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NASCAR mandates sealed engines  In an effort to cut costs for team owners during a tough economy, NASCAR will implement a sealed-engine rule for its Nationwide Series this season.  NASCAR officials on Saturday confirmed that a technical bulletin was issued to teams this week about the change.

The rule is virtually identical to one adopted recently for the Camping World Truck Series under which teams are prohibited - after March 25 - from using four different engines in four consecutive events. Events at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway are excluded.

After an engine's initial use, teams must identify an engine for a future event and it will be sealed by NASCAR inspectors. The team is not allowed to work on any part of the engine afterwards. If the engine blows during a race weekend and the team must use a new one, the team's entry will start at the rear of the field.

"I really think it makes sense," said J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, which is fielding two Nationwide teams this season.

"I still say the best rule NASCAR ever implemented that saved teams money was the one-engine rule. That was a huge deal for us and it didn't affect the racing at all. This will be the same thing."

#21 Team on Top after 1st Day of Practices  
If experience translated into victories, the Wood Brothers and Bill Elliott could begin chilling their champagne and preparing their victory speeches. The Wood Brothers bring four Daytona victories to this year’s 500 (1963, 1968, 1972 and 1976) while Bill Elliott has two Daytona 500 victories under his belt (1985 and 1987). However, racing, particularly in today’s NASCAR’s top racing series, is an ultra-competitive endeavor where even the smallest mistake can mean the difference between making the race or watching it on T.V.

The #21 team, led by Crew Chief David Hyder, has worked smarter this off-season in an attempt to limit those mistakes. This year’s theme is “attention to detail.” Just as the Wood Brothers reaped the success of running a limited schedule in earlier days, team owners Len and Eddie Wood hope to bring that philosophy and those same results to this year’s team.

If today is any indication of how the year will go, the Wood’s have a lot to look forward to. This afternoon, the #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion took to the track for the first time this year. Because of the unique qualifying requirements for Daytona, teams spent much of the day running qualifying laps. During each of the two practice sessions, Bill was on top of the speed charts having run the fastest laps in each session. More ...
Daytona 500 Qualifying Procedures  
• One round of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series timed qualifying will be held. Each team may run two laps with the fast lap setting the qualifying time. The two fastest qualifiers set starting positions one and two and are the only guaranteed positions, filling the front row for the Daytona 500.

• The Gatorade Duels, the 150-mile qualifying races, will determine starting positions for the Daytona 500 beyond the front row. In the event of cancellation, the field will be set according to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book.

Gatorade Duel Assignment
• The eligible highest ranked 35 in 2008 car owner points will be assigned to Gatorade Duel races based on their standing in the 2008 final car owner points. Odd-numbered owner points will compete in the first Gatorade Duel; even numbered owners will compete in the second. The only exception is that the fastest qualifier will start on the pole in the first Gatorade Duel and the second fastest will start on the pole in the second, regardless of 2008 car owner point standings.

• Owners who failed to finish in the top 35 of the 2008 car owner points will be assigned to a Gatorade Duel based on qualifying times – the highest qualifying owner to the first Duel; the next to the second and alternating through the remaining entries. Starting positions for the Gatorade Duels are based on qualifying times. More ...

Remembering NASCAR Official Carl Wolf  
Carl Wolf
Carl Wolf, who for the past 10 years worked for NASCAR in a variety of capacities, passed away Friday night following a lengthy illness.

Wolf spent time in the NASCAR garage as the supervisor of engine inspection for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He moved into the area of officiating training in June of 2003 - a position he held until his death.

Responsible for training and instructing officials in various areas of inspection with a specialized focus on engine training, Wolf was instrumental in the development and implementation of many of the tools and gauges that are still used today in the inspection areas.

His vast knowledge, enthusiasm and patience helped make him an outstanding instructor, who was well-respected and highly revered by his students, co-workers and peers.

Carl Wolf was 70.

Race is on for sponsors  After years of trying to go as fast as possible, some NASCAR teams and drivers just hope to stay on the track this season. With the economy in meltdown and companies announcing layoffs and financial losses almost every day, NASCAR sponsorships are on their shakiest ground in years. With teams in Florida for the start of the NASCAR season, including tonight's Bud Shootout, some corporate sponsors have scaled back or shut down their motorsports programs. "Deals are getting done, just not as many," said William Chipps, senior editor with Chicago-based IEG Sponsorship Report. "There's definitely pullback." Most sponsors are staying put, a NASCAR spokesman said, but many are spending less, meaning fans will see fewer signs and fewer hospitality events at races this season. "They're trying to be smarter, leaner, meaner, and trying to spend less," said Andrew Giangola, NASCAR's director of business communications. Automakers especially are hurting. General Motors has slashed NASCAR spending, letting contracts at multiple speedways expire. Last year's UAW-Dodge 400 race in Las Vegas is now the Shelby 427 after DaimlerChrysler didn't renew its sponsorship. Charlotte Observer
Elliott fastest in first Cup qualifying practice  
Bill Elliott in the Word Brothers Ford
Wood Brothers Racing's Bill Elliott recorded the fastest lap in Saturday's opening NASCAR Sprint Cup practice for the Daytona 500. Elliott, with a lap of 187.645 mph, beat out Hall of Fame Racing's Bobby Labonte at 187.414 and Hendrick Motorsports' Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 187.348 to post the best speed in the two-hour session at Daytona International Speedway.

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing's Martin Truex Jr. and Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch were fourth and fifth quickest, respectively, with JGR's Joey Logano, JGR's Denny Hamlin, Hendrick's Jimmie Johnson, Stewart-Haas Racing's Ryan Newman and Yates Racing's Paul Menard completing the top 10.

JGR Toyota teammates Joey Logano and Kyle Busch
There were no accidents during the session, which will be followed by a 90-minute practice scheduled for 1:30 p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday's round of qualifying that will lock in only the front row for the Daytona 500.

The rest of the field will be set according to the results in two Gatorade Dual qualifying races next Thursday and owners points.

Results More ...

Technical Specifications of the Red Bull Racing RB5  Unveiling is still 2 days away but here are the Technical Specifications of the Red Bull Racing RB5

Renault: RS27 2006
Capacity: 2400cc
Max RPM: 19000 (limited to 18,000 for 2009)
Cylinders: 8
Power Output: Not Disclosed
Number of Valves: 32
Vee Angle: 90
Construction: Cylinder Block in Cast Aluminum
Engine Mgmt: FIA (MESL) standard control unit TAG310B
Fuel: Elf
Oil: Elf
Weight: FIA minimum weight of 95kg
Electronics: FIA (MESL) standard control unit More ...
IndyCar Magazine gets the axe  UPDATE Word is that the IRL was paying about $600K annually to have the IndyCar magazine produced - i.e. it was a PR outlet for the series.

01/30/09 In a sure signs things are not so good for IndyCar, Haymarket Publications has been forced to stop publishing the money losing IndyCar Magazine effective immediately. The economy is certainly a factor but the lasting effects of the IndyCar split are still a major hurdle. Remember how strong IndyCar was in 1995 before the split?
track news
Man convicted in Kansas Speedway shooting is sentenced  UPDATE #3 The man convicted of shooting a Kansas City, Kan., police detective at Kansas Speedway was sentenced Friday to more than 48 years in prison. Fredrick Douglas, 68, was found guilty in December of attempted capital murder and other charges. He was charged with shooting Detective Susan Brown on Oct. 1, 2006, as she guarded a Speedway vault after a Nextel Cup race. A co-defendant, Nolden Garner, is scheduled for trial next month. Kansas City Star

10/04/06 The Wyandotte County district attorney filed attempted capital murder charges this afternoon against Fredrick Douglas and Nolden Garner, alleging they shot a detective during an attempted robbery of Kansas Speedway. According to the charges, the two men fired multiple gunshots at Kansas City, Kan., Police Detective Susan Brown, even while she was on the ground. The charges allege the two men intended to kill her and to rob her. Douglas and Garner also were charged with aggravated battery in the shooting of a track employee. District Attorney Jerome A. Gorman said the employee suffered minor injuries. He was hit either directly or by shrapnel. Douglas and Garner also face charges of aggravated robbery for allegedly taking Brown’s handgun, aggravated burglary and attempted aggravated robbery. Garner was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Kansas City Star

10/02/06 Doctors upgraded an off-duty police officer to fair condition after someone shot her several times after she tried to break up a robbery at the Kansas Speedway.

Paramedics airlifted the 25-year veteran officer to the hospital in critical condition on Sunday night.

Police said three people walked into the area where she was working and tried to rob the place.

The robbery happened long after the race had ended, and Speedway workers were preparing to close down the facility. Witnesses reported hearing up to seven gunshots. One man said he heard the whole thing over the police radio.

"I heard this lady screaming. We heard that she was shot several times," Dennis Lyons, witness, said.

Police chased and arrested two of the robbery suspects, and will question them again on Monday. According to witnesses, there were three people involved, but police haven't found a third suspect.

If you know who the third suspect could be, or if you have any information, call the TIPS hotline at (816) 474-TIPS. More ...

No Ride for Kyle Petty  
Perennial backmarker Kyle Petty has been put out to pasture by NASCAR community
Kyle Petty said he had a couple of opportunities for rides, but they weren't worthwhile. "I'm not at the stage where I want to come down and beat your head against the wall and be there," he said. "I've been doing that for the last five or six years, coming down here with cars that were uncompetitive. I don't want to get in somebody else's car that is uncompetitive. I just ended up without a ride. I'm on the other side of the fence looking in, but not at my choice."

Petty drove in the 24-hour race at Daytona last month, but mechanical issues limited him to one shift. He plans to compete in more road races, but he's uncertain which ones. He also will be back as an analyst with TNT for its six Cup broadcasts in June and July, which will keep him from racing during that period. While Petty sits out, he continues his work with the Victory Junction Gang Camp. A second camp, which will be located in the Kansas City area, is expected to have its groundbreaking around September. Virginian-Pilot
Petty #44 gets shafted by silly NASCAR games  Richard Petty was feeling a little bait-and-switched on Friday. The sponsors that Richard Petty Motorsports have been courting for the #44 Dodge felt even more so, he said. NASCAR's recalibration of owner points for the start of the 2009 season put Petty driver A.J. Allmendinger 36th, one spot below the cutoff for automatic entry into the first five races of the season. Clint Bowyer's #33 Chevrolet — a new fourth car at Richard Childress Racing — and Sam Hornish's #77 Dodge garnered top-35 spots by bringing in points-possessing former car owners as partners. Bowyer's car will now be listed under former team owner Bobby Ginn, and Bill Davis has formed a partnership with Roger Penske to own Hornish's car. RPM has only an eight-race deal with Valvoline and is courting sponsors, a less-arduous process if the team is guaranteed of making races. Petty said NASCAR told him at the end of last season that the points of the #10 Gillett Evernham Dodge (now applied to the #44 after Petty merged with GEM) would be in the top 35. "It puts us in a bad situation with a sponsor, because when we went in, that was part of our selling point," Petty said. "All of a sudden, we don't (make the top 35). They blame us as an organization for leading them down a path." Allmendinger failed to qualify on time for the Daytona 500 in his first two attempts at Red Bull Racing. St Petersburg Times
NASCAR approves #12 paint scheme  
Stremme goes under Kasey Kahne in this No. 12
NASCAR has approved a paint scheme and uniform for Penske Racing’s #12 car and driver David Stremme that has the Verizon and Penske red and black colors but neither with the Verizon logo featuring a thin red check. NASCAR must approve all uniforms and paint schemes, and the Penske team had to go through a more scrutinized process because of the Cup series sponsorship from Sprint. NASCAR is responsible for making sure that none of Sprint’s rivals have branding in the garage, and Verizon, which bought out Penske sponsor Alltel earlier this month, is a sponsor of the organization and has its logos on the Nationwide Series car.

Penske Racing crewmen spent part of Friday morning covering up a little bit of red striping near the front of the car with black strips. NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said NASCAR asked for the minor change but the rest of the paint scheme has been approved. None of uniforms nor the car has the red check that would make people think of Verizon. The red stripes are at angles but there are no markings in the shape of a check. Penske Racing officials had said last month that even though Verizon’s logos could not be on the Cup car, that the #12 Cup car would not need primary sponsorship at least through 2010 because Verizon had assumed Alltel’s commitment. SceneDaily
Silly NASCAR games continue  Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, whose largely sponsorless #8 Chevy was 14th in 2008 owner points, has swapped positions with new teammate #42-Juan Montoya, who was 25th last year while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing. The assumption is that if the #8 was shut down within the first five races, Montoya would have a nine-position advantage if qualifying was rained out. In conjunction with the point swaps, Chip Ganassi now owns the #8 and Teresa Earnhardt took ownership of the #42 from Ganassi's father, Floyd. NASCAR.com
Sepang test Day 3: Stoner on top again  MotoGP riders completed the first MotoGP tests of 2009 in Sepang with the usual suspects at the top - Casey Stoner (Ducati) and Valentino Rossi (Yamaha).  On Saturday American Nicky Hayden continued to lag 1.5 seconds behind his Ducati teammate Stoner.  After being outpaced by his Honda Teammate Dani Pedrosa last year, Hayden's days may be numbered if he cannot improve his performance.

The riders and their teams resume testing at Losail, Qatar in three weeks, next 1st, 2nd and 3rd of March.

1. C.Stoner (Ducati) 2:01.043
2. V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2:01.137
3. L. Capirossi (Suzuki) 2:01.262
4.C.Edwards (Yamaha Tech3 ) 2:01.413
5. T.Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) 2:01.560
6. C. Vermeulen (Suzuki) 2:01.666
7. J. Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:01.907
8. A. Dovizioso (Repsol Honda Team) 2:01.955
9. M.Kallio (Pramac Ducati) 2:02.386
10. N.Hayden (Ducati) 2:02.497
11. A.De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) 2:02.523
12. S.Gibernau (Ducati guinea ecuatorial) 2:02.727
13 R.De Puniet (LCR Honda) 2:03.418
14. Yuki Takahashi (Scot honda) 2:03.474
15. N.Canepa (Pramac Ducati) 2:03.901
16. J.Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3) 2:03.953

IUPUI steps forward as second sponsor for Sarah Fisher  Indy Racing League fan favorite Sarah Fisher will be sponsored this year by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.  Details of Friday's deal were not immediately available, but IUPUI wants to use the series as a platform to promote the school's four-year motorsports engineering program.

"We see this sponsorship as an investment in opportunity for our students, and Sarah couldn't be a better role model as she was once a student here at IUPUI," said Oner Yurtseven, dean of IUPUI's school of engineering and technology.

It's the second deal Fisher has announced since mid-January, despite the struggling economy. Last month, she announced Dollar General rental cars would double its commitment this season, allowing her to race in at least four venues on the IRL circuit.

European countries rush to convert to Nuclear power  [Editor's Note: This article is a follow-up to our feature article back in May titled Are Nuclear Power Plants and Electric Cars the way forward?  Duh.....well of course they are the way forward.  The use of fossil fuels must end.]  Sweden says it will overturn a ban on building new nuclear-power stations, in a further sign of how concerns about climate change and energy security are fueling a nuclear renaissance across Europe.

Swedes voted to phase out nuclear power in 1980, shortly after the Three Mile Island accident in the U.S. Since then, two of the country's 10 reactors have been shut down. But Sweden's coalition government said on Thursday that it will present a bill to parliament in March calling a halt to the phase-out and allowing nuclear construction, as part of a new climate and energy policy.

Sweden now has 10 reactors, which produce just under half of the country's electricity.

If lawmakers approve the bill, Sweden will join a growing list of countries rethinking their opposition to nuclear energy, as unease about global warming and oil prices outweighs fears about the safety of nuclear installations. Unlike fossil fuels, nuclear plants don't emit much of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. More ...

NHRA rained out for second day in a row  Rain continued to fall in Southern California Friday, forcing NHRA officials to cancel the second round of professional qualifying at the Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Rain started in the early morning hours and continued to be heavy at times throughout the afternoon. No racing was completed before officials pulled the plug for the day around 1:15 p.m.

Two rounds of qualifying are scheduled for Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday's final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m.

The race, which will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD, is the first of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series in 2009.
Wood Brothers 2nd Daytona 500 Win - 1968  
The Wood Brothers entered the 1968 Daytona 500 with legendary driver Cale Yarborough behind the wheel of the Wood’s #21 Mercury. The race was an up and down affair for Cale and the Wood Brothers, but one where the team’s perseverance and Cale’s grit and determination brought the #21 home for the win.

The race began well for the team with Cale running the fastest qualifying lap and starting in the pole position. As the race progressed, Cale encountered engine trouble as the engine began “missing.” Thanks to the fast thinking and fast repair work of Glen and Leonard Wood, they were able to fix a faulty transformer. However, this was no easy task - the transformer was located under the dash. The team had to remove the dash, take out the transformer and replace it. This remarkable effort kept Cale in contention losing only one lap.

With 40 laps to go, there were a couple multi-car accidents that sent several of the top cars to the garage. Cale was the beneficiary of their misfortune and moved up to third behind LeeRoy Yarbrough, who was first, and Paul Goldsmith, who was second. During the caution, Goldsmith pitted which moved Cale into second position. With the #21 on the verge of overheating, it was forced to pit on lap 174 under caution brought out when Sam McQuagg blew an engine. This left Cale almost a full straightaway behind leader LeeRoy Yarbrough. More ...
ARCA Re/Max Field Set for Slick Mist 200  Justin Lofton earned the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell at Daytona International Speedway on Friday afternoon with a time of 49.418 seconds (182.120 mph) around the 2.5-mile speed plant. The Eddie Sharp Racing Driver starts Saturday's Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race alongside Daytona Beach, Florida native Alli Owens. The race is live on SPEED beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern.

"The car felt really good," said Lofton. "Driving around here doesn't require too much but a good handling car. We came here exactly with what Bryan Clauson sat on the pole with here in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race last year and it worked again." More ...

Johnson paces final Shootout practice; Menard, Speed tangle  Hendrick Motorsports' Jimmie Johnson paced Friday night's final practice in preparation for Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.  Johnson, who ran a fast lap of 192.620 mph, led Richard Petty Motorsports' AJ Allmendinger at 192.542 and Hendrick’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 192.304.

The session was stopped for several minutes when Red Bull Racing's Scott Speed and Yates Racing's Paul Menard got together after Menard lost control of his Ford. Speed won't have to go to a backup for the race and Menard's crew hopes to fix his car and avoid going to a backup.

Rounding out the top five in speed were Richard Petty Motorsports' Kasey Kahne and Stewart-Haas Racing's Tony Stewart. More ...

TSN to broadcast IndyCar races in Canada  IndyCar Series fans in Canada won't miss a single turn during the 2009 season as TSN and TSN2 will have complete coverage of all races.

Highlighting the 17-event season will be the debut of the stars of the IndyCar Series in Toronto on July 12 in the Honda Indy Toronto and a return to Edmonton, Alberta, for the Rexall Edmonton Indy on July 26. Both events will air live on TSN, as will the 93rd Indianapolis 500.

Seven races will be available live exclusively TSN2, including the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 5.

In the United States, 12 races will be broadcast live on VERSUS and five on ABC. ESPN International is the distributor and syndicator of IndyCar Series programming outside of the U.S. More ...

track news
Daytona 500 Winner Coming to San Francisco  Race fans are invited to Willie Mays Plaza at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Wednesday, Feb. 18, for a midday rally with the winner of the 2009 Daytona 500.

For the first time ever, the winner of the Great American Race will come to San Francisco to meet with race fans, as well as take a Victory Tour Through the Streets of San Francisco, all courtesy of Infineon Raceway and NASCAR.

The appearance marks the Official Countdown to the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at Infineon Raceway, June 19-21 (Father’s Day weekend).

“When the checkered flag drops in Daytona it’s always the signal for our team that NASCAR will soon be headed for Sonoma,” said Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway. “We’re looking forward to greeting the Daytona winner back in Northern California and getting a little preview of our race in June.” More ...

New sponsors join A1GP teams  A1 Teams Switzerland and Monaco have each announced new commercial partners.
Reigning champion Switzerland has confirmed that FORDAHL-FOQ Group, involved in the timing components for telecommunication systems, and cp eyewear and helmets will join its team.

“As a leading company in its business area, FORDAHL-FOQ aims at communicating at the highest level,” said a team statement. “For two years, the group’s advertising strategy is based on motorsport sponsoring. The synergies are obvious: in both fields, speed and accuracy are key elements.

“Swiss brand cp stands for trendy, innovative and at the same time highly professional manufacturing of sun glasses, goggles and sports helmets.

A1 Team Monaco has announced ProTech of Monte Carlo has signed a three-year partnership agreement, to make an active commitment to become the first racing team in the world to embark on a 'Zero Carbon' program.

The company’s waterless washing product, developed by the ProTech research and development saves 200 liters of water for every car washed.

“By adopting the eco-technological aesthetic measures normally used in the context of everyday driving, developed in the ProTech research and development laboratory, to today's competitive scene, we have just taken a step in the right direction,” said Clivio Piccione, A1GP seat holder and A1 Team Monaco racer.

Petty Motorsports Unveils Historic Retro Look  
AJ Allmendinger and Richard Petty
Richard Petty Motorsports unveiled today a paint scheme with historical significance at Daytona International Speedway.
The newly-formed Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 44 Valvoline Dodge Charger, driven by AJ Allmendinger during Daytona Speedweeks, will feature a tribute to winning history with a replica paint scheme of the Valvoline Dodge that Kyle Petty drove to an ARCA victory for Petty Enterprises at Daytona 30 years ago (Feb. 11, 1979).

“The Valvoline retro paint scheme is awesome," said Allmendinger. "It’s great to be a part of the winning history that both Petty and Valvoline enjoy, and I’ll be working hard to get the No. 44 Valvoline Dodge into the winner’s circle.” More ...

racing news
AutoWeek Becomes Bi-Weekly  Starting with the January 5, 2009 issue, AutoWeek will switch from a weekly to a biweekly magazine. According to the publication’s press release, less is more. “This change gives us the opportunity to grow as a brand,” opines brave-faced publisher Keith Crain, “and increase our reach to enthusiast consumers, making AutoWeek much more than just a weekly.” (Or, in fact, less.) Needless to say, AutoWeek will not become AutoBiWeek (although one wonders if that name might open up new profit opportunities). “Modifying the frequency of the magazine’s distribution allows us to focus on more comprehensive editorial features and vehicle reviews. We look forward to providing lengthier and more comprehensive pimpatorials, although our paper quality will go down the toilet. So to speak.” I just made the last two sentences up, obviously. But not this: “I’m thrilled to be able to make a great brand better,” said AutoWeek editor and Associate Publisher, Dutch Mandel. “The changes demonstrate our commitment to evolve in an ever changing world. Our readers now demand news the moment it happens, which we provide to them at autoweek.com. These changes will allow us to deliver more in-depth coverage in our products. Our readers will be excited and pleased.” In fact, they already have a new strapline with which they can take delight. “AutoWeek is America’s only fortnightly automotive enthusiast consumer magazine.”
track news
Testing with a Difference  Palm Beach international Raceway today announced their 2009 "Testing with a Difference," program, which provides qualified drivers with an opportunity to take the seat in a sponsored Team PBIR Firestone Indy Lights race car.  The program offers drivers multiple test days, including Palm Beach international Raceway's 2-mile Road Course and Homestead-Miami Speedway's 1.5-mile oval track and inclusive of Engineering, media training, public relations, promotional photo shoot, fitness "Pit Fit," and "The Facts of the Sport" from Ken Ungar.

An entry fee of $35,000 includes testing expenses, tires, fuel and seat fit Team PBIR will provide drivers two days of track time and orientation on Palm Beach international Raceway's Road Course. The first day includes a series of programs, then progresses to rides in a two-seater Radical Racecar with 2006 Indy Lights Champion Jay Howard then to test time in the Indy Lights car. Day Two completes the 150-miles of Road Course testing. More ...

Red Bull RB5 preview  See a video on the Red Bull website of their new 2009 RB5 F1 car.
Jens Höing secures place in the 2009 F2 line-up  German driver Jens Höing will compete in the FIA Formula Two Championship in 2009.

The 21-year-old moves to F2 after competing in the German Formula 3 Cup last season, where he scored a season’s best eighth position at the Nürburgring. Höing also tested for Team Olympiacos in the Superleague Formula at Vallelunga in August 2008, setting the sixth quickest time overall.

Prior to F3, Höing spent three seasons racing in Germany’s national Formula BMW Championship.  He also competed in the 2006 Formula BMW World Final against fellow F2 drivers Rob Wickens and Tobias Hegewald at the Circuit de Valencia – the venue which will host the opening rounds of the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship. More ...

Ford Paces Daytona Races  
Ford GT 500 Pace Car
Ford Fusion Pace Car
For the first time in almost 40 years, a Ford pace car will lead the fields for Speed Weeks races at Daytona International Speedway.

The honor goes to a 2010 Shelby GT500, which will pace three events on Daytona’s famous 2.5 mile tri-oval, with a 2010 Ford Fusion Sport prepped and ready to go in case a backup is needed.

Both cars are completely stock mechanically, the only extra equipment being light bars supplied by Whelen Equipment. The Fusion Sport also has a special vinyl wrap applied, giving the car its colorful and distinctive flame motif.

The Shelby GT500 is powered by a 540 horsepower V8 engine. The car’s features include a hood extractor to remove heat from the engine, and a Gurney Flap spoiler to tune rear downforce. More ...

57 cars entered for Daytona 500  Fifty-seven cars were entered for the Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race as technical inspection opened Friday morning at Daytona International Speedway.

Thirty-five drivers are locked in the field based on 2008 owner points. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Tony Stewart is also locked in as the most recent past champion, and 21 others will vie for the final seven spots. They will attempt to either make the race on qualifying speed Sunday or by racing their way into the field through the 150-mile qualifying races Thursday.

Qualifying Sunday sets the front row. Two non-guaranteed drivers from each of the races Thursday get automatic spots in the 500 field. And the rest will be determined by speed, with one spot available to the most recent past champion.

Stewart would get that spot if he needs it. Prism Motorsports’ Terry Labonte would be in line for the past champion’s spot if Stewart gets in through the heat races or speed. Wood Brothers Racing’s Bill Elliott would be next if Stewart and Labonte both make the field.
racing news
Force, Rossi, Logano Win SPEED Performance Awards  John Force turns 60 in May, but after a devastating crash at Texas in 2007 nearly ended the 14-time NHRA Funny Car champ’s career, he returned to the track in 2008 to collect a national event win at Topeka.

The effort, which included intense physical therapy after Force suffered broken bones in his hands and feet, tendon and ligament damage in his right knee, a dislocated left wrist and a compound fracture of his left ankle, was rewarded by race fans Thursday night as he was selected to win the SPEED Performance Award for “Biggest Comeback” on last night’s one-hour SPEED television special.

The Third Annual SPEED Performance Awards were supported by nearly 120,000 votes on SPEEDtv.com, with nine trophies being handed out to a wide variety of racers. The winners included: More ...

FIA Lift Restrictions on Stepney and Coughlan  Starting today, Nigel Stepney and Mike Coughlan are allowed to work within the Formula 1 paddock. The two men that started the entire espionage scandal between Ferrari and McLaren back in 2007 – also known as the “Stepneygate” – were cleared by FIA president Max Mosley following a request made out by one of their attorneys to lift any restrictions on their right to work in F1.

Mosley argued his decision by the fact that Ferrari and McLaren have already moved on with their racing programs and are starting to even get along well inside the F1 paddock, so it is unnecessary for the two men to keep paying for their mistakes in the past. “The other day we got a letter from the lawyers of one of them saying he has got this restriction and this restriction, and it does seem a little bit mad to make them serve out even longer when the two teams concerned are all making love to each other. So, we have said we will let them forget it,” revealed Mosley. More ...

Stoner's Ducati tops Sepang testing Thursday  The MotoGP teams were back in action at Sepang Friday and Casey Stoner was fastest on his Ducati on the 2nd day of testing.

Official lap times Friday

1. C.Stoner (Ducati) 2:01.483
2  L.Capirossi (Suzuki) 2:01.555
3. V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2:01.626
5. C. Vermeulen (Suzuki) 2:02.086
6. T.Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) 2:02.232
7.C.Edwards (Yamaha Tech3 ) 2:02.241
9. N.Hayden (Ducati) 2:03.034
10. J.Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:03.056
11. S.Gibernau (Ducati guinea ecuatorial) 2:03.308
12. A.De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) 2:03.518
13.M.Kallio (Pramac Ducati) 2:03.774
14 N.Canepa (Pramac Ducati) 2:04.021
15. Yuki Takahashi (Scot honda) 2:04.332
16 R.De Puniet (LCR Honda) 2:04.507
17 J.Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3) 2:04.597

Penske ahead of plan selling Smart Cars  Roger Penske, the sole USA distributor of the Mercedes SmartCarForTwo car, reported sales of 24,622 in the first 12 months ahead of a plan of 16,000. Look for two new models - a high performance version later this year and an all-electric version in 2012.
France's spin - NASCAR doing OK  
Brian France puts a positive spin on an otherwise gloomy 2009
NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France held an impromptu press conference during media day Thursday and discussed at length economic issues impacting and overshadowing the sport.

"Everybody is very interested and understands what we're up against," France said at Daytona International Speedway. "Tracks, owners, drivers -- I'm meeting with every one of them the next two weeks, to talk about what we need to do to weather the storm."

The "storm" is the economy, which continues to weaken at dire speed not only in this country but abroad.

France said every "stakeholder" in stock-car racing must work to get through this financial crisis, which has Detroit's "Big Three" automakers on the ropes.

The Sprint Cup Series has seen several middle-of-the-pack teams merge over the winter in an effort to survive.

The NASCAR race season begins Saturday night with the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. The non-points sprint race will feature 28 cars.

"We're looking to get cars on the track and do what we do best," France said. "There's a lot of new things going on, new drivers with new teams.

"I'm anxious to see how that will play out. That will be the best tonic that we can get for us and our race fans."  More at Daytona Beach News Journal

Menard draws pole position for Shootout  
Paul Menard
Yates Racing’s Paul Menard will start from the pole position in the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Joining Menard on the front row will be Richard Petty Motorsports’ Elliott Sadler as the 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers drew for positions Thursday night.

“We were on the pole in July here and had a good, clean start,” said Menard, who drove for Dale Earnhardt Inc. last year. “If you protect that bottom, that’s the preferred line on new tires. If we hold the bottom down, we’ll let them line up behind us.”

Menard said he wouldn’t fall back in the pack just to see how the car drafts.

“That’s what [Friday] afternoon is for before the Shootout, for practice,” Menard said. “I’d like to lead the whole thing – not saying we’re going to, but I’d like to.

“There’s no points at stake and it’s basically win or nothing. There’s some risks that people take that you normally don’t see in the 500 or other races. So it is what it is. We’re not going to race this car on Sunday [in the 500], so we’re going to try to keep it [in] one piece, [but] if it breaks, it breaks.”

The race is scheduled to begin at 8:10 p.m. EST Saturday.

2009 Budweiser Shootout lineup: More ...
Foyt to be at Daytona 500 to support Stewart's debut as owner  
AJ Foyt
A.J. Foyt will attend the 51st running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in support of Tony Stewart, who will be making his Sprint Cup Series debut as a driver/owner with Stewart-Haas Racing and his #14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevy in the season-opening race. When Stewart announced his plans to carry the #14 in honor of A.J. Foyt, the four-time Indianapolis 500 champion and 1972 Daytona 500 winner did an interview with Stewart on his SIRIUS Satellite Radio show, “Tony Stewart Live.” During the course of the interview, Stewart invited Foyt to be in the #14 team’s pits during the Daytona 500. Foyt accepted the invite and is making good on his word to attend. A.J. Foyt Racing PR
NASCAR: Drivers pass preseason drug tests  UPDATE All drivers in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Nationwide Truck Series passed the first round of drug testing under NASCAR's new policy, officials said on Thursday, but that wasn't the case for crew members. Kevin Harvick said two pit crew members for his Truck Series team were released after failed tests and he expects there are others throughout all three series. "There's definitely more out there,'' Harvick said during media day at Daytona International Speedway. "There's a lot of people that are looking for jobs right now that are straight-up people. It couldn't have come at a better time.'' NASCAR implemented a policy that calls for mandatory preseason testing for all drivers and crew members and random testing throughout the season by an independent laboratory after former Truck Series driver Aaron Fike admitted last season he competed under the influence of heroin. The tests are focused on narcotics, beta blockers and steroids. Random testing will be done at the track almost every race weekend, beginning at Daytona next week. Anywhere from 12 to 14 crew members and two drivers per series will be tested each weekend. A failed test by a driver will be made public, but not those by crew members. Three failed tests will result in an automatic lifetime ban. In the past, testing was done only on "reasonable suspicion.'' ESPN.com

02/01/09 NASCAR does not anticipate suspending any drivers who took their preseason drug tests last week in North Carolina, sanctioning body spokesman Ramsey Poston said. “We are proud of how the process worked so far,” Poston said in a statement. “All drivers, crew members and officials will have passed the substance-abuse test going into the season.” Drivers in NASCAR’s three national series must pass a drug test during the preseason, and most drivers took their test last week at the NASCAR Research and Development Center. This is the first season that NASCAR is requiring its drivers to pass a preseason drug test. Its previous policy allowed NASCAR to test at any time for reasonable suspicion – which is still the policy today – but did not require the passing of a preseason test. Teams had to submit crew rosters and list those who had passed a drug test in order to have them licensed to work on the cars. “We will continue to randomly test throughout the season,” Poston said, “and our reasonable suspicion remains in place, making NASCAR’s substance abuse policy one of the most comprehensive in sports.” SceneDaily
Thousands of unsold tickets for Daytona 500  There are thousands of available tickets for next week's Daytona 500. Television ratings dropped in 2008 compared to the 2007 season, especially in the final 17 weeks as America started coming to grips with a faltering economy.

Large banners will cover empty grandstand sections at some tracks this year despite sweeping price cuts, and all three of NASCAR's top touring series -- Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck -- have accepted the fact there might not be enough teams for a full field once the Daytona euphoria is replaced with the weekly grind of the regular season.

Rain washes out NHRA opener  Rain forced NHRA officials to postpone the first round of professional qualifying Thursday in the season-opening Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway.  The first round of qualifying is now set for Friday, followed by two more rounds Saturday. The final eliminations are Sunday.
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Ecclestone, Mosley, predict Honda survival
  • Mosley confirms American team interest
  • Mosley tips McLaren for strong season
  • Ecclestone unsure about Russian GP

Ecclestone, Mosley, predict Honda survival
(GMM)  F1 powerbrokers Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley on Thursday sounded confident that a buyer will be found for the embattled team currently known as Honda.

With less than 50 days to go to the 2009 season opener in Australia, there is still no sign that a solution to owner Honda Motor Co.'s shock withdrawal has been reached.

But when asked if he thinks a renamed Brackley based squad will make it to Melbourne, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said: "I think so.

"I think that will happen," the Briton told the German news agency DPA.

FIA president Mosley, meeting with reporters in London on Thursday, put a 70 per cent probability on a positive outcome to the Honda saga.

"I have no inside knowledge but my feeling from all the circumstances is that it is more likely than not," he said.

He indicated that reports of an attempted management buyout, led by existing chiefs Nick Fry and Ross Brawn, are true.

"They may succeed.  They are both very competent people.

"Talking to the people around the team, they seem optimistic," Mosley continued.  "But they always are until the moment comes."

Like Ecclestone, however, Mosley stresses that should F1 shrink to just 18 cars in 2009, no lasting damage will be done.

"I don't think it would matter provided we could lay out a plan for 2010 that makes it possible for a small team to run competitively and do so without losing money," he said.

"I think the days of the billionaires who piss money away are gone." More ...

Toro Rosso confirms Bourdais, not Sato  
Bourdais happy to still have ride after being beaten soundly by teammate Vettel in 2008
Toro Rosso has confirmed that Sebastien Bourdais will again race for the Red Bull-owned team in 2009.

Admitting the news had become perhaps F1's "worst kept secret", the Faenza based team said in a statement that the 29-year-old completes the Toro Rosso lineup alongside Swiss rookie Sebastien Buemi.

"After one year with Toro Rosso, we expect him to profit from the experience he gained last season," team boss Franz Tost commented.

STR had considered replacing Bourdais with Takuma Sato for 2009, leading the French driver to admit that the pre-season period was "very long and difficult".

In a separate statement, Japanese Sato's manager Andrew Gilbert Scott said the 32-year-old had been unable to raise enough sponsorship.

"We have all been working very hard and have been able to attract a significant amount of sponsorship to support the team but unfortunately it was obviously not enough to secure the drive," he said. More ...

Most of Saleen sold  Most of specialty carmaker Saleen Inc. was sold to a Michigan group called MJ Acquisitions, which owns parts and engine companies in Michigan. They bought Saleen’s performance street-car program, supercharger and aftermarket business from Los Angeles private-investment firm Hancock Park Associates. Terms were not revealed. Saleen’s supercars, the S7 and the S5 Raptor concept, and the Viper paint-shop operation, were not included in the deal and remain with Hancock for now. ASC, a sister company of Saleen also owned by Hancock, was not part of the sale.

The company was founded by race-car driver Steve Saleen, and it has been responsible for some of the best performance versions of Ford cars, mostly Mustangs, over the past two decades.
Port of LB revs up for Grand Prix  The port authorities that run the Port of Long Beach, CA have agreed to step up their sponsorship of the city's annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, donating $155,000 to event promoters in exchange for advertising, VIP passes, pit-stop access, parking and other goodies.

The donation, unanimously approved by Long Beach Harbor Commissioners last week, represents a $40,000 increase from 2008 and gives the port an opportunity to splash its "Green Port" logo in front of a growing international television audience.

"This is our Kentucky Derby," said Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission President Jim Hankla, who pointed out that the downtown racetrack sits on waterfront land developed in large part through the years with funding from the port. Port officials will receive 20 large track signs, two track viewing suites stocked with booze and food, 12 parking passes and pit access throughout the April 17-19 event. The port's logo will also be wrapped around a green-and-white Toyota Prius pace car.

Jim Michaelian, Toyota Grand Prix's President and CEO, said ABC is dedicating up to eight hours to covering the race.

The race is in its 35th year and is expected to attract more than 200,000 attendees. Press-Telegram
Key Players in Atlantic Championship React to 2009 Prize Package  The announcement on Wednesday that the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda will offer a $1 million champion’s prize as part of $3 million in purse and prize money has drawn a strong response from many key players within the series. Their comments follow below:

CHRIS PANTANI, Director of Motorsports for Cooper Tire:
"This is an exciting day for the Atlantic Championship. The $1 million dollar prize is an extremely attractive award for the premier open-wheel development series.  The reality of it is that a young driver will actually walk away with a check for $1 million dollars as a series champion."

ROBERT DAVIS, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality, and the man responsible for Mazda’s North American motorsports operations under the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development banner: “The Atlantic Championship is the highest rung of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports open wheel ladder.  Mazda works hard to help talented drivers move from karts to Skip Barber to Star Mazda to Atlantic.  It’s great to see that the Atlantic series is making sure they can move upward as well. Mazda has already committed to offering the 2009 Atlantic champion a test drive with both our ALMS LMP2 and Grand-Am GT Mazda powered teams.  Our teams appreciate the deep talent pool such that they can promote from within the family.” More ...
Marcel Fassler and Antonio Garcia to Join Corvette Racing Roster  Corvette Racing will have a new driver lineup for the 2009 American Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Antonio Garcia will join defending ALMS GT1 champions Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R for the Sebring 12-hour, Le Mans 24-hour, and 1000-mile Petit Le Mans endurance races. Marcel Fassler will be teamed with 2005-07 GT1 champions Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R in the three long-distance races. Canadian Ron Fellows, a member of Corvette Racing since its inception, will continue with the team in an advisory and ambassadorial role.

The new additions to Corvette Racing's driver roster have extensive experience in world-class GT competition. Garcia, 28, of Barcelona, Spain, has raced with distinction in the European Touring Car Championship, the World Touring Car Championship, and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. He was part of the winning GT1 team in the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans, and recently shared in an overall victory in the 2009 Rolex 24 at Daytona. More ...

Johnson says finger is ok, ready to race  From a GM Racing transcript, concerning #48-Jimmie Johnson's finger injury during the Rolex 24 at Daytona, when he cut his finger working on his uniform:

HOW IS YOUR FINGER DOING? “It’s good, got the stitches out. It’s still a little ugly and swollen but I’ve got motion and grip which we’ve been working hard at the rehab center, so outside of being a little clumsy and swollen it’s doing well.”
HOW MANY STITCHES DID YOU HAVE? “I think there were five, five on the outside. It went all the way around. I had my suit open and it just gets in my way and I was trying to cut the hole in the pocket for the cool suit and I felt like I could cut those two off so I had the bright idea to flip it over and then I should have realized you know you’re going to cut yourself why are you doing this but I didn’t and still tried to do it and it went through it.”
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO WEAR, IS YOUR GLOVE ENOUGH FOR PADDING? “I don’t think I need any padding. We have two or three braces, one is kind of extended so it’s in the most comfortable position and other ones that kind of wrap my hand around so I can easily grip the wheel. So I’m just going to try a few different things in practice tomorrow.”
HAVE YOU LOST ANY STRENGTH IN IT? “Yeah, I’m limited on training in general. The worse thing I can do is go into this position because it would pull the tendon tight and break the sutures and stuff that sewed it back together so they said you can do anything this way especially once the swelling goes down. Frankly the thing they are most worried about is if I trip or fall and have to catch myself that would put me in the worst situation possible.”
IS IT GOING TO BE MOST DIFFICULT WHEN YOU’RE SHIFTING? “I’m not really sure. I actually think getting through the garage area is going to be more difficult. I’ve been driving at home and driving my Corvette so I can do the shifting and all that stuff to get ready for it. The toughest part I have is the real sharp turns so I think getting in and out of the garage area is going to be the toughest part. Once you’re going especially here the corners are so big you only turn the wheel a quarter or half of the way so it should be pretty easy.” GM Racing PR
Legendary racers to run charity race at Bristol  Darrell Waltrip, Harry Gant, David Pearson, Junior Johnson and other champion drivers are scheduled to be a part of the first Saturday Night Special at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday, March 21. Paired with celebrity partners, these legendary racers will run 35 circuits of a 50-lap event to benefit charity and send race fans on a trip down memory lane. Assigned teammates will start the race and run 15 laps. At the end of that segment, some of Bristol’s best will start the second portion of the race in the order of finish of the first. Drivers will be competing in late model stock cars and $25,000 will be donated to the charity of choice of the winning team. The second-place team will have $10,000 given to the charity of its choice and $5,000 will go to the designated charity of the other entrants. But that big Bristol trophy they get to keep for themselves. “It’s been a while,” said Johnson, who has one win as a driver, but 20 at BMS as a car owner. “But I think I can still turn some laps around this place. Darrell better buckle up.” Terry Labonte, Sterling Marlin, Jimmy Spencer and Phil Parsons also are expected to compete. Dale Jarrett, Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace and Cale Yarborough were extended invitations. The Saturday Night Special will take place after the completion of the Scotts Turf Builder 300 Nationwide Series race and the 100-lap UARA late model event. Info on Tickets at (423) 989-6900 and toll-free (866) 415-4158. BMS PR
Castroneves: I'm innocent  
Castroneves: "I am innocent"
Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion and “Dancing With The Stars” winner Helio Castroneves predicted today that he would be acquitted of federal tax evasion charges and suggested the case against him should never have been brought.

“They are trying to show something that doesn’t exist,” Castroneves said after a hearing on pretrial motions.

Trial is set to begin March 2 for Castroneves, his sister Katiucia “Kati” Castroneves and Michigan attorney Alan Miller on charges they schemed to hide about $5.5 million in income from the Internal Revenue Service. Each of the seven counts in the indictment carries a potential 5-year prison sentence.

“Kati and I are innocent,” said Castroneves, whose main defense is that he relied on the advice of lawyers and experts to handle his finances.

One of those lawyers was Miller, a former professional football player who is represented by high-profile Washington attorney Robert Bennett. Miller, who has pleaded innocent, did not attend Thursday’s hearing. But Bennett also questioned the government’s case, saying it should have been handled as a civil dispute rather than a criminal indictment.

“There is no way that Alan Miller, or Mr. Castroneves, could have felt they were violating the law,” Bennett said.

Prosecutors said they have ample evidence showing the opposite.

“This is something Mr. Miller and Mr. Castroneves were aware of,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Dwyer. Indy Star

NHRA to remain on ESPN through 2016  The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will be featured on ESPN through 2016 as part of a five-year, multimedia rights agreement extension between the National Hot Rod Association and ESPN. The NHRA has appeared exclusively on the ESPN networks since 2001. By the end of the extended agreement, the partnership will have been in place for 16 years.

As part of the agreement, the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series will continue to be showcased on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD. The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series is the premier sportsman series in drag racing and, for many aspiring racers, serves as a stepping stone for the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. 

“The NHRA continues to deliver strong results across our multimedia platforms, and this extension is our long-term commitment to the NHRA and drag racing fans around the world,” said Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president, programming and acquisitions. More ...

Aaron's to sponsor #00 for full season  Michael Waltrip confirmed Thursday that Aaron’s has agreed to sponsor the #00 MWR Toyota of David Reutimann for the entire season. Aaron’s originally had planned to be the primary sponsor of the car for just half the 2009 Sprint Cup season, but Waltrip said he’s signed the company for the whole year. “There’s two reasons why it’s huge,” Waltrip said. “Aaron’s has been a great partner. The Aaron’s Dream Machine has been the roots for what MWR is today. We raced that car (in the Nationwide Series) from behind my house. Toyota noticed what we did. They said, ‘Hey, we want you to be an owner at the Cup level.’ So it’s the reason I’m here today. Secondly, they (Aaron’s) stepped up to half season of Cup and I was talking to (Ken) Butler, the CEO, and I said, ‘Reutimann’s going to win. You watch.’ And I said, ‘If he wins in somebody else’s car, that’s going to really get on my nerves, because you guys have put us here. We want him to win in your car.’ And we were going to leave Daytona and go to California either with out a sponsor or a different sponsor. I just couldn’t handle that, so we talked and we worked (it out).”
NASCAR tells Marcos Ambrose he's in the Daytona 500  JTG Daugherty Racing’s Marcos Ambrose will have a guaranteed spot in the Daytona 500 and the next four NASCAR Sprint Cup race, but Phoenix Racing’s Brad Kesolowski will have to race his way into the events, NASCAR sources said Thursday morning.

Sanctioning body officials decided that allowing the transfer of a car number for a rookie to run a fifth car wasn’t the intent of the points-transfer rules and won’t allow a transfer of Chip Ganassi Racing points from last season to Phoenix Racing’s Keselowski. The move will lock Ambrose into the season’s opening five events.

Ambrose was told of the situation Thursday morning, and NASCAR sources confirmed that Ambrose will be among the top 35 cars from owner points last year that get locked in the first five races this season.

“It is with caution that I say that it looks like we are in the 500,” Ambrose said Thursday. “NASCAR spoke to us this morning and yesterday. If nothing changes, we’re going to be lining up for the 500, which is a huge relief.”

Vettel to debut RB5, Webber to return  Sebastian Vettel will get the honor to complete the first laps in Red Bull Racing's 2009 contender: the RB5. On Monday the team will present its new car to the media at Jerez followed by its first official day of testing. Red Bull furthermore told GPUpdate.net Mark Webber will return in the car for the first time since he broke his leg on 11 February.

After a stunning year at Scuderia Toro Rosso Sebastian Vettel joined Red Bull Racing this winter. The young German will complete the first day of testing for Red Bull Racing at Jerez next week where the team will complete a three-day test.

Mark Webber will be back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car for the first time since November's Brazilian Grand Prix. In November Webber broke his leg in a mountain bike accident but the Australian has worked hard to be fully recovered in time for the 2009 Formula 1 season. More ...

Wood Brothers First Daytona 500 Victory – 1963  One of the most incredible Wood Brothers Daytona 500 moments was the year replacement driver Tiny Lund filled-in for an injured Marvin Panch and won the race on one set of tires.

The Wood Brothers arrived in Daytona in 1963 with veteran Marvin Panch scheduled to drive the Ford factory sponsored #21 car. Unfortunately, Panch had an accident while testing a Ford-powered Maserati sports car for the second Daytona Continental three-hour sportscar race (this race later became the Rolex 24). During a test run, Panch’s car lost traction, rolled over and became engulfed in flames.

Dewayne “Tiny” Lund, a journeyman driver, was in Daytona looking for ride and was friends with Panch. Having witnessed Panch’s accident, Tiny ran to his friend-in–trouble and helped pull him from the fiery crash. More ...

Activision teams with EGR to sponsor #8 and #1  Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced a partnership with Activision Publishing, Inc., the publisher of the top-selling Guitar Hero video game franchise, for a multi-race deal that will include primary sponsorship of multiple races with Aric Almirola and his #8 Chevy, and multiple races with Martin Truex Jr. and his #1 Chevy. In the 2009 Daytona 500, the first race to feature a Guitar Hero branded car, the #8 will race around the track with a paint scheme of Activision’s latest #1 music-based video game - Guitar Hero World Tour. The orange and black car will sport the familiar Guitar Hero World Tour logo and the same graphics as the game’s packaging. Subsequent races will feature the #8 or the #1 cars branded with upcoming Guitar Hero titles. Aric Almirola: Driver, #8 Chevy: “I was excited about running my first Daytona 500 to begin with, but now having the Guitar Hero brands on my car will make it even that much more fun. I can’t think of another brand that I would rather have on my car. I play the Guitar Hero games all the time and to now be representing it is very cool.”

Martin Truex Jr.: “I am really looking forward to pairing up with Activision and Guitar Hero. It is one of my favorite video game brands and I can’t wait to see it on my car.”

Steve Lauletta: President, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing: “I really love to see big brands come into the sport and it is even better when they are on one of our cars. I don’t know if there is a bigger or hotter video game brand right now than the Guitar Hero franchise. We had an opportunity to work with them last season and now look forward to a long and mutually beneficial partnership with Activision.” Aric Almirola Website

Capirossi tops Sepang testing Thursday  The  wait is over. The MotoGP teams were back in action at Sepang today following MotoGP’s  traditional winter break.  Lois Capirossi was fastest on his Suzuki.

Official lap times Thursday

1. L.Capirossi (Suzuki) 2:01.869
2. C.Stoner (Ducati) 2:02.038
3. V.Rossi (Yamaha) 2:02.324
4. C. Vermeulen (Suzuki) 2:02.803
5. T.Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) 2:02.886
6. Andrea Dovizioso (REPSOL HONDA TEAM) 2:03.088
7.C.Edwards (Yamaha) 2:03.254
8. Dani Pedrosa(REPSOL HONDA TEAM) 2:03.312
9. S.Gibernau (Ducati) 2:03.750
10. J.Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:03.894
11. N.Hayden (Ducati) 2:04.002
12. A.De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) 2:04.396
13.M.Kallio (Ducati) 2:04.405
14 J.Toseland (Yamaha) 2:04.502
15. R.De Puniet (LCR Honda) 2:04.882
16. Y.Takahashi (Scot Honda) 2:05.098
17. N.Canepa (Ducati) 2:05.270.

Bourdais set for Jerez test return  (GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais is set to return the cockpit of a Toro Rosso next week, in another sign that he will be retained by the team for 2009.

It was reported recently that, despite the Red Bull-owned team's consideration of alternatives including Takuma Sato and Bruno Senna, 29-year-old Bourdais will shortly be confirmed for the forthcoming season.

On Thursday, it emerged that the Frenchman is scheduled to drive on two days of the Jerez test next week, and a team spokesperson sounded confident about Bourdais' future.

"Things are looking pretty good (for Bourdais)," the spokesperson told Manipe F1, "and there should be a decision soon."

Toro Rosso has already confirmed Sebastien Buemi, who will also test for two days at Jerez next week, for the 2009 season.

Rome race would 'surprise' Mosley  (GMM)  Max Mosley is not confident the formula one circus will race on a Roman street circuit in 2010.

A grand prix in the Italian capital has been touted, and Bernie Ecclestone's interest in the project was all but confirmed this week when his preferred circuit architect, Hermann Tilke, inspected proposed sites in the city's EUR district.

But FIA president Mosley, who said the sport's governing body has not yet been asked to sanction a Rome event, told Thursday's La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I would be surprised if it happened.

"I know how much effort and money it costs to organize a street circuit race in Monte Carlo.  And Italy has lots of valid permanent circuits.

"Anyway it's Ecclestone's problem, not mine," he added.

FIA proposes extreme budget cuts for 2010  The International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced further cost-cutting initiatives that would decrease team spend by up to 75 per cent in two years.

The FIA - Formula One's governing body - has proposed that teams will compete in 2010 on less than a quarter of the amount some were spending last season.

"Our target would be to get the cost (of competing) down to €50 million ($65.17 million) for everyone, including the manufacturer teams," an FIA spokesman said.

A "Cost Containment Policy - White Paper” document was sent to teams in December containing extensive proposals that go well beyond what has already been agreed over the past few months.

Some constructors such as Honda, who will not compete in the 2009 season, are estimated to have spent more than $300 million last season.

The FIA and the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) have already agreed a package of cost-cutting measures for 2009, including longer-lasting engines, limits on aerodynamic development and a ban on testing during the season.

Indy tire testing in April and June  Goodyear plans to test twice more at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The tire company had three tests at that track last fall after the disastrous race there last year in which tires wore out within a few laps. One test is scheduled for April and will likely have three or four cars. The other test is expected to be held sometime in June and could be open to several more Cup teams. Also, Goodyear is bringing a different tire to Daytona this year. Some of Goodyear's tires blistered last February in its first race at Daytona. The right-side compound has been altered slightly to make it harder. The left-side tires are the same as what Goodyear brought to Daytona in July. Virginian Pilot
Goodyear racks up another loss  Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. reported a net loss of $174 million (96 cnets a share) for its first quarter, compared with a $74 million profit a year earlier. Net sales were up 1 percent to $4.5 billion.

The Akron tire company went through a long strike at the end of last year in its North American factories. North American sales were still down this quarter -- off 10 percent. But Goodyear is making bigger profits than expected as a result of increased sales to the replacement market, so it has lowered its estimate of the full impact of that strike: $100 million to $120 million for the full year, down from a previous estimate about twice as high.

In a conference call with analysts, Chairman Robert Keegan said the company would close more plants and cut more jobs, but he didn't provide specifics. The new cuts will come on top of others already made or announced as Goodyear slashes costs.

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Mosley says Goodwin rumors 'nonsense'
  • Mosley tempted by fifth term as FIA president
  • Todt to vacate FIA World Council seat
  • FIA can't guarantee British GP - Mosley
  • Swiss veteran slams F1 powerbrokers
  • Test-ban relaxation unlikely - Mosley
  • Mosley firm over F1 Superlicense dispute
  • Red Bull healthy amid financial crisis
  • Renault likely to use KERS in Oz - Alonso
  • Stuck says 'USF1' team reports good news
  • Senna denies gambling on 2009 F1 debut
  • Race for Ferrari, Mosley tells Hamilton

Mosley says Goodwin rumors 'nonsense'
(GMM)  Recent reports and speculation linking Sir Fred Goodwin with the FIA presidency was "nonsense", Max Mosley said on Wednesday.

Rumors indicated that Goodwin, the controversial former chief executive of the struggling Royal Bank of Scotland, was being lined up for Mosley's role at the expiry of his current term later this year.

"Last week Sir Fred called me to say it was all nonsense," Mosley, who is considering standing for re-election, is quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.

"He was obviously rather embarrassed," the 68-year-old added at a media lunch in London.

Although he did not specifically name the former triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, Mosley hinted strongly that he suspects the origin of the Goodwin speculation.

"It has to be someone with some kind of connection to F1.  He's got to have some connection with Scotland.  He's got to have no understanding of how F1 or the FIA work, and he has to be unusually stupid.

"There's at least one person who ticks all those boxes," Mosley said.

Mosley tempted by fifth term as FIA president
(GMM)  Max Mosley on Wednesday said he feels tempted to stand for a fifth consecutive term as FIA president.

The 68-year-old, embroiled in a sex scandal last year, has often said he intends to stand down in October, but he now confirms that he is considering contesting the next election.

Mosley told reporters at a media lunch at the Poissonnerie de l'Avenue restaurant in Chelsea that he will make up his mind by June.

Asked if he is tempted to stand for a fifth term, he answered: "Yes.  If a lot of people say to you, 'you should stay', it's churlish in a way not to.

"People have indicated they want to go on with the status quo and that is pretty widespread.

"That is nice and flattering, but I've got to ask myself if that's what I really want to do," said the Briton.

Figures including former Ferrari boss Jean Todt, and 56-year-old Ari Vatanen, the 1981 world rally champion-turned European parliamentarian, have been named as possible alternatives to Mosley.

Mosley said he expects "six or seven" candidates to be in the running.

"(The role) needs someone with experience to guide formula one, but it would be presumptuous of me to think that I'm that person," he explained. More ...

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ESPN at NASCAR’s Daytona Speedweeks  ESPN will provide 10 days of comprehensive coverage of Speedweeks and the start of the NASCAR season at Daytona International Speedway across its multimedia platforms. Television coverage, highlighted by a Daytona 500 origination for ESPN’s flagship program SportsCenter, an expanded schedule for ESPN2’s daily news program NASCAR Now, coverage of NASCAR Media Day on ESPNEWS, and NASCAR Nationwide Series practice and qualifying, will culminate with the NASCAR Nationwide Series Camping World 300 on ESPN2 Saturday, Feb. 14, at noon ET.

Other TV highlights include NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series preview shows on ESPN2 and the airing of multiple past Daytona 500 races on ESPN Classic. 

SportsCenter at Daytona airs Saturday, Feb. 14, at 4 p.m. on ESPN2, originating from the Fan Zone at Daytona International Speedway. SportsCenter is ESPN's flagship studio show and television's only nightly, one-hour sports news program. Offering in-depth reports on breaking news, creative highlights, features and in-depth analysis from award-winning journalists, SportsCenter is television's most comprehensive and longest-running sports news show. More ...

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