It will be a steep learning curve over the next few weeks as we head towards the new season but we are in good shape."

Ralf Schumacher
"We have a packed programme of development work planned for the run-up to the new season as we bid to make improvements to our package. Today we were due to work on set-up and suspension but we ended up missing most of the day's running. First we had to wait for the circuit to dry out this morning, then we had an engine problem after lunch. The unit had already been in use at previous tests and had completed a lot of mileage. That is what testing is for and that is why we can benefit from having had the new V8 engine out so early. We will continue our work over the next two days."

Gerd Pfeiffer, Test Team Manager
"Today was a productive first day of testing here at Jerez for Jarno. He spent the morning doing set-up work before a tire test in the afternoon and we made some useful progress. Ralf completed a weight distribution test in the morning but his engine change meant that he missed out when the track was at its best in the afternoon. Still, we should have plenty of opportunity to make up for the lost time over the next two days when both Jarno and Ralf are scheduled to continue running." Source Toyota

Marlin's son gets Busch ride Marlin's son gets Busch rideSadler Racing team owner Earl Sadler will field a car for Steadman Marlin [Sterling's son] in the Feb. 18 Busch Series opener at Daytona International Speedway and hopes to enter some Nextel Cup races later in the season if funding permits. "It's a great opportunity and I'm grateful to Mr. Sadler for it," said Steadman, 25. "He's got a pretty good race car. Bobby Hamilton had a good run in it last year at Daytona, and maybe I can do the same. Racing has always been a big part of our family. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I sat out seven or eight months. I'm anxious to get back." While his father, Sterling, is a 30-year racing veteran, Steadman has struggled to get his racing career up to speed. "I've told Steadman he has to work at it," Sterling said. "Nobody's going to drop anything in his lap. He has to get out there and earn it." The Sadler-Marlin racing relationship goes back to the early 1980s, when Sterling drove in some races for the team. Could Sadler give Steadman's career a similar jump-start? "Well, things have changed a lot over the years," said Sadler, 83, who has also assisted such drivers as Davey Allison, Michael Waltrip, Jeff Green and Jeremy Mayfield with their early careers. "Every year racing gets more expensive, which makes it harder for a small operation like ours to compete. We do the best we can with what we've got, but we're limited." Sadler said how many Busch races the team enters after Daytona depends on how much sponsorship funding can be generated. Said Steadman: "We're working on some deals to bring in some funding. I feel like we've got a lot to offer sponsors." Steadman was to share a Busch Series ride with his father for FitzBradshaw Racing. That team fields Dodges, however, and when Sterling signed to race Chevrolets for MB2 Motorsports the Busch deal fell through. "It's been frustrating, but at least I have a ride for Daytona," Steadman said. "If we can come out of there with a good run maybe it will lead to some other things." Tennessean
2006 IROC drivers announced 2006 IROC drivers announcedCrown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) officials announced today the driver field and race event schedule for the 2006 Crown Royal IROC Series. The four-race invitational all-star series, which matches 12 drivers from different disciplines of auto racing in equally prepared cars, will open its historic 30th season February 17 at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). Five-time Crown Royal IROC Series and 2005 champion Mark Martin will look to capture consecutive series crowns for the first time since Dale Earnhardt accomplished the feat in the 1999-2000 seasons. Martin won three in row from 1996-1998 and owns an IROC-record 13 checkered flags. The 2006 driver field will consist of representation from seven major racing series, including six drivers that captured their respective series championship in 2005.

The drivers are: Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth; 2005 Busch champ Martin Truex Jr., 2005 Truck Champ Ted Musgrave; Steve Kinser from WoO; ARCA Champ Frank Kimmel, Sam Hornish, Jr. and Scott Sharp from the IRL, and road racers Max Papis along with Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor [who will split duties, two races each] Alan Taylor Communications/IROC Racing PR

Track News
Indy Speedway renews radio deal Indy Speedway renews radio dealCentral Indiana race fans will continue to hear all the action from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on their favorite Indianapolis radio stations, as Emmis Communications and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Jan. 17 an extension of their exclusive radio partnership.

Through the agreement that continues through 2010, 1070 WIBC AM and sister station 97.1 HANK FM will continue to simulcast both the Indianapolis 500 and the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Both stations, along with Emmis cluster stations RadioNow 93.1 and B105.7, will continue to spotlight all the activities surrounding the Indianapolis 500 and Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

The partnership also includes WIBC's coverage of the United States Grand Prix and all IRL IndyCar® Series events.

"We have had a very rewarding relationship with the Emmis Radio Group for the past five years and look forward to another long-term relationship to continue building the Indianapolis 500, Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, USGP and IndyCar® Series brands with our Emmis partners," said Buddy McAtee, IMS Productions vice president and executive producer.

Pedro de la Rosa again fastest at Jerez Pedro de la Rosa again fastest at JerezPedro de la Rosa posted the fastest time in testing at Jerez. Both de la Rosa and teammate Gary Paffett continued working with the V10-powered McLaren.

Pos Driver Team Tires Time Laps
 1. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:18.850 94 *
 2. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:19.037 68
 3. Paffett McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:19.130 78 *
 4. R. Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:21.279 24
 5. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) No time 39
* V10 engine

Racing News
Penske named Newsmaker of Year Penske named Newsmaker of YearRoger Penske was recently named 2005 Newsmaker of the Year by Crain’s Detroit. According to the business publication, “Penske has transferred the business acumen he uses to run a wide-ranging organization of transportation, automotive sales and service, truck leasing and motor sports businesses into his role as Super Bowl XL Host Committee chairman.” Penske and his colleague’s on the committee will be put to the ultimate test on February 5th as all eyes will be watching the city of Detroit as it plays host to the biggest game of the year.
Castroneves to race in Brazil Castroneves to race in BrazilHelio Castroneves will be in his native Brazil on January 21st to compete in the Mil Milhas race at Interlagos. The 30 year-old two-time Indy 500 winner will be joining forces with Nelson Piquet, Nelson Piquet Jr. and French Sports Car driver Christophe Bouchut in an Aston Martin DBR9 for the 1000-mile endurance race. “This will be my first race in a touring car, so I’m really looking forward to it,” explains Castroneves. “The Mil Milhas is a very famous race in Brazil and I consider myself fortunate to have the chance to compete in an event with such a great history. I’m also honored to be able to share the car with a legend like Nelson Piquet, as well as Nelson Piquet Jr. and Christophe Bouchut; I think we’ll be very competitive. For me this is such a wonderful opportunity – it will be an entirely new experience and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel.” [Note: Is it possible that many IRL drivers are getting behind the wheel of cars in other series (Grand-Am, A1GP, etc) to prepare for life after the IRL? Given the downward spiral the series is currently in, many drivers appear worried about their future.]
New engineer for Castroneves New engineer for CastronevesThe 2006 season will not only mark a new engine package for Marlboro Team Penske, but 2001 & 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will have a new race engineer. Ron Ruzewski, 36, joined Marlboro Team Penske at the start of the 2005 season, working on the vehicle dynamics engineering development program. He began traveling to the races in July 2005 as a member of the engineering team for Castroneves.

Prior to joining the Team, Ruzewski worked at the Yamaha Motor Corporation as Department Manager of Advance Development for the Snowmobile Group from 1996-2005. While at Yamaha, he managed current and future development projects and all related department tasks, including design, development and field testing of new products and prototypes. Ruzewski was instrumental in the introduction and release of over 25 production models including two models named “Snowmobile of the Year” as decided by Industry Press magazines.

Ruzewski’s racing background includes a position as Data Acquisition Engineer for Walker Racing from 1992-1996. During his tenure, he worked primarily with Scott Goodyear and Robby Gordon and was a part of three wins and six poles, as well as the closest finish ever at the Indianapolis 500 in 1992 where Goodyear finished second (he finished just 0.043 seconds behind Al Unser Jr.). Prior to working at Walker Racing, Ruzewski worked at Shierson Racing from 1990-1992, where he also served as a Data Acquisition Engineer working with Scott Goodyear. Ruzewski graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering.

Newman wins Golden Globe Award for Empire Falls Newman wins Golden Globe Award for Empire FallsChamp Car fans are very familiar with the success of Paul Newman’s Champ Car team, winning six championships since its conception in 1983. What they may not be familiar with are the six Golden Globe Awards that lined his mantel at home, up until last night when Newman took home his seventh award for best supporting actor TV for his role in the HBO mini-series Empire Falls.

Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Richard Russo, Empire Falls focuses on the story of a declining New England town and its inhabitants. In the two-part mini-series Newman portrays Max Roby, the town's most cantankerous colorful coot, a man known for the crumbs in his scraggly beard and drinking habits that qualify him as the town drunk. Newman not only took on the acting role, but also took on the responsibility of Executive Director of the film. Empire Falls was nominated for four Golden Globes, but at the end of the night had only collected two of the coveted trophies. Other than Newman’s award the film also was honored as best mini-series or motion picture made for television.

After collecting his seventh Golden Globe from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Newman will be focusing on his Newman/Haas team and their drive to capture their seventh Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford title.

Theissen under no illusions Theissen under no illusionsBMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen has again admitted that he is not expecting miracles from the German giant's first 'works' foray into Formula One.

Speaking at the launch of the BMW Sauber F1 Team's first F1 car in Valencia, Theissen said there was still a lot of work to do.

"We have worked hard over the last seven months," he confirmed, "We've driven forward the integration of the two locations, got an interim car up and running, signed up the drivers, concluded contracts with our major partners Petronas, Intel, Credit Suisse and O2 - along with other sponsors - and negotiated 90 work contracts for new staff. That's not bad as an interim progress report.

"But we are not under any illusions. We have a long road ahead of us, as 2006 is a year of transition, and it would be premature to declare any sporting objectives. The
main thing is that everything is pointing in the right direction."

"In our first season, we will mainly be gathering experience," he said, "In 2005, Sauber came eighth in the constructors' championship, and that is our starting point. From there, we aim to work our way up as quickly as possible. You can't do that overnight, needless to say. It requires patience and endurance - and, fortunately, we have both."

Champ Car holding promoter’s meeting Champ Car holding promoter’s meetingUPDATE A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com. Is Champ Car going to finally fill in the gaps in the early part of the schedule, and perhaps start their season in March? Don Nottingham, Denver, CO.  Dear Don, They need to also fill in the gap in September, which will probably be with Philadelphia if it ever happens.  There are a bunch of other rumored races which can run in the early part of the schedule.  Brazil, and possibly Phoenix come to mind. Mark C.

01/16/06 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Champ Car is gathered in Phoenix for a big promoters meeting.  We hear the meeting is very upbeat with discussions ongoing about the 2006 schedule and how it ties into the TV package, and also the marketing plan for 2006.

As we understand it, while all the promoters are gathered, they are also trying to put the finishing touches on the 2007 schedule.  We hear there are still plans to add one or two additional races to the schedule in 2007.

BMW Sauber launch 'F1.06' racer BMW Sauber launch 'F1.06' racer[Note: See full story with photos on our Home page] BMW Sauber presented a predominantly white and blue 2006 racer, dubbed 'F1.06', in Spain on Tuesday.

The event took place at the 'Cuidad de las Artes y las Ciencias', located near the Valencia test track.  At Valencia, the newly BMW-owned team will now test the car until Thursday.

BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen confirmed to the press that he will act as team principal.  Former boss and owner Peter Sauber attended the event to kick off his new role as a consultant.

''2006 is a year of transition,'' Germany's Theissen commented, ''and so it would be premature to declare any sporting objectives.''

Visually, it appears that the F1.06 BMW-Sauber is based on last year's Hinwil concoction, but with a slightly lower monocoque and nose section and a new front wing.

Stewart cleared to race Stewart cleared to raceTony Stewart got clearance Monday to drive in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona as well as the test session at the end of the month at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway following two separate flips last week in a U.S. Auto Club Midget race. Stewart left a Tulsa, Okla., hospital last Friday with his right arm in a cast, but doctors said there were no serious injuries during a follow-up visit on Monday, team president J.D. Gibbs said. "Everything checked out fine," Gibbs said. "We told him he's still driving in the Daytona 500 even if his arm was broken." Stewart was participating in the Chili Bowl, one of the premier Midget races of the team. Job Gibbs Racing teammate J.J. Yeley and Evernham Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne also participated in the race. Stewart flipped and crashed on Thursday during a heat race. He wasn't injured in that accident, Gibbs said, but he struck his right arm on the shifter when he flipped again on Friday. "The reality of it is, when he first started with us he did way more (races) than what he's doing now," Gibbs said. Gibbs said the race team has restricted Stewart from some of his outside races in the past, but the defending Nextel Cup Series champion has reduced his schedule in the past couple years. "For him to go back to the local tracks where he started, we think it's all right," Gibbs said. "He enjoys that." Athens Banner-Herald
Hirohide Hamashima talks about GP2-spec tires Hirohide Hamashima talks about GP2-spec tiresThe Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development explains the challenges of moving the GP2 series onto slick tires Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development

“The switch from grooved to slick dry weather tires for the 2006 GP2 series is an exciting new challenge and one we are enjoying. Using our latest technology we have been busy developing the new slick tires over the winter period. This has involved checking all aspects of the tires, including the safety of the tires, firstly at our indoor Technical Centre facilities in Japan and then later at two on-track tests with the GP2 series development team at Paul Ricard in France. We think the move to slicks will add a new dimension to racing in the GP2 series as the nature of slick tires provides more stable car behavior. As a result we are fully expecting to see some very competitive racing from this year’s crop of young talented drivers!”

GP2 announces technical and sporting rules changes GP2 announces technical and sporting rules changesThe GP2 series has announced a number of Technical and Sporting Regulation updates for the new season. After its successful debut season, the GP2 series is building on the fine platform established in 2005 with a selection of modifications, designed to improve competition and maintain the GP2 series’ position as the world’s premiere feeder category for Formula One.

As was promised at the outset of the GP2 series, the car with which our 26 drivers will compete for championship honors in 2006 will be an updated and upgraded version of that raced in 2005. The changes made to the car are aimed at maintaining a level playing field in the GP2 series, as from the first test of 2006 all teams, drivers, mechanics and engineers will start again with what is, in many senses, a new car. With new set-up possibilities, new tires and a new sporting regulation to add to the mix, the GP2 series looks set to pick up where it left off in 2005, with enthralling and close racing across the field.

GP2 series 2006 Technical Regulation Updates

The 2006-spec GP2 series car, designed by Dallara Automobili, will feature one major aerodynamic change in so far as the rear wing element will now feature a biplane wing, with the triple-plane used in 2005 only permitted for use at the Monaco round of the series. The cars will also feature reinforced front upper and lower wishbones and reinforced front and rear suspension uprights.

Brembo have developed new monobloc brake calipers and disc bells, for use exclusively in the GP2 series in 2006.

The GP2 series 4 liter Renault V8 engine, made under the supervision of Mecachrome, will feature an internal, cartographic and software upgrade, and the car will also feature a new engine air duct. These upgrades have been designed to improve performance and fuel consumption.

The GP2 series car will also feature internal upgrades to improve cooling. A new water radiator, radiator duct, oil/water heat exchanger, modified oil degazer, new oil and water pipes and new heat exchanger fixing brackets will be present on each of the 26 cars competing this season.

The 2006 GP2 series gearbox, manufactured by GearTek, will feature a new 8 position barrel, ratchet body and software alongside a new transverse shafts fixing system to enable improved gear selection.

In addition, all GP2 series cars will run on new “slick” Bridgestone tires, which will not feature the grooves seen in 2005. The new tires will be supplied in soft, medium and hard compounds, with the choice being pre-determined by Bridgestone and the GP2 series before each event. The wet tires will remain at 2005 specification. zzzz

GP2 series 2006 Sporting Regulation Update

In 2006, GP2 series sporting regulations will change to award the driver who sets the fastest lap of a race a single point, rather than the two points given in 2005. Added to this, the driver must have started from his prescribed grid position in order to claim fastest lap.

Series Organizer Bruno Michel and GP2 series Technical Director Didier Perrin talk about the 2006 regulation changes.

Bruno Michel – GP2 series Organizer

“When we came up with our plans for the development of the GP2 series, it was always our intention to continuously upgrade our car over the years of the championship in an effort to provide fresh challenges to the mechanics and engineers of our teams. I believe that our development team has done a very good job in both improving the performance of the GP2 series car, and maintaining the challenge which our teams and drivers will face in the forthcoming season. I must also thank Bridgestone for the hard work and enthusiasm they have shown in designing and manufacturing a totally new concept of dry weather tires for the series. 2006 promises to be another exciting chapter in the story of the GP2 series.”

Didier Perrin – Technical Director, GP2 series

“The upgrades that we have made to the GP2 series car for 2006 will provide a new and exciting challenge to every member of every team. While from the outside the car will look very similar, inside there are a number of changes that we have made to improve performance and durability. The switch onto slick tires, combined with the new brakes, has seen a marked improvement in the lap times we were able to set in development testing. As a consequence, we have decided to decrease the level of rear end downforce by reducing the number of planes on the rear wing. We have seen that this decrease in rear-end grip has opened up many new set-up possibilities, as the car is now much more delicate to change. Essentially, everyone will be starting from scratch at the first test in February. I am looking forward to seeing how the drivers and their engineers make the best of the upgrades and the modifications, as we set out on a new and challenging season of competition.”

BMW in F1 for long haul BMW in F1 for long haulGerman carmaker BMW is in Formula One for the long term after having bought the Sauber team last season, according to board member Burkhard Goeschel.

"This project represents a strong, long-term commitment to Formula One on BMW's part," said Goeschel. "For the BMW Group, Formula One acts as a high-tech laboratory and technology accelerator. This synergistic effect has already had a very positive impact in our six years as an engine partner.

"But you can't win races with an engine alone, which is why we wanted to be involved in all the success factors. In keeping with that, we have now taken on overall responsibility. Formula One seems tailor-made for BMW's brand values, and there's no other sporting event that generates so much attention on such a regular basis worldwide.

"In 2006 we will primarily be building up experience. In 2005 Sauber came eighth in the Constructors' World Championship. That is our starting point, and I can see plenty of upside potential." zzzz

"To set up a new team is a huge challenge," said BMW motorsport boss Mario Theissen. "Our concept includes boosting staff numbers, expanding the facility in Hinwil, an intensive development programme and the networking of all activities in Munich and Hinwil.

"The division of labor is as follows: Munich is in charge of the powertrain and electronics, Hinwil is responsible for the chassis and race deployment.

"The 2006 season will be a year of development. That also applies to the technical package, whose concept was already largely established in Munich and Hinwil before the takeover. In 2006 we aim to grow together and maximize our potential."

Q and A with Jacques Villeneuve Q and A with Jacques Villeneuve
People say that you are a rebel. Do you agree with that?
I disagree with that. Being a rebel means going against the establishment purely for the fact of being against the establishment and not because of having your own ideas. Sometimes I disagreed with the establishment, but this is because I have my own ideas, which is different to being a rebel. Normally a rebel is without a cause.

You like to spend your spare time skiing and playing ice hockey with the “Monks of Bretaye”. You also love music. What do your hobbies mean to you?
It means that you can get up in the morning and do what you like doing.
It’s something for your personal satisfaction, and this needs to be part of your life. It’s very important.

You take your own motorhome to the European GP rounds. In doing so you separate yourself from almost all of the other drivers.
Having the motorhome simply means being closer to the race track and the team I work with. That's the key element. On race weekends you never spend time with the other drivers anyway, even when you stay in a hotel room.
You just go to the race track and work with the people, and then you go to the room to sleep. You don't have a social life outside the race track. zzzz

What was the reason for choosing Switzerland as your residence?  Do you still feel like a Canadian or already like a Swiss?
I went to boarding school in Switzerland when I was 12 to 17. And every year I kept going there in winter and in summer. I finally moved to the place I went to school. Being a Canadian I always loved the snow, the winter and the countryside, and Switzerland with its mountains reminds me a bit of Canada.

What is the ideal set-up of a race car for you: do you prefer understeer or oversteer?
I prefer a neutral car, but I hate understeer more than oversteer. I can drive an oversteering car, but understeer I find difficult. You're limited with understeer. The fastest car is a neutral car, always. An oversteering or understeering car doesn't really exist, it's relative to your driving style. An understeering car could be oversteering with another driver, and vice-versa. It just depends on how
you apply the pedals and steering angles.

Which race of your career did you enjoy most?
There are two races: the Indy 500 in 1995 and Jerez in 1997.

Your overalls are always too large. Is there any practical reason behind it or does it have any other deeper sense?
No, my overalls are not too large. All the other drivers have them too tight...

Three Toyota officials charged Three Toyota officials chargedUPDATE "Me indicted? I can't believe it," Brunner told Italy's SportAutoMoto. "No one has told me anything about it. Never has my name been linked with this story, also because I have nothing to do with it.

"I have never been mentioned before, nor has any lawyer, judge, prosecutor or other ever contacted me. Never have there been any inquiry directly on me, nor have there been inspections on my computer and my documentation.

"I don't really understand how and why this is all coming out now, and this is something that annoys me greatly."

Brunner denied all accusations against him. "I'm simply astounded," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "The F2002 won everything, while we didn't achieve much the following year. But besides that, in Toyota there never was any data or software about Ferrari or others doing the rounds.

"Maybe someone could have had material of little importance from his previous job at his own place, but never at Toyota Motorsport.

"My project was born completely in Cologne, without any kind of aids. And besides, even with the data from another car, it's difficult to copy, because an F1 car is a complex universe. It's not enough to have two characteristics."

01/16/06 Former Toyota vice-chairman and team principal Ove Andersson (pictured right) has been named among the three ex-Toyota personnel charged by German authorities for using technology stolen from Ferrari.  The two other suspects are Gustav Brunner, former chief designer, and Rene Hilhorst, former head of aerodynamics.

The identity of the three was confirmed by a Toyota spokeswoman, who said the company was notified of the developments by the Cologne authority today.

In a statement, a Toyota spokeswoman said the company had taken note of the development.

"Toyota Motorsport has not been formally notified of the above matter and does not have full knowledge of the specific issues," the spokeswoman added. "Toyota Motorsport would like to stress that the charges have not been brought against the company.

"For this reason, Toyota wishes to refrain from further comment, but remains confident that the situation will be resolved with a positive conclusion for those involved."

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Ralf hits out at F1 media
'06 German GP safe - organizers
Ex-Toyota boss charged in F1 spy scandal
Glitch ends Schu's first day in new Ferrari
'Intel Inside' may have spoiled F1 deal
F1 teams settle court dispute
BMW launched new colors on Monday
Shnaider supports Russian GP
Countdown to 2006
Trulli now at home in new Toyota
F1 set for 'united' future - Stoddart
Martin gears up for final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season Martin gears up for final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup seasonAt this time last year, Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford) was preparing for his final season in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. After 17 seasons with owner Jack Roush and the No. 6 team, Martin was planning the next phase of his career – a full season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. His plans were soon squashed when Roush Racing was affected by several driver changes.

When Roush realized he needed Martin back for one more season to ease the transition, Martin was quick to assist the owner who had stuck by him from the start. And now, preparing for his final season in NASCAR’s top circuit – again – Martin will get one more chance to win the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title, two prizes he has yet to capture.

“I'm feeling good about the team,” Martin said. “There is no reason why we shouldn't have as good a year as last year. There's no reason. I mean, we've got it all. If anything, we've improved on things. I'll certainly drive my heart out, and these guys will have my undivided attention when it comes time to get ready for these races and to focus and to go racing.”

Before focusing on a championship run, Martin knows he needs a strong performance at Daytona. “It’s the biggest race of the year and I need to win it,” Martin said. “This is my last chance. We’ll just try to get in front on the last lap and hog the track.”

Edwards set for increased exposure, expectations Edwards set for increased exposure, expectationsCarl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) entered the 2005 season as a rookie with few expectations. Just one year later he is a favorite to win the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship.

But don’t expect the upbeat Edwards to be intimidated. He hit the track for NASCAR Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder at Daytona with his usual optimism. Monday was the first day for teams ranked in the even-numbered positions in the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series car owner point standings (as of July 13, 2005) to test for the Daytona 500.

“I think the chances of us performing like last year are really good,” Edwards assured the media on Monday. “I’m not thinking of this as a new season, I’m just trying to think of it as a break from Homestead to Daytona and we’re just continuing with exactly what we were doing last year.”  zzzz

A continuation would make Edwards and team owner Jack Roush favorites not only to make the 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, but also bring home the trophy.

The 26 year-old finished last season as one of the series’ hottest drivers. He had eight top-10 finishes in last year’s Chase, including four top fives. He also finished in the top six in the final four races and had back-to-back victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.

But now Edwards has to adjust to his new-found fame.

“You get recognized a lot more, which is a lot of fun,” Edwards said. “I pulled up to a stoplight the other day and people were staring at me.  I was like, ‘Why are they staring at me?’  That's kind of wild to me. I’ve had a lot more calls about going to run dirt races or going to make appearances, so it’s a little different. I’m having to prioritize things because there was definitely a time, not too long ago, when I just wished I had something to do related to racing.”  After fighting the odds and reaching the level he has, Edwards knows he cannot lose focus on the reason he is here.

“The number one thing to me is to be the fastest race car driver I can be,” he said.  As for finding the right balance between on-track performance and off-track commitments, Edwards is confident he is up to the task.

“I truly believe that if we run poorly this season that it won’t be because my head is not in the right place,” he said. “I think that it would be naïve to think that I would let something go that I’ve worked so hard for.”

“But if there is one thing I think I excel at, it is being single minded and focused. And I’ll be damned if I let anything get in the way of having a good year.”

Red Bull team clarifies overheating problem Red Bull team clarifies overheating problemThe Red Bull Racing team had their first test session of the year last week in Jerez and certain news hungry media soon latched on to the fact that RB2 had a few teething problems but, to put the record straight, the overall feeling from four days in Spain was positive.

“By the end of the test, we had completed some valuable mileage with RB2 and after some initial teething problems were pleased with the initial feedback,” said Sporting Director Christian Horner.

The RB2’s Silverstone shakedown in December and this latest test did show up a cooling problem and although it required some field-surgery with extra holes cut in the bodywork, it is not seen as an inherent weakness.

“The car is very much an interim machine in terms of its aerodynamic package,” continued Horner. “The whole point of getting our new car out so early was to learn as much as possible about running with a V8 engine well before the start of the season. On that front, we are very pleased with the job that Ferrari is doing. We always knew that the lessons learnt by running the car early would be worth a bit of pain and overall I’d say it’s looking very encouraging.” Red Bull

Some insight into the Intel sponsorship of BMW team Some insight into the Intel sponsorship of BMW teamIntel sponsorship of the BMW Sauber F1 race team can be quite significant.  BMW has been HEAVILY involved with using Macintosh computers for years. Apple recently entered into an agreement to use Intel chips as the CPU's in their latest computers, a couple of which were just introduced in San Francisco this past Tuesday!

BMW is now involved in F1, Intel sponsorship, and Apple Macintosh  computers (powered by Intel chips) in their automotive advertising!   Intel will also work with BMW to integrate various technologies into their passenger cars that will use Intel chips. Intel is keen to stress that its relationship with BMW is much deeper than just co-operating over F1. The pair are promoting an 'open' standard for car cradles based around Windows CE. This is a massive convergence of corporate interests - - a business-to-business deal in many respects..

Car of Tomorrow to be phased in Car of Tomorrow to be phased inNASCAR's "car of tomorrow" [COT] will be phased into competition beginning with short-track and road course races in the 2007, Nextel Cup Series director John Darby confirmed Monday. As a second week of Cup testing began at Daytona International Speedway, Darby said NASCAR will soon announce an official schedule for the new car's implementation.

That could come next Monday on the first day of the annual media tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway. Darby confirmed that plans are to use the car, which is approximately 2 inches taller and 4 inches wider than cars currently used in Cup competition, at short tracks and road courses in 2007, then at the circuit's largest tracks of 2 miles or longer in 2008, and finally at intermediate tracks in 2009. But, Darby said, he expects to see teams "accelerate" that schedule once the phase-in begins, figuring they'll want to see the new car used at more intermediate tracks sooner.

"Within the next couple of weeks we'll release the official 'car of tomorrow' schedule and that will be the official schedule," Darby said. "We'll say, 'Here is it, we're not turning back.' ... The important thing is to get that official schedule out, because when it goes out it's printed and everybody says, 'here's the deal,' and then it's time to get going." NASCAR tested its own prototype of the car of tomorrow with a rear wing assembly here on Thursday, and plans another test on Thursday of this week with as many as eight prototypes made by various Cup teams.

"We've made a ton of progress with it over the winter and it's down to small changes now," Darby said. "We're doing a lot of work with the wing right now to test it out and see how it's going to work. It's has been real positive. We will keep pressing on and in '07 it will race." ThatsRacin/David Poole

Torsional rigidity tests Torsional rigidity testsUPDATE Dear AutoRacing1.com, FYI, we've performed tests to confirm the health of our cars, and a 2001 Lola was just as good as a 2005.  A carbon fiber chassis does not lose strength or stiffness unless it is badly damaged.  Normal race use (including bumps and curbs of a rough street circuit) is not enough to hurt a car. Tom Smith, Newman/Haas Racing 01/16/06 DPR has been busy preparing for the forthcoming GP2 season including carrying out chassis torsional stiffness testing in the facilities of the team's sister company, DPS Composites.

The first official GP2 test will take place on the 22nd/23rd February at the HTTT Le Castellet track in the South of France.

In order to properly simulate a car's handling and come up with chassis setups for a track, it's important that the team know the exact torsional rigidity of their chassis or else their modeling/simulation program will give erroneous results. As with any computer program, garbage in, garbage out.

Here a GP2 team is doing it on their new chassis, which should still be fairly stiff and have a torsional rigidity close to the original design - within tolerable limits. We wonder how many Champ Car teams run such a test on their old Lola 'Flexible Flyers'? The Champ Car chassis undergoes quite a bit of flexing over the bumps and curbs of the average street circuit.

Marlin tops Monday testing with Hendrick motor Marlin tops Monday testing with Hendrick motorIn his MB2 Motorsports debut, Sterling Marlin made a strong impression, posting the fastest speed Monday during the first day of testing for the Daytona 500.

Behind the wheel of his new No. 14 Waste Management Chevrolet, Marlin toured the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway in 48.100 seconds at 187.110 miles per hour. Marlin's MB2 Motorsports teammate Joe Nemechek was fourth fastest with a time and speed of 48.282 seconds at 186.405 miles per hour. (Photo to right courtesy of NASCAR - Marlin talks to teammate Joe Nemechek)
"It's been a long time since I've been able to come to Daytona and be the fastest car on the track," said Marlin, a two-time Daytona 500 winner. "MB2 has a history of fast superspeedway cars and all the credit goes to the guys on the team. Everyone that's a part of this organization has worked hard, and that -- combined with our Hendrick engines-- have resulted in fast racecars."
Marlin's two Daytona 500 victories -- 1994 and 1995 -- place him as only one of three drivers to ever claim back-to-back wins at the historic race. The other two were Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough.
"Both of our Waste Management Chevrolets were fast off the truck," said Marlin, whose MB2 Chevy's (No. 14a and No. 14b) were second and fourth fastest in the morning practice and first and fifth in the afternoon session. "Now we can tweak and nitpick and work to find more speed come Tuesday and Wednesday.
"We're starting off on the right foot. Running like we did today makes me wish the Daytona 500 was this Sunday."

Afternoon Speeds

Pos No Driver Make Best Time Best Speed
1 14b Sterling Marlin Chv 48.100 187.110
2 10a Scott Riggs Dge 48.186 186.776
3 26a Jamie McMurray Frd 48.259 186.494
4 01a Joe Nemechek Chv 48.282 186.405
5 14a Sterling Marlin Chv 48.282 186.405
6 25a David Green Chv 48.315 186.278
7 01b Joe Nemechek Chv 48.341 186.177
8 5 Kyle Busch Chv 48.362 186.097
9 07a Clint Bowyer Chv 48.382 186.020
10 11b Denny Hamlin Chv 48.399 185.954 zzzz
11 16b Greg Biffle Frd 48.399 185.954
12 96r Terry Labonte Chv 48.416 185.889
13 2a Kurt Busch Dge 48.418 185.881
14 16a Greg Biffle Frd 48.425 185.854
15 66 Jeff Green Chv 48.450 185.759
16 66x Jeff Green Chv 48.469 185.686
17 6a Mark Martin Frd 48.482 185.636
18 18b J.J. Yeley Chv 48.497 185.578
19 10b Scott Riggs Dge 48.510 185.529
20 07 Clint Bowyer Chv 48.529 185.456
21 99a Carl Edwards Frd 48.534 185.437
22 5a Kyle Busch Chv 48.535 185.433
23 88b Dale Jarrett Frd 48.545 185.395
24 99b Carl Edwards Frd 48.548 185.384
25 26b Jamie McMurray Frd 48.559 185.342
26 88a Dale Jarrett Frd 48.573 185.288
27 00b Hermie Sadler Frd 48.633 185.060
28 42 Casey Mears Dge 48.645 185.014
29 45 Kyle Petty Dge 48.688 184.850
30 18a J.J. Yeley Chv 48.709 184.771
31 11a Denny Hamlin Chv 48.715 184.748
32 55 Michael Waltrip Dge 48.741 184.649
33 96t Terry Labonte Chv 48.771 184.536
34 42x Casey Mears Dge 48.796 184.441
35 00a Hermie Sadler Frd 48.812 184.381
36 32 Travis Kvapil Chv 48.863 184.188
37 2 Kurt Busch Chv 48.867 184.173
38 7 Robby Gordon Chv 48.910 184.011
39 15 Paul Menard Chv 48.911 184.008
40 6b Mark Martin Frd 48.912 184.004
41 52a Larry Gunselman Chv 48.936 183.914
42 49a Brent Sherman Dge 48.943 183.887
43 22a Dave Blaney Dge 48.998 183.681
44 29a Kevin Harvick Chv 49.023 183.587
45 15a Paul Menard Chv 49.033 183.550
46 7a Robby Gordon Chv 49.072 183.404
47 55a Michael Waltrip Dge 49.092 183.329
48 29 Kevin Harvick Chv 49.116 183.240
49 32a Travis Kvapil Chv 49.129 183.191
50 52b Larry Gunselman Dge 49.183 182.990
51 61a Kevin Lepage Frd 49.198 182.934
52 09 Mike Wallace Dge 49.236 182.793
53 09a Mike Wallace Dge 49.254 182.726
54 92a Chad Chaffin Chv 49.254 182.726
55 22 Dave Blaney Dge 49.263 182.693
56 95 Stanton Barrett Chv 49.308 182.526
57 89 Morgan Shepherd Frd 49.357 182.345
58 27 Kirk Shelmerdine Chv 49.494 181.840
59 49 Brent Sherman Dge 49.905 180.343
60 92b Chad Chaffin Chv 0.000 0.000

Andretti completes initial IndyCar Series test Andretti completes initial IndyCar Series testSEBRING, Fla. - Marco Andretti, driver of the #26 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone completed his first Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series test earlier today at Sebring International Raceway.

The two-day session, held at Sebring's 1.6-mile road course and observed by Kevin Blanch, IRL Technical Manager, represented Andretti's initial test session in the #26 ArcaEx machine as well as his first opportunity to work and interact with the ArcaEx crew.

The 18-year old Andretti is entering his rookie season in the IndyCar Series but has been competing in various levels of motorsports since the age of nine. Most recently, he participated in the 2005 Star Mazda Series on a full-time basis, placing fifth in the final championship standings while registering three top-fives over 12 events. He also competed in six IRL Indy Pro Series events, earning three victories from the pole (St. Petersburg, Indianapolis road course and Infineon Raceway) in six outings.

The 2006 IndyCar Series season begins March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the Homestead-Miami 300 presented by XM Satellite Radio. The event will be televised live by ABC Sports beginning at 3:30 p.m. (EST).  zzzz

Marco Andretti, #26 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "Everything was a bit of an unknown to me until I got into the car, but now the questions are starting to be answered. So in that regard it was good to finally get some time in the ArcaEx car. It was great working with Eddie Jones and the #26 crew and getting to know what they need from me. It will take a little time, but we made good progress." 

Michael Andretti, Chief Executive Officer, Andretti Green Racing: "I am very impressed with the job Marco did both yesterday and today. He was on pace, gave the ArcaEx crew good feedback and didn't put a wheel wrong the whole time. He also held up well, physically. Overall, I'm very happy with his performance, as is the whole team. His initial test couldn't have gone any better." 

Kyle Moyer, General Manager, Andretti Green Racing: "It was a good test for the ArcaEx team; everything went as planned. It's good to start getting Marco adjusted to working with the ArcaEx team and as he gets more and more seat time it will only get better. He worked on doing pit stops, his pit 'in' and 'outs' and all the things that it takes to being a winning driver." 

Mario Andretti: "He's definitely ready for his progression into this type of race car. He looked very much at ease, he was in control and that's what I was looking for. He's not overwhelmed because the team was able to begin testing immediately and he gave good feedback. He's totally in his element and was just very impressive. This doesn't surprise me because I've seen it before in him, but you can't confirm it until you actually see it." 

Kevin Blanch, Technical Manager, IRL IndyCar Series: "Marco did a great job. Considering this was his first real time in the car, he understands the car surprisingly well. He picked up on the changes that the crew made to the car, went back out and got right back up to speed, which shows that he knows how to evaluate the car very, very well. With some more laps under his belt, he should be a real contender by the time we open the season in Homestead." AGR

New Ferrari breaks cover New Ferrari breaks coverUPDATE On the private Ferrari Fiorano 1.413 km short course the car which Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro will use to contest the 2006 Formula 1 World Championship made its debut under cloudy skies and temperatures right at freezing. It goes by the project code of 657.

Michael Schumacher did 51 laps over the course of the day, the quickest in a time of 59"569.  The car did stop on the track once with reported fuel pickup problems.

Development testing of the car resumes on Friday, at this same track, weather permitting.

01/16/06 Michael Schumacher has debuted Ferrari's all-new, and unique looking, 2006 F1 race car.

At Fiorano near Maranello HQ just after nine o'clock, the unliveried car - sporting several visual changes compared to the 'F2005' - pulled out of the pits for a first run.

By lunch, with even a bit of snow falling, 37-year-old Schumacher - who won only the ill-fated US grand prix with the new car's predecessor - had completed as many as 35 laps, according to reports.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is on hand to witness the racer's first 'shake down test', ahead of the launch on 24 January.

At first inspection, the new scarlet racer - likely to be designated 'F2006' - is showing off a more swooping nose, and wing mirrors uniquely mounted on the side pods.

Brix’s story reads like movie script Brix’s story reads like movie scriptLEBANON, Ohio - Harrison Brix is a race car driver, not an actor, but the story of how the young man from San Jose, Calif. came to be racing in this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway smacks of a movie script.

Brix may want to pinch himself when he climbs into Doran Racing's Kodak EasyShare DORAN JE4 Ford No. 77 for his first stint in the car he'll share with 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller, multi-time boat racing champion Forest Barber, and Champ Car and NASCAR's Michel Jourdain Jr.

"I think I have one of the strangest starts of almost anyone, but if it works, it works," said Brix, 25, who carries the colors of SIRIUS Satellite Radio in addition to Kodak.

Like all good movie scripts, there's a girl involved.  In Brix's case, this time it was one that got away. zzzz

"I chased an ex-girlfriend to Europe, but it didn't work out," he related.  "While I was killing some time at Heathrow Airport in London, waiting for my flight home, I saw a video contest.

"There were 1,850 tickets being sold, and each ticket cost 75 British pounds," he explained. "There was a soccer player on the screen heading balls, and you had to predict where the center of the ball was going to end up based on the player's eyes."

The prize was a CL500 Mercedes.

Brix took a shot at it, and several weeks later he learned he'd won.

Not wanting to pay to import the car to California, he arranged to have it sold in Europe, and he used the proceeds to pursue his dream of racing cars, not just go-karts. He is a graduate (with honors) in economics from Loyola Marymount University and he had a job working for his father's company, The Brix Group, in the information technology department, but he still wanted to try to race full-time.  The trip to Europe to pursue the girl, coupled with his talents playing video games and some old-fashioned good luck, provided that opportunity.

"After flaming out with my ex and then winning the contest, it seemed like something was driving me back to racing," he said.  "Even though everyone around me told me to abandon my dream, fate has something else in store.  I think I'm just meant to be here."

Brix was the Skip Barber Western Series champion and Rookie of the Year for 2003-2004. He ran a few Skip Barber national championship races early in 2004 before dropping that series to run five Rolex Series races in the SGS class with Sigal Sport that year.  He was in the top five each time, with one victory.

Brix also ran a limited Rolex series schedule in 2005, competing in the Essex Racing Crawford Ford No. 5 Daytona Prototype in last year's Rolex 24 and then doing five more races for Howard Boss/Dyson Racing in the Crawford Pontiac No. 06.

With help from SIRIUS, he'll now drive the Kodak EasyShare car in all 14 races on the 2006 schedule.

"It's been a wild ride so far, but I'm really happy to be part of the Doran Racing team for the 2006 Rolex Series and the Rolex 24," he said.

"Now I'll just have to wait and see where fate takes me this year."

He hopes for a true Hollywood ending and victory lane.

"I don't want to jinx us, but it could happen and if it did it would be great," he said.  "I know everyone on our team will be trying their best.  The Doran JE4 won the Rolex 24 two years ago, and Kevin Doran's team is always one to be reckoned with at the Rolex 24. They always run up front.

"I'm really looking forward to having Terry [Borcheller] as my mentor in my first full season of the Rolex Series too," he added.

Fans can see the next scene by either attending the Rolex 24 in person Jan. 28-29 in Daytona Beach, Fla. or watching SPEED's live coverage of it.  The network plans to show the race in three parts this year: from noon until 6 p.m. and from 8 p.m until 11 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, and from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29.  All times are Eastern.

Practice starts at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26, with qualifying for the Daytona Prototypes at 3:45 p.m. that afternoon.  More practice and qualifying will be held on Friday, Jan. 27 prior to the race starting at noon on Saturday, Jan. 28 and concluding 24 hours later.

Further "acts" in Brix's story will be posted on the team's Web site at doranracing.com; the series' Web site at grandamerican.com

Q and A with Carl Edwards Q and A with Carl EdwardsCarl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, finished third in last year’s point standings. Edwards spoke about his second full season during the lunch break of Monday’s test session at Daytona International Speedway. More.....
Q and A with Mark Martin Q and A with Mark MartinMark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, is coming off a fourth-place finish in last year’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points race. Martin held a Q&A session in the Daytona International Speedway infield media center on his first day of testing for next month’s Daytona 500. More....
NASCAR NASCAR NASCAR NASCAR NASCAR NASCARA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I was looking at the SPEED Channel TV schedule and started to add up the numbers.  There are more hours of programming just for pre-season testing than Champ Car has for their entire 2006 TV schedule.  And if not for Indy, more than the IRL as well.

I'm sick of NASCAR.  We are bombarded with it all hours of the day almost 365 days a year.  We truly are a nation of mindless Bubbas to sit there and watch cars go around in circles for hour upon hour of preseason testing.  Not a race mind you.  Preseason testing.  Talk about boring.  Don't these Bubbas have anything better to do with their time?  And you wonder why the Asians are kicking our butt.  They're out there working and making cars better and cheaper while our working class watches NASCAR.  Amazing.  Simply amazing. James Warden, Seattle, WA

No team orders at Honda No team orders at HondaSpeaking at the Autosport International Show, Honda's Gil de Ferran said: “I think that having a very competitive pair fighting for the top positions is a problem any team would like to have.

“A lot has been said about trying to deal with competitive drivers and so forth, but it is like paying tax. You only pay tax if you make money, and making money is a good thing.

“That problem [of possible tension between the drivers] will only arrive if we are competitive and up at the front, fighting for wins and podiums.

“That is a problem I would love to have.”

“There will be no clear number one and number two drivers,” he said.

“We will support both drivers with equipment and personnel to the same extent and to the best of our ability.

“There will be none of this, ‘you will win the race and you will not’.

“It will be every man for himself and the only order will be for them not to take each other off the track.

“Healthy competition between the two will help us move forwards.”

Tiago Monteiro donates gloves Tiago Monteiro donates glovesTiago Monteiro donated his Formula One driving gloves to the voluntary firemen of Albergaria-a-Velha on Saturday January 14, at the end of a visit where he paid his respects to his maternal grandfather, Sérgio Reis da Costa, who was Commander of a fire squad.

By this strong symbolic gesture, Tiago Monteiro made a point of honoring the courage and dedication of all the Portuguese firemen, who played a very vital role over the past few years when fires devastated the country and saw the tragic loss of several voluntary firemen.

BDR confirms Truck team lineup BDR confirms Truck team lineupBill Davis, president of Bill Davis Racing, confirmed Monday the driver and crew chief combinations of his three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entries for the 2006 season. Mike Skinner will return as driver of the No. 5 Toyota Tundra with veteran Crew Chief Jeff Hensley calling the shots.  Not only did the duo lead the series with seven pole positions and 874 laps led in 2005, but the No. 5 team compiled two wins, nine top-five finishes, and 13 top-10 finishes before rounding out the year in fifth in the season-ending point standings.

Bill Lester will return for his third season as driver of the No. 22 Toyota Tundra, and Doug Wolcott will return for his sophomore season as the crew chief.  In their first season together, the pair complied four top-10 finishes, and Lester scored his first top-five finish at Kansas.  The team also picked up back-to-back poles at Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway. In 2005, Lester amassed $1,000,000 in career earnings and reached the century mark in career starts.  The team is looking forward to the 2006 season and earning its first win.  zzzz

Johnny Benson will again pilot the No. 23 Toyota Tundra in 2006 with veteran crew chief Rick Ren returning atop the pit box.  Ren joined Bill Davis Racing in August 2005 and helped the No. 23 team pick up three top-three finishes in the last four races.  The No. 23 Toyota Tundra team gained more than 100 points on the leaders in the last six races and finished 10th in the 2005 championship point standings.  The team is hoping to carry the same momentum into 2006.

Toyota Certified Used Vehicles (TCUV) will also return to the No. 23 Tundra as the primary sponsor.  The leader in certified used vehicles served as a major associate sponsor on the No. 23 Tundra last year, and because of the team's overwhelming success, TCUV decided to increase its support of the Bill Davis Racing program.  Toyota Certified is an industry leader, selling more than 200,000 vehicles a year throughout the United States.  Certified Toyotas come with a six-year/ 100,000-mile warranty and roadside assistance, and all vehicles pass an extensive 160-point quality assurance inspection. For more information on Toyota Certified Used Vehicles go to www.toyota.com/certified

"I am really excited about 2006," Davis commented.  "The No. 5 team showed they were a contender each and every week. They really did not lose anyone during the off-season, which really helps the team as a whole.  Now that the group has a year together under its belt, I think it will challenge for wins week in and week out.  Bill Lester really did a great job last year.  He picked up his first top-five finish and ran up front on a regular basis. I am confident he and his No. 22 team will be strong in 2006.  Johnny Benson had such an up and down season in 2005.  The team started the year with high hopes, but a string of bad luck put them deep in the point standings.  The team battled back and with their strong runs, at the end of the season they got back into the top-10 in points. I am confident 2006 will be the year Benson wheels his Tundra into victory lane."

Busch tops Monday AM practice times Busch tops Monday AM practice timesIt should be noted that cars with Hendrick motors in them have been fastest every session last week and now this week.  Nothing like HP in 100% throttle racing.
Day 4 - AM Testing
Pos. No. Driver Best Time Best Speed
1 5 Kyle Busch Chv 48.224 186.629
2 14b Sterling Marlin Chv 48.232 186.598
3 26a Jamie McMurray Frd 48.262 186.482
4 14a Sterling Marlin Chv 48.280 186.413
5 10a Scott Riggs Dge 48.308 186.305
6 01a Joe Nemechek Chv 48.328 186.227
7 16b Greg Biffle Frd 48.351 186.139
8 25a David Green Chv 48.368 186.073
9 01b Joe Nemechek Chv 48.420 185.874
10 11b Denny Hamlin Chv 48.481 185.640
11 16a Greg Biffle Frd 48.520 185.491
12 2a Kurt Busch Dge 48.562 185.330
13 18a J.J. Yeley Chv 48.564 185.322
14 96r Terry Labonte Chv 48.565 185.319
15 88a Dale Jarrett Frd 48.589 185.227
16 18b J.J. Yeley Chv 48.597 185.197
17 6a Mark Martin Frd 48.604 185.170
18 55 Michael Waltrip Dge 48.642 185.025
19 10b Scott Riggs Dge 48.652 184.987
20 26b Jamie McMurray Frd 48.662 184.949 zzzz
21 45 Kyle Petty Dge 48.666 184.934
22 5a Kyle Busch Chv 48.679 184.885
23 99b Carl Edwards Frd 48.683 184.869
24 11a Denny Hamlin Chv 48.725 184.710
25 88b Dale Jarrett Frd 48.730 184.691
26 6b Mark Martin Frd 48.763 184.566
27 45a Kyle Petty Dge 48.776 184.517
28 66x Jeff Green Chv 48.778 184.509
29 96t Terry Labonte Chv 48.798 184.434
30 07a Clint Bowyer Chv 48.800 184.426
31 2 Kurt Busch Chv 48.808 184.396
32 66 Jeff Green Chv 48.822 184.343
33 00b Hermie Sadler Frd 48.828 184.320
34 42x Casey Mears Dge 48.854 184.222
35 07 Clint Bowyer Chv 48.886 184.102
36 00a Hermie Sadler Frd 48.929 183.940
37 52a Larry Gunselman Chv 48.943 183.887
38 29a Kevin Harvick Chv 48.961 183.820
39 25b David Green Chv 48.982 183.741
40 7 Robby Gordon Chv 48.987 183.722
41 15 Paul Menard Chv 49.005 183.655
42 55a Michael Waltrip Dge 49.045 183.505
43 7a Robby Gordon Chv 49.118 183.232
44 22a Dave Blaney Dge 49.128 183.195
45 42 Casey Mears Dge 49.152 183.105
46 32a Travis Kvapil Chv 49.156 183.091
47 09 Mike Wallace Dge 49.178 183.009
48 49a Brent Sherman Dge 49.185 182.983
49 15a Paul Menard Chv 49.203 182.916
50 99a Carl Edwards Frd 49.292 182.585
51 22 Dave Blaney Dge 49.418 182.120
52 92b Chad Chaffin Chv 49.423 182.101
53 29 Kevin Harvick Chv 49.471 181.925
54 61a Kevin Lepage Chv 49.542 181.664
55 09a Mike Wallace Dge 49.563 181.587
56 95 Stanton Barrett Chv 49.970 180.108
57 52b Larry Gunselman Chv 50.074 179.734
58 49 Brent Sherman Dge 50.128 179.540
Industry News
The Olympic flame on board a Ferrari The Olympic flame on board a FerrariMaranello - The Olympic flame, emblem of the Games and the most sporting of values, linked up with Ferrari, symbol of 'made in Italy' excellence.

The relationship is one of passion: that which underlines the oldest sporting competition and that which has always distinguished the mythical Prancing Horse.

"The voyage of the Olympic flame", explained the vice president of the TOROC, Evelina Christillin, "is a unique occasion to spead and promote the values of peace, trust and brotherhood that are the foundations of the Games. With this journey we wanted to celebrate a number of things that many believed would be impossible: the natural, artistic, cultural and also the industrial beauty of our country. Ferrari is one of the most important sporting entities in Italy and had to be present on an occasion like this".

"Ferrari, which since its birth has sporting spirit as one of its core principles, is proud to host the Olympic symbol. It is an event that has always had the capacity and strength to carry messages of global significance", added Ferrari's vice Direttore Generale, Amedeo Felisa.

The flame left Bologna in the morning and passed through Modena at 10.06, Formigine at 11.41 before reaching Maranello at around 11.45. Ferrari's head test driver, Dario Benuzzi, was the first Ferrari representative, at 11.50, to receive the flame. He was on the flyover that leaps the Fiorano track. After 400 meters to the historic entrance in Via Abetone Inferiore, 4, Benuzzi handed over to Luca Badoer (the official Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro test driver) who was on board a Ferrari F430 Spider driven by Amedeo Felisa. The Olympic flame then crossed the factory along viale Enzo Ferrari to the Nuova Meccanica. From there it was on to the Galleria Ferrari where the brazier with the flame was situated.

The Olympic flame, carried by a new runner, made its way around the Comune of Maranello before leaving for Fiorano Modenese, Sassuolo, Casalgrande (13.52), Reggio nell'Emilia (15.46) and Sant'Ilario d'Enza (17.18), finishing the day in Parma at 17.25 for the lighting of the Olympic brazier Ceremony.

Crash Media Group to publish Indy 500 book Crash Media Group to publish Indy 500 bookThe Indianapolis Motor Speedway has reached an exclusive licensing agreement with Crash Media Group Limited to produce the Official Indy 500 Yearbook for the next three years, with an option for further years, officials from both companies announced Jan. 16.

The deal with CMG also includes a range of Indy-related products, including books and calendars, published under the famed "Autocourse" brand that has chronicled Formula One annually for the last 55 years.

"We're excited about this new relationship with CMG," said Nicole Garside, Indianapolis Motor Speedway director of licensing. "The 'Autocourse' brand is known worldwide for its quality motorsport annuals, and we think it's an ideal match for the Indianapolis 500. We're looking forward to working with CMG this year and in the future."

Besides the annual yearbook, CMG also will produce an "Autocourse History of the Indy 500 Yearbook," which will be available in May to coincide with historic 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28. CMG also will publish a broad range of Indy 500 calendars this year, starting with a retro Indianapolis 500 calendar to accompany the release of the "Autocourse" Indy 500 history book.

The 2006 annual yearbook will be published in time for the holiday season and will be available along with a calendar of spectacular images from the 2006 edition of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

"This is an amazing way to start the New Year for us," said Bryn Williams, CMG managing director. "2005 was pretty exciting with the acquisition of the iconic 'Autocourse' titles, but to be able to hit the ground running in early 2006 with an exclusive licensing agreement with IMS is another major step forward for our company.

"You don't get much better than a deal with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the most famous motor racing venue in the world, we are absolutely delighted to be given this opportunity and will grasp it with both hands."

CMG is based at the famed Silverstone Circuit in England, the home of British motorsport, including the site of the annual British Grand Prix Formula One race. The company was formed in March 1999 as an online publishing house and Web development agency but has expanded into offline publishing, merchandise, Internet radio, statistical and photographic archiving and FIA-accredited motorsports photography.

Its holdings include the iconic motorsports titles "Autocourse," "Motocourse" and "Rallycourse," the motorsports Web site www.crash.net and motorsports radio station Crash.Net Radio.

American Mark Miller 5th in Dakar American Mark Miller 5th in DakarWolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen has set a new ‘personal best’ at the hard fought 2006 Dakar Rally by finishing second with Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) and Tina Thörner (Sweden).

For the first time in the twenty-eight year history of the desert classic a diesel powered car finished second – the new Race Touareg 2 with a 275 hp TDI engine. At the same time the factory's motorsport team improved one position when compared to the previous year's result, when the first generation Race Touareg scored a podium place for a diesel powered car. With five stage victories, a trio of second fastest times and eight third places and five days leading the field – including filling the top three positions for two days – Volkswagen also stocked up its own account of individual successes compared to last year. Mark Miller/Dirk von Zitzewitz (USA/D) in fifth place, Bruno Saby/Michel Périn (F/F) in eighth and Carlos Sainz/Andreas Schulz (E/D) in eleventh position completed the results for the team from Wolfsburg. Jutta Kleinschmidt/Fabrizia Pons (D/I) retired following an accident.

Second best Volkswagen team at the finish are the American Mark Miller (pictured right - he is Ryan Arciero's long time partner and co-champion of Baja) and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz. Miller, who was only competing in his second event for Volkswagen and for the third time at the Dakar Rally, surprised many established opponents with his determined high tempo. Three stage times in the top-three, including setting exactly the same time as Stéphane Peterhansel on the second longest stage on the rally's eighth day, highlighted the talent of the American from the state of Arizona. Rolling twice on the seventh stage prevented the American-German duo from finishing even higher up the leader board.

"Obviously we are delighted about Volkswagen's second place finish and also for Giniel de Villiers and Tina Thörner in this year's Dakar Rally, which was extremely tough, fast and exciting”, explains Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "At the same time we are disappointed that we didn't win. A win was our target. The opportunity and potential were there, but unfortunately they went begging. Congratulations to Mitsubishi, Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard on their victory.” zzzz

Kris Nissen, responsible for the Volkswagen brand motorsport activities since summer 2003, further: "Our result was nevertheless an improvement compared to last year. We scored five stage victories. We finished second, fifth, eighth and eleventh overall. It is the highest ever finishing position for a diesel vehicle at the Dakar Rally and the best result for a German car manufacturer since Porsche won in 1986. We made enormous progress in every aspect – engineering, team and logistics. I think we put regular winner Mitsubishi under significant pressure. Our summary is that we were at least as good as the strong competition in almost every area, but we have to improve in one or two areas. We have to do some fine tuning to the Race Touareg 2, especially where deep and soft sand is concerned. We lost decisive time here this year."

Giniel de Villiers, who was only competing in his fourth Dakar Rally and who even took the lead on the sixth day, was constantly in the top-three overall after the eighth of 15 stages. On the challenging twelfth stage the 33-year old South African moved up to second after the eight-time "Dakar” winner Stéphane Peterhansel made a mistake. The permanently focused de Villiers and his Swedish co-driver Tina Thörner, who was only signed nine months ago by Volkswagen, also demonstrated their expertise in the toughest of terrain and throughout the marathon stage, and, in doing so, reduced the gap to winner Luc Alphand to 17 minutes in the ‘dash-for-the-line'.

Bruno Saby and co-driver Michel Périn were significantly better than their finishing position suggested. The two Cross Country Rally World Cup winners from last year were in sixth place only 3 minutes 57 seconds behind the leader after the sixth stage, when they lost almost seven hours due to a lose fitting in the fuel supply line. Within four stages, the two former "Dakar” winners from France had fought their way up the leader board from 22nd overall to 8th position at the finish.

Carlos Sainz and Andreas Schulz dominated the rally at the start. "Dakar” debutant Sainz, a record holder with 26 wins in classic sprint rallying, proved his exceptional talent after changing to cross country rallying. Four stage victories and overall leader on four of the opening five days underlined the expertise of the Spanish-German duo. A clutch problem on the eighth stage, the result of breaking free from deep sand on the previous day, left the two-time World Rally Champion in a hopeless position more than eight hours behind the leader in sixteenth position. The duo improved to eleventh place at the finish.

Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons retired after damaging their car irreparably in an accident on the eleventh stage. Whilst running in fifth position, the female German-Italian duo hit a tree stump so awkwardly, after being thrown of course by a pot hole, that the Race Touareg prototype's front right-hand suspension could not be repaired on the spot. A great series came to an end as a result: Until now Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons had always reached the finished with Volkswagen.

Final standings
Pos., Team, Vehicle, Total time
1. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution 53:47:32 hrs.
2. Giniel de Villiers/Tina Thörner (RSA/S), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 + 17:53 min.
3. Nani Roma/Henri Magne (E/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution + 1:50:38 hrs.
4. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution + 3:20:24 hrs.
5. Mark Miller/Dirk von Zitzewitz (USA/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 + 3:23:25 hrs.
6. Jean-L. Schlesser/François Borsotto (F/F), Schlesser-Ford + 4:09:23 hrs.
7. Carlos Sousa/Jean-Marie Lurquin (P/B), Nissan Pick-up + 5:40:11 hrs.
8. Bruno Saby/Michel Périn (F/F), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 + 8:14:45 hrs.
9. Guerlain Chicherit/Matthieu Baumel (F/F), BMW X3 + 8:25:13 hrs.
10. Thierry Magnaldi/Arnaud Debron (F/F), Schlesser-Ford + 8:25:57 hrs.
11. Carlos Sainz/Andreas Schulz (E/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 + 10:03:46 hrs. Volkswagen

Latest F1 news in brief, BMW changes launch date Latest F1 news in brief, BMW changes launch dateUPDATE The first 'BMW Sauber' F1 car and livery will be revealed to the world's press on Tuesday, the team has clarified.

Despite earlier informing that an official two-day launch event would kick off on Monday, a team source now says the car will be unveiled and shaken down at Valencia on Tuesday.

The Staatsanwaltschaft K, the public prosecution service in the Cologne area, has confirmed that it is filing charges against three former members of staff of Toyota Motorsport who are suspected of having used technology stolen from Ferrari.

Brunner implicated in Toyota spy scandal
Ralf scolds F1 brother
Another gong for Peter Sauber
DC to stay involved in racing
Ferrari chose Massa over me - Badoer
Massa set for tough year - Jean Todt
More Ferrari tests for MotoGP's Rossi
Todt sidesteps Ferrari quit talk
Rubens' problem in the Honda cockpit
Teams face nervous start to '06
BMW Sauber to reveal new car on Monday
Champ Car won’t return to Laguna Seca for a long time Champ Car won’t return to Laguna Seca for a long timeThe proposed Second Amendment that the San Jose City Council just signed with the Grand Prix promoters says that so long as the City provides services at no cost to Operator, the Operator is required to conduct the San Jose Grand Prix, and is prohibited from conducting an open wheel automobile race within 200 miles of the Downtown San Jose Race Circuit. This would effectively prohibit the Operator from moving the event to another Bay Area venue, or from competing with the San Jose Grand Prix.

The new agreement is for five years with an option on an additional five years, meaning Champ Car could be at San Jose for 10 more years.  Of course a deal with Laguna Seca, if lucrative enough, could see the San Jose services billed at cost to Champ Car who would cover the costs with money from Laguna Seca.  We don't see that happening, however.

Parrott expected back with 43 team after illness Parrott expected back with 43 team after illnessPetty Enterprises competition director Greg Steadman stepped back into his previous role as crew chief for Bobby Labonte last week at Daytona testing because new chief Todd Parrott was recovering from a bacterial infection in a Huntersville, NC, hospital. Parrott was expected to return to Petty Enterprises this week. The #43 team is scheduled to test for Goodyear at Texas Motor Speedway later this month and also will test its intermediate program starting January 30 at Las Vegas. Executive vice president of racing operations Robbie Loomis says Petty's immediate goal is to "focus on the moment" and build confidence among the teams. Sporting News
Zonta sidelined in 2006 Zonta sidelined in 2006Because Toyota finished in the top four last year, the team is not eligible to run a third car on Fridays in 2006, so Ricardo will no longer be seen in action on race weekends.

"Of course it's disappointing not to be driving, as I was having a lot of fun on Fridays," he said. "I will still go to each Grand Prix, but it won't be as much fun as when I was in the car!”

I was happy with my first test with the TF106, Bridgestone tires and the V8. We went through a lot of things, but it's too early to say anything about the performance. But being ready early was very good for us because there was a lot of development time before the first race, so we could improve the car a lot. There's a different feeling with the Bridgestone tires but we have worked a lot to get used to them. Of course you get used to the V8 very quickly, but if I jumped into the V10 again, it would feel very different to me!

"We've got good people working in the team, and everything is coming together. After scoring some podiums the motivation of the team is considerably higher, but there's always work to be done and progress to be made. We have to have a car that is completely versatile in order to win a race. I think 2006 it will be an interesting year for Toyota and for F1 in general."

Top F1 Engineers join FMS International Top F1 Engineers join FMS InternationalFMS International have signed up two F1 Engineers for their 2006 assault on the GP2 series.  Giancarlo Fisichella revealed today the names of two engineers who have left F1 to join Fisichella Motor Sport International in its new GP2 venture.

"Our first priority was to reinforce the existing team of expert engineers in order to make our technical package as strong as possible," Giancarlo Fisichella said. (Right, Paolo Coloni and Fisichella launch FMS International at the Bologna Motor Show last December)

"Humprey Corbett from Toyota F1 is our new Technical Director, whilst Vincenzo Castorino (ex Ferrari F1) is responsible for data acquisition, simulation and race strategy."

FMS International is expected to announce its drivers by early next month. "Negotiations are in place with several drivers, but our final decision will be made by February 2nd." FMS International Press Release

Yoshimoto re-signs with BCN Yoshimoto re-signs with BCNBCN COMPETITION is delighted to announce that Hiroki Yoshimoto will be driving again one of our red cars in the 2006 GP2 Series Championship.

Continuity is the key for success in motor racing and having Hiroki and DIREXIV for a second season is a very important factor for our Team.

Hiro has shown during 2005 that is a very fast and high professional racing driver and an excellent team player, to this, everybody at BCN COMPETITION are happy to work together fighting for the top result in the 2006 GP2 Championship.
Hiroki Yoshimoto: “It is very exciting to be able to compete one more season with BCN Competition, the Team’s trust in my abilities is really appreciated. There are great professionals and I know them well.
For my first full season in Europe we did well but we can do much much better. I am very grateful to Direxiv for their ongoing support and will do my utmost for their name to shine.

"It is going to be very challenging but I am really looking to it! I cannot wait to start driving again!” BCN Competicion Press Release

The identity of Yoshimoto's teammate remains a mystery,

Skip Barber Karting Shoot-out Awards $115,000 Skip Barber Karting Shoot-out Awards $115,000SEBRING, Fla. – Over the course of three days, using 30 race cars during 21 separate on-track sessions, 59 karters-turned-racecar drivers all had a chance to earn a piece of the $115,000 in Skip Barber sponsorship up for grabs at the ninth annual Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out at Sebring International Raceway.

When the judges left the race control tower Sunday afternoon, they announced the names of the six competitors that had made the biggest impression. Drivers whose speed, judgment and personal presentation deemed them most likely to succeed as they begin climbing the motorsports ladder.

The biggest prize – a fully paid season in the 2006 Skip Barber National presented by RACER – was earned by one of the youngest drivers, 14-year-old Alexander Rossi of Nevada City, Calif. The next biggest award went to Ricky Taylor, 16, one of the sons of 2005 Rolex Sports Car champion Wayne Taylor. Taylor won a fully paid seat in one of the four Skip Barber Regional Race Series championships.

Those two awards are worth a combined $65,000. Winning $15,000 in sponsorship each were Marco Di Leo, 19, of Markham, Ont., Canada, and Jonathan Goring, 16, from Norfolk, Conn. Di Leo is the younger brother of Barber Dodge/Star Mazda/Formula Atlantic stand-out Dan Di Leo.

Also making the final cut and earning $10,000 each in sponsorship were Joel Miller, 17, from Hesperia, Calif., and Alex Ardoin, 16, of Sunset, La. The 2006 Skip Barber National opens its 14-race 2006 season March 11-12 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, supporting the inaugural U.S. A1GP event.

NOTE: The past two champions of the Skip Barber National were both on the grounds: 2004 champion Marco Andretti was on the Sebring ‘‘test’’ circuit taking his first-ever laps in the ArcaEx Dallara-Honda today, beginning his prep for his IRL campaign, while on Sebring’s ‘‘modified’’ circuit (where the Karting Shoot-out was being held), 2005 champion Gerardo Bonilla, who’ll drive for Anderson Walko Racing in the 2006 Star Mazda Championship, was one of the Shoot-out judges.

Industry News
GM has a winner in the new Camaro GM has a winner in the new CamaroA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I saw the photos of the new Camaro Concept car you published.  I love this car.  When can I buy it? William Smith, Long Island, NY  Dear William, Chevrolet has not announced that they will build it yet, but rumors say it will probably get the go ahead from GM for a 2008 release.  With the new Mustang selling well and Dodge revealing their Dodge Challenger Concept car (pictured right), it appears the Pony Car wars will soon be heating up again, which might be a good reason to resurrect the Trans-Am Series in 2008.  Though with the SPEED World Challenge out there, plus Grand-Am and ALMS, there is probably just too much dilution of the product for Trans-Am to be successful.  Where have we heard that scenario before? Mark C.
De Ferran backs new qualifying De Ferran backs new qualifyingHonda Racing’s sporting director Gil de Ferran has spoken in support of the 2006 qualifying system. The new format will see two 15-minute ‘knockout’ sessions in which the slowest 10 drivers will be eliminated, followed by a 20-minute session for the surviving contenders to battle for pole while carrying race fuel loads. The format has come in for widespread criticism for being too complicated and a potential turn-off for casual viewers.

But de Ferran believes it will add excitement by building up to a climax and that it will also be a better barometer of raw pace than the system used last season. “I think the new qualifying format will be hugely exciting,” de Ferran said at the Autosport International Show.

“I like the idea of elimination rounds, and the first two rounds of elimination will give you a good idea of who is fast and who is not. “It will also indicate the levels of fuel everyone has for start of the race, so you can play a little bit more with strategy and might be able to have a few more options there in the race, which might be a little bit exciting.”
Speed carries a lot of responsibility on shoulders Speed carries a lot of responsibility on shouldersSPEED Channel TV announcer Bob Varsha is hopeful that this won't be the last year for the USGP given last year's debacle.

``I think racing fans, even though they might be quick to anger because of their passion for the sport, I think they're also quick to forgive,'' Varsha said Friday at the 15th annual Wisconsin Motorsports Charities Recognition Dinner at the Country Springs Hotel.

``If we have a good show this year, a lot of the damage can be repaired quickly. Maybe I'm being naive, but hopefully not.

"Formula One in America is an interesting subject," Varsha said. "I think it's a generational thing, in that the generation that grew up with the Jim Clarks and Graham Hills, the folks that used to know Formula One every year as an annual event at Watkins Glen, when they ended the season there amid all the fall colors, have very fond memories of Formula One.
"Perhaps to a new generation that hasn't had a history of Formula One here on American soil, it's something different. Those are the fans that Formula One has to win over."

"I hope Scott Speed understands that he bears a very significant responsibility," Varsha said. "He bears a very significant responsibility. He's carrying the hopes of a lot of people to help raise the Formula One profile here in America."

[Editor's Note: Speed is with one of the slowest teams on the grid (the old Minardi team). If anything, he's going to look like a backmarker, which could hurt, not help the popularity of F1 in the USA. He needed to land a ride in a better team, not one of the worst. The only saving grace might be the V10 engine, since his team is the only one to still use a V10 in 2006, albeit with restrictions to equalize them with the new lower HP V8s. If it does have a slight advantage over the V8, that might help move the team further up the grid in 2006. But if they turn out to be too fast, the other teams will protest. FIA must walk a fine line here.]

Slight change to weekend F1 schedule Slight change to weekend F1 schedule(GMMf1NET) The traditional weekend format in formula one will undergo a tweak in 2006. To complement a revamped 'knockout' qualifying system, the governing body has decided to scrap the two 45 minute practice sessions on Saturday, replacing them with a single one hour track practice, to start at 11am.

In addition, drivers no longer have to decide on a tire compound prior to Saturday practice, so long as a decision has been lodged with the stewards before qualifying, at 1 o'clock.

Trulli wants new Toyota contract Trulli wants new Toyota contract(GMMf1NET)  Jarno Trulli says he and Toyota are currently talking about a new contract for 2007.

The Italian's deal runs out at the end of this year, and he is clearly apprehensive about speculation linking rivals like Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher to a race seat.

Trulli, 31, said in France: ''In case Toyota don't want to continue (the contract), I don't want to lose the other good option.''

His teammate, Ralf Schumacher, is on a longer term deal, but discounted paddock gossip that his elder brother is a real candidate for Trulli's ride.

''I think (Michael) has not really talked to Toyota,'' the German said, adding that Toyota is often the best name to drop when a manager is trying to drive up his driver's wage.

Toyota president John Howett towed the line, insisting that the Cologne based team has not had 'any contact' with Schumacher or Kimi.

LMS renames Coca-Cola 600 trophy to honor Smith LMS renames Coca-Cola 600 trophy to honor SmithThe perpetual trophy honoring winners of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway has been renamed in honor of speedway founder O. Bruton Smith. The Bruton Smith Trophy is on display in the second-floor lobby of the track's Smith Tower. It features the familiar manganese sculpture, which has been awarded to each NEXTEL Cup Series race winner at Lowe's Motor Speedway since 1981, atop an oak base which bears two brass plaques inscribed with the name of each Coca-Cola 600 winner. "This is quite an honor," Smith said when the trophy bearing his name was unveiled during a recent gathering of speedway employees. "We are extremely proud that the Coca-Cola 600 has grown into one of the world's most prestigious sporting events, and this trophy pays tribute to the 25 men who have won the race." While building Lowe's Motor Speedway in 1960, it was Smith who decided to make the track's inaugural race a 600-mile event. "Bigger is always better," Smith said about his concept of hosting a 600-mile stock car race. "I just thought it would be unique to run 600 miles. The extra 100 miles made it a bigger, more demanding event."  The 2006 edition of the Coca-Cola 600 will be run Sunday evening, May 28. Tickets, starting at just $39, can be purchased online at lowesmotorspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-455-FANS.
Furniture Row to run full schedule, K. Wallace first 5 Furniture Row to run full schedule, K. Wallace first 5No. 78 Furniture Row Racing, one of the few sponsor owned Nextel Cup teams, is scheduled to run 36 Nextel Cup races with Kenny Wallace and Jerry Robertson driving. Wallace is committed to run the first 5 Cup races of the season for Furniture Row Racing. Kenny Wallace states, "Furniture Row Racing has the resources, Joe Garone has the knowledge, and I'm very excited to help this new team get started." Robertson's explains, "To race in Cup is my ultimate dream. We've got a year under our belts in the Busch Series, and the team is working very hard to get competitive for Cup. Everybody's really excited." Owner Barney Visser says, “Our original 2005 NCS plans were based on Kenny's NBS sponsor commitment and scheduling. Our intention of running Kenny in 15 NCS races and the remainder with Jerry did not fully pan out, but it was a year of tremendous growth. Now, in 2006, Kenny has been approved to run as many races as possible, without interfering with his NBS commitment. This has put Jerry in a pinch hitter position for Cup. We are actively pursuing any top NBS teams that may be interested in having Jerry drive for them, with Furniture Row Racing supplying race engines, sponsorship, and technology. This will keep Jerry behind the wheel in the NBS while Kenny is racing in his select cup races.” Crew Chief is NASCAR vet Joe Garone. The Furniture Row Racing is Based in Denver, Colorado. Furniture Row operates more than 270 stores, in 30 states nationwide. Furniture Row Racing site
Stremme recovering and feeling better Stremme recovering and feeling better#40 Coors Light/Lonestar Dodge Driver David Stremme is feeling better after twisting his ankle and tearing all the ligaments in his right foot while using a leaf blower. The injury occurred at his home near Charlotte several weeks before Christmas. Stremme said, “I’ve been fighting with the landscape company…they’ve not been showing up and they’ve been a pain in the butt. All my leaves were blowing across the street into my neighbor Joe Nemechek’s yard so I figured I needed to clean them up.” Stremme made sure he was okay to start the season by testing his foot riding go-carts. Stremme added, “I wish it had been my brake pedal foot instead of my gas pedal foot.” PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show
Ralf Schumacher says Toyota ready to win Ralf Schumacher says Toyota ready to winAfter a slow start with Toyota, Ralf Schumacher's season picked up mid-season and by the final two races of the 2005 season the German found the revised TF105B front suspension more suited to his driving style.

He took a superb pole position in Japan, and picked up another third place in the season finale in China and in total he finished in the points 13 times in 18 starts, and took an encouraging sixth place in the World Championship. Now Schumacher is targeting his first win with Toyota.

"It is hard to believe that a year has gone by already," said Schumacher. "I feel very much a part of this team and it is an enjoyable work environment. You get a clear sense that everyone is pushing forward together at every level to win and I think we have demonstrated together that Toyota can be a strong force in Formula One. Of course, invariably, you have some issues that need resolving and there is always room for improvement, but we got off to a strong start and that is really a testament to the whole team."

"2005 was a tremendous year for Toyota and it was a great achievement to break into the top four and I was delighted with my podiums and frequent points scoring results," Schumacher continued. "There are a lot of unknowns heading into the 2006 season, but I feel that we are well prepared. The rules changes will level the playing field to a certain extent and those who react best will have the upper hand. I hope that will be Toyota in a year where we will do all we can to take Toyota's maiden victory." Source Toyota

Panis enjoying V8 program Panis enjoying V8 programLast year veteran Olivier Panis served as Toyota's reserve driver, and was on standby to be called in if necessary. After the rules were changed to allow any driver to undertake Friday third driver duties he also had a one-off outing on home ground at Magny-Cours. He also became the first driver to try the Toyota V8 on a circuit, spearheading a development program that began at Jerez in July.

"I was very happy when Mike Gascoyne and Luca Marmorini gave me the V8 program last year," said Panis. "It was a nice change from just doing tires! When I saw the results with the new car, and the latest step of the engine, I was very happy.”

“The progress Toyota has made is unbelievable,” The Frenchman continued. “The first test with the V8 in July was okay, and we were able to complete quite a few laps. For sure the performance wasn't the same as the V10, but it's the same for everybody. After that we developed the drivability, and improved very quickly. Now the engine is going very well, it's easy to drive, and it has good performance and reliability. From the first test the TF106 felt 'well-connected', the front and rear were working very well together compared with last year.”

“In general it looks pretty good. I'm really positive about the job the entire team has done both on the chassis and engine side." Source Toyota

Formula BMW
Robert Wickens signs Red Bull contract Robert Wickens signs Red Bull contractToronto, Ontario (CAN) - It's been four short weeks since the World Finals in Bahrain but Formula BMW Junior Scholarship recipient Robert Wickens does not appear to have slowed down at all and the young Canadian is now pleased to announce that he will be joining the Red Bull Junior Team Development Program.

The signing with the Red Bull Junior Team caps Robert¹s successful 2005 campaign and points to his performance at the Formula BMW World Finals. Despite numerous setbacks throughout that event, Robert impressed with his speed and his ability to come from the back. Taking note was Dr. Helmut Marko, Advisor to Red Bull Racing who presented Robert with this fantastic opportunity.

The Red Bull Junior Team is considered one of the most successful programs for driver development world wide. Red Bull Junior Team members benefit from a supportive and competitive atmosphere. Under Spirit on the team web site it notes,  "Up from the very beginning, all drivers of the Red Bull Junior Team are under a healthy and sportive pressure and should learn to reach their big goal through this: the Formula 1."

"The young drivers do not only receive the sportive basis within the different racing series, in the Red Bull Diagnostics and Training Centre, their physical and mental performance is also promoted by Dr. Bernd Pansold and his team."  zzzz

Prior to the World Finals it was announced that Robert would be rejoining the Indianapolis based Team Apex Racing USA. His signing did not go unnoticed by the media* and those in attendance at the World Finals. *("Robert Wickens will be back with Team APEX Racing USA for 2006! Talk about an instant championship contender!"  -  Rob Howden - Formula Car Magazine) He will also return with a Formula BMW Junior Scholarship.

"What a season 2006 is shaping up to be", offered Robert following the Red Bull signing. "We had a fantastic run in 2005 with Cameron Motorsports and Team Apex Racing USA and I am looking forward to competing for the 2006 championship, more so now with the support of the Red Bull Junior Team."

Robert would like to thank his sponsors including Cameron Motorsports, Team Apex Racing USA, Formula BMW USA and Level Ten Communications for their support throughout last season.

The season starts with official test days March 27 and 28 at Road Atlanta. News updates and schedules will be available on Robert¹s web site < www.robertwickens.com > as information becomes available.

Andreas Wirth can't wait to start with Forsythe Racing Andreas Wirth can't wait to start with Forsythe RacingSometimes no news is good news … and that is very much the case with the young race car driver, Andreas Wirth from Germany.  The last that most people heard of Andreas he was 2nd in the point standings in the Toyota Atlantic Series Championship when he crashed in the morning warm up at Road America.  The disappointing incident left Andreas with vertebrae damage, putting him out of the last two races of the Toyota Atlantic season, and in turn out of contention for the championship title. Story
2007 IRL karting engine rules announcement 2007 IRL karting engine rules announcementSnap-on Stars of Karting Presented by the Indy Racing league announced today that the current formula for their popular Intercontinental A (ICA) and Junior ICA engine classes will remain unchanged for 2007.

The announcement is predicated by the new engine formula being developed by the Commission Internationale de Karting (CIK) in Europe, an organization whose rules and structure have been emulated to great success by the Stars series here in North America.   The new formulae are a radical departure from the long-standing 100cc format and promise to be an exciting and cost-effective way of participating at the highest levels of the sport.  

National Technical Director Scott G Evans explained, “We are excited and supportive of the efforts in Europe by the CIK and the manufacturers to develop the new ‘A’ formulae.   We are aware however that issues in the development and initial distribution stages may have an undesirable impact on our structure as it stands now.   We fully intend to support the new formulae when the time is right, but want to impart a degree of stability for our constituents at this point, letting them know in advance what 2007 will hold for our series.” zzzz

The action will include arbitrary extension of homologation validities due to expire after 2006.   This means that all ICA and JICA engines with homologations numbers ending in either /06 or /09 will remain valid for Stars competitions in 2007 regardless of international direction.

“We are really building momentum in the ICA and JICA categories now,” states series principal Paul Zalud, “The high-revving nature of the ICA engines is music to a racer’s ears with great competition and parity among manufacturers.   The performance and reliability of the JICA package has proven to be a great success and more organizations are supporting this class.”

Series owner Bryan Herta commented, “We have been in contact with a number of industry principals and concern for the integration of the new formula was a common topic.   Rather than a ‘wait and see’ position, we decided to be proactive and infuse as much stability as we can into the situation.”

Program developments will be monitored closely with any further engine formula announcements made on a timely basis.

Tony Stewart flips for 2nd time in Chili Bowl Tony Stewart flips for 2nd time in Chili BowlUPDATE Tony Stewart, the reigning champion in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, was taken to a local hospital for a preliminary examination after he flipped his Midget car in the opening laps of last night's qualifying race for the 20th annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Raceway. Complaining of pain in his right arm after the crash, Stewart was taken to the hospital where X-rays revealed no broken bones and a CT scan proved negative.

In a precautionary measure, Stewart was fitted with a cast until a more extensive evaluation can be made by his own doctors on Monday. "I'm a little sore," said Stewart. "The doctors were great and did a pretty thorough evaluation of me. They didn't find anything broken, but just to be sure, they fitted me with a cast that I'll wear until I meet with my doctors on Monday. It looks a lot worse than it is. "In no way should this affect my upcoming test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, my plans to compete in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona or my participation in Daytona Speedweeks." True Speed Communication

01/14/06 Defending NASCAR champion Tony Stewart brushed the backstretch wall and flipped three times in his qualifying heat for the Chili Bowl Midget race Friday night.  He got out of the car slowly and was limping and complaining of pain in his arm.  He was taken to the hospital for X-Rays.

He also flipped on Wednesday night during hot laps.  The grossly overweight and out of shape Stewart had better think twice about driving open wheel dirt track cars.  If he hurts himself badly he could miss a portion of the NASCAR Nextel Cup season and end any hopes of another championship.

Yet another death at Dakar, last staged cancelled Yet another death at Dakar, last staged cancelledThe day after the first drama that took the life of a child, another 12-year old boy was struck and killed on the course by a support truck.

Because of the dramatic events of the last two days, the final stage Dakar - Dakar, taking the competitors to the podium at Lac Rose, will not be timed.

Hence the standings below are, for all intents and purposes, the final ones. Photo right is of the winners, Luc Alphand / Gilles Picard, (Courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors) in their Mitsubishi, which wins again and takes 3 of the top 5 spots. Volkswagen was 2nd and 5th.

Saturday Summary

Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team driver Luc Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard will take a 17m 53s overall advantage into the final 31 kms special stage of the 28th Dakar Rally on Sunday, after setting the eighth fastest time between Tambacounda and Dakar in Sénégal, today (Saturday).

Last year’s runner-up drove cautiously through today’s varied special stage to avoid making a costly mistake and finished in eighth position, dropping 4m 20s to his nearest South African rival Giniel de Villiers after a small navigational mistake. But the Frenchman will only need to coast around the final stage on Sunday to confirm a record-breaking sixth successive Dakar triumph for the Mitsubishi team.

"We were listening for every noise on the car," said Alphand. "We had one very stressful moment. We weren’t lost, but (Bruno) Saby, de Villiers, (Carlos) Sainz and myself all went the wrong way. I found myself in the middle of the Volkswagens. I was looking for number 305 and then we saw De Villiers and I decided to latch on to his tail. Finally we found the way easier than them and we were okay. Now I think it is very nearly finished. I hope that we can have a beach party on Sunday!"  zzzz

[Note: Dakar Rally highlights will be shown every day at 4:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET on OLN through January 15. The Dakar Rally will be televised starting January 14, 7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET and 10:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. ET, and continue to run at various times through January 30.]

Car Class Top 20

Pos. N° Name Make Behind Leader
3 304 ROMA (ESP) & MAGNE (FRA) MITSUBISHI 01:50:38
7 311 SOUSA (POR) & LURQUIN (BEL) NISSAN 05:40:11
8 301 SABY (FRA) & PERIN (FRA) VOLKSWAGEN 08:14:45
9 322 CHICHERIT (FRA) & BAUMEL (FRA) BMW 08:25:13
12 317 GACHE (FRA) & GARCIN (FRA) BUGGY 13:40:00
15 313 COX (AFS) & PITCHFORD (AFS) BMW 18:55:06
16 438 TOLLEFSEN (NOR) & EVANS (UK) BOWLER 19:49:26
19 385 XU (CHI) & LURQUIN (BEL) NISSAN 22:23:04

De la Rosa the fastest so far at Jerez, but in V10 De la Rosa the fastest so far at Jerez, but in V10Pedro de la Rosa completed Team McLaren Mercedes' first test session of 2006 at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain today at the wheel of an interim MP4-20. The track was artificially dampened to create wet conditions for Michelin tire testing, this allows the teams and Michelin to control the amount of water on track and therefore quantify the data gained.

Running commenced at 10am with just Rubens Barrichello and Christian Klien on track alongside McLaren, and de la Rosa covered over 450kms in total. Pedro was first on the timesheets today, having also put in the fastest time of the week on Wednesday with a 1:16.504s.

Today's wet test was day four of this week's session at the Jerez track for McLaren. The focus has been tire development work with Michelin, with Pedro and reigning DTM Champion Gary Paffett driving two MP4-20s. The team was using the V10, because engine production is focused on the FO108S V8 for the MP4-21, which has different mountings from the one used in the MP4-20. The 2006 Challenger, the MP4-21, will have his test debut later this month. zzzz

Wednesday saw de la Rosa top the timesheets with the quickest time of the week, despite a minor software problem on his installation lap. This was resolved quickly by the test team and both de la Rosa and Paffett, in his first official test for the team, had busy days completing nearly 750km between them.
The good mileage continued the following day, with the only stoppage being for de la Rosa 30 minutes from the end with an engine failure, on an engine that had covered close to 1,500km already.

Friday's session was badly affected by red flag stoppages across the field of ten runners, with Renault, Honda, BMW Sauber, Williams and Red Bull Racing also in attendance at Jerez. Nearly twice as much time during the day was spend under red flag conditions, with no action taking place, than green. Then heavy rain fell towards the end of the session, which ended the day early.

De la Rosa was present for all four days of the test and completed 291 laps and 1,280 km in total respectively. Paffett was on track for three days and completing approximately 950km over 215 laps.

The team will resume track action on Tuesday of next week, with a three day test again in Jerez.

Pedro de la Rosa
"We have had a constructive session this week in Jerez, particularly with our work with Michelin. We have been completing sections of the pre-season tire program and we are getting a good understanding of performance and how to maximize this with Michelin."

"Today's controlled wet test has also been beneficial. Because we are in control of the amount of water on track; it allows us to apply appropriate compounds and set-ups that we can fully quantify. It is not possible to conduct this type of testing when it is raining, such as yesterday afternoon. We have had a few minor glitches with software, which have led to a couple of stoppages on track for me and Gary. However this is because in addition to tires, software is currently another area of focus and development, and this is only to be expected when you are testing."

Gary Paffett
"It has been a really interesting week for me, to be testing for the first time as an official Team McLaren Mercedes test driver. We had solid test sessions with good running on Wednesday and Thursday, completing my program on both days. Obviously until the MP4-21 is released there is a big focus on tire testing with Michelin and by covering good distances every day we are getting some good feedback. Friday was a bit frustrating with all the stoppages, two of which were myself with a couple of small electronic software issues, however that is testing, and it was generally a good week overall." Source McLaren Mercedes

Pedro tops wet Michelin running at Jerez Pedro tops wet Michelin running at JerezThree teams and drivers kept the marshals occupied in Spain on Saturday, running a wet tire test for Michelin at Jerez.

Pedro de la Rosa, quickest in his McLaren, as well as Rubens Barrichello (Honda) and Christian Klien (Red Bull), circulated on the artificially watered circuit, ahead of the resumption of proper test conditions on Tuesday.

Testing reconvenes on Tuesday with Honda, Toyota and Williams on track while MF1 Racing will kick off its Spanish tests for the first time in 2006. On Wednesday BMW Sauber, McLaren Mercedes, Red Bull and Renault are back at Jerez.

1 . P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes MP4-20B V10 - 1:28.451 (+ 0.000 ) - 101 laps
2 . R. Barrichello - Honda - 1:29.617 (+ 1.166 ) - 95 laps
3 . C. Klien - Red Bull Ferrari RB2 - 1:29.842 (+ 1.391 ) - 83 laps.

* Times courtesy of Circuito de Jerez

Coulthard doesn't think about retirement, wants No. 14 Coulthard doesn't think about retirement, wants No. 14David Coulthard says he has not seriously considered retiring from Formula 1.  “I haven’t considered it because it means thinking about it, and thinking about it means thinking about retiring,” Coulthard said at the Autosport International Show today.

“I think about testing at Barcelona next week; I think about racing at Monte Carlo… I just think about the year ahead.

“You know, I don’t think [Fernando] Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen think what they’re going to do after they retire from F1, and so I have to have the same mindset if I want to achieve anything.”

“I’m stuck on 13 wins, which is a horrible number,” said Coulthard.

“Obviously if I hadn’t moved over a couple of times then I would have had more.

“But I’d like to add a 14th, and all my victories have been in Adrian’s cars.

“The motivation is to be in a 2007 car which he has played his part in, so I need to get my finger out and try to do a good job this year.”

Toyota must win in 2006 Toyota must win in 2006Speaking following the official launch of the TF106 Saturday Toyota team boss, Tsutomu Tomita has confirmed that the Cologne based squad must win a race in 2006.

"It is natural that we enter the 2006 championship with our sights on the top step of the podium," he explained. "We are pushing very hard, but we don't underestimate the difficulty of Formula 1 or the challenges we face in 2006. If somebody goes up, then somebody else has to drop down the order. Even if we can get that first win we will have to push ourselves more to keep that position."

As for how the TF106 will compare to the competition, Tomita believes it is impossible to say - but he does want Toyota to be the best Bridgestone-shod team, something that will mean beating Ferrari and Williams.

"It's very difficult to predict what will happen in 2006, especially with all the variables we face this year with a new V8 engine, new Bridgestone tires and a revised qualifying format," he continued.

"With that in mind, we should still aim to be the best Bridgestone team this year though. We were a podium scoring team last year, and any team looking to develop must always set its sights higher. Obviously that means finishing on the podium consistently, and ultimately finishing on the top step."

Early launch should help Toyota Early launch should help ToyotaRalf Schumacher says that having the new Toyota TF106 ready for testing back in November will pay big dividends this season, as the team officially launched the new car to the world's media in France.
"Of course it is still very early, but the new car felt really good," says Ralf. "Obviously, the power is lower but it is still a very drivable engine, with a nice torque curve. I am happy with the new Bridgestone tires as well, but we have a full programme of pre-season testing and development to continue making improvements to our package."

"It is an intensive schedule with a lot of work to cover before the first race, but that is where we can benefit from having our car ready so early," Ralf added. "We learned that last year and saw the gains. It helped us a lot in the first few races, and that's what we are aiming for again."

Toyota team loses Friday driver option in '06 Toyota team loses Friday driver option in '06Although it's not a rule change as such, Panasonic Toyota Racing faces a new situation in 2006 as it has lost the benefit of running a third driver on the Friday of race weekends.

The team first had the option to run a Friday driver back in 2003, when competitors were allowed to 'trade' that extra running against fewer test days between races. At the time the team preferred to focus on regular testing, but a change of rules for 2004 meant that any team finishing outside the top four in the constructors' championship could run a third car on Fridays. Thus over the past two seasons Ricardo Zonta and Olivier Panis have been able to make a major contribution to the outcome of race weekends, especially in terms of tire testing.

Last year, the team finished fourth in the championship, so the third car option has gone. That puts the onus fully on the two race drivers to do all the set-up and tire work on Friday and of course any running involves using up precious engine miles.

"Losing the Friday third driver means the race drivers will inevitably do more laps," says Mike Gascoyne, "which has an effect on engine mileage over the weekend. And we will end up doing more laps anyway, because in qualifying instead of doing one timed lap, we will have to go out and do a lot of running."

Dieter Gass remains optimistic: "It was nice to have an additional car running on race weekends, which was able to go through useful programs like tire testing. Now we will rely more on the experience of the race drivers, so it will be more work for them and a lot more demanding on the cars. But on our side we did not suffer from mileage limitations last year, so we had almost three complete programs with the three drivers."

John Howett concludes: "None of the top teams can run a third car, so as we mature and improve as a team, we have to up our game and race against top teams in the same circumstances. Without the third car, there will be new challenges and I am confident we will tackle them head-on and overcome them."

The rain in Spain The rain in Spain(GMMf1NET) A remaining field of ten experienced a frustrating final day of the Jerez test on Friday.

On Saturday, water tankers will dampen the track for a Michelin-only wet tire program.

Fernando Alonso was Friday's quickest in the car R26 Renault, but many red flag periods hampered progress and a late heavy rain shower really spoiled the show.

Among the notable incidents was a grenaded Cosworth V8 in Alex Wurz's Williams, and a crash that ended Red Bull and Christian Klien's day in southern Spain.

'B' Toyota to race at Monaco 'B' Toyota to race at Monaco(GMMf1NET)  A 'b' version of this year's 2006 Toyota will be raced at the Monaco grand prix, the F1 outfit announced on Saturday.

At a Toyota car factory in Valenciennes, France, the Cologne based grand prix team held a media event to mark the start of the season with the 'TF106' model, which was the first car of the '06 field to hit a test track.

''We feel that the concept of holding a new car launch at the beginning of each year, just for the sake of it, is outdated,'' technical director Mike Gascoyne said in France.

Also at the 'launch', and despite BMW Sauber's major new deal with the computer chip maker, Toyota said it had ramped up its own existing Intel sponsorship.

The company's new logo will appear on the Toyota car's rear wing and nose cone this year.

Technical Specifications: Toyota TF106 Technical Specifications: Toyota TF106
Monocoque construction Molded carbon fiber and honeycomb construction
Fuel tank ATL safety cell
Front suspension Carbon fiber double wishbone arrangement, with carbon fiber trackrod and pushrod. Pushrod activates rocker, torsion bar, damper and anti-roll bar assy
Rear suspension Carbon fiber double wishbone arrangement, with carbon fiber toelink and pushrod. Pushrod activates rocker, torsion bar, damper and anti-roll bar assy
Dampers Penske
Wheels BBS forged magnesium
Tires Bridgestone Potenza
Brakes calipers Brembo
Brakes master cylinders Brembo
Braking material Hitco (carbon/carbon)
Steering Toyota power-assisted steering
Steering wheel display Toyota carbon fiber wheel with Toyota / Magneti Marelli instrument
Driver seat Carbon fiber construction, molded to driver's shape
Driver restraints Takata
Driver HANS device Toyota design
Electronic systems Toyota / Magneti Marelli
Transmission 7-speed unit plus reverse Toyota-designed maincase with Toyota / Xtrac internals
Gear selection is sequential via driver-controlled electro-hydraulic actuation
Wheelbase 3090mm
Overall length 4530mm
Overall height 950mm
Overall width 1800mm
Overall weight 600kg including driver and camera

RVX-06 Specifications
Designation RVX-06
Number of cylinders 8
Capacity 2398cc
Horsepower Approximately 740bhp
Revolutions Around 19,000rpm
Valve actuation Pneumatic
Throttle actuation Hydraulic
Spark Plugs DENSO
Fuel Esso
Lubricants Esso

Mike Gascoyne on Toyota's new chassis Mike Gascoyne on Toyota's new chassis
What's new on the car compared with last year?
"The front end is a development of what we did with the TF105B – we very much improved the front potential with that car. And the TF106B will be yet a further development of it. We also have a significantly different rear end lay out. The gearbox is fundamentally the same, but it has reduced weight and it's stiffer. However, we've gone away from the rotary rear damper concept that we've had for the last couple of years to a linear rear damper. We've identified a damping problem with the car over the last couple of years, which we've now put right. When we ran the TF105B all the drivers' comments were that we'd made the front end much, much better, but the car was rear limited – they were just waiting for the rear to settle down. We had the linear rear damper layout coming along, and in testing we saw that the TF106 was a significant improvement. It matches the rear with the front, and produces a more balanced car."

The V8 is some 10cms shorter than the V10.
How has that affected the chassis?
"The difference in length has not played such a key role for us. Once we knew we were still qualifying with fuel, we made a firm decision to keep the front face and rear face of the fuel tank in the same place. Based on the data we received from Bridgestone we were predicting to run less forward weight distribution than we were used to. We've actually increased the monocoque length, and kept the gearbox length essentially the same. The V8 also makes the radiator layout slightly easier, and the radiators are smaller as well. The packaging of the exhaust is easier because there are a couple of less pipes around!"

What effect do the different characteristics of the V8 have?
"Obviously V8 vibration levels are significantly increased. We did have initial problems on the dyno, but the engine is mounted differently on the dyno and you can only learn so much. You hold an engine very differently on a dyno compared to a car, and it reacts very differently. We actually got fewer problems in the car that we expected, but it can be the other way round. Until you get it in the car and the drivers have run it, you don't know what's going to start breaking. The advantage we've had is that we've done miles and addressed any failures. Drivability is very good, and the drivers are pleasantly surprised. Luca and his team have done an excellent job. The big difference you will see compared to the V10 is in starts and low-end torque." zzzz

How difficult is it to change tire supplier?
"Bridgestone did a good job to provide us with a lot of information in the short time between the end of the season and the start of winter testing, so we pretty much knew what to expect. We were able to get a balance on the car reasonably quickly, but of course you've got to re-learn the effects of all the set-up changes that you do which affect the tire. Obviously with a different manufacturer they all do slightly different things. Really that's why we wanted to run the mechanical package for Bahrain in November and December. We didn't want to spend that period learning things that we then had to re-learn because the car was significantly different. We were able to take a measured approach, just working through set-up parameters, just to see their effect and really learn how that tire reacts. We got a balance on the car pretty quickly, and we were pleasantly surprised."

Apart from the engine, have any rule changes affected the chassis?
"There are some small aerodynamic modifications at the front, and the rear crash has gone up to match the front test. We've elongated the crash structure in line with the increasing size of the rear wing endplates, so we can use that to take the extra crash velocity."

Talking V8 engines with Luca Marmorini Talking V8 engines with Luca Marmorini
When did you start on the V8 project?
"When we had to decide our plan for the V8 we wanted to be able to test the engine in the car before the 2005 summer break. That was our target. Typically when you have a brand new engine you need roughly eight months for design and production and a further four months of development on the dyno. So eight months before February 2005, the planned date for the first dyno test, we started the design of the engine. After a while the FIA changed some dimensional constraints in the regulations, so we had to adapt our design around a fixed bore spacing, crankshaft height and some limitations like this. We had to start again, and instead of February, we moved to March. On 21 March, we fired it up."

How did the first track tests go?
"The first engine went in the interim car in July in Jerez (Photo to right courtesy Toyota shows the new 2006 V8 from Toyota). At the time we had to respect the agreement that said we could not run with more than two cars, so the V8 could only run when one of the V10 cars stopped. There was not a lot of time, but it was enough for us to do some tests and learn. We covered something like 1000kms over several days. It was just a very quick test, but we could already do some modifications during the August test ban, and we went back at the end of September with the first step, and we ran again for two days. Then there was the October ban, and at the end of November we were ready with what we called a raceable version of the engine."

"As a philosophy we decided not to modify any working parts from the V10 unless it brought a clear performance benefit, or was an important modification. The 2.4-litre has the same unit displacement, so we carried over most of the internal parts. Some parts even have the same drawings as the V10. In this way we could focus on the new things of the V8, which means the dynamic behavior. Toyota has a lot of experience in V8s from the USA, but we had not revved a V8 to 19,000rpm, so we had to focus on the new challenges. I think that was the right decision. If we had at the same time too many unknowns, including some problems we could have avoided, we could have compromised our development. If you could open the V8 and open the V10 and see them close you will understand that they've come from the same group of people, the same know-how." zzzz

What has changed most since that test in July?
"All the hydraulic system, the installation in the car, was done according to our experience with the V10. At that very first test in July we had big problems with the car systems because of this new vibrating machine. If the hydraulics start to fail, then you cannot use the throttle, so we had to modify everything. The V10 also vibrated, but our system was tuned to a certain level. The V8 was different, and we had to adjust mountings and so on. When we ran the TF106 in November we didn't have a single stop due to the engine installation, so we could focus on engine reliability and performance. On top of this the engine used in July was an engine that could not fit the 2006 car, so we had to apply some minor modifications to fit the new gearbox. But it's the same engine in terms of key components and internal parts."

For the first time there's a minimum weight regulation of 95kgs. How did you adjust to that constraint?
"Let's put it this way. If you weighed the engine that ran on the dyno in March 2005, it was much more of a Formula 1 engine than the engine we're running now, in terms of weight. The internal parts are the same, but the one that ran in March was done with 2005 technology, thin wall castings and so on, so it was very light. To give you an example, the V10 we raced in 2005 could not fulfill the new regulations for the V8! So we had to add weight. We put material on castings, as there's no chance now to have thin wall castings where we don't need them. At the same time we integrated the functions of the engine to be sure that we could also collect weight for functional parts."

How closely have you worked with the chassis team?
"An F1 engine is a part of the car. An engine is not good if it's not well introduced into the car. You never win in this way. When we start a new engine we are sitting with the chassis people, and a lot of the input on the specifications of the new engine have come from chassis. Chassis design also takes into account the engine's working conditions. We've done a lot of modifications of the engine, trying to help the car. The engine is a big spacer, and the exhausts are a big volume, around which the aero people have to design a good car. So we are always in contact with them to try to help them design a better car, and at the same time we have to design a car that is cooling enough. Doing everything under the same roof is a huge benefit." Source Toyota

Yates relays Safety Team's message to international conference Yates relays Safety Team's message to international conferenceMike Yates expected some give and take at the International Council of Motorsport Sciences convention in Rome this week.

The track safety coordinator for the Delphi IRL Safety Team is presenting information about the safety team's on-track protocols to the annual gathering of medical and scientific professionals and allied health personnel and will return with ideas to potentially improve facets of their procedures.

"It's kind of a forum for different motorsports -- all the way from boats to cars to motorcycles, anything that races. We all get together and compare notes," said Yates, who was accompanied by Indy Racing League orthopedist Dr. Terry Trammel. "Our goal is to make it safer for drivers."

Dr. Henry Bock, senior medical director for the Indy Racing League, said the attendees - including the FIA -- always are "very accepting to what we bring and pay attention."

"I will present the IRL's protocols, standing orders and philosophies in responding to track accidents," Yates said. "Part of that is how the IRL has come up with what we believe is the safest and most efficient way of getting a driver out of the car." [Editor's Note: And they certainly have plenty of practice doing that now don't they!]

With 45 experienced members, the Delphi IRL Safety Team is recognized as the leader in preparedness, response and assessment. Of course, the procedures for responding to a crash, assisting the drivers and cleaning the racetrack of debris have evolved since the first IndyCar Series raced 10 years ago.  [Editor's Note: And they certainly have plenty of practice doing that now don't they!]

"We use what's called a diversified approach with a multi-tasking vehicle," Yates said regarding the six-person teams on Safety 1 and 2. "When we arrive at the scene of an accident, within the first few seconds we can control the airway of a driver if need be, we have someone who can control fire, and someone who can make sure fluids don't get out of control on the racetrack and extend the yellow. zzzz

"We have someone in control of the scene itself (Incident Commander), and he's looking to see what needs to be done and what resources need to be called in. We can accomplish five different tasks -- along with extrication if need be with hydraulic tools -- with one vehicle and the training and tools that the one vehicle carries, so you don't clutter the racetrack with a lot of vehicles.

"On first response, we have that interaction circle covered. Plus we have our second truck stop at the impact point and they set up the same sort of action circle where they inspect the stands, the people, the fence and SAFER Barrier, along with checking the track and walking toward the incident to begin track cleanup.

"So with two or three trucks that respond and a minimum of 10-12 people, we have this all started. Then we can call in resources as we need them, and we're not wasting any time. We also get a handle on how much we need to call in to keep the trucks (such as wreckers) off the track. We think this is the most efficient way to do it."

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday
Portugal to Dakar
1:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m. ET, OLN
TEST DRIVE - Corvette Z06
2:30 a.m.-3:00 a.m. ET (Replay) SPEED
5:00 a.m.-6:00 a.m. ET (Replay) Discovery HD Theater
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (Replay) Discovery HD Theater
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET (Replay) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Series
4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. ET (Replay) SPEED
Stage 14
4:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET, OLN
Daytona International Speedway
7:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. ET (SDD) SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
8:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. ET (1/9/06) SPEED
8:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m. ET (1/10/06) SPEED
9:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. ET (1/11/06) SPEED
Daytona International Speedway
9:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m. ET (1/13/06 & 1/14/06) SPEED

For a complete listing of Sunday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com and Race Fan TV.

Toyota Motorsport announces Intel sponsorship renewal Toyota Motorsport announces Intel sponsorship renewalToyota Motorsport GmbH has today used the opportunity of its pre-season event at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing France factory in Valenciennes, France to announce a renewal and upgrade to the existing partnership with Intel Corporation.

Intel has been an official partner of the Panasonic Toyota Racing Formula 1 team since January 2004 and will continue to play an integral role in development of the team's race cars throughout 2006 and beyond as Preferred Technology Sponsor. This extended collaboration will see Intel provide the team with high-speed, low-cost enterprise and mobility systems based on the Intel® Itanium® 2 processors and Intel® Centrino® mobile technology.

The extended partnership will see the recently unveiled and brand-new Intel corporate logo appear on the rear wing and nose cone of the Panasonic Toyota Racing TF106 (and latterly TF106B) race car with immediate effect.

Since the partnership began precisely two years ago, the Panasonic Toyota Racing team has benefited significantly by expediting its product development cycle using an Itanium 2-based high performance computing cluster that increased the speed of calculation by up to four times and offered the team's engineers a more accurate and cost-effective understanding of car designs.

"We are proud to continue our mutually beneficial partnership with Intel Corporation," commented Toyota Motorsport President John Howett. "It is a pleasure to work with such a globally recognized and successful brand. Whilst our relationship is focused primarily on the IT side, Toyota and Intel are two leading brands and both strive to extract maximum benefit from the global stage of Formula 1."

"Intel's technology was a key enabler of our success in 2005," added Howett. "Our Itanium 2-based servers have significantly sped up our simulation capability while improving the simulation accuracy. Toyota will continue to take advantage of Intel's unparalleled performance to develop an edge in highly competitive world of Formula 1."

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