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Champ Car making a big mistake
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com,  With great interest I've followed recent developments between CCWS and IRL.  For me there seems only one person who is 'sort of' panicking.  His name: Tony George.  He is facing the following problem: CCWS' rapid global expansion and the fact that worldwide more people know about Champ Car than the IRL.

CCWS is developing itself into a true 'World Series'.  Today CCWS isn't anymore in competition with the IRL, but in fact with Ecclestone's F1 circus (example: Bernie's - successful - attempt in 2007 to keep CCWS out of China).  The IRL has all its races (15) in the US, apart from one - mandatory - visit to Japan (to please Honda ...). They don't even visit Canada or Mexico, two NAFTA countries that are neighbors to the USA.

This year’s CCWS international schedule has only 6 races in the US, 3 in Canada (their neighbor country), 3 in Europe and one in both Australia and their other neighbor country Mexico!  For 2009 CCWS are planning even more events overseas: Brazil, and somewhere in Asia ... There are also rumors there could be a 4th race added in Europe.

So what is Tony George's problem?  Well, he's afraid his own series might not have enough drivers in the - near - future. Most 'new' CCWS drivers are not really interested in the IRL's mainly oval series, they are not even interested in the Indy 500 as it doesn't fit in their future plans, the dream of racing in F1.

This 'new generation' CCWS driver, most of them from Europe and South America, don't know about the 'oval tradition' in the USA, and they are more focused on 'road racing' and they take the street races and airport races for granted.

They've noticed Bourdais' move from Champ Car to Formula 1 and they all think they can do the same, and they don't need ovals to do so!  As such, CCWS is in a better shape and position then ever before, even though its own owners don't appear to be aware of this!

I just hope the CCWS owners, i.e. Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi, will realize that in actual fact they have 'gold' in their hands.

This is my humble - European - opinion.  Guenter Schmidt

Dear Guenter, Indeed Champ Car is by far the better series, however, it cannot survive due to low TV ratings and lack of sponsor support.  The root cause of their problem is the fact that they fail to understand that the drivers popularity should be their #1 focus.  There isn't a sport anywhere in the world that prospers without the athletes being the stars.  Since Champ Car fails to understand this, or simply is unable to execute a strategy to accomplish this, they continue to flounder.  And how do drivers become popular and establish a following when driver turnover is like playing musical chairs?  Mark C.


Goodyear exec confident tires will be OK
As we have come to expect with Goodyear tires, more teams had tire trouble Thursday, creating concerns about Sunday’s race. Red Bull Racing driver Brian Vickers was surprised the tires were wearing out so quickly.

“I think everybody is pretty concerned about it,” Vickers said. “We’ve got smaller fuel cells this year, and we still can’t even make it to a full fuel run. It’s going to be a big factor.”

Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of race tire sales, said the problems are likely the result of higher-than-expected speeds and teams struggling to figure out the right suspension settings for their new cars.

He said the situation should improve throughout the weekend as there’s more traffic on the track, laying down more rubber and making the surface less abrasive.

“It’ll get better,” Stucker said.  We have heard that before.


CTS Chevy Silverado 250 Lineup
Erik Darnell, driver of the No. 99 Northern Tool × Equipment Ford F-150 won the Keystone Light Pole Award for Friday night's Chevy Silverado 250 at Daytona International Speedway.  This is Darnell's second career pole in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Starting Lineup


1 99 Erik Darnell Ford Northern Tool × Equipment 176.529 50.983 Leader
2 60 Terry Cook Toyota wyler.com 175.853 51.179 -0.196
3 5 Mike Skinner Toyota Toyota Tundra 175.408 51.309 -0.326
4 4 Stacy Compton Dodge Potamkin Rivera Dodge 175.394 51.313 -0.330
5 33 Ron Hornaday Chevrolet Camping World - RVs.com 175.377 51.318 -0.335
6 2 Jack Sprague Chevrolet American Commercial Lines 175.114 51.395 -0.412
7 88 Matt Crafton Chevrolet Menards 175.067 51.409 -0.426
8 9 Justin Marks Toyota Construct Corps 174.818 51.482 -0.499
9 6 Colin Braun Ford Con-way Freight 174.628 51.538 -0.555
10 8 Chad McCumbee Ford MRD Motorsports 174.591 51.549 -0.566
11 09 Joey Clanton Ford Zaxby's 174.564 51.557 -0.574
12 30 Todd Bodine Toyota Lumber Liquidators 174.412 51.602 -0.619
13 29 Scott Lynch Dodge Jasper Engines 174.348 51.621 -0.638
14 11 David Starr Toyota Red Horse Racing 174.236 51.654 -0.671
15 7 Andy Lally Chevrolet Line-X 164.216 51.660 -0.677
16 59 Ted Musgrave Toyota Team ASE / Harris Trucking 174.165 51.675 -0.692
17 18 Dennis Setzer Dodge Dodge Journey / Melling 174.095 51.696 -0.713
18 16 Brian Scott Chevrolet Shark Energy Drink / Albertson's Supermarket 174.088 51.698 -0.715
19 14 Rick Crawford Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International 173.698 51.814 -0.831
20 13 Shelby Howard Chevrolet ThorSport Racing 173.658 51.826 -0.843
21 51 Kyle Busch Toyota Billy Ballew Motorsports 173.514 51.869 -0.886
22 40 Chad Chaffin Chevrolet Key Motorsports 172.854 52.067 -1.084
23 46 Erin Crocker Chevrolet Morgan-Dollar Motorsports 172.632 52.134 -1.151
24 07 Shane Sieg Chevrolet ASI Limited 172.374 52.212 -1.229
25 15 Marc Mitchell Chevrolet Ergon Hyprene 172.371 52.213 -1.230
26 71 Mike Bliss Chevrolet TRG Motorsports 172.278 52.241 -1.258
27 08 Jason White Dodge Gunbroker.com 172.104 52.294 -1.311
28 10 Brendan Gaughan Ford International Maxx Force Diesel 171.989 52.329 -1.346
29 63 P.J. Jones Ford Dave Porter Trk Sales / Diversified Partners 171.684 52.422 -1.439
30 22 Phillip McGilton Toyota Bill Davis Racing 171.612 52.444 -1.461
31 21 Jon Wood Ford The Barnhill Group 171.347 52.525 -1.542
32 153 Justin Hobgood Chevrolet Georgia Beef Board 171.184 52.575 -1.592
33 20 Scott Lagasse Jr. Ford JTG Racing 171.015 52.627 -1.644
34 28 Wayne Edwards Chevrolet Kissin Kuzzins Construction 170.529 52.777 -1.794
35 23 Johnny Benson× Toyota Toyota Certified Used Vehicles - - -
36 31 Larry Foyt Dodge Brevak Racing 169.920 52.966 -1.983

Did Not Qualify
37 154 Brian Sockwell Chevrolet rearyracing.com 168.859 53.299 -2.316


Daytona 500 Lineup


1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 187.075 48.109 Leader
2 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 186.734 48.197 -0.088
3 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / National Guard - - -
4 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express - - -
5 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target - - -
6 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot - - -
7 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL - - -
8 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont - - -
9 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST - - -
10 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser - - -
11 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot - - -
12 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army - - -
13 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker - - -
14 6 David Ragan Ford AAA - - -
15 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline - - -
16 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil - - -
17 187 Kenny Wallace Chevrolet Furniture Row - - -
18 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M - - -
19 77 Sam Hornish Jr.* Dodge Mobil 1 - - -
20 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS - - -
21 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet PEAK / Menards - - -
22 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Makoto - - -
23 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull - - -
24 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's - - -
25 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker - - -
26 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam - - -
27 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters - - -
28 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT - - -
29 01 Regan Smith* Chevrolet Principal Financial Group - - -
30 28 Travis Kvapil Ford K&N Filters - - -
31 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's - - -
32 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditReport.com - - -
33 70 Jeremy Mayfield Chevrolet Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon - - -
34 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar - - -
35 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy - - -
36 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility - - -
37 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV - - -
38 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal Cask No. 16 - - -
39 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo - - -
40 40 Dario Franchitti* Dodge Dodge Journey - - -
41 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing - - -
42 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine - - -
43 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite Champion's Provisional


Tight Competition With New Car at Daytona
The tight competition up front continued during the Gatorade Duel at Daytona. There were 36 Green Flag Passes for the Lead during the first of the two 60-lap races, and 35 in the second race. That’s the second and third highest total since 2005. During last Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, a total of 64 Green Flag Passes for the Lead took place. That was the highest number for that race since the inception of the stat in 2005.

Below is a year-by-year breakdown of the Loop Data stat in the Gatorade Duels since 2005



Passes for the Lead

Gatorade Duel 1



Gatorade Duel 1



Gatorade Duel 2



Gatorade Duel 1



Gatorade Duel 2



Gatorade Duel 2



Gatorade Duel 1



Gatorade Duel 2




Ammermuller vows title fight 
Michael Ammermuller
Michael Ammermuller believes A1 Team Germany will again be fighting for the overall title at the end of the season, despite having four teams to overhaul in order to do so.

The 22–year-old raced for Germany last time out in Sydney, and although he didn’t have a stellar weekend, all of its rivals’ misfortunes meant that it only lost two points to title leader New Zealand.

Germany has fought back from languishing 14th in the standings after the third round of the championship in Malaysia, to being in serious title contention as the season reaches its climax.

However, it will need to score better results in the last four rounds than New Zealand, France, Switzerland and South Africa if it is to successfully defend its 2006/07 crown.

‘For us, Sydney seemed quite a bad weekend, but in terms of the championship we didn’t actually lose a lot,’ Ammermuller said.

Read more & Comment...

Nationwide teams swap points
Nine Nationwide Series teams in the top 30 in owners points from 2007 have swapped points with other teams in deals approved by NASCAR. Points from Robert Yates Racing’s No. 90, which finished 19th in the owners standings last year, were sold to the No. 7 Germain Racing team driven by Mike Wallace. The points from the No. 7 Phoenix Racing team were sold to the No. 4 of Jay Robinson Racing, the No. 25 of Team Rensi Motorsports were sold to the No. 64 Rusty Wallace Racing team, and the points from the No. 36 of McGill Motorsports were sold to the No. 24 Front Row Motorsports team for Eric McClure. That guarantees starting spots in the first five races of 2008 for Wallace, McClure and the No. 64 and 4 teams, both of which will use multiple drivers this season.

The other six teams swapped points among teammates: The No. 21 Richard Childress Racing team’s points will go to the No. 2 (driven full time by Clint Bowyer), with the No. 2’s points going to the No. 21. The No. 35 Team Rensi’s points will switch to the No. 25 to be driven by Bobby Hamilton Jr., Braun Racing’s No. 10 will be used by the team’s No. 32 and Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 will be used by its No. 40 team. Some other teams have changed numbers for 2008: Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 00 (from No. 44), Fitz Motorsports’ No. 36 (from No. 44) and MacDonald Motorsports’ No. 81 (from No. 72). Scenedaily.com


Chevy won't use Camaro as Nationwide COT
Chevrolet will not use the Camaro brand when the Nationwide Series goes to the car of tomorrow, sources said Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.  Richard Childress Racing built the new car for General Motors that has been tested in the wind tunnel. The current version is an Impala – the same as the Sprint Cup car – but that could change to a Malibu.


Campos sign Hanley in GP2 Asia Series
Ben Hanley joins Vitaly Petrov in Barwa International Campos Team in the GP2 Asia Series.

The British driver will replace Diego Nunes, who took part in the opening of the championship in Dubai last month with the Spanish team. The Brazilian will be racing for DPR for the remainder of the Asia Series.

Hanley, who originally was to participate only in the Main GP2 Series with the Spanish squad, enters the Asia Series this weekend in Indonesia, where the second event of the season will take place.

Read more & Comment...

Dale Jr. to appear on Sports Illustrated cover
Dale Jr. on cover of SI
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine's Feb. 18 issue, which is set to hit news stands this week.

Shot by photographer Michael J. LeBrecht II, the cover depicts a relaxed Earnhardt on the hood of his #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevy with the headline "Time to Win? Dale Earnhardt Jr. Has a New Car."

The cover story, penned by writer Lars Anderson and entitled "Fired Up," details Earnhardt's journey to Hendrick Motorsports and his relationship with team owner Rick Hendrick.

Earnhardt will kick off his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with Hendrick Motorsports in Sunday's Daytona 500 (2 p.m. ET on FOX).
For more information on Sports Illustrated magazine, visit www.SI.com.

Photo credit: Michael J. LeBrecht II/1Deuce3 Photography. Hendrick Motorsports PR


American's won't give up SUVs,
The president of Shell Oil Co. said today that Americans were unlikely to give up their SUVs, despite a new law requiring automakers to boost the fuel efficiency of the vehicles by 40 percent by 2020.

"The vast majority of Americans love their big cars and I think the auto companies will follow the market," said John Hofmeister, the president of Royal Dutch Shell PLC's U.S. unit, in a meeting with reporters here.

He said the new fuel economy standards that hike fuel efficiency by 40 percent to a combined 25 miles per gallon over the next 12 years would have a "modest" impact on U.S. gasoline consumption by 2020, saying they didn't see big numbers of hydrogen vehicles or plug-in hybrids by then.

The oil company released a report in Washington today titled: "A National Dialogue on Energy Security" following the company's 50 town hall meetings over 18 months. About 250 Shell executives met with 15,000 Americans and found that the oil industry had a rotten reputation.

Read more & Comment...
track news

New Logo for Michigan International Speedway
More than two years of research compiled from fan feedback, surveys and focus groups have helped shape a new image for Michigan International Speedway.

MIS - It's Your Speed
To kick off the start of its 40th season of racing, Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis and NASCAR driver Bill Elliott unveiled a newly designed logo for the historic racetrack during Speedweeks in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Wednesday.

The logo, a three-color representation that captures the spirit of MIS, its racing tradition and its unique, national park-like location in the lush “Irish Hills” of Southeastern Michigan was designed by Grand Rapids, Mich.-based DDM Marketing and Communications following extensive research and input by race fans.

“This is not just a logo; it’s a brand that will help define us for the next 40 years,” Curtis said. “In all of our research, we asked our fans to tell us what they love about Michigan International Speedway and what they most associate us with. Is it the racing? Is it the drivers who make NASCAR events so exciting? What is it about MIS that makes our speedway so unique? We found that our location and our race fans make MIS what it is, and this logo is finally a true reflection of that."

Read more & Comment...

Michael Andretti to be inducted into Motorsports Hall of Fame
Michael Andretti
Andretti Green Racing co-owner Michael Andretti is among seven racing greats who will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America when the organization stages its annual induction ceremony Aug. 13 in Detroit.

Andretti, the son of Hall of Famer Mario Andretti, is one of the first second-generation open-wheel race drivers. He was the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 1984 and won the CART championship in 1991. During his driving career, he won 42 races, 32 poles and led 6,702 laps. As a team owner, he has won three IndyCar Series titles and two Indianapolis 500s.

Others who will be inducted are Buddy Baker, John Force, Richie Ginther, Paul Goldsmith, Wayne Rainey and Betty Skelton.


7-Eleven fuels Patrick swimsuit frenzy
Danica's career has largely been driven by her good looks rather than her driving skills
7-Eleven stores are offering a gift to the first 25 customers and racing fans purchasing a copy of the new Sports Illustrated's annual Swimsuit Issue. Beginning Feb. 14, participating 7-Eleven stores will feature a special display including the SI magazine issue and 25 copies of a colored poster of IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick. The 11" x 14" poster depicts Patrick as seen in the four-page spread of her first-time appearance in the Swimsuit issue and first time posing in a swimming suit. Patrick is one of four Andretti Green Racing drivers and is sponsored by 7-Eleven, Inc.

Patrick's appearance in the magazine, which is expected to be read by more than 69 million people, has proven extremely popular with fans. According to Internet search engine Yahoo.com, Patrick ranks third for most searches after Valentine's Cards and SI Swimsuit Issue. Sports Illustrated


Man Builds Full Scale Mercedes F1 From 956,000 Matchsticks
Michael Arndt is a man of matchsticks. Over the course of six years, using 956,000 matchsticks, 1686 tubes of glue, and at least three different varieties of mustache, he built a full-scale replica of a McLaren 4/14 F1 car, at a cost of around 6000 Euros. The giant model takes up Arndt's entire kitchen and probably his social life. It can be broken down into 45 parts for easy transport to various matchstick-builders conventions. More....


Jerez Day 4: Kovalainen leads in morning
The final day of testing got underway this morning in Jerez, with an overall improvement in weather conditions. Although temperatures have dropped, the strong wind which has been hampering teams' work, has died down slightly.

On the timesheets, McLaren returned to the top, with Heikki Kovalainen clocking the fastest time by midday, half a second quicker than Red Bull's David Coulthard.

Unofficial morning times from Jerez:
1. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:17.974, 43 laps
2. David Coulthard (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:18.485, 44 laps
3. Kazuki Nakajima (Williams-Toyota) - 1:19.117, 27 laps
4. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:19.429, 44 laps
5. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:19.535, 55 laps
6. Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) - 1:19.688, 29 laps
7. Nelson Piquet Jr. (Renault) - 1:19.817, 52 laps
8. Sébastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) - 1:19.848, 19 laps
9. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:19.934, 53 laps
10. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:19.980, 56 laps
11. Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India-Ferrari) - 1:20.744, 46 laps
12. Jenson Button (Honda) - 1:20.988, 75 laps
13. Anthony Davidson (Super Aguri-Honda) - 1:21.010, 50 laps
14. Lucas di Grassi (Renault) - 1:21.286, 40 laps
15. Nico Hülkenberg (Williams-Toyota) - 1:21.355, 28 laps
16. Alexander Wurz (Honda) - 1:21.605, 76 laps


FIA calls Stepney to a meeting
The FIA has summoned former Ferrari mechanic Nigel Stepney for a meeting, about the spy scandal that rocked Formula 1 last year.  It is assumed it will be at this meeting that he will be informed of his punishment.

According to autosport.com, Stepney’s “partner-in-crime” in the matter, ex-McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, has already been penalized. Stepney is facing a possible two-year ban from all FIA-sanctioned forms of motorsport.


Fans slam Singapore officials over F1 ticket chaos
(GMM)  Potential Singapore grand prix night race goers endured a frustrating time on Thursday, as tickets went on sale for the inaugural event.

The local New Straits Times describes the performance of Singapore's ticketing procedures as "complete chaos", as fervent ticket-buyers in some cases tried several times to book a seat - by phone, internet and in person - before giving up.

"It was absolutely frustrating and a disgrace," said one unsuccessful patron, who tried for four hours to buy tickets.

Another, who between 11am and 8pm unsuccessfully tried to buy tickets on the crashed website and by phone, wrote on the Straits Times website: "This is really a sad day for Singapore events.

"I was so intent on getting a ticket today ... what a shame/sham!".

Another wrote: "This is an absolute disgrace and the organizers should have some way to compensate those of us that were told we would be called back with tickets but were not.

"What an embarrassment for Singapore hosting this world class event, after delays in releasing tickets for sale and then this.  Pitiful."


McLaren test new wheel covers at Jerez
(GMM)  McLaren showed to have taken the aerodynamic 'wheel cover' concept to a new level as testing continued at the Jerez circuit on Thursday.

Heikki Kovalainen's Mercedes-powered MP4-23 featured a new version of carbon fiber covers on the front wheels, and for the first time they include a piece that extends beyond the wheel rim and obscures part of the tire wall.

Interestingly, at the lunch break, the Finn had set the fastest time of the sixteen runners in action, and gone more than five tenths quicker than Mark Webber's Wednesday best.


Garza confirmed for Mexico
David Garza
A1 Team Mexico has confirmed that David Garza will again race for it in next weekend’s Durban street races.

Garza made his A1GP debut in Zhuhai earlier this season, narrowly missing out on a points finish. However, he secured his first point at the very next meeting, with ninth place in the Feature race at Taupo.

The 19-year-old has experience of temporary street courses when racing Champ Car Atlantics last season, scoring his best results on the airport circuits of Edmonton and Cleveland.

He will still be eligible for the rookie session in Durban, and his selection for South Africa puts him as favorite to continue racing at the team’s home race in Mexico next month.

The race at Mexico City on 14-16 March is the next round of A1GP after Durban.


Concept Cars More Than Style, Also Create Buzz
Click image to watch video
While concept cars are known to contain state-of-the-art technology and look stylish, automakers say they provide an even greater purpose – to create buzz. Concept cars continue to remain among the most popular vehicles at a variety of auto shows. However, following their debut, most concept vehicles must undergo a number of changes due to practicality, safety and cost. For these reasons, automakers say most concept cars almost never go into production directly. One concept vehicle at this year's ongoing Chicago Auto Show (being held Feb. 6-17) is General Motors' Denali XT, a car-based pick-up truck that is also a hybrid.


Daytona Practice 4: Newman fastest
1 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL 189.765 47.427 Leader
2 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 189.557 47.479 -0.052
3 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 188.956 47.630 -0.203
4 21 Bill Elliott Ford Little Debbie 188.917 47.640 -0.213
5 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 188.838 47.660 -0.233
6 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 188.747 47.683 -0.256
7 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 188.687 47.698 -0.271
8 10 Patrick Carpentier Dodge Valvoline 188.624 47.714 -0.287
9 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS 188.608 47.718 -0.291
10 150 Stanton Barrett Chevrolet NOS Energy Drink / SKI / SBM 188.604 47.719 -0.292
11 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 188.600 47.720 -0.293
12 187 Kenny Wallace Chevrolet Furniture Row / DenverMattress.com 188.569 47.728 -0.301
13 160 Boris Said Ford 7-Eleven Slurpee / No Fear 188.525 47.739 -0.312
14 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 188.470 47.753 -0.326
15 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 188.450 47.758 -0.331
16 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 188.423 47.765 -0.338
17 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 188.415 47.767 -0.340
18 6 David Ragan Ford AAA 188.399 47.771 -0.344
19 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 188.296 47.797 -0.370
20 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 188.119 47.842 -0.415
21 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam 188.076 47.853 -0.426
22 40 Dario Franchitti Dodge Dodge Journey 188.044 47.861 -0.434
23 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 188.029 47.865 -0.438
24 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 188.025 47.866 -0.439
25 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 187.990 47.875 -0.448
26 27 Jacques Villeneuve Toyota Bill Davis Racing 187.884 47.902 -0.475
27 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 187.872 47.905 -0.478
28 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 187.856 47.909 -0.482
29 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 187.770 47.931 -0.504
30 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Makoto 187.731 47.941 -0.514
31 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 187.649 47.962 -0.535
32 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / National Guard 187.582 47.979 -0.552
33 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet PEAK / Menards 187.578 47.980 -0.553
34 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline 187.555 47.986 -0.559
35 01 Regan Smith Chevrolet Principal Financial Group 187.551 47.987 -0.560
36 49 Ken Schrader Dodge HealthLife.com 187.461 48.010 -0.583
37 70 Jeremy Mayfield Chevrolet Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon 187.422 48.020 -0.593
38 28 Travis Kvapil Ford K&N Filters 187.309 48.049 -0.622
39 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT 187.305 48.050 -0.623
40 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo 187.246 48.065 -0.638
41 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditReport.com 187.145 48.091 -0.664
42 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull 186.904 48.153 -0.726
43 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal Cask No. 16 186.625 48.225 -0.798
44 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 186.409 48.281 -0.854
45 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 185.820 48.434 -1.007
46 08 Carl Long Dodge MILLSTAR Tools / Rhino's Energy Drink 182.760 49.245 -1.818
47 137 Eric McClure Chevrolet Hefty 177.326 50.754 -3.327


NASCAR Specialty License Plate Now Available
The NASCAR Foundation, in partnership with the Florida Sports Foundation (FSF), has announced a new NASCAR-themed, official Florida license plate that will be available to fans for purchase this week at Daytona International Speedway.

Net proceeds from the sale of the specialty plate will benefit The NASCAR Foundation and the Florida Sports Foundation.

“We are happy to partner with the Florida Sports Foundation and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to be able to offer our fans this specialty plate,” said Sandy Marshall, executive director of The NASCAR Foundation. “This is a great opportunity for fans to show their love of the sport, while at the same time contributing to two organizations that do a lot of good work in the state of Florida.”

The Florida Sports Foundation is the official sports promotion and development organization of the state of Florida. The Foundation’s mission is to promote and develop professional, amateur and participatory sports for the citizens of Florida.

Read more & Comment...

The ghost of Harley J. Earl
What are the best-known sports trophies? Even casual fans know about the prizes for the Super Bowl, the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs and the top player in college football and can identify the people those awards are named after (Vince Lombardi, Lord Stanley and John Heisman).

But what about the Daytona 500? Its trophy is named after Harley J. Earl.

Who was Earl? Do NASCAR's drivers know anything about him? "Not a thing," said J.J. Yeley. "No. Who is he?" said Reed Sorenson.

"Actually, I've never even heard the name, to be honest with you," said Boris Said.

Yeley, Sorenson and Said have never won the 500, never hoisted its trophy in triumph, so it's probably not fair to ask them. Let's turn to someone who has done those things - three times.

Dale Jarrett, do you know who Harley Earl was? "Not exactly, no. I know that I should know more about the history of it. I know it's an extremely nice trophy."

Read more & Comment...

Jarrett will not take Reutimann's ride
Dale Jarrett
Dale Jarrett said he would not consider getting into teammate #00-David Reutimann's car if the worst-case scenario happens Thursday and Jarrett fails to qualify for the Daytona 500. Some people have speculated that team owner Michael Waltrip might ask Reutimann to skip the race to allow Jarrett to compete in his final Daytona 500 start, if Jarrett doesn't make it in. "We won't do that just because it's my last one," Jarrett said. "It won't be the end of the world for me. We haven't talked about it. "David is going to be there for the whole season. And I'm the one that recommended David to UPS [Jarrett's longtime sponsor], so I want him to go out and have a great Daytona 500." Reutimann will take over in the #44 UPS Toyota after the first five races when Jarrett retires. Reutimann is driving the #00 Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing in the first five events. Waltrip and Reutimann are starting on the front row in the second qualifying race Thursday. Jarrett is starting on the outside of Row 7. Waltrip and Reutimann have guaranteed spots in the 500, so they will allow Jarrett to move ahead of them in the qualifying race if necessary to get Jarrett into the 500. ESPN.com


Hendrick cars to start at back of qualifying races UPDATE For years, Hendrick Motorsports' motors have developed a reputation for near-bulletproof durability.  But Wednesday, a significant chink developed in that armor, prompting five of nine Hendrick-built motors to be pulled from their respective cars.

"There's definitely an issue," Jeff Gordon said shortly after the motor in his No. 24 Chevrolet was removed.

Initial examination of the suspect motors centered on the valve lifters, said Jeff Andrews, director of engine development for Hendrick Motorsports.

"We did not have any of them that truly broke," Andrews said. "We have assumptions based on some early signs we saw in some checkovers following that early practice."

Motors in all four Hendrick-owned cars – those of Gordon, two-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, Casey Mears and Dale Earnhardt Jr. – were all removed around 3 p.m. (ET) Wednesday during the longest Cup practice session of Speedweeks thus far.

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Villeneuve, Carpentier blame the IRL/CART owners
Jacques Villeneuve -- Canada's only CART champion and Indianapolis 500 winner -- said yesterday that the demise of open-wheel's Champ Car World Series wouldn't cause him any sleepless nights.

In an interview with Sun Media after final practice for today's NASCAR Sprint Cup Gatorade Duel 150s, the 36-year-old native of Iberville, Que., said that there was room for only one form of racing at the top level in North America, and that was NASCAR.

But he criticized the owners of both Champ Car and the Indy Racing League for letting open-wheel racing die on this side of the ocean.

Villeneuve was the final winner of the unified CART series in 1995 before he moved to Formula One.

"They should never have split," he said. "It was great when I left after 1995 but it has just gone downhill since then."

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Q & A with Toyota's Pascal Vasselon
Pascal Vasselon
Toyota tested recently for six days in Bahrain, putting many more miles on the new TF108 package. Senior Chassis Manager Pascal Vasselon takes questions about the test as well as Toyota's preparations for the new season.

How do you assess the first four tests of the year?
"We are happy with the progress we have made with the TF108. It has been very obvious from the first test that the TF108 is a different animal compared to the TF107, with much better stability and an all-around much better basis to work on. Our drivers feel a lot more confident in the car and they are able to push more. We have found that set-up work is much more straightforward and it is much easier to make progress in that area."

What has the team been focusing on during these tests?
"After basic systems checks at the roll-out, which is more of a shakedown really, we have been looking at set-up and car development. We have spent the time learning how to use this package so we have worked on getting the mechanical set-up suited to the new aerodynamic concept. Because the stability of the TF108 is so much better we have to revisit most of the set-up directions we had developed with the TF107.

Are you happy with the baseline configuration of the TF108?
"Yes, because during the development of the new car I said our main target was to improve the stability and drivability and that is exactly what we have done. It is a clear step forward which has a lot of potential to be developed even further. From the first test it was clear we were working in a different ball park and performing better."

What areas are you looking to improve?
"At the moment I would say we have gained the stability we were looking for so we are now focusing on the improvement of pure aerodynamic efficiency."

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Speedcar Series storms Indonesia
Speedcar Series is in Indonesia for Round 2 of the Grand Racing events. The V8 620 bhp stockcars will be racing at the Sentul International Circuit on Saturday and Sunday, the 16th and 17th of February, 2008.

Approximately 100,000 spectators are expected this weekend to watch local heroes Ananda Mikola and Moreno Soeprapto.  They will battle former F1 champs and other international racing talent to the finish line.

Sentul International Circuit is 3.97 kilometers long and located approximately 42 kilometers south of Jakarta. The longer corners on the track enable varied racing lines, and the 900m (2700 feet) start-finish straight ensures overtaking opportunities into turn one. Rain is expected over the weekend, adding another unpredictable element to the races this weekend.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • No need for Bahrain night race - boss
  • Red Bull drivers play down rapid Jerez pace
  • 'Risk' caused BMW speed-bump - Heidfeld
  • Liuzzi retains Red Bull links
  • Senna father fined for inhumane treatment
  • Jerez fans close book on F1 racism says de la Rosa

No need for Bahrain night race - boss
(GMM)  The general manager of Bahrain's formula one circuit has added his denial to reports that the race might in the future be staged at night.

Organizers of the event at Sakhir have already played down chief operating officer Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa's recent claim that the circuit is "not opposed to the idea" of lighting the track.

But as the Bahrain GP - unlike the events in Singapore and Malaysia - is already in a favorable European television timeslot, general manager Martin Whitaker told Gulf Daily News about the prospect of a night race: "I honestly believe there is no need for that here."

Red Bull drivers play down rapid Jerez pace
(GMM)  Mark Webber and his teammate David Coulthard have played down the fact that the Australian driver set the fastest lap of the day at Wednesday's Jerez test.

Featuring its unique engine cover fin, the Renault-powered RB4 driven by 31-year-old Webber ended the particularly windy Spanish session atop the field of sixteen runners.

In a team statement, the Milton Keynes based camp said Webber had explored "the performance potential" of the Adrian Newey-penned machine, and described the fastest lap as "encouraging".

The Swiss newspaper Blick quoted Webber as saying: "Clearly, we took a lot of fuel out."

More than a second adrift in the sister RB4, Scottish teammate David Coulthard also warned observers not to read into Webber's apparently rapid pace.

He said no-one should expect "anything different than McLaren or Ferrari to be setting the pace" when the circus gathers in Melbourne next month for the first race of 2008.

Coulthard told the Australian news agency AAP: "We know we're not the quickest, we know we're not the slowest and we know we're more reliable than last year."

Barcelona will play host to the final pre-season test later in February.

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Daytona 500 Television Exposure 1988-2007
Since 1988, the primary team sponsors backing winning Daytona 500 drivers have combined to collect $109,000,505 of exposure value from live television coverage of the Great American Race.

According to research conducted by Joyce Julius & Associates, Inc. — which for more than 20 years has monitored every NASCAR race telecast — 18 different brands, with some appearing in multiple years, have found their way to the winner’s circle at NASCAR’s season-opening race, dating back to 1988.  Exposure values for the winning sponsors was determined by comparing each brand’s clear in-focus exposure time and verbal references occurring during the race telecast to the broadcasting network’s estimated cost for a commercial spot.

Lowe’s, the main sponsor of Jimmie Johnson’s winning effort in the 2006 race, stands atop the list of sponsors with a record-setting total approaching $19.9 million of comparable exposure value, based on 27 minutes, 30 seconds (27:30) of on-screen time and six mentions occurring during NBC’s live telecast.

Last year, Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag in Daytona while carrying along the logos of Shell and Pennzoil.  The brands’ identity on Harvick’s hood accounted for about one-third of the sponsors’ total on-screen time, while the remainder of the visual exposure stemmed from various locations in view of Fox TV cameras mounted on the car, as well as driver and crew member uniforms, hats and pit wall banners.

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There are other ominous signs for NASCAR
  • Of the 53 cars trying to make Sunday’s Daytona 500, at least 17 lack full-season sponsorships.
  • Morgan-McClure Motorsports, which won the Daytona 500 three times between 1991 and 1995, closed its doors recently.
  • Multicar teams are dominant. Cars fielded by five multicar-team owners won 34 of 36 races and accounting for 81 percent of all of the top-five finishes in 2007.
  • After boasting that television ratings proved it to be America’s second most successful professional sport behind only pro football, NASCAR now tries to distance itself from numbers that last year showed nearly 1 million fewer viewers, on average, for each of the races in its top series.


Earnhardt Jr. leads opening Nationwide practice
Hendrick Motorsports’ Dale Earnhardt Jr. led the opening NASCAR Nationwide Series practice at Daytona International Speedway Wednesday.  Earnhardt Jr. is driving the JR Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet, a product of an alignment between his company and Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt Jr. led the session with a lap of 185.770 mph. Richard Childress Racing’s Clint Bowyer was second-fastest with a top lap of 185.151 mph. Kevin Harvick Inc.’s Kevin Harvick, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch and Roush Fenway Racing’s Greg Biffle rounded out the top five.

RESULTS: Practice 1 (Top-10)
1. #5 Dale Earnhardt Jr 48.447
2. #2 Clint Bowyer 48.609
3. #33 Kevin Harvick 48.619
4. #18 Kyle Busch 48.679
5. #16 Greg Biffle 48.723
6. #59 Marcos Ambrose 48.763
7. #22 Mike Bliss 48.797
8. #99 David Reutimann 48.819
9. #25 Bobby Hamilton Jr 48.829
10. #38 Jason Leffler 48.891


Nascar Inks $107.5 Million Radio Deal
Sirius Satellite Radio today announced that it will pay NASCAR $107.5 million over five years to be its official satellite radio partner and to air all Nextel Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series races, beginning in 2007. Sirius, which said the highest payments to NASCAR will be made in the final years of the agreement, plans to air the races on a new 24/7 NASCAR channel. The radio provider will have the right to sell advertising on all of its NASCAR shows and during its race coverage.  Scenedaily


Stanley Tools to sponsor Sadler in 12 races
Stanley Tools officials announced Thursday the company would sponsor Gillett Evernham Motorsports driver Elliott Sadler in 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season.  Stanley had been a co-sponsor of Valvoline Evernham's No. 10 Dodge the past two seasons.

Stanley will sponsor Sadler's No. 19 Dodge at Las Vegas on March 2, Phoenix on April 12, Richmond on May 3, Pocono on June 8, Infineon on June 22, Indianapolis in July 27, Michigan on Aug. 17, New Hampshire on Sept. 14, Charlotte on Oct. 11, Texas on Nov. 2, both Bristol races and the all-star race in Charlotte.

TV news

SPEED Sees Early Ratings Growth
SPEED rolls into its live and exclusive coverage of the Gatorade Duel at Daytona (Thursday at 2 p.m. ET) and the season opener of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET) coming off a weekend that delivered double-digit Nielsen ratings growth over a year ago.

Led by NASCAR RaceDay, with a Nielsen Household Rating of 1.53 (1,101,000 households), five SPEED programs scored a Nielsen mark of “1” or better on Saturday. NASCAR RaceDay was up 17 percent from a year ago, the ARCA RE/MAX Series race was up 16 percent (1.46 vs. 1.26), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice was up 8 percent (1.11 vs. 1.03) and two episodes of NASCAR Live! were up 18 percent and 26 percent respectively.

“We came into the 2008 season totally fired up,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “SPEED showed up ready to work early in January for the first NASCAR test sessions and we will keep the momentum going throughout the season, through our exclusive coverage of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in May and all the way to Homestead in November.”

SPEED’s weekend programming also delivered growth with younger audiences. From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, out of 70 networks, SPEED was the No. 2 rated network with Men 18-49, falling in behind TNT.


Jerez Day 3: Webber fastest
Although Ferrari was not testing, Mark Webber in his new RB4 ended the third full day of official F1 testing at Jerez in Spain half a second clear of his nearest rival.

Today's fast times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:18.628 72
2. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:19.091 98
3. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:19.215 91
4. Alonso Renault 1:19.710 104
5. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:19.829 116
6. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.857 68
7. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:19.883 97
8. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:19.889 114
9. Piquet Renault 1:20.014 110
10. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.152 84
11. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:20.201 109
12. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:20.536 76
13. Button Honda 1:21.147 85
14. Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:21.376 101
15. Barrichello Honda 1:21.710 58
16. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:22.244 86


Evernham to join ESPN's broadcast lineup
Ray Evernham, who is reducing his role with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, has joined ESPN and will be part of the network's NASCAR coverage. Evernham, now a minority owner of the Dodge team he started in 2000, will appear on NASCAR Now, ESPN's daily NASCAR news show, as part of a rotating panel of ESPN analysts.

Evernham will also work as an analyst in ESPN's booth for the Nationwide Series races at Mexico City and New Hampshire. He will also join ESPN's prerace show, NASCAR Countdown, for some races, including the Feb. 16 Nationwide race at Daytona. Evernham appeared on several Nationwide telecasts in 2007 and was also featured in Race Wizard with Ray Evernham on ESPN2.

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Rahal team sues Scott Sharp UPDATE #2 Because Scott Sharp violated his obligation to race exclusively for Rahal Letterman Racing in 2008, Rahal Letterman Racing was vindicated today in its breach-of-contract allegations against Scott Sharp Sports, LLC  pursuant to an order issued by United States District Court Judge Hon. Adalberto Jordan.

The 24-page ruling, which denied a preliminary injunction against Sharp that would have forced him to sit out the 2008 season, states that Sharp’s claims against Rahal Letterman Racing concerning fraud, failure to provide testing, failure to perform research and development and the replacement of team members had no merit and that it was Sharp that will be found to have breached the contract.

Specifically, in the final conclusion of the seven-part ruling, Judge Jordan states: ‘It seems to me that (Sharp) has knowingly breached one agreement in order to enter another. He may continue to race for Highcroft in the 2008 season, but this case shall go on, and he may pay for his choices in the end, quite literally, if a jury views the evidence as I do.’ In addition, Judge Jordan stated that ‘according to the evidence presented so far, Rahal Letterman (Racing) has not committed fraud or breach of contract. If anything, it is the Sharp defendants who have breached and abandoned their contractual commitments’.

Judge Jordan also analyzed the evidence as follows: ‘The record demonstrates that Rahal Letterman (Racing) did everything basically right and worked with the Sharp defendants at all times in good faith…Therefore the Sharp defendants have no excuse for violating the restrictive covenant in the Driver Agreement. For these reasons, I conclude that Rahal Letterman (Racing) will likely succeed on the merits of its breach of contract claim against the Sharp defendants.’

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Trulli says Ferrari have no rivals
Toyota driver Jarno Trulli says he cannot see anyone taking the Formula One title off Ferrari this year given the Italian team's performance in recent tests in Bahrain. "In my opinion they are at least half a second faster per lap, even with respect to McLaren. The championship already looks over to me before it has started," Trulli told Italian motorsport weekly Autosprint.

The 33-year-old Italian said Ferrari's superiority stemmed from the team's ability to adapt to the scrapping of traction control. "When you watch Ferrari's performance on the track your arms drop (in amazement)," he said. "They brake where they want but, above all, they accelerate where they want, when I always have to be careful giving power, which is no longer managed by traction control.

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FIA to launch anti-racism campaign
The FIA, Formula One's governing body, is to launch an anti-racism campaign in the wake of the abuse suffered by Lewis Hamilton at testing in Spain. The scheme will start at the Circuit de Catalunya, the venue for the Spanish GP, where Hamilton was targeted.

"The FIA was appalled by the scenes of racist abuse targeted at Lewis Hamilton," said an FIA spokesman. "Such behaviour runs counter to the fundamental principles of equality enshrined in the FIA's statutes."

Spain hosts two Grand Prix next season and the FIA threatened sanctions against them if steps were not taken to prevent a repeat of the racist abuse the 23-year-old McLaren driver endured. Everyone across motorsport will be invited to join the campaign.

"Formula One is a global, multi-cultural sport and has never encountered such scenes before and will not tolerate them in future," added the spokesman. "International motorsport can reach a huge global audience to send out positive messages of racial and sporting equality.

"We will be encouraging all those involved in motorsport to support our new campaign, from recent world champions to the next generation of potential champions at the grass roots of our sport."

The spokesman said all of motor sport's stakeholders will be encouraged to support the campaign, to be known as 'Racing against racism'. A spokeswoman for Mercedes-powered McLaren, Hamilton's team, said the British outfit will be backing the FIA initiative. bbc.co.uk


Warmer reception for Hamilton in Jerez
Lewis Hamilton
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, the recent victim of racist abuse during testing in Barcelona, has received a warmer reception during a three-day session in southern Spain. "The McLaren stable didn't ask us to take any particular security measures for the three days of testing but in any case we never had problems of this type here," officials from the Jerez circuit said Wednesday.

Hamilton was supported by many fans who travelled from the tiny British overseas territory of Gibraltar, just 100km away, as he took top honours on the first day of testing on Tuesday with a time of 1:19.102 minutes, beating his previous best time on the same track of 1:19.131 on January 10. The world championship runner-up will continue preparations for next season on Wednesday with his new teammate Heikki Kovalainen of Finland.

The Spanish fans' behaviour was seen as a reaction to perceived favouritism by McLaren for Hamilton last season at the expense of Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who has since rejoined Renault. On each occasion the McLaren-Mercedes driver left the pits in Montmelo, insults were thrown at him by a group of spectators who also had banners criticising him. Up to 5,000 spectators are expected to attend Wednesday's session, the only day that Alonso will test. TurkishPress.com


NASCAR turns death into dollars
"Could they just let the poor guy rest in peace?" Those were the words of a colleague at Daytona International Speedway after we watched the unveiling of a black No. 3 Chevy commemorating the 10th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt's 1998 Daytona 500 victory.

The car is a replica of the one Earnhardt drove to his only Daytona 500 victory -- except that it's an Impala and it has a front splitter and a rear wing. Yes, it's a "Car of Tomorrow." Or if you prefer, a "Car of Today." Or as NASCAR prefers, a "new car." What it isn't, however, is an authentic replica of Earnhardt's 1998 Monte Carlo. And connoisseurs of irony will note that this new car exists because of a company called Motorsports Authentics.

Motorsports Authentics (which is owned by International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc.) is selling die-cast collectible versions of this fantasy car for $74.99. It's another effort to make money off Earnhardt, who died after wrecking in the 2001 Daytona 500.

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Malaysia prepares for night race
Malaysia's Sepang formula one circuit will be ready for night racing next year, according to media reports. Mokhzani Mahathir, chairman of Sepang International Circuit, told the New Straits Times newspaper that discussions were under way to stage night racing at the 5.542-kilometre track on the outskirts of the city.

Singapore is due to host the first formula one night grand prix in September on a street circuit. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone wants Asian circuits to introduce night racing to cater for European fans because of the time difference.

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Industry news

GM faces long, slow climb in US
General Motors Corp. is blowing the proverbial doors off the world's emerging markets -- necessary, as Chairman Rick Wagoner would say, but not sufficient. The automaker said Tuesday it booked pre-tax profits of $1.35 billion in Latin America last year and held its market share steady. Sales in China topped 1 million cars, contributing to earnings of $744 million. In Europe, a black hole in the late '90s and early this decade, GM's business is growing faster than its rivals', especially in Russia.

All good, considering the General sold 60 percent of the 9.28 million cars and trucks it produced outside its domestic market. Credit GM for beating competitors to leading shares of foreign markets once closed to outside investors -- all while fierce competition and an anachronistic, if transforming, business model bedevils GM at home.

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37 Truck Teams on Entry List
Thirty-seven trucks are entered for the 36 spots in the Chevy Silverado 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race scheduled for Friday at Daytona International Speedway. Among drivers who didn't test but are now entered in the race are MB Motorsports' P.J. Jones, TRG Motorsports' Mike Bliss (in a second team car), Reary Racing's Brian Sockwell and Brevak Racing's Larry Foyt. Kyle Busch is the only Sprint Cup regular entered in the event. Teams practice Wednesday, qualify Thursday and race Friday. Scenedaily.com


Daytona looking bleak for Ford teams
Ford teams have been conspicuously absent from all the Speedweeks hoopla so far. Maybe they’re sandbagging, not showing all they have, but so far it doesn’t look as though Ford is bringing much to the Daytona 500 table.

Two weeks ago, Ford racing bosses said they were looking ahead to Sprint Cup races in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and Matt Kenseth and the other Jack Roush drivers may, indeed, do well there. Kenseth is a good pick at California Speedway for sure. But the Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the season, and Chevrolet teams have won 15 of the past 19. And the past few days, the show here has been Chevrolet vs. Toyota, or more precisely, Rick Hendrick’s Chevrolets vs. the Joe Gibbs and Michael Waltrip Toyotas.

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Canadian race promoters wait for bankruptcy report
Promoters of the three Canadian stops on the Champ Car circuit can only wait to see what happens amid reports that the open-wheel motor racing series is about to declare bankruptcy.

Speed TV reported Tuesday that Champ Car will file for bankruptcy in the next few days, nullifying the need for a proposed merger with the rival Indy Racing League.

IRL boss Tony George had proposed adding Champ Car events in Edmonton, Long Beach, Calif., and Surfer's Paradise, Australia, with possibly one other, to the 2008 IRL schedule as part of the merger. That could leave the races in Toronto and Mont-Tremblant, Que., out in the cold.

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FIA makes presence felt at Jerez
There is extra vigilance at the latest Spanish test. Two FIA transporters on Tuesday arrived at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain, giving rise to rumours that F1's governing body intends to conduct some anti-doping tests this week.

It is also being suggested that the strong presence of the Paris based Federation at F1's penultimate pre-season test is a reaction to the racism scandal that broke out ten days ago at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

Only a small crowd gathered for the Jerez test on Tuesday, but Fernando Alonso's supporters are likely to be in force on Wednesday as the Spaniard begins work for Renault. Because of the Lewis Hamilton racism controversy, media interest in the otherwise ordinary three-day test is higher than usual. 

The British tabloid Daily Star reported on Tuesday that the McLaren driver's extra security precautions amounted to a ‘ring of steel’.
The newspaper also said the crowd of 250 Spanish supporters had been ‘hand-picked’ by operators of the Jerez circuit.

"Security staff were warned to be extra vigilant. It was almost a lockdown in a bid to protect Lewis. Anyone looking remotely like they were going to cause trouble was turned away," a source said. F1-Live.com


Wypall Wipers announces 2008 Crew Chief Lineup
Wypall Wipers announced its all-star lineup of crew chief representatives today, continuing the tradition of top-notch crew chiefs who call Wypall Wipers their wiper of choice. The Wypall Wipers 2008 Crew Chief Program will launch in Daytona on Feb. 17.

Serving as spokesmen for the Wypall Wipers brand, the noted crew chiefs include some of NASCAR’s best, including the defending Daytona 500 winner. Todd Berrier, who helped guide Kevin Harvick and his #29 Richard Childress Shell Pennzoil Racing Chevrolet team to victory in last season’s “Great American Race”, makes his debut into the program. He is joined by fellow newcomer Bob Osborne, who makes the decisions on the #99 Roush-Fenway Racing Office Depot Ford team for driver Carl Edwards.

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Stewart getting waxed for charity
Tony Stewart
During last night’s SIRIUS radio show Tony Stewart Live with Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick mentioned “Operation Wax Smoke,” and the fact that the fans had met the goal [of $100,000]. In response, Tony said he would like to have Kevin host the show while he was getting “the procedure.” Now, we are just waiting on Tony to set the date! The fans raised a total of $39,611.00 and Harvick has pitched in the rest, which totaled $60,389.00 just to make the goal. Details as things become more final.  Jayski.com


Champ Car Owner Expects Series to End UPDATE See related Indystar.com article

Derrick Walker
Derrick Walker isn't buying Champ Car's company line. He's parked his car, withdrawn from testing and focused his attention on running in the rival Indy Racing League this year even though Champ Car officials say they will race this season.

Walker, a Champ Car owner who has also competed in the IRL, told The Associated Press on Tuesday he believes Champ Car is finished.

"It has all the makings of the end of Champ Car," he said in a telephone interview. "How it's going to be done, I don't know. But I think Champ Car is going to shut down."

Walker was so concerned about the series' future that he instructed the team to return to Indianapolis without ever testing his car in Sebring, Fla., earlier this month.

The comments come amid rampant speculation about what the future may hold for Champ Car, one of America's top two open-wheel series.

Walker, however, acknowledged he has had some sponsors default on payments from last season and that he had to contact the league office to get last year's prize money.

"That's news to me," Kalkhoven said.

But Walker said he's not alone.

"The only thing I know for sure is that about a month ago there were several teams that had never been paid prize money," he said. "Whether that was resolved, I don't know."

Plus, Walker said he's heard little from league officials and more about the departures of employees.

The combination was enough to make Walker reassess his team's plans, and refocus the team's efforts on racing in the IRL this season.

"We are working toward that 100 percent until someone can show me that Champ Car is really going," Walker said. "That's part of my frustration. My truck was on its way to the Sebring test and I turned it around and brought it back because we had not had anyone in Champ Car tell me what was going on. So we put it all in the corner, left it alone and put our energy in IRL 101." More from AP article


Porsche 911 GT3 RSR race car revealed
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR launches into the new model year with extensive modifications, with its North American debut scheduled next month at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring – round one of the 2008 American Le Mans Series.

The most powerful race car based on the Porsche 911, which last year scored wins at the 24 hour races of Le Mans and Spa, the GT2 class win at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, and an overall victory at the Nurbürgring 24 hours, competes in the GT2 class at international long distance races. The most distinguishing visual feature of the new GT3 RSR is the front end which received major improvements to the aerodynamics. The majority of innovations, however, are hidden under the weight-optimized body.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
The first American team to announce that it will compete with the 2008 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR is the Sonoma, Calif.-based Flying Lizard Motorsports squad, which will enter the GT2 class of the American Le Mans Series with three of the new 911 race cars.  Porsche factory drivers Joerg Bergmeister, Wolf Henzler and Patrick Pilet will join veteran Darren Law and Lizard owners Seth Neiman, Lonnie Pechnik and Johannes van Overbeek in the team’s effort to win its first ALMS GT2 championship.

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L.B. `on' despite Champ troubles
LB track layout
Amid growing speculation that Champ Car World Series and Indy Racing League are on the verge of merging came reports Tuesday that Champ Car could be about to file bankruptcy, ending its existence.

However, Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, reacted strongly when asked if the annual race - scheduled this year for April 20 - would become a potential casualty of the Champ Car situation.

"We're going to run an event here on April the 20th," Michaelian said. "I can tell you that."

Despite at least one published report that Champ Car would file for bankruptcy this week, and one team owner saying he believed the series would be "shut down," Champ Car officials said Tuesday they would not acknowledge the reports.

"We're proceeding with our plans and will keep operating as Champ Car," David Higdon, executive vice president for Champ Car, told The Associated Press.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • 70,000 Singapore GP tickets to go on sale
  • Rosberg is F1's best qualifier - Wurz
  • Ferrari finances looking healthy for '08
  • BMW not ready to beat top teams - Heidfeld
  • FIA make presence felt at Jerez
  • Hamilton to 'rise above' racial abuse

70,000 Singapore GP tickets to go on sale
(GMM)  Organizers of the inaugural Singapore grand prix will on Thursday release 70,000 tickets for the September night race.

This first phase of sales follows a delay, during which the promoters have been working to increase the original capacity from 65,000.

Another 10,000 seats could also be added to the final tally, pending negotiations between organizers and the Singapore Recreation Club and Singapore Cricket Club over the addition of extra grandstands on a particular stretch of the street layout.

Rosberg is F1's best qualifier - Wurz
(GMM)  Alex Wurz has praised his former Williams teammate Nico Rosberg as the best qualifier in formula one.

On all but one qualifying occasion last year, 33-year-old Wurz was beaten to a better grid position by Rosberg.

Wurz's struggle for performance last year preceded his decision to retire from the sport as a racer and switch to Honda as the Japanese team's primary test driver -- a role in which Wurz is credited for being arguably the best in F1.

"Nico developed so much between the 2006 and 2007 seasons," the Austrian veteran told Motorsport Aktuell.

"Especially in qualifying, I think that he is the best in the paddock," Wurz added.

Even without racing in the season finale, Wurz ended 2007 with 13 out of Williams' 20 points, but team co-owner Patrick Head does not think the former McLaren test driver performed strongly last year.

"We did our best to help him, but it did not work," the Toyota-powered team's engineering veteran said.

Head acknowledges the highlights of Wurz's season, including the podium in Canada, but insists that at other races there was seldom "a sign that he could frequently go into the points".

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Contract extension sought for Long Beach GP UPDATE Uncertainties in the open-wheel motor racing industry prompted the City Council on Tuesday night to postpone an agenda item extending the city's contract with the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach LLC.

Although the city's contract with GPALB won't expire until June 20, 2010, the proposed agreement sought to stretch the termination date to June 30, 2015, with the optional extension to 2020.

"There really isn't a compelling reason to act this Tuesday," said Michael Conway, director of public works. "We thought it in the best interest of the city to let this item roll on for at least a week and find out what will happen in the industry."

GPALB is a separately held company that is co-owned by Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe - who also own the Champ Car World Series LLC, said GPALB president and CEO Jim Michaelian.

"We contract with Champ Car to bring the race here," Michaelian said. "Whatever transpires with regard to Champ Car has no legal ramifications (for GPALB)."

The industry's woes and Tuesday's would-be consideration of the GPALB's proposed contract extension was a coincidence, Michaelian said, adding that the contract had been in the works as far back as nine months ago.

Some of those details included prolonging the race period from three to three-and-a-half days, the possibility of reducing or eliminating admission for Thursday events, and GPALB agreement to reimburse the city up to $519,558 for the event.
Planning for this year's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will not be affected, Michaelian said.

"While we are disappointed that the extension of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, LLC contract has been pulled from Tuesday's City Council agenda, we understand the City's concerns with regards to the current situation in open-wheel racing in America," Michaelian said in a statement released Tuesday night. "We are hopeful that those issues will come to a swift resolution and we will be able to go forward with a contract extension." Long Beach Press Telegram

02/09/08 On Tuesday the Long Beach, CA City Council will consider extending Long Beach's agreement with the Grand Prix Association that is set to end in 2010. The proposal calls for extending the agreement to 2015, with an optional extension to 2020 with council approval, according to a city report. 

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