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Chrysler to deep-six many models
Chrysler LLC President Jim Press said today that the automaker hasn't laid out specific plants to cut models or dealerships.  However, he said, a major product overhaul is on the way, and that Chrysler and its dealers were in discussions.

"We talked about sample markets," Press told The News before giving a presentation at an analysts' conference in San Francisco. "There are no firm numbers, no plans. We talked about cutting models and adding models."

Combing Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler franchises under one roof will be a critical part of bolstering sales and dealer profitability, he said.

"If a dealer doesn't have all three brands, they won't have a full product portfolio," he said.

Press also said that Chrysler needs to eliminate product overlap.

"A 4 million (vehicle a year) company needs 32 vehicles," he said. "We're not a 4 million company."

"We have 11 SUVs," he said. The company spent millions developing products because "we wanted that Dodge to compete with that Chrysler the best it could."

A dealer who asked not to be identified said he was told the company will pare its lineup down to 19 models. Detroit News


Sorenson tops chart in final practice
Chip Ganassi Racing's Reed Sorenson led a wild final Budweiser Shootout practice session at Daytona International Speedway. In a session in which two separate incidents led to crashes involving at least 10 of the 23 cars that will be in the race, Sorenson survived unscathed.  Sorenson led the session with a lap of 187.099, but the big story involved the number of teams that had to go to backup cars.

Hendrick Motorsports' Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, along with Penske Racing's Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman, were all planning to bring cars to Daytona from North Carolina after sustaining significant damage in the two incidents. Joe Gibbs Racing's Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin, Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer, Wood Brothers Racing's Bill Elliott, Roush Fewnway Racing's Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s Mark Martin and Yates Racing's David Gilliland also sustained damage.

Stewart and Busch crashed late in the session, with Stewart appearing to push Busch to the wall, then the two banging their cars together following the incident. The pair met with NASCAR officials, who would not divulge whether penalties will follow.

1 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 191.873 46.906 Leader
2 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 191.091 47.098 -0.192
3 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet CARQUEST / Kellogg's 191.050 47.108 -0.202
4 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 191.046 47.109 -0.203
5 21 Bill Elliott Ford U.S. Air Force 191.006 47.119 -0.213
6 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 191.002 47.120 -0.214
7 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV 190.267 47.302 -0.396
8 22 Dave Blaney Toyota CAT Dealers 189.885 47.397 -0.491
9 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 189.434 47.510 -0.604
10 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditRep
ort.com 189.187 47.572 -0.666
11 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 189.143 47.583 -0.677
12 49 Ken Schrader Dodge Qtrax.com 189.119 47.589 -0.683
13 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal Cask No. 16 188.853 47.656 -0.750
14 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 188.786 47.673 -0.767
15 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 188.533 47.737 -0.831
16 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS 188.379 47.776 -0.870
17 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 188.359 47.781 -0.875
18 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 188.304 47.795 -0.889
19 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 188.288 47.799 -0.893
20 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL My Circle 188.249 47.809 -0.903
21 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / AMP Energy 188.119 47.842 -0.936
22 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 187.993 47.874 -0.968
23 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 187.293 48.053 -1.147


Driver attacked at race files negligence lawsuit
A former stock-car driver who was beaten severely after a race in 2005 has sued NASCAR, Winston-Salem Speedway, the company that promotes races at Bowman Gray Stadium, and officials at the track, alleging that they were negligent in the incident. Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are Kris Bradley, Robert Bradley and James “Rupert” Sink, the three men accused of beating up Maynard Peters, the former driver.

The lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in Forsyth Superior Court, alleges that Peters suffered physically and emotionally as a result of the attack.

The lawsuit does not say how much in damages that Peters is asking for. Sink and Robert Bradley have both been convicted of beating Peters. Kris Bradley’s trial is scheduled to start next week.

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Marks wins pole for Daytona ARCA race
Germain Racing's Justin Marks won the pole for the ARCA 2000 at Daytona International Speedway Thursday.  Marks paced the field with a top lap of 181.335.

"The big thing for this race, just because I'm new over there at Germain Racing and I'm still getting to know all the guys, is an experience and an opportunity for me to get one more race under my belt," he said. "When we go [truck] racing next Friday, to have a race here in Daytona fresh in my memory would be an advantage.

"We're running the whole season with Germain and if we can get the funding together to do some more ARCA stuff, we'll definitely do that. I'd run as many as eight or 10 or 15 races if I could. We've got a good sponsor and we're committed to Rockingham as well in May."

Red Bull Racing development driver Scott Speed starts second with Bill Davis Racing development driver Michael Annett starting third.

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Dario Franchitti and his Chip Ganassi Racing team will start ninth in the race, scheduled for Saturday at 4:15 p.m. EDT.

Starting Grid


1 65 Justin Marks/Rocklin CA Voodoo Ride Toyota 49.632 181.335
2 2 Scott Speed/Manteca CA Red Bull Toyota 49.637 181.316
3 28 Michael Annett/Des Moines IA Pilot Travel Centers Toyota 49.702 181.079
4 5 Bobby Gerhart/Lebanon PA Lucas Oil Chevrolet 49.710 181.050
5 94 Max Dumarey/North Haverhill NH Body Coach Ford 49.826 180.629
6 99 Ricky Stenhouse Jr./Olive Branch MS K&N Ford 49.880 180.433
7 46 Matt Carter/Denver NC Fort Dodge Animal Health-Hantz Group-NuSouth Ford 49.906 180.339
8 88 Landon Cassill/Cedar Rapids IA Stanley-Vidmar-Proto Chevrolet 49.956 180.159
9 40 Dario Franchitti/Edinburgh Scotland Fastenal-Ingersoll Rand Dodge 50.113 179.594
10 27 Kirk Shelmerdine/Welcome NC Wabash Motorsports-Lilly Trucking Chevrolet 50.122 179.562
11 1 Tom Hessert III/Cherry Hill NJ Maaco Auto Painting Ford 50.136 179.512
12 30 Terry Jones/Amherstburg Ontario Jones Group Dodge 50.150 179.462
13 19 Jack Bailey/Huntersville NC Eddie D'Hondt Racing Toyota 50.168 179.397
14 93 Pierre Bourque/Ottawa Ontario Impre Media Dodge 50.258 179.076
15 7 Kyle Krisiloff/Indianapolis IN Clabber Girl Baking Powder Chevrolet 50.274 179.019
16 39 J.R. Heffner/Stephentown NY Park East Sales-A. Colarusso & Son Chevrolet 50.286 178.976
17 52 Bill Baird/Sarasota FL Saturn Machine Dodge 50.293 178.951
18 32 Dominick Casola/Holmdel NJ A. Casola Farms Dodge 50.303 178.916
19 09 John Wes Townley/Watkinsville GA Zaxby's-SPS Ford 50.327 178.830
20 37 Dexter Bean/Westby WI Glock Chevrolet 50.343 178.774
21 4 Tayler Malsam/Sammamish WA Dodge Motorsports-Cunningham Motorsports Dodge 50.354 178.735
22 72 Dawayne Bryan/Lakeland FL Hi Tech Construction Service Dodge 50.386 178.621
23 54 Benny Chastain/Tallahassee FL Chastain-Schacht Motorsports Chevrolet 50.396 178.586
24 11 Bryan Silas/Stuart FL Nortrax-ICI Homes Ford 50.406 178.550
25 25 Ryan Fischer/Surrey British Columbia Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet 50.421 178.497
26 60 Patrick Sheltra/Indiantown FL Ferguson Pipe-FloraGanics Chevrolet 50.482 178.281
27 21 Mario Gosselin/Lake Wales FL James Carter Attorney At Law Chevrolet 50.508 178.190
28 38 Danny Sammons/Hamilton NJ Shark Lounge-Daytona Lagoon Chevrolet 50.513 178.172
29 12 Alli Owens/Daytona Beach FL ElectrifyingCareers.com Chevrolet 50.523 178.137
30 16 Justin Allgaier/Springfield IL AG Tech-Hoosier Tire Midwest Chevrolet 50.550 178.042
31 00 Ed Kennedy/Coppell TX Thunder 2-Daytona Lagoon Chevrolet 50.561 178.003
32 75 Brian Scott/Boise ID IWX-Strutmasters.com Chevrolet 50.569 177.975
33 47 Brad Baker/Nashville TN Envirox Ford Provisional
34 22 Ken Butler III/Sherrills Ford NC Aaron's Toyota Provisional
35 45 Nur Ali/Fort Worth TX Tara Energy Group Dodge Provisional
36 23 Brandon Kelley/Humble TX Porter Glass-Royal Purple Synthetic Oil Chevrolet Provisional
37 90 Gabi DiCarlo/Phoenix AZ Great Clips-Lucas Oil Chevrolet Provisional
38 84 Norm Benning/Pittsburgh PA Shodeen Chevrolet Provisional
39 24 Mike Harmon/Birmingport AL D.A.B. Constructors-Dellasolla Restaurant Chevrolet Provisional
40 34 Darrell Basham/Henryville IN Anti Monkey Butt Powder Chevrolet Provisional
41 26 Brad Smith/Shelby Township MI Magna Steyr-Koolmat Dodge Provisional
42 06 Tim Mitchell/Fayetteville TN Star Wheels Skate Center Chevrolet Provisional
43 44 Frank Kimmel/Clarksville IN Prestolite Wire Dodge Provisional


Shootout practice turns into crashfest
At least seven drivers were involved in a crash during the final practice for the Budweiser Shootout Friday night at Daytona International Speedway, including those of Hendrick Motorsports' Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon and that of Penske Racing's Ryan Newman.  The incident started when Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer moved inside Newman and the two made contact.

"It shouldn't have happened," Bowyer said. "I got underneath him. The 41 [of Reed Sorenson, behind me] was pushing pretty hard, and I knew I wasn't trying to push the envelope. [Newman] came back down, and I was trying to let off. It's just unfortunate for everybody. ... I just got under him. I tried to stop and there was no more room."

Newman's Dodge spun up the track and into the path of Johnson.

"Once [Bowyer] got underneath me, it was either turn right and go into the corner with a guy on the outside of me or count on him checking up," Newman said. "He said he checked up, he just didn't check up enough. He didn't mean to turn me around, but that's the way it happened."

Gordon said the conditions on the race track are such that the multicar incident will not be the only one of the weekend. He wasn't wrong as moments later, Joe Gibbs Racing's Tony Stewart, Penske Racing's Kurt Busch and JGR's Denny Hamlin were involved in a second crash.

"There's going to be a whole lot more excitement to come," he said. "...I was in the exact position I wanted to be in - in the back, trying to get to the front to see what it's going to be like tomorrow night. But I knew there was a risk that could happen and I'm sure it won't be the last time." Scenedaily.com


Stewart fastest in first Bud Shootout practice
23 cars went out to run the first Bud Shootout practice on Friday with Stewart the fastest at 191.290mph, followed by Edwards, Hamlin, Blaney and Gilliland. Yeley lost a tire but slowed on the track and did no damage.


Car # Driver Manu Time secs Speed mph Fast Lap Laps
1 20 Tony Stewart The Home Depot Toyota 47.049 191.290 6 27
2 99 Carl Edwards Office Depot Ford 47.053 191.274 6 21
3 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 47.101 191.079 6 29
4 22 Dave Blaney Caterpillar Toyota 47.324 190.178 3 20
5 38 David Gilliland freecreditreport.com Ford 47.356 190.050 3 20
6 07 Clint Bowyer Jack Daniel's Chevy 47.368 190.002 4 27
7 1 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevy 47.402 189.865 3 26
8 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevy 47.420 189.793 2 11
9 55 Michael Waltrip NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 47.472 189.585 17 18
10 44 Dale Jarrett UPS Toyota 47.552 189.266 15 15
11 96 J.J. Yeley DLP HDTV Toyota 47.591 189.111 11 23
12 5 Casey Mears Kellogg's / CARQUEST Chevy 47.615 189.016 2 22
13 21 Bill Elliott Air Force Ford 47.634 188.941 2 22
14 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevy 47.649 188.881 7 18
15 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Dodge 47.655 188.857 5 16
16 8 Mark Martin U.S. ARMY Chevy 47.688 188.727 5 28
17 26 Jamie McMurray Crown Royal / Cask No. 16 Ford 47.689 188.723 6 22
18 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard / Mountain Dew / AMP 47.717 188.612 5 20
19 12 Ryan Newman alltel Dodge 47.758 188.450 10 23
20 41 Reed Sorenson Target / Polaroid Dodge 47.772 188.395 5 24
21 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 47.925 187.793 4 21
22 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge 47.933 187.762 4 18
23 49 Ken Schrader Qtrax.com Dodge 48.066 187.243 3 11


Champ Car/IRL merger talks break down again UPDATE #2 "As long as Honda won’t move Motegi, there won’t be a merger," Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven told The Associated Press on Friday. "It’s certainly a major hurdle, but not the only one.

"I believe there are significant advantages in doing (the merger), but I believe there are also significant advantages in not doing it. At this moment in time, there are no discussions until they move Motegi."

The story originally was reported by speedtv.com. The IRL spokesperson John Griffin was more optimistic about the negotiations with Kalkhoven and Champ Car co-owner Gerald Forsythe.

"This thing is moving forward, but there’s still some work to be done. I don’t know how long it’s going to take," he said. "We are looking to add some teams and some races. (Retired Honda racing boss) Robert Clarke and Tony are going to head to Japan to talk to the Japanese about coming off their date."

02/08/08 “As long as Honda won’t move Motegi, there won’t be a merger,” Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven told The Associated Press on Friday. “It’s certainly a major hurdle, but not the only one. I believe there are significant advantages in doing (the merger), but I believe there are also significant advantages in not doing it. At this moment in time, there are no discussions until they move Motegi.”

02/08/08 There is no way this was going to happen in 2008 anyway, but it's unfortunate that Champ Car and the IRL could not reach some sort of agreement for 2009 or 2010.

Statement from Kevin Kalkhoven & Jerry Forsythe, Champ Car co-owners:

Unfortunately, leaks and media reports about a possible unification of Champ Car and the Indy Racing League (IRL) have significantly hampered discussions. Over the past three years, we have fielded and offered several proposals regarding unification of the two premier U.S.-based open-wheel racing series, but we have been unable to reach an acceptable solution. Discussions currently are at a standstill, and we therefore are proceeding with plans to continue as Champ Car.

[AutoRacing1 Editor's Note:  We never thought this deal was even remotely possible for 2008, the issue of conflicting race dates between Long beach and Motegi, Japan being one of many deal breakers.  2009 or 2010 makes a lot more sense.]


Petersen Automotive Museum Unveiling 'NASCAR: 60 Years' Exhibit
NASCAR and the Petersen Automotive Museum have announced that in celebration of 60 years of NASCAR racing, they will unveil a retrospective on the history of the fabled sport. On Friday, Feb. 15, the Petersen Automotive Museum will open its doors to a new "NASCAR: 60 Years" exhibit, featuring a unique collection of race cars spanning NASCAR's history.

The museum will also host a Daytona 500 viewing party on Sunday, Feb. 17, complete with a block-party style Fan Fest, featuring NASCAR racing simulators, food & beverage stations, a jumbo television screen, music, the NASCAR Street Tour, interactive displays and more.  The eastbound lanes of Wilshire Blvd in front of the museum (between S. Fairfax Ave and S. Orange Grove Ave.) will be closed to host the event.

The free event will allow fans to enjoy some of the sights and sounds of the NASCAR experience firsthand, providing the ultimate viewing opportunity to watch the 50th running of the Daytona 500 (FOX/12 p.m. Pacific) on a 12' projector screen. The event will serve as a lead-in to the West Coast Premiere of NASCAR, when the Auto Club 500 (FOX/1 p.m. Pacific) will be held at California Speedway in Fontana on February 24.

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Portraits of NASCAR Highlights NASCAR Personalities
NASCAR fans globally have unique and detailed knowledge about their favorite driver, crew chief or owner. Now they will have a chance to relate on a more personal level through the photographs captured in Portraits of NASCAR, a new book that captures a rare glimpse into the personal lives of these icons off the track.

Portraits of NASCAR, by Anita Rich and Robin Dallenbach from Triumph Books, is a look inside the lives of such NASCAR personalities as Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jimmie Johnson, Rusty Wallace and Richard Childress. The book allows fans to see the homes, families and hobbies of these and others away from the track through stunning black and white images.

Fans at Daytona International Speedway will have a chance to pick up their copy of Portraits of NASCAR on February 15 from 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. at the Daytona 500 Experience Lobby and get autographs from the authors as well as the wives of selected NASCAR drivers and personalities. Betty Jane France, Lynda Helton, Judy Childress, Gail Davis, Arlene Martin, Nicole Biffle, DeLana Harvick will join the authors for the signing event.

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Andretti, McClure added to Daytona 500 entry list
The Daytona 500 entry list has increased from 52 to 54 with the addition of a pair of Front Row Motorsports cars.  John Andretti will drive the No. 34 car, while Eric McClure will drive the No. 37. McClure and Derrike Cope had tested the cars at Daytona International Speedway earlier this year. Andretti tested for the team at the California and Las Vegas sessions last week.


Media stories killed merger talks again
Senior Indy Racing League officials, including series founder and chairman Tony George, are scheduled to fly to Japan on Saturday to resolve what could be a key component to a reconciliation of the divided open-wheel series.

George is hoping to encourage officials at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit to move the April 19 race to another weekend in order to include the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix in the IRL's 2008 schedule.

The Long Beach race, which has been held annually by the Champ Car World Series since 1984, has a contract with the city to stage a race that weekend.

If Motegi officials agree to move their race, the dominoes to a reconciliation could fall quickly. IRL officials are in discussions with other tracks on its schedule about adjusting their dates to accommodate a handful of Champ Car events.

Both sanctioning bodies are based in Indianapolis, but the IRL would be the leader of a unified series.

But George, who will be accompanied on the Japan trip by IRL presidents Terry Angstadt and Brian Barnhart, said today that he doesn't want to get too optimistic that a deal could be reached.

"Because it seems that every time we've been close, some new obstacle seems to get in the way," he said.

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track news

Coca-Cola to sponsor July Daytona race
Coke Zero is taking the driver’s seat as the new title sponsor of the July Sprint Cup Series race at the Daytona International Speedway. Officially, the race will be entitled the “Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola.” To bring NASCAR fans closer to the sport they love and create excitement about the race, Coke Zero and Daytona International Speedway are hosting an online voting contest that allows fans to choose the official race logo. Beginning in conjunction with the 50th running of the Daytona 500, fans can visit NASCAR.com to vote for their favorite from two logo options. The winning logo, determined solely by fan votes, will be revealed on NASCAR.com immediately after the contest concludes on March 1, 2008. Scheduled for July 5, the 2008 Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, concludes a holiday weekend of racing at Daytona International Speedway. The Nationwide Series takes to the speedway for the running of the Winn-Dixie 250 Powered By Coca-Cola on July 4. The debut of the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola is part of a new 10-year sponsorship agreement between Coca-Cola North America (CCNA) and International Speedway Corporation (ISC). Through a variety of track partnerships, brands from CCNA will be refreshing fans at 12 race tracks in 2008 before expanding to 16 race tracks by 2012. businesswire.com


Gossage would have liked merger to happen
The following is a statement from Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage regarding the reports of a possible open-wheel unification between the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series and Champ Car World Series for the 2008 season. Texas Motor Speedway plays host annually to the Bombardier Learjet 550k IndyCar Series event in June and routinely attracts the largest race crowds in the series outside of the Indianapolis 500.

“Reports that open-wheel racing is close to unification is the best thing to happen to the sport since Rick Mears, Mario Andretti, Al Unser Jr. and Danny Sullivan were battling each other in front of huge crowds 20 years ago. I hope this deal can be wrapped up and we can all focus on stabilizing the schedule, teams and sponsors, and ramp up the promotion. This has the potential to be the biggest, most important motorsports story of the year because it is so important to the fans. From a promoter’s perspective, it will provide our fans with a larger field that could lead to even more exciting races and drama, an opportunity for future stars to emerge for the fans to root for and embrace, and, most importantly, reunite all open-wheel fans and give them one series to follow.”


Henzler confirmed as Porsche Works Driver
Wolf Henzler
The news is confirmed this week that long-time Porsche driver, Wolf Henzler, is joining the prestigious sports car marque as a Works driver.  It has also been confirmed that he is set to be one of the key players in the Flying Lizards Team’s assault on the American Le Mans Series GT2 Championship.

The 32-year-old German, winner of the 2006 Porsche Cup (which is awarded to the most successful driver worldwide in a privately-run Porsche racing car), will once again be seen at the wheel of a 911 GT3 RSR in one of the most competitive GT series in the world.  He re-joins the Flying Lizards, with whom he raced in 2006, as part of the most experienced driver line up in the team’s history. It has not yet been announced with whom he will be partnered this season.

Henzler has been racing Porsche cars since 2000 and has enjoyed multiple victories since that time, including the 2004 Porsche Michelin Supercup title where he took nine wins from 12 rounds.  Most recently he finished in a strong third place in the 2007 ALMS GT2 Championship in a Tafel Racing Porsche GT3, with six podium finishes to his credit, and was keen to remain within the Porsche fold.   

Wolf Henzler said of the news:  “To be a Porsche factory driver is what I was looking for when I started with the Supercup; it was my dream and, now, that dream has come true.  I’m really looking forward to being with the Lizards again – I have very good memories of 2006 and they are a very good team. I will be pushing very hard all year to repay the faith that Porsche has shown in me.”

Hartmut Kristen, Porsche’s head of motorsport, adds: “I am very glad we have succeeded in gaining Wolf Henzler as an additional strength for our team of works drivers. I have been following his career for years now. I value his consistency, his experience and his basic turn of speed.”


Kubica not worried by new regulations
Robert Kubica
Standard ECU, modifications to qualifying, new engine rule: the Formula One regulations for 2008 once again feature several innovations. Though BMW Sauber F1 Team driver Robert Kubica expects the racing to be more challenging for the drivers than in the recent years, he remains truly unconcerned about the forthcoming 18 Grands Prix that comprise the 2008 season.

"Everybody will easily adapt to the new situation," Kubica says. "That's our job, and the fastest driver will win. All the speculation prior to the season is just as unnecessary as last year's regarding the impact of control tires. Some of us, including myself, had to make a bigger effort to adapt to the characteristics of the Bridgestone tires but all-in-all, it was no big deal."

The banning of traction control represents one of the most dramatic regulation changes implemented by the World Automobile Association, the FIA. The result is that in future, controlling their cars in extreme situations without losing pace or position will make life more difficult for Formula One drivers.

Robert explains: "Because of the new regulations, we will have to operate the throttle with a more sensitive and careful attitude. I'm convinced that we will witness more mistakes and more drivers going off the track, particularly in the wet. That's something you will have to deal with differently. I think that a race held in conditions such as those we experienced in last year's Grand Prix at Fuji will be impossible in 2008."  BMW Sauber


Man driving kart dies
A 23-year-old Chicago man racing a kart vehicle at a Far-Northside track died Thursday after the kart crashed.

The specific cause of the driver's death was not immediately determined, and an autopsy by the Marion County coroner was planned for today.

The accident happened about 7:40 p.m. Thursday at Fastimes Indoor Karting, 3455 Harper Road. The indoor track, where people can rent the small, four-wheeled motorized vehicles, is one of many retail businesses that have sprung up along 96th Street east of Keystone Avenue in recent years.

Sgt. Paul Thompson, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, said the man was one of several AT&T employees in the Indianapolis area for training. His name was not immediately released.

The Chicago man was driving a kart out of a turn on the indoor track when the kart crashed into a polycarbonate barrier, which shattered, Thompson said. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

The man was wearing safety belts and a helmet, but the kart might have flipped in the crash, police said.  Indystar.com


2008 Super Aguri car passes FIA crash tests
(GMM)  Amid speculation about potential buyouts, financial trouble, test absences and an uncertain driver lineup, finally some good news about Super Aguri has emerged -- the team's 2008 car, the SA08, has reportedly passed the mandatory FIA crash and homologation tests.

Japanese driver Takuma Sato said recently that the Honda-powered squad should be back in action at the upcoming Jerez test.

"We'll be using an interim car to start with, and we probably won't have the fully updated car until the last Barcelona test. Then I hope we can bring along the whole new package to Melbourne for the first race," he said.


Webber tips Alonso, unsure about Hamilton
Can Alonso return to his winning form with Renault after the French team struggled in 2007?
(GMM)  Mark Webber has delivered a ringing endorsement of Fernando Alonso's return to Renault for 2008 -- and questioned whether Lewis Hamilton can have as good a season.

Webber, who last year was often spotted in jovial conversation with former double world champion Alonso, recently wondered aloud if Hamilton, the Spaniard's 2007 teammate, was a "five-minute phenomenon".

In contrast, Australian Webber, who drives for Red Bull Racing, thinks Alonso is a rock-solid horse to bet on -- particularly as he has now moved out of his unhappy situation as Hamilton's teammate at McLaren.

"All great sports men and women do have chinks and we've seen that last year," he told Sportal.

"He's incredibly driven and competitive, you don't last long at this level unless you are.  He'll be back very strong next year and don't forget the guy (Michael Schumacher) he beat to two world championships was pretty handy," Webber added.

As for Hamilton, the British sensation who at the end of his rookie season ended equal on points with Alonso, Webber thinks the jury is out as to whether the 23-year-old can have an equally impressive campaign in 2008.

"(It's a) great team and Heikki (Kovalainen) looks like he's doing well in testing again," Webber observed.

"I think it will be more balanced inside Woking this year and that will help Lewis again in terms of not having to worry about some of the internal stuff.  But also it's his second year and inevitably there's a bit more pressure on," he said.

racing news

Johnson Earns Second Mario Andretti Trophy
Andretti won the Daytona 500 in 1967
Mario Andretti (R) presents trophy to Jimmie Johnson
Legendary racer Mario Andretti awarded two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson his second consecutive Mario Andretti Trophy as the 2007 SPEED Performer of the Year, as part of last night’s second annual SPEED Performance Awards, hosted by Danica Patrick and Tommy Kendall.

Johnson earned six first-place votes from the 15-member panel after winning 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2007, including four in a row during the Chase.

“I've said it before, but Jimmie Johnson's only flaw might be that he makes it look too easy,” said racer and SPEED Performer of the Year panelist Tommy Kendall.  “While he does have the best team in the business behind him, there is no one better right now at setting himself up for when it counts and then driving the wheels off it when they back the Brinks truck up to winners circle.  He is a standout in a series full of standouts.”

Two-time defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champ Donny Schatz (two first-place votes) earned runner-up honors after a season that saw the North Dakota native win 19 events, including the four highest-paying on the circuit -- the Knoxville Nationals, the Kings Royal, the Williams Grove National Open and the Don Martin Memorial.

“Donny silenced his critics with his second consecutive championship,” said SPEED Performer of the Year panelist Dave Despain. “While his ’06 title might have been qualified by the fact that a rival series split the talent pool, this year’s championship represented a comprehensive whipping of all the top stars.”

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Briscoe gears up for 2008
Ryan Briscoe
On March 29th Ryan Briscoe makes his Team Penske debut in the #6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda at the IndyCar Series season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Needless to say, the 26 year-old Australian is eagerly awaiting the dropping of the green flag and getting his new job at Team Penske officially underway.

"It's going to be a very special experience running for Team Penske this season," explains Briscoe. "Penske Racing is certainly one of the most successful organizations in all of motorsports and to be able to put on that firesuit and climb into the car is truly a special feeling. Earning this ride is definitely the pinnacle of my career, and I'm just so honored to be able to race for Roger (Penske)."

While the 2008 season will mark the fourth year in which Briscoe has driven an Indy car, he feels like this is the year he can improve upon his best-ever finish of third, earned at Watkins Glen International in 2006.

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racing news

Auto Racing rated #4 per survey
Each of the major sports has had some image problems recently, but their popularity all remains relatively unchanged since last year. Three in ten Americans who follow one or more sport (30%) say that professional football is their favorite sport, almost unchanged from last year when 29% said it was their favorite. Coming in at second is baseball, as 15% say that is their favorite sport, again almost unchanged from last year when it was 14%. Not far behind baseball is college football (12%) and auto racing (10%). All other sports are in single digits. These are the results of a nationwide Harris Interactive survey conducted online between January 15 and 22, 2008 among 2,302 U.S. adults, of whom 1,562 follow one or more sport. Since Harris Interactive began asking this question in 1985, professional football has always been on top and its popularity is now six points higher (from 24% to 30%). Compared to 1985’s results, baseball has dropped eight percentage points (from 23% to 15%), and men’s tennis has dropped four percentage points (from 5% to 1%). Professional football isn’t the only sport to gain in popularity. Auto racing has also increased its popularity by five percentage points (from 5% to 10%) as has hockey (up 3 percentage points from 2% to 5%). businesswire.com


Valvoline returns as Carpentier's sponsor
Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced Thursday that Valvoline will sponsor Patrick Carpentier's No. 10 Dodge in select NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season.

Valvoline will serve as the primary sponsor at some of NASCAR's biggest races including the 50th running of the Daytona 500 and the races at Las Vegas, Texas (April), California (August) and Bristol (August).


2008 Daytona 500 entry list
Car# Driver Manu Sponsor Owner
1 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine Robert Kauffman
2 01 Regan Smith Chevy Principal Financial Group Teresa Earnhardt
3 07 Clint Bowyer Chevy Jack Daniel's Richard Childress
4 08 Carl Long Dodge MILLSTAR Tools John Carter
5 09 Sterling Marlin Chevy Miccosukee Resort & Gaming James Finch
6 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevy Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Teresa Earnhardt
7 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite Walter Czarnecki
8 5 Casey Mears Chevy Kellogg's / CARQUEST Mary Hendrick
9 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Mike Dee
10 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam Robby Gordon
11 8 Mark Martin Chevy U.S. Army Teresa Earnhardt
12 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser George Gillett, Jr
13 10 Patrick Carpentier Dodge Valvoline George Gillett, Jr
14 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express J D Gibbs
15 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL Roger Penske
16 15 Paul Menard Chevy Menards Teresa Earnhardt
17 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M Jack Roush
18 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT John Henry
19 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's Joe Gibbs
20 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy Ray Evernham
21 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot Joe Gibbs
22 21 Bill Elliott Ford Little Debbie Glen Wood
23 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar Bill Davis
24 24 Jeff Gordon Chevy DuPont Rick Hendrick
25 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Geoff Smith
26 27 Jacques Villeneuve Toyota Bill Davis Racing Gail Davis
27 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Yates Racing Doug Yates
28 29 Kevin Harvick Chevy Shell / Pennzoil Richard Childress
29 31 Jeff Burton Chevy AT&T Mobility Richard Childress
30 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditReport.com Max Jones
31 40 Dario Franchitti Dodge Dodge Journey Felix Sabates
32 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target Chip Ganassi
33 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline Floyd Ganassi
34 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker Richard Petty
35 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS Michael Waltrip
36 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo Kyle Petty
37 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy Lowe's Jeff Gordon
38 49 Ken Schrader Dodge HealthLife.com Elizabeth Morgenthau
39 50 Stanton Barrett Chevy NOS Energy Drink / SKI / SBM Christopher Lencheski
40 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS Michael Waltrip
41 57 Norm Benning Chevy Shodeen Inc. Norm Benning
42 60 Boris Said Ford 7-Eleven Mark Simo
43 66 Scott Riggs Chevy State Water Heaters Joe Custer
44 70 Jeremy Mayfield Chevy Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon Margaret Haas
45 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 Roger Penske
46 78 Joe Nemechek Chevy Furniture Row Racing Barney Visser
47 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull Dietrich Mateschitz
48 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull Dietrich Mateschitz
49 87 Kenny Wallace Chevy Furniture Row Racing Barney Visser
50 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevy AMP Energy / National Guard Rick Hendrick
51 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV Jeffrey Moorad
52 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot Jack Roush
Expected to be added
33 Kirk Shelmerdine Chevy TBA Richard Childress
34 John Andretti Chevy TBA Bob Jenkins
37 Eric McClure Chevy Hefty Bob Jenkins

tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The final USA TV shows for Saturday and Sunday have been added to the schedule below.

02/07/08  Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Bud Shootout Scrapbook
5:00pm-6:00pm SPEED
6:00pm-6:30pm ESPN2
NASCAR Media Day -2008 Preview
Top NASCAR drivers discuss upcoming season
6:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
Bud Shootout Selection Show Daytona
8:00pm-9:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR…In Thirty Seconds -TV Commercials
9:00pm-10:00pm SPEED
2nd Annual SPEED Performance Awards
10:00pm-11:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Media Day -2008 Preview
Top NASCAR drivers discuss upcoming season
1:00pm-3:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Live! Daytona
3:00pm-4:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup Budweiser Shootout Practice Daytona
4:00pm-5:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Daytona
5:00pm-6:30pm (L) SPEED
6:00pm-6:30pm ESPN2
NASCAR Sprint Cup Budweiser Shootout Final Practice Daytona
6:30pm-7:30pm (L) SPEED
Dale Jr. -Shifting Gears
7:00pm-8:00pm ESPN2
NASCAR Live! Daytona
7:30pm-8:00pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Daytona
8:00pm-9:00pm SPEED
Tradin' Paint
9:00pm-9:30pm SPEED
Dave Despain On Assignment Daytona
9:30pm-10:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup Budweiser Shootout Practice Daytona
10:30pm-11:30pm (R) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Daytona
11:30pm-1:00am SPEED
NASCAR Live! Daytona
10:00am-10:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup Practice Daytona
10:30am-12:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Daytona
12:30pm-1:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup Practice Daytona
1:30pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Daytona
3:00pm-4:00pm (L) SPEED
4:00pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR RaceDay Daytona
6:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup -Budweiser Shootout Daytona
8:00pm-10:00pm (L) FOX
NHRA Qualifying Pomona
8:00pm-10:00pm ESPN2
Lucas Oil On the Edge -NHRA Texas
9:00pm-9:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Daytona
10:00pm-11:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR…In Thirty Seconds -TV Commercials
11:00pm-12:00am (R) SPEED

Daytona 500 Memories Daytona
12:00am-1:00am (R) SPEED
NHRA Raceday Pomona
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
Tradin' Paint
11:00am-11:30am (R) SPEED
NASCAR -Go or Go Home
11:30am-1:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup Qualifying  Daytona 500
1:00pm-4:30pm (L)  FOX
AMA Supercross San Diego
12:00pm-1:00pm (2/9/08) CBS
NASCAR Live! Daytona
4:30pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
Dave Despain On Assignment
6:00pm-7:00pm SPEED
2007 NHRA Thrills & Spills
7:00pm-7:30pm (R) ESPN2
SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NHRA Carquest Auto Parts Winternationals Pomona
7:30pm-11:00pm (SDD) ESPN2

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


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Force India reveals new livery in Mumbai
  • Raikkonen thrilled with Ferrari's winter form
  • 'I'm not racist', Alonso fan protests
  • F1 racer Tony Rolt dies
  • Webber plays down Barca test triumph
  • Another bidder emerges for struggling Aguri

New Force India livery
Force India reveals new livery in Mumbai
(GMM)  The formula one team Force India on Thursday presented its livery for the 2008 season in Mumbai.

The gold, silver, red and white design, adorning a version of the team's Dutch predecessor Spyker that has been renamed VJM01 for this season, was unveiled in a glamorous affair in front of the famous 26-metre Gateway of India monument on the seafront.

Driver lineup Giancarlo Fisichella, Adrian Sutil and tester Vitantonio Liuzzi were wearing new white and red overalls for the launch.

Although not officially a part of the team this year, Indian GP2 driver Karun Chandhok - as well as many other local luminaries - was also present.

"I can assure you that when we (India) host a formula one grand prix in 2010, Force India will definitely finish on the podium," flamboyant team owner Vijay Mallya told India Express.

Raikkonen thrilled with Ferrari's winter form
(GMM)  Reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen has delivered a cheerful assessment of Ferrari's new car for the 2008 season.

After an impressive display for the Italian team so far in winter testing, including a frightening turn of speed this week in Bahrain, the 28-year-old Finn heralded the F2008 as a "really quick" racing car.

"We are very consistent," Raikkonen told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“To drive a car like this is fantastic. It is already very fast, both in race and qualifying trim. And in both situations it is very light on tires," Raikkonen told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We haven’t had any technical problems, the car worked perfectly as it did on the two previous days. I can't point to any problems – we are very happy.

“Here in Bahrain I have been going faster and faster. I think I can easily go faster again."

Raikkonen said the F2008 is "perfect" in the context of the new ban on traction control, and predicts that he will improve on his unofficial circuit record in the forthcoming three more days of Bahrain testing.

Read more & Comment...

Kurt Busch draws Budweiser Shootout pole
Kurt Busch will start from the pole for the 30th annual Budweiser Shootout on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.  The 70-lap event featuring 18 pole winners from 2007 and five previous Shootout champions will be the first event for NASCAR's new generation car at DIS. Drivers drew for their starting positions Thursday night.

"It's going to be an interesting race," Busch said. "I'm glad to be part of it because you get to run with a tight group of competition. You get to learn with this new car. Who knows? I could be in 23rd after the first lap just because of how violent the draft could be with this car."

Starting next to Busch n the front row will be Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s Mark Martin.

The race will feature two segments, a 20-lap segment followed by an intermission and then a 50-lap segment, where teams will be required to do a pit stop since they can't go 50 laps on fuel. The race must end under green. 

Starting lineup for the 30th annual Budweiser Shootout, a 70-lap race Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway. The field was set by draw Thursday night.

1. Kurt Busch, No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge
2. Mark Martin, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet
3. Michael Waltrip, No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
4. Jamie McMurray, No. 26 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
5. David Gilliland, No. 38 Yates Racing Ford
6. Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
8. Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge
9. Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet
10. Tony Stewart, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
11. J.J. Yeley, No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota
12. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
13. Ken Schrader, No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge
14. Bill Elliott, No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford
15. Dale Jarrett, No. 44 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
16. Casey Mears, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
17. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
18. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
19. Dave Blaney, No. 22 Bill Davis Racing Toyota
20. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
21. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
22. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
23. Ryan Newman, No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge


Hylton won't attempt to compete in Daytona 500
The preliminary entry list for the Feb. 17 Daytona 500 includes 52 cars, but does not include James Hylton.  The 73-year-old has decided not to compete in the season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup event after previously announcing his plans to attempt to run the race. He says that team owner John Carter had planned to have him a car for the race, but it didn't work out.

Hylton planned to run as a teammate to Carl Long under the E&M Motorsports banner, using Long's backup car in the Daytona 500.

"They were building a new car of tomorrow car," he said Thursday during NASCAR Media Day at Daytona International Speedway. "I came down here and tested with Carl Long early on. Then they were building a backup car, and the plan was bring the backup car, and if he didn't need it, I was going to enter it and run in it."


Parente and Bakkerud with Super Nova Racing
The two young men will team-up in the GP2 Main Series which will start next April in Barcelona

Team principal David Sears commented “We are really happy that Christian Bakkerud decided to sign with us for both the Asia and Main Series. This should give us a good opportunity to develop his skills after a year of learning last season. We believe he is capable of a lot better results than previously shown.

Alvaro Parente has been a driver we have watched for the past few seasons after winning the British Formula 3. The Renault Series proved that he is indeed capable of running at the front in international racing. In fact, the pair have already been team mates in the British Formula 3 Championship. The entire team are all motivated to get started with the coming season with the new car.”

Christian Bakkerud said “Obviously I’m very pleased to have signed with one of the best teams in the series. We seemed to have worked really well in testing. Dubai could have gone better, but we’re positive about the future. Alvaro and I were team mates in British F3 and worked well together, so I’m sure we can all develop together and get some good results.”

The Portuguese driver Alvaro Parente said “I’m very, very happy to have signed with the Super Nova team. They have a great history and have been a top team from the start of GP2. It is a great chance for me and I am focused and concentrating on doing the best job I can. I am looking forward to getting started with testing.”


Justin Wilson looks forward to 2008
This is a recent column by Justin on his website:


Justin’s View – 6th February 2008

“Looking forward to an exciting 2008

Justin Wilson in his new ride at Sebring
The last Justin’s View was just after Road America, and a lot has happened since then.  I won’t go into much detail here about the last four races of 2007 - there’s much more in the three part Season Review over on JW TV – but it’s fair to say it brought both the high and low points of the year.

Champ Car’s first trip back to Europe after its two year absence was a big success.  Zolder and Assen were both fun tracks to drive and it was great to race back in front of so many European fans again.  Zolder didn’t start off well when Dan Clarke took me and several others off on the first lap of Friday morning’s practice session.  But we picked ourselves up, qualified 5th and managed to finish 5th after an exciting race where I was dicing with Graham Rahal and Bruno Junqueira amongst others.  I’d hoped for a podium, but an overtaking maneuver on Bruno into Turn 1 didn’t come off, and I flat-spotted both front tires, which made for a rather uncomfortable final few laps!

The highlight of the year was obviously Assen, where we scored our one and only victory of the season.  To be honest, I didn’t feel that comfortable with the set-up until the race itself.  I got provisional pole in the wet on Friday by a big margin, which was just as well as we were way off the pace in the drier conditions on Saturday.  But my engineer Mike Talbott found a decent race set-up for Sunday and we managed to get past Sebastien at the start.  Once Sebastien had pressed his push to pass button and found the pit-lane speed limiter, the main competition came from Jan Heylen.  Jan was really quick all afternoon and Bruno who was on another alternate strategy.  It wasn’t an easy victory, but it was a great feeling to win the race.  I thought it deserved three lots of donuts to celebrate!  Not sure if that’s some kind of record or not?!

Read more & Comment...

NASCAR.COM Revs Up for Season with New Innovative Products
NASCAR.COM is gearing up for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season by unveiling new enhancements to the popular TrackPass RaceView product, providing exclusive footage of past Daytona 500 races, expanding wireless content and offering various editorial features on the sport’s most comprehensive Web site.  Beginning with the Gatorade Duel at Daytona on Thursday, February 14th, TrackPass RaceView, the subscription product that allows fans to view a live 3-D rendering of the race via their computers, will have new, innovative capabilities to pause and rewind live coverage.  This allows fans the opportunity to replay key race moments, while still hearing the exhilarating in-car audio play along with the race action.  The Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17th will be the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with new TrackPass RaceView functionality available. TrackPass RaceView is available for FREE throughout Speedweeks, then available for $12.95 per month or $79.95 per year.

In addition to innovative enhancements to TrackPass RaceView, NASCAR.COM is launching a Daytona 500 50th Running microsite, which offers fans a complete historical look at 50 years of the sport’s legendary race.  The microsite will feature extensive photo and video galleries that focus on the race’s most memorable moments, the drivers who won the races and the crew chiefs and pit crews who worked behind the scenes.  There will also be a special flashback piece to the 1979 Daytona 500, the race many believe put NASCAR on the map, which included an exhilarating finish and a scuffle between drivers Cale Yarbrough and Donny and Bobby Allison.  NASCAR.COM’s Daytona 500 microsite will host the most historical race footage available on the Web.

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Bahrain Day 3: Kimi fast again
Ferrari racer Kimi Raikkonen continued to set the Sakhir circuit alight here in Bahrain today, the Finn recording a best overall time eight tenths of a second faster than the one set by teammate Felipe Massa. Both drivers worked on general development of the F2008, concentrating on comparisons between different set-ups on the car. 

Meanwhile, the two Toyota runners, added much needed mileage to the new TF108 and the team is very happy with the data accumulated over the past three days. 

“We can be pleased with today’s work, which was mainly focused on mechanical set-up for race conditions,” said Pascal Vasselon. “We wanted to investigate several options and we now have a lot of data to study which will help us. It has been a very useful three days. Even if we did not get temperatures in the very high range we have had very good weather conditions and we have been able to test all day long during the three days. The only minor downside is it tends to be a bit windy but that was better today and all in all we have done some good work.” 

Testing will recommence at this circuit on Saturday 8th February, for another three day session. 

1. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:30.455 – 74 laps
2. Felipe Massa – Ferrari – 1:31.293 – 73 laps
3. Jarno Trulli – Toyota – 1:32.145 – 97 laps
4. Kamui Kobayashi – Toyota – 1:32.265 – 53 laps


Change not near in Sprint Cup age limit
NASCAR president Mike Helton said an age requirement change for the Sprint Cup Series is not imminent, but NASCAR officials still are considering 21 as the age rule for future entry into the series. "If we do this, we will give plenty of advance notice," Helton said Thursday. "And we would have an adjustment period before it was implemented." Some people have assumed the idea of making the change was directed at teenage racing phenom Joey Logano, who will compete in NASCAR's Nationwide Series when he turns 18 in May. Logano is considered a rising star who could compete in Cup next season when he's still 18. "This is not the Joey Logano rule," Helton said. "In fact, whatever we do probably wouldn't affect him." Helton didn't get specific, but it's possible some drivers under 21 would get grandfathered in if the change happens. It's also possible the change would not go into effect until after Logano turns 21. Sprint Cup does not have any drivers until 21 this season. But several current drivers were racing in the series before they turned 21, including Kyle Busch, Reed Sorenson, Brian Vickers and Kyle Petty. ESPN.com


No advantage to running in Shootout
Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn't think he'll have an advantage by being one of the 23 drivers in the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.  Whatever his Hendrick Motorsports team learns, he figures everyone else will know by the time of the Daytona 500 qualifying races Thursday.

"The information that we learn will leak through the garage before the qualifying races, and we won't have that advantage," Earnhardt Jr. said. "That information that we gain it will be hard not to keep from everybody."

Talking during NASCAR's media day Thursday, Earnhardt Jr. talked about a variety of topics, including once again reiterating he just wants to run up front with new team after leaving Dale Earnhardt Inc. following last season.

"What I have to prove is I want to go out and run in the top five regularly," he said. "And I have to prove that to myself. And once that's cool, I'm fine.

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track news

ISC plans Daytona upgrades, but pollution a concern UPDATE International Speedway Corp. has alerted its shareholders that soil contamination could delay its proposed Daytona Live! office-entertainment complex.  The precise nature of the pollution at the Speedplex office park, 1800 W. International Speedway Blvd., was in dispute.

ISC officials said an environmental team from Lockheed Martin, the previous owner of the 71-acre site, reported last month that four monitoring wells showed signs of a gasoline spill north of the ISC-NASCAR joint office. Lockheed Martin representatives were unavailable for comment.

However, Jeff Prather, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees Lockheed Martin's work at the site, said the agency hadn't receive any information from either the defense contractor or ISC about any gasoline spill. Instead, spokesman Jeff Prather said the agency was continuing to track long-term seepage of industrial solvents into the soil, a problem first discovered in 1993 after a General Electric simulator plant closed.

Prather said the agency met Jan. 9 with Lockheed Martin representatives and they agreed three more monitoring wells should be installed to help measure the depth and width of a "plume" of chlorinated solvents moving underground. They also discussed possible clean-up measures, such as air "sparging" -- pumping air into the ground to bond with the solvents in bubbles, which then could be captured and removed.

Prather said the pollution is a concern but it doesn't preclude future construction on the site. ISC has demolished most of the GE buildings in order to start work on a new corporate headquarters, plus a hotel, movie theater and other facilities.  Daytona Beach News Journal

12/14/07 ISC has budgeted about $100 million for construction projects at several tracks, including money to add a second rooftop observation deck on the garage in Daytona's Fan Zone area. It also has allocated $15 million to start work on Daytona Live, a proposed office-retail-entertainment park to replace the existing Speedplex park north of the track.

The city Planning Board meets at 6 p.m. today at City Hall and will consider a site plan for the park's first building, a joint headquarters for ISC and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.  News Journal Online


Scott Speed sports new look in Daytona
Last year as a driver in Formula One, Scott Speed shaved his head.  Thursday, Speed was walking around the ARCA RE/MAX Series garage at Daytona International Speedway with Billy Idol-style hair. The short, bleached blond-white spike suits Speed's personality.

"I never stay with the same look," said Speed, ARCA's most notable driver of its rookie class. "I like to evolve the style and change it and I always have a bit of a European look, but at the moment I'm just changing it up a little bit."

The statement and style bodes the question: "Are the boys of ARCA ready for Scott Speed?"

Better still, is Speed ready for ARCA?

"The biggest change in the racing here is it's a lot more hands-on," Speed said. "In

F-1 there was a room of 200 engineers that came up with a new wing that you were running that weekend. As a driver, there was very little input and very little effect on the outcome."

The 25-year old isn't the first driver to come from the open-wheel ranks -- or even F-1 -- to ARCA, but he is the first F-1 driver to come to ARCA as a full-time participant in the series.  More at Daytona Beach News Journal


Klien committed to BMW
Recently, former Red Bull racer, Christian Klien, was informed by BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen that he would be supporting the BMW Sauber F1 Team in the upcoming 2008 Formula One championship season by acting as their official test and reserve driver.

The offer was one too good to refuse and as such the Austrian looks forward to helping the Munich and Hinwil based squad climb the championship ladder even higher. Christian expects another exciting top-class season at the pinnacle of motor racing, and he is fully committed to the team's official goal for the 2008 season.

"We want to celebrate our maiden Grand Prix win in 2008," says Christian on the team’s official website. "The competition between the four top teams will be as tough as it was in the recent past and I expect the BMW Sauber F1 Team to be a key factor when it comes to providing Formula 1 fans all around the world with another thrilling season. It is most definitely one of the best teams."

Christian also wants to contribute to the realization of the ambitious season target - even as reserve driver, should one of the team's GP regulars, Nick Heidfeld or Robert Kubica, be forced to sit out one or several races.

Christian is of the opinion that the relatively short distance of 100 kilometers between his residence in Switzerland, Diepoldsau, and the team headquarters in Hinwil will turn out to be a special advantage, for him.

"It will offer me the opportunity to drive to headquarters and cooperate closely with the team," he says.


Mallya sure of making steady progress
Vijay Mallya
Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya says he is under no illusions about how difficult it will be to improve the team’s competitiveness – but is confident it now has everything in place to make “steady progress".

The billionaire officially launched his and India’s first Formula 1 venture in Mumbai on Thursday, with the new owner looking to recapture the Silverstone-based squad’s glory days during its Jordan guise in the 1990s.

Mallya believes he can make a success of the outfit once again, although he admits he recognizes how difficult the task will be.

“We inherited a team whose performance was not that great and I am the first one to acknowledge it,” he said at the launch.

“I will also acknowledge that this is a huge challenging task of performance improvement and becoming competitive.

“[F1 is] The only sport that I know of where even a fraction of a second is the difference between winning, losing or position.

“It is exhilarating, challenging and also satisfying to be part of a movement where competition is truly at its pinnacle.”


Change not near in Sprint Cup age limit
NASCAR president Mike Helton said an age requirement change for the Sprint Cup Series is not imminent, but NASCAR officials still are considering 21 as the age rule for future entry into the series. "If we do this, we will give plenty of advance notice," Helton said Thursday. "And we would have an adjustment period before it was implemented." Some people have assumed the idea of making the change was directed at teenage racing phenom Joey Logano, who will compete in NASCAR's Nationwide Series when he turns 18 in May. Logano is considered a rising star who could compete in Cup next season when he's still 18. "This is not the Joey Logano rule," Helton said. "In fact, whatever we do probably wouldn't affect him." Helton didn't get specific, but it's possible some drivers under 21 would get grandfathered in if the change happens. It's also possible the change would not go into effect until after Logano turns 21. Sprint Cup does not have any drivers until 21 this season. But several current drivers were racing in the series before they turned 21, including Kyle Busch, Reed Sorenson, Brian Vickers and Kyle Petty. ESPN.com


Fewer cars for this year's Daytona 500 trials
The entry list for this year's Daytona 500 has dropped 15% from 61 in 2007 to just 52 for the 2008 Daytona 500.  That means just nine cars will fail to qualify for this year’s 50th running of the Daytona 500, instead of 18 DNQs last year. And with the top 35 in 2007 owner points locked into the 500 field, the final eight starting spots will be contested by 17 cars instead of 26 like last year.


FOX sells out Daytona ads
Fox has sold out its broadcasts over the Daytona 500 weekend, including the Budweiser Shootout and qualifying show, network executives said.  The ad time sold for an average unit cost of $550,000 per 30-second spot for this year’s race, a 15% increase from $475,000 last year.


McLaren chiefs summoned as spy saga goes on
(GMM)  Leading figures of the British formula one team McLaren have been summoned for questioning by Italian prosecutors, as the criminal espionage investigation involving Ferrari continues.

Even though F1's governing body has drawn a line under the affair from a sporting point of view, the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that magistrate Guiseppe Tibis wants to speak with Ron Dennis, Martin Whitmarsh and two other senior members of the Woking based team, on February 18.

Tibis reportedly wants to also speak with two more leading team members but did not have their home addresses in England.

To the British news agency Reuters, McLaren confirmed that their lawyers have "received some papers from the Modena authorities which are currently being reviewed".

Tibis interviewed drivers Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa late last year.

At Monza for the Italian grand prix last September, police served Dennis and his deputies with 'avviso di garanzias' - formal notices of pending prosecutions - for alleged crimes including sporting fraud, espionage and embezzlement.


Honda offer staff $2000 bonus for F1 win
(GMM)  Honda has promised its hundreds of formula one staff a $2000 bonus should Jenson Button or Rubens Barrichello win a race in 2008.

The move, that would cost the Brackley based team in excess of $1.5m per victory, would apply not only to mechanics and engineers but also to the cleaners of the Brackley factory, according to the team's HR director John Marsden.

Marsden told HR delegates at a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development conference in London this week that the motivation scheme is designed to encourage team spirit.

He also said it is hoped that the monetary incentive will keep employees motivated to stay at Honda rather than switch to rival teams.

"Everyone gets a bonus if we win -- from the race staff to the cleaners," he is quoted as saying by the publication Personnel Today.

"I want everyone to feel part of the team," Marsden added.

"People need to be faced with a thought process about what they would lose if they left you," he said.


Sprint sees Nextel write-off of up to $31 billion
Sprint Nextel Corp said on Thursday that it might have to write off all of the $30.7 billion goodwill value from its purchase of Nextel Communications and smaller deals as it struggles with customer losses.

The No. 3 U.S. mobile service provider said in a regulatory filing that it found in an annual goodwill review that the mobile unit's net book value exceeded fair value.

Sprint said that in a second review it would measure the resulting fourth-quarter impairment charge, which could represent "a substantial portion or potentially all" of the $30.7 billion goodwill on its balance sheet.

The charge will not affect the company's current cash balance or future cash flows, nor will it result in any violation of its debt covenants, Sprint said.

"We're sound financially," spokesman James Fisher said. "We've good cash liquidity."

Sprint has had trouble holding onto customers in the last few years as it struggled to integrate its 2005 purchase of Nextel Communications for about $35 billion. It has also had problems with its network and customer service. Reuters


Q and A with Christian Klien

Christian Klien
Q. How did you secure this opportunity with the BMW Sauber F1 Team?

Christian Klien: I have been speaking with BMW for some time because it is clearly one of the top teams and determined to achieve its goal of winning in Formula One. We already had good relationships there, so while I was examining other options to race in F1 I was also seeing what we could do with BMW. Fortunately everything has worked out, and I am very proud to be joining the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

Q. Why do you think the BMW Sauber F1 Team chose you to be the official test and reserve driver?

CK: I think there are several reasons; most importantly the team needed an experienced driver to take on the role as reserve driver. They have faith that I'm ready to step in whenever this might become necessary. I am part of the new generation of drivers in F1, coming into it when I was 21 and racing for three years at Jaguar/Red Bull Racing before working with the Honda F1 Racing Team last season. So I think the combination of ability, experience and age worked well.

Q. What are your expectations about fulfilling this role at the BMW Sauber F1 Team?

CK: I expect to work closely with the team to try and get the best performance from the car, to help with its development and, of course, to remain race fit and ready to deputize for either driver should the need arise. I had to replace Jenson Button at Silverstone last season, although only for one session, but it showed me that you really do have to be prepared to drive at any time. That is one of the reasons I maintain a strict training regime.

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Festival of States and Honda Grand Prix Team Up
Some of the top stars of the motorsports world will be up front at the 2008 Festival of States Night Parade when the annual parade rolls through the streets of St. Petersburg on Thursday, April 3.

Through an association with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, drivers representing both the IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series are expected to lead the Thursday evening parade.  Some of the drivers expected to attend include Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Hideki Mutoh and Bryan Herta. Other drivers will be announced closer to the event.

“The Festival of States is a great celebration of our wonderful city,” said Jill Wilkinson, president of the Suncoasters, the organization of civic leaders that produces the Festival each Spring. “We are very happy to be partnering with the Honda Grand Prix, a premier event that highlights our City and brings the excitement of street racing to our downtown waterfront.  The Twilight Parade welcoming the Honda Grand Prix to St. Petersburg and this year’s Festival promise to be the most memorable yet – world class drivers setting the pace will be a big reason why.”

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Canyon Motorsports to compete in USTCC in 2008
Canyon Country, CA  - Eager to begin a second season of NASA professional racing, Canyon Motorsports is proud to announce their entry into the 2008 season of the United States Touring Car Championship.

Bob Scheer will again pilot the Canyon Motorsports MINI Cooper S, one of two MINI entrants confirmed for the 2008 season. The Canyon Motorsports MINI Cooper S underwent further race preparation over the winter season at the hands of Steve's Auto Clinic, master MINI tuner Hubie Fuh, and crew chief Dan Pacheco at DEP Race Prep, with a primary focus on improving engine output and reliability of the supercharged 1.6L powerplant. Handling and braking, both strong suits of the MINI ever since John Cooper first set his targets on winning the Monte Carlo Rally, have been optimized further with assistance from Monrovia, CA based Ireland Engineering Motorsports.

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MC Racing to Return to the USTCC in 2008
MC Racing will again run in the United States Touring Car Championship in 2008 to build on last year’s rookie season in NASA’s premier professional road racing series. For many years the USTCC Series has attracted professional teams and factory-backed cars, making it one of the most exciting touring car series in the country.

For 2008, MC Racing will campaign the 2006 Mazda RX8 that made its debut in August 2007. Driver Michael McColligan will return to the cockpit where he scored two podiums in three USTCC starts. Prior to the USTCC, McColligan drove a Mazda RX7 in SCCA and NASA racing where he achieved several victories and many podiums in the highly competitive PRO 7 series.

Race preparation for the RX8 features tuning by Mazdatrix and Racing Beat, full Eibach coil-over suspension race-tuned by Yawpower, aero, body and suspension components from TC Sportline, Konig wheels, and Bell Racing Safety Gear. Additional preparation includes custom chassis, cage, and fabrication work by Hill Performance Solutions.

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ABF Freight to back Vickers
Braun Racing officials announced Wednesday that ABF Freight System will sponsor Brian Vickers in the team's Nationwide Series Toyota in nine races this season.

Vickers will drive the No. 32 Toyota in six events and the No. 10 in three.

Vickers, the 2003 series champion, drove in seven races last year with Braun Racing, finishing in the top 10 three times.

Vickers will drive the No. 32 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 8, Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 16, California Speedway on Aug. 30, Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 5 and Kansas Speedway on Sept. 27.

He'll drive the No.10 entry including at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 16, Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 24 and Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 22.

"I'm looking forward to running these races for Braun Racing and Toyota in 2008," Vickers said. "They asked me back this year after some strong runs last season, and I'm excited we have another opportunity to get this team some wins. They bring a competitive race car to the track week in and week out and I'm confident we can make the most of this partnership with ABF Racing to get them into Victory Lane."


24 Daytona 500 winners to serve as grand marshals
Daytona International Speedway officials announced Wednesday that the 24 living Daytona 500 winners will serve as Grand Marshals of the race and give the command to start engines for the 50th running of the 500.

Drivers on hand throughout the weekend and who will say, "Gentlemen, start your engines," will be Bobby Allison (1978, 1982, 1988 Daytona 500 winner), Mario Andretti (1967), Buddy Baker (1980), Geoff Bodine (1986), Ward Burton (2002), Derrike Cope (1990), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2004), Bill Elliott (1985, 1987), A.J. Foyt (1972), Jeff Gordon (1997, 1999, 2005), Pete Hamilton (1970), Kevin Harvick (2007), Ernie Irvan (1991), Dale Jarrett (1993, 1996, 2000), Jimmie Johnson (2006), Junior Johnson (1960), Fred Lorenzen (1965), Sterling Marlin (1994, 1995), Marvin Panch (1961), David Pearson (1976), Richard Petty (1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1981), Darrell Waltrip (1989), Michael Waltrip (2001, 2003) and Cale Yarborough (1968, 1977, 1983, 1984).

"It's only fitting that these champions take part in the most exciting prelude to the most anticipated event in racing history," track president Robin Braig said in a news release. "We're honored to have these living legends on site to help celebrate this momentous occasion."


Walker Racing Completes Productive Pre-Season Testing
Indianapolis, IN - Walker Racing has begun its 2008 Atlantic campaign as they completed two successful days of testing at Sebring International Raceway in Florida with drivers Canadian Kevin Lacroix, and Englishmen, Greg and Leo Mansell.

This week not only marked the beginning of a competitive season for the Indianapolis based crew, but was the fourth series of tests for them as well.  Walker Racing made a number of impressive changes, learned a lot about the cars and logged in a total of 678 laps around the 1.669 mile road course totaling 1,125 miles in the Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016a Atlantic chassis.

“This was a very successful test for us,” stated Walker Racing owner Derrick Walker.  “We learned a lot as a team and made a number of changes on the cars.”

Topping the time charts for the Atlantic team was Kevin Lacroix, who signed with the team in August.  The 19 year-old Saint-Eustache, Quebec, Canada native was the sixth fastest on Tuesday with a time of 58.004 seconds and 8th fastest today clocking a fast lap time of 58.2 seconds.  “It was difficult in the beginning of testing, but we definitely caught up.  The difference between us and other drivers that have been with their teams, they have more experience and we are still learning, but we are getting there.  We keep on learning and we will be going to another track, which will up us to gain more information,” commented Lacroix.

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Gilliland lands seven race sponsor
Yates Racing announced that Experian Consumer Direct, the leading provider of online direct-to-consumer credit reports, scores, and monitoring products, will sponsor the #38 entry for seven races at the beginning of the 2008 Sprint Cup Series season. Yates Racing driver, David Gilliland, will pilot the #38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford Fusion which will feature the company’s website, www.FreeCreditReport.com. Gilliland has a history with Experian Consumer Direct as a sponsor, racing 19 times in the FreeCreditReport.com Ford during the 2007 Busch Series season. The season opener for Yates Racing and Gilliland will be the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway on February 9, 2008. Gilliland qualified for the race after he captured the pole in his very first trip to Daytona for the 2007 Daytona 500. Experian Consumer Direct and the FreeCreditReport.com sponsorship will begin with the 2008 Budweiser Shootout and continue with the first six races of the Sprint Cup Series through the March 30th race at Martinsville Speedway. Yates Racing PR


7-Eleven Slurpee to Sponsor Boris Said at Daytona
When it comes to qualifying for the Daytona 500, Boris Said hopes the odds will be with him after experiencing an unusual amount of bad luck in his last three Sprint Cup weekends. Said will attempt to start his third Daytona 500, driving a newly-sponsored #60 7-Eleven Slurpee Ford Fusion. But before the green flag drops for NASCAR's most prestigious race, Said, a part-time racer, will have to exorcise a couple of demons to break his recent qualifying jinx. During the Daytona summer race in July, Said appeared to have the pole locked up for the Pepsi 400. But with only 12 drivers remaining to qualify, a thunderstorm swept through the area, forcing NASCAR officials to cancel qualifying and set the starting field by owner points. Instead of earning the No. 1 starting position, which would have also earned him an invitation to Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout (Feb. 9), Said packed his belongings and headed home to Southern California. "You talk about being deflated -- I was definitely in the dumps -- we went from hero to zero in a short time," recalled Said. “It was like we got pick-pocketed and couldn’t do a thing about it. Not being in the Bud Shootout was the biggest loss.” Unfortunately, it didn't get any better for Said. At his next Cup event at the Watkins Glen road course in August, Said, one of the foremost road racers in the world, would have easily qualified. But rain arrived at the wrong time again and qualifying was canceled with owner points setting the starting field. Though Said was later offered and accepted to drive the #21 Wood Brothers Ford in the Watkins Glen race, his #60 No Fear team took another heart-wrenching exit from the track. Then at Talladega Superspeedway, he qualified 10th overall. But a 10th place effort on that day was not good enough to make the 43-car show. The first nine qualifiers were also drivers who needed to qualify on time. Under NASCAR rules, only eight teams outside the top 35 in points earn a starting berth. Except for last summer’s debacle at Daytona, Said and crew chief Frank Stoddard have enjoyed success at the famed 2.5-mile tri-oval. Said won the Cup pole in the 2006 summer race and was fourth fastest the summer before. In last year’s Pole Day for the 500, Said posted the fastest time among teams not automatically qualified. He also qualified on Pole Day in his first attempt at the 500 in 2005, claiming the 11th fastest speed overall. DMF Communications PR


Mayfield gets a sponsor for the Daytona 500
Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon will be the primary sponsor on the #70 Chevy driven by Jeremy Mayfield in the 50th running of the Daytona 500. The Piedmont Distillers brand is named for company co-owner and 1960 Daytona 500 champion Junior Johnson, who will drive the pace car and lead the field prior to the start of the Daytona 500. "We are thrilled to partner with Haas CNC Racing for the 50th Daytona 500," Piedmont Distillers president Joe Michalek said. "This team has demonstrated its ability to succeed on the track by placing both its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entries in the top 35 of last year's owner's points. In addition, Jeremy Mayfield is a proven driver with three top-five finishes among six top 10s at Daytona International Speedway."

"Being able to hook up with a legend like Junior Johnson and Midnight Moon for the 50th Daytona 500 is an honor," Mayfield said. "I know Scott (Riggs) and I both admire what Junior has done for this sport, and I hope to give Midnight Moon a great run during Speedweeks." Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon has been a tremendous success since its launch in May of 2007. The Carolina Moonshine brand is currently distributed in 12 states and will launch in Florida during Speedweeks. The Piedmont Distillers is the only legal spirits distillery in North Carolina. It produces two moonshines, Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon and Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine. Both brands are hand-crafted in small batches and then tripled distilled in a copper column still to deliver the smoothest, most premium moonshine available. For more information on Piedmont Distillers, please visit www.piedmontdistillers.com. 3-G Sports PR

tv news

Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears Premieres Friday on ESPN2
The new television series Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears, chronicling the move of Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Hendrick Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series, premieres Friday, Feb. 8, at 7pm on ESPN2. The five-part series provides viewers with a behind-the-scenes look at the personal, corporate and competitive ramifications involved with the five-time. Most Popular Driver award recipient leaving Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the team founded by his late father. Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears is produced by Earnhardt Jr.’s Hammerhead Entertainment, a division of JR Motorsports, in cooperation with Hendrick Motorsports and is presented by the National Guard. Three of the five episodes of Dale Jr. - Shifting Gears air on ESPN2 in the nine days prior to the Daytona 500, including following ESPN2’s live coverage of Nationwide Series qualifying on Friday, Feb. 15, and the Nationwide Series Camping World 300 at Daytona on Saturday, Feb. 16. The final two episodes air on ESPN in prime time the week of the July 27 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, ESPN’s first live Sprint Cup event of the season. ESPN PR


'It's going down to the wire'  Neel Jani
A1 Team Switzerland’s driver Neel Jani believes this season’s A1GP title-race is so finely balanced it will go down to the final race of the season at Brands Hatch.

Many experts predicted that this season would be the closest yet, but nobody quite expected the way the battle has ebbed and flowed, with all the major contenders having a mix of good races and bad luck.

Switzerland’s title campaign is a case in point. Before Jani and the team flew out for the Australasia double-header, they were 19 points clear in the title-race. After terrible races in Taupo and a disastrous Sprint race in Sydney, the team had fallen to 15 points behind the lead. Then, with its main rivals hitting their share of bad luck, the team fly home a slender three points off the lead.

‘You should count nobody out,’ Jani said. ‘We’ve seen this season how quickly you can win or lose 20 points. It is so open with the new points system. With the old points system it would have been hard, but with this new one, you can be sure of nothing.

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Penske gets millions in gov't funding to expand 2 dealerships
Detroit's automakers didn't get much help from the federal government when they visited the White House, but that hasn't stopped a pair of LA-area car dealerships from receiving federal funding. Longo Toyota – "the World's Largest Dealership" – and Longo Lexus – "the #1 Lexus dealer in the Western US", received a half-million-dollar grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to expand their facilities and create new jobs. The HUD funding is only part of the $3,000,000 the Penske-owned dealerships received from the City of El Monte, California, where the enormous car lots are situated – money which the city has already recovered (and then some) from the increased sales tax revenues.

The deal involved the Penske Automotive Group constructing a 50,000-square-foot service center, expanded vehicle lots, new showrooms and a 2,500-space parking complex out back. The municipal funding was granted in exchange for Longo creating between 35 and 90 new jobs within four years, while the federal grant stipulated the creation of only 15 new jobs. According to reports, the Longo dealerships have already well surpassed their requirements. Autoblog.com


Chrysler rocked by war with supplier UPDATE #2 Plastech Engineered Products Inc. reached an agreement with creditors and key customers Wednesday that will allow it to keep its plants open at least through Monday, but Chrysler LLC Chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli says his company is finished with the bankrupt supplier, putting its future in doubt.  "When a supplier comes to you and says they are no longer financially viable, we have an obligation to respond," he told reporters at the Chicago Auto Show. "It's not adversarial. We're not a predator."

02/05/08 Bankrupt auto-parts maker Plastech Engineered Products Inc. has reached an agreement with Chrysler LLC to resume the supply of parts to the Auburn Hills automaker after a dispute had idled several Chrysler factories on Monday, an attorney said during a bankruptcy court hearing today.

With today’s second shift, Plastech will resume making parts for Chrysler, Plastech lawyer Gregg Galardi said late this morning. The interim deal secures the flow of parts through Feb. 15, he said. It was unclear when Chrysler could resume production; the company did not immediately respond to a call.

Plastech has continued to supply other customers, such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp., but Chrysler had demanded possession of tooling so other companies could make needed parts.

A hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit continued this morning, and no other details were released.

02/05/08 Chrysler LLC production could come to a near halt by the end of this week if it can't resolve its dispute with auto supplier Plastech Engineered Products Inc. over tools used to make parts for nearly all Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles.

Chrysler, which says it idled four plants and 10,500 workers on Monday, canceled its contracts with the Dearborn-based supplier on Friday and has sued the supplier for thousands of molds and dies used to make some 500 parts for its vehicles. That move, Plastech says, forced the supplier to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection the same day, after years of financial problems, in large part because of the rising price of oil, the key ingredient in its plastic parts.

The action by Chrysler, controlled by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management since last summer, is a sign that the automaker is not going to prop up financially distressed suppliers, said Erich Merkle, auto analyst with Grand Rapids-based IRN Inc.

"Cerberus is coming into it and saying, 'You know what, this isn't the way business should be done.' "

Both companies say they are fighting for their survival.

Without Plastech's tools, Chrysler said its production is at risk. This week alone, the situation stands to cost Chrysler $225 million, Chrysler attorney Michael Hammer said during a court hearing Monday.

But to give back those tools, Plastech says, would disrupt production for other customers and could throw the company's future into question.

"We will lose the business if they just come in and rip the tools out," said Gregg Galardi, an attorney for Plastech. More at Detroit Free Press


PCM Wraps First Official Atlantic Test
OXNARD, CA  - Less than a week after announcing their return to Atlantic competition and their driver lineup, Pacific Coast Motorsports wrapped their first official Atlantic test of 2008.  American standouts Carl Skerlong and Frankie Muniz completed two full days of testing at Sebring International Raceway today.  It has been a busy week for the California-based team, as the Atlantic test was completed on the heels of PCM’s senior squad, the Champ Car team’s two-and-a-half day test which was completed on Monday.  PCM Atlantic Team Manager, Shane Seneviratne commented on the team’s performance and the driver’s developments, “Overall, I’d say it was a very productive test.  We really focused on the upcoming season and technical development.”  Seneviratne continued, “Our engineers Burke Harrison (#28) and Tim Lewis (#29) really used this test to develop a book of set-up combinations that they will be able to apply throughout the year.  While Carl and Frankie did not necessarily get to display their speed, they did spend a lot of time working with their engineers and developing their racecar.  They have a lot of information to take-away and study prior to the start of the season.  Everyone did a great job.”

The PCM Atlantic team will return to their California headquarters.  The team is still based in the US RaceTronics shop in Bakersfield, but will be moving to the PCM headquarters in Oxnard this month.  Frankie Muniz, driver of the #29 PCM/Mazda/Swift will complete a television shoot this Sunday for the European television company, Eurosport. For all of the latest results and news, please visit www.pcmracing.com

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Conquest Racing tests young talent in Sebring
After completing a successful Champ Car pre-season open test in Sebring on Monday, the Conquest Racing team spent an extra couple of days in the sunny Florida weather testing two young drivers for their Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda program.

Sébastien Chardonnet, of La Gaude , France and Juho Annala of Lapua , Finland were taking part in their second test with the third-year Atlantic team. Both youngsters previously tested with Conquest at MSR Houston a little less than a month ago. While helping the team prepare for their upcoming season, the pair also continued their development and evaluation behind the wheel of the Swift 016.a chassis powered by Mazda at Sebring International Raceway. Annala and Chardonnet logged many miles and soaked in the experience during this two-day test.

“I think the two days went well,” said Chardonnet, who ended up tenth quickest overall of the 24 car field. “Today was better than yesterday though. I’m getting more use to driving one of these cars. They are different to what I drove in the past so that’s mostly what I was focusing on at this test. The red flag at the end was unfortunate because I was going out on new tires and I’m sure I could have improved my time, but overall I’m happy with what I have accomplished.”

In the last few years, Chardonnet participated in the French Formula Renault Series and in many karting events from 2002 to 2004.  As for Annala, he competed in the International Formula Masters Series, the British F3 National Class and Formula Ford.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • 2008 F-India car to be called VJM-01
  • Hamilton visits country of origin, Grenada
  • Piquet receives private plane
  • A1-Ring restoration again scrapped
  • New BMW better after poor start - Heidfeld

2008 F-India car to be called VJM-01
(GMM)  Force India on Thursday will reveal that its 2008 car will be called the VJM-01, in deference to new team owner Vijay Mallya.

The team's new driver lineup, comprising Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil, was revealed in Mumbai (Bombay) last month.

Thursday's event in the city will reveal the definitive 2008 livery.

Local reports reveal that the event will take place at the famous Gateway of India; a 26-metre high monument located on the Mumbai waterfront.

Team boss Colin Kolles confirmed that the launch car will be a Spyker that has been modified and used by Force India in recent pre-season tests.

"It's too early to show the final race version that will be used in Melbourne," he told the Hindustan Times.

The definitive car, a further development of the 2007 Spyker, will be tested for the first time on February 25.

Kolles describes the team's winter showing so far as "promising but not good enough", and expresses concern about the news that Kimi Raikkonen has been breaking all records while testing Ferrari's new car in Bahrain.

"It's quite scary to be honest," he said.  "We need to get our act together.

"We have improved in terms of understanding the set-up, which is basically due to the drivers.  But our engineering department needs to deliver."

Hamilton visits country of origin, Grenada
(GMM)  Just days after the Spanish racism storm, Lewis Hamilton has travelled to the country of his paternal grandfather's origin -- Grenada.

The McLaren driver, taunted as a 'puto negro' (fucking black) and 'negro de mierda' (black shit) by spectators at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya last weekend, appeared in the Caribbean island nation to celebrate its 34th anniversary of independence from Britain, reports said.

He was greeted by Prime Minister Keith Mitchell and his grandfather's relatives, according to the daily newspaper The Barbados Advocate.

"Grenadians are very proud of you.  Everywhere people are excited about your visit," PM Mitchell told Hamilton, whose biological mother is white, during a ceremony at the international airport.

Hamilton's grandfather arrived in Britain in the 50s.

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TV News

Patrick and Kendall to co-host SPEED Performance Awards UPDATE A reminder that this program will air tonight.

02/04/08 Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick along with Tommy Kendall will co-host the second SPEED Performance Awards on Thursday, February 7 at 10:00 pm - 11:00 pm ET on SPEED.  The program will be replayed on Friday, February 8 at 2:00 am - 3:00 am ET.  The one hour special will highlight nine fan-voted awards, including the SPEED Performer of the Year. Mario Andretti will present the Mario Andretti Trophy to the winner.

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