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Atlantic series gets a lot of media coverage Atlantic series gets a lot of media coverageThe Champ Car Atlantic series is receiving a lot of positive press these days, and rightfully so.  It was interesting to see this article in today's LA Times by columnist TJ Simers on Katherine Legge.  We especially liked the line "...a race car driver who happens to be a woman, who isn't Danica Patrick, and you've not only never heard of her, this one doesn't appear to be interested in posing for any cheesecake shots.  If you know the sarcastic TJ, this is actually a complimentary article.
Rocketsports enters Grand-Am Series Rocketsports enters Grand-Am SeriesRocketsports has entered a Daytona Prototype in the upcoming Grand-Am race in Mexico City.  Paul Gentilozzi and Tomy Drissi will drive the Ford Crawford.  Word is they may contest the entire series.  No official announcement yet.
Star Mazda welcomes Atlantics into family Star Mazda welcomes Atlantics into familyOn the heels of the announcement that Mazda has become the engine provider and sponsor of the Champ Car Atlantic Series, Gary Rodrigues, President of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear took some time to welcome the Atlantic series into the Mazda fold.

“Those of us involved with the Star Mazda Championship would like to welcome those participating in the Atlantic championship to the Mazda family and are excited at the possibilities that might present themselves,” Rodrigues said. “Mazda has been committed to the development of young drivers since the inception of the Star Mazda Championship and yesterday’s announcement continues to show their passion for North American motorsports and providing a ladder for drivers of open wheel race cars to move up.”

With this news it has now become possible for a driver to progress up that ladder without having to leave the Mazda family. "Adding the Atlantic series to the Mazda portfolio is the perfect addition to our open-wheel racing ladder: drivers can start in Club Racing in the steel-chassis rotary-powered Formula Mazda, graduate to the next level in the carbon-fiber-tub professional Formula Mazda, and then to the Mazda-powered Atlantic at the top rung," said Robert Davis, Mazda North American Operations’ senior vice president, product development and quality, and the man responsible for Mazda's North American motorsports programs.

“We look forward to working with our new family members in the future and are thrilled to see that twelve recent graduates from Star Mazda have been announced to take part in the 2006 Atlantic Championship,” Rodrigues stated. “We expect great results from these drivers and look forward to working with the next wave of competitors when our 2006 schedule kicks off in March at Sebring International Raceway.” Star Mazda

New Champ Car Atlantic car impressive in debut New Champ Car Atlantic car impressive in debutFollowing the star-studded launch of the new car in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda last night at the Petersen Automotive Museum, the first Swift 016.a chassis paired with a 2.3-liter Mazda-Cosworth powerplant was loaded on a transporter and driven overnight to Firebird Raceway near Phoenix, Arizona for a very successful on-track debut.
Jon Fogarty piloted the flawless inaugural run of the new car, shaking down all of the components before getting into the meat of the test tomorrow.  The first day saw support from every supplier on the car, all working to achieve the common goal of a successful debut.
“There was a lot of hype this morning from last night’s announcement,” said Tony Cotman, Champ Car vice president of operations.  “And the new chassis and engine combination is living up to it.  Our goal today was to show up and just run through different systems tests and the car performed magically.  All of our suppliers, Yokohama, Swift, Mazda-Cosworth, Pi Research, Performance Friction, and Hewland need to be credited.  If we get 39 more cars just like this first one, it will be an excellent racing season in Champ Car Atlantics.”
Fogarty has proven to be a valuable asset to the test program, providing valuable feedback from the car while making sure to keep the nose clean.  While today was just a shake-down of the car tomorrow will see it produce long runs and also practice the newly mandated standing starts.
“It is an honor to be the first to drive the new car,” said two-time Atlantic Champion Jon Fogarty.  “I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but the car performed very well.  Everyone has done a great job with the test and I can’t wait to get back on track tomorrow.” Champ Car
James Caan named Grand Marshal James Caan named Grand MarshalDaytona International Speedway officials say actor James Caan will serve as grand marshal for Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500. The Academy-Award-winning actor will deliver the command for drivers to start their engines and will also ride in a Daytona 500 pace car ahead of the field before the start of the race.
Daytona 500 tidbits Daytona 500 tidbits
Quality Qualifier: Bowyer Best in Rookie Class ' The optimism this week in the Richard Childress Racing camp isn't confined to Jeff Burton and the No. 31 team. Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet) qualified sixth-best overall, making him the fastest among the seven-driver Raybestos Rookie of the Year class. Bowyer will start fourth in the first Gatorade Duel event.

Gentlemen, Start Your Comebacks ' This past weekend's action at Daytona seemed to show that Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) ' who have won the last two Daytona 500s ' appear ready to rebound from disappointing 2005 seasons, with Gordon the No. 2 500 qualifier and Earnhardt finishing second in the Budweiser Shootout. They finished 11th and 19th respectively, in last year's final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings.

For Gordon, that was the first time he finished out of the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 since his rookie season in 1993, when he was 14th. For Earnhardt, it was his worst points finish in six full-time seasons and comes on the heels of 2003's third-place points finish and 2004's fifth-place result.

'Sometimes it takes some beatings before you really get things turned around,' said Gordon, the defending and three-time 500 champion, who also has four series championships to his credit. 'It puts you in a position to make changes and be humbled and really want it that much more. I would say right now we're as hungry and fired up as we've ever been. We've got youthfulness and excitement back in the team and it's all about chemistry. We've been talking about chemistry since we missed the Chase last year. And I'm seeing that chemistry back.' zzzz

Earnhardt, the 500 winner in 2004, also sounded confident, saying, 'I feel like we still have one of the top restrictor-plate programs, because even when we're not at our best, we're still in the top two or three. Even last year, we had some strong superspeedway cars. I should have won the Daytona 500 last year.

'It means everything [to win the 500]. It means you don't have to go your whole career answering why you haven't won the biggest race. It was certainly one of my greatest accomplishments, and I'm hungry to do it again.'

Gordon, via his second-best qualifying effort, is locked into the outside pole for the 500. He'll start on the pole in Thursday's second Gatorade Duel race. Earnhardt, 37th-fastest in qualifying, will start 20th in the first Duel race.

Awesome Again: Bill Elliott Part of Impressive Veteran MB2 Lineup ' Granted, Bill Elliott (No. 36 Ginn Clubs and Resorts Chevrolet) hasn't raced in the Daytona 500 since 2003. And granted, his two Daytona 500 victories came in 1985 and '87 when cars, sans restrictor plates, rocketed around DIS at well over 200 mph. Thing is, while times have changed, here's something that hasn't: 'Awesome Bill from Dawsonville' remains completely comfortable ' and highly capable ' at Daytona International Speedway.

Elliott, who for the third-straight season is running a part-time schedule, is part of an intriguing veteran trio assembled by MB2 Racing, joining another two-time (1994 and '95) 500 winner, Sterling Marlin (No. 14 Waste Management Chevrolet), and the usually-tough-at-Daytona Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet).

Elliott and Marlin were teammates for legendary car owner Junior Johnson in 1992. Marlin started on the Daytona 500 pole, with Elliott on the outside pole.

Elliott was extremely fast during last month's testing sessions at DIS. In last Sunday's qualifying, he was eighth-fastest overall out of 58 drivers (187.715 mph) ' and the fastest of those drivers not assured 500 berths because of top-35 owner points finishes in 2005. Thus, he assured himself a 500 starting spot, no matter what happens in the qualifying races on Thursday.

Shootout Fallout: Remarkable Rookie Looks Like 500 Contender ' Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Chevrolet) lived a rookie's dream this past Sunday, winning his first race at Daytona International Speedway. Hamlin won the Budweiser Shootout and immediately established himself as a credible contender to win the Daytona 500.

Unreal ' surreal ... it was all of that as Hamlin, drafting and darting, outdueled his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, who finished third, and the current king of restrictor-plate racing, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished second.

Hamlin hit the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series late last season, in a big way. He ran seven races with three top-10 finishes ' and a pole at Phoenix, which earned him a surprise Shootout berth.

Hamlin, from Tampa, Fla., had managed his expectations coming into the Shootout. 'All I wanted to do was just gain respect from these guys for the 500,' he said. 'Hopefully we did that."

Actually, the respect-building started a couple of hours prior to the Shootout, when Hamlin was 11th-fastest in the Daytona 500 qualifying session. He was second-fastest among the Raybestos Rookie of the Year contenders, behind Clint Bowyer. Hamlin will start seventh on Thursday in the first Gatorade Duel race. He is assured a spot in the 500, as the No. 11 entry finished 33rd in the 2005 car owner points standings.

Three Crew Chiefs Looking For Second 500 Victory ' NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers aren't the only ones who share a special bond once they capture their sport's marquee event. Crew chiefs who win a Daytona 500 also join an elite NASCAR NEXTEL Cup garage fraternity, and several have an opportunity to win another 'Great American Race' this Sunday.

Todd Parrott, who oversaw Dale Jarrett's (No. 88 UPS Ford) victories in 1996 and 2000, is the dean of that group. He's beginning his first season as crew chief for Bobby Labonte (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge) at Petty Enterprises.

Richard 'Slugger' Labbe and Tommy Baldwin Jr., could win their second Daytona 500. Labbe guided Michael Waltrip (No. 55 NAPA Dodge) to the 2003 Daytona 500 win when both were with Dale Earnhardt Inc. Baldwin won the 2002 Daytona 500 with Ward Burton. Both Labbe and Baldwin are in their first season at Robert Yates Racing. Labbe is the crew chief for Jarrett and Baldwin is the crew chief for Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford).

Seven Former Champions in 2006 Field ' One Daytona 500 win is monumental enough for a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver. Multiple wins can turn one into Hall of Fame material. This year, seven former 500 champions are entered.

Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett each have three Daytona 500 wins. Gordon is the defending champion. His other Daytona 500 triumphs came in 1997 and '98. Jarrett won in '93, '96 and 2000. Two-time winners include Michael Waltrip (2001 and '03), Bill Elliott ('85 and '97) and Sterling Marlin ('94 and '95). Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2004) and Derrike Cope (1990) are seeking repeat wins.

Richard Petty holds the NASCAR record for most Daytona 500 victories with seven. Cale Yarborough is second with four victories, and Bobby Allison is tied with Gordon and Jarrett with three.
Gatorade Duels goes off Thursday Gatorade Duels goes off ThursdayIt's the tale of two Jeffs: Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) have the respective pole positions for Thursday's Gatorade Duel at Daytona, the back-to-back 150-mile qualifying races that set the field for the Daytona 500. The Duel, which evolved from the former 'Twin 125s' qualifiers, is part of the 500's varied qualification process. Here's how it works:

- The top-two qualifiers from 'Pole Day' this past Sunday - Burton and Gordon - are locked in for the front row.

- In addition, the top 35 teams from the final 2005 car owner points are also guaranteed spots, a group that in this case includes the front row.

- The top two 'non-top 35' finishers in each of Thursday's qualifiers are assured spots.

- The final four spots in the 500's field of 43 are based on original Pole Day qualifying speeds - unless the past series champion's provisional is used for the 43rd spot, which would leave only positions 40-42 to be filled based on qualifying results.

The Gatorade Duel at Daytona begins at 2:10 p.m. (ET). TNT's broadcast of the races starts at 2 p.m.
Johnson pleads ignorance Johnson pleads ignoranceJimmie Johnson said Wednesday he was not aware his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet had been altered before qualifying for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 12. Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus, was ejected by NASCAR officials after the team's car failed to meet the templates during post-qualifying inspection for the Daytona 500. Further penalties could be assessed the crew chief, but for now Hendrick Motorsports has put team engineer Darian Grubb in the crew chief role for tomorrow's Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying race and Sunday's Daytona 500.

"The drivers, we just get in and drive the cars," Johnson said. "I do know the team and the crew chief are responsible for everything that takes place. They're going to work as hard as they can to work over all the gray areas. With that in mind, the gray areas were looked at and worked over, and when the car came back, the template didn't fit.

"So Chad, the team, myself, we accept what has happened. We will try to move forward and move on and get in the [Gatorade] Duel and do the best job in that race and in the 500 and try to win the 500. There is no doubt that NASCAR was put in the position to make a ruling, they made the ruling, we're going to live with it, go on and try to do the best we can."
Vickers leads 2nd practice Vickers leads 2nd practice
1 #25 Brian Vickers Chevrolet GMAC 191.710 46.946 Leader
2 #109 Mike Wallace Dodge Miccosukee Gaming & Resorts 191.546 46.986 -0.040
3 #16 Greg Biffle Ford National Guard 191.497 46.998 -0.052
4 #88 Dale Jarrett Ford UPS 190.848 47.158 -0.212
5 #17 Matt Kenseth Ford DeWalt Power Tools 190.504 47.243 -0.297
6 #07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 190.303 47.293 -0.347
7 #7 Robby Gordon Chevrolet Jim Beam 190.206 47.317 -0.371
8 #31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Cingular Wireless 189.845 47.407 -0.461
9 #92 Chad Chaffin Chevrolet Oak Glove Co. 189.765 47.427 -0.481
10 #22 Dave Blaney Dodge Caterpillar 189.741 47.433 -0.487
11 #18 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Interstate Batteries 189.677 47.449 -0.503
12 #55 Michael Waltrip Dodge NAPA Auto Parts 189.574 47.475 -0.529
13 #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 189.494 47.495 -0.549
14 #10 Scott Riggs Dodge Valvoline/Stanley Tools 189.199 47.569 -0.623
15 #21 Ken Schrader Ford Little Debbie 189.155 47.580 -0.634
16 #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 189.111 47.591 -0.645
17 #96 Terry Labonte Chevrolet DLP HDTV/Tweeter 189.084 47.598 -0.652
18 #01 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet U.S. Army 189.016 47.615 -0.669
19 #15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards/Pittsburgh Paints 189.012 47.616 -0.670
20 #61 Kevin Lepage Ford Amp Energy Drink 188.992 47.621 -0.675 zzzz 
21 #2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 188.988 47.622 -0.676
22 #66 Jeff Green Chevrolet Best Buy 188.945 47.633 -0.687
23 #136 Bill Elliott Chevrolet Ginn Clubs & Resorts 188.889 47.647 -0.701
24 #5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet Kellogg's 188.861 47.654 -0.708
25 #6 Mark Martin Ford AAA 188.822 47.664 -0.718
26 #42 Casey Mears Dodge Texaco/Havoline 188.814 47.666 -0.720
27 #41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 188.786 47.673 -0.727
28 #26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 188.691 47.697 -0.751
29 #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Budweiser 188.577 47.726 -0.780
30 #49 Brent Sherman Dodge Serta 188.572 47.727 -0.781
31 #1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops/Tracker 188.561 47.730 -0.784
32 #4 Scott Wimmer Chevrolet AERO Exhaust 188.509 47.743 -0.797
33 #99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 188.363 47.780 -0.834
34 #20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet The Home Depot 188.348 47.784 -0.838
35 #195 Stanton Barrett Chevrolet Yippeenet.com 188.348 47.784 -0.838
36 #14 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Waste Management 188.328 47.789 -0.843
37 #34 Randy LaJoie Chevrolet Front Row Motorsports 188.261 47.806 -0.860
38 #29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet GM Goodwrench 188.253 47.808 -0.862
39 #9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dodge Dealers/UAW 188.253 47.808 -0.862
40 #74 Derrike Cope Dodge MyGuardian911/Sundance Vacations 188.210 47.819 -0.873
41 #40 David Stremme Dodge Lone Star Steakhouse/Saloon 188.210 47.819 -0.873
42 #43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios/Betty Crocker 188.202 47.821 -0.875
43 #38 Elliott Sadler Ford M&M's 188.190 47.824 -0.878
44 #12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL 188.163 47.831 -0.885
45 #19 Jeremy Mayfield Dodge Dodge Dealers/UAW 187.899 47.898 -0.952
46 #32 Travis Kvapil Chevrolet Tide 187.735 47.940 -0.994
47 #23 Mike Skinner Dodge Bad Boy Mowers 187.660 47.959 -1.013
48 #45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo Financial 187.547 47.988 -1.042
49 #178 Kenny Wallace Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 187.531 47.992 -1.046
50 #50 Larry Foyt Dodge Arnold Development Companies 187.356 48.037 -1.091
51 #37 Chad Blount Dodge R&J Racing 186.355 48.295 -1.349
52 #27 Kirk Shelmerdine Chevrolet Apex Electric 185.716 48.461 -1.515
53 #89 Morgan Shepherd Dodge Victory in Jesus/Dutch Quality Stone 184.188 48.863 -1.917
54 #180 Carl Long Ford RoadLoans.com 178.239 50.494 -3.548
Earnhardt leads morning practice at Daytona Earnhardt leads morning practice at Daytona
Pos Car # Driver Team Time Speed Lap# #Laps -Fastest -Next
1 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Budweiser Chevrolet 47.024 191.392 3 22  
2 17 Matt Kenseth DeWalt Power Tools Ford 47.068 191.213 3 18 -0.044 -0.044
3 12 Ryan Newman Alltel Dodge 47.124 190.985 2 15 -0.100 -0.056
4 * 61 Kevin Lepage AMP Energy Drink Ford 47.150 190.880 2 17 -0.126 -0.026
5 * 4 Scott Wimmer AERO Exhaust Chevrolet 47.169 190.803 3 29 -0.145 -0.019
6 66 Jeff Green Best Buy Chevrolet 47.175 190.779 4 21 -0.151 -0.006
7 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge 47.186 190.735 3 23 -0.162 -0.011
8 40 David Stremme # Lonestar Steakhouse Dodge 47.195 190.698 3 25 -0.171 -0.009
9 31 Jeff Burton Cingular Wireless Chevrolet 47.260 190.436 3 25 -0.236 -0.065
10 26 Jamie McMurray Crown Royal Ford 47.271 190.392 13 20 -0.247 -0.011
11 * 96 Terry Labonte DLP® HDTV/Tweeter Chevrolet 47.283 190.343 4 16 -0.259 -0.012
12 38 Elliott Sadler M&M's Ford 47.301 190.271 3 29 -0.277 -0.018
13 5 Kyle Busch Kellogg's Chevrolet 47.304 190.259 2 9 -0.280 -0.003
14 * 7 Robby Gordon Jim Beam Chevrolet 47.324 190.178 9 23 -0.300 -0.020
15 6 Mark Martin AAA Ford 47.326 190.170 10 19 -0.302 -0.002
16 88 Dale Jarrett UPS Ford 47.353 190.062 24 29 -0.329 -0.027
17 14 Sterling Marlin Waste Management Chevrolet 47.363 190.022 22 25 -0.339 -0.010
18 42 Casey Mears Texaco/Havoline Dodge 47.365 190.014 3 33 -0.341 -0.002
19 20 Tony Stewart The Home Depot Chevrolet 47.411 189.829 5 26 -0.387 -0.046
20 * 09 Mike Wallace Miccosukee Resort Dodge 47.426 189.769 14 24 -0.402 -0.015  zzzz
21 16 Greg Biffle National Guard Ford 47.430 189.753 3 21 -0.406 -0.004
22 18 J.J. Yeley # Interstate Batteries Chevrolet 47.444 189.697 16 29 -0.420 -0.014
23 07 Clint Bowyer # Jack Daniel's Chevrolet 47.446 189.689 7 17 -0.422 -0.002
24 * 15 Paul Menard Menard's Chevrolet 47.448 189.681 5 13 -0.424 -0.002
25 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 47.490 189.514 4 14 -0.466 -0.042
26 43 Bobby Labonte Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge 47.492 189.506 3 24 -0.468 -0.002
27 41 Reed Sorenson # Target Dodge 47.527 189.366 27 35 -0.503 -0.035
28 01 Joe Nemechek U.S. Army Chevrolet 47.560 189.235 8 20 -0.536 -0.033
29 19 Jeremy Mayfield Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge 47.567 189.207 18 24 -0.543 -0.007
30 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet 47.582 189.147 7 11 -0.558 -0.015
31 1 Martin Truex Jr. # Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Chevrolet 47.583 189.143 2 18 -0.559 -0.001
32 * 74 Derrike Cope MyGuardian911/Sundance Vacations Dodge 47.596 189.092 5 23 -0.572 -0.013
33 * 52 Larry Gunselman Pro30.com/Race2WA.com Dodge 47.618 189.004 5 5 -0.594 -0.022
34 * 95 Stanton Barrett Yippeenet.com Chevrolet 47.645 188.897 3 14 -0.621 -0.027
35 49 Brent Sherman # Serta Dodge 47.661 188.834 5 22 -0.637 -0.016
36 * 23 Mike Skinner Bad Boys Mowers Dodge 47.677 188.770 16 27 -0.653 -0.016
37 29 Kevin Harvick GM Goodwrench Chevrolet 47.703 188.667 8 17 -0.679 -0.026
38 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge 47.703 188.667 2 15 -0.679 0.000
39 99 Carl Edwards Office Depot Ford 47.719 188.604 3 24 -0.695 -0.016
40 * 32 Travis Kvapil Tide Chevrolet 47.797 188.296 12 13 -0.773 -0.078
41 * 78 Kenny Wallace Furniture Row Chevrolet 47.809 188.249 4 7 -0.785 -0.012
42 * 92 Chad Chaffin TBA Chevrolet 47.810 188.245 9 14 -0.786 -0.001
43 * 37 Chad Blount R&J Racing Dodge 47.823 188.194 5 21 -0.799 -0.013
44 * 36 Bill Elliott Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevrolet 47.851 188.084 3 18 -0.827 -0.028
45 55 Michael Waltrip NAPA Dodge 47.906 187.868 8 20 -0.882 -0.055
46 * 10 Scott Riggs Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge 47.919 187.817 1 12 -0.895 -0.013
47 22 Dave Blaney Caterpillar Dodge 47.958 187.664 11 27 -0.934 -0.039
48 25 Brian Vickers GMAC Chevrolet 47.963 187.645 20 22 -0.939 -0.005
49 * 00 Hermie Sadler Aaron's Dream Machine Ford 47.992 187.531 3 4 -0.968 -0.029
50 21 Ken Schrader Little Debbie/Motorcraft/USAF Ford 48.008 187.469 16 20 -0.984 -0.016
51 45 Kyle Petty Wells Fargo Financial Dodge 48.049 187.309 8 11 -1.025 -0.041
52 * 64 Randy LaJoie TBA Chevrolet 48.070 187.227 4 14 -1.046 -0.021
53 * 89 Morgan Shepherd Dutch Quality Stone/Racing w/Jesus Dodge 48.224 186.629 6 7 -1.200 -0.154
54 11 Denny Hamlin # FedEx Express Chevrolet 48.225 186.625 5 6 -1.201 -0.001
55 * 27 Kirk Shelmerdine Apex Electric Chevrolet 48.329 186.224 4 6 -1.305 -0.104
56 * 50 Larry Foyt TBA Dodge 48.446 185.774 3 12 -1.422 -0.117
57 * 59 Andy Belmont YearOne.com Chevrolet 49.163 183.064 3 4 -2.139 -0.717
58 * 80 Carl Long RoadLoans.com Ford 50.307 178.902 6 7 -3.283 -1.144
* - Required to qualify on time
Williams Cosworth combo continues to be factory giants Williams Cosworth combo continues to be factory giantsAfter leading the charts with Mark Webber yesterday, the Williams-Cosworth team remained on top of the timesheets of this week's Valencia Formula 1 testing sessions, this time with rookie Nico Rosberg.

Valencia F1 testing times - Wednesday:

1) Rosberg, Williams-Cosworth (B), 1:10.994, 94 laps
2) Raikkonen, McLaren-Mercedes (M), 1:11.199, 16
3) Kovalainen, Renault (M), 1:11.362, 115
4) Fisichella, Renault (M), 1:11.443, 83
5) Klien, Red Bull-Ferrari (M), 1:11.544, 63
6) Webber, Williams-Cosworth (B), 1:11.584, 33
7) Montoya, McLaren-Mercedes (M), 1:12.462, 85
8) Albers, MF1-Toyota (B), 1:12.916, 64
9) Coulthard, Red Bull-Ferrari (M), 1:13.585, 14
10) Doornbos, Red Bull-Ferrari (M), 1:14.643, 44
11) Mondini, MF1-Toyota (B), 1:14.646, 84

Ferrari V10 again fastest in Bahrain Ferrari V10 again fastest in BahrainFormula One testing at Bahrain International Circuit today saw the return of Michael Schumacher to the scene of his victory in the inaugural Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. He was thwarted from completing more than six short runs, totaling 35 laps, however after technical problems beset his new Ferrari 248 F1 car. His team-mate Felipe Massa meanwhile went fastest in a restricted 3.0-litre V10 F2004 car.

Elsewhere the Honda pair of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button continued to rack up the laps and remained the fastest 2.4-litre cars seen at the circuit. Swiss youngster Neel Jani meanwhile made his debut as a Scuderia Toro Rosso driver with the first of his test outings with the team.

Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport said: “With the new season under way in under one month here at the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, we are finalizing our preparations and still need to test compounds and construction. It is far better to test at the venue of the first race rather than in Europe, particularly as it is so cold and last year’s track temperatures were 50 degrees.
“I have spoken with local Bahrainis and they think that today’s temperature - 35 degrees - is closer to what we will get this year, as the race is a month earlier. Possibly 40 degrees. Even more importantly the information we are building here means that we can also predict the tire specifications for the second race in Malaysia and it is vital to have this information as early as possible.”

As an extra bonus for the people of Bahrain and international visitors, F1 testing on Thursday 16 February will be open to the public. For an entry fee of just BD1 the sight and sound of the new 2.4-litre V8 Formula One cars can be experienced before the start of the new season, a unique and exclusive opportunity at the home of motorsport in the Middle East.

Bahrain - 15/02/06
1. F. Massa - Ferrari F2004 V10 - 1'30"029 (+0"000) - 92 laps
2. J. Button - Honda RA106 - 1'31"278 (+1"249) - 140 laps
3. R. Barrichello - Honda RA106 -1'31"640 (+1"611) - 102 laps
4. M. Schumacher - Ferrari 248 F1 - 1'32"229 (+2"200) - 37 laps
5. N. Jani - Toro Rosso Cosworth RB1 - 1'33"028 (+2"999) - 76 laps Press release BIC

Audi revs up diesel race car Audi revs up diesel race carNEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - When you think of diesel, what comes to mind? Trucks, probably, and buses. Maybe a few German passenger cars.

But a race car? A diesel race car sounds like an oxymoron. Diesels are made for hauling, but not racing.
But that's what Audi will be entering in this year's American LeMans endurance race series. The R10 race car is powered by a 5.5-liter turbocharged aluminum V-12 diesel engine capable of producing 650 horsepower.

The car's first race will be a 24-hour event in Sebring, Fla. on March 18. Audi produced the car in large part to get the attention of U.S. car buyers. While diesel engined cars are popular in Europe, largely because of their extremely good fuel mileage, they are not nearly as popular in the United States. In this country, gasoline/electric hybrid engines have become the powerplant of choice for those interested in saving fuel. More at CNN

(Related article an interesting juxtaposition story to go along with the CNN.com feature on the "650 horsepower fuel saving racecar" today. In brief, the attached draws attention to the fact that NASCAR is the one and only remaining major racing series to still use leaded gasoline and "antique" carburetors. Literally the antithesis of what the World Class American Le Mans Series represents - especially for automotive manufacturers. )

Welter Racing returns with Peugeot Welter Racing returns with PeugeotBRASELTON, GA – Welter Racing, holder of the fastest speed ever recorded on the famous Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans (1988), has entered a four-cylinder Peugeot engine LMP2 for this year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18. The French-based team will be making only its second appearance at the storied American endurance classic. In 2002 Welter Racing finished third in LMP675 with a Mazda-powered entry, two spots ahead of a Peugeot-powered Welter Racing entry.

Gerard Welter is no newcomer to endurance racing. Despite just one previous appearance at Sebring, Welter is well versed in endurance circuits, especially the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1993, Welter Racing claimed the Le Mans C3 class victory with its L4 T Peugeot 1905 cm3 powerplant entry that was driven by Patrick Gonin, Alain Lamouille and Bernard Santal. Aside from the 1993 class win, Welter Racing’s career at La Sarthe also includes four second-place finishes and one third-place run.

The notable record speed occurred in 1988 under the auspices of “Project 400.” With that project, Welter set out to build the first car to do 400 kph (248.54 mph) during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. That year, Welter’s low-drag designed WM Peugeot P88, driven by Roger Dorchy, with special narrow tires supplied by Michelin to help assist in the drag reduction, eclipsed 251 mph on the famed Mulsanne Straight. The record speed was later protected with the addition of chicanes, which were built into the straight in 1990. ALMS

Gordon early pick for 500 Gordon early pick for 500Stung by last season’s inconsistency, four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) has been clear about his intent to return to the top of his sport.

He’s already made one on-track statement by earning the No. 2 starting spot for Sunday’s 48th annual Daytona 500. Now, media voters have echoed his optimism, selecting him as the favorite to win the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

Gordon – the defending and three-time Daytona 500 champion – heads the 2006 NASCAR Preseason Top 10 poll. A total of 247 votes were cast; voting began Jan. 18 and ended Feb. 13. Drivers received 10 points for first place, nine points for second place, eight points for third place, seven points for fourth place, six points for fifth place, five points for sixth place, four points for seventh place, three points for eighth place, two points for ninth place and one point for 10th.

Gordon received 1,748 points and 57 first-place votes – 51 points more than second-place Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet), the two-time and defending series champion. Stewart received 1,697 points and 48 first-place votes. Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) is third with 1,691 points and 43 first-place votes – only six points behind Stewart. zzzz

Rounding out the top five in the NASCAR Preseason Top 10 are Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford) in fourth place and his Roush Racing teammate Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) in fifth place. The 2005 runner-up, Biffle received 1,490 points and 44 first-place votes. Edwards, who finished third in last year’s Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, received 1,309 points and 19 first-place votes.

The rest of the NASCAR Preseason Top 10 follows: Sixth-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) with 853 points and six first-place votes; seventh-place Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge) with 774 points and three first-place votes; eighth-place Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford) with 668 points and seven first-place votes; ninth-place Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) with 665 points and six first-place votes; and 10th-place Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) with 580 points and three first-place votes.

Eight drivers in the 2006 NASCAR Preseason Top 10 competed in the 2005 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. The exceptions are Gordon, who finished 11th last season, his worst result since finishing 14th in his rookie season of 1993, and Earnhardt Jr., who finished 19th. NASCAR PR

Legge to sign autographs in San Jose Legge to sign autographs in San JoseKatherine Legge who last year became the first woman ever to win a major open wheel race in North America, is going to be named tonight in Los Angeles as the first woman driver in Champ Car history.

She will be in San José Thursday, February 16, for a media day. A press luncheon and interview session will take place at the Smoke Tiki Lounge Restaurant, 152 Post Street in San José, beginning at 11 AM and lasting until NOON.

Legge will be competing in the 2006 San José Grand Prix Presented By Taylor Woodrow, July 28-30. She won the Atlantic Race at the San José Grand Prix last year.

Industry News
Audi Expects Sales Growth in China Audi Expects Sales Growth in ChinaAudi AG, the luxury car unit of Volkswagen AG, said Tuesday it expects its Chinese sales to increase at a double-digit percentage for the rest of this year.  The company, whose models include the A4, TT Roadster and Quattro, sold 58,878 cars in China in 2005, a 9.6 percent increase from 2004, when it sold 53,720.

So far this year, the company sold 6,384 cars in China, including Hong Kong, in January, more than triple the 1,850 sold there in January 2005.

Audi said it will bring its Q7 and A4 Cabriolet models to the Chinese market later this year.  Shares of Audi were up 1.8 percent to 338 euros ($401.81) in Frankfurt trading. AP article

Atlantics website address flawed Atlantics website address flawedUPDATE The continued functionality of the “toyotaatlantic.com” domain is standard practice for anybody that changes a long-standing domain name, so that people who have the old domain bookmarked are automatically redirected and don’t have to guess at the new name.  I’m pretty sure it’s not an oversight and probably will function for some time.  Note that cart.com still redirects users to Champ Car.  It’s inappropriate to imply that the Atlantic website is not being managed properly.

02/15/06 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Thanks for all the great coverage of the new Atlantic car.  I'm really encouraged that Champ Car will be able to revive the series, especially now that Mazda has agreed to badge the Cosworth engines.  However, I'm perplexed that no one at Champ Car bothered to change the name of the Atlantic's website, toyotaatlantic.com, even after Toyota left the series months ago.  Was this just a goodwill gesture to Toyota until Champ Car got a new engine sponsor?  John Ellis

Dear John, ToyotaAtalntic.com resolves to ChampCarAtlantic.com so really it has been changed. Mark C.

Petty was fined by Dodge Petty was fined by DodgeKyle Petty did a favor for Richard Childress Racing and driver Kevin Harvick in 2004, and he paid $45,000 for it. Dodge fined Petty $45,000 when the veteran relieved Harvick in the Sharpie 500 at Bristol in August 2004. Harvick complained that he had lost feeling in his left arm and Petty, a Dodge driver, took over for Harvick in the RCR Chevrolet. Petty, whose car was already out of the race, did not have permission from Dodge to drive the Chevy, and Dodge promptly fined him for breaching their contract. Dodge didn't announce the fine, but it was revealed in depositions released during their recently completed trial involving Bill Davis Racing. "Initially it was a shock just because that's just a given in the sport - if a driver is down, everybody rallies and tries to help him out," Petty said Feb. 11. "Kevin was sick; Kevin felt bad, so I drove the car. When I got a phone call and a legal letter that said I owed them $45,000, that was a little bit of a shock. But at the same time, they were exactly right. I have a contract to drive for Dodge." Dodge Motorsports Director of Operations John Fernandez said Feb. 10 that he believed Petty's violation of their contract was inadvertent but that the manufacturer must protect the sanctity of its contracts. NASCAR Scene
McLaren Mercedes Direxiv Dynamic Wellbeing Program McLaren Mercedes Direxiv Dynamic Wellbeing ProgramTeam McLaren Mercedes and Direxiv today announced the establishment of the 'Direxiv Dynamic Wellbeing Programme'. This programme will see Team McLaren Mercedes operating in close co-operation with Direxiv, to create a dedicated team of highly qualified and well resourced individuals with the sole objective of improving and optimizing the fitness, health, wellbeing and diet of not only all of the Team McLaren Mercedes Formula One team and drivers but also of the participants in the Direxiv Driver Programme.

The programme is headed by Aki Hintsa, the Chief Physician of the Finnish Olympic Committee. Aki has already worked with Team McLaren Mercedes for more than a year on a part-time basis and after the 2006 Winter Olympics Aki will leave the Finnish Olympic Committee and join McLaren. He will be supported by a team of four employees, two of whom will be based at the McLaren Technology Centre, staffing McLaren’s Fitness and Wellbeing Centre. The other two are Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya's personal trainers Mark Arnall and Gerry Convey who will continue to form an integral part of the team. zzzz

Direxiv’s involvement with Team McLaren Mercedes has not only resulted in the establishment of the programme but also sees the Direxiv identity appear on the team's Formula One racing cars and on members of the Team operating the Programme at the races. In addition, the Direxiv logo will also, via agreement with McLaren, appear on the race car of Lewis Hamilton in his 2006 GP2 car run by the championship winning ART team.
McLaren and Direxiv will also explore opportunities to work together in synergistic sections of technology linked to their areas of respective expertise. This will be channeled through McLaren Group company 'McLaren Applied Technologies'.

Misato Haga, CEO of Direxiv  “Direxiv’s motorsport objective is twofold: to support the drivers in our programme to compete at the highest level of motorsport and to provide a platform to promote the Direxiv products and services internationally. I am delighted to have entered into this agreement with McLaren whose renowned expertise and professionalism will help us get closer to achieving our goals.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Group COO “I am delighted to formally welcome Misato Haga and the Direxiv brand to the Team McLaren Mercedes family. Misato has been a friend of the Team for some time and it is wonderful that we have found a way to work together in a manner that the Direxiv brand and Team McLaren Mercedes can both benefit. I have a longstanding belief in the role that pro-active health, fitness and dietary measures can play in the performance of drivers, team members and other individuals and the establishment of the Direxiv Dynamic Wellbeing Programme will take this to the next step. I am also particularly pleased that we have been able to extend the benefit of the facilities to our younger drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, as well as making facilities available more generally to staff at the McLaren Technology Centre." Source McLaren Mercedes

Strong driver lineup forming for Atlantics Series Strong driver lineup forming for Atlantics SeriesUPDATE A couple of interesting notes about the Atlantics driver lineup. First, there are 13 Americans and 5 Canadians in the group, accounting for 18 of the 26 cars in the series. That, I would say, portends well for the North Americanization of the future of the sport. (That assumes they move up the ladder.).  Second, there are no Mexicans in the serious currently. A missing link in the NAFTA triumvirate?

Third, another four of the drivers come from English-speaking countries, UK, Australia, NZ, and South Africa. Should they move up to Champ Car in the years to come that should counter the idea that Champ Car drivers have names that Americans can’t pronounce.

Finally, just two drivers from Brazil. I realize many of the top Brazilians may head to Europe, but there used to be plenty of drivers heading due north, as well. James C. Allen, Virginia

Dear James, Good observations.  Look for Mexican David Martinez to join the series. Mark C.

02/15/06 The following drivers were announced Tuesday night in Los Angeles as participating in the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Series, with more to be added later.
1. Bite Racing Chris Souliotis* Canada
2. Bite Racing Ben Jamini Holland
3. Brooks Racing Associates Luis Schiavo* Brazil
4. Forsythe Championship Racing Andreas Wirth Germany
5. Forsythe Championship Racing James Hinchcliffe Canada
6. Forsythe Championship Racing Richard Philippe France
7. Forsythe Championship Racing Leonardo Maia USA
8. Gelles Racing Robbie Pecorari* USA
9. Gelles Racing Stephen Simpson* South Africa
10. Jensen Motorsport Tim Bridgman UK
11. McAtee Motorsports Brian McAtee USA
12. McAtee Motorsports Kyle Kelley USA
13. Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Graham Rahal* USA
14. NCDL TECH Ryan Spencer-Smith USA
15. Newman Wachs Racing Joey D’Agostino* USA
16. Newman Wachs Racing Daniel Gaunt* New Zealand
17. Polestar Racing Group Alan Sciuto USA
18. PR-1 Motorsports Mike Forest Canada
19. PR-1 Motorsports Jonathan Bomarito USA
20. Sierra Sierra Enterprises Rafael Matos Brazil
21. The Room Store Dan Selznick* USA
22. Unico Racing Team USA CR Crews USA
23. Walker Racing/Team Australia James Davison* Australia
24. TBA Team Kevin Lacroix Canada
25. TBA Team Al Unser III USA
26. TBA Team Dan Di Leo Canada
*Not in attendance at Tuesday night's unveiling
NASCAR to switch to unleaded fuel NASCAR to switch to unleaded fuelUPDATE #2 The least visible safety change planned by NASCAR in the next few years could turn out to be among the most significant. Sunoco, which in 2004 replaced Unocal as NASCAR's fuel supplier, apparently has solved a decadeslong riddle by developing an unleaded fuel that will work in NASCAR's 850-horsepower engines.

The switch from the leaded fuel NASCAR has used throughout its 57-year history is planned for 2008, after additional testing. It is being used successfully in the Grand Am sports-car series.

"We've been back and forth to the drawing board for several years to find an unleaded fuel that is compatible with NASCAR engines," said Gary Nelson, NASCAR's vice president of research and development. "We congratulate Sunoco on the progress it has made."  Other racing series, including the Indy Racing League, use engines that burn methanol and ethanol.

The problems with leaded fuel in NASCAR have long been suspected but only recently documented. A study undertaken by the Indiana University School of Medicine involving an undisclosed Nextel Cup team found evidence of lead exposure.

In its report, published in this month's Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, the IU team could not directly link the exposure to adverse health conditions. But its conclusions made clear the dangers.

"Although the blood lead levels identified in our study participants are not at the levels requiring formal action by federal health agencies, nonsignificant elevations in the risk of several health symptoms were noted," the report said.
NASCAR is exempt from federal law mandating unleaded fuel. It has tested several alternatives over the past several years but found every one caused engine failure.

Doug Yates, one of the sport's top engine builders, said until recently the technology didn't exist to replace lead as lubrication for the valves.  "The coating technology was not readily available," he said, "but now I don't think it's going to be a very hard transition." Indy Star zzzz

01/22/06 NASCAR announced that a special unleaded fuel has been developed and will be used by the start of the 2008 season as a result of its partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its fuel supplier, Sunoco. “We’ve been back and forth to the drawing board for several years to find an unleaded fuel that is compatible with NASCAR engines. NASCAR congratulates Sunoco and is proud of the progress it made on developing a fuel that works in NASCAR engines,” said Gary Nelson, NASCAR’s vice president of research and development. NASCAR tested a number of possible alternative fuels in recent years, but none that didn’t cause engine problems. NASCAR tested an unleaded product in its NASCAR Busch Series in the late 1990s. However, the tests were unsatisfactory and required the sanctioning body to conduct further research. Other fuel solutions were incompatible and led to engine failure. NASCAR began testing the current unleaded fuel, Sunoco 260 GTX, last fall at its Research & Development Center in Concord, NC. The fuel will be used in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. NASCAR PR

01/20/06 NASCAR will use unleaded fuel for its racecars and trucks beginning in 2008, making the switch from the high-octane leaded fuel that it has used for decades. Gary Nelson, NASCAR's vice president for research and development, said yesterday that the series had been testing a new fuel since the fall and that early results had been promising. The fuel, Sunoco 260 GTX, will be used in NASCAR's three main racing series - Nextel Cup, Busch, and Craftsman Truck. Nelson said it was already being used in the Grand American road racing series. "Sunoco came up with a formula that really seems to do the job," Nelson said in a telephone interview. "It does a very good job inside the engine," he said, adding that "we've got more testing to do and more work to do." NASCAR is exempt from the 1970 Clean Air Act, which required the transition to unleaded fuel for all automobiles. But the series has worked to find an unleaded substitute for years. Nelson had said there were problems finding a fuel that provided the same lubrication as lead. The new fuel alleviates that problem without using MTBE, an additive that had been considered in the past but was rejected because it was barred in some states as a health hazard. New York Times

NASCAR could have taken Johnson’s car NASCAR could have taken Johnson’s carAfter his #48 Lowe's Chevrolet was disqualified after post Daytona 500 qualifying inspection there was a chance Jimmie Johnson was going to lose his primary car for the 500. However according to NASCAR's Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton; "We are not going to take the car. They'll be able to run that car. There are some things we need to work on when we get in the garage area Wednesday morning but the car is fine." Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby explains, "A lot of times you can hold an illegal part or piece in you hand. Then there's other situations where you use what is a very acceptable, very normal and very legal piece on the car and create a procedure that turns that part into something that it shouldn't do." Darby went on to explain what his inspectors found following pole qualifying. "Basically the pannard rod adjusting bolt had an additional clamp on it which enabled that adjusting rod to not only adjust the pannard bar but while the pannard bar was being adjusted it jacked the rear window up." The 48 team must now correct the illegal part for the car to be able to return to the track. PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show
Milner completes Multimatic Panoz roster Milner completes Multimatic Panoz rosterYoung American GT racer Tom Milner has been signed to complete the Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz driver roster for the 2006 American Le Mans Series.  The 20-year-old former BMW Team PTG driver will join forces with fellow American young gun Gunnar Jeannette in the #51 Panoz Esperante GTLM.  Renowned international sportscar racer David Brabham and long-time Multimatic factory driver Scott Maxwell are partnered in the #50 Panoz.

Milner drove full-time for BMW Team PTG in the 2005 Rolex GT Series after making his sportscar debut late in 2004 at Virginia International Raceway with the same squad.  The son of PTG team President and namesake, Tom Milner, the younger Milner actually drove with Gunnar Jeannette in his maiden GT outing - now they are team-mates at Panoz.

PKV Racing signs Legge, to test again PKV Racing signs Legge, to test againPKV Racing announced today that it has signed Katherine Legge to campaign one of the team’s two entries during the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.

Legge, considered a rising star, burst on the open-wheel racing scene last year when she captured three races en route to a third-place showing during her rookie season in the Atlantic Championship Series, which is part of the Champ Car World Series ladder system.  Personable and articulate off the track, Legge’s aggressive and determined on-track racing style has made her a winner and a fan favorite.  The talented 25-year-old native of Great Britain won her debut event in the Atlantic series taking the victory in Long Beach, which made her the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America.  The win in Long Beach earned Legge Southern California’s Top 2005 Racing Moment of the Year Award in voting by the public.  She also won the 2005 Atlantic Championship Series BBS Rising Star Award and recently was named the winner of RACER magazine’s Most Promising Road Racer Award as voted by fans around the world. zzzz

Legge has had a busy off-season.  In addition to what can only be described as a “brutal” conditioning program to improve both her strength and stamina, she has been impressive in tests with Formula 1’s Minardi Team in November, A1 Grand Prix’s Great Britain Team in December and Champ Car’s Rocketsports Racing also in December.  She subsequently tested twice with PKV Racing, late in December and in January.  Legge’s contract with the team is a multi-year agreement.

“Katherine did a fantastic job last year in Atlantics and has been impressive in her tests this off-season,” said PKV Racing co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven.  “Based on her Atlantic results, her Champ Car tests and frankly, her Formula 1 test, we believe Katherine is ready to make the jump to Champ Cars,” he explained.  “We recognize that, as with any young driver, there is a large learning curve in making the jump from Atlantics to Champ Cars, but we are firm in our conviction that Katherine’s skill and determination will be up to the task,” Kalkhoven noted.  “The 2006 season will be a learning, a developmental year for Katherine, however, we are confident that she will continue to grow and improve as a driver, which will make her very competitive in 2007 when there will be a new Champ Car chassis,” he concluded.

“I am extremely proud to become a part of the PKV Racing Team,” Legge said.  “It is a great honor to work with people like Jimmy Vasser, Jim McGee and all the members of the team.  I want to especially thank Mr. Kalkhoven, Dan Pettit and Jimmy for giving me this opportunity.  I know that it will be a challenge to make the transition form Atlantics to Champ Cars.  The Champ Car World Series is the most competitive series in the world and I am looking forward to the journey.”

Commenting on the signing of Legge, PKV Racing co-owner Jimmy Vasser said, “It has been a pleasure getting to know Katherine and watching her grow as a driver.  I can honestly say that I have not seen a driver so determined to succeed in quite some time.”  Vasser, who has helped such notable drivers as Alex Zanardi and Juan Pablo Montoya make the transition to Champ Cars, went on to say, “I will be there to help her every step of the way.”

Legge began her racing career in 1990 winning numerous British Karting championships through the 1998 season.  In 2000, she became the first woman to win a pole position the British Formula Ford

Zetec Series.  Legge competed in the British Formula Renault and British Formula 3 championships from 2002-03.  She then raced for parts of both the British Formula Renault and North American Formula Renault series in 2004.  Following the 2004 season, Legge excelled in an off-season test for Polestar Racing Group and when Champ Car World Series and PKV Racing co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven agreed to sponsor her she entered the ranks of Atlantic drivers competing for the PKV Racing – Polestar Racing Group in 2005.   In her first full season of professional racing, Legge took the Atlantic Championship Series by storm scoring three wins including her debut event (Long Beach, also won back-to-back races in Edmonton and San Jose).  Legge also enjoyed podium results at Portland, where she finished third, and Road America, where she placed second.  Legge is the first woman in more than a decade to have an official Formula One test when she put the Minardi F1 car through its paces in November.  She posted the second-fastest time among five drivers who tested for the team in Italy.

PKV Racing will conduct its fourth off-season test on February 23 in Sebring as the team continues to evaluate data and examine all of its options before determining the driver of the second entry for the 2006 Champ Car World Series season.  No timetable has been established for announcing the second driver. PKV Racing

Newman Wachs announces driver lineup Newman Wachs announces driver lineupJust like they used to do it in the Old West, the Newman/Wachs Racing Atlantic team held a shootout last week and in the end only two drivers were left standing. A strong performance on track and good chemistry with the first-year Atlantic team enabled both American Joe D’Agostino and Daniel Gaunt of New Zealand to emerge as the squad’s new marksmen for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.

A total of nine drivers participated in the three-day audition for the team, co-owned by legendary actor Paul Newman and his longtime friend and fellow racer Eddie Wachs. All of the drivers who tested at Moroso Motorsports Park in Jupiter, Florida, February 6-8 showed skill and promise, according to Wachs, but four seemed to set themselves apart. Both D’Agostino and Gaunt shined along with Brazilian racer Tuka Rocha and Frenchman Simon Pagenaud. When it came time to make the final decision on which drivers would secure the two seats available for the full-season entry in North America’s top open-wheel development category, however, both D’Agostino and Gaunt proved to have that extra ingredient that the team was looking for.

“The test went very well and they all did a good job but it really came down to who showed the most improvement and who communicated best with the team,” said Wachs. “We looked at the on-track development as being just as important as outright speed. Because we’re all going to be starting fresh with a new car this season we believe that the people who come out of the box quickly will be the most successful. Keeping that in mind, I’m sure we picked the right candidates.” zzzz

D’Agostino, a 20-year-old talent from Plantation, Florida, is eager to showcase his skills in North America after competing for the last several seasons in the United Kingdom. He raced in both Formula Renault and in Formula Fords last season, finishing third in the UK Formula Ford Championship with six wins and eight poles. A graduate of the Skip Barber program, D’Agostino was the winner of the Barber Big Scholarship shootout in 2003.

Racing mostly in Australia and his native New Zealand, Gaunt has also shown his promise competing in different formulas. The Auckland native, who will turn 22 later this month, has raced in the New Zealand Toyota Racing Series the past two seasons and is currently leading the series standings. He captured the Formula F4000 title in 2003 and has also raced in Formula Fords.

Both drivers will spend the next few weeks getting acclimated to their new team before Newman/Wachs takes possession of their new 2006 Atlantic cars in early March. The squad will put all of its focus into learning as much as it can about the new machines before a series open test March 21-22 at California Speedway. The Atlantic season kicks off April 7-9 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Champ Car

Wirth and Philippe impress in Champ Car test Wirth and Philippe impress in Champ Car testDid you know that when Andreas Wirth and Richard Philippe tested a Forsythe Champ Car at Sebring recently they turned some pretty impressive times given it was their first time in a Champ Car.  Andreas Wirth turned an impressive 51.3 sec lap and Philippe a 51.7 sec. lap.  We hear the team was quite impressed with both youngsters.
Sato, Ide, to race for Aguri - official Sato, Ide, to race for Aguri - official(GMMf1NET)  As widely anticipated, Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide will form an all-Japanese inaugural driver lineup for Super Aguri in 2006, the new formula one team announced on Wednesday morning.

''I am grateful that these highly experienced drivers are joining my team,'' said team boss Aguri Suzuki, a veteran of 64 grands prix and also a team owner in the IRL category.

While BAR-Honda refugee Sato needs little introduction, 31-year-old Ide - a formula one rookie - joins the scene from Japan's Formula Nippon, where he finished second in 2005.

Although now officially part of the F1 fraternity, however, he had not driven a grand prix car until Tuesday, when he helped 29-year-old Sato roll-out the interim 'SA05' in England.

Ide said: ''I was nervous, but very excited.  The car is powerful!

''We had no problems and now I am very much looking forward to testing in Barcelona next week.''

First photos of new Champ Car Atlantic Car First photos of new Champ Car Atlantic CarUPDATE 2nd batch of photos with some of the drivers seated in the new car:



02/15/06 Here are the first photos of the new car taken even before the smoke had cleared.  More to follow....


Photos by Bob Heathcote/AutoRacing1.com

Champ Car Atlantic series makes key announcements Champ Car Atlantic series makes key announcementsWith 600 people in attendance at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles on a Valentines evening, Champ Car made some key announcements tonight for the Champ Car Atlantic series. After introducing a majority of the drivers, Champ Car revealed:
  • The series will conduct 5-day 13 city media blitz starting March 13th from Long Beach to Mexico City
  • Over 100 hours of Champ Car and Atlantics races will be broadcast on NBC, CBS and SPEED Channel
  • Champ Car races will be broadcast in over 170 countries in 2006.
  • Standing starts will be implemented in the Atlantic Series starting in Cleveland
  • The Atlantic Series will now be known as the Yokohoma presents the Champ Car Atlantic Series powered by Mazda - Jim Jordan, the marketing manager for Mazda USA expressed his enthusiasm in this new endeavor. He said that Mazda has a young buyer clientele that fits in perfectly with Champ Car's 3-day festivals. The 2.3 L engine is a production based Mazda engine that Cosworth has made race-ready.
  • 40 Swift 016a cars will be delivered on the same day (March 18th) to all the teams. It has been just 203 days since Swift won the contract and produced the first car this evening. More to follow.....
Polestar Racing Group Inks Driver Polestar Racing Group Inks DriverChardon, Ohio --  Polestar Racing Group announced today the signing of their newest acquisition, in 17 year old Alan Sciuto (pronounced Shoe toe).  Sciuto who resides in Orange, California will be one of the youngest drivers in the Yokohama presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda.  He has signed for a full season of Atlantic competition.   “It’s an incredible opportunity,” said Sciuto.  “I will be learning from one of the best and most respected team owners in Atlantic racing, and I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”

Polestar Racing Group was founded by principals Jim and Pam Griffith and Bruce Potter in 2001.  This trio of talent has over 25 years of racing experience amongst them.  The group is diverse as it is accomplished, and has been responsible for guiding a Who’s Who list of drivers that utilized the Toyota Atlantic Series as a stepping stone in their careers.  They include:  Buddy Rice (2004 Indianapolis 500 winner), Alex Barron, Patrick Carpentier, Joey Hand, Memo Gidley, and Ronnie Bremer, just to name a few. Last year’s Polestar team of Katherine Legge and Antoine Bessette won five of twelve series events in 2005 making them the winningest team competing in Atlantics in ’05.  We are excited to have Alan Sciuto join the team,” said Jim Griffith.  “I’ve been keeping an eye on his career in shifter karts for a number of years and he is indeed a rising star.”  “He’s the type of driver that is fast no matter what kind of car you put him in; we were more than impressed with his abilities.”  zzzz 

Polestar Racing Group and PKV Racing have renewed their alliance for 2006.  “PKV Racing is pleased to continue its sponsorship of the Polestar Racing Group entries during the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama,” said Kevin Kalkhoven of PKV Racing.  “We were very happy with the results of the PKV/Polestar Group in 2005 and we are excited to be the sponsor of Alan Sciuto.  Alan is a talented young American driver who showed in just three races of Atlantic competition last year that he has the skill to be competitive in this series.”

Sciuto’s achievements in racing have been building since his racing career began in 2001.  He was the SKUSA 80cc Junior Amateur Championship runner-up.  From there his successes continued to mount.  In 2002 he was the SKUSA ProMoto 80cc Junior World Champion and Shifter Kart Magazine’s “Young Driver of the Year.” 2003 saw him set yet another mark as the first 14 year old to win a Pro ICC national event in Stars of Karting.   In 2004 he was ranked nationally as the No 1 shifter Kart driver in North America and was the first driver to be named both Junior and Pro Driver of the Year with 15 consecutive National podiums.  In 2005 he raced two Skip Barber races and two Pro Zetec events and finished with a first and second in both venues of competition.

Though new to Atlantics in 2005, he tested the Atlantic Series waters at San Jose, Denver and Road America with remarkable results.  He qualified on the pole at Denver putting himself into the Series record books as the youngest driver ever to sit on pole.  He finished second at Denver fourth at San Jose, and sixth at Road America.

Legge named first full-time woman Champ Car driver Legge named first full-time woman Champ Car driverAfter completing a record-setting campaign in 2005 where Katherine Legge became the first woman to ever win a major open-wheel race in the United States, the young Brit is preparing to reach even greater heights.

Legge will become the first woman to ever compete full-time in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford in 2006, as she takes over as one of the drivers for the two-car PKV Racing team. Legge, who won three Atlantic events on her way to securing third place in the 2005 championship – both landmark accomplishments for female drivers in a U.S. open-wheel series.

“I am extremely proud to become a part of the PKV Racing Team,” Legge said. “It is a great honor to work with people like Jimmy Vasser, Jim McGee and all the members of the team. I want to especially thank Mr. Kalkhoven, Dan Pettit and Jimmy for giving me this opportunity. I know that it will be a challenge to make the transition form Atlantics to Champ Cars. The Champ Car World Series is the most competitive series in the world and I am looking forward to the journey.”

Legge followed up her milestone season by taking each and every opportunity to test different race cars during the off-season. Legge ran in three separate Champ Car test sessions at Sebring, piloted a Formula 1 car in a Minardi test and also ran a A1GP car under the watchful eye of British racing great John Surtees.

“Katherine did a fantastic job last year in Atlantics and has been impressive in her tests this off-season,” said PKV Racing co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven. “Based on her Atlantic results, her Champ Car tests and frankly, her Formula 1 test, we believe Katherine is ready to make the jump to Champ Cars. We recognize that, as with any young driver, there is a large learning curve in making the jump from Atlantics to Champ Cars, but we are firm in our conviction that Katherine’s skill and determination will be up to the task. The 2006 season will be a learning and developmental year for Katherine, however, we are confident that she will continue to grow and improve as a driver, which will make her very competitive in 2007 when there will be a new Champ Car chassis.” zzzz

The native of Northampton, England will be the first woman to race in North America’s top open-wheel racing series since Lyn St. James competed at Michigan in 1995. She will be the first woman to ever attempt a full-season run in the Champ Cars, with St. James’ six events in 1993 serving as the series’ high-water mark for races in a season by a woman.

"We watched Katherine become one of the rising stars in all of racing last year, and are very excited about her prospects for success in Champ Car," said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. "Today's announcement is significant not only for Champ Car, but for all forms of motorsport and we look forward to Katherine competing in the series for many years to come." Champ Car

Seen/Overheard in Los Angeles - III Seen/Overheard in Los Angeles - IIIRan into Champ Car Atlantic champion Charles Zwolsman who tells us he has no Champ Car deal signed yet but he is confident. He is talking to two or three teams and does have some sponsorship.....Townsend Bell and his wife now have two young boys, ages 2-1/2 and 5 months.....Tony Cotman tells us they still have not hired a Chief Steward.....Cleveland is getting new and improved grandstands but Long Beach is still using their old ones that desperately need upgrading.....Jimmy Vasser tells us he definitely will not be driving Champ Cars this year, but might do some sports car racing. He will stay involved with PKV Racing but feels it is best for the team if they find drivers that they can build on for the future. The team has not chosen the driver to race alongside Katherine Legge yet. Mark C.
Seen/overheard in Los Angeles - II Seen/overheard in Los Angeles - IIBefore the new Champ Car Atlantic event opened in Los Angeles tonight we spotted Townsend Bell and his lovely wife, and Al Unser III is here with his mother Shelley and his agent and they were meeting with Kevin Kalkhoven before the event.........Kevin did tell us that the promotion budget for this year's Grand Prix of Long Beach is far bigger than in previous years.  He expects a bigger attendance than last year's large turnout.........Steve Johnson tells us that they expect 20% higher TV ratings in 2006 and 5% higher attendance. He went on to say, "We are not shooting for home runs anymore, but a series of strategically spaced announcements from now through the remainder of this year."
Seen/overheard in Los Angeles - I Seen/overheard in Los Angeles - IUPDATE The photo to the right is the first sneak peek at the new Atlantic car that we will provide you until the official unveiling. Note the high F1-like sidepods and the Mazda Cosworth badging..

02/14/06 AutoRacing1.com got a sneak preview of the new Atlantic car to be unveiled tonight in Los Angeles and we can go on record as saying it is one of the best looking open wheel race cars ever produced. It has great lines and.....sorry, we won't spoil the unveiling. Beyond a doubt, Swift has produced their best car ever. Check out AutoRacing1.com later tonight for the first real photos.

Champ Car to announce Mazda Champ Car to announce MazdaChamp Car will announce tonight in Los Angeles that they have signed a major 3-year deal with Mazda to badge the new 300 HP Atlantic Cosworth engine and also be a series sponsor. In addition Champ Car President Steve Johnson told AutoRacing1.com that Mazda is doing a major media buy for the Champ Car series itself.
Hulse / Barrett Tied after season-opener Hulse / Barrett Tied after season-openerSonoma, CA - The SCCA Formula Russell Championship, presented by Yokohama, kicked off the 2006 season with more than 50 drivers under clear skies and balmy weather. Chuck Hulse, the 2004 Grand Masters Champion is tied with new-comer, 16 year-old Pat Barrett, for the overall lead in the series with 35 point apiece.

Hulse, and Barrett traded first and second place finishes in the weekend-long event held at Infineon Raceway. Hulse dominated his Saturday race winning with a 4.615 margin of victory over Ze’ev Drori. Barrett finished second, to last years Masters Champion, Steve Hill. On Sunday all four drivers raced together with Barrett narrowly edging out Hulse (who set the fastest lap of the race at 1:45.535) for the win. Hill finished sixth after starting from the back of the 15 car field and Drori was twelfth.

Two Canadian drivers posted good results. Lorenzo Mandarino, (Burnaby, BC) is in third place with 32 points with a win on Saturday and third in Sunday’s race finishing behind the winner Barrett and Hulse. Mandarino returns to the series after a three year absence when he competed in 2003 as the winner of the Jim Russell / RACER Trophy and a free season of competition. This year’s Trophy recipient, Tyler Dueck (Abbotsford, BC) began his season with two top-ten finishes and sits ninth with 18 points. zzzz

Rounding out the top five and tied with 26 points each are veteran Hill along with Eric Cheever who leads the Mechanics Challenge Series. All drivers are competing for $25,000 in scholarship funds to race in 2007.

The series also features two age divisions where the top prize for both is a return engagement for a free season of racing in 2007. In the Masters division (drivers 40 to 49) Mark Nason has just a two point lead over Dave Martinez with 32 after winning his race on Sunday. Bruce Chapman is third with 24, while Zeke Dehnert holds down fourth with 18, followed by Andy Brown with 16 points.

In the Grand Masters Division (drivers over 50) Hulse leads Ze’ev Drori with 27 points followed by John Shaffer in third with 25 points. Ken Snyder is fourth with 16 points while Max Maxidon is in fifth with 8 points.

Round two of the nine round series is scheduled for March 11th and 12th at Infineon Raceway. Race results and a complete listing of points are available at <http://www.jimrussellusa.com/competition/points.php>

Round 1 of 9

1. Chuck Hulse, Anaheim, CA - 35 points
2. Pat Barrett, Los Osos, CA - 35
3. Lorenzo Mandarino, Burnaby, BC - 32
4. Steve Hill, Los Gatos, CA - 26
5. Eric Cheever, Franktown, CO - 26

Masters Division - drivers 40 to 49

1. Mark Nason, Reno, NV - 32 points
2. David Martinez, Tiburon, CA - 30
3. Bruce Chapman, Pasadena, CA - 24
4. Zeke Dehnert, Rohnert Park, CA, - 18
5. Andy Brown, Saratoga, CA - 16

Grand Masters Division - drivers 50 and over

1. Chuck Hulse, Anaheim, CA - 40 points
2. Ze’ev Drori, Los Angeles, CA, - 27
3. John Shafer, Seattle, WA - 25
4. Ken Snyder, San Andreas, CA - 16
5. Max Maxidon, New Harmony, UT - 8

Mechanics Challenge Series

1. Eric Cheever, Franktown, CO - 26 points
2. Nathan Thompson, Garland, TX - 15
3. Connor Langolis, Ashland, OR - 15
4. Jason Tu, Rosemead, CA - 12
5. Stephen Dix, Tiburon, CA - 1

Earnhardt victory rated No. 1 Daytona moment Earnhardt victory rated No. 1 Daytona momentWith nearly 50 years of racing contested across its asphalt surface, Daytona International Speedway remains one of the coveted arenas for NASCAR drivers to conquer.

Its signature event – the Daytona 500 – is also NASCAR’s signature event, in addition to being the season-opener for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, and always a career highlight for its winners.

Dale Earnhardt had many significant wins by the time he arrived at the 1998 Daytona 500, but he had never captured the sport’s crown jewel. At age 47 and in his 21st attempt, Earnhardt finally achieved his most elusive goal that season, and his only Daytona 500 victory tops the list of Top 5 Daytona 500 Moments.

The “countdown” has been a historical buildup to the 48th annual Daytona 500, set for Sunday. The previous four moments announced: zzzz

• At No. 5, “The Fight” involving Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough at the end of the 500 in 1979, the first year the event was televised in its entirety.

• At No. 4, “DW’s Victory Dance” at the 1989 race, when Darrell Waltrip won the 500 for the first time, then did the “Icky Shuffle” in Victory Lane. (The “shuffle” was a celebration dance made popular by Cincinnati Bengals running back Icky Woods.)

• At No. 3, Lee Petty’s controversial win in the inaugural 500, in 1959. Petty won the race by the narrowest of margins over Johnny Beauchamp. Photos and videos were scrutinized for three days before Petty was declared the official winner.

• At No. 2, Pearson and Petty in 1976. David Pearson and Richard Petty shared a paint-trading last lap that caused them to crash. Petty’s car stalled. Pearson’s kept moving, barely, to take the checkered flag.

As for the No. 1 Daytona 500 moment, read on.

Top 5 Daytona 500 Moment No. 1: Earnhardt finally wins … Stymied in so many other attempts, Dale Earnhardt won the 1998 Daytona 500 by beating a pack of pursuers to the finish line after grabbing the lead on the final pit stop with less than 30 laps remaining – a win made sweeter by all the frustration that preceded it.

Four times prior to 1998, Earnhardt had led the Daytona 500 with 10 laps remaining only to lose it in some unlucky fashion. When he completed his cool-down lap in ’98 and spun in celebration in the infield grass, crews along pit road swarmed to his famous black No. 3 Chevrolet as he drove toward Victory Lane, greeting “The Intimidator” with congratulatory shouts and hand slaps.

“I cried a little bit in the race car on the way to the checkered flag," Earnhardt said that day. "Well, maybe not cried, but at least my eyes watered up.”

Adding to the poignancy was a pre-race meeting with a young fan. A girl in a wheelchair offered Earnhardt a lucky penny to put in his car, and he ran the entire 200 laps with the coin affixed to his dashboard.

Said Dale Earnhardt: “That’s pretty special.”
No love and affection for Toro Rosso No love and affection for Toro RossoIn the hard world of Formula One, there’s not much room for love and affection and on this St. Valentine’s Day, the only sign of romance was the wheels of the cars kissing the curbs as they sped around the Sakhir circuit.

Liuzzi was in the cockpit today, although he was able to take an early bath as a gearbox problem meant the RB1 was forced to miss just the final 90 minutes of the session.

“Nevertheless, it was a reasonable day with signs of performance gain and general progress,” reckoned Chief Engineer, Laurent Mekies. “As expected, the track was much cleaner than yesterday which allowed us to be more precise in our set-up work. Also, track temperatures were much higher today which made for a more realistic simulation of what we can expect for the race here in three weeks time, which is particularly relevant as far as the tires are concerned.”

Tomorrow, Switzerland’s Neel Jani, the team’s 2006 “Friday only” driver, will have his first run in RB1. Press release Squadra Toro Rosso

TNT/NBC NASCAR Analyst Benny Parsons Sounds Off TNT/NBC NASCAR Analyst Benny Parsons Sounds Off
TNT/NBC’s Benny Parsons on the impact that Toyota will have when they enter NASCAR next season:
  “It’s going to have a huge impact.  I think it’s going to bring a lot of attention to the sport.  People are wondering how the Asian automakers are going to do versus the domestics, since they have been doing it for so long: Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.  The one big question is who is going to drive the cars.  You wouldn’t think that Toyota would start with drivers that no one has heard of.  That just doesn’t make a lot of sense.  You would think that they would go out and pursue the top-name drivers.  I think that all that is in the future though.  I’m sure there will be announcements throughout this year that they have signed some driver to drive in 2007…but the biggest news for them is the announcement that they will be here.  But the 2006 season is coming and that’s what should be on people’s minds.  That’s what’s on my mind – who will be the NEXTEL Cup Series champion?  Who will win the most races and who is going to be the rookie of the year?  Once the season is over, I think there will be a lot of attention spent on Toyota.”

“I think there will be some fans that may turn their backs on NASCAR because they have a foreign manufacturer involved.  You may lose a few fans, but I think you will gain even more fans that are not fans now.” zzzz

Parsons thoughts on the Car of Tomorrow, a safer NASCAR-designed chassis that will begin racing on a limited basis in 2007:  “I’m a fan of it.  I think that NASCAR is trying to approach this thing financially.  I think the car itself will be cheaper to operate for an entire season than today’s car.  I also think the cars will be safer.  It will keep the driver safer.  They are going to move the roof up so that the taller drivers, such as Elliot Sadler, aren’t so cramped inside the cars.  They’re going to move the driver to the right, away from the outside retaining wall, in case of a left side collision.  All of that is good.  The cars will have some energy absorbing materials in the cars, especially for side impacts.  We have safer barriers at the tracks now to absorb impacts.  I think it’s going to make racing better because it will take some of the aerodynamics away from the cars.  Today, the cars are going through the corners so fast and they are so dependent on air that it makes drafting difficult…they will be able to run side-by-side in the corners better.”

Parsons on what it takes to maintain a positive image on the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series circuit:  “I think all drivers need to look at situations like Kurt Busch’s in Phoenix and realize just how much scrutiny is on them as NASCAR Nextel Cup Series drivers.  They are well known all over the country.  If Kurt Busch would have been in Phoenix, AZ for a football game, and the same thing would have happened, it would not be as near big of a news story as it was with the fact that he was there for the race.  They just have to be aware that they’ve got to present themselves as decent human being 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 52-weeks out of the year.  They are role models and they have to present themselves as such.  I think they’ve all looked at that situation and said, ‘well, that could have been me.’  They’re going to have to pay attention more when they are out of the public eye.  I think that was a tremendous learning experience for Kurt and I expect him to be much better statesmen for himself, his sponsor and NASCAR than ever before.”

Parsons on the important story lines to follow this season:  “I think there will be some first time winners in 2006.  We have a host of rookie challengers – young guys who are trying to make their mark in the sport.  This is the absolute most exciting time of the year.  Someone asked me the other day, ‘as you look towards the season, what races are going to be most exciting?’  I thought for a second and then I said, ‘every one of them.’  Under the points system, you can’t eliminate any races and be a champion – you have to go to all of them.  Every one of them has a tremendous amount of prestige and pressure and they all pay the same amount of points.  This is the most exciting time of the season and it lasts from now until November when they crown a champion.”

Standing starts return to Atlantics Series Standing starts return to Atlantics SeriesWith a brand new competition package and an influx of new teams and drivers, many aspects of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama will take on a fresh look and feel in 2006. At several events this season, however, North America’s top open-wheel development series will turn back the clock and resurrect a longtime staple of Atlantic racing. Stationary or “standing” starts at the beginning of races will make their reappearance at select events in 2006.

With an expanded Atlantic field expected this season, series officials continue to determine the precise number of tracks where standing starts will be practical during the ’06 campaign. The popular, Formula One-style starts are more likely to take place on wider road course circuits. The first standing starts of the season are scheduled to take place in both races of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland doubleheader weekend, June 24-25 (Rounds 5 and 6) at the wide-open, 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront Airport runway road course. zzzz

“We’ve closely examined the re-introduction of standing starts in Atlantics and we’re prepared to do it on tracks where it’s feasible in 2006,” said Tony Cotman, Champ Car Vice President of Operations. “There are a number of factors that will help determine where we can institute standings starts, such as the number of cars in the field, the width of the track and the configuration of the circuit, but we plan on doing it at as many venues as possible, as long as it provides for safe and clean racing.”

Standing starts were a longtime tradition in the Atlantic championship since the inception of the series in 1974. Atlantic stalwarts such as Bill Brack, Bobby Rahal, Gilles Villeneuve, Price Cobb, Keke Rosberg, Kevin Cogan and Howdy Holmes all earned victories in the early days of the series by taking the green flag from a stationary position on the starting grid. Atlantics first went to a rolling start at the series’ first oval race at the Milwaukee Mile in 1988. The championship continued to use standing starts at all road and street course events until the beginning of the 1999 season when Atlantics switched exclusively to rolling green-flag starts.

“The tradition of standing starts has a long and rich history in the Atlantic championship,” said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. “Although we are entering a new era of competition in the Champ Car Atlantic series this season, we’ve listened to our fans and their desire to see standing starts return to the series. With the impressive number of entries and the high-level of competition we expect to see in Atlantics, adding standing starts at several events in 2006 will only add to the excitement and enhance what promises to be a very entertaining championship.”

Series officials will unveil the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship car this evening at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Several other Atlantic and Champ Car special announcements are planned. To watch all of the action from tonight's festivities, log on to either www.champcaratlantic.com or www.champcarworldseries.com for the live webcast scheduled to begin at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Industry News
GM investing in 5 Michigan plants GM investing in 5 Michigan plantsGeneral Motors today announced it is investing more than $545 million in five of its key Michigan-based manufacturing plants.  

 The specific facility investments are:

·         $163 million to retool its Pontiac truck plant for production of the next generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size trucks late this year

·         $32 million in its Pontiac metal stamping plant for innovative sheet hydroforming equipment used to stamp much of the sheet metal for the Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky and the future Opel roadster

·         $138 million for its Lansing Grand River assembly plant to expand the body shop by more than 120,000 sq. ft. for future vehicle production

·         $152 million for its Ypsilanti Transmission plant to increase production capacity of GM’s new rear-wheel drive six-speed transmission

·         $60 million for the Romulus Engine plant for various future engine upgrades 

GM’s investments demonstrate our commitment to continuously improve our products,” said Joe Spielman, vice president and general manager of GM North America Manufacturing. “They also show our dedication to strengthening our Michigan manufacturing operations.”

Klien fast in new Red Bull car Klien fast in new Red Bull carRed Bull Racing today kicked off their test session at a sunny Valencia circuit. Robert Doornbos was driving the original RB1-01 chassis, whilst Christian Klien had the honor of shaking down the latest incarnation of the Red Bull Racing 2006 car.

At the 4,005 km long Spanish track, Robert lapped some ninety laps in the older version of the 2006 car, as his teammate Christian Klien got a very nice gift in the shape of the latest version of the RB2 car (RB2-02) fitted with new aerodynamic configuration parts.

Christian Klien: “I’ve seen a lot of smiles in the team today, as the RB2-02 made an impressive debut. The revised chassis and new aero parts not only make the car go much faster but we’ve also got our heating issues under control.”

With cold temperatures in the morning session, Robert was able to do some long runs of at least eight laps each in which he and his engineer mainly concentrated on the set-up of the car and the dampers. After that, both the track- and air temperature raised considerably during the course of the day, so Robert focused on short runs in the afternoon session. In these runs Robert did some systems checks and practiced some starts.

Robert Doornbos: “Last week in Silverstone we already practiced some starts and pitstops, but with a higher grip level it feels quite different this time. Running the system checks also proved to be very interesting. The team came up with all kinds of electronic solutions which you can fall back to once you suffer from a puncture or an error while on track. I’ll finish my program with the RB2-01 tomorrow morning and, with all the happy faces I’ve seen here today, I already look forward to test the RB2-02 in Barcelona next week!”

Christian completed 100 laps in the new chassis, posting the second fastest time of the day in the process.

Speed World Challenge
Team Cadillac to field four champions Team Cadillac to field four championsDETROIT (Feb. 14, 2006) - Team Cadillac will have an all-star driver lineup in 2006 with four championship-winning racers aiming for victories in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Championship in Cadillac CTS-V race cars. Andy Pilgrim, the reigning SPEED GT champion, will contest the entire 10-race series in the No. 1 Cadillac CTS-V. Max Angelelli, Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell will share the No. 16 Cadillac CTS-V. All four of Team Cadillac's drivers have previously raced the black CTS-Vs.

"The Cadillac CTS-V is a world-class performance luxury sedan, and we are delighted to have four world-class race car drivers with Team Cadillac in 2006," said Jim Taylor, Cadillac general manager. "This formidable lineup of champions, combined with the capabilities of the production Cadillac CTS-V, will certainly put Team Cadillac in a strong position to win a second consecutive SPEED GT manufacturers championship. With drivers from the U.S., Canada and Europe, Team Cadillac's international roster of driving talent reflects Cadillac's stature as a truly global brand." zzzz

Since Team Cadillac's debut in March 2004, the black CTS-Vs have scored seven victories, six poles, and 21 podium finishes - highlighted by a 1-2-3 podium sweep at Road Atlanta in April 2005 and a sweep of the 2005 drivers and manufacturers championships.

Pilgrim, born in England and now a naturalized American citizen, has driven a Cadillac CTS-V race car since Cadillac finished first in the team's debut at Sebring in March 2004. Pilgrim's racing resume includes the 1996 IMSA Grand Sport Endurance Championship, the 1997-98 PSCR GT1 championships, five ALMS wins, and two Rolex 24 At Daytona victories, including an overall win in 2003.

"I've raced with Max, Ron and Johnny as teammates before, and I'm looking forward to having them as teammates again in 2006 at Team Cadillac," said Pilgrim. "Our focus will be on retaining the manufacturers championship, and I'll give it a 100 percent effort. 2006 will be an exciting year in the SPEED World Challenge with new venues such as Long Beach and Salt Lake City added to the schedule."

Fellows, a three-time American Le Mans Series GT1 champion (2002-04), 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner and overall winner in the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Corvette Racing, scored back-to-back SPEED GT victories for Team Cadillac at Mosport in 2004-05. The versatile racer from Mississauga, Ont., has won races in series that range from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck (two career victories) and NASCAR Busch Series (three wins) to the SCCA Trans-Am (19 victories).

"I've had a great time racing for Team Cadillac in the last two years, and I'm looking forward to doing more races with the CTS-V this season," said Fellows. "The World Challenge GT reminds me of the Golden Age of the Trans-Am series, with intense competition among race cars that are really based on what you drive on the street. It's racing that rewards smoothness and finesse, and it's great fun."

O'Connell, a resident of Flowery Branch, Ga., shared the ALMS GT1 title with Fellows in 2003-04. The pair teamed up to win their class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and score an overall victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2001. He's won championships in the Formula Atlantic West, driven open-wheeled Indy cars, and tallied a record six class victories in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring endurance race. O'Connell's only previous appearance with Team Cadillac was at Road Atlanta in Sept. 2004.

"Racing with Team Cadillac and having Andy as a teammate is going to be a great experience," O'Connell said. "Based on the performance of the cars over the past two years, I'm confident we'll have good equipment. I've watched the close competition in the World Challenge as a television commentator, and I'm looking forward to being in the middle of the action as a driver. My job is to win races - that's the objective of everyone at Team Cadillac."

Angelelli, a resident of Monte Carlo, won the 1992 Italian F3 championship and was co-champion of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series in the Daytona Prototype class with teammate Wayne Taylor. He scored Team Cadillac's first win in Sebring, and subsequently posted victories in Road Atlanta (Sept. 2004) and Lime Rock Park (July 2005).

"Team Cadillac has an exceptional driver lineup in 2006, and they're backed by a group of very talented engineers and technicians," noted Dave Spitzer, Team Cadillac program manager. "The competition will certainly be intense, but Team Cadillac has the personnel, the equipment and the experience to achieve success again in 2006."

Sato shakes down Arrows relic for Super Aguri Sato shakes down Arrows relic for Super AguriSuper Aguri F1 completed its first test today as Takuma Sato shook down the team’s ‘interim’ car at the Kemble airfield in Gloucestershire  The SA05, based on a 2002-spec Arrows A23 bought from former Minardi boss Paul Stoddart, will be used for the first three flyaway races before the team plans to introduce its own chassis for the start of the European season at Imola in late April.  Sato, who is expected to be confirmed as one of the Honda-backed squad’s two drivers shortly, completed two runs in an all-white, sponsor-free car. ITV/F1
2nd day of testing in Bahrain for Ferrari and Honda 2nd day of testing in Bahrain for Ferrari and HondaSecond day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, working once again today at the Sakhir circuit, in Bahrain. Today’s schedule was centered on tire testing and set-up work for both drivers. Felipe Massa, at the wheel of a 248 F1, covered 68 laps, the quickest in a time of 1’31”908. Luca Badoer, at the wheel of an F2004, fitted with a regulated power version of the V10 engine completed 63 laps, the quickest in 1’31”230. Ferrari

Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello joined the Honda Racing F1 Team in Bahrain on Tuesday morning for the second day of the Honda Racing F1 Team's current test at the Sahkir circuit. It was another warm and sunny day with an ambient temperature of 27 degrees Celsius and a track temperature of 32 degrees Celsius.

In chassis RA106-01, Jenson spent his early laps completing familiarization and set-up runs before completing a tire evaluation program. Jenson completed 88 laps and set the second fastest time of the day - a 1:31.451.

Rubens also concentrated on finding a good balance in the new chassis RA106-03 during his early runs. He then ran through an aero evaluation followed by a tire program. Rubens completed 105 laps today setting the third fastest time - a 1:31.483.

Jenson and Rubens will continue their driving responsibilities in Bahrain tomorrow.

Pos Driver Team Engine Car T Best Lap Gap
1 Badoer Ferrari Ferrari F2004 B 1:31.228
2 Button Honda Honda RA106 M 1:31.451 0.223
3 Barrichello Honda Honda RA106 M 1:31.483 0.255
4 Massa Ferrari Ferrari 248 F1 B 1:31.902 0.674
5 Liuzzi Toro Rosso Cosworth RBR1 B 1:32.722 1.494 Honda F1

NASCAR marking off no-bumping zones NASCAR marking off no-bumping zonesNASCAR officials said Tuesday that for the rest of Speedweeks activities at Daytona International Speedway they will institute "no zones" in which what they judge to be excessive bump drafting will draw penalties.

"Enough is enough," said Nextel Cup Series director John Darby.

Darby and Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president for competition, said that additional officials will be posted to monitor these zones, which will be set up in the turns of the 2.5-mile Daytona track.

If these officials feel that a driver is out of line in the way he uses his car to bump another forward in these areas, that driver could be forced to pass through pit road, be assessed a "stop-and-go" penalty or even be parked if a driver is judged to be repeatedly overzealous in using the controversial tactic.

NASCAR's action comes after particularly rough bump drafting in Sunday's Budweiser Shootout prompted 2005 Cup champion Tony Stewart to warn that "we're going to kill somebody" if NASCAR did not step in to get it under control. ThatsRacin.com

Webber fastest in Williams Cosworth Webber fastest in Williams CosworthFour teams were in action today for the first day of testing this week in Valencia. Mark Webber set the pace at the wheel of his Williams FW28, followed by Red Bull’s Christian Klien (in an aerodynamically revised RB2) and McLaren’s Pedro de la Rosa.

1. M. Webber Williams FW28 1'10''601 94 laps
2. C. Klien Red Bull RB2 1'11''254 +0''653 100 laps
3. P. de La Rosa McLaren MP4-21 1'11''619 +1''018 102 laps
4. J. Montoya McLaren MP4-21 1'11''701 +1''100 48 laps
5. R. Doornbos Red Bull RB2 1'12''448 +1''847 103 laps
6. A. Wurz Williams FW28 1'12''657 +2''056 48 laps
7. T. Monteiro MF1 Racing M16 1'12''924 +2''323 82 laps
8. M. Winkelhock MF1 Racing EJ15B 1'14''299 +3''698 77 laps
9. G. Mondini MF1 Racing EJ15B 1'24''110 13''509 16 laps

Track News
More upgrades for Watkins Glen More upgrades for Watkins GlenCapital improvements continue in full swing at Watkins Glen International with the addition of a brand-new race control structure located at the top of the new FrontStretch Grandstand, which was built in 2005.

Watkins Glen International president Craig Rust announced today that the foundation has already been poured in preparation for the track’s new addition and that the project is expected to be completed early this spring.

“We have made tremendous upgrades over the past three years,” stated Rust. “This project is just another example of our commitment to continue to improve The Glen for everyone.”

The new structure will include race control, timing and scoring, television and P.A. Announcer’s locations.  The new race control will also allow The Glen to free-up space in the WGI media center, on both the second and third floors, adding additional space for deadline media and photographers

“Last year we completed the second largest renovation project in the history of the track,” continued Rust. “We are thrilled to be able to continue to build on those improvements.”  When asked what was next on the track’s capital improvement agenda, Rust replied, “You’ll just have to wait and see…”

Mandarino victorious in Russell Championship Mandarino victorious in Russell ChampionshipTop Canadian kart racer Lorenzo Mandarino enjoyed a victorious outing at Infineon Raceway this past weekend (Feb. 11-12) during the opening rounds of the SCCA Formula Russell Championship.  Focused on gaining more open-wheel experience for his eventual full-time graduation to car racing, the 19 year-old impressed the paddock with a new level of maturity and poise.  Mandarino scored a win in the opening main of the weekend events and then took a steady third on Sunday in a less-than-stellar car.

“We accomplished almost everything we were after with two podiums and a more experience," offered Mandarino. "I'm focusing on my karting this year, but any seat time in cars is valuable and I really feel like I took a lot away from this weekend.”

After qualifying on pole for the opening race, Mandarino got a great jump at the green flag and steadily pulled away to the win.  Sunday’s event was more of a challenge as he needed to coax more from his car, qualifying fourth before racing to third. A hard last-lap battle for the final podium position drew on Mandarino’s growing maturity. After losing the spot, he remained focused and took it back by capitalizing on his challenger’s error.  The end result of the weekend was a pair of well-deserved podium appearances. zzzz

“When I ran the full series back in 2003 after winning the Graduate Runoffs, I was much younger and less poised.  I pushed too hard and wanted to win by a big margin and this obviously didn't lead to the best results as I made too many mistakes.” admitted the maturing pilot. “I felt so much more focused this time around and was able to better adapt to my Sunday car and bring home another podium.  That run was almost more satisfying than the win on Saturday, considering the circumstances.  I can't wait to get back here for the next event.”

The Burnaby, BC pilot has a full schedule of karting events in North America and Europe planned for the upcoming season but, thanks to his win at last fall’s Superkarts! USA SuperNationals – the most prestigious kart race in the country, he was awarded a pair of race weekends in the Formula Russell program.  Mandarino will be back for the second round of the series on March 11-12 to complete this particular program. The Canadian’s ’06 karting debut will take place on March 17-19 at the Stars of Karting Race of the Americas in Norman, OK.

Bite Racing announces 2-car Atlantics program Bite Racing announces 2-car Atlantics programHaving spent the last two seasons readying his Champ Car Atlantic team for its chance at a championship run, Dr. Chris Souliotis and his Bite Racing squad today announced its plans to become a full-time two-car team in the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.

Souliotis, who is a practicing dentist in Victoria, British Columbia, will spend more time practicing his craft as a race car driver in 2006 as he joins 23-year-old Ben Jamini for a two-car attack. The team will be led by rookie contender Jamini and expects to contest all 12 events on the 2006 Atlantic schedule while maintaining a possibility of fielding a third car at selected venues with Dr. Daryl Leiski.

Jamini (pictured right) tested for the Bite team several times this off-season and showed that he is an adept race car driver. He was immediately up to speed using the Swift 014.a chassis, and communicated well with returning engineer Willi Opliger and crew chief Matt Rosenke. Bite Racing will place its full efforts on Jamini and contention for the Atlantic championship. Jamini will be in attendance at this evening’s unveiling of the new 2006 Atlantic car in Los Angeles.

“Things are moving quickly and we are doing everything to make it happen,” said Souliotis. “We have built a beautiful race shop in Victoria, designed for the purpose of training young, talented engineers and mechanics into race worthy employees. We are very excited about the potential of this team and expect to continue our growth in the coming seasons.”

Jamini, a native of Holland, comes to the Atlantic series after competing in the European Formula Renault Series in 2004, moving up to the European series after a successful 2003 campaign in the Dutch Formula Renault Series that saw him win two races. He graduated to full-size cars in 2002 after six successful karting seasons that saw him climb from juniors to Formula Super A, where he finished in the top-six at the World Championships in 2000 and 2001. Jamini has competed against many of the top names in European racing during his ascension to the Atlantic Championship, including Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso and U.S. F1 hopeful Scott Speed. zzzz

Souliotis is a familiar face in the Atlantic ranks, having made his series debut with a ninth-place run at Vancouver in 2004. The three-time Canadian GT champion finished ninth in last year’s Atlantic standings, ending the year with top-10 runs at Road America and Montreal. The team hopes to periodically field a third car for Leiski, who scored a pair of C2 class victories and second in the C2 championship in 2005. In addition, the team will continue to evaluate other talented young drivers and may provide partial rides this season.

“We feel that we have built our entire team into an outfit that is ready for a full-time run at the Atlantic championship,” Souliotis said. “We have a goal of moving up to Champ Cars in the near future and the Atlantic series provides a great opportunity for us to prepare for the jump.”

Allmendinger to sign autographs Allmendinger to sign autographsAJ Allmendinger will be the feature driver at upcoming Portland Rod & Custom Show, this weekend February 17-19th at the Portland Expo Center.  AJ will be signing autographs on Saturday Feb 18th from 10:30 – 11:30am and 2-3pm.  Come down to the show, chat with AJ and get an autograph signed!
Earnhardt says Daytona track needs repaving Earnhardt says Daytona track needs repavingWhile discussing the perils of bump drafting at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday night following the Budweiser Shootout, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took a verbal swipe at the condition of the 2.5-mile tri-oval.

"I think the racetrack is in poor condition, in my opinion," Earnhardt said. "We run around the middle of the corner because the bottom is so dang rough.

"There's a lot of bad bumps and it moves the cars around when you're side by side. Three-wide and you've got cars running through bumps and holes; you're going to have a hard time hanging on to them."

"We respect the opinions of the drivers," Speedway president Robin Braig said in response. "On the competition side, we look to our sanctioning bodies, in this case NASCAR, and to Goodyear Tires for their recommendations about our track surface. They keep a close eye on the condition of the track surface." zzzz 

Earnhardt was 5 years old the last time the Speedway, owned by International Speedway Corp., was paved in 1979. ISC plans to pave Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, a track similar in size and shape, this year.

Braig said that "at this time, there are no plans to repave" Daytona. "NASCAR and Goodyear have each told us we are in good shape right now," Braig said. "We always listen to our drivers, but we take our lead on the competition side from NASCAR and Goodyear." Daytona Beach News-Journal

Zanardi says Rossi needs more F1 testing Zanardi says Rossi needs more F1 testing"I think Valentino Rossi has the capabilities to do great things in F1 too, but whoever thinks it's all decided already is wrong," Alex Zanardi told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport. "At the moment, when he's in a Ferrari, he uses 95% of his brain to make the car work at its best.

"He doesn't see beyond ten meters in front of him, which is exactly the opposite of what happens when he rides the bike. Valentino, even if he's leading a very difficult race, in the last laps can look at the large screens around the track and see how the others are doing and maybe decide which restaurant to go to with his girlfriend.

"He doesn't have to do much to go faster than everyone else. But if today he finds himself at the start of an F1 GP on a circuit he doesn't know, like Melbourne, then I think he would be three seconds slower. However, he's so full of talent that with a year's testing he can make it."

Three to test at Kentucky today Three to test at Kentucky todayRyan Newman, Travis Kvapil and Robby Gordon are scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway on Tuesday, Feb. 14th. Fans can view testing for free from the designated area outside Turn 3. Tests usually begin at 9:00am, and last until about 5:00pm. Test times will vary based on team objectives. The Kentucky Speedway Gift Shop is offering a 15% discount on online and in-store purchases through Monday, March 13. Kentucky Speedway PR
10 to 12 races for Elliott 10 to 12 races for ElliottBill Elliott is driving the #36 Chevy for MB2 Motorsports in the Daytona 500 and hopes to run 10-12 races with both MB2 and Evernham Motorsports this season. Richmond Times Dispatch
Racing Driver Lures Sponsors in Unique Web Opportunity Racing Driver Lures Sponsors in Unique Web OpportunityScott Mansell, one of Britain’s most promising young drivers, launches milliondollarmansell.com as a unique method of allowing his supporters to achieve a high profile coupled with low-cost advertising. “Companies and individuals are able to advertise from just fifty dollars, which includes an image and link on www.milliondollarmansell.com and an image on my racecar” say’s Mansell.

A hundred dollar ‘block’ allows supporters to display a 20 x 50 pixel image on Mansell’s homepage and also a 1 x 2.5 inch image on his racecar. Companies can purchase as many ‘blocks’ as required, to ensure greater visibility.

Mansell’s idea is similar to that of Alex Tew’s very successful Million Dollar Homepage, with a slight twist. “My idea is an evolution of the Million Dollar Homepage, with added benefits at a lower cost. There is a massive ‘buzz’ around the site and people are excited about getting their name on an actual high-profile race car. My website is getting lots of traffic and this will only grow with my career profile.”

The Indy Racing League are fully behind Mansell’s imaginative idea. The IRL’s Media Relations Coordinator, Tim Harms says,  “Scott’s idea is very simple and the good ideas always are. We are giving him full support and everyone is talking about this radical idea. We wish Scott and his team the very best for this season.”

Motorsport sponsorship at this level costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and the young racer may well have hit on a great idea. Mansell is allowing any firm to advertise in a very large arena, at a very affordable price. With large amounts of traffic being directed from his site, Mansell is confident that companies will instantly see the benefit. “Once they have paid their initial fee, traffic directed at their site will cost them nothing.”

For additional information on Scott Mansell and the Million Dollar Mansell website visit www.milliondollarmansell.com or contact Richard Barrow at info@milliondollarmansell.com

Honda contradicts itself Honda contradicts itselfIn perhaps the 180-degree about-face in company history Honda executives in this IndyCar.com article say that being the sole supplier of engines in the IRL is what Honda is all about, when for years they touted how important competition was. In fact they never entered a race series before whereby they were the sole engine supplier. In effect, what HPD has become is a factory assembly line to mass produce the cheapest engines they can.

Everyone in the industry would respect them more if they just came out and said that being sole engine supplier is absolutely against Honda culture, but they are in it to make HPD a profit center.

Brian Barnhart also spews the company line by saying the cost reduction was all part of the IRL plan since Tony George founded the IRL, yet when Toyota, Honda and Chevy were competing head-to-head and throwing money around the league as if it was growing on trees, Barnhart and company were gleeful about how well the series was doing.

Barnhart would get far more respect if he told the truth about the fact they were unable to control costs, and that if not by the grace of Honda agreeing to be sole engine supplier, the league would be faced with having no engines at all.

Johnnie Walker increases 2006 sponsorship Johnnie Walker increases 2006 sponsorshipJohnnie Walker – the world’s number one Scotch whisky and the Team McLaren Mercedes Formula One team have announced an up-weight to their existing partnering agreement for the 2006 Season. This agreement will enable Johnnie Walker to intensify its brand building programs and to further demonstrate its ongoing commitment to using the Team McLaren Mercedes sponsorship as a platform to promote a shared understanding of what responsible drinking means.

The increased investment provides a number of additional benefits for the Johnnie Walker brand during the 2006 season; additional branding on the car and significant marketing activation opportunities including hospitality and promotional rights, access to drivers and track days which can be utilized in markets to engage consumers. zzzz

Ben Anderson, Global Brand Director, Johnnie Walker explains, “We joined Team McLaren Mercedes last July in order to use our association with this professional, precision and technology driven team to build the brand and communicate responsible drinking while simultaneously building the Johnnie Walker brand. For example in Brazil we promoted the ‘designated driver’ concept through a fully integrated program – ‘Piloto da Vez’ which achieved over 122 million Brazilian ‘consumer impacts’ through advertising, promotion and PR activity and a dedicated website which received 170,000 hits. The three-month program culminated in Juan Pablo Montoya becoming the ‘designated driver’ for one lucky competition winner. In China we implemented a major ‘responsible drinking’ initiative which included in-bar activities in key cities, the message ‘Take the lead, drink responsibly’ was delivered through media interviews and personal appearances. In just half a season we are already seeing the impact of this sponsorship and its associated consumer programs and advertising.”

“Using our extensive consumer research we have strong insights into consumer attitudes towards responsible drinking and we know that linking a responsibility message to something that interests core Johnnie Walker consumers (25 – 35 years) is more likely to have a positive impact. The new agreement with Team McLaren Mercedes combined with our investment at a market level takes our global investment in this program to more than £20 million and will enable us to deliver these messages to consumers in an even more relevant and compelling way. ”

Ron Dennis, Chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group and Team McLaren Mercedes Team Principal says, “From the outset, it has been clear that Team McLaren Mercedes and Johnnie Walker shared the same view as to how this partnership could be used for powerful effect. Johnnie Walker has proven that the relationship with Team McLaren Mercedes and the Formula One environment, and its association with control and precision, is a great asset in its responsible drinking program. The success of the last season provided a compelling reason to further strengthen our partnership.”

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport says, “Johnnie Walker’s extended commitment to the team following our partnership which started mid-season last year shows how successful this collaboration has been. We have strongly supported Johnnie Walker’s plan to use their involvement in the Formula One program as a platform for responsible drinking messages as we consider this to be an important aspect of our partnership.” McLaren Mercedes

FMS announces new team sponsor and drivers FMS announces new team sponsor and driversGiancarlo Fisichella unveils Jason Tahinci and new team sponsor Petrol Ofisi at the launch of FMS International in Istanbul. Fisichella Motor Sport International has today announced Petrol Ofisi as the new team’s title sponsor for the next two years in the GP2 series. The announcement came in Istanbul, Turkey, where FMS International also unveiled their second driver for the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Turk Jason Tahinci. Jason will partner Italian Luca Filippi for the next two years at the newly named "Petrol Ofisi Fisichella Motorsport International" GP2 series team.

L-R: Luca Filippi (ITA) and Jason Tahinci (TUR) at the launch of the Petrol Ofisi Fisichella Motorsport GP2 team.

The Turkish multinational oil company Petrol Ofisi, has recently announced its backing of the Formula One Grand Prix of Turkey next August and has said it is delighted to complete its involvement in International Motor Sport by sponsoring the Italian GP2 series team for the next two seasons.
The signing of Italian F3000 Champion Luca Filippi and young Turkish star Jason Tahinci for two consecutive years is a decision made by the new squad to "consolidate its program and its presence in the prestigious GP2 series."
“We have been approached by Petrol Ofisi to create a very interesting program” Giancarlo Fisichella said “They are keen to support new Turkish drivers as much as we are firmly interested in pushing Italian talent. With such a common objective it has been quite easy to find an agreement” zzzz
“For the last three months FMS International has concentrated in putting together a very competitive technical package and now we aim to push our two young drivers to victory”
Other team sponsors and suppliers include:
 Trident Chewing Gum
Puma - Race wear
Guru - Clothing
Marker - Trailers
Nord Diesel - Commercial Vehicles
Volvo Trucks
Vektor - Bikes

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Mosley issues 'GPMA' ultimatum
A far-flung week of F1 action
'New' '06 Toyota to debut
Alonso has driven a Mercedes
Rossi back on four wheels
Symonds expects less running on Fridays
Champs say Schu, Alonso, in F1 hot seat
Schu can wear '06 crown - Frentzen
Renault to set 2006 pace - Gascoyne
Honda on hunt for new title sponsor
'I still talk to Theissen' - Williams
Red Bull livery to stay blank
Honda resume testing in Bahrain Honda resume testing in BahrainThe Honda Racing F1 Team's first test at the Bahrain International Circuit began on Monday morning in warm and sunny conditions with an ambient temperature of 25 degrees Celsius.

The team is sharing the circuit with Ferrari and Scuderia Toro Rosso as it prepares for the opening race of the season in just under four weeks time. This week is also a first for the Bahrain circuit, which is staging an F1 test for the very first time. The track surface continually improved over the course of the day as the amount of fresh rubber being laid down increased.

Anthony Davidson and 'Young Driver' James Rossiter performed the driving duties today in chassis RA106-01 and the brand new chassis RA106-03 respectively. zzzz

Anthony had a productive morning working on finding a good chassis balance and completing 53 laps. He continued to work on the set-up during the afternoon session, completing a tire evaluation alongside an aero program. Anthony completed 114 laps in total today and set the fastest time of the 2006 cars - a 01:32.571 - behind Badoer's V10 engined Ferrari.

James also focused on set-up work for the new chassis 03, alongside a short aero evaluation in the afternoon session. James completed 68 laps in total today and set competitive lap times in what was his first drive in the new RA106.

Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will take over the driving duties tomorrow. Source Honda Racing

NASCAR suspends Knaus, Hendrick responds NASCAR suspends Knaus, Hendrick respondsUPDATE Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick today responded to NASCAR sanctions levied against crew chief Chad Knaus following Sunday's Daytona 500 post-qualifying inspection at Daytona International Speedway. "We understand NASCAR's position," Hendrick said. "Our expectations for the team remain high. It's a deep, championship-caliber group and they'll step up this weekend." Darian Grubb, lead engineer for the #24 and #48 Hendrick Motorsports teams, will immediately assume Knaus' at-track duties in preparation for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500. "It's obviously disappointing to miss the biggest race of the year, but I'm confident in Darian and the rest of my teammates," Knaus said. "There's been a lot of effort put into the Daytona 500 and I know the team will be successful with the support they'll receive from the entire organization." Hendrick Motorsports PR

02/13/06 NASCAR announced today that NASCAR Nextel Cup Series crew chief Chad Knaus has been ejected from any further participation in 2006 Daytona 500 activities as a result of a rules infraction discovered following pole qualifying runs Sunday. Knaus is the crew chief for the #48 Lowe's Chevy driven by Jimmie Johnson. NASCAR said the #48 car failed post-qualifying template inspection in the rear window area. The qualifying time posted by the #48 was disallowed and Johnson will have to start at the rear of the field in the first of two 150-mile qualifying races Thursday. The qualifying time of the #96 DLP Chevy driven by Terry Labonte was also disallowed. NASCAR officials said an unapproved carburetor was found on the 96 car. Labonte will also have to start from the rear of the field in Thursday’s qualifying races. Additional penalties for both cars will be determined following the Daytona 500. NASCAR PR

TV News
Wind Tunnel returns Sunday night Wind Tunnel returns Sunday night“Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain” returns to SPEED Channel this Sunday night, February 19th. The show this year will air LIVE at 9 p.m. ET on Sundays, with some of the one-hour shows featuring a Guest Co-Host.

This week’s Guest Co-Host will be Robin Miller (SPEED Channel Analyst). As another racing season gets underway, Robin will share his always insightful and popular opinions on the world of racing. From the Daytona 500 to Champ Car’s latest bid at gaining attention, Robin is sure to raise a few eyebrows on this show!

Featured Interview: Jim Aust (VP of Toyota Motorsports, and President and CEO, Toyota Racing Development USA)

Just a couple of weeks ago, Toyota announced that they will enter NASCAR’s Nextel Cup Series in 2007. We’ll talk to Jim about that exciting new venture, as well as get his thoughts on leaving the IRL.

Topics of Discussion: Daytona 500
Toyota into Nextel Cup
Open-wheel season preview
…and much more!

Midland continue testing at Valencia Midland continue testing at ValenciaThe Midland F1 Racing team stayed in the sunnier and warmer climate of Valencia this week continuing their program of development on the M16 car. Both James Key, and now Tiago Monteiro have admitted that there are early problems with the teams’ new car. First to go on record was James Key, Technical Director, admitting last week that the team had identified a performance issue with the car. James backed up his statement by admitting that the team did have a solution to the problem, and no doubt this solution will get some track time this week.

In today’s issue of the Portuguese Autosport, Tiago Monteiro has gone a little farther in explaining just what the issue is.

"We have to learn to work with this chassis, as the suspension is a lot different from the EJ15B," Tiago was quoted as saying by the magazine.

"The M16 is very nervous when braking and that is still giving us some problems because we lose speed as we enter the curbs. But we noticed more aerodynamic drag as we seem to have much more grip, and it reflects in the lap times."

The team are due to test at Valencia from the 14th to the 17th of February before moving on to Barcelona for a three day test next week.
Champ Car to webcast announcements Champ Car to webcast announcementsLike an eager Valentine awaiting a bouquet of flowers, owners and participants in the Champ Car Atlantic Series Presented by Yokohama are anticipating the debut of the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic chassis and engine combination. On Tuesday, February 14 they, along with Champ Car fans, will be able to see the debut of the made-in-the-USA Swift 016.a chassis powered by a 2.3-liter, 300-horsepower Cosworth engine riding on Yokohama Racing Slicks live on http://www.champcar.ws/

Both the Champ Car and Atlantic series official websites will host an exclusive webcast of the debut live from the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles on Tuesday night at 10:30 p.m. ET. This will be the first public viewing of the next generation Atlantic Championship car that will then go to Firebird Raceway in Arizona for its first test.

"We are very excited to be able to bring this opportunity to our fans," said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. "Our website showcases the technology of Champ Car by bringing special events like Tuesday's debut directly to our fans." zzzz 

In addition to some of the top rising stars of racing and legends of the sport like Jimmy Vasser and Bobby Rahal, several Hollywood celebrities are also expected to be in attendance for the invitation-only affair and several significant Champ Car and Atlantic series announcements are also planned for the evening.

http://www.champcar.ws is the official site of Champ Car and the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. The site is also home to Race Director, Champ Car's online broadcast of each race that allows fans to direct the video feed from the event by using up to six different camera angles. Race Director also allows fans to see live telemetry from the pits and listen to driver's radio communication to their teams. It also allows fans to go into the archives and watch any Champ Car race from 2002 through 2005. Champ Car
NASCAR inks deal with Tissot NASCAR inks deal with TissotSwatch Group’s Tissot brand has reached a multi-year sponsorship deal with NASCAR “to become the official watch and timekeeper” for the series. Terms were not released, but such a sponsorship typically costs $2-3M. The company, which said the deal is an attempt to raise its U.S. profile, will also produce “a line of NASCAR-inspired watches” as part of the agreement. Tissot said its timekeeping equipment will be used in ’07 Bloomberg News
AGR, SSM test Indy Pro Series drivers AGR, SSM test Indy Pro Series driversAndretti Green Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports continued their preparations for the 2006 Indy Pro Series season Feb. 8-9 with two days of road course testing. The two teams formed a partnership in December and tested on an oval in late January.

Jaime Camara, who finished fifth in the series in 2005, and rookie Jonathan Klein, a freshman at the University of Dayton, are slated to drive for AGR. England's Jay Howard completed his second test for Sam Schmidt.

"I think I turned well over 200 laps during the two days," said Camara, a native Brazilian who now lives in Miami. "The short, tight track with low to mid-speed corners allowed us to test a lot of different setups for St. Petersburg. I think it was a really good test, and we found a constant setup."

Camara tested on both days, while Klein and Howard each drove one day. "The learning curve has been unbelievable," Klein said. "In two days, I've learned a great deal already. The power, size and grip level of these cars are more than I'm used to. It's exciting to drive such a fun, fast car. I'm really looking forward to the season starting. Jaime, Jay and I, even though we've only been together a limited time, are working well together, and we're showing some good speed."

Waltrip forms Truck team with Curb and Miller Waltrip forms Truck team with Curb and Miller Today Darrell Waltrip Motorsports announced a marketing partnership between Curb Records and the No. 12 Toyota Tundra NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team with Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Joey Miller. Miller, who made five starts last season, was recently signed to run the entire 25-race schedule for Darrell Waltrip Motorsports. The 21-year-old will unveil his new paint scheme when the No. 12 Curb Records Toyota Tundra is unloaded for the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

“Curb Records is a leading country music label and has been a major player in the music industry and NASCAR for years,” said Miller. “Curb Records has had many number one records over the years. They support great artists like Tim McGraw, LeAnn Rimes and Jo Dee Messina to name a few. I’m happy to have them on my truck and I’m looking forward to racing at Daytona this week.”

“We’re pleased that Curb Records has decided to join Darrell Waltrip Motorsports and support Joey Miller in the No. 12 Toyota Tundra,” added Pat Wall, vice president and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series program manager for TRD, U.S.A., Inc. zzzz

Curb Records has the same sentiments and are ready to kick off the season at Daytona with Miller.

"We are glad to be associated with Darrell Waltrip Motorsports and Joey Miller as he competes for the 2006 Raybestos Rookie of the Year title, his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory and the championship," said Mike Curb, founder and owner of Curb Records. "Just like our company Curb Records, Joey has a Nashville connection. In three starts at Nashville Superspeedway, he has two wins and a second-place finish as an ARCA RE/MAX Series competitor. We're ready to start our season with Darrell Waltrip Motorsports and Joey at Daytona. Joey had success there last year. In his first time at a superspeedway, Joey finished in the top-10 at Daytona. We're looking forward to seeing him run this week in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, which is one of the toughest series going."

Bid on rare Michael Schumacher car Bid on rare Michael Schumacher carSilver Spring, MD – Bid4Assets, Inc. a leading online auction company, announced today the auction of an extraordinary 1990 Mercedes-Benz C-11-05 historic racecar driven by Formula 1 racecar champion driver, Michael Schumacher, in the world-renowned Le Mans Classic Championship competition.

The auction, currently in preview at www.Bid4Assets.com, has an opening bid of $830,000 and requires a $25,000 deposit.  Bidding begins Monday, February 20 at 8am (ET) and concludes Thursday, February 23 at 3pm (ET).

A significant piece of Mercedes-Benz racing history, the car, also referred to as the “Sauber-Mercedes C-11 chassis number 5” was designed by Leo Ress and built at the factory of distinguished Swiss auto racing designer, Peter Sauber.   

This C-11-05’s extraordinary performances during the 1990 and 1991 racing seasons solidified its position as one of the greatest Group C sportscars of its time.  Driven by some of the greatest F1 drivers of their time, notable races and finishes included: (1) Jean-Louis Schlesser and Jochen Mass’s first place finish in 1990’s final race of the season in Mexico City (team was later disqualified)  and (2) Karl Wendlinger, Michael Schumacher and Fritz Kreuzpointer’s 5th place finish in 1991’s Le Mans 24-Hours.

The car is currently located in a specialized storage facility in Boca Raton, Florida.  Additional information, including inspection details, photos and auction terms and guidelines is included in the auction listing at www.bid4assets.com/C11.

Tryson back from operation Tryson back from operationPat Tryson, crew chief for Mark Martin’s #6 AAA Roush Racing Ford Fusion, had his appendix removed last week after suffering an attack of appendicitis. Tryson was back at the track this week, a little sore, but mostly back up to speed. Ford Racing
Gelles announces American and South African Gelles announces American and South AfricanGelles Racing proudly announces today it will enter two very promising stars in the new Champ Car Atlantic Championship for the upcoming 2006 season. Young American hotshoe Robbie Pecorari will step up to the new upper ladder series that has graduated so many drivers to the top professional series in the last decades. Also joining Gelles Racing will be Stephen Simpson from South Africa:  Simpson has enjoyed a long winning curriculum both in Europe and around the world and is representing his country in the new A1GP series with great success. Gelles Racing also announces its Atlantic team recently put under contract race engineer David Conti and crew chief Geoff Bushor to work with Operations vice-president Tim Jennings. 

“We are very excited to have Robbie (Pecorari) and Stephen (Simpson) racing with us this year, cheered team principal Bob Gelles. 18-year old Robbie is all about the future of open wheel racing in America and we have no doubt he will mature into one of the permanent fixtures in Motorsports. We had been in contact with Stephen for the last years but were never able to match our goals before this year. This 22-year old experienced pilot could be the outsider in the championship. His accomplishments in the A1GP leave no doubt: he will be successful.

We’re also ecstatic to have Dave (Conti) and Geoff (Bushor) join our Atlantic team. We are most pleased to provide news that our very own Trygve Rangen has graduated to the Super Aguri Formula One team as a design/research engineer and fellows like Dave and Geoff will tackle the new Atlantic package with panache.  We are here to put our mark on the new Series.”

Robbie Pecorari

The Pecorari name has been on score sheets for many years but it will be the younger Robbie that will test his skills in the series everybody longs to see in Long Beach. Robbie Pecorari started racing and winning at age 9 and has been in the experts’ crystal ball ever since. In only twelve races last year in the Star Mazda series, he took home two wins and seven podiums, finishing Vice-Champion in the standings and earning Rookie of the Year. Any driver would say he or she aims to make it to the big leagues but the dream could very well become reality for this gifted young man. Robbie’s 0.16 car white and blue will be at the front of the field. 

Robbie is quoted “I would like to thank Bob for giving me the opportunity to race for him in 2006.  I feel that he has the right personnel as well as attitude to go out and win the Championship in my rookie year in the Atlantic Series.  I have talked to many people and hear many good things about my engineer, Dave Conti and I am looking forward to working with him as well as the entire Gelles Racing team.  Bob and I have been in contact for a few years and I have to thank his team sponsors for turning this dream of mine into a reality.  As pre-season testing is just around the corner and Long Beach just two months away, get ready to see Gelles Racing at the top of the charts!” zzzz

Stephen Simpson

This 22-year old who enjoys dual nationality started karting at age 11. This 2000 RSA National Formula Ford Champion has raced alternately in UK and South Africa with the reputation of being a hard charger. He was invited to represent South Africa in the A1GP series and has enjoyed three Top Six finishes thus far. He even lead the race for ten laps this past weekend in Malaysia. Not only will he add some international flavor to the new Champ Car Atlantic Championship but he will be among the title contenders. Stephen’s machine is slated to match the colors of the South Africa national flag

Testing in March

Gelles Racing is scheduled to get its Swift-Cosworth single seaters on March 8th and will quickly prepare, paint and assemble the cars to start testing immediately. We have assembled a first class workshop and are now ready to get to serious work. «Everyone in the shop is anxious to get these cars, adds Gelles. Early testing will help us understand this new car and we believe the vast experience of our crew and the talent of our drivers will take us to the front in Long Beach when the checkered flag flies.»

In 2006, Gelles Racing will enter the Formula BMW USA Championship and the Champ Car Atlantic Championship. Western Union, BMW of Sterling, USA TODAY, Hebert & LeBleu and Care Centric sponsor the team. For more information, Bob Gelles may be contacted at (703) 926-2474 or by email bob@gellesracing.com.

Ferrari starts Bahrain test Ferrari starts Bahrain testFerrari returned to testing action on Monday, with Felipe Massa and Luca Badoer on hand in Bahrain in a bid to glean as much as experience as possible for the season-opener at the Sakhir circuit on March 12.

Badoer drove an F2004 with a restricted V10 engine while the team’s race driver Massa was at the wheel of a 248 F1 in full 2006 specification.

Badoer ended the day 0.7s ahead of Massa on the timesheets, having completed 77 laps to the Brazilian’s 51. Ferrari will continue testing with the same two drivers tomorrow.

1. BADOER  Ferrari F2004   1m32.297s
2. MASSA   Ferrari 248 F1  1m32.952s

Racing News
Tony Stewart wins DOY Award Tony Stewart wins DOY AwardWhile Tony Stewart achieved many goals on the way to his second NASCAR Nextel Cup series championship he also earned one of the most coveted titles in auto racing as he was voted the Speed Channel DRIVER OF THE YEAR presented by Gillette M3 Power by a wide margin.

Stewart, who was born and resides in Indiana, won the Allstate 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and totaled five wins and two poles winning the vote in the third quarter.

He follows in the groove of AJ Foyt, who, thirty years ago, was Driver of the Year in 1975. Both drivers have the unique ability to be successful in many forms of auto racing.

“It’s an honor to be named Driver of the Year,” said Stewart. It’s something I take a lot of pride in, especially since one of the guys I’ve always looked up to in racing – A.J. Foyt – won this award back in 1975.

Although all of his wins came in his torrid third quarter Stewart consistently maintained his points lead in the Chase for the Cup as the series drew to a close, in November, at the Homestead Miami Speedway. zzzz

A humble Stewart added “and while this award recognizes the driver, I want to recognize my team – Joe Gibbs Racing. Their hard work, knowledge and never-ending support allowed us to win a second championship. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Barry Schmoyer, President of the Driver of the Year Foundation, commented “Stewart exhibited great talent and never cracked under the pressure of the Chase for the Cup.”

Professionals, who voted - in a secret ballot - for a single driver, gave Stewart 12 votes out the 17 cast. He also won the fan vote.

Indy 500 winner, and IndyCar Series Champion, Dan Wheldon, scored three votes and the NHRA’s Tony Schumacher, and World of Outlaws, Steve Kinser tallied one vote apiece.

There were almost 20,000 votes on the www.speedtv.com website. Stewart counted 10,210 votes, while Champ Car titlist, winner of an IROC race, Sebastien Bourdais, garnered 3,463 votes. Third place, Wheldon, winner of Driver of the Year for the second quarter took 2,423 votes.

In its’ 40th year, the DRIVER OF THE YEAR title is unique because it is the only award that encompasses all of the racing series in the United States and fan participation. A panel of 18 leading journalists from across the U.S. completed a secret ballot and a fan vote on Speedtv.com combined to determine the winner. Stewart received a trophy, a custom made motorcycle and a Maurice Lacroix wristwatch which was presented on Speed TV. SPEEDTV.com

Atlantic series poised to launch careers of next generation of drivers Atlantic series poised to launch careers of next generation of driversThe list of Champ Car Atlantic graduates that have gone on to stardom in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford is long and distinguished and features some of the legends of motorsport, but 2006’s version of the world’s top open-wheel developmental series is all about the future.

The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama will open a new chapter in its long and storied history this week when the new Swift 016.a chassis is unveiled for the first time. The 2006 version of the Swift chassis, paired with its dynamic 300-horsepower Cosworth powerplant, has already sent a shockwave of expectation through the racing world – a wave that will crest at the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach April 7-9.

The drivers and teams of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship will race side-by-side with their Champ Car brethren in 2006, holding each of their 12 events at the three-day festivals of speed headlined by the 750hp turbocharged rockets of the Champ Car World Series. The new-look series has already attracted more than 40 orders for the cars for 2006 with teams both old and new lining up to take possession of the Atlantic machines. zzzz

"As we continue building the future of the Champ Car World Series, the Champ Car Atlantic Championship will play a key role in our growth strategy," said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. "As the owners and operators of the Champ Car Atlantic series, Champ Car will commit every one of our company's resources to helping the Atlantic series prosper now and in the future. Everything we do at Champ Car, whether it be in our technical development, race operations or marketing and sales departments, will benefit the Atlantic series as well as the Champ Car World Series."

Champ Car teams have been quick to join the rising tide of new Atlantic squads for what will be the series’ 33rd season of competition, including a four-car outfit from Forsythe Championship Racing, a planned multi-car effort from six-time Champ Car title winner Paul Newman, and two cars each from Team Australia and from Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing.

The next generation Champ Car Atlantic series, with an unprecedented $2 million prize to be awarded to its champion in 2006, is the most direct pipeline to a seat in the Champ Car World Series and is thriving as the top level of North America’s open-wheel driver development system.

"The Atlantic series is the direct link to the future of Champ Car, so it is encouraging to see so many current Champ Car teams investing their resources to the 2006 Atlantic series," Johnson said. "The series is not only the proving grounds for the world’s top young driving talent, but also for the next generation of engineers, mechanics and team owners, and we are thrilled to be able to track their growth throughout each Atlantic event this season." Champ Car

Rossi in secret Maserati test Rossi in secret Maserati testValentino Rossi has been testing for Ferrari in recent weeks but said recently that now he is going back to bikes to try win the MotoGP Championship for Yamaha. But a few days after those remarks he was spotted in action at the wheel of a Maserati MC12 sports car at the Misano circuit in Italy, driving for the Novara-based Racing Box team which is campaigning the car in selected races of the FIA GT, ALMS and Italian GT championships. It will be interesting to see whether or not Rossi will start to appear in GT races between his MotoGP commitments as he increases his experience in four-wheeled competition. There are 16 MotoGP races this year but with FIA GT races at Silverstone, Magny Cours and Imola (tracks which MotoGP does not visit) this will be useful experience for the biker. If one believes the theory that Rossi is being prepared to switch from bikes into a Ferrari F1 car in 2007, you would say that this is the kind of preparation that would be very useful and that Ferrari's sister company Maserati would be able to ease Rossi's way into a decent car. Grandprix.com
TV News
SPEED to air Earnhardt special SPEED to air Earnhardt specialUPDATE A reminder that this special will air Tuesday night. 02/06/06 SPEED will air NASCAR Five Years Later, a one-hour special look at the sport of NASCAR five years removed from the loss of motor sports icon Dale Earnhardt, who died in a racing accident on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. The program will debut Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. ET as part of SPEED’s 70-plus hours of Speedweeks coverage from Daytona Beach.

NASCAR Five Years Later, narrated by veteran motor sports broadcaster Eli Gold, will examine the global reaction to the tragedy and how it affected the sport in immeasurable ways. A definitive catalyst for change in the area of safety, Earnhardt’s death also changed the entire demographic and marketing angle of NASCAR, instantly elevating his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the top of the list of fan favorites.

“The magnitude of the worldwide reaction to that day lifted NASCAR above the day-to-day world of motor sports for several months,” said Hunter Nickell, SPEED Executive VP & General Manager. “It confirmed Dale’s position in American culture as well as his enormous influence in the racing world … an influence that continues to be felt to this day.”

Earnhardt’s widow, Teresa, as well as NASCAR President Mike Helton and Earnhardt’s former crew chief Larry McReynolds are among those lined up to discuss the impact the man known as “The Intimidator” had and continues to have on the sport of NASCAR.

“While the show’s focus is clearly on NASCAR’s development since 2001, you have to understand what led up to that fateful day as well,” said Rick Miner, SPEED SVP Programming & Production and Executive Producer. “NASCAR Five Years Later tells that story as well.” 

Oris extends with Williams Oris extends with WilliamsWilliamsF1 confirmed today that Oris SA of Switzerland, the premium timepiece maker, has again renewed its sponsorship engagement with the team to take the partnership into the long term.

Oris initially joined Williams’ sponsor community in 2003 as the team’s official watch partner. Intending to bring its long established and unique timepieces to the attention of new markets and consumers, the Swiss-based company developed a collection of Formula One inspired watches, including the Limited Edition WilliamsF1 Team Chronograph, with its strap design mirroring that of an F1 tire’s vertical tread. This proved to be its most successful and best selling watch of 2003.

Having achieved such results from its partnership, Oris upgraded its sponsorship at the start of 2005, while today’s extended contract is a clear indication of the mutual benefits the sponsorship brings. The partnership’s shared synergies of precision mechanical engineering and the importance of split second timing will now continue to provide the basis for the fourth year of association.

The forthcoming season will see the Oris branding make a departure from its traditional location on the car’s rear wing endplates as it is re-positioned to the WilliamsF1 FW28’s front wing endplates as well as the drivers’ and pit-crews’ fire suits. The team’s race drivers, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg, will also fulfill an ambassadorial role for the brand as Oris produce two new Limited Edition driver chronographs. zzzz

Following Oris’ decision to broaden its relationship with Williams, Ulrich Herzog, Chairman and CEO of Oris SA, Switzerland, commented, “We have enjoyed a definite strengthening of brand awareness and image since we became an on-car sponsor of the WilliamsF1 Team. We trust that with the team’s strong efforts to be one of the top teams in 2006, and with the new position of the Oris logo on the front wing endplates, we will experience a further boost to our image and our sales.”

Frank Williams, Team Principal of the WiliamsF1 Team, confirmed, “This announcement follows a long line of new sponsorship and renewal confirmations for the team. Oris have been a long standing partner so I’m delighted that they are achieving such positive results through the relationship and are continuing their support of the team.”

Fauzy joins SuperNova Fauzy joins SuperNovaMalaysian GP2 and A1 driver Fairuz Fauzy has joined SuperNova Racing International today.  Fairuz Fauzy who raced in GP2 in 2005 with the French team Dams is very pleased with the move to the British team.

“I am thrilled I have signed with SuperNova Racing” said the Malaysian driver. “2005 was a year where everything was new to me, the series, the team and the circuits. Obviously, I learned a lot in a totally new environment and while I am disappointed that I did not score any points, I am glad I have finished in the top ten several times and would like to thank Dams for their hard work.”

“I am expecting this year to be completely different. SuperNova International is a well established team at this level with several world championships in the International Formula 3000 series and a third place finish in last year’s GP2 series.” zzzz

“I tested with SuperNova International in last October in Paul Ricard and knew by the end of two days testing that this was the team I wanted to be driving for this year. Besides the performance of the car the whole team is very professional and their approach to racing made me feel very comfortable. I am looking forward to joining them to start working on the forthcoming season, which I expect to be very successful both for myself and the team” continued Fairuz.

David Sears, SuperNova’s team principal said: “We tested several drivers over the winter break and Fairuz was immediately among the top 3-4 drivers we wanted to run this year. We were very impressed by his driving abilities, the quality of his feedback and his technical knowledge of the car. I believe that 2005 was not really a reflection of where he should be in the ranking, and I am convinced that this year we will give him the car to show his talent and bring home a lot of good results”.

“I can’t wait to be in Paul Ricard in a couple of weeks, not only to sit in the car and start working with my team but also to meet the many friends – drivers and staff – I made in GP2 last year” concluded Fairuz who spent the end of 2005 at home in Malaysia with his family and got married on the 1st January 2006 to Dara.

The first 2006 GP2 testing will take place on 22nd- 23rd February 2006 in Paul Ricard.

Summary of 2006 F1 rules changes Summary of 2006 F1 rules changesThe 2006 Sporting Regulations include changes to the format of tire usage throughout the race weekend, the format of the weekend itself and also the qualifying format. These are as follows:

Article 75)
Quantity of tires
a) During the Event no driver may use more than seven sets of dry-weather tires, four sets of wet-weather tires and three sets of extreme-weather tires. A set of tires will be deemed to comprise two front and two rear tires all of which must be of the same specification.

Impact: Each team may only bring two types of dry tire to each event, as in previous years, but is no longer obliged to do so. Therefore, a team could potentially bring just one tire type, and use seven sets instead of six or fewer.

Article 77)
Use of tires
a) No driver may use more than one specification of dry-weather tire after the start of the qualifying practice session.

Impact: In 2005, teams had to choose between two available types of tire on Friday evening. This is no longer the case, and the choice is only made when qualifying begins. zzzz 

Article 114)
Free practice sessions will take place:
a) The day after initial scrutineering from 11.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 15.00.

b) The day before the race from 11.00 to 12.00.

Impact: Instead of three and a half hours of free practice in 2005, the teams now have only three hours on Friday and Saturday in which to complete their preparations for the race.

Article 115)
The qualifying practice session will take place on the day before the race from 14.00 to 15.00. The session will be run as follows:
a) From 14.00 to 14.15 all cars will be permitted on the track and at the end of this period the slowest five cars, taking into account only laps which were completed before the end of the period, will be prohibited from taking any further part in the session. Lap times achieved by the fifteen remaining cars will then be deleted.

b) From 14.20 to 14.35 the fifteen remaining cars will be permitted on the track and at the end of this period the slowest five cars, taking into account only laps which were completed before the end of the period, will be prohibited from taking any further part in the session. Lap times achieved by the ten remaining cars will then be deleted.

c) From 14.40 to 15.00 the ten remaining cars will be permitted on the track.

Impact: Qualifying is split into three parts, with the final session representing a ‘super pole’ contest between the ten fastest cars. They must begin the session with the fuel load for their opening race stint, and then run until the fuel load is low enough to set a competitive lap time. Fuel used during the third session is then replaced prior to the race.

Article 117)
Each car will be deemed to be in parc fermé from the time at which it leaves the pit lane for the first time during qualifying practice until the green lights are illuminated at the start of the formation lap which immediately precedes the start of the race. Between these times, other than when cars are returned to the parc fermé overnight, the following work may be carried out:
- wheels and tires may be removed, changed or rebalanced and tire pressures checked.

Impact: Drivers may now start the race on new tires, which was not the case in 2005, 2004 or 2003. Renault
Barrichello in Bahrain Barrichello in BahrainRubens Barrichello, who makes his Honda debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix in a month's time, will open the Motorsport Art Exhibition at the Bahrain National Museum on Monday.

In the presence of His Highness the Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Barrichello was asked to officially open the month-long exhibition of international and Bahraini art dedicated to the sport, which will take pride of place amid the splendor of Bahrain’s heritage and culture at the museum.

The event will provide Barrichello with a break from the hectic routine of testing at the Bahrain International Circuit as momentum builds towards the Grand Prix.

"The 2006 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix cannot come soon enough for me," said Barrichello. "It marks the start of my competition career with the Honda Racing F1 Team and I am really looking forward to working with them and hopefully putting in a strong performance."

"Bahrain is a very special place, it has embraced Formula One and the welcome we receive is always amazing. The testing work we shall be putting in will be really valuable in making sure that we are as strong as we can be for the race, but also it is another welcome opportunity to see Bahrain and meet our hosts."

The Motorsport Art Exhibition is part of the Yalla Bahrain program of events put together under the patronage of the Bahrain Economic Development Board. Source B.I.C

Drivers Disqualified From Daytona 500 Qualifying Drivers Disqualified From Daytona 500 QualifyingUPDATE Crew chief Chad Knaus faces possible suspension for altering the height of the rear window in driver Jimmie Johnson's car before Sunday's qualifying for the Daytona 500. The biggest penalty could come as early as Monday against Knaus, according to a NASCAR source. According to the source, an instrument was placed inside the car that raised the rear window after it went through pre-qualifying inspection to provide an aerodynamic advantage. The height difference was discovered during a post-qualifying inspection and considered a flagrant attempt to gain a competitive advantage. NASCAR.com

02/12/06 Jimmie Johnson's Daytona 500 qualifying time was disqualified by NASCAR after Johnson's no. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet was found to have an illegal off-set track bar adjuster, allowing the team to boost up the back glass on the car.

Terry Labonte's no. 96 team was also disqualified after the car was found to have unapproved carburetor modification.

Johnson had qualified 5th on Sunday with a speed of 188.762mph but will now have to start at the rear of the field for Thursday's Gatorade Duel, which will set the field for the 500. Labonte had qualified 28th with a speed of 186.382mph.

Since Johnson finished in the top-35 in owners points in 2005, he is guaranteed a starting spot in the Daytona 500, as is Labonte, who is eligible for a Past Champions provisional. Pete McCole

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Berger won't test 'STR' car
New Merc V8 is better - de la Rosa
Briscoe admits F1 dream in tatters
Test concludes at wet Jerez
Bahrain test to kick off
Gascoyne hopes tire pact is kept
Red Bull budget rivals Ferrari - Flav
Renault vow to treat Alonso 'equally'
Gascoyne explains Bahrain absence
Fike lands full Busch ride Fike lands full Busch rideAaron Fike is slated to be behind the wheel of the #43 Curb-Agajanian Dodge for all 35 NASCAR Busch Series events in 2006, with Joe Shear, Jr., handling crew chief duties and Evernham Engines providing the horsepower for the first time, it was announced today by Curb Agajanian Performance Group. Curb Agajanian PR
Petty-Pearson crash was No.2 Daytona greatest moment Petty-Pearson crash was No.2 Daytona greatest momentDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Crossing the finish line at Daytona International Speedway usually is a full-speed situation, meaning nearly 200 mph.

But one of the most memorable Daytona 500s involved a finishing speed of considerably less. It also involved two of NASCAR's greatest drivers.

Seven-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Richard Petty and three-time champion David Pearson didn't race to the finish of the 1976 Daytona 500; they limped there. A last-lap collision resulted in both of their cars finishing at a velocity slower than most neighborhood speed limits, with Pearson claiming the only Daytona 500 victory of his career. (Photo Credit: Motorsports Images & Archives) 

Pearson's 1976 win is No. 2 on the list of Top 5 Daytona 500 Moments being announced, as a historical lead-in to the 48th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 19. The countdown culminates with the No. 1 moment announcement on Monday, Feb 13.

As for the moments previously announced:  zzzz

• At No. 5, "The Fight" involving Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough at the end of the 500 in 1979.

• At No. 4, "DW's Victory Dance" at the 1989 race, when Darrell Waltrip won the 500 for the first time, then did the "Icky Shuffle" in Victory Lane. (The "shuffle" was a celebration dance made popular by Cincinnati Bengals running back Icky Woods.)

• At No. 3, Lee Petty's controversial win in the inaugural 500, in 1959. Petty won the race by the narrowest of margins over Johnny Beauchamp. Photos and videos were scrutinized for three days before Petty was declared the official winner.

Some specifics on the Petty-Pearson paint-trading follow.

Top 5 Daytona 500 Moment No. 2: Petty and Pearson in '76 ... The 1976 Daytona 500 began as always, with a full field and the high hopes of each driver. But it wound down to two drivers -- Richard Petty and David Pearson -- battling for the victory. They traded the lead for 45 of the final 46 laps, racing bumper-to-bumper and door-to-door.

On the final lap, Petty and Pearson entered Turn 4 side-by-side; they collided and crashed into the outside wall, bouncing off of it, down the frontstretch.

An oft-forgotten fact: after he and Petty collided, Pearson's car also hit that of Joe Frasson, who had shot down pit road to avoid him.

Petty's No. 43 Dodge and Pearson's No. 21 Mercury finally stopped along the infield grass without crossing the finish line.

Both drivers were fine. Their cars were not.

Petty -- who still holds the record for the most Daytona 500 wins (seven) -- could not get his car restarted. The collision had pushed the radiator into the fan blade and kept it from running.

Pearson, meanwhile, had pushed in his clutch. He managed to keep his engine running with minimal momentum but it was enough to propel him back onto the frontstretch and across the finish line at approximately 20 mph -- enough to claim the checkered flag and the only Daytona 500 victory of his storied career. NASCAR

Gerhart Wins Record Fourth ARCA 200 Gerhart Wins Record Fourth ARCA 200Bobby Gerhart made history on Sunday at historic Daytona International Speedway.

Gerhart, a native of Lebanon, Penn., and driver of the No. 5 Lucas Oil Chevrolet, dominated the season opening ARCA RE/MAX Series event to earn a record fourth ARCA 200 triumph at “The World Center of Racing.”

Gerhart, who won the 1999, 2002 and the 2005 ARCA 200 at Daytona, was previously tied with Iggy Katona as the only three-time ARCA 200 winner. He also becomes the first driver to win back-to-back ARCA 200s in the history of the event.

The Lebanon, Penn., native started from the pole for the fourth straight year and led 78 laps of the 83-lap event, which was extended with a green-white-checkered finish.

“We didn’t talk too much about it, but after last year, we knew all this was on the line,” Gerhart said. “It was one of the factors in why we worked so hard to do it. Going back to back is extremely hard to do. I just went to work almost a year ago and here we are.” zzzz

Gerhart had to hold off Robert Yates Racing development Matt McCall and veteran driver Matt Hagans to secure the win. Rounding out the top five were Kevin Harvick Inc.’s Burney Lamar and Damon Lusk.

Gerhart doesn’t run the full ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule. He focuses on select events and Daytona International Speedway is at the top of his list.

“Out of all the race tracks that this series goes to, it’s certainly the more noticeable and obviously the most broadcasted race of the year,” Gerhart said. “If you’re going to win somewhere, this is the place to do it.”

Official Results, Daytona ARCA 200
1 1 5 Bobby Gerhart/Lebanon PA Lucas Oil Chevrolet 83 Running
2 2 55 Matt McCall/Denver NC citi financial Ford 83 Running
3 4 9 Matt Hagans/Pittsboro IN Eagle Creek Aviation Dodge 83 Running
4 20 31 Burney Lamar/W. Sacramento CA Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 83 Running
5 7 37 Damon Lusk/Kennewick WA National Cash Lenders-MSI-Excell Dodge 83 Running
6 27 20 Ken Weaver/Dallas TX Phoneco 1-800-4-A-Phone Dodge 83 Running
7 33 25 Billy Venturini/Chicago IL Central Merchant Services Chevrolet 83 Running
8 9 12 Mario Gosselin/Lake Wales FL JPN Racing-Dan Marc Cnstrctn-Manfull Chevy 83 Running
9 18 50 TJ Bell/Sparks NV ibid motors-Palomar Insurance Dodge 83 Running
10 31 46 Frank Kimmel/Clarksville IN Pork The Other White Meat Ford 83 Running
11 16 08 Jason Hedlesky/Clinton MI Hardcore Motorsports Dodge 83 Running
12 15 2 Dan Shaver/Charlotte NC Petro Express Chevrolet 83 Running
13 30 3 Jeremy Clements/Spartanburg SC Nationwide Recycling-U Pull It Chevrolet 83 Running
14 34 90 Brett Rowe/Barboursville WV Imperial Bedding-31W Insulation Chevrolet 83 Running
15 10 98 Erin Crocker/Wilbraham MA Hamburger Helper Dodge 83 Running
16 29 59 Ryan Howard/Tipp City OH Williams Bros Lumber Chevrolet 83 Running
17 26 24 Chuck Weber/Mesquite TX Cardinal Tool Company Chevrolet 83 Running
18 40 34 Darrell Basham/Henryville IN Nat'l Distributors Leasing-Eagle Chevrolet 83 Running
19 22 78 Doug Reid/Hueytown AL 3D Motorsports Chevrolet 83 Running
20 41 21 Todd Bowsher/Springfield OH Safe Auto Insurance Ford  83 Running
21 38 84 Norm Benning/Pittsburgh PA Mueller Quench Gum-3KRF Chevrolet 83 Running
22 23 22 Brian Tyler/Parma MI Enginetics Aerospace Chevrolet 82 Running
23 19 10 Tim Russell/Longwood FL Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters Dodge 80 Running
24 17 60 Eric McClure/Abingdon VA Premier Motorsports Chevrolet 77 Running
25 3 66 Stephen Leicht/Asheville NC citi financial Ford 74 Running
26 12 70 Justin Diercks/Davenport IA Foretravel Motorcoach Chevrolet 73 Accident
27 24 91 Christi Passmore/Pryor OK GAP Roofing-Asphalt & Fuel Supply Ford 73 Accident
28 32 11 Chad McCumbee/Supply NC Fast Track High Performance Driving Chevy 69 Running
29 11 4 Scott Lagasse Jr./St. Augustine FL Cunningham Motorsports Dodge 67 Running
30 37 13 Johnny Leonard/Cape Coral FL Affordable Roofing Chevrolet 65 Accident
31 36 38 Mike Harmon/Birmingport AL Bert Oostlander Chevrolet 59 Accident
32 6 94 GR Smith/Folsom NJ BGR Research Chevrolet 49 Accident
33 14 63 Dawayne Bryan/Lake Alfred FL Hi-Tech Construction Dodge 48 Accident
34 21 65 Walt Brannen/Elko GA SPS Dodge 48 Accident
35 5 85 Greg Barnhart/Oklahoma City OK Panelite Ford 48 Accident
36 39 1 Andy Belmont/Penndel PA Year One Ford 40 Engine
37 25 39 Danny O'Quinn/Coeburn VA World Financial Group-Beveck Ford 38 Running
38 13 75 Willie Allen/Bonaqua TN Josh Turner Nashville Music City Ford 31 Transmssn
39 8 7 Andrew Myers/Newport Beach CA Toyota of Escondido-Red Line Oil Chevrolet 22 Accident
40 28 07 Loyd Teakell/Caldwell TX Jesus Christ Racing Ministries Ford 14 Accident
41 35 96 Brandon Knupp/Piqua OH Mark Knupp Muffler & Tire Ford 13 Accident
PORK POLE AWARD:  Bobby Gerhart 48.603 (185.174 mph)
MRGN OF VICT:  .190 seconds
CAUTIONS:  7 for 47 laps
TIME OF RACE:  1:59:31
AVG SPEED:  104.170 mph
LAP LEADERS:  Gerhart 1-27, 33-83 (78); Weaver 28 (1); Hedlesky 29 (1); Bell 30-32 (3) 

ARCA 200 post-race quotes ARCA 200 post-race quotes
Winner Bobby Gerhart, driver of the No. 5 Lucas Oil Chevrolet

“We didn’t talk too much about it, but after last year, we knew all this was on the line. It was one of the factors in why we worked so hard to do it. Going back to back is extremely hard to do. I just went to work almost a year ago and here we are. (Gerhart photo by CIA Stock Photo)

“Out of all the race tracks that this series goes to, it’s certainly the more noticeable and obviously the most broadcasted race of the year. If you’re going to win somewhere, this is the place to do it.”

Second-place finisher Matt McCall, driver of the No. 55 Citi Financial Ford

“I definitely ruined (the restart) there. I got a little run there and shifted too early. Matt was nice enough to me to not cause a catastrophe there because it definitely would have been big. I came here to learn. The biggest track that I’ve raced before this was Bristol. Me and Matt, I don’t know if we could’ve caught Gerhart. I know the headline will be ‘Gerhart wins again.’ I know that will be the title on everything. We learned a lot. The car was really strong. Robert Yates and all of my guys put together a really good car. A little bit short makes it tough to swallow but I’m still learning.”

“I’ve watched him race before. I knew he was going to have a good car. He always does. You just hope you can sort of tag team him but he’s still so good that you almost have to have three or four cars to get a good run on him. When it comes down to it, everybody is antsy trying to get a good position and it’s hard to get everybody together.” zzzz

Third-place finisher Matt Hagans, driver of the No. 9 Eagle Creek Aviation-1st Wing Aircraft Mgt Dodge

“In the middle of the race when Matt was following me, I thought we could make a run on him in three. We were a little quicker in 3 and 4. We were both breaking I think pretty hard in three and four behind him. I thought that’s where we would make the run at the end of the race. Unfortunately I got shoved back to fifth with one of the lap cars. I don’t know what he was thinking. That last restart I had to come from fifth. When I got behind, we weren’t quite as fast as we were when he was pushing me. I couldn’t suck up on him. I think we probably would have to have three cars, maybe four, to get around Bobby.”

“Bobby will be starting Monday getting ready to next year’s Daytona. That’s what he does. He spends his entire year preparing for this race. He’s focused on it. The effort shows. He’s got a lot power. He’s got a seasoned team. He doesn’t tear up his cars. He gets to fine tune it every year. It’s a tough deal to compete with him.”

Fourth-place finisher Burney Lamar, driver of the No. 31 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet

“I had a blast. I can’t say enough about all the guys in the shop that came down here. We didn’t put a whole lot of effort into this car. The eye on the prize is for next weekend with the Dollar General car. But this is just to get experience. With the effort that we put into getting this car to get fast, fourth isn’t too bad but it’s always nice to win. Anymore seat time that I can get, that’s what we’re all about.”

Capacity crowd for A1GP in Sentul Capacity crowd for A1GP in SentulProving that there is a pent-up demand for major international auto racing in many countries outside the USA, the A1GP filled up the Sentul circuit grandstands in Indonesia Sunday. A crowd of 32,000 were on had to witness the race. This comes on the heels of A1GP drawing over 100,000 in Durban, South Africa two weeks ago. For a series that essentially came out of nowhere, A1GP's ability to stage international races is impressive. Photo right, courtesy of A1GP.
Timeline to create a new F1 car Timeline to create a new F1 carEver wondered just how long it takes to design and construct a brand-new F1 car?  McLaren have published a 'design timeline' of their new MP4-21 charger for the 2006 season.
First engine design meeting:  August 2004
Engine specification first issue:  October 2004
Layout work started on MP4-21:  April 2005
First design meeting:  April 2005
Gearbox simulation:  Mid April 2005
Car specification first issue:  May 2005
First scheming of gearbox:  May 2005
First dyno test for V8 engine: June 2005
Windtunnel work commences: Early July 2005
First drawing for gearbox: July 2005
Datum sheet Issue, final dimensions:  August 2005
First track test for V8 engine: September 2005
Gearbox production begun: September 2005
Chassis manufacturing begun:  October 2005
Car mock-up ready:  Chassis – November 2005; Initial engine – November 2005; Final engine – December 2005 
First chassis ready for bonding: December 2005
FIA test on first chassis:  December 2005
First car build started:  December 2005
First car build finished:  January 2006
First track test of MP4-21:  23rd January 2006
Cars depart McLaren Technology Centre for first race: Friday 3rd March 2006
Industry News
Renault bring a HANS device to the public Renault bring a HANS device to the publicOne of the many reasons that car manufacturers are involved in Formula One is the transfer of technology from the pinnacle of the sport to the road cars of tomorrow. Renault has looked at child safety and come up with a rather novel idea.

The HANS device has been commonplace in top-flight motorsport for some years now and the French manufacturer has investigated why injuries to children involved in road accidents are greater than that of adults. The study concluded that children do not fit well into current restraint systems and should they fall asleep, slide out of the mechanism.

Renault has developed a HANS-style ‘sleep safe’ restraint which provides extra head and neck support and holds a child upright and in their seatbelt should they fell asleep and also cushion the head in a side impact, reducing the chances of neck injury.

The equipment will be available first on the Espace and then across the Renault range shortly aimed at children between the ages of six and ten. Source Renault

Bell says Renault making good progress with R26 Bell says Renault making good progress with R26The Renault F1 Team Chassis Technical Director Bob Bell is pleased with work so far on the R26 and RS26 engine.

Bob, the R26 has now been running for exactly a month, and has completed over 6000 km so far on track. How are things going?
"We are making very good progress with the new car. There are still some issues to iron out with the car, but we are doing lots of miles in testing, and the R26 has met our expectations from a performance perspective. The drivers are happy, and we are working very well with Michelin."

Tire testing has formed a large part of the winter program. How competitive are Michelin?
"Michelin are showing a real determination to win. They are pushing harder than ever. With fewer teams running Michelin tires this year, we are also enjoying a closer and more direct collaboration."

The team has enjoyed very strong engine reliability so far this winter. How pleasing is that?
"It is something I am very pleased about, and I know Rob (White) and his team in Viry are as well. The engine group had a harder transition to make than our competitors for 2006, as Renault had to change the v-angle of engine as well as switching to the V8. A deliberate decision was taken to maximize the design and dyno testing phases of the project, which meant we were reliable and competitive as soon as we hit the track. The team at Viry deserves enormous credit for the job it has done so far." zzzz

How are Fernando, Giancarlo and Heikki working with the team?
"All three drivers are working with great commitment. Fernando and Fisi both know that the team will give them all its support, equally, until the end of the season – which is what you have to do if you are serious about winning championships. They are excited about the car’s potential. As for Heikki, he is more motivated than ever in his new role as official third driver, and very keen to demonstrate his abilities."

And what have they said about the car?
"They are very happy with it. It is easy to drive, the engine characteristics complement the chassis, it responds nicely to set-up changes, and they can find a good balance quickly. I think we have all the good characteristics of the R25, and more. And of course, the package looks competitive."

That’s what testing times seem to show. Exactly how competitive?
"It is very difficult to be sure. We are not yet running in representative conditions, as track temperatures are still quite cool, and not all of the teams are running with their definitive package for the first race – ourselves included. Equally, some teams like Toyota and Williams are in a learning phase with a new tire supplier, and then of course you don’t know what fuel loads other people are running…"

But what picture seems to be emerging so far?
"Well, if you try and work through those things – and it’s a big ‘if’ – then I think Honda, Renault and probably Ferrari seem to be the top teams. Other teams could become competitive quickly – I think the McLaren is a good car, and its pace is not yet clear; also, the Toyota remains to be seen once they have the new aero parts. Certainly, I think it will be closer than last year – and there is a possibility that we will see at least three teams in the mix at the front of the field."

Finally, what’s coming up in the next few weeks for Renault?
"As we have said, we plan an aero update before the first race, and that is currently in production. But the main work is to keep on pushing very hard on track, to make sure the R26 is completely reliable by the time it hits the track in Bahrain." Renault
Lapierre wins sprint race for French team Lapierre wins sprint race for French teamSentul, Indonesia - A1 Team France has taken pole position for the Indonesian Feature race after overtaking Britain's Robbie Kerr at the end of the first lap. The move set the order for the top three teams that was to continue throughout the race but battles further down the field gave the excited crowds the competition they came to see.

The action began as the cars left the grid with Canada being the first victim after contact with Malaysia meant they pitted at the end of the first lap and retired. New Zealand's 'Black Beauty' climbed up from tenth on the grid to seventh in the first lap, starting an assault on Ireland that was to continue until Durban race winner, Dutchman Jos Verstappen, took the opportunity to split the pair on lap 15.

A1 Team Italy made an unsuccessful move on Portugal on lap four going wide in turn three and hitting the gravel. Driver, Max Busnelli, got the car back on track but lost several places which he failed to regain. Shortly after, A1 Team China pulled off the track in lap six with suspected gearbox problems.

Drivers made the most of A1 Grand Prix's unique PowerBoost button to snatch vital places throughout the race. A1 Team Malaysia's Alex Yoong, one of the few drivers with experience of the Sentul track, used his extra 30bhp to steal fourth place from Switzerland on lap eight but it was when Timo Scheider in the German car used his PowerBoost to take eleventh place from Indonesian hero, Ananda Mikola in front of the grandstand that the groans of disappointment were audible. zzzz

A1 Teams Brazil and South Africa finished the race several laps down after being forced to pit. South Africa went in at the end of the first lap after the bonding on the front wing failed allowing it to rub on the left tire but after both were changed he rejoined the race only to pit again on lap three when the oil light came on. Brazil pitted at the end of lap six for a front tire change.

Six times race winner Nicolas Lapierre said: 'We worked hard on the car in warm up and made a few changes. It was quite difficult with the tires, and I pushed hard to pass Robbie. Fortunately I had a really good balance on the car until the end. At the beginning of the race it was difficult to open up a gap to Robbie but as he began to defend against Salvador it got easier and by the end I was able to build up quite a big gap. I'm really pleased and just waiting for the next race.'

Speaking about difficult weather conditions at the track, Nicolas said 'It is very difficult, the humidity is bad and it is very hot. It wasn't too bad in this race, but the next race is long and it will be much more difficult for all the drivers and mechanics.'

Finishing second for the fifth time, Great Britain's Robbie Kerr was unable to turn his pole position into a win in the Sprint race but was still positive about his prospects in the Feature race. 'The car was good and qualifying was good, unfortunately it didn't last. The balance went away throughout the race, and the car became quite difficult. There are still good possibilities for the next race, and I aim to finish at the front. We were close in this race, but not close enough.' Second did, however, move A1 Team Great Britain up to third in the points standing.

Scoring Mexico's first podium finish since the season opener at Brands Hatch, Salvador Duran was happy with his third place. 'I'm very happy, and could even have finished second. The car was good although at the end there was a bit of oversteer. We are able to finish in the points again in the Feature race.'

A1 Team Driver Time
1 France Nicolas Lapierre 24.03.360
2 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 24.10.341
3 Mexico Salvador Duran 24.11.387
4 Malaysia Alex Yoong 24.14.682
5 Switzerland Neel Jani 24.16.220
6 Ireland Ralph Firman 24.17.094
7 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 24.17.864
8 New Zealand Matt Halliday 24.19.669
9 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 24.22.074
10 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 24.26.482
11 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 24.26.666
12 Germany Timo Scheider 24.27.761
13 Austria Mathias Lauda 24.32.882
14 Italy Max Busnelli 24.35.547
15 USA Philip Giebler 24.39.755
16 Australia Marcus Marshall 24.41.317
17 Lebanon Basil Shaaban 24.48.545
18 India Armaan Ebrahim 25.03.649
19 Portugal Alvaro Parente 27.23.194
20 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 17 Laps
21 South Africa Stephen Simpson 15 Laps
22 China Tengyi Jiang 5 Laps
23 Canada Sean McIntosh 1 Lap

Hendrick calls lawsuit a cheap shot Hendrick calls lawsuit a cheap shotCar Owner Rick Hendrick made these comments Saturday afternoon at Daytona in response to those recently made by Diane Dorton, wife of Randy Dorton, Hendrick's head engine builder and one of ten people killed in the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash in October 2004. Others who died included Rick's 24-year-old son Ricky Hendrick, John Hendrick and his 22-year-old twin daughters Kymberly and Jennifer, Hendrick Motorsports General Manager Jeff Turner, DuPont Executive Joe Black, Scott Lathram, a pilot for driver Tony Stewart, along with the plane's pilots Dick Tracy and Liz Morrison. Mrs. Dorton has filed a lawsuit alleging the plane took off in bad weather because John Hendrick was in too much of a hurry and was unwilling to land at another airport other than the Blue Ridge Airport near Martinsville, Virginia.

"Everybody who had family members on that flight suffered a lot. You know when you look at the pilots and how they were trained and what went on that day, you know it's just disappointing somebody takes things out of context and the facts aren't accurate. I know my brother (John Hendrick) was a white-knuckle flyer, and he had his two daughters on that plane and they waited an hour for the weather to clear. You know the plane landed in front of them and there was a plane that was going behind them that anyone could have gone on to if they wanted to. So, for someone to take a shot at him is totally disappointing and hurtful to my family - my mother, his wife and child.

Then, for Diane to say that we turned our back on her or nobody helped her. I paid Randy's (Dorton) bonus in '04, paid him six months in '05. She's got a BMW. I paid her insurance. We had someone there helping her night and day. I met with her anytime she wanted to. You have insurance to take care of people and that's what it's for. I don't understand the attack on my brother. Thought it was a cheap shot, disappointing and the facts were not true. The other statement about not getting any help is totally..when you've done as much as we've done and someone makes that kind of comment that's hurtful and disappointing. You know everybody suffered. It was a sad deal. It was an accident. Greensboro (air traffic controllers) made a mistake, the pilots made a mistake and everybody is hurt a lot. It's just really disappointing when you do the best you can and someone grandstands and doesn't get the facts straight." zzzz

"My brother was a white-knuckle flyer, he was very afraid. He cancelled a lot of trips because he really didn't like to fly. He had his two girls on the plane and one of the statements she (Diane Dorton) made he said "we got to go to that airport (Blue Ridge)" which is totally false. You know they waited an hour and he said, and I've talked to people, there were other pilots there (that heard John Hendrick say) "hey if we can't get in we'll just stay home." So, they wait an hour. A plane lands in front of them, meaning things were okay and they go up there. Two well-trained, as good as we've had, I've flown with those two pilots all the time and they simply made a mistake. The weather was not great and Greensboro made a mistake, they didn't alert them they were off course and it happened. That's something I live with. I've got a six month old granddaughter that will never know her dad. You know it's been hurtful to everybody, everybody lost and suffered. Accidents happen and we just have to go on."

"You can do a lawsuit but you don't have to personally attack my family, my brother and you don't have to say the company hadn't helped when we've broken our back and been there and done things. Those are the two items that bother me. Lawsuits don't bother me I mean that's against the insurance company and that's why we have insurance. But when you attack my family personally, when we've done everything we can, I think, I was very disappointed in Diane and I think it was uncalled for and not accurate."

Q) Hendrick's response to being asked about the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report that cited pilot error as the main reason for the crash:
"They didn't mention as much about the failure of the Greensboro controllers who didn't tell the pilots they were too low or off course. I was happy to hear them say that they graded our flight department on a scale of nine and we got a nine. Our guys try to do the best they can and we do everything we can to make it as safe as possible. Accidents happen, they happen all the time. The pilots were doing the best job they could. They were as trained as well as they could have been and had a lot of experience in bad weather. In our planes the pilots always make the decision when it's time to go and when to divert. Like I said my brother…. had a couple of pilots call me that fly him all the time and say we've cancelled numerous trips when the weather wasn't good and he'd drive and get his daughters. He had both of his daughters on that plane so that was just, I don't know what is was, a cheap shot and it wasn't true. The facts are the facts and they'll come out.

Q) As to what changes they've made in regards to the team's flight plans:
"We'll do the best we can to be safe and try to go into larger airports that have towers and so forth, but it could happen in a van going to the airport so accidents just happen. I think everybody does the best they can and that's what I live with. My wife has helped me a lot there she's said God has a plan and we have to accept it. It's hard and it hurts and you live with it every minute of every day there's something that reminds you of your friends and family. Life is never the same after one of those but that's just the way it is." PRN's Garage Pass

Rain washes out Budweiser Shootout Rain washes out Budweiser ShootoutRain in Daytona Beach washed out Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway.  It was rescheduled for 4 PM ET Sunday on TNT.  It will follow Daytona 500 pole position qualifying at noon on NBC.  The weather forecast for Sunday is perfect weather - cool and sunny. Bad weather with wind and rain moved in on the second session of Daytona 500 practice and stayed into the night, photo by CIA Stock Photo.
Rain shortens final practice, threatens Shootout Rain shortens final practice, threatens ShootoutRain cut short the final practice before Sunday's qualifying for the Daytona 500.
Rank Car Driver Make Sponsor Speed Time Behind
1 #38 Elliott Sadler Ford M&M's 188.454 47.757 Leader
2 #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 187.594 47.976 -0.219
3 #136 Bill Elliott Chevrolet Ginn Clubs & Resorts 187.504 47.999 -0.242
4 #88 Dale Jarrett Ford UPS 187.414 48.022 -0.265
5 #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 187.332 48.043 -0.286
6 #14 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Waste Management 187.137 48.093 -0.336
7 #19 Jeremy Mayfield Dodge Dodge Dealers/UAW 186.699 48.206 -0.449
8 #07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 186.645 48.220 -0.463
9 #11 Denny Hamlin Chevrolet FedEx Express 186.532 48.249 -0.492
10 #2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 186.498 48.258 -0.501
11 #17 Matt Kenseth Ford DeWalt Power Tools 186.459 48.268 -0.511
12 #26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 186.359 48.294 -0.537
13 #20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet The Home Depot 186.278 48.315 -0.558
14 #99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 186.258 48.320 -0.563
15 #31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Cingular Wireless 186.124 48.355 -0.598
16 #01 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet U.S. Army 186.120 48.356 -0.599
17 #10 Scott Riggs Dodge Valvoline/Stanley Tools 186.070 48.369 -0.612
18 #18 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Interstate Batteries 186.062 48.371 -0.614
19 #66 Jeff Green Chevrolet Best Buy 186.050 48.374 -0.617
20 #178 Kenny Wallace Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 185.916 48.409 -0.652 zzzz 
21 #43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios/Betty Crocker 185.858 48.424 -0.667
22 #40 David Stremme Dodge Lone Star Steakhouse/Saloon 185.682 48.470 -0.713
23 #16 Greg Biffle Ford National Guard 185.571 48.499 -0.742
24 #25 Brian Vickers Chevrolet GMAC 185.567 48.500 -0.743
25 #5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet Kellogg's 185.426 48.537 -0.780
26 #6 Mark Martin Ford AAA 185.334 48.561 -0.804
27 #32 Travis Kvapil Chevrolet Tide 185.292 48.572 -0.815
28 #96 Terry Labonte Chevrolet DLP HDTV/Tweeter 185.223 48.590 -0.833
29 #7 Robby Gordon Chevrolet Jim Beam 185.181 48.601 -0.844
30 #41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 185.086 48.626 -0.869
31 #61 Kevin Lepage Ford Amp Energy Drink 185.059 48.633 -0.876
32 #9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dodge Dealers/UAW 184.699 48.728 -0.971
33 #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Budweiser 184.532 48.772 -1.015
34 #00 Hermie Sadler Ford Aaron's 184.468 48.789 -1.032
35 #42 Casey Mears Dodge Texaco/Havoline 184.441 48.796 -1.039
36 #27 Kirk Shelmerdine Chevrolet Apex Electric 184.200 48.860 -1.103
37 #21 Ken Schrader Ford Little Debbie 184.030 48.905 -1.148
38 #15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards 184.008 48.911 -1.154
39 #1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops/Tracker 183.902 48.939 -1.182
40 #50 Larry Foyt Dodge Arnold Development Companies 183.584 49.024 -1.267
41 #22 Dave Blaney Dodge Caterpillar 183.262 49.110 -1.353
42 #34 Randy LaJoie Chevrolet Front Row Motorsports 183.050 49.167 -1.410
43 #4 Scott Wimmer Chevrolet AERO Exhaust 182.979 49.186 -1.429
44 #23 Mike Skinner Dodge Bad Boy Mowers 182.927 49.200 -1.443
45 #55 Michael Waltrip Dodge NAPA Auto Parts 182.908 49.205 -1.448
46 #195 Stanton Barrett Chevrolet Yippeenet.com 182.571 49.296 -1.539
47 #89 Morgan Shepherd Dodge Victory in Jesus/Dutch Quality Stone 182.205 49.395 -1.638
48 #92 Chad Chaffin Chevrolet Oak Glove Co. 182.194 49.398 -1.641
49 #74 Derrike Cope Dodge MyGuardian911/Sundance Vacations 182.061 49.434 -1.677
50 #109 Mike Wallace Dodge Miccosukee Gaming & Resorts 181.899 49.478 -1.721
51 #49 Brent Sherman Dodge Serta 181.569 49.568 -1.811
52 #152 Larry Gunselman Dodge Pro30.com/Race2WA.com 181.006 49.722 -1.965
53 #37 Chad Blount Dodge R&J Racing 180.665 49.816 -2.059
54 #180 Carl Long Ford RoadLoans.com 175.774 51.202 -3.445
Daytona 500 qualifying order Daytona 500 qualifying order
1. (80) Carl Long, RoadLoans.com Ford
2. (15) Paul Menard, Menard's Chevrolet
3. (92) Chad Chaffin, TBA Chevrolet
4. (43) Bobby Labonte, Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge
5. (07) Clint Bowyer, Jack Daniel's Chevrolet
6. (1) Martin Truex Jr., Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Chevrolet
7. (32) Travis Kvapil, Tide Chevrolet
8. (40) David Stremme, Lonestar Steakhouse Dodge
9. (17) Matt Kenseth, DeWalt Power Tools Ford
10. (26) Jamie McMurray, Crown Royal Ford
11. (23) Mike Skinner, Bad Boys Mowers Dodge
12. (8) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Budweiser Chevrolet
13. (5) Kyle Busch, Kellogg's Chevrolet
14. (6) Mark Martin, AAA Ford
15. (36) Bill Elliott, Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevrolet
16. (99) Carl Edwards, Office Depot Ford
17. (29) Kevin Harvick, GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
18. (27) Kirk Shelmerdine, Apex Electric Chevrolet
19. (25) Brian Vickers, GMAC Chevrolet
20. (37) Chad Blount, R&J Racing Dodge zzzz
21. (01) Joe Nemechek, U.S. Army Chevrolet
22. (00) Hermie Sadler, Aaron's Dream Machine Ford
23. (59) Andy Belmont, YearOne.com Chevrolet
24. (42) Casey Mears, Texaco/Havoline Dodge
25. (78) Kenny Wallace, Furniture Row Chevrolet
26. (41) Reed Sorenson, Target Dodge
27. (66) Jeff Green, Best Buy Chevrolet
28. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Lowe's Chevrolet
29. (55) Michael Waltrip, NAPA Dodge
30. (10) Scott Riggs, Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge
31. (64) Randy LaJoie, TBA Chevrolet
32. (18) J.J. Yeley, Interstate Batteries Chevrolet
33. (16) Greg Biffle, National Guard Ford
34. (31) Jeff Burton, Cingular Wireless Chevrolet
35. (61) Kevin Lepage, AMP Energy Drink Ford
36. (49) Brent Sherman, Serta Dodge
37. (96) Terry Labonte, DLP¨ HDTV/Tweeter Chevrolet
38. (11) Denny Hamlin, FedEx Express Chevrolet
39. (45) Kyle Petty, Wells Fargo Financial Dodge
40. (95) Stanton Barrett, Yippeenet.com Chevrolet
41. (4) Scott Wimmer, AERO Exhaust Chevrolet
42. (14) Sterling Marlin, Waste Management Chevrolet
43. (89) Morgan Shepherd, Dutch Quality Stone/Racing w/Jesus Dodge
44. (88) Dale Jarrett, UPS Ford
45. (50) Larry Foyt, TBA Dodge
46. (2) Kurt Busch, Miller Lite Dodge
47. (09) Mike Wallace, Miccosukee Resort Dodge
48. (9) Kasey Kahne, Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
49. (52) Larry Gunselman, Pro30.com/Race2WA.com Dodge
50. (12) Ryan Newman, Alltel Dodge
51. (38) Elliott Sadler, M&M's Ford
52. (74) Derrike Cope, MyGuardian911/Sundance Vacations Dodge
53. (20) Tony Stewart, The Home Depot Chevrolet
54. (22) Dave Blaney, Caterpillar Dodge
55. (24) Jeff Gordon, DuPont Chevrolet
56. (7) Robby Gordon, Jim Beam Chevrolet
57. (21) Ken Schrader, Little Debbie/Motorcraft/USAF Ford
58. (19) Jeremy Mayfield, Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
Harvick tops first Daytona 500 practice Harvick tops first Daytona 500 practiceKevin Harvick led the first practice Saturday for next week's Daytona 500, the only car to top the 188 mph mark. The final practice before Sunday's qualifying is under way.
1. (29) Kevin Harvick, GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, 47.771 seconds, 188.399 mph
2. (24) Jeff Gordon, DuPont Chevrolet, 48.060, 187.266
3. (45) Kyle Petty, Wells Fargo Financial Dodge, 48.094, 187.134
4. (38) Elliott Sadler, M&M's Ford, 48.101, 187.106
5. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Lowe's Chevrolet, 48.157, 186.889
6. (88) Dale Jarrett, UPS Ford, 48.172, 186.831
7. (36) Bill Elliott, Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevrolet, 48.185, 186.780
8. (19) Jeremy Mayfield, Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, 48.215, 186.664
9. (43) Bobby Labonte, Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge, 48.253, 186.517
10. (01) Joe Nemechek, U.S. Army Chevrolet, 48.270, 186.451
11. (31) Jeff Burton, Cingular Wireless Chevrolet, 48.299, 186.339
12. (11) Denny Hamlin, FedEx Express Chevrolet, 48.302, 186.328
13. (2) Kurt Busch, Miller Lite Dodge, 48.326, 186.235
14. (18) J.J. Yeley, Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, 48.354, 186.127
15. (17) Matt Kenseth, DeWalt Power Tools Ford, 48.361, 186.100
16. (07) Clint Bowyer, Jack Daniel's Chevrolet, 48.374, 186.050
17. (5) Kyle Busch, Kellogg's Chevrolet, 48.376, 186.043
18. (66) Jeff Green, Best Buy Chevrolet, 48.391, 185.985
19. (26) Jamie McMurray, Crown Royal Ford, 48.403, 185.939
20. (10) Scott Riggs, Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge, 48.439, 185.801 zzzz
21. (32) Travis Kvapil, Tide Chevrolet, 48.457, 185.732
22. (99) Carl Edwards, Office Depot Ford, 48.473, 185.670
23. (25) Brian Vickers, GMAC Chevrolet, 48.550, 185.376
24. (16) Greg Biffle, National Guard Ford, 48.556, 185.353
25. (78) Kenny Wallace, Furniture Row Chevrolet, 48.564, 185.322
26. (8) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Budweiser Chevrolet, 48.582, 185.254
27. (14) Sterling Marlin, Waste Management Chevrolet, 48.609, 185.151
28. (41) Reed Sorenson, Target Dodge, 48.643, 185.021
29. (42) Casey Mears, Texaco/Havoline Dodge, 48.669, 184.923
30. (7) Robby Gordon, Jim Beam Chevrolet, 48.678, 184.888
31. (12) Ryan Newman, Alltel Dodge, 48.707, 184.778
32. (9) Kasey Kahne, Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, 48.732, 184.684
33. (6) Mark Martin, AAA Ford, 48.750, 184.615
34. (20) Tony Stewart, The Home Depot Chevrolet, 48.770, 184.540
35. (61) Kevin Lepage, AMP Energy Drink Ford, 48.772, 184.532
36. (96) Terry Labonte, DLP¨ HDTV/Tweeter Chevrolet, 48.779, 184.506
37. (00) Hermie Sadler, Aaron's Dream Machine Ford, 48.882, 184.117
38. (21) Ken Schrader, Little Debbie/Motorcraft/USAF Ford, 48.905, 184.030
39. (40) David Stremme, Lonestar Steakhouse Dodge, 48.915, 183.993
40. (1) Martin Truex Jr., Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Chevrolet, 48.953, 183.850
41. (95) Stanton Barrett, Yippeenet.com Chevrolet, 49.019, 183.602
42. (15) Paul Menard, Menard's Chevrolet, 49.070, 183.411
43. (4) Scott Wimmer, AERO Exhaust Chevrolet, 49.119, 183.228
44. (64) Randy LaJoie, TBA Chevrolet, 49.223, 182.841
45. (22) Dave Blaney, Caterpillar Dodge, 49.253, 182.730
46. (92) Chad Chaffin, TBA Chevrolet, 49.266, 182.682
47. (23) Mike Skinner, Bad Boys Mowers Dodge, 49.292, 182.585
48. (50) Larry Foyt, TBA Dodge, 49.322, 182.474
49. (27) Kirk Shelmerdine, Apex Electric Chevrolet, 49.373, 182.286
50. (55) Michael Waltrip, NAPA Dodge, 49.407, 182.160
51. (09) Mike Wallace, Miccosukee Resort Dodge, 49.441, 182.035
52. (74) Derrike Cope, MyGuardian911/Sundance Vacations Dodge, 49.495, 181.837
53. (89) Morgan Shepherd, Dutch Quality Stone/Racing w/Jesus Dodge, 49.577, 181.536
54. (49) Brent Sherman, Serta Dodge, 49.585, 181.507
55. (37) Chad Blount, R&J Racing Dodge, 49.754, 180.890
56. (52) Larry Gunselman, Pro30.com/Race2WA.com Dodge, 50.073, 179.738
57. (59) Andy Belmont, YearOne.com Chevrolet, 50.490, 178.253
2006 critical for Jarrett 2006 critical for JarrettDale Jarrett , a 21-year veteran, said this is "a very critical year" in terms of whether he will return to race in Nextel Cup next season at age 50. "I don't want to be out here driving around. I want to be competitive and that's why I continue to do it," he said. "These race cars have no idea how old I am when I sit down. I should be smarter, better driver as years go on. There's nothing I can't do in a race car at 49 that I couldn't at 39." Jarrett, the 1999 series champion, won at Talladega last fall, but finished 15th in points for the second consecutive year in a frustrating, inconsistent campaign. He finished in the top 10 in points seven straight years before slumping to 26th in 2003. Daytona has provided a good starting point for Jarrett in the past. He won the Daytona 500 in 1993 and finished fourth in the standings; again in 1996 and finished third. He won the race and the championship in 2000. He also won the Bud Shootout in 1996, 2000 and 2004. St Petersburg Times
Industry News
Auto sales in China increase 70% Auto sales in China increase 70%Auto sales in China jumped by over 70% in January, according to an industry trade group. GM cars were the biggest sellers.  China is now the 2nd biggest car market in the world behind the USA and ahead of Japan, which is 3rd.
Lepage gets Peak Performance backing Lepage gets Peak Performance backingPeak Performance Motorsports officials say the team has signed Mountain Dew AMP as sponsor for the upcoming events at Daytona International Speedway.  Kevin Lepage will drive the AMP Energy Drink car in the qualifying race for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 16. If he advances into the race, he will drive the Mountain Dew AMP car, marking the first time the company is a primary car sponsor for a Nextel Cup event.
Updated 24 Hours of LeMans Auto Qualifiers Updated 24 Hours of LeMans Auto QualifiersThe following entries are automatically qualified for this year's 24 Hours of LeMans.
Entrant  Car  Qualification method  
Champion Racing  Audi R8  1st "24 Heures" 2005  
Pescarolo Sport  Pescarolo  2nd "24 Heures" 2005  
Champion Racing  Audi R8  1st Petit Le Mans 2005  
Dyson Racing  Team Lola  2nd ALMS 2005 *1  
Pescarolo Sport  Pescarolo  1st LMES 2005  
Zytek Motorsport  Zytek 04S  2nd LMES 2005  
Entrant  Car  Qualification method  
RML  Lola MG  1st "24 Heures" 2005  
Paul Belmondo Racing  Courage C65  2nd "24 Heures" 2005  
Intersport Racing  Lola  1st Petit Le Mans 2005  
Miracle Motorsports  Courage C65  2nd ALMS 2005 *2  
Chamberlain Synergy  Lola  1st LMES 2005  
RML  Lola MG  2nd LMES 2005  zzzz
Entrant  Car  Qualification method  
Corvette Racing  Corvette C6-R  1st "24 Heures" 2005  
Aston Martin Racing  Aston Martin DBR9  3nd "24 Heures" 2005 *3  
Corvette Racing  Corvette C6-R  1st Petit Le Mans 2005  
ACEMCO Motorsports  Saleen S7R  2nd ALMS 2005 *4  
BMS Scuderia  Ferrari 550 Maranello  1st LMES 2005  
Convers Team  Ferrari 550 Maranello  2nd LMES 2005 *6  
Entrant  Car  Qualification method  
Alex Job Racing  Porsche 911 GT3 RSR  1st "24 Heures" 2005  
White Lightning Racing  Porsche 911 GT3 RSR  2nd "24 Heures" 2005  
White Lightning Racing  Porsche 911 GT3 RSR  1st Petit Le Mans 2005  
Alex Job Racing  Porsche 911 GT3 RSR  2nd ALMS 2005 *5  
Sebah Automotive  Porsche 911 GT3 RS  1st LMES 2005  
Scuderia Ecosse  Ferrari 360 Modena  2nd LMES 2005  
*1 Champion Racing having won the Petit Le Mans and the overall classification of the ALMS; Dyson Racing qualifies thanks to its second place in the overall classification of the ALMS. 
*2 Intersport Racing having won the Petit Le Mans and the overall classification of the ALMS, Miracle Motorsports qualifies thanks to its second place in the overall classification of the ALMS. 
*3 The first two entrants -- rather than cars -- in the 24 Heures du Mans qualify. Aston Martin, 3rd behind the two leading Corvettes of Corvette Racing, therefore qualifies on the basis of its position as second-placed entrant. 
*4 Corvette Racing having won the Petit Le Mans and the overall classification of the ALMS; ACEMCO Motorsports qualifies thanks to its second place in the overall classification of the ALMS. 
*5 White Lightning Racing having won the Petit Le Mans and the overall classification of the ALMS; Alex Job Racing qualifies thanks to its second place in the overall classification of the ALMS. 
*6 The first two entrants, not cars, qualify from the Le Mans Series. The Convers team, third behind two Ferraris entered by BMS Scuderia, therefore qualify as second-highest entrant. 
Kerr mocks Fittipaldi’s slow pace Kerr mocks Fittipaldi’s slow paceWhen pressed on the disappointing performance of A1 Team Brazil's new driver Christian Fittipaldi, Team Britain's Robbie Kerr remains focused. "I'm looking ahead, and will concentrate on the job in hand - to push our car to its limit." A1 Team Brazil currently lies four points ahead of Britain in the series standing, tomorrow's races could alter the balance. A1 Team Brazil is fielding Christian Fittipaldi, the nephew of the world champion Emerson Fittipaldi. Kerr has thrown down the gauntlet; "He's got a big name, let's see if he can live up to it."

[Editor's Note: It's hard to blame Fittipaldi for his lack of pace. He has been driving dumbed-down slow NASCARized race cars the last few years and his reflexes are not used to competing at this level. If he drives real race cars more he should regain some of his lost skills.]

"Unfortunately, I needed some more miles in the dry, which we didn't get," Fittipaldi, the nephew of team boss Emerson, sighed, "We ran the first set of new tires in the dry in qualifying, and that's what killed me.

"The other guys here have had a lot of testing miles, whereas I haven't been in a single-seater for three years. I'm sure that, if it was wet, we would have been in the top ten, but to qualify in the dry was hard. The qualifying system wasn't difficult to adjust to, as it's pretty much the same in NASCAR, but the car is completely different."

Despite the disappointment of qualifying so far down the order, Fittipaldi remained confident that he could fight back over Sunday's two races, which he will use to build experience of the A1 car in time for the next two outings on more familiar ground.

"We have made a couple of good changes to the car, and I understand it more and more," he insisted, "I am sure that we will be good for Mexico and Laguna Seca."

Team India sent to back of grid Team India sent to back of gridA1 Team India has had its fastest lap time, which was recorded in the third session of Qualifying disallowed due to an infringement of A1 Grand Prix's sporting regulations. Driver, Armaan Ebrahim completed more than the three laps allowed for each competitor by coming in to the pits at the end of the out lap and then starting the three lap sequence (one out lap, one flying lap and one in lap) for a second time.

The infringement occurred in the fourth session with the recorded lap time for this session automatically disallowed.

 A1 Team Driver Aggregate Time
1 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 2.34.257
2 France Nicolas Lapierre 2.34.477
3 Mexico Salvador Duran 2.34.554
4 Switzerland Neel Jani 2.35.055
5 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 2.35.190
6 Malaysia Alex Yoong 2.35.447
7 Ireland Ralph Firman 2.35.670
8 Canada Sean McIntosh 2.35.685
9 South Africa Stephen Simpson 2.35.750
10 New Zealand Matt Halliday 2.35.797
11 Portugal Alvaro Parente 2.35.808
12 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 2.35.950
13 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 2.36.000
14 USA Philip Giebler 2.36.113
15 Germany Timo Scheider 2.36.319
16 Italy Max Busnelli 2.36.631
17 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 2.36.805
18 China Tengyi Jiang 2.37.313
19 Australia Marcus Marshall 2.37.950
20 Lebanon Basil Shaaban 2.38.275
21 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 2.38.290
22 Austria Mathias Lauda 2.39.229
23 India Armaan Ebrahim 2.40.261

Grabbing the F1 limelight Grabbing the F1 limelight(GMMf1NET)  The prospect of a grand prix in Greece is heating up, with Athens' 'Press Time' newspaper reporting that a formula one circuit near the city of Theben will be built.

Brazil's Rio de Janeiro, too, is getting excited about the sport, with mayor Cesar Maia saying on Friday that the city would step in to replace the axed Belgian grand prix, according to 'AFP' agency.

Woking based McLaren gave the F1 fraternity a dazzling start to the weekend, by unveiling a striking new mirror-like chrome livery for 2006.

After seeing the paint job - with 'Johnny Walker' prominent on the side pods, and red front and rear wings - Kimi Raikkonen said: ''If we can make the car as fast as it looks, we'll be in good shape.''

Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer, however, grabbed the most attention, when he sped into the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin in a specially-liveried F1 car.

He revved-up five 'doughnuts' -- an attempt to draw the Olympic rings onto the floor with Bridgestone rubber.

Badoer's McLaren counterpart, Pedro de la Rosa, meanwhile, joined Juan Pablo Montoya in the running for a 2007 Renault drive.

Spain's 'Marca' newspaper said likely '07 Renault title sponsor Telefonica will push for at least one Spanish-speaking driver, but Fernando Alonso is off to McLaren.

Shepherd gets associate sponsor Shepherd gets associate sponsorCabell County-based ECO-FIRST, Inc. is entering NASCAR’s Nextel Cup Series as an associate sponsor of #89 Victory Motorsports, fielding veteran driver Morgan Shepherd in the nation’s top stock car racing series. ECO-FIRST President Dana Tomes says the company’s agreement will run through the 2006 season, beginning with the season-opening Daytona 500 on February 19. “We are very excited about having the opportunity to get involved in the Nextel Cup Series and particularly with being able to support someone like Morgan Shepherd,” Tomes said. “Morgan is truly an excellent person and a pleasure to work with.” As part of the sponsorship agreement, ECO-FIRST will become the “Official Environmental Services Provider” of the Hickory, North Carolina-based Victory Motorsports, LLC. ECO-FIRST, based in Lesage, provides environmental and industrial services, including hazardous waste cleanup and high pressure industrial cleaning. The ECO-FIRST name and slogan, “Making Earth a better place,” will be carried on Shepherd’s #89 Dodge Charger throughout this year’s 36-race Nextel Cup season. ECO-FIRST PR
Hybrid Dodge? Hybrid Dodge?Dodge’s John Fernandez said a planned testing summit of Dodge Nextel Cup teams won’t take place until early next month. The group test will be conducted in an attempt to fix the aero imbalance and pitch sensitivity woes that have plagued the Dodge Charger since its introduction last season. Meanwhile, the major Dodge teams — Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Penske Racing South and Evernham Motorsports— each worked during the off-season to come up with different approaches to solve the Charger’s problems. Fernandez said Dodge may seek NASCAR’s OK for what he termed a “hybrid” car with better aero characteristics. “We’re hoping that we’ve solved the problem with the 2005 car,” he said, adding only that the hybrid “would be something a little bit different than the current Charger.” Speed Channel
Red Bull on spending spree to buy best talent Red Bull on spending spree to buy best talent"Red Bull seems to be on a big shopping spree at the moment and they are spoiling the costs with exaggerated salaries," Flavio Briatore told Auto Motor Und Sport. "In the past we all thought that it was Ferrari who spent the most money. Maybe we have to reconsider that. Taking into account how much money Red Bull invests, they have to win their first race this year. Red Bull got a lot of sympathy in their first season, but they are starting to lose that."
Cosworth engine still running flawlessly Cosworth engine still running flawlesslyMark Webber and Alex Wurz completed this week’s final day of testing for Williams at Jerez.

Webber had limited track time and covered only 15 laps in total. The Australian driver went off the track in the morning and the FW28 could not be repaired due to a lack of spare parts.

Wurz had a busier day and completed a total of 79 laps, working mostly on engine and gearbox reliability tests.

Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1 Team
“After a wet morning, the track dried out around lunchtime. Alex continued working on reliability running for the engine and gearbox, while also fitting in some set-up work. Unfortunately Mark had to stop early as we were short on suspension spares with which to repair his car after an off. Overall, Jerez has proved to be a good test for reliability with the FW28, and we now look forward to Valencia next week and working on further set-up options and carrying out tire testing with Bridgestone.”

Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth
“Cosworth had a good week in Jerez with WilliamsF1. The latest CA2006 performance developments were successful, plus the engines ran in excess of the two race weekend life requirements with no issues. The Bahrain GP CA2006 Series 2 engine specification, which incorporates further performance and reliability updates, will track test next week in Valencia and the priority for the engine development program will now shift to delivering the further upgrades scheduled for introduction during the 2006 season.” Source WilliamsF1

Engine failure for de la Rosa Engine failure for de la RosaMcLaren Mercedes driver Kimi Raikkonen tested for half a day at the Circuito de Jerez on Friday, with the Finn completing over 128km in the MP4-21. Raikkonen left the test at lunchtime to attend an internal team and Partner function in London.

Raikkonen’s program focused on set-up evaluations. Unfortunately the track was damp from overnight rain for the majority of the morning and Kimi only switched to intermediates 10 minutes before he was due to leave.

Pedro de la Rosa took over driving duties of the MP4-21 for the afternoon's running and he covered 48 laps and 212km focusing on long runs. His afternoon was cut short when he suffered an engine failure shortly before the end of testing.

Gary Paffett was testing alongside Raikkonen and de la Rosa at the Circuito de Jerez in the interim MP4-20. Paffett's work consisted of testing the different Michelin compounds for the first three races of the season.

De la Rosa continues the team's testing program today, which is a Michelin wet test with the track artificially dampened. Source McLaren Mercedes

Free visas for F1 fans Free visas for F1 fansAmong the many exciting new developments for the Bahrain Grand Prix is the announcement that an 'F1 Visa' will be provided to overseas visitors free of charge. Travelers visiting Bahrain for the race will be able to obtain their free F1 visa if they have with them a valid ticket to the race, a proof of purchase or official association with the FIA Formula One World Championship.

The scheme begins on February 26 and runs until March 12 and is open to visitors from the G34 group countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong SAR, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom United States of America, Vatican City. In addition visitors from Brazil, Chile, Cyprus, Hungary, Lebanon, Panama, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan and Venezuela and GCC alien residents can also obtain an F1 visa on arrival.

All nationalities not listed above can also obtain an F1 Visa if they have a sponsor - a Bahraini commercial entity or a Bahraini individual - to their application. Sponsored F1 visas can be prearranged by the sponsor and obtained at GDNPR Headquarters in Manama.
Upon arrival, GDNPR has set up several fast-track lanes at the airport solely dedicated for passports & immigration procedures related to F1. All F1 Media and visitors to the Grand Prix will be required to fill out Arrival/Departure Cards. These cards will be distributed to the airlines and are available at the information desk before the immigration counters.

A special entry stamp will be imprinted by the Immigration Officer in the passport and in the arrival/departure card. The hard copy of the card will be attached to the passport which will be removed upon departure. Passengers must retain their stamped departure card in their Passport to speed up their departure.

Formula One testing takes place at Bahrain International Circuit next week, with Ferrari, Honda and Scuderia Toro Rosso in attendance. Bahrain GP

Monteiro admits the pressure is on Monteiro admits the pressure is onAs Tiago Monteiro prepares for his second season in Formula One, the MF1 Racer knows that as he is no longer a Rookie, the pressure is on for continued progress.

“There’s big pressure in Portugal – from the fans, from friends, from sponsors, everyone," Monteiro admitted to the MF1 Racing website. "It’s part of the job. I guess F1 is the biggest form of motorsport in the world, so everybody is watching you. You have to deal with the pressure, and I’m fine with it.”

Monteiro has already had a taste of V8 power, having done a lot of testing in the interim car over the winter. And, like everyone else, he’s going to have to adjust not only to the lack of thrust, but also to the different driving style that the new cars require.

“It’s a big difference in terms of driving style, it’s a big difference in set-up, and a difference in the tires, as well," Monteiro continued. "So the engineers and the drivers are going to have to analyze that very carefully and adapt to these unique characteristics. It’s very, very different.”

So what can Monteiro and the team achieve in 2006? Repeating that Indy podium might be a tall order, but he has set a goal of scoring more points on merit.

“It will be difficult to do any better on the reliability, because we finished 18 races out of 19. We will have to be lucky to do better than that, but you never know! But that’s not my main goal, honestly. My goal is to be able to score points on a regular basis and I hope to have a car that will allow me to do that." Source MF1 Racing

Indonesia President hosts gala dinner for A1GP Indonesia President hosts gala dinner for A1GPSentul, Indonesia - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially welcomed A1 Grand Prix to Indonesia last night at a Gala dinner attended by around 300 dignitaries. Representatives including drivers and seat holders from the 23 A1 Teams competing in this weekend's A1 Grand Prix of Nations at the Sentul Circuit joined members of the A1 Grand Prix organization for the evening hosted at the Jakarta Convention Centre.

A1 Grand Prix Chairman, Sheikh Maktoum thanked the President for his warm welcome of the A1 family saying: 'I would like to thank you most sincerely for welcoming us to Indonesia. The A1 Grand Prix of Nations is bringing 80 per cent of the world's population together on the race track, showing what countries can achieve when they join together under a common denominator.'

The evening was declared a huge success by all those who attended and are now looking forward to a competitive race weekend. 'You are kindly hosting us tonight in this stunning location. We are now looking forward to hosting you on Sunday at the World Cup of Motorsport. Our races are the most exciting and close fought that have been witnessed for many years and so this weekend, we plan to put a show that will be watched worldwide by racing fans and they will witness first hand what your wonderful country of Indonesia can stage,' Sheikh Maktoum continued. zzzz

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono later continued the theme of unity by entertaining guests and invited media with a rendition of John Lennon's 'Imagine', to which he received a standing ovation. Guests were also treated to an impressive display of local dancers and entertainers.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and senior members of the Indonesian government are expected to attend Sunday's two A1 Grand Prix races which begin at 13.30 and 15.00 local time.

Kerr wins first pole in Sentul Kerr wins first pole in SentulSentul, Indonesia - A1 Team Great Britain's Robbie Kerr emerged triumphant from today's qualifying sessions at the Sentul Circuit in Indonesia. Kerr will be starting in pole position in tomorrow's Sprint race, following a highly successful performance this afternoon.

The line-up for Sunday's Sprint Race will see Team Great Britain and Team France claim the front row of the grid. In the third qualifying session Robbie Kerr emerged from the pit lanes on new tires, and went on to set the fastest lap-time of the day. Completing the circuit with a time of 1'16.927, Kerr was the only driver to break the 1'17 mark. Kerr went on to field the fastest time in the 4th session, and sealed his position at the head of the grid. Robbie finished 7th and 2nd in the first two sessions.

Team Great Britain's strategy took advantage of the circuit conditions, taking calculated risks with the tires. A1 Team Great Britain and A1 Team France were the only teams to use old tires in the first session, which allowed them to maximize new tires in the second and third sessions. This strategy proved to be highly successful for both France, and ultimately Great Britain.

Robbie's performance in all of the sessions highlights a consistent knowledge of the track, which will hold him in good stead for the Sprint and Feature races on Sunday. Kerr continues to beam, as he enthusiastically appraises his performance this afternoon. "I'm really happy, this was a great result, and we’ve all worked very hard to achieve this. The prospect of rain was always an underlying pressure. But we timed it right, took risks, and clearly made the best decisions."

Robbie Kerr said: 'I started on old tires to learn a bit more about the circuit, and then we had two new sets of tires for the rest of qualifying which was fantastic. We made a slight change for the third session which was fantastic and again for the fourth session, even though it was damp. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, I have a great opportunity. It's not easy though, it is a fast circuit and we will have to see what happens.'

Nicolas Lapierre made a rare mistake in his first qualifying session spinning off into the gravel. Despite this the five-times winner finished second overall. 'It wasn't my best lap ever; I made a mistake and went off into the gravel. I could have easily have hit the wall but some days are good and today I managed to miss it. So from then I needed to put in a few safe laps. We were going to go out on wet tires in the final session, but we saw Robbie out on dry tires, and there is good data to be learnt from experimenting with the tires.'

Salvador Duran, who finished the day third fastest, is hoping to race for A1 Team Mexico in his home country in two weeks time. 'You never know, it is a political as well as a racing decision. The team will make the decision and David Martinez may be driving. Even if David does drive I would want to be there to support the team at my home race and I would support David too. It is very difficult though, you don't even know if you are coming back.' zzzz

Newcomers to the Series Christian Fittipaldi for A1 Team Brazil and Marcus Marshall for A1 Team Australia placed towards the back of the grid as they familiarized themselves with the A1 race car. Fittipaldi, nephew of A1 Team Brazil's joint seat holder, Emerson has an especially tough challenge ahead of him as he has not driven a single-seater since he drove in CART in 2002.

A1 Team Driver Aggregate Time
1 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 2.34.257
2 France Nicolas Lapierre 2.34.477
3 Mexico Salvador Duran 2.34.554
4 Switzerland Neel Jani 2.35.055
5 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 2.35.190
6 Malaysia Alex Yoong 2.35.447
7 Ireland Ralph Firman 2.35.670
8 Canada Sean McIntosh 2.35.685
9 South Africa Stephen Simpson 2.35.750
10 New Zealand Matt Halliday 2.35.797
11 Portugal Alvaro Parente 2.35.808
12 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 2.35.950
13 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 2.36.000
14 USA Philip Giebler 2.36.113
15 Germany Timo Scheider 2.36.319
16 Italy Max Busnelli 2.36.631
17 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 2.36.805
18 China Tengyi Jiang 2.37.313
19 Australia Marcus Marshall 2.37.950
20 Lebanon Basil Shaaban 2.38.275
21 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 2.38.290
22 India Armaan Ebrahim 2.38.603
23 Austria Mathias Lauda 2.39.229

Despite a regulation which allows A1 Teams to switch drivers between Qualifying and the Sprint race, all teams have decided to retain their qualifying selection and there will be no driver changes.

The Sprint race will be contested over 50 miles lasting up to 30 minutes in duration. With a rolling start at 13.30 local time, tomorrow's race will be run over 18 laps of the 3.23km circuit. The outcome of the race determines the grid positions for the Feature race which will start at 15.00 local time with a standing start. The Feature race will be run over 100 miles (40 laps) lasting up to 60 minutes in duration.

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