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DATE News (chronologically)
01/27/09
automotive
Nissan to close Michigan design studio  In a cost-cutting move, Nissan is shutting its design studio at its research and development complex in suburban Detroit and moving the work to its main U.S. design studio in San Diego.

The design studio in Farmington Hills, Mich., opened in 2005. Nissan spent $14 million on the studio as part of an $80 million expansion project at the R&D facility.

01/27/09
automotive
Honda to axe S2000  
Honda S2000
The 2009 Honda S2000 will be the final model year produced of the award-winning roadster, Honda announced today. First introduced in 1999 for the 2000 model year, the S2000 helped define its segment with class-leading handling, engine technology and value. Originally envisioned as a limited-edition tribute to Honda's 50th anniversary, S2000 production was extended in response to customer demand and critical acclaim.

"The S2000 is a sports car designed by enthusiasts for enthusiasts," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "It raised the bar for all future roadsters, and it's already considered a classic by many Honda fans." More ...

01/27/09
starmazda
Next Generation Star Mazda Car Debuts at Sebring  
Upgraded Star Mazda car
In the first major upgrade of the Star Mazda 'Pro Car' since its introduction five years ago, Star Race Cars today announced that a package of mechanical and software upgrades will be available for the 2009 season. 

All upgrades - including aerodynamic and suspension parts, as well as engine mechanical and ECU software modifications – have been implemented in response to requests from the teams themselves; all are designed to increase speed while lowering costs with enhanced reliability and easier at-track setup.  All upgrades are optional, not mandatory and are designed to fit all Star Mazda 'Pro Series' race cars built since 2004. 

More than 150 of these high-tech, carbon-fiber, rotary-powered single-seaters are utilized by competitors in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, as well as SCCA competition and regional Star Mazda series around the U.S., such as the Molecule Formula Mazda Challenge on the West Coast. More ...

01/27/09
ga
Riley Technologies Wins Fifth Consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona  With a record-setting 0.167-second margin of victory, the 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona was one for the books as Riley Technologies won the endurance classic for the fifth year in a row.

After a fierce final two hours of racing, David Donahue brought the Brumos Racing Riley-Porsche home ahead of Juan Montoya in the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus-Riley, as Joao Barbosa made it an all-Riley podium by crossing the line just over five seconds after the winner.

Riley machines led 703 of the 735 laps completed as the race also produced a record-setting 53 driver lead changes in the first round of the 2009 Rolex Sports Car Series championship. More ...
01/27/09
alms
ALMS says GT1 class not going away  From comments made during Winter Test Media Day:
The GT1 class is not going away. The American Le Mans Series is still a four-class series; it follows the ACO rules and remains affiliated with the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Series encourages competitive entries to GT1 class; however it does not currently believe there are any such competitors in the pipeline. Therefore, the Series sees an opportunity to create a very competitive GT class within GT2. Additionally, the Series and IMSA will not allow a non-competitive entrant into GT1 class simply to accumulate points and victories due to a lack of competition once Corvette Racing moves to the GT2 class from GT1 after the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
01/27/09
f1
Adam Khan joins Renault  As the ING Renault F1 Team gathered at l'Atelier Renault on the Champs Elysees in Paris, it was confirmed that 23-year-old Briton, Adam Khan, will join the driver line-up to spearhead the team's demonstration activities for 2009.

Just a week after the R29 was unveiled in Portugal, the ING Renault F1 Team's drivers, Fernando Alonso, Nelson Piquet and Romain Grosjean, joined key personnel at Renault's flagship venue on the Champs Elysees to officially present the new car to the team's partners and announce Adam Khan as the team's demo driver. The young driver of Asian descent will demonstrate the Renault F1 R28 at both city demonstrations and circuit presentations for World Series by Renault events. More ...

01/27/09
f1
FIA approve new F1 safety system  Formula One's safety car regulations have been revised ahead of the 2009 season after the sport's governing body the FIA approved a new system to ensure cars return to the pit lane at reduced speeds.

The new system will see drivers informed of their minimum expected time to recover to the pits based on where they are on track at the time the safety car is deployed, thereby removing the need to close the pit lane.

"The rule introduced in 2007 was a bad one, and we've gone back to the 2006 regulations," Whiting said today.

"The only difference is we intend to implement a minimum time back to the pits.

"When we deploy the safety car, the message will go to all the cars, which will then have a "safety car" mode on their ECUs. As soon as that message gets to the car, it'll know where it is on the circuit, and it'll calculate a minimum time for the driver to get back to the pits.

"The driver will have to respect this and the information will be displayed on his dashboard.

"If you remember, the reason we closed the pit entry was to remove the incentive for the driver to come back to his pit quickly. That's gone now, as you won't be able to reach the pits any quicker than your dashboard display allows you to. "

01/27/09
f1
Charlie Whiting discusses new F1 rules  The FIA's Formula 1 Race Director Charlie Whiting talks about the key regulation changes in 2009 and the implications of the changes.

Q: What was the idea behind all the changes we'll see this year in this area?

A: This was all a result of the work done by the Overtaking Working Group, as it was called, made up of the technical directors of Renault, Ferrari and McLaren, plus myself. After a lot of research, we came up with a package that gave a following car less disturbance and would make overtaking less difficult. The key element of this is, first of all, a neutral section of the front wing (the middle half meter of this device is a prescribed section). The incidence of that profile and its position relative to the reference plane are carefully prescribed. It's the most critical part. The front wing is wider and there are no turning vanes or bargeboards: the area where you can put them has been severely restricted, because there's only room for very small devices. Also, the diffuser has been made smaller, and the rear wing is higher but narrower. I can't go into the specifics of why these things were done, but we arrived at this package by five sessions of wind tunnel work. It's been carefully thought through. Now, we'll have to wait and see how it works on the track.

Q: What has been the loss in terms of downforce of these measures?

A: The target figure was 50% less. But, as ever with these things, one never knows how much the engineers have managed to claw back.

Q: Have some unexpected devices already appeared on the new cars?

A: You know, we write the rules to enable the teams to design cars as close as possible to the technical spec. They've been working in areas they hadn't previously been trying to work in, so there's not much we can do about that. I'm confident we've achieved a fairly significant reduction in downforce, but that's not the critical thing: the critical thing is the effects. As long as we have the effects, we should be okay. More ...

01/27/09
alms
ALMS signs MIKIMOTO as series sponsor  The American Le Mans Series today announced MIKIMOTO, The Originator of Cultured Pearls since 1893 and one of the world’s premier jewelry brands, as a corporate partner for the 2009 season.

MIKIMOTO, renowned worldwide for offering the highest quality cultured pearls, will showcase a collection of its renowned jewelry while activating its partnership through American Le Mans Series VIP hospitality, the Series’ official charity - the Austin Hatcher Foundation - and an exclusive network of high quality jewelry retailers.

“Kokichi Mikimoto has instilled a synonymous tradition of excellence in his company and their products that mirrors that of the American Le Mans Series,” remarked Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. “MIKIMOTO pearls are the global benchmark for quality, style, service and prestige. This unique partnership with MIKIMOTO will break new ground in a category not traditionally associated with motorsports. It is encouraging that during these challenging economic times that the American Le Mans Series platform continues to attract world class brands and partners such as MIKIMOTO who are eager to associate and activate with the Series.” More ...

01/27/09
irl
Indy 500 Winning Engineer Joins Team 3G  Team 3G today announced that two-time Indy 500 winning Crew Chief and Engineer Owen Snyder will join the team for the 2009 season.  In addition to supporting the winners of the famous Indy 500 in 1992 and 1998, Owen has engineered 19 IndyCar wins and has garnered the Outstanding 500 Mechanic’s award.  Snyder will apply his organizational and engineering talents towards bringing Team 3G driver Stanton Barrett success on the track.

“Owen brings incredible talent and integrity to our team” said Team 3G co-owner Greg Beck.  “We are absolutely thrilled to have Owen join us in the building of this team, he will be an instrumental part of establishing our competitive foundation.  I know he and Stanton will work great together, and it should ease the transition for Stanton as an IndyCar driver.”

Like team co-owner Greg Beck, Owen’s roots are in sprint car racing, whose IndyCar break came in 1980 as a mechanic with the Patrick Racing organization.  He has worked with such Indy legends as Johnny Rutherford, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Gordon Johncock, and won the Indy 500 with Al Unser Jr. and Eddie Cheever.  More ...

01/27/09
f1
Honda plays down looming deadline  (GMM)  The F1 entrant currently known as Honda on Tuesday played down negative speculation about the team's future.

It was believed January 31 had been imposed by the withdrawing Japanese manufacturer as a deadline for a new buyer to have finalized a rescue package for the 2009 season.

Team boss Ross Brawn has also said Brackley based engineers will require at least six weeks prior to March's Australian grand prix to integrate the new car with a different engine.

And Mercedes-Benz's Norbert Haug confirmed nearly two weeks ago that the German manufacturer is willing to supply customer engines to Honda, but that "time is running out".

A Honda spokeswoman, however, said talk about "time frames and deadlines" is overstated.

"Don't focus too much on any speculation regarding time frames and deadlines," she is quoted as saying by Reuters.

"Work on our race car is progressing well.  We're optimistic but it may not be possible to comment further for some time."

Prodrive's David Richards had considered buying the beleaguered team, but he said the late timing of Honda's withdrawal complicated the process for interested parties.

01/27/09
British F3
Another young Aussie on the rise  Another Aussie driver, young Daniel Ricciardo, is off to a good start after being chosen as one of eight racers worldwide in the Red Bull young driver program and about to embark on a season in the British Formula Three Championship.

"What Sebastian Vettel did last year opened our (Red Bull junior development drivers) eyes to what is possible," the nineteen year old told the AAP. "Three years ago he was in F3. He showed that if you do the right things, get results, they (Red Bull) can push us through (to F1). We saw what this program can do - that it's realistic (to get to F1 and win). The aim has got to be to try to mimic what Vettel has done." More ...

01/27/09
speedcar
Speedcar Series announces night race in Qatar  
Losail International Circuit
The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) will host Speedcar Series' first night race at the Losail International Circuit on 12-14 February, 2009. The agreement, signed between the two parties, covers the Grand Racing weekend event which will feature Speedcar Series and GP2 Asia Series, both of whom will be racing at night for the first time.

The QMMF President Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Attiyah said, "I am happy to include the event in our calendar and to give entertainment to the fans. It will offer motor sport lovers in Qatar the chance to see some stars at the event as Speedcar Series features well known Formula One racers." More ...
01/27/09
lmes
Aston Martin to challenge for overall Le Mans win  
Aston Martin LMP1 car rendering
On the 50th anniversary of its outright win at Le Mans, Aston Martin will return to La Sarthe with two Works LMP1 cars bearing the iconic blue and orange livery of Gulf Oil.

In an ambitious attempt to emulate the legendary achievements of the 1959 DBR1 driven by Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori, Aston Martin will endeavor to bring the Le Mans title back to Britain.

“2009 is a hugely significant year for Aston Martin at Le Mans and the challenge of reclaiming victory in this famous race for Aston Martin and Great Britain was simply too great to ignore,” said Aston Martin Chairman, David Richards. “However, we do not underestimate the task. While we have won the GT1 class for the last two years, competing against the proven speed and endurance of the diesel-powered cars with all their years of winning the prototype class, will be a massive undertaking. Nonetheless, I see this as a great opportunity to showcase the ingenuity of British engineering talent.” More ...

01/27/09
f1
F1 aces disagree over Friday mileage  
Alonso - "If a team is testing new things on a Friday then I consider that to be panicking"
(GMM)  Two formula one race drivers have expressed starkly different opinions about how grand prix weekends will be affected by the new in-season testing ban.

While Mark Webber believes teams and drivers will use "every available minute" of official practice, double world champion Fernando Alonso thinks Fridays will be even quieter than usual in 2009.

"Fridays will be totally different because of the lack of test kilometers," Australian Webber told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"Even if the track is green, we will use every available minute," he explained.  "We'll need any information we can get about the setup with the new cars." More ...

01/27/09
lmes
Klien to contest Le Mans again  
Christian Klien
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber third and reserve driver Christian Klien in 2009 intends to once again contest the Le Mans 24-hour race.

Last year, the 25-year-old Austrian, and a plethora of other F1 faces, teamed up for the famous event with Peugeot.

Given formula one's even harsher test restrictions this year, Klien joked to motorsport-magazin.com that he wants to again turn to Le Mans in addition to playing "chef" at grands prix to BMW's race drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica.

"It is not yet fixed, but that (Le Mans) would be a good addition to my program with BMW-Sauber," he said. More ...

01/27/09
f1
Dennis will not seek FIA post  UPDATE (GMM)  Ron Dennis has ruled himself out of contention as a possible successor to FIA president Max Mosley.

The 61-year-old has decided to step down as McLaren team principal in March, sparking suggestions the timing might be related to the looming end of Mosley's controversial fourth term in office.

Ferrari's former boss Jean Todt has also been linked strongly with the role, but Dennis insists that senior members of successful teams should not be considered.

"Anybody who's in a position of leadership of a company has to live, sleep and breathe that brand, and I think it would be impossible for me - even though I consider myself extremely disciplined - to be completely impartial regarding all the teams," he told the British magazine F1 Racing.

"I don't think it's possible for anyone who's led a successful team, frankly, and it would therefore be inappropriate for me."

Former triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart holds a similar view, arguing that the FIA should headhunt a "captain of industry" from the corporate world outside of formula one for Mosley's job.

But rumors that disgraced former Royal Bank of Scotland head Sir Fred Goodwin, who has been blamed for the spectacular collapse in the bank's share price, is being lined up for the role have been met with anger.

UK Shareholders Association spokesman Roger Lawson said the appointment would be his "reward of failure", but QC Ian Hamilton told the Scotsman newspaper: "Some day, somewhere, he will be held to account for what he has done, but that doesn't mean he can't work until then."

01/26/09 Ron Dennis has ruled out the possibility of him vying for the role of FIA president when Max Mosley finally retires, Dennis feels no former team boss should ever lead motorsport's governing body.

"I feel very strongly that no senior member of any Formula One team should ever go to hold a senior position within the FIA," he said.

"Anybody who's in a position of leadership of a company has to live, sleep and breathe that brand, and I think it would be impossible for me - even though I consider myself extremely disciplined - to be completely impartial regarding all the teams.

"I don't think it's possible for anyone who's led a successful team, frankly, and it would therefore be inappropriate for me."

01/27/09
f1
Williams at odds over F1 theme park  
Sir Frank Williams
(GMM)  Williams is yet to agree to be formally affiliated with formula one's first official theme park, set to open in Dubai later this year.

F1-X is a 70-acre park with over 20 major rides and exhibits, and a star attraction at the entrance is set to be a full-sized grid of formula one cars.

Grove based Williams, however, is so far refusing to provide for the 'grid' a show car or rolling chassis, despite the personal involvement in the request of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, according to reports in the German press.

Williams, the only team in F1 not backed by a car manufacturer or a billionaire individual, is arguing that because it does not benefit directly from the display of its name or sponsors, the use of its car should accompany a commercial settlement.

Ecclestone is quoted as advising Sir Frank Williams to ask his sponsors for additional payments, since they will benefit the most from the exhibit in Dubai.

01/27/09
f1
Jury still out on F1's new KERS system  Formula One teams are racing against time to perfect the new KERS technology that will give world champion Lewis Hamilton and his rivals a burst of extra power at the push of a button.  Whether they even use the controversial kinetic energy recovery systems once the grand prix action starts in Australia on March 29 remains very much in the balance, however.

With testing prohibited during the season, the teams have only a few track sessions left to satisfy themselves that their systems are reliable and safe. If in doubt, they could leave them out.

Most are reserving judgment, with even those considered furthest down the road on development still facing plenty of hurdles.

"We definitely haven't decided (whether to use KERS)," Williams technical director Sam Michael told Reuters. "The jury is still out on whether we start with it or not, not so much from a performance point of view, but more about reliability. More ...

01/27/09
nassprint
Home Depot Will Cut 7,000 Jobs  Home Depot Inc., the world’s largest home-improvement retailer, will cut 7,000 jobs, or 2 percent of its workforce, and exit its design showroom business because of a drop in consumer spending.

Closing the Expo division, with 34 retail locations, will cost about $532 million before tax, of which $390 million will be recorded in the fourth quarter, Home Depot said today. It also plans to cut capital spending to about $1 billion in the 12 months ending February 2010 from $1.8 billion a year earlier, in anticipation of “continued weakness” in sales.

Declining home values and the highest unemployment in almost 16 years have caused consumers to cut back on living room renovations and cabinet purchases. Home Depot’s decision to cut costs and focus on its main home-improvement stores will be well-received by shareholders, according to David Schick, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in Baltimore.

01/27/09
fil
Genoa team raises a few eyebrows in first day of testing  While there are no trophies for winning practice, track records do make a bit of a statement. In the first day of testing at the newly re-opened and re-paved Palm Beach International Raceway (formerly known as Moroso Motorsports Park), driver Richard Philippe and the rest of the Genoa team headed the field of rookie and veteran drivers from Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Panther, and Guthrie-Meyer.

In the morning, with a chicane in place on the back straight, Richard’s fast time was a full second quicker than the next fastest. In the afternoon, with the chicane removed, Richard established the outright track record at 1:07.304. Unofficially, Charlie Kimball (SSM) and Martin Plowman (Panther) were the only other drivers able to break into the 1:07’s. More ...

01/27/09
track news
Lowe's Motor Speedway removing worse seats for high-end camping  Lowe’s Motor Speedway is taking out some seats in turns 1 and 2 to make room for about 20 luxury motorhome spots.

A few thousand seats will be removed, according to speedway President Marcus Smith.

In its 2008 annual report, the track reported that it had approximately 162,000 seats, including suites.

“We had a lot of demand for high-end camping from fans and sponsors and people who love to camp,” Smith said. “We haven’t seen any fall-off with camping, even with high gas prices [last summer]. We’re very appreciative of our camping fans. More ...
01/27/09
irl
alms
Honda Grand Prix Pit Notes #2  
Motorsports Community Evenly Split on Super Bowl Picks

Drivers, league officials and promoters of the 2009 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg are closely following this week’s Super Bowl activities in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.    As you would expect, many of them have a favorite picked to win the big game.  Some have personal connections to either the Steelers or the Cardinals and some may just be interested in the event, but all of them have an opinion on who will leave the area as the new Super Bowl champions.

Graham Rahal, defending Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg champion, says, “I hope the Steelers win. I have been a Steelers fan for as long as I can remember.  My family has a huge investment in the automotive industry in Pittsburgh. I like seeing them, and our dealerships, do well!!"

Danica Patrick, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., thinks the Cardinals are “the little team that could” and the NFC champions will bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Arizona.  Patrick is in good company, with Andretti Green Racing owner Kim Green looking for a Cardinals win as well.  More ...

01/26/09
alms
Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3 Debuts at Sebring  
RLR BMW M3
A new era in North American motorsports begins on January 26th when the first BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3 drives onto Sebring International Raceway for opening day of the American Le Mans Series Winter Test.

The official debut of BMW of North America’s newest racing program comes less than one year after the announcement of BMW’s return to ALMS competition was made at the Chicago Auto Show on February 11, 2008.

With final design changes made by BMW Motorsport following European and US testing, the new M3 race car was assembled by the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team crew over long days and late nights beginning in December. The M3 received its final homologation inspection on Wednesday, January 21. More ...

01/26/09
ga
Johnson has surgery from self-inflicted wound  UPDATE Jimmie Johnson required repair of a tendon and nerve after cutting his left middle finger with a kitchen knife Sunday afternoon in Daytona Beach, Fla., while preparing to compete in the final segment of the Rolex 24 sports car series race. The injury occurred above the knuckle and happened while Johnson was attempting to cut a small hole in his firesuit in order to feed a tube from a cooling shirt through the pocket of his suit. Johnson flew from Daytona Beach to Charlotte for further evaluation and outpatient treatment with a hand specialist at Carolinas Medical Center. The injury will not keep Johnson from driving in the season’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup event Feb. 7 at Daytona International Speedway. “That certainly wasn’t the way I wanted to end the Rolex race,” said Johnson, who ran with the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team. “I really appreciate all the hard work by the guys this weekend. I’m just sorry I wasn’t there at the end with them. The doctors did a great job in Daytona and Charlotte and I can’t thank them enough. Everything feels good and I’ll be ready to roll for Daytona.” Johnson is still scheduled to appear on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” [Jan 26th] and will co-host his Super Skins charity golf tournament and party with Nick Lachey this weekend in Tampa, Fla. GMR Marketings PR

01/26/09 Jimmie Johnson required stitches to close a gash to the middle finger on his left hand, suffered just prior to his final driving stint in the Rolex 24 at Daytona Sunday. According to Johnson's publicist, Kristine Curley, the driver was attempting to cut a hole in the pocket of his fire suit with a kitchen knife, in the effort to weave a cooling tube through the suit. The knife slipped, and Johnson suffered a gash to his finger. "It got me pretty good," Johnson told The Associated Press. "Cut right through the fabric to where my finger was on the other side." Johnson promptly removed himself from competition, surrendering his final run in the car to teammate Jimmy Vasser. Johnson was taken to the Daytona International Speedway infield care center, where he received stitches, though Curley was uncertain how many. For precautionary reasons, Johnson then flew quickly back to Charlotte, N.C., for further evaluation at an area hospital. He said the injury will not affect his driving and he'll be ready to race when teams report to Daytona in 11 days to begin preparations for the season-opening Daytona 500. Curley echoed those thoughts. "It's nothing major," Curley said. "He's fine. It won't affect him at all." Johnson teamed up with Vasser, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing entry, a team that finished second in 2008. But early in the running Saturday evening, Johnson pitted to change a tail light when his #99 Pontiac stalled out. The gear box had broken, dropping Johnson and his team nine laps behind the leaders. ESPN
01/26/09
cc
Ex-Champ Car PR man counts his lucky stars  
David Higdon
Ex Champ Car PR honcho David Higdon wasn't on Flight 1549, but when he saw that it had crashed in the Hudson, his life flashed before his eyes. That's because he was originally booked to be in seat 4C on that flight.

The 47-year-old father of two had checked in at the US Airways counter at LaGuardia Thursday afternoon and got his boarding pass for the doomed flight.

Anxious to get home and prepare for a job interview, Higdon asked to fly standby for an earlier flight. It worked.

He was sitting at a restaurant at the airport in Charlotte, N.C., on a layover to Jacksonville, his final destination, when he saw news of the plane crash on TV.

"All I see up there is this plane sitting in the middle of the water. And then it said US Airways Flight 1549."

"My life flashed in front of me right there," he said. "I went over to my briefcase and pulled out my [original] boarding pass and sure enough - it was Flight 1549. I could hardly stand up." More ...

01/26/09
irl
Wheldon offers tips to Super Bowl visitors  Dan Wheldon grew up in Emberton, England, where being a football fan meant cheering for men kicking a checkered, round ball. Now that he’s been racing in the United States for a decade, the 2005 IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion has an appreciation for the American version of football, especially the grandeur of the Super Bowl, which will visit his adopted home in the Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla., area Feb. 1.

As a resident of St. Petersburg for the past four years, Wheldon offers this advice to fans coming to the area for the Super Bowl.

“There’s some very good places in Tampa,” Wheldon said. “The Hyde Park Village is very nice. The Vinoy hotel, which is in St. Pete, is a very popular spot. The restaurant Bella Brava is very nice.

“The beaches are probably a little bit cold right now, but they’re very nice. You’ve got the Don Cesar hotel. There’s a very nice beach there. You have to be a member, but it’s particularly nice. For the younger crowd, there’s a bar on the beach called The Undertow that’s very good. The Tampa International Plaza is very good.”

Wheldon expects to watch the championship game at his home with wife Susie, who is expecting the couple’s first child in mid-February.
01/26/09
ga
Rolex 24 was closest ever  This past weekend's running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona was the closest finish in the 47-year history of the event. It was also believed to be the closest contested finish in the history of major international 24-hour endurance racing. After 24 hours of racing, David Donohue edged Juan Pablo Montoya to the checkered flag by 0.167 seconds.

Donohue, who started on the pole position and drove the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley with co-drivers Darren Law, 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and Spaniard Antonio Garcia, celebrated the 40th anniversary of his father's victory in the event. The late Mark Donohue joined Chuck Parsons in winning the 1969 event at the wheel of a Penske Racing Chevrolet-powered Lola T70.

Montoya, co-driving with 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 co-champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, had a personal two-race winning streak snapped in the No. 01 TELMEX/Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, with the team seeking its fourth consecutive Rolex 24 victory. More ...
01/26/09
ga
irl
Rice 12th driver to win Indy 500 and 24 Hours at Daytona  Buddy Rice thought he was in select company by having his image on the Borg-Warner Trophy. Now he's among the dozen who have won both the Indianapolis 500 and 24 Hours At Daytona.

Rice teamed with David Donohue, Darren Law and Antonio Garcia to win the 47th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 25 with Brumos Racing. It was the first series victory since 2003 for Brumos Racing and denied TELMEX/Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates its fourth consecutive triumph in the event.

"To think my face is on the BorgWarner trophy. That was an elite group. But now to also have all the people who have won the 24 hours at Daytona, and also for me to be able to do both, it's unbelievable," said Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner. Rice joined double winners Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Arie Luyendyk, Al Unser Jr., Al Unser, A.J. Foyt, Bobby Rahal, Dan Wheldon, Mario Andretti and Mark Donohue. More ...
01/26/09
f1
Toyota president disappointed with Marmorini's departure  As recently reported, Toyota's engine chief Luca Marmorini has left the team in pursuit of more challenging obstacles, since F1 has been lacking engine development for a few years now, and will continue to do so for a few more. But team president John Howett is deeply feeling the loss of their decade long partnership.

Howett shared with the official F1 site: "Personally, I am very sad that he left. I think that he was frustrated on the one hand that there was really no opportunity for engine development, and also probably didn't agree with some of the strategic decisions - probably our more conservative approach to KERS. "

Marmorini's position in the engine department is to be taken over by Kazuo Takeuchi, who Howett describes as a "an absolute racer."

01/26/09
gp2
GP2 cutting costs too  Just weeks after Formula One teams agreed on radical cost-cutting measures to secure their future, the sport's feeder category GP2 has moved to cut costs in their own series, as the global economic slowdown continues to affect motorsport sponsorship. The series' organizers have opted for changes on the technical and sporting side of the sport, in a bid to reduce costs and keep the on-track excitement unaffected.

Among the measures to be introduced is an F1-style ban on in-season testing, while limiting the number of staff any one team can bring to a race to just 13 people, further reduced to 12 from mid-season. The cost of car parts will also be reduced, thanks to the series supplier Dallara, while teams will also be given 'credits' for spare parts. Other changes to the technical regulations will also produce further cost cuts. More ...

01/26/09
irl
Andretti Tabbed Strategist for Danica Patrick  
Michael Andretti
Andretti Green announced today that team co-owner Michael Andretti will take over the role of strategist for driver Danica Patrick on the team's #7 entry for the 2009 IndyCar Series season.

Andretti, who co-owns Andretti Green with partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, won 42 times during his professional driving career and has helped guide Andretti Green to three IndyCar Series championships and two Indianapolis 500 wins in just six seasons of operation.

Andretti replaces Kyle Moyer, who worked with Patrick in 2008 and will now return to call races for driver Marco Andretti on the team's #26 entry.

Andretti Green's two other entries will retain the same strategist/driver alignments as last season with Kim Green returning to Hideki Mutoh's #27 entry and George Klotz rejoining Tony Kanaan on the #11 car. More ...
01/26/09
alms
Scott Dixon joins de Ferran Motorsports for Sebring  2008 IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon is today confirmed to drive for de Ferran Motorsports in the team's brand new Acura ARX-02a at the first round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series - the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (18-21 March 2009).

The 28-year-old New Zealander will be joining regular de Ferran pairing of team owner Gil de Ferran and young French star Simon Pagenaud in the 12-hour spectacular at the 3.7-mile Central Florida track and is relishing the chance to 'kick start' his season.

"What a great opportunity to be driving for de Ferran Motorsports again," enthused Dixon. "The ten-hour Petit Le Mans back in October last year was a fantastic experience for me. I loved the team's spirit and camaraderie. Like everyone else I am really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the brand new Acura ARX-02a and will be testing with Gil and Simon for two days this week (26-30 January)." More ...

01/26/09
track news
MIS and MDOT sign R&D agreement  The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Michigan International Speedway (MIS) announced today a unique partnership for research, development and safety innovation that could serve as a catalyst for job creation and growth opportunities for the state.

MDOT and MIS have entered into a partnership to use and market the Brooklyn-based racetrack and its existing road course to agencies that manufacture and develop connected vehicle technologies. The partnership will give automakers and after-market providers the ability to test and develop connected vehicle systems in a closed, private and neutral environment.

Connected vehicle technologies allow cars to “talk” to one another to prevent collisions and improve mobility and fuel efficiency. In November 2008, MDOT announced plans to deploy these advanced transportation technologies along the Telegraph Road corridor in Oakland County. The agency must test the system on a closed track, and MIS was chosen. More ...

01/26/09
alms
Acura LMP1s break cover in Sebring  
Highcroft LMP1 Acura
Acura’s two new ARX-02 LMP1s have broken cover in public for the first time as American Le Mans Series cars hit the track for the first time at Sebring International Raceway. The annual Winter Test has a number of new entries but perhaps none as highly anticipated as the new Acura prototypes.

Acura will release detailed information later today so we’ll hold off on intricate descriptions. The new front and side bodywork does look stunning.

Also spotted at de Ferran Motorsports is Keith Jones, the crew member who was injured in a horrific pit fire last season at Mid-Ohio. We’ll catch up with him later today.

01/26/09
f1
Ecclestone gifts Williams £14.5m for staying in F1  Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One commercial director, has told the press he advanced the Williams team £14.5 million after it committed to stay in the series.

Newspaper the Financial Times says Williams made a loss of £50 million over the past two years, but the £14.5 million advance has helped it secure its budget until the end of 2010.

The Financial Times reports that £130 million has been set aside as an incentive for the nine F1 teams to sign the Concorde Agreement, which seals their entry in the series, but which expired at the end of 2007. The teams now race under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreed in 2006 with CVC, the private equity group which controls F1, but this is not legally binding.

Williams has not yet signed the Concorde Agreement, and Ecclestone described the £14.5 million advance as a “pre-payment”. Williams, along with the rest of the teams, will be due more money should they sign the contract.

Prize money under the MOU increased from 25 per cent to 50 per cent of the sport’s profits, with payments beginning last year. However Ecclestone has questioned the sense of making the payments without a contract.

01/26/09
f1
Hamilton concerned by lack of test time  
Lewis Hamilton (L) with his father.  His father will not be around as much this year now that his son's career is established.
Lewis Hamilton got his first taste of the 2009 McLaren car this week in Portugal, but he, along with all the other drivers present found their programs disrupted by poor weather conditions.

With new restrictions on testing, and a ban on all testing during the season, Hamilton is concerned about the comparatively shorter amount of time he has to get to grips with his new ride, especially given the dramatic new regulations.

"I've got seven days to master the car, where normally I would have had twenty," Hamilton told BBC Sport. "It's a completely new package for all of us and it's going to be interesting."

"We have a huge challenge ahead with KERS, with its reliability and also finding the new set-up," Hamilton added. "It's been good to be back working with the team. This first test was all about just getting used to the new car and new regulations and about giving my feedback to the engineers - it wasn't about setting a fast time."

"I'm pleased to report the car feels good, we've made lots of progress over the winter and I'm looking forward to developing the car ahead of the Australian Grand Prix. With limitations on testing during the season and the few sessions we have before then, this will be an intense time and absolutely critical for every team."

01/26/09
ga
Ganassi drivers cry because their Lexus no match for Porsche power  Scott Pruett, Juan Pablo Montoya and Chip Ganassi were looking to grab a piece of Rolex 24 At Daytona history Sunday afternoon.  Pruett and Montoya were seeking to win their third straight Rolex 24, while Ganassi, the team's owner, was seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive 24 title at Daytona International Speedway.

The No. 01 Lexus Riley led its share of laps, and it even led with a half-hour left in the race.

However, Montoya considered himself fortunate to be contending for the win in the closing moments before settling for runner-up honors.

"I tried, but with the amount of power they had going down the straight, I'm actually surprised we finished second," Montoya said. "I was actually surprised that we fought for the win to be honest." More ...

01/26/09
team USA
Team USA Scholarship Graduates Claim Top Honors in Rolex 24  The new North American auto racing season began in style this weekend with an enthralling 47th Rolex 24 at Daytona. The ‘round-the-clock endurance event, which kicked off the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, ended with Team USA Scholarship graduates Buddy Rice and Andy Lally standing atop the respective podiums in both the Daytona Prototype and GT classes.

Rice, who won a Team USA Scholarship in 1996, teamed with David Donohue, Darren Law and Antonio Garcia to clinch the overall victory aboard the #58 Brumos Racing Porsche-Riley.

Donohue took the lead with 39 minutes remaining and held off a strong challenge from defending race winner Juan Pablo Montoya (#01 Target/Telmex Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus-Riley) to win by just 0.167 seconds. It was the closest margin of victory in the event’s storied history. More ...

01/26/09
announcement
New poll up  A new poll is up on our Home Page regarding future IRL races.  The results of our most recent poll are as follows with Fernando Alonso rated as the best driver in F1 today by a sizable margin:

01/26/09
f1
Ecclestone also against KERS  
Bernie Ecclestone
Director of the Ferrari Formula one team, Stefano Domenicali made comments recently about the introduction of the kinetic energy recovery system, KERS, that is being introduced this season as a move contradictory to the cause of cutting costs in the sport, stating that ‘the introduction of such a system is a contradiction in terms’.

As the system will effectively improve the performance in this year’s Formula One cars, teams are forced to use it adding even more costs to develop it to perfection before it becomes compulsory in 2010.

FOM Chief Bernie Ecclestone agrees with the comments being made by not only Ferrari, but also Renault and Toyota…

“I have always been against KERS,” he told the Telegraph. “Whatever they use in F1 they won’t use in a road car, but if that is the idea, then why not develop it in touring cars? It costs a lot of money when we are trying to save it.”

01/26/09
f1
Buemi ready to take Vettel’s place  
Sebastian Buemi
He may be the new boy in Formula one this season but Sebastian Buemi has declared that he is not worried about stepping up to the plate and taking on the role as youngest driver on the grid, especially when the seat he is stepping into is that of new F1 sensation, Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel took his and the Toro Rosso team’s maiden Grand Prix victory at last year’s Italian Grand Prix and since then has made the move to parent team, Red Bull racing. Hailed as the next champion in the sport, Vettel has left a giant hole in the Toro Rosso team, a hole that Buemi is ready and willing to fill, even if it carries a certain amount of pressure with it.

“For sure coming just after Vettel is a bit more pressure, but he has improved the team, so my first feeling is that I am grateful to him for this and of course I will try to do my best to live up to the standards that he has set,” the twenty year old Swiss racer told the sports official website. “The rules have changed a lot so it will be very different anyway.”

01/26/09
f1
Heidfeld says drivers must accept less money  
Nick Heidfeld
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld believes formula one drivers should be prepared to race for less money, as the sport tightens its belt in reaction to the global financial crisis.

As the governing FIA and the teams' FOTA alliance work to drastically slash the sport's unsustainable budgets, it has been proposed that the highly-paid drivers might also have to feel the effect of the efforts.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa recently said he would not be happy with a pay-cut, arguing that the cost of drivers is proportionately small in the context of entire racing budgets.

His teammate Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, who is believed to be F1's highest paid driver, refused to wade into the discussion at all.

But Nick Heidfeld, who drives for BMW-Sauber, said in interview with spox.com that drivers cannot hide from the realities of their sport.

The 31-year-old German admitted that driver salaries are significant when contemplating F1 team budgets.

"Therefore we will have to adjust ourselves to it, just like everyone else," Heidfeld, who on Friday and Saturday got his first taste of the new F1.09 single seater at Valencia, said.

"At the moment it is not really an issue, and I hope that there are other ways so that nobody loses their jobs and the driver salaries stay the same," he added.

One proposal has been a mandatory driver salary cap for teams, but F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone denies that such a measure will be necessary.

"If the teams don't offer the money, there is no need for a salary cap," he told the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

01/26/09
f1
Bernie offers manufacturers new deal  UPDATE (GMM)  F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has proposed to give formula one's richest teams more freedom to spend vast sums of money.

The scheme, at odds with the current trend for massive cost-cutting in the wake of the departure of Honda, would be in exchange for the manufacturers promising a long-term commitment to the sport.

"If the manufacturers are prepared to make a long-term commitment, say seven to 10 years, we should let them spend what they want to spend, providing they supply engines and gearboxes at an affordable price," the 78-year-old billionaire told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Following the expiry of the binding Concorde Agreement, the sport is currently commercially governed by a memorandum of understanding, which by Ecclestone's own admission is not legally binding.

It is in pressing for teams to commit to a new Concorde that he recently mischievously threatened to reduce, rather than increase, the revenue distributed to the teams.

The diminutive Briton hopes his lure of greater freedom for the big teams will entice them to sign up soon, even though recent cost-cutting moves were widely welcomed.

"Whether they will commit to that I don't know.  Getting them to agree on anything has always been the problem," Ecclestone said.

"But if they did it would prevent the kind of thing we have seen with Honda because we could sue the arse off them if they left.  They wouldn't like that."

Ecclestone, right, is willing to make a deal with the manufacturers in return for their long-term commitment to the sport
Despite his recent suggestions to improve the sport, however, including his rejected 'medals' scoring system, Ecclestone insists he is not interested in succeeding Max Mosley as FIA president.

"Max doesn't get paid.  Even if they paid me 10 times what I earn now I wouldn't do it," he laughed.

01/25/09 Bernie Ecclestone has proposed giving manufacturers greater financial freedom in return for making a long-term commitment to Formula 1.

The emphasis in recent months has been on reducing F1 teams’ exorbitant outlays – a drive instigated by the governing FIA but, following Honda’s demise and the global slump in car sales, now enthusiastically supported by the manufacturers themselves, who framed many of the recently adopted cost-cutting rules. More ...

01/25/09
racing news
Mario Andretti / Jeff Gordon Racing School eliminates pace cars  
Driving 101, parent company of Mario Andretti and Jeff Gordon Racing School announced sweeping changes to its racing school programs today. Beginning March 6th 2009, racing school participants will no longer be required to follow a pace car and will not have an instructor with them in the race car.  Each driver will have a Personal Racing Instructor guide them through their timed racing session via an in-car radio system. Based on a 1.5 mile oval, drivers in the Qualifier and Checkered Flag programs can reach top speeds of 150mph. In the Winners Circle, Victory Lane and World Champion programs, speeds can reach up to an amazing 170mph.

4-Time NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon said “since the beginning, our goal was to provide the most authentic and realistic racing experience for the fans. Over the past four years, race fans could drive real NASCAR race cars on the same superspeedways that I race on - but these new programs take it to a whole other level.” More ...

01/25/09
racing news
Promoter dies after accident at monster truck show  A promoter for the Motor Sports Monster Truck & Thrill Show has died from injuries after an accident at the Dane County Coliseum, just over a week after a 6-year-old boy was killed in a monster truck event in Tacoma, Wash.

The Dane County Coroner said 41-year-old George Eisenhart Jr. of Chardon, Ohio, died after an accident Saturday night in Madison. A witness told the Wisconsin State Journal that Eisenhart walked in front of one of the monster trucks just as it was about to pass by.

The newspaper said organizers immediately halted the remainder of the show.

On Jan. 16 at the Tacoma Dome, Sebastian Hizey died after he was struck in the head by a chunk of metal that tore off a truck doing doughnuts during the Monster Jam show. SI.com/AP

01/25/09
score
NASCAR’s R. Gordon dominates field to capture Overall victory  Starting his new racing year on a high note, NASCAR owner/Driver Robby Gordon returned to his racing roots Sunday to easily dominate the field to capture the Overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck victory at the season-opening 15th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge. With the race split into two days of 8 laps each of an intensely rugged 6.25-mile course, Gordon ran a combined total time of 1 hour, 57 minutes, 54 seconds, averaging 50.89 miles per hour in his No. 77 Team Gordon Chevy CK1500.

Second after the opening 8 laps by just 13 seconds, Gordon easily retook the lead both physically and on corrected time on the first lap as all of his challengers fell by the wayside.

The event featured 103 starters from 12 States, Mexico, Germany and New Zealand, who competed in 16 Pro and two Sportsman classes for cars and trucks for nearly $400,000 in prize money and contingency postings. The classes were split into five groups in Laughlin, each running as part of one of five races each day of three to eight laps over the rugged and challenging 6.25-mile race course. The event was Round 1 of the 2009 SCORE Desert Series. More ...

01/25/09
ga
NASCAR's best get smoked in Rolex 24  A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, From what I saw of the Rolex 24, NASCAR's best and brightest are not so good after all.  Take them out of their element (stock cars) and they are nothing but field fillers.  Even Juan Montoya, who is supposed to this great road course driver from F1, got smoked by none other than David Donohue.  The next time I hear a NASCAR announcer say their drivers are the best in the world, I'll probably barf.  Ed Nicholson
01/25/09
alms
Franchitti returns to Patr¢n Highcroft Racing  
Dario Franchitti
Dario Franchitti, the 2007 Indy 500 and IndyCar Series champion will return to Patr¢n Highcroft Racing in 2009 to partner with David Brabham and Scott Sharp aboard the new Acura ARX-02a LMP1 entry in the American Le Mans Series endurance classics.

Franchitti will join the Danbury, Connecticut-based squad for the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and will get to drive the new LMP1 car for the first time tomorrow at the American Le Mans Series "Wheels Down" winter test from January 26-28.

Franchitti is no stranger to success with the Acura brand at Sebring. He was part of the class-winning Andretti Green Racing squad with Bryan Herta and Tony Kanaan that took the LMP2 win in Acura's 2007 debut and also took pole position at the Long Beach ALMS event. More ...

01/25/09
alms
ALMS test notes - Sunday  The teams, crews and drivers have started to gather at Sebring International Raceway for the American Le Mans Series’ annual Winter Test. It’s a mix of the familiar and the new, evidenced by a stroll through the paddock.

• Three 2009-spec Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs in sparkling white livery sit at Flying Lizard Motorsports, fresh from a few days at an Atlanta-area shop for preparation and review. The most obvious feature, of course, is the new air ducting on the Porsche’s hood. It became necessary due to this year’s ACO regulations mandating air conditioning units.

Porsche says 20 of the new RSRs are completed and being shipped to customers around the globe.

Flying Lizard’s driving quintet will be Porsche factory pilots Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Long, along with Johannes van Overbeek, Darren Law and Seth Neiman. More ...
01/25/09
ga
Rolex 24 Hour 23: 4-way battle for the win  With one hour remaining in the 47th Rolex 24 At Daytona, Max Angelelli and the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing continues to be locked in a dramatic four-car duel for the victory.

Juan Montoya currently leads in the No. 01, followed by Joao Barbosa in the No. 59, Garcia in the No. 58, and Angelelli in fourth.

Angelelli ended the 23rd hour right where he started it – in fourth place chasing the Nos. 58 and 59 Brumos Porsche Rileys and the race-leading No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley.

The four leaders are the only cars on the lead lap with the next-closest competitor – the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley of Scott Dixon – four laps behind in fifth place.

All four leaders took advantage of a timely caution right at the 23-hour mark, which brought all four into the pits for fuel expected to carry each to the finish.
01/25/09
ga
Rolex 24 Hour 21: Pruett leads for Ganassi  As of 21h04mn, the top five positions were: Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, Buddy Rice in the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley, Frisselle in the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara, Terry Borcheller in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley and Alex Lloyd in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley.
01/25/09
ga
Rolex 24 Hour 18: Brumos/SunTrust/Ganassi battle for win  
The SunTrust Ford is showing a lot of straight-line speed (i.e. HP) against the Lexus and Porsche teams and is closing on the front-runners
On a beautiful Sunday morning we are down to a 3-way battle between the Brumos Porsche team, the SunTrust Ford team and the Ganassi Lexus team with six hours remaining in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.  The Penske Porsches have hit trouble and have fallen off the lead lap.

Current Temp.
60 degrees

Distance Completed:
513 laps

Overall Average Speed/Margin of Lead:
126.15 mph

Hour 19 Standings More ...

01/25/09
f1
Raikkonen 13th in debut rally  (GMM)  2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen has finished his first professional rally in thirteenth place.

The Finn entered the Arctic Lapland Rally, held at the weekend in his native Finland, with a Fiat Ararthe Grande Punto S2000.

He finished less than 7 minutes behind the winner Juha Salo, and more than 7 minutes in front of F1's 1998 and 1999 world champion Mika Hakkinen, who contested the event with a Mitsubishi Lancer.

Former twice world rally champion Marcus Gronholm, however, said he is so far unconvinced about Ferrari driver Raikkonen's abilities.

"It's hard to say about Raikkonen yet," the 40-year-old Finn told the News of the World.  "He might be a hell of a driver, but I don't think he can learn to drive (rallies) right off the bat."

Former Sauber and Ferrari driver Mika Salo also raced, but the highest-placed ex-formula one name was JJ Lehto, who finished the rally ninth and ahead of 28-year-old Raikkonen by a minute.

01/25/09
nastruck
Dodge to play field filler role in Truck series  Dodge Ram trucks will be racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series once again at Daytona, according to Truck Series Director Wayne Auton. Dodge ended its involvement in the truck series last year as the Chrysler brand refocused its limited resources on its Cup and Nationwide programs. Only one Dodge team was left by the end of the season.

But Auton said Thursday during an interview at the NASCAR research and development center in Concord, N.C., that at least one new owner will run Dodge trucks at Daytona.

"We're going to have all four makes back in the garage area. I know that for a fact," he said.

"There will be some announcements coming out soon that there will be some Dodges teams that are going to race. I don't want to step on anyone's parade and make announcements but we're excited about where it's headed.

"I know for sure that there's going to be one in Daytona. I don't want to say who they are, but I know there's a new owner coming with two Dodge truck teams. That's a brand new owner in the garage," Auton said. al.com
01/25/09
nassprint
EGR close to naming 4th driver  Earnhardt Ganassi Racing will field a fourth entry -- the #41 Chevy -- in the Daytona 500 and expects to decide on a driver Monday, team president Steve Lauletta said Saturday before the start of the Rolex 24 Grand-Am race at Daytona. Lauletta said the choice had been narrowed to two drivers but declined to name them, though he did indicate that veteran Sterling Marlin was not among the finalists. "We're hoping by Monday," Lauletta said of the decision process. "We came close to making a final decision Friday. We need to work over the weekend and Monday, but it'll be pretty quick. Same thing with one of the sponsor deals we have done for Aric -- next week." NASCAR.com / Sporting News
01/25/09
f1
Flavio: Alonso better than Hamilton  Flavio Briatore has fired the first shots in 2009’s Formula One war of words.

And it is a direct hit on wonderboy Lewis Hamilton – who became world champion in only his second year in the top flight.

Playboy Briatore reckons Hammy, 24, is not as good as Spain’s Fernando Alonso, his old foe and once bitter team-mate at McLaren.

In fact, argues Italian Briatore, Alonso is the best driver in F1. Bar none. More ...

01/25/09
a1gp
A1GP Team USA penalized in Feature  A1 Team USA has been given a 25-second penalty in today’s Feature race, dropping the team from 8th to 11th.

Marco Andretti exited the pits on his second stops and crossed the white pit blend line, while leaving which contravenes the regulations.

A1 Teams Italy, Malaysia and South Africa all gained extra points as a result of moving up the order.

In the same race, A1 Team Brazil was given a 25-second penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Monaco. This didn’t affect the points paying positions.

01/25/09
irl
Edmonton Indy loses $5.3M  UPDATE Critics who are upset over Rexall Edmonton Indy's $5.3- million loss need to fill up their half-empty glasses, says Mayor Stephen Mandel.

"The event is important enough to the city to try to retain it and I would think we shouldn't lose sight of that," Mandel said yesterday.

Rexall Edmonton pit lane
"This was an anomaly in a year that shouldn't have happened, but hopefully in coming years, there will be less of an impact on the city.

"Take a look at the glass half-full: It's a successful event. It had broadcasting out to hundreds of millions of people. There were thousands of people who enjoyed it. It did cost more than we wanted it to, but we will get it under control."

City council committed to a three-year contract with Northlands, the new organizers of the racing event, to cover a deficit or share a profit in a bid to keep it in the city. More ...

01/25/09
f1
Reutemann for president  (GMM)  Carlos Reutemann, a winner of 12 grands prix, most recently in 1981, says he will run for the presidency of Argentina at the next election in 2011, according to the Buenos Aires Herald.

A veteran of 146 grands prix, for teams including Ferrari and Williams, the now 66-year-old subsequently turned to politics in his native country, where he has been a senator and governor of his local province Santa Fe.

01/25/09
ga
Rolex 24 Hour 15: Porsche 1-2-3  Leading the Rolex 24 at the 15-hour mark are Timo Bernhard in the No. 16 Penske Racing Porsche Riley, Antonio Garcia in the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley, Joao Barbosa in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley, and Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley.

Running in sixth place, the last car on the lead lap, is Scott Dixon in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley.

The No. SunTrust car is one of only two remaining Ford Daytona Prototypes still running. Both Michael Shank Racing Fords, both Krohn Racing Fords, and the AIM Autosport Ford all have retired as a result of a similar electronic sensor issue.  In this case F-O-R-D really does stand for Found On Road Dead

The other Ford prototype still running is the No. 77 Doran Racing Dallara, currently in seventh place, eight laps off the pace. More ...

01/25/09
nnw
McDowell joins JTG Daugherty part-time  Michael McDowell has joined JTG Daugherty as the driver of its Nationwide Series car, replacing Kelly Bires.

“It’s been a very difficult offseason,” McDowell said. “I’m just fortunate to have this opportunity.”

McDowell will run for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors and plans to enter at least the first 16 races. By mid-summer, McDowell hopes team owner Tad Geschickter will have found funding to allow the team to continue further.

“Right now the goal is to go out and put on some good shows and run well and let Tad do what he does best, and that’s build a brand and build a sponsor around his race team and drivers.”
01/25/09
nassprint
NASCAR reinstates cheaters  NASCAR has reinstated Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide Series crew chiefs Dave Rogers and Jason Ratcliff as well as five other team crewmen who were suspended indefinitely last August.

The NASCAR suspensions lasted 10 races. They were part of a penalty for attempting to limit the car’s throttle response during a horsepower test following the event at Michigan International Speedway.

“They’re done paying their price, they’ve been reinstated and they’re waiting to apply for their license,” NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said Thursday during the Sprint Media Tour. “They’re good.”
01/25/09
ga
No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara Leads Rolex 24 at Halfway Point  
The No. 10 SunTrust Ford gets service in the middle of the night
Pedro Lamy and the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara led the Rolex 24 At Daytona at the halfway point - the 12-hour mark - at Daytona International Speedway early Sunday morning.

Lamy, in his first-ever Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 and Rolex 24, took the lead for the first time in the race on Lap 358. He became the third driver on the team to lead a lap - joining co-drivers Brian Frisselle and Max Angelelli - and the 17th overall. It was also the 33rd overall lead change, which is on pace to tie the record-number of lead changes in a Rolex Series race at Daytona, set at 64 last year.

The 107-plus mph pace set by the Daytona Prototypes is also one mile per hour less than the Rolex 24 race record under Grand-Am sanction. More ...

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