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Sergio Perez leads a 1-2 finish for Campos  
A happy Sergio Perez
The 2008 GP2 Series Champions concluded a brilliant weekend tonight in Qatar with both of their drivers finishing first and second of the sprint race at the Losail International Circuit. Starting from seventh and eighth, Sergio Perez and Vitaly Petrov launched perfectly at the start and were already leading the race entering the first corner, the Russian ahead of the Mexican. But a couple of laps later, Perez overtook his teammate at the end of the main straight and managed to keep a 2 second gap all through the rest of the race. He crossed the finished line to claim his second win in his fourth GP2 Asia weekend ever.

Behind them, yesterday’s winner Nico Hülkenberg, also made an impressive start, from eighth to fourth and was soon all over Arden’s Edoardo Mortara. And while the two Campos cars pulled away extending their lead to almost 10 seconds, the ART ace struggled on a slippery track to pass Mortara, but eventually succeed on Lap 15 before Turn 1. Hülkenberg then tried to catch up with the leaders who were ultimately too far away to reach before the checkered flag. More ...

Q&A Renault technical director Bob Bell  After a shaky start to their pre-season running at Portimão in January, Renault are confident that they have improved considerably this week in Jerez, even though Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet completed just over 1400 km of running. Here to tell us more about the team's improvements and to give his opinion on the car is the team's Technical Director Bob Bell.

Q: Bob, after two test sessions, are you pleased with the performance of the R29?
Bob Bell, Renault (Technical Director): It's still very early days, but I'm becoming increasingly more satisfied with the performance of the car. Obviously the Portimão test was a disappointment to us as we only had one dry day and although the car ran well from a reliability point of view, we still had lots of unanswered performance-related questions. It's true that we didn't look great at that first test, but that was not really a surprise to us as we simply got the car out with an interim set of bodywork so that we could get miles on it, evaluate reliability and get the KERS system up and running. So we didn't really expect to be that competitive, especially as we were learning about the set-up that is needed for this new generation of cars. Since then we've put a lot of things right at the Jerez test and I think we've made good progress. Overall I'm encouraged by what we've seen so far. More ...

track news
Lots of entertainment at Auto Club Speedway  One of the major ingredients of presenting a NASCAR weekend is the special off track entertainment for the fans. It's an added incentive to make the fans want to purchase race tickets. Also the concerts and special appearances of major named celebrities greatly enhances the racing weekend.

In recent years the process of booking these major names during NASCAR weekends has become relatively easy. There's a very good reason for that. Any entertainment manager worth his commission already knows that sending their famous clients to one of these races is a public relations gold mine. It’s a huge opportunity to promote a new movie, television show or a music CD release in front of tens of thousands of fans as well as the mega millions watching on live television.

Over the years the Auto Club Speedway has made it a point to make sure they had plenty of well known names to entertain their fans. A strong example came last year when classic rockers ZZ Topp visited Fontana-California for a pre race concert. The fan frenzy hit a fever pitch. The day before the race the "Tres Hombres" rockers walked into the speedway's press box to say hello. It was one of those very rare moments when a room full of reporters all stopped talking at the same time. More ...
Little sponsor support for A1GP race in Surfers  RACE organizers for the inaugural A1GP event on the Gold Coast in October will unveil a new name for the event in two weeks, but are still searching for a naming rights sponsor. As the uncertainty over a sponsor continues, it was revealed yesterday that the Porsche Carrera Cup had withdrawn from V8 Supercars 2009 program as a support category. The Gold Coast event's general manager Greg Hooton confirmed to The Bulletin that last year's naming rights sponsor Nikon was unlikely to renew its support this year, and that Honda -- as expected -- had also pulled the pin.

"It's probably unlikely that when we announce the new (event) name that we will have a naming rights sponsor," said Mr. Hooton. "Honda have declined to continue as they are a major supporter of (former race series) the IRL. We're back out in the marketplace looking for an appropriate motorsport brand."

As sports teams and events worldwide struggle to maintain support in the face of the global financial crisis, Mr. Hooton agreed that the tighter economy would make it much tougher to secure sponsors. More ...
tv news
Daytona 500 ad revenue strong  Fox Sports President Ed Goren, ahead of the net's broadcast of Sunday's Daytona 500, said NASCAR's advertising market is "unbelievably healthy," according to David Barron of the Huston Chronicle. Fox Sports Chair & CEO David Hill: "The automotives, which everyone thought were not going to be stepping up, have bought time." Hill added that companies "continue to prepare specific ads linked to the Daytona 500." Hill: "It is becoming very Super Bowl-like" HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Forbes Magazine' '08 NASCAR Drivers' earning list  SportsBusiness Daily reports that Dale Earnhardt Jr. topped FORBES' '08 NASCAR Drivers' earning list, making $35M "despite winning only one race, the LifeLock 400," according to Peter Schwartz. Earnhardt's endorsement and licensing royalties made him $23M, "as merchandise emblazoned with his new No. 88 race car was NASCAR's top seller." Earnhardt's salary and race winnings accounted for another $12M. Jeff Gordon was the second-highest earning driver at $30M, "including $16M from licensing and endorsement income from the likes of PepsiCo, DuPont and Electronic Arts." Both Earnhardt and Gordon "have made fortunes while turning away millions in endorsement offers, instead choosing to partner only with select sponsors." Overall, NASCAR's top 10 drivers in earnings received $180M in '08, up 4.7% from a last year's Forbes listing, "thanks to large, multiyear sponsorship deals and heavy spending on apparel and gear by loyal fans." The following lists the top 10 drivers in earnings for '08. FORBES.com


Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Jeff Gordon
Jimmie Johnson
Tony Stewart
Kasey Kahne
Kevin Harvick
Kyle Busch
Matt Kenseth
Juan Pablo Montoya
Denny Hamlin

track news
Empress Casino packages available for NASCAR weekend  The 2009 NASCAR season is underway, and it’s time for race fans to make their reservations in Joliet to see their favorite drivers trade paint at the Chicagoland Speedway.

Empress Casino Joliet, just minutes from the Speedway, is offering a series of NASCAR Packages, including a top-end offering for two with accommodations at the casino hotel for two nights, dinner at Alex steakhouse, race tickets and transportation to and from the speedway. 

Race weekend for the LifeLock.com 400 (formerly the Chicagoland 400) takes place at Chicagoland Speedway, July 9-12.  The Nationwide series race will be held on Friday evening and the LifeLock.com 400 will be held under the lights for the first time on Saturday night (July 11). The track is a 15-minute drive from Empress.  Major NASCAR stars expected to participate include:  Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. More ...

Toyota Plans Worker Buyouts  Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest automaker, will freeze wages and offer voluntary buyouts to plant workers in North America for the first time as the company widens output cuts to adjust for slumping demand.

The company will cut pay for factory executives and eliminate bonuses for all salaried production unit staff, Toyota said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday. The Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker is making further cuts in its assembly schedule for April, and creating a “work-sharing” program to reduce work hours at some plants, spokesman Mike Goss said.

Since passing General Motors Corp. in global sales last year, Toyota has forecast its first operating loss in 71 years as the global recession cripples demand for its Camry sedans and Tundra pickups. Toyota posted a 32 percent U.S. sales drop in January and has already announced plans to curb output at plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. More ...

Honda in countdown to F1 rescue  (GMM) The outfit currently known as Honda is facing a 10-day countdown to survival, amid rumours Bernie Ecclestone may be willing to invest in the Brackley based squad.

It was strongly rumoured this week that boss Ross Brawn is readying his troops for the 2009 season, with Jenson Button and Bruno Senna to occupy the cockpits.

But amid suggestions funding is only guaranteed for the first four races, Mercedes-Benz wants assurances the team can pay the full 8m euro price-tag for its customer engines, the Guardian newspaper said.

The publication also said the German manufacturer wants to be sure the post-Honda guise "will not have sponsors or a new team identity which in any way compromise the Mercedes brand". More ...
Ganassi says to lay off of partner  
Chip Ganassi has asked the media to stop criticizing his partner, Teresa Earnhardt
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing owner/managing partner Chip Ganassi is fed up with media criticism of Teresa Earnhardt, co-owner of the team and widow of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Just because Teresa Earnhardt prefers not to come to the racetrack, she shouldn’t be pilloried in the press as an absentee owner, Ganassi said Friday to a small gathering of reporters outside his motor home.

“She could have walked away from the sport in 2001 (after Dale Earnhardt died in a crash in the Daytona 500), and nobody would have said a word,” Ganassi said. “Here she commits herself to the business and commits herself to the industry, and because she’s not what you want her to be, she’s not good, or she’s no good, or this or that.

“Whether she wants to be at the racetrack or not isn’t a measuring of her interest in the sport. Because she doesn’t walk up and down the pit lane with a hat on like Jack Roush, she can’t be any good — that’s just ridiculous.

“She’s committed to the sport, and she’s my partner, so lay off her. OK?” Cupscene

Crash forces Harvick to backup car  Kevin Harvick’s No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet hit the wall in Turn 4 during Friday’s practice, and the team decided to go to a backup car - the car that won the Budweiser Shootout last Saturday.

“It’s obviously a curveball this late in the week that you don’t usually like to deal with,” Harvick said. “But they’ll do a good job in dealing with it and do the right things with the cars. … Luckily we have a car we know is decent.”

Because he is using his backup, Harvick will give up his 32nd starting position for Sunday’s race at Daytona International Speedway and move to the back of the starting grid.
Q&A with Matt Kenseth  
Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, met with the media prior to this afternoon’s practice.

WAS THE OFFSEASON TOO SHORT, TOO LONG OR JUST ABOUT THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF TIME? “It was alright. I was anxious to get to Daytona.”

HAVE YOU CHANGED THE MOTOR YET? “Yeah. We changed the whole car. We wrecked in the 150s and had to change the car, so we just put the race motor in then.”

IS THERE ANY BENEFIT TO CHANGING NOW AS OPPOSED TO AFTER HAPPY HOUR TOMORROW? “I think if I had my choice, I would wait until the last practice tomorrow, just to keep the miles off of it. So, as long as you get one practice on it, just to make sure you don’t have leaks or anything on it or anything goofy going on, I don’t really think it matters.”

HOW HAS DAYTONA BEEN GOING FOR YOU? “We’ve been kind of missing it, I think, on the handling. We haven’t had this car out, so this is a whole new car since yesterday. So, my plan is to put as many miles as we need to on it to get it to handle the way we need it to handle.” More ...

Goodyear confident tires won't explode at Daytona Sunday  Despite some concerns about tire wear going into Sunday’s Daytona 500, Goodyear program manager Greg Stucker is confident that his company has brought a tire to Daytona that will hold up well in Sunday’s 200-lap race.

“I think we’re pretty happy with what we see,” Stucker said on Friday at the 2.5-mile track. “We still saw some evidence of some of the compound tearing and blistering that we’ve kind of grown accustomed to seeing with this car at Daytona, but certainly I think everybody’s working on it better than it was earlier in the week prior to the [Budweiser] Shootout and practice. And people just keeping getting it better and better and better. So we’ve got a couple practices to go before the 500, so overall I think we’re pretty happy.”

In the closing laps of Thursday’s second Gatorade Duel qualifying race alone, Hendrick Motorsports teammates Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Red Bull Racing’s Brian Vickers were all forced to make green flag pit stops because they thought they had a tire going down.

In an effort to help prevent some of the blistering that occurred in last year’s Daytona 500, Goodyear brought a different right-side tire for Speedweeks this time. The tire features a tougher rubber compound along with gauges that adjust in an effort to take some of the heat out and make the tire more durable and resistant to blistering.

“Certainly if we look at the number of the tires that have actually been blistered, if we look at the temperatures that our guys have taken on the cars, certainly, or our adjustments on the tire itself, [they] have helped a lot,” Stucker said. “We feel pretty good. I think overall if you hear some of the comments, I think the drivers are pretty comfortable with the package, and I think we’re pretty good.” More ...

Goodyear taps high schools for interns  As the exclusive tire supplier of NASCAR’s three largest series, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company kicked-off its second year of hosting race weekend interns for the Goodyear Racing and Diversity Program, an initiative the company started to provide high school students with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the many career paths offered through the sport of NASCAR.  The program, offered in six areas including Daytona Beach, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit and Dover (DE), has provided minority students over the past two years with a graduated program of at-track experiences, internships and ultimately, the opportunity to receive one of six scholarships to help continue their education.

As part of this year’s Program, Goodyear introduced its first two 2009 season race weekend internship recipients, Kayla Lee and Gabriel Bernal.  Kayla, a senior at Mainland High School and Gabriel, a junior at Mainland High School, will work in their fields of interest with established professionals on Saturday, February 14th leading into the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race and on Sunday, February 15th leading into the 51st running of the Daytona 500.

“For the 2009 NASCAR season, Goodyear is proud to once again offer deserving high school students a unique opportunity to experience first-hand the wide variety of career opportunities available through the sport of NASCAR,” said Kris Kienzl, NASCAR Marketing Manager at Goodyear.  “Thanks to our longstanding, uninterrupted involvement with NASCAR, we are able to provide an inside look at career paths from engineering and design to marketing and promotions, with mentors from all over the sport, whether from NASCAR, individual race teams, tracks or Goodyear.” More ...

Goodyear takes back tires  Goodyear took back eight right-side tires that it had assigned to teams, believing that they came from a possible bad batch that could have resulted in some of the tire problems Sprint Cup teams had Thursday during the Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway. The tires were replaced Friday, according to a Goodyear spokesman. Goodyear Director of Race Tire Sales Greg Stucker had said earlier in the day that the company was trying to figure out what had happened in a couple of the instances. Overall, Stucker said prior to practice Friday that he was “pretty happy” with the tire wear so far this week. SceneDaily
Want  a NASCAR ride?  Bring $14M  There simply isn't the money to keep supporting teams, or drivers, who can't support themselves.

So though Canadian Patrick Carpentier, who ran 25 races last year with Gillett Evernham Motorsports (now Richard Petty Motorsports), had some offers to continue his career, they all came with a Catch 22 — he had to bring along funding.

"We had a few calls from different teams and stuff, but most of the teams were looking for some money or somebody that could bring in some cash later on down the road in a year or so," said Carpentier, on the phone while taking a lunch break from Sunday contractor classes.

One offer was five or six races for $1-million US. "The cost is [actually] much higher than that but we had a pretty good deal there from some sponsorship that was already on board with a team, and we only had to come up with a million.

"But usually the price is around $400,000 per event."

With 36 races on a full NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, $400,000 an event adds up to $14.4-million - and that kind of money not only doesn't grow on trees, it isn't coming out of any struggling corporations, either.

In other words, there was nothing Carpentier could do. There wasn't a million available. CBC.ca

Spy Photos of Audi R15  Here are some good spy photos of the all-new 2009 Audi R15 Sebring and Lemans car for 2009.  Audi has taken a big leap in their concept.
Donington Dunlop bridge is history  Work continues to get Donington Park ready to host the 2010 British GP with the iconic Dunlop Bridge being dismantled on Thursday.

The bridge, which is widely linked with the circuit and its history, came down on Thursday and circuit boss Simon Gillett revealing that it will be stored before later being set-up somewhere around the circuit.

The bridge, though, is unlikely to go over the actual track as the new layout is too wide for the bridge.

"We're storing it, and then we're going to decide where it is going to go," Gillett said. More ...

racing news
Motorsports Hall of Fame inductees announced  Racing legends Kenny Bernstein, David Hobbs, Scott Parker, Les Richter, Al Unser, Jr., H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler and Joe Weatherly will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America when the organization stages its annual induction ceremony on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at the Fillmore Theater in Detroit.

“Innovation and competitive spirit are hallmarks of the class of 2009,” says Hall of Fame president Ron Watson. “These men have exemplified leadership and teamwork both on the track and in the front office.” Kenny Bernstein became the King of Speed in 1992 when he was the first NHRA driver to break the 300 MPH barrier. He is a four-time NHRA Funny Car champion and an IHRA World Funny Car titlist. More ...

Räikkönen tops times on sunny day 4  After two days of wind and sand, the action finally got back underway for the final day of the week in Sakhir today, with Ferrari, BMW Sauber and Toyota getting their pre-season programs back on-track in the Middle East. With plenty of work to catch up on, all three teams completed over 100 laps today, the fastest being a 1m33.350s set by Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen.

Times early on in the morning were akin to extreme wet weather conditions, with the drivers touring around in times of 1m50s, but once the sand and moisture was cleared away from the track, the lap times began to tumble. Having clocked a time of 1m34.463s at lunchtime, Räikkönen was able to improve by over a second by the end of the day, with Trulli and Klien recording similar time gains.

With this week's test in Sakhir now concluded, teams stay in Bahrain for a second four-day test next week, starting on Monday. The weather is expected to be mostly sunny, and the teams will be hoping to avoid the sandstorms that cost them valuable running time on Wednesday and Thursday.

Unofficial times from Sakhir
1. Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) - 1:33.350, 105 laps
2. Timo Glock (Toyota) - 1:33.429, 127 laps
3. Christian Klien (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:33.666, 125 laps

Hulkenberg storms to Qatar GP2 victory  
Nico Hulkenberg
The ART Grand Prix racer, Nico Hulkenberg,  displayed a brilliant performance tonight in the first-ever GP2 Asia night feature race at the Losail International Circuit to claim a maiden GP2 victory.

However, things did not start so well for Nico Hülkenberg who lost his pole position advantage to Sergio Perez at the start. Further behind the grid, Sakon Yamamoto stalled from sixth and was hit hard by Yelmer Buurman. Rodolfo Gonzalez was also caught in the accident, but fortunately, none of them were injured.

The Safety Car stayed on track for the next five laps even coming through the pitlane in order to let the marshals clean the debris. Vitaly Petrov, then third, was the first of the top drivers to pit on lap 10 and this strategy allowed him to pass his teammate after the latter rejoined the track from his own mandatory pitstop a few laps later. More ...

Morbidelli wins first Speedcar Series night race  Gianni Morbidelli won the first-ever Speedcar Series night race at Losail in Qatar on Friday night, heading home fellow Italian ex-Formula 1 racer Vitantonio Liuzzi.

The rolling start was a bit chaotic, with poleman Heinz-Harald Frentzen rushing off into the lead as fellow front-row man Jacques Villeneuve didn't make the best of starts, allowing Jean Alesi to grab second on the run to Turn 1.

Frentzen ran wide into the opening corner, allowing Alesi to snatch the lead. Morbidelli ran third, as fourth-placed qualifier Marco Melandri suffered a spin in the opening corners and the MotoGP star dropped to the tail of the field.

Morbidelli grabbed second, just before Frentzen pulled off the circuit with a mechanical failure, and then jumped into the lead when Alesi ran wide. Further back, Liuzzi - who was earlier delayed when a backmarker punted Villeneuve into a spin in front of him - took third from Johnny Herbert, and set off in pursuit of Alesi. More ...
Alonso gets new Renault up to speed  Toro Rosso Ferrari said farewell to STR3 today as the car completed its final test session, having served the team since its race debut in Monte Carlo last year.

In good weather, with track temperature reaching a useful 30 degrees, Sebastien Bourdais had the honor of driving the car for the last time, working on a qualifying simulation program with three different compounds of Bridgestone tire, while also carrying out an evaluation of the front and rear suspension.

A reliability validation of the Ferrari 056 engine was also completed, with the unit doing even more laps than expected.

“We are just continuing to evaluate tires and understand how the slicks are working, as well as trying a few things on the geometry of the car. All in all, a useful working session.”

Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton shared driving duties this week in Spain for McLaren Mercedes, with Kovalainen heading up the test’s first two days and Hamilton concluding the work on Thursday and Friday.

While the opening day was briefly marred by a midday rain-shower, the remainder of the program was carried out under clear blue skies and warm sunshine, allowing the team to put some serious mileage on the new car.  More ...

Terry Dale Named Race Director for '09 Atlantic Series  Veteran International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) official Terry Dale has been named race director for the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, series officials announced today.

Dale, of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, has been a race director for IMSA since 2005. He was race director for the IMSA Lites Series in both 2007 and 2008, and had the same role with the Porsche GT3 Cup Series in 2007. In 2005 and 2006, Dale was the race director for the IMSA-sanctioned Formula BMW USA Series.

“I’m excited to be working with the Atlantic Championship this season,” Dale said. “The series has such a great and long history, and it is truly an honor to be associated with it. I’m looking forward to working with the drivers and teams this year in a positive way.”

Dale has also been a chief steward for the SCCA Trans-Am Series, the CART-sanctioned Indy Lights Championship and Super Touring Championship, and various ASN Canada FIA-sanctioned series. He has been involved in racing as an official or competitor since 1963. More ...

Danny Watts back with GB team  A1 Team Great Britain is pleased to announce the return of Danny Watts for next weekend’s A1GP Gauteng event, the fifth round of the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, which will take place at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in South Africa, 24km north of Johannesburg. Danny’s return comes after a one race hiatus last time out in New Zealand during which he celebrated the birth of his first son.

A1GP Gauteng at Kyalami is a brand new event in the fourth season calendar, after three previous races in South Africa took place at the unforgiving Durban street circuit in KwaZulu-Natal. Although new to A1GP, the Kyalami track is steeped in history as one of Grand Prix racing’s most recognized tracks. After opening in 1961, almost fifty years ago, the circuit has seen some unforgettable action across the disciplines of Formula 1, MotoGP and World Superbike racing. Next weekend a new era will arrive with A1GP drivers gracing the circuit that has seen wins in F1 from racing royalty including as Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Gilles Villeneuve, Niki Lauda, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart. More ...

The  Hartford Set to Sponsor RCR  With its iconic stag logo ready to stand firm on the hood at top speeds of 200 miles per hour, The Hartford Financial Services Group announced that it will sponsor Richard Childress Racing's #33 Chevy and driver Clint Bowyer at the following three Sprint Cup Series races this year - Dover International Speedway on May 31, New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 28, and Pocono Raceway on August 2. The Hartford will also be an associate sponsor of RCR's #31 Caterpillar Chevy and driver Jeff Burton in the Sprint Cup Series. Both Bowyer and Burton will be spokesmen for the program, which will focus primarily on automobile and home insurance. For more information about The Hartford's commitment to racing, see thehartfordracing.com  RCR PR
Iowa tickets selling fast  Tickets for the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights race weekend (June 19-21)at Iowa Speedway are on sale online, by phone via Ticketmaster and at the racetrack box office.

More than 20,000 season tickets have been sold. Order by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or by logging on to www.iowaspeedway.com.

Toronto tickets on sale  Three-day ticket packages as low as $59 are available beginning today for the inaugural Honda Indy Toronto.

Scheduled for July 10-12, the racing weekend will feature the stars of the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights on the 1.721-mile, 11-turn temporary street course at Exhibition Place for the first time.

Fans also can purchase paddock passes, VIP pit walk-through passes and parking passes. Tickets are available at www.hondaindytoronto.com or by calling TixHub at (647) 477-2796.

"This is a very exciting time for the Honda Indy Toronto," said Kevin Savoree, president of Andretti Green Toronto, the promotional arm of Andretti Green Racing. "We've been working extremely hard to get to this point and are right on schedule to produce a tremendous event for everyone July 10 through 12. We're already receiving renewals from past fans of the event and are hoping to see many new faces there this year, as well."

Practice sessions for the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights commence July 10, with the exciting three rounds of IndyCar Series qualifying complemented by the Firestone Indy Lights race on July 11. The IndyCar Series takes center stage July 12 with the 10th race of the season-long chase for the championship.

Schumacher in hospital after crash  UPDATE Here are some photos of Michael Schumacher's crash this week.  He was lucky.

This wasn't the first time Schumacher has gone down
Retired seven-times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher has escaped unhurt from a motorcycle crash in Spain.

Schumacher, 40, was testing his Honda 1000 CBR-Fireblade German superbike at the Cartagena circuit, where he has been since Monday.

"Today I had an accident at the biking tests in Cartagena, and to be safe I went to a hospital," Schumacher said on his official website.

"The checks showed nothing and I just wanted to say that I am fine."

Sabine Kehm, spokeswoman for the racer, said: "It is only a slight concussion. Michael will fly home immediately (following his release)."

Schumacher also complained of pain in his right wrist, although no bones were broken.

His team boss Jens Holzhauer told Cologne's Express newspaper: "This was not as bad as it sounds. It was a harmless slip and a quite normal training fall. He will still fly home this evening." Yahoo! Sports

BMW offers incentive program  BMW USA is introducing a two payment program for select models throughout its vehicle line-up. In this initiative, BMW will make the first two payments (up to $750 per month / $1,500 max.) for vehicles financed through BMW Financial Services.  The program is available for 18 different BMW models, including a choice of BMW 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, and X5 models.

The offer can be combined with current APR financing offers ranging from 0.9% to 3.9%. For two of BMW’s most popular models, the 328i and the 528i (both rear wheel and xDrive versions; 2009 models), APR financing of 0.9% for up to 60 months is available through March 31.

The program started on February 4 and will end on March 2 for remaining 2008 models. For 2009 models, the program ends on March 31. More ...

New Red Bull 'not slow' - Webber  (GMM)  Mark Webber is positive but cautious as Red Bull's 2009 car impresses the formula one world.

The Australian, back at the wheel of the RB5 on Friday following his return from a broken leg earlier this week at Jerez, said the car's maiden test has gone "pretty well".

But amid expert suggestions it might be a match for the McLaren, Ferrari and BMW this year, 32-year-old Webber is keeping his enthusiasm at bay.

"First impressions of the car are pretty good," he said in his latest BBC column.

"We have work to do.  We're not the quickest yet, but we're certainly not that slow," added Webber.  "We're pretty encouraged, but it would be suicide to predict anything now."

The Adrian Newey-penned car, powered by a newly improved Renault engine, has at Jerez looked a near-match for the McLaren MP4-24, which has been fitted with a 2008-spec wing.

Webber says it is "obvious" that the McLaren "is very quick".

He was a half-second off Heikki Kovalainen's pace on Wednesday after more than a full race distance, and said he woke up the next day "feeling great" despite giving his fragile leg its toughest work-out since last November.

"We will probably tackle the rest of the winter testing as if I'm totally normal, which is very encouraging," he explained.

"I discovered that I can drive at 100 per cent, which is pretty amazing, really, when you think about what I've gone through," said Webber.

Final 2009 Superleague calendar  The final Superleague calendar for this season has been submitted to the FIA today.  France will host the opening of the championship this coming summer in Magny Cours and Jarama joins the calendar this second season with the last race of the series in November. The fans of AC Milan, one of the founder clubs of the championship, will be the chosen ones who will support their team at the circuit of Monza next October.

“Following the success and excellent reception of Superleague Formula's inaugural season, various circuits contacted us about the possibility of hosting a race in our second season of the Championship. Our initial plan was to increase the number of races from 6 to 9 this year, however, due to the worldwide crisis we decided to adopt a conservative approach and maintain the same number as last year. Superleague Formula will race at some of the most prestigious circuits in Europe, each one with a participating football club.”

“After the withdrawal of Formula 1 from Magny Cours, we are very proud to have the opportunity to race at this circuit and it will also be our first race in France, where we hope to sign one of the top football clubs shortly. One of our objectives is to race at circuits close to where our participating football clubs are based. This is one of the reasons we will be racing at Monza, Italy and Jarama in Spain this year, so that we can give all fans the opportunity to cheer on their club car. We are also currently in negotiations with some private and public promoters in Brazil about the possibility of having a seventh race out of our published calendar. Brazil is a key market for Superleague Formula given that we have two of the biggest football clubs from the country, Flamengo and Corinthians adding up to more than 55 million fans.”

1  Magny-Cours  France  June 27/28 
2  Zolder  Belgium  July 18/19 
3  Donington Park  UK  August 1/2 
4  Estoril  Portugal  September 5/6 
5  Monza  Italy  October 3/4 
6  Circuito de Jarama  Spain  November 7/8 

Q&A with Heikki Kovalainen  
Heikki Kovalainen
Heikki Kovalainen managed to get his first outing in the newly launched McLaren this week after the first test of the season in Portugal was rained out last month. Speaking to the team’s official website after some successful dry running, the Finn gave his thoughts on the new car, KERS and whether or not he thinks he will be fighting for wins this season.

What are your first thoughts after finally driving MP4-24 in the dry?
We’ve had a good two days. Obviously, the first day it looked like it was going to rain again so I thought I’d never escape the rain! But even then we managed to do a couple of runs in the dry in the afternoon and got a bit of running in the wet, which can be useful. On the second day, it’s been perfect weather and we did over 100 laps so it’s been a good start with the new car. We’ve been mainly working on the reliability side of things and we seem quite satisfied that everything seems to be working well.

First impressions of the car: grip, balance etc?
For me, it’s reasonably well-balanced. Obviously, lower grip and with the tires, you have to take care and really look after them – especially here at Jerez, which is always a killer on the rear tires. So we need to look after them and I think I need to work on my driving style a little bit, to be more cautious in various places. Otherwise, the car feels like an evolution of last year’s car – the controls, the seating position and driver comfort is very similar to what I had last year. It’s very much like driving last year’s car with Monza low-downforce settings! More ...

Braun wins Truck pole  Colin Braun went out first and turned a lap oat 50.721 seconds (177.441 mph), and then watched all of his rivals fall short in Thursday evening's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying session.

Braun will start from the pole in the No. 6 Roush Racing Con-Way Ford for Friday's NextEra Energy Resources 250, which takes the green flag at 8 p.m. (ET).

“Driving for Jack Roush I know I’ve got good stuff behind me,” Braun said, entering his second year in the division. “Mike Beam, my crew chief, is probably one of the best guys out here to get a superspeedway truck to go fast. I feel we’ve got a pretty good group of people, a lot of the same people back in the same positions. I think the experience of being at all of the racetracks is going to be a huge help.”

Joining Braun in the front row will be Matt Crafton, who ran a lap of 175.891 mph in the No. 88 Menards/Ideal Door Chevrolet. More ...

Earnhardt to be remembered at Candlelight Tribute  
Dale Earnhardt (#3) battles with his son Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#8) in 2001 before being killed at Daytona in the 500 because NASCAR was slow to mandate the HANS Device that would have prevented the injury that killed their biggest star
Fans of Dale Earnhardt are being asked to pay tribute on Wednesday February 18th in honor and memory of the legendary driver. A guest book will be available throughout the day at Dale Earnhardt Inc. for those wishing to document their memories of Dale, while a candlelight tribute will be held outside the headquarters on Hwy #3 in Mooresville from 6:00-8:30pm/et The facility will be illuminated with candles while commemorative decals, prayer cards and handheld candles will be distributed to everyone in attendance. The facility’s gates will remain open through 10 pm for those that cannot attend the candlelight portion but still want to pay tribute to the legendary Dale Earnhardt. Those unable to attend are encouraged to light a candle in remembrance of Dale Earnhardt at home that evening. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR
NASCAR drivers and SI Swimsuit photo shoot  UPDATE This weekend's Fabulous February cover story brings together two American institutions — NASCAR and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition — for the first time. For our exclusive cover story, photo shoot and inside-the-magazine poster, we invited three of NASCAR's biggest name drivers — Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. — and two top swimsuit models — Brooklyn Decker and Julie Henderson — to pose for famed SI photographer Walter Iooss Jr. at the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Concord, N.C. (Find out what newspaper near you carries USA WEEKEND with this list.) Check out a
USA Today NASCAR feature with SI swimsuit models
slideshow of photos from the shoot taken by our senior photo editor, David Baratz, and click read more below for some on-set scoop from senior writer Dennis McCafferty. You'll also find a time-lapse video that shows you how many people it really takes to make a photo shoot successful. More info at usaweekend.com

02/10/09  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer compares the anticipation for the Daytona 500 to getting the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

View B-roll of a USA Weekend cover shoot with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer, Sports Illustrated swimsuit models Brooklyn Decker and Julie Henderson and photographer Walter Iooss.

Lauda says F1 well positioned  
Niki Lauda
Three-time world champion Niki Lauda believes Formula One has taken the steps necessary to make it through the financial crisis but has little time for the new KERS system. "Formula One is well prepared for the crisis, it's cutting costs," the Austrian told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"Fortunately apart from Honda (who pulled out from the sport late last year), nothing else has happened. That's as much as you can hope for in these times."

FIA president Max Mosley and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone are doing everything to keep costs under control but the sport in a way regulates itself, said Lauda.

"The less money sponsors have the less they give out," he said. "For example, now engines now have to last for four races and there is no more extra testing. An awful lot has already been done to cut costs, I don't think much more can be done at the moment."

However Lauda, who celebrates his 60th birthday on February 22, described the new KERS energy recovery system as "complete nonsense."

"I don't rate it at all but we'll see this year if it brings anything," he said. "They say BMW have the greatest level of development so we'll just have to wait and see."

Lauda feels the rule changes brought about in an effort to cut costs makes this year one of the most unpredictable in recent memory with several teams in with a chance of winning races.

"We'll only know after two or three races who has put together the best and the worst cars," he said. Earthtimes.org

Davidson joins BBC Radio 5 Live  Formula One driver Anthony Davidson joins BBC Radio 5 Live's Formula One commentary team for the 2009 season, providing the inside track from a driver's perspective. The 5 Live commentary team is led by David Croft alongside Anthony and pit lane reporter Holly Samos.

Davidson began kart racing in 1987 aged eight, going on to win two British MSA Championships. His Formula One debut came in 2001 as a test driver for BAR Honda, the start of a long career as a test and reserve driver for the team.

In 2002 he completed two Formula One races for Minardi and he drove for Honda in the 2005 Malaysian Grand Prix. In late 2006 Anthony signed as a race driver for the Super Aguri team, competing in the 2007 and 2008 championships.

Anthony was a guest commentator on 5 Live for the British and European Grands Prix last season. Davidson commented on his new job: "Over the last few years as a Formula One driver I've enjoyed being a guest commentator with Radio 5 Live, and I'm looking forward to joining the team for the full season this year as a regular in the commentary box.

"Commentating gives me the chance to explain what it feels like to drive an F1 car to the limit, and to share the inside view on all of the demands that a driver faces over the weekend."

TRG unsure if they will run California  TRG Motorsports missed making the Daytona 500 by one place after finishing 13th in the second Gatorade Duel 150 with Mike Wallace in the #71 TRG Motorsports Chevy. Wallace started from the 22nd position and steadily moved toward the front of the field. The race witnessed two cautions and the fast pit work of the Casey Mears/Jack Daniels crew made up spots for the team with each stop. Kevin Buckler, TRG Motorsports team owner, looks at today as a learning experience and wants more. "We will be back," Buckler said. "Mike did a good job, the pit stops were flawless and we were in a position to get in there at the end when we got pushed up the track. The ending of theses restrictor plate races can put you in victory lane or on the trailer in one lap. We are entered for California next week for the Sprint Cup race, but I am unsure if we can make it. We will catch our breath and take a look at the calendar and see when it makes sense to run the car again. It will be sooner than later." TRG PR
Newman Forced to Backup Car for 500  While running in third place with 13 laps remaining in Thursday's Gatorade Duel qualifying race, Ryan Newman's day came to an abrupt halt when his #39 U.S. Army Chevy got punted from behind by the #00 car of David Reutimann. The heavy hit on the backstretch of the 2.5-mile oval turned Newman around as he slapped the concrete wall, then skidded down track before coming to a stop on the infield grass. Newman did not suffer any injuries in the incident, but his car took a front-end beating, forcing the Stewart-Haas team to take out the backup car for Sunday's running of the Daytona 500. Newman's was credited with a 24th-place finish in the second qualifying race and will start 36th in the 500. Stewart Haas Racing PR
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Alonso positive despite R29 concerns
  • Renault unlikely for title tilt - de la Rosa
  • Red Bull wants fourth or fifth in 2009
  • Kubica wants to lose weight again
  • Teams already getting more income - Bernie
  • Efforts stepped up to save Hockenheim GP
  • Bernie offers to help Vettel into top F1 car
  • Ecclestone hopes Mosley stays FIA president
  • Briatore dismisses F1 team veteran - reports

Alonso positive despite R29 concerns
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has dismissed suggestions he is surely set for a season near the back of the grid.

Renault's world champion of 2005 and 2006 was back at the wheel of the distinctive new R29 at Jerez on Thursday, continuing the car's run of sluggish test pace since it was debuted recently.

But the Spaniard told Diario AS: "It is still impossible to draw conclusions as to who is going to be fast (this season) and who is not."

On Thursday, it was the new McLaren (still featuring a 2008-spec wing) and Red Bull setting the 2009 car pace, with Alonso at the bottom of the time sheets, four tenths behind Kazuki Nakajima's FW31 Williams.

"Obviously it is better to be ahead than behind," Alonso acknowledged, "but the first race is in Australia and it is there that we need to be quick.

"The cars in Jerez are not going to be the ones in Australia," he added.

Alonso, 27, said the R29's latest setup is making him feel "much more comfortable" than recently in Portimao, when he was reported to have complained bitterly about the handling.

"We have a lot of further work to do," he explained on Thursday, admitting he was happy with the high number of laps he was able to complete.

"We have collected a lot of data and, little by little, we are resolving the problems, which is normal with a car when it is new.

"The car is the same here as when it was presented.  We will have to wait for a few more tests for the big improvements," he said.  More ...

Mosley tells drivers to pay or go pound sand  UPDATE (GMM)  Sebastian Vettel could be among the three drivers who have broken ranks and paid for their mandatory 2009 Superlicense credentials, according to reports in the German press.

The news website motorsport-magazin.com said Vettel, 21, is rumored to have paid his fee to the governing FIA, contradicting the Grand Prix Drivers' Association's (GPDA) request that all drivers hold off amid their dispute over the rising costs.

At the Jerez test, the Red Bull driver is quoted to have told Auto Motor und Sport magazine: "What is more of a concern to us drivers is the way in which the FIA has dealt with us about this issue, rather than whether or not we are going to pay."

02/12/09 (GMM)  Max Mosley has assured F1 drivers that future increases to the cost of their mandatory Superlicenses will be modest.

But the FIA president, in a letter to the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), non-members of the drivers' body and Bernie Ecclestone, also warned those who do not want to pay for their documents that they can race in more affordable series.

The GPDA has asked drivers to hold firm amid the dispute and refuse to pay for their 2009 license, but it emerged this week that three drivers have broken ranks.

"If it helps I can confirm increases will be limited to inflation for the foreseeable future," Mosley wrote in the letter, copies of which were leaked to the media.

However, he showed no sign of agreeing to the drivers' demands in reverting to the lower fees of 2007, warning those who cannot afford the cost of a Superlicense to turn to motor racing's other categories.

"There are a large number of series and championships where a professional racing driver can earn a good, sometimes very good, living," Mosley wrote. More ...

NASCAR drivers cash in  Forbes magazine reports that the top 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in earnings hit the jackpot in 2008.

According to Forbes, which keeps track of such things, the 10 led by top earner Dale Earnhardt Jr. banked a total of $180 million.

The series perennial most popular chauffeur Earnhardt totaled $35 million, $23 million of which came from none-race winnings and salary, rather from endorsements etc.

Jeff Gordon was second with $30 million as all the top 10 topped $10 mil for the year.

Three-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson was on the fourth limb of the money tree with $19 million, followed by Kasey Kahne, both bringing in $14 million.

Kyle Busch earned $13 million, followed by Matt Kenseth ($12 million).

Darrell Waltrip, the 1985 champion, was the first to win a million dollars.

Juan Pablo and Denny Hamlin rounded out the list of top money drivers, earning $11 million each.

According to Forbes, for his heroics winning the first NASCAR title in1949 Red Byron collected $5,800, $52,000 in today's dollars.

A year ago in the Daytona 500 Kenny Wallace finished last, earning more than a quarter million dollars for his team.

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