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Canadian venues await outcome of merger  With the opening event of the 2008 Champ Car World Series now just two months away, rumours powered by the ongoing merger possibility and the annual bankruptcy stories continue to swirl around the stability of the series.

Champ Car and the Indy Racing League got within a step last week of completing the merger negotiations that have become almost an annual event. But IRL owner Tony George's inability to convince owners of the Motegi event in Japan to move its date to avoid conflict with Champ Car's season opener at Long Beach April 18-20 foiled attempts to get the two open-wheel racing series together for this year.

Only a few of the team owners are willing to discuss the situation and Champ Car is being tight-lipped with the media, saying only that it is business as usual in preparing for the season. More ...

Hayden fastest on third day in Jerez  Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden rode the fastest lap during three busy days of testing at Jerez, the American this afternoon riding a lightning-quick lap on qualifiers, more than half a second inside last year’s Spanish GP pole position. Testing started late this morning following a rain shower, the conditions staying cool and blustery throughout.

2006 MotoGP World Champion Hayden, who was also fastest on day one and third quickest in yesterday’s official qualifying-style shootout session which was run in the wet, left the Spanish circuit in buoyant mood after some productive work on chassis set-up and Michelin tire development.

The MotoGP paddock now moves to Qatar for the final preseason tests at Losail (on February 28 and 29) where the first race of 2008 takes place under floodlights on the night of March 9. More ...

tv news
Daytona 500 TV rating higher than last year  Yesterday's 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Fox scored increased average audience, total audience and household ratings compared to a year ago, according to fast national figures released today by Nielsen Media Research. The 50th Daytona 500 earned a 10.2/20 household rating/share and averaged 17.8 million viewers, and both the rating and average audience are ×1% better than a year ago (10.1/20, 17.5 million).

It was also the second highest-rated and second most-watched 500 ever on Fox, trailing the 2005 race in both stats. 33.5 million Americans watched at least part of the Great American Race, a ×2% improvement over 2007's 33.0 million. The Daytona 500 remains far and away the top-rated event in American motorsports.

Yesterday's race more than doubled the rating of last year's Indianapolis 500 (×137% vs. 4.3/12). Fox's improved Daytona 500 rating completed a Speedweeks "triple play" as the Daytona 500 (×1%), Daytona Pole Qualifying (×4%), and Budweiser Shootout (×6%) all posted gains over the same events in 2007. This is the first time that all of Fox's Speedweeks programming has boasted a year-to-year increase. Fox PR

Penske, Ganassi sign extensions with Dodge  Dodge executives have taken team owners Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi out of the Toyota equation by signing new contracts with the two. That keeps Dodge with a four-team lineup, including Petty Enterprises and Gillett-Evernham. When Toyota first announced its NASCAR plans, there was considerable speculation that both Penske and Ganassi would eventually switch. Winston Salem Journal
Mosley reiterates plans to slash budgets  
Max Mosley
The FIA President is determined to cut the costs of competing in F1, claiming that a budget cap is the necessary place to start at. At present some teams spend over £200m per season, with Toyota reportedly topping the charts last year with a budget close to £250m.

"It's absurd that teams spend vast amounts scratching around for tiny gains," Mosley told the Sunday Times newspaper.  Running wind-tunnels night and day, using huge amounts of power, to find a tenth of a second can't be justified. That's what's so sad about F1 at the moment. More ...

Villeneuve to announce career plans  Jacques Villeneuve has invited media representatives to a news conference to discuss his career plans and related topics.  The news conference will take place on Wednesday, February 20, at 10:30 a.m. at NEWTOWN in Montreal.  CNW Group
Mercedes-Benz announces Ralf's switch to DTM  
Ralf Schumacher
After 11 years in the Formula 1 World Championship, Ralf Schumacher (32) will race this year with the Trilux AMG Mercedes C-Class in the DTM, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport announced today. Ralf Schumacher’s DTM debut will take place at the season opener in Hockenheim on 13th April 2008.

Ralf Schumacher tested the AMG Mercedes C-Class during four and a half test days in Estoril, Portugal for about 490 laps; which was more than 2,000 kilometres or approximately 12 DTM race distances. It was his first outing with an AMG Mercedes since 20th July 1997 when he was a guest driver in a race of the FIA GT Championship in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium with an AMG Mercedes CLK-GTR. This was also Schumacher’s last opportunity to drive a race car with a roof. More ...

Ex-Ferrari engineer calm after interview  
Nigel Stepney
Former Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney told reporters he was "very calm" after being interviewed by an Italian magistrate probing last year's Formula One spying scandal.

The Briton, sacked by Ferrari, is accused of supplying technical information about the Italian team to McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, who is now suspended.

McLaren were stripped of their 2007 constructors' points and fined $100 million in September by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) but legal probes into the controversy continue, with Modena prosecutor Giuseppe Tibis weighing up the evidence. Tibis said Stepney had been "collaborative and thorough."  Stepney's lawyer Sonia Bartolini said her client did have contact with Coughlan but had denied passing on the information. She told reporters other people have not been investigated enough in the affair. More ...
Super Aguri cancel Barcelona testing  (GMM) Super Aguri on Monday called off its planned round of Barcelona testing this week.

The embattled Japanese team had already cancelled the scheduled launch of its 2008 car, but instead intended to run at the Circuit de Catalunya preceding the upcoming last group test of the 2008 pre-season.

This week at Barcelona, Aguri Suzuki and technical boss Mark Preston were also due to meet with the media.

"Super Aguri F1 Team will not be participating at the test in Barcelona this week due to circumstances beyond our control," the team announced in a press statement.

"We are planning to attend the test at the Circuit de Catalunya next week with two cars," the statement added, also apologising to members of the media who had travelled to Spain for the interviews with team chiefs.
Hamilton receives Laureus gong  (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen on Monday was not awarded the prestigious Laureus World Sportsman of the Year plaudit in St Petersburg, but 2007 drivers' runner-up Lewis Hamilton did walk away with Breakthrough of the Year.

Tennis' Roger Federer was at the Russian awards ceremony to receive the World Sportsman prize for the fourth year in a row. Hamilton, 23, also received his award in person.

Finn Raikkonen, like fellow unsuccessful nominee Tiger Woods, did not attend.

Although nominated, Raikkonen's team, Ferrari, also did not win the Team of the Year award; a plaudit that instead went to rugby world champions South Africa.
tv news
Ryan Newman to be on David Letterman show  UPDATE A reminder that Ryan Newman will be a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman tonight.

02/17/08 Ryan Newman, winner of the 50th running of the Daytona 500, will be a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday night, February 18.  The show airs at 11:30 pm - 12:30 am ET/PT on CBS.  Please check local listings for your time zone.
Peugeot team ready for 2008 challenges  
Peugeot team
The 2007 season turned out to be one of the most rewarding ever for Peugeot Sport which launched four different new cars on the world motor sport scene, from the factory program with the 908 HDi FAP to its package of promotional formulae with the 207 LW THP, 207 Super 2000 and Spider THP.

The lessons learned by the team while finding its marks last year will be implemented in 2008 and all its energy will be devoted to building on that experience to achieve its objectives.

This time last year, under the leadership of Michel Barge, Peugeot Sport organized a dynamic presentation of the new 908 HDi FAP to announce its modest objectives for the season ahead. Following the car’s initial gestation, which was rapid to say the least, Team Peugeot Total enjoyed a memorable season which brought its fair share of surprises, satisfactions and passion, not to mention the unrelenting toil which enabled it to secure results well beyond its expectations and targets. Indeed, never in Peugeot’s history had a competition car won out of the box, yet the 908 HDi FAP claimed victory in its debut race at Monza before going on to clinch the 2007 Le Mans Series. Team Peugeot Total won all six rounds, started from pole position each time and posted every fastest race lap, not to mention its unhoped-for performance at Le Mans where it started from pole position before taking second place at the end of the 24-hour race. More ...

track news
A flying lap of the Singapore street circuit  
Singapore street circuit
No-one, of course, has yet driven the track which will host the FORMULA 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix. Based on speed projections and simulations, ESPN Star Sports commentator Steve Slater and former F1 driver and Clerk of the Course Tim Schenken have put their heads together to create a ‘virtual’ flying lap.

TURN 1. Maximum rate braking from over 280km/h down to about 90, being careful to control wheel locking as the driver downshifts from 7th gear to 2nd for the tight left hander. A great place to see the awesome braking power of an F1 car. It’s also a good opportunity for a following car to grab a ‘sneak’ move down the inside and take a place.

TURNS 2/3/4 Briefly up to 3rd gear and 160km/h through Turn 2, before dropping back to second gear for the 90km/h Turn 3. Then it’s back onto full throttle and up to 4th gear and 200km/h as the cars leave the permanent section of the track and flick through Turn 4, the first corner on the public highway.

TURN 5 Back onto the brakes and down to 3rd gear for Turn 5, the entrance to Raffles Boulevard. The exit to this corner, taken at about 140km/h, has an opening radius which will allow a car following closely, not to lose too much downforce. That gives an opportunity for an overtaking move at the end of the straight.

TURN 6 Before that though, we reach the awesome Turn 6, a flat-out, full throttle kink in the track taken just before the cars change from 6th to 7th gear. Just after this corner is the fastest section of the track where the cars reach 310km/h, with the screaming exhaust notes bouncing off the surrounding buildings. Turn 6 will be the fastest corner on any street-circuit ever! More ...

Germany confirms Ammermuller  
Michael Ammermuller
A1 Team Germany has confirmed that Michael Ammermuller will return to race for it in Durban this weekend.

Germany is the defending winner of the event, with Nico Hulkenberg winning both Sprint and Feature races last season.

Ammermuller is the team’s only nominated driver for Durban, and is still eligible to compete in the rookie session, having competed in just six races.

Germany rests in fifth place in the championship standings, but is just 19 points off the lead and seat holder Willi Weber believes that the gap to leader New Zealand can be narrowed in South Africa.

‘We’re fully motivated as always, but even more focused than recently and the team should find its old form again,’ said Weber. ‘Many small problems, including two problematical pit stops cost us valuable points in Australia. Michael Ammermuller and the team have already shown that they can win this season. Now it’s all about reducing the gap to the championship leaders as quickly as possible.’
track news
Martinsville reveals plans to spruce up pit road  Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway, said officials plan to upgrade the track's pit road this summer.  That would mean putting a concrete surface on pit road -- it is asphalt now -- new inner walls and maybe some other things.  Campbell said that pit road likely won't be any wider because of the limited space in the infield.
Over 100,000 expected for Valencia Grand Prix  Organizers of the inaugural European Grand Prix at Valencia will make available 112,700 tickets for the August street race.

According to Spanish press reports the tickets, which sold out will make the event one of the best attended in Formula One, will become available at the end of February.

Vicente Rambla, a spokesman for the Valencia regional government, said construction of the circuit near the city's port is proceeding well, with some parts ahead of schedule.

Stoner fastest in qualifying practice  
Casey Stoner on his Ducati
Australian rider Casey Stoner, the reigning MotoGP champion, dominated the series' first competitive event Sunday, winning the BMW M Award qualifying shootout by more than a second over his nearest competitor.
Stoner clocked an early lap of 1 minute, 49.263 seconds on his factory Ducati on a wet Circuito de Jerez in Spain during the 40-minute timed session. Italian Valentino Rossi, a five-time MotoGP world champion, finished second with a lap of 1:50.580 on his Yamaha.

Nicky Hayden, Owensboro, Ky., the 2006 MotoGP champion, finished third on a Honda in 1:50.785.

"It's a little bit strange because we never expected to have this opportunity to win," Stoner said on the MotoGP Web site. ". . . It was a fantastic moment today and I think for sure we can do this plenty more times this season."

"I'm still happy because second position is a good result and today for me is the first day in the wet on Bridgestone (tires), Rossi said. "We still have to work on the bike, but step-by-step we are getting close."

Hayden struggled with the conditions, which began with the track wet from rain and then began drying out. The afternoon practice session was cut short by high winds.

"It's a nice little warm-up," Hayden said. "We didn't quite get the lap we wanted. I saw Stoner put down his time, but those conditions are the hardest for me, when it goes from wet to dry and it's time for slicks or intermediates. It was right on the bubble."


Rider Bike Tire Time Behind Laps
1. Casey Stoner Ducati (B) 1:49.263 0.000 9
2. Valentino Rossi Yamaha (B) 1:50.580 × 1.317 17
3. Nicky Hayden Honda (M) 1:50.785 × 1.522 16
4. Anthony West Kawasaki (B) 1:50.799 × 1.536 15
5. Andrea Dovizioso Honda (M) 1:51.312 × 2.049 15
6. Shinya Nakano Honda (B) 1:51.594 × 2.331 16
7. Loris Capirossi Suzuki (B) 1:51.894 × 2.631 15
8. Randy de Puniet Honda (M) 1:51.979 × 2.716 10
9. Sylvain Guintoli Ducati (B) 1:52.058 × 2.795 14
10. Marco Melandri Ducati (B) 1:52.238 × 2.975 15
11. Alex De Angelis Honda (B) 1:52.463 × 3.200 13
12. James Toseland Yamaha (M) 1:52.755 × 3.492 11
13. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki (B) 1:52.779 × 3.516 13
14. Colin Edwards Yamaha (M) 1:52.826 × 3.563 10
15. Olivier Jacque Kawasaki (B) 1:53.283 × 4.020 9
16. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha (M) 1:53.292 × 4.029 11
17. V. Guareschi Ducati (B) 1:54.694 × 5.431 11
18. Niccolo Canepa Ducati (B) 1:57.453 × 8.190 13
19. Toni Elias Ducati (B) 1:57.698 × 8.435 7

An extra million for Newman and the team  
Ryan Newman raises arms in victory

Teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch gave Dodge its first ever 1-2 sweep in NASCAR’s premier event, the Daytona 500, winning the 50th running of the “Great American Race” Sunday at Daytona International Speedway. The Dodge Charger domination didn’t stop there. Six of the first eight positions were filled by Dodge drivers. Reed Sorenson finished fourth, Elliott Sadler fifth, Kasey Kahne sixth and Robby Gordon seventh. Chrysler Chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli met with Dodge team owners earlier Sunday and announced there would be a $1 million bonus for a Dodge victory. During a meeting with several members of the motorsports press later in the day, he predicted a Dodge victory. It was Newman’s first Daytona 500 victory and snapped an 81-race winless streak. He led four times for eight laps in the #12 Alltel Dodge Charger, but the most important was the final circuit.

The win was also the first Daytona 500 victory for car owner Roger Penske, the most successful owner in open wheel history with 14 Indianapolis 500 victories. It was the first Daytona 500 win by a Dodge driver since Ward Burton visited victory lane in 2002. Newman collected $1,506,045 for the win plus the $1 million bonus from Dodge. Newman’s Dodge Charger will be inducted into the Daytona 500 Experience Monday where it will remain on display for one year. Following the induction ceremonies, Newman departs for New York for a media tour and then on to Las Angeles on Tuesday afternoon for more appearances. Dodge Motorsports PR

Former NBA Player seeking Cup team ownership  Former NBA star and current talk show host John Salley is in the preliminary stages of seeking ownership in the Sprint Cup Series. Salley, at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday for the "Best Damn Sports Show Period," said he's had discussions with at least one Cup team owner about becoming a financial partner. "I want to be a team owner," Salley said. "I want to be in this. I would help out with the money end and stand out front with a hat on." Salley was so impressed with his experience at the Daytona 500 that he would choose it over the NBA All-Star Game that also was scheduled Sunday. "I am so far away from the All-Star Game it's ridiculous," he said. "I've dunked on people. I've done it all. This is the best s--- I've seen in my life."

Salley was particularly impressed with the amount of corporate sponsorship in the sport. When introduced to Ryan Pemberton, the crew chief for #00-David Reutimann, he couldn't help but notice all the sponsors on his shirt. "That's a lot of pimping here," Salley said. Salley, who stands out in the garage as a 6-foot-11 black man, said he's not looking to be a part of NASCAR's diversity program. "This has nothing to do with diversity," he said. "Diversity is not something I want out of it. I've heard all the jokes about how black guys don't do NASCAR. That's amazing somebody would say that." ESPN.com

GM Sticking with NASCAR  Despite reporting a record $38.7 billion loss in 2007, General Motors said it had no plans to eliminate its support of NASCAR. General Motors has dominated the series in recent years, with Chevrolet drivers having won the last three championships. “Obviously, the last racing we would drop in the racing that we’re in would be NASCAR right now, cause it’s still go the best return for us,” said John Middlebrook, the vice president for global sales and marketing for General Motors. New York Times
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Mosley may stay as FIA boss
  • Raikkonen in Laureus award no-show
  • Hamilton under pressure in 2008 - Ecclestone
  • F1 business makes $3m loss - report
  • Hakk predicts strong '08 for McLaren, Heikki
  • Champion Raikkonen vows not to change
  • Carlos Sainz plays down F1 racism scandal
  • Williams not ready to win races - Michael
  • Williams to be third best team - newspaper
  • Davidson predicts tough season for Super Aguri
  • Villeneuve's NASCAR career could be over

Mosley may stay as FIA boss
(GMM)  Max Mosley has issued a strong hint that he may not be ready to retire as FIA president by the time of the next elections in October 2009.

The 67-year-old Briton, who in 2004 rescinded a decision to step down from the role, told the London newspaper The Times that he still sees work to do as the unpaid head of F1's governing body.

Mosley, despite regularly courting controversy throughout his four presidential terms so far, insists that he wants to guide the sport into a "hugely exciting" new era of energy recovery and a new engine formula for 2013.

He refuses to speculate about the future beyond late 2009, but is fairly certain he will see out the remainder of his current term.

"Provided I remain relatively sane I won't quit before October 2009; beyond that I have to think very, very carefully," he said.

"This is a sport which you almost certainly have to conclude works best with one person capable of taking a decision."

Mosley insists that he is not deterred by regular claims that he should quit.

"I love reading the blogs when they are being furious about me, it's very entertaining, and there is the odd one which defends me.

"But F1 simply cannot divorce itself from the zeitgeist," he added.

Mosley became FIA president in 1993.

Raikkonen in Laureus award no-show
(GMM)  World champion Kimi Raikkonen is not scheduled to attend the Laureus world sports awards in Russia on Monday, organizers have confirmed.

The Finn is nominated, along with Roger Federer and Tiger Woods, for the prestigious World Sportsman of the Year plaudit.

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, is tipped for the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year award, and will attend the ceremony in St. Petersburg, organizers said.

Raikkonen's team, Ferrari, is in contention for the World Team of the Year award. More ...

Kyle Busch calls Goodyear tires junk  Because Kyle Busch has turned as many laps as anyone at Speedweeks - he's the only driver racing all three NASCAR series at Daytona - he might be the best person to evaluate the Goodyear tires.

"They're junk," Busch said after the Nationwide race Saturday. "Last night was terrible, today was terrible. So expect [Sunday] to be a lot of fun and exciting."

Teams have struggled to get the tires to last even close to the 40 laps cars can run without filling up with gas. It could be even worse today because temperatures are expected to reach the mid-80s. Cleveland.com

Uwe Alzen strikes again  Uwe Alzen dominated the second Speedcar Series round at Sentul, Indonesia today. The German started fourth on the grid but fought his way ahead of Nicolas Navarro, touring car guest star Klaus Ludwig, and local favorite and pole-sitter Ananda Mikola to assume the lead on the eighth lap.

Alzen built himself a comfortable lead and controlled the race from there, leaving Mikola and the rest to fight over second place.

"I'm delighted to win the race," said Alzen, "but it's very hard work. It's very hot in the car and 45 minutes is a long time. Malaysia is going to be very tough as well."

Frenchman David Terrien was Mikola's closest challenger in the early stages, but he fell away as Jean Alesi made a spirited charge through the field. The former Ferrari grand prix driver started down in eighth place, but he stormed relentlessly past car after car until he arrived on Mikola's tail in the dying moments of the race. More ...

Fauzy beats Senna and Petrov  
Fairuz Fauzy, (center) 1st, Bruno Senna (right) 2nd, Vitaly Petrov (left) 3rd.
Super Nova Racing driver Fairuz Fauzy won the sprint race today in the second round of the GP2 Asia Series in Sentul, Indonesia.

It was a bright and sunny Sunday today just for Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy who scored his first GP2 win on the wet track of Sentul in the sprint race. He started from pole position on the reversed grid and led until the checkered flag.

As the 26 cars were waiting for the off, heavy rain started to pour on the track two minutes before the formation lap. The start was then given behind the safety car and the two first laps were fateful for Latvian Schleghelmilch and Brazilian Valerio, both in slick tires. On Lap 7, the safety car stepped out and the real battle begun. RDD boys Hanley and Grosjean started to fight for 5th place. Vitaly Petrov took this opportunity to pass the Brit. Just five laps after the restart, the safety car was once again deployed when Luca Filippi spun and got stranded in the middle of the track.

At the second restart, the battle for third position intensified between Pavlovic, Petrov, Grosjean and Hanley. After Petrov passed Milos without any harm, ART Frenchman attacked the BCN driver. Just behind them, Ben Hanley saw an opportunity and moved up the inside of Grosjean, but he went in too deep and hit Pavlovic. The safety car was deployed for the third time. More ...

Stewart says high temperatures put a premium on handling  If the weather forecast is accurate -- and from the warming trend on Saturday, it appears to be -- handling may be even more of an issue for Sunday's Daytona 500. Sunday's high temperature might reach 85 degrees. "I think the track is going to soak up more heat than it has all week," said two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart. "I think it's going to be even more of a handful. Obviously, it will cool down in the evening a little, and that will help it, but it's going to be the highest track temps we've seen all week at the start of the race. "It's going to make the first third of the race pretty interesting. . . It will definitely be a factor." Cup Scene
Ecclestone dismisses FIA's racism response  
Bernie Ecclestone
(GMM)  F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has played down the FIA's response to the Lewis Hamilton racism affair as not "necessary".

After Spanish spectators at the recent Barcelona test abused the sport's only black driver, the governing body reacted by vowing to launch a Motorsport-wide anti-racism campaign - called Racing Against Racism - at this year's Spanish grand prix.

Hamilton's team, McLaren-Mercedes, immediately backed the move, while a spokesman for Toyota confirmed: "(We support) any efforts to combat racism and we fully endorse the stance being adopted by the FIA."

Super Aguri also backed the campaign, while a spokesman for Ferrari said: "Ferrari has solidarity with all initiatives against any type of discrimination."

But speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek program, 77-year-old Ecclestone said of the FIA campaign: "I don't think it's necessary.

"All it does, like all these things, is give attention to the people who want attention."

The diminutive Briton dismissed those who abused Hamilton as football-style hooligans, and predicted that the incident will not be repeated.

"It was a one-off, nothing to worry about," he said.

"We'd have to have a look it if anything like that happened (again), but this is just an isolated incident."

Brands Hatch boss rules out F1 return  (GMM)  Brands Hatch boss Jonathan Palmer has ruled out the return of the former grand prix circuit to F1's annual calendar.

Dr Palmer, a veteran of more than 80 grands prix in the 1980s, told the Kent on Sunday newspaper that staging the first formula one race there since 1986 would be "impossible" without nearly (US) $80m in improvements.

Brands Hatch hosted twelve grands prix at the English circuit from 1964, and the last was won under the European GP banner by Nigel Mansell in 1986.

But even with the future of current British grand prix venue Silverstone in doubt, Palmer - who bought the track in 2004 - said: "We have not got the space for formula one as the track would need a radical re-development.

"Particularly with the requirements for the safety these days, it would cost us an awful lot of money to get these up to standard.

"Secondly, I do not think it would be good business.  Having a grand prix is not a business.  It is really a global flag waving exercise for a country," he added.

Singapore ticket chaos continues on Friday  UPDATE (GMM)  Organizers of the Singapore grand prix have issued an apology over the bungled ticketing sales for this year's inaugural race.

Sunday marked a third consecutive day of frustration for potential race-goers, as the system for selling the first 70,000 trackside vantage points again failed.

Race officials refused to confirm how many patrons have successfully bought tickets so far.

Organizers Singapore GP did, however, place full page adverts in the major Straits Times newspaper - and others - proclaiming 'We Are Sorry' in huge print.

"We know the frustrating time that many F1 fans have experienced over the past few days," the ads read.

"The ticketing system has improved considerably, but there may still be some delays at peak periods.

"We apologize sincerely for the frustration and inconvenience that the system problems have caused.

"Rest assured we are doing everything possible to improve the system further", they added.

Similar ads were not placed on websites or in foreign media.

02/15/08 (GMM)  Potential spectators of the inaugural Singapore grand prix night race endured another day of frustration on Friday.

70,000 tickets went on sale on Thursday, but the local New Straits Times described the performance of Singapore's ticketing procedures as "complete chaos", as fervent patrons in some cases tried several times to book a seat - by phone, internet and in person - before giving up.

The problems led Singapore's ministry of trade and industry to issue a statement of concern on Thursday evening.

But when the chaos resumed on Friday, the race's organizer, Singapore GP, convened an emergency meeting.

The first Singapore grand prix will take place in the Asian city-state's Marina Bay area on 28 September.

Cerberus lays out worst-case for Chrysler  Cerberus Capital Management LP on Friday defended a letter the private equity firm sent to investors that acknowledged it faced "significant risks" with its investment in Chrysler LLC.

In a statement, Cerberus characterized the letter as merely laying out "worst-case scenarios" and said the private equity giant was committed to its investments in Chrysler and its 51 percent controlling stake in GMAC, the former General Motors Corp. financing arm. GM retains 49 percent of GMAC.

"Cerberus has an obligation to be forthright with our investors about all possible risks and uncertainties that could impact their investment. Although we prepare for the worst-case scenario, it doesn't mean that it will certainly happen -- in fact, we are committed to doing everything in our control so that it doesn't," Cerberus said in a statement Friday. "Our business model is based on seeing value where others don't and creating value when others can't."

The risks to Chrysler outlined in the Jan. 22 letter to investors include a "potent recession" or a "meltdown in the automotive market," or the collapse of the automotive finance market, which could impact Chrysler Financial's ability to fund car loans. More ...
Montoya: It's too late for merger  Former Champ Car and Indy 500 champion Juan Montoya, talks about the rumors of Champ Car and the IRL getting back together and says he doesn't see how it is going to make a big difference.  Of course AutoRacing1.com readers know that we have said for years that the split killed open wheel racing in the USA, and that is pretty much the case.  The two sides are going to have to come up with some pretty big ideas for the merged series in order to even make a blip on the NASCAR radar screen.

HOW BIG WOULD IT BE FOR BOTH OPEN-WHEEL SERIES TO UNIFY? “I don’t know. Is it too late? Don’t know, don’t care. I raced there many years ago, but when I raced they were split and it was good at the time.”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ONE SERIES? “Yes and no. Yes because it’s good for the general sport and maybe for teams to find sponsors for that series. People in America are a lot more interested in NASCAR than they are with open-wheel. Is it going to bring open-wheel back to greatness in America? I really doubt it. I really, really doubt it. All the good teams right now are in IndyCar, apart from Newman/Haas, so is it going to change that much? It’s just they are going to go to places that they were not going. They are going to go to Australia. They are going to go to, I don’t know, Japan. They are going to go to a few places that the traditional open-wheel fan goes to. You know a guy that goes to Long Beach, whether his car is an Indy car is still going to go there.”

Tony Stewart calls IRL a failure  Although the Indianapolis 500 remains Stewart’s first love, he certainly doesn’t miss the politics of open-wheel racing.

With Champ Car and the Indy Racing League once again talking about reunification to solve their financial struggles, Stewart said he was lucky to race in the IRL before it got to the point where drivers needed to bring sponsors to a team to get a ride.

Stewart wants to see the two series get back together, but only if it results in something that looks like what the IRL was intended to be: A series that gives up-and-coming open-wheel drivers a chance instead of forcing them to buy rides.

“It sounds like the IRL is kind of getting to that stage anyway, and if that’s the case, that’s not what the IRL even was designed for to begin with,” Stewart said. “It makes the project (IRL) a failure, almost, to a certain degree.

“And what it does is it makes somebody like me lucky – like hitting the lottery lucky – because if it weren’t for that timing of being there when it started, guys who win USAC championships haven’t got an opportunity to go racing at Indy for a long time now. And I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen again.” ThatsRacin

Tony Stewart talks about yet another win for Toyota  
Stewart celebrates 2nd win of weekend for Toyota
How much did it help to have your teammate (Kyle Busch) with you in the closing laps?

“I just couldn’t handle as good as he could -- I think he had the best handling car out there, he could go anywhere he wanted on the race track.  I couldn’t and that got us behind early in the race -- we lost the front end.  We were battling the balance of the car, but this thing was so fast on the straight-aways.  If I could get it to turn and rotate off the corner, I could carry a lot of momentum down the straight-away with this Armor All car.  I’m just proud of all the Toyota people and all the work they’ve done in such a short amount of time to get us all in victory lane.  That’s twice this week that we’ve gotten Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas in victory lane.  I’m really proud of that -- I’m proud of the effort they’re putting into it.  This is the only race we’re running for Armor All this year so I’m glad we were able to get the pole and win the race for them.  I kept thinking we were going to have a one-two finish because Kyle (Busch) was good and I could stay with him.  We were getting such odd runs toward the end of the race because everyone was trying to back-up and get the big run to make passes.  We were carrying so much momentum into turn one that I couldn’t even get it to turn -- it pushed up off the bottom.  That’s when the eight car (Martin Truex Jr.) got down underneath us and the No. 10 (Brian Vickers) car and we kind of got freight-trained to the outside.  Once the No. 10 car got hung, I actually liked it and it actually helped my car turn.  It was kind of a blessing in disguise to get that momentum to get up front and then I tried to get back down in front of Kyle and keep the two of us together.  I felt like no matter what the order was, whether he was leading and I was behind or vice versa, as long as we could stay together then those guys were going to have a hard time with us.  I think even if we had another 100 laps to run, they were going to have a hard time as long as Kyle and I were together.”

Stewart drives to 2nd win of weekend for Toyota
How did the warm temperatures affect the handling of your car today?
“We lost the handle on it about 20 laps into the first run.  We never really got to run a lot the other day because of how many sets of tires are allotted.  Just trying to keep up with what changes to make and trying not to burn our tires up so we had them for today -- that was our biggest feet.”

Can you talk about yourself and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s abilities to run so well on superspeedways?
“Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. and I have had such good luck together -- we’ve run one-two in so many races -- at Talladega and even here at Daytona.  You always  know that when you beat a guy like him -- you’ve beaten one of the best.  It’s a huge compliment and he’s a great guy and I think we both have a lot of mutual respect for each other when it comes to these superspeedways.”

Hayden fastest in Jerez  Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden topped the first day of the penultimate preseason tests at Jerez today, while team-mate Dani Pedrosa returned to action still nursing his hand injury. Hayden rode more laps than anyone in cool, blustery conditions, evaluating a modified RC212V chassis with revised stiffness character, otherwise focusing on detail set-up changes. The 2006 MotoGP World Champion also recorded the fastest top speed at 282km/h-175.

Nicky Hayden, fastest lap: 1m 39.200s (lap 84 of 107)
“All in all, a pretty positive day. I would definitely say this was the best first day of tests we’ve had so far this year. And we knew it was important, because the weather experts are saying there’s a really good chanced of rain the next two days. I tried a different chassis, it felt slightly better with a little more feel on the front, so we used that most of the day and it felt pretty good. We went through a few other things, not making big changes because we’re getting closer to the season now, just a few little settings changes, and when I thought things felt better the stopwatch normally went along with it, which is always good. At the end I did race distance and it didn’t feel too bad. We were able to get into the 40s on race tires, though we still need to get in there a little deeper, we still need to improve a bit.”

Lap Times

Pos Rider Team Time
1 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda 1:39.200
2 Randy DePuniet Honda LCR 1:39.444
3 Jorge Lorenzo Fiat Yamaha 1:39.528
4 Colin Edwards Yamaha Tech 3 1:39.629
5 James Toseland Yamaha Tech3 1:39.678
6 Alex DeAngelis San Carlo Honda 1:40.165
7 Shinya Nakano San Carlo Honda 1:40.192
8 Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha 1:40.641
9 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro 1:40.651
10 Andrea Dovizioso Jir Team Scot 1:40.767
11 Loris Capirossi Rizla Suzuki 1:40.843
12 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 1:41.352
13 Marco Melandri Marlboro Ducati 1:41.392
14 Toni Elias Alice Team 1:41.703
15 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki 1:41.763
16 Anthony West Kawasaki 1:41.821
17 John Hopkins Kawasaki 1:41.901
18 Sylvain Guintoli Alice Team 1:42.698

Daytona 500 Happy Hour Speeds  Carl Edwards was quickest during Happy Hour but perhaps the biggest surprise was who was second fastest.  After finishing a lap down during his Gatorade Duel on Thursday, Kyle Petty surprised everyone with the second quickest time.

Just imagine what chrome rims would do...
“Our car is a lot better than it was all week long," an exuberant Petty explained. "Our guys worked really, really hard. The Evernham Engines are a lot better here than what we had in the 150s. We struggled there. It’s an indicator that our guys are still pumped up even after a bad week, so this is a great way to end it. But, is this an indicator of how you are going to do in the race? Not by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s that way at Daytona and Talladega also.”

See all Happy Hour Speeds
More ...

Penske supports, Foyt slams merger talk  While Indy Racing League owners Penske and Chip Ganassi expressed enough interest in a reunified national open-wheel series to support the purchase of equipment for Champ Car teams that would join the Indy Racing League, counterpart A.J. Foyt is opposed.

"I would throw a damned fit," said Foyt, the godfather of IRL chief executive officer Tony George, "and would want to damned near pack up my bags if that was all true. And I think a lot of people that have been loyal to them would do the same thing because it just wouldn't be right for people who had to buy and spend a lot of money." Penske, however, so supports the idea he said he would provide incoming teams "an extra car or pieces in order to get them going." St. Pete Times
Weekly NASCAR cheating report - 2  Five qualifying times for today's NASCAR Nationwide Series season opener were disallowed Friday night, and as a result, one car that had made the field was sent packing.

Involved were the No. 0 of Kertus Davis, who was sent home because the team did not have owner points from 2007 to fall back on; the No. 1 of Johnny Sauter, the No. 14 of Sprint Cup regular David Gilliland, the No. 64 of David Stremme and the No. 77 of Cale Gale. That quartet moves to the rear for today's 1:15 p.m. Camping World 300 thanks to 2007 owner points.

"The lid on the oil tank behind the driver seat was loose, and with that you have both a safety consideration and a possible aero-enhancing advantage," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said of the violations. "The advantage would be around the venting of air."

Sprint Cup regular Tony Stewart (180.937 mph) starts first today in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, flanked by Cup regular Clint Bowyer (180.101) in his Richard Childress Racing Chevy.

"It was pretty uneventful," Stewart said of his qualifying lap. "The hardest part of our job is shifting three times." Nationwide regular Jason Leffler qualified third (180.047) in his Toyota. Sprint and Nationwide rookie and 2007 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti qualified fourth (179.698) in his Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge. Kyle Busch was fifth (179.695) in his Gibbs Toyota.

"(Today) is about me going to school, and I'm hoping I can stay close to the front and learn from the guys that do it the best," Franchitti said. Leffler is expecting an exciting race.

"There's nothing better than sliding around at 190 mph, beating and banging on everybody," Leffler said.

Defending series champion and Cup regular Carl Edwards qualified 29th (178.292) in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Failing to make the field were Danny O'Quinn Jr., Morgan Shepherd, Larry Gunselman, Kenny Wallace, Kevin Lepage, Joe Nemechek, Donnie Neuenberger, Brett Rowe and Mike Harmon. Earnhardt, Reutimann busted. The rear deck lid and spoiler from Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Chevy were confiscated after NASCAR found they had been manipulated in an attempt to gain an aerodynamic advantage. The violation, a modification to lower the spoiler, decrease drag and increase speed, was discovered following practice Thursday. The car was impounded Thursday, but returned Friday. A new deck lid and spoiler were installed, and Earnhardt drove the car in qualifying. NASCAR said an announcement on any possible penalties against JR Motorsports would come Monday or Tuesday. Officials also confiscated the carburetor from the No. 99 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota driven by David Reutimann. The carburetor's venturis were too large, allowing more air to pass through and providing a potential horsepower advantage. The car was allowed to qualify. FloridaToday
Kovalainen buys Swiss villa  (GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has followed his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton's lead by choosing Switzerland as his adopted home.

The Finnish driver, believed to have signed a more lucrative contract for 2008 after debuting last year with Renault, is reported to have bought a villa in picturesque Coppet, on the north shore of Lake Geneva.

The current resident of England plans to move in April, the Swiss daily newspaper Le Matin said, citing the confirmation of Kovalainen's lawyer Dominique Warluzel.

Kovalainen, 26, joins active rivals Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Nick Heidfeld, Sebastian Vettel and Adrian Sutil as fellow Swiss residents.
McLaren questioning by Italian prosecutor called off  (GMM) The questioning of McLaren officials by Italian prosecutors will no longer take place as scheduled on Monday.

It was earlier reported that, as the criminal investigation in Italy relating to the espionage saga goes on, Modena magistrate Guiseppe Tibis had summoned Ron Dennis, Martin Whitmarsh and two other senior members of the Mercedes-powered team.

But Tibis' secretary told the British news agency Reuters: "They are not coming", adding that a new date for the questioning has not been set.

Meanwhile, as alleged Ferrari spy Nigel Stepney prepares to face the FIA's legal department, it is claimed that co-conspirator Mike Coughlan may already have been punished by the governing body.

The British newspaper The Guardian cites 'sources' in reporting that "a sanction has been imposed on McLaren's chief designer (Coughlan)".

Coughlan was suspended by the Woking team last summer.
Filippi disqualified, Buemi wins at Sentul  
Sebastien Buemi

Swiss Sébastien Buemi was handed his maiden GP2 win today in the feature race of the second round of 2008 GP2 Asia Series.

It was very hot and humid this afternoon in Sentul where the feature race of the second round of the 2008 GP2 Asia Series took place. Though it was expected, even feared, the rain never came, but that did not prevent for the race to be eventful! After only two laps, Adam Khan crashed into Bakkerud who then hit Harald Schleghelmilch. The safety car entered in action on Lap 2 and brought all the front runners in to make their compulsory pit stop. This left Bruno Senna to lead the race, followed by Hiroki Yoshimoto and five other drivers who decided to stay on track. Pole man Petrov came back in 8th place, while Valles passed Filippi in the pits. Things were a little bit more complicated for Championship leader Romain Grosjean during his pit stop and he came back out on 18th place.

The race restarted on lap 12 and the two front-runners kept on leading the race at a rapid pace with Bruno Senna setting the fastest lap time. But the gap he managed to get was wiped out mid-race by another safety car when Diego Nunes crashed his DPR car in the wall on the straight line. At the second restart, Senna, Yoshimoto, Herck and Valerio still had to pit. Petrov was then third with Filippi, Buemi and Valles in tow. Romain Grosjean had then made his way up to 9th position, behind another RDD driver and rookie, Ben Hanley who had started from 18th. More ...

Ford and partners to put more money in China  Ford Motor and its partners plan to invest an additional $58 million in their China car venture to help fund its expansion, Chinese partner Changan Automobile Co said on Thursday. The number two US automaker will invest $20.3 million in Changan Ford Mazda, a three-way tie-up with Mazda Motor Corp and Changan Auto, the Chinese company said in a statement.

Mazda, of which Ford owns a third, will invest $8.7 million in the venture, while Changan Auto will put in $29 million. The move, which already has the approval of the commerce ministry, will boost the venture's registered capital to $351.44 million from the previous $293.44 million, but keep its current shareholding structure unchanged, it said. Changan Auto owns 50 percent of the venture, with Ford and Mazda sharing the rest.

Heidfeld makes excuses for lack of pace  
Compared to the gains made by the other teams, the new BMW appears to be a pig.
Nick Heidfeld has declared that BMW's 2008 challenger is better than its predecessor, despite suggestions that the squad have been struggled in pre-season so far.

The German and team-mate Robert Kubica admitted that they were having a difficult time with the F1.08 while putting the new car through its initial test programs, but Heidfeld has now clarified the situation.

"The car is most definitely better than last year's," he told the team's website. "You just have to take a look at the lap times to realize this.

"At the latest test, I said the old car was better balanced - but you shouldn't forget that we had an entire year to find this balance. Since then, we've had time to improve the new car's balance too, and it is also equipped with new components."

As a result the former Williams racer is unconcerned by the lack of chart-topping speed, insisting that progress is being made.

"Currently, we are trying different setup options," he continued, "but it's not unusual to focus on the balance before making the next steps. As I see it, we are moving within the normal window here at Jerez.

"[Finding the right balance] isn't more difficult than setting up the car - we simply have to fine tune the set-up work on our new challenger." Setanta Sports

Pole Position for Petrov  
Vitaly Petrov
Vitaly Petrov took the pole position in Sentul this morning in the second round of the 2008 GP2 Asia Series.

The first round in Dubai had not been easy on Barwa International Campos Team Russian Vitaly Petrov who suffered from a gearbox problem in qualifying and had him start from the back of the grid. This afternoon, things will be reversed for Petrov in Race 1 as he will start from pole position. He set the fastest lap time of the day in a 1:19.337 at the beginning of the session in wet conditions, but before a red flag and a shower.

Qi-Mertus Mahara driver, the experienced Luca Filippi, will also start from the front row. He set his fastest lap time in the rain. Spaniard Adrian Valles, who had been the quickest in free practice, completes the Top 3 while ART Romain Grosjean had a more difficult qualifying session: he got off the track mid-session which led to the red flag. Despite this, he will start from the second row.

Vitaly Petrov (Barwa International Camps Team): “I’m delighted with this result. The team made a good decision regarding the set-up and the tires. The race will be very hard with the weather changing every twenty minutes or so. We may see more than one pit-stop per driver this afternoon! If it stays dry, it will be easier.” More ...

Dyno tests reveal a Toyota advantage  
Was anyone naive enough to think Toyota (shown here in Tony Stewart's car) wasn't sandbagging last year and will bury GM and Ford from here on out?  If you were, just look at what they have done to the truck series.
If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is going to win the Daytona 500, it looks like he’s got a sizeable horsepower disadvantage to overcome, judging from NASCAR’s post-150s chassis-dyno tests, which showed Toyota’s Tony Stewart had at least a 15 horsepower edge at his rear wheels over Chevy’s Earnhardt in Thursday’s twin races.

And Richard Childress’ Chevy engines were about 30 horsepower off the Toyotas, which is some concern in both the Childress camp and with GM officials.

NASCAR didn’t post any official numbers, but Stewart’s engine - built by Mark Cronquist, head of Joe Gibbs’ motor shop - pulled around 462 to 464 effective horsepower, according to those familiar with the results. That’s about 15 horsepower more than Earnhardt had and about 30 horsepower more than Chevy’s Kevin Harvick.

“We’ve got some work to do,” was all Clint Bowyer, Harvick’s teammate at Childress’, would say.

Ford’s Doug Yates, the veteran engine builder and now car owner, had expressed worries about the powerful Toyota engines during January testing. However yesterday Yates was in a better mood: “From Talladega till now, we’ve made great gains, and we’re close. But I didn’t need a chassis dyno to know who has the best engine here.

“I do feel better now than I did at Talladega about our chances. Our horsepower was in the high 450s. But our problem is we’ve got to get our car driving good … and keep the tires on it. And if we can do that, we may get some good results here … and then go on to Fontana.  Winston Salem Journal

Alesi finds his form in Sentul  Jean Alesi charged to his maiden Speedcar Series victory at Sentul, Indonesia today.

The former grand prix winner only qualified eighth, but he stormed through the pack to hit front before half distance. Once in front he controlled the race and maintained a safe gap back to Mattias Lauda in second.

"I am very happy to get my first Speedcar win," said Alesi. "The pace of the race was very fast and the conditions were difficult. I'm glad we didn't have rain in the race, I think it was more enjoyable for everyone in the dry."

Local hero Ananda Mikola had romped away into an early lead at the start, but an unforced error cost him dearly. He braked too late for a chicane, bounced across the grass, and spun as he rejoined the circuit. He dropped down to fourth and later dropped out of contention with a puncture.

Alesi's journey to the front was helped by Alzen and Morbidelli, who both went off on the first lap, and guest star Klaus Ludwig also went off the road on lap two. More ...

New team joins Speedcar Series  Molitor Racing Systems (MRS) is the latest team to join the Speedcar ranks. The new entry was announced on the advent of Speedcar Series race in Indonesia this weekend.

The German team will be represented by Asian Formula 3 Champion, Ananda Mikola and Formula Asia National Champion, Moreno Soeprapto in Round 2, racing on home territory at the Sentul International Circuit. The Indonesian drivers, previously part of the Speedcar team and sharing car number 18, will now have two MRS branded Speedcars for the weekend's races.

MRS has a long motorsports history dating back two decades with a strong presence in one-make endurance racing.

With rain expected over both days this weekend, MRS seems to have an advantage in the two local drivers who are familiar with the track and the weather conditions. Ananda proved this in the qualifying session by making pole position for Race 1 on Saturday afternoon.

BDR needs sponsorship for Villeneuve  
Whether Jacques Villeneuve will attempt to qualify for the Auto Club 500 next week at California Speedway is being evaluated due to the lack of sponsorship of the Bill Davis Racing team.
The former Formula One champion has been working to obtain sponsorship for the No. 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup car. Villeneuve crashed during a 150-mile qualifying race Thursday and failed to make the field for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

“We’ve got to have a sponsor,” Davis said Friday morning at Daytona International Speedway. “We’re going to [sit down] in the next day or two and kind of re-evaluate. They have a lot of companies up there [in Canada] in play. Some are very interested.

“We’ll have to see where we’re at. Obviously, not getting in this deal was a lick, [but] I think everybody was realistic about the odds.”

Villeneuve competed in two Sprint Cup races last season and thought he was close to sponsorship before parting ways with business manager Craig Pollock.

That left him looking for sponsorship over the last month.

“It seems to be harder than it should be – we’ll find out,” Villeneuve said after the race Thursday about whether he was confident he would find sponsorship. “Potential sponsors won’t be angry with this race because they weren’t there.”  More at Scenedaily.com

Quotes of the Week  UPDATE NASCAR great Junior Johnson, on whether it was more fun to race other NASCAR drivers or race against the authorities trying to catch him during his moonshine-running days:

“It was more thrilling to me to win a race because I was competing against people that were equal to me.

"A lot of them were bootleggers, so if you beat them, you beat (a) whole lot more capable people.”

02/15/08 Darrell Waltrip said that early in his career he went to veteran A.J. Foyt for some advice.

“I said, ‘Every time I get behind Buddy Baker he shakes his fist at me,’” Waltrip said. “‘I’m not sure what he’s trying to tell me, and what to do about it.’

"A.J. said, ‘About the time he takes his hand off steering wheel ... knock the hell out of him. He won’t ever shake his fist at you again.’

“I tried it, and it worked.”

Weekly NASCAR cheating report  UPDATE #2 NASCAR confiscated the carburetor from David Reutimann’s Michael Waltrip Racing Nationwide Series Toyota earlier this week after it was found to have an illegal venturi.

02/15/08 Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he is disappointed in his JR Motorsports Nationwide Series team following a rules violation at Daytona International Speedway.

“We’ve got good cars, this car won here last year … Everybody tries to get a little bit out of their cars and bend the rules and get in the gray area, but our guys were trying a little too hard on the cars and didn’t need it," Earnhardt Jr. said after his qualifying lap.

“The cars pretty good, so we all learned a lesson down here. We’ll move forward. We’ll have to deal with some penalties probably next week … which is pretty much standard. But we’ll be all right.”

02/15/08 Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway hasn't been perfect for Dale Earnhardt Jr. after all.

The No. 5 car Earnhardt will drive in Saturday's Nationwide Series opener was impounded by NASCAR on Thursday night after officials discovered the team altered the spoiler to create an aerodynamic advantage following inspection.

The car was returned on Friday morning minus the trunk lid and spoiler, repaired and sent back through inspection. It will be allowed to run in the race.

Joe Balash, the Nationwide Series director, said further sanctions against the team and crew chief Chad Walter will be issued on Tuesday. NASCAR officials considered sending Walter home because the offense was considered blatant, but opted to hold off on what could result in a suspension.

Rick Hendrick is listed as the car owner, but the car is co-owned by Hendrick and Earnhardt and run by JR Motorsports in Mooresville, N.C.  ESPN.com

Sorenson fastest in Friday Cup practice  Reed Sorenson, who finished second behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Thursday’s first Gatorade Duel, was fastest in Friday’s practice with a lap at 190.351 mph.  Earnhardt Jr. was second and Martin Truex Jr. third.
NASCAR Fans Less Likely To Channel Surf  At Least 25 Drivers to Appear in New Sponsor TV Ads, Keeping Fans Tuned to FOX.  Unlike the biggest events in other sports, during the Daytona 500 (Feb 17, FOX, 2 p.m.) the sport's athletes appear in virtually every commercial break, keeping viewers tuned in.

During the FOX broadcast of the 2007 Daytona 500, NASCAR drivers appeared in 46 percent of the commercials, according to. Dr. Max Utsler, a professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Kansas. In all, 19 drivers starred in sponsor spots, and with at least 25 slated to be featured during the 2008 race, the percentage of drivers in commercials may rise even higher, Utsler said.

"NASCAR fans like seeing the stars of the sport in sponsors' commercials – making the sport TiVo-proof," said NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps.

During the 2007 Daytona 500, FOX Sports retained 95% of its audience during commercial breaks on average, according to Nielsen Media Research. More ...

Sponsors extends with DEI  The Principal Financial Group®, the nation’s 401(k) and employee benefits leader, announces its expanded relationship with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI). The Principal® has agreed to a multi-race primary sponsorship involving DEI’s No. 8 Chevrolet, co-driven by Mark Martin and Aric Almirola and the No. 01 Chevrolet driven by Regan Smith during the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The Principal will also serve as an associate sponsor on both cars for the entire Sprint Cup season.

“The Principal is proud to once again participate in NASCAR, and support Mark Martin, Regan Smith and now Aric Almirola. All three drivers are exciting to watch, and we are confident they will be valuable ambassadors of the Principal Financial Group brand. We are also pleased to partner with the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. organization. DEI works hard to give their drivers an edge on the track, just as we at The Principal work hard to give our customers an edge in planning for their financial futures,” said Mary O’Keefe, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of the Principal Financial Group. More ...

Statement Regarding Dale Earnhardt Biopic  Statement from Max Siegel, president of global operations for Dale Earnhardt Inc., in response to a published report regarding an agreement for a Dale Earnhardt biopic.

“We are enthusiastic about the prospect of making a compelling theatrical movie which celebrates the sport and Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s life.

“To that end we are excited that Red Wagon has committed themselves to developing such a project. Contrary to published reports, we have not granted any rights to Dale Sr.'s life and are in the very preliminary stages of putting a project like this together.

“We will keep the public informed as our efforts progress.”

AT&T Races into 2008  Racing fans, fasten your seatbelts. AT&T Inc. announced the major components of the company’s 2008 multiplatform motorsports campaign. To promote its sponsorship in stock car racing’s elite-level circuit, AT&T has developed a creative campaign that includes a fully branded integration into FOX Sports NASCAR broadcasts — titled “AT&T Race Break” — as well as heavy promotion of its Safe Driving public service initiative, which is a pillar of AT&T’s larger Be Sensible public awareness campaign. AT&T has been the primary sponsor for a professional stock car racing team for more than a decade. Hosted by Emmy-winning FOX Sports broadcaster Chris Myers and champion crew chief Jeff Hammond, the “AT&T Race Break” segments will broadcast live from the “Hollywood Hotel” — FOX Sports’ mobile trackside studio. During breaks in racing action, “AT&T Race Break” segments will give viewers the latest in racing news and exclusive insight from the world of NASCAR. In addition, AT&T will use the platform to promote racing-related streaming video content available exclusively to its wireless subscribers. More ...
Bridgestone and PCM team up for commercial shoot  UPDATE Here are some additional photos taken during the filming of the commercial.

Golfer Freddie Couples
02/14/08 At first glance, you might wonder what Champ Car racing and golf have in common.  The answer, for starters, is that Bridgestone is the Official Tire of the Champ Car World Series and the Official Tire of the PGA.

With that in mind, Bridgestone Golf decided to bring those two worlds together in their latest television commercial, shot earlier this week outside of Los Angeles and featuring David Martinez in the Pacific Coast Motorsports DP01 Champ Car and Bridgestone Golf-backed PGA pros Freddie Couples, Stuart Appleby, Brandt Snedeker and Charles Howell III.

"We see a great synergy in bringing two of our successful sports marketing activities together," said Al Speyer, Executive Director, Bridgestone Motorsport.  "Champ Car racing and golf are both dramatic, tension-filled sports that require precision and complete focus from their competitors.  However, Champ Car races are certainly a little more fast-paced than any golf tournament I've ever seen!"  More ...

Villeneuve to contest Le Mans in 2008  
Jacques Villeneuve
Peugeot has confirmed that Jacques Villeneuve will be part of its lineup for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

After finishing second in 2007, the French manufacturer will mount a three car assault this year in an effort to topple rival Audi, who have won the prestigious race four straight years.

Villeneuve, who is looking to become the first driver to win the F1 world championship, CART championship, Indy 500 and Le Mans, will be joined by a group of former F1 pilots who between them have almost 400 Grand Prix starts under their belt.

Marc Gene, Nicolas Minassian, Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin return from last year's squad and will be joined by Honda test driver Alexander Wurz, Christian Klien, Franck Montagny and Ricardo Zonta. Anthony Beltoise will be test and reserve driver.

Luczo Dragon Racing to Enter Three IndyCar Races  After a top five finish in the Indianapolis 500 last season, Luczo Dragon Racing, LLC has a new driver, a veteran team manager, a three-race IRL schedule planned for the 2008 IndyCar season and will continue to donate its racing profits to charity, it was announced today.

IndyCar Series veteran Tomas Scheckter will drive the Dallara Honda in three races: the RoadRunner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway April 27, the 92nd Indianapolis 500 May 25 and the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway August 24. The team will be managed by John Cummiskey, who has 19 years experience in open wheel racing, including one Indy 500 win. Scheckter has averaged 348 points and finished in the top 10 in each of the last three IndyCar seasons.

"We are thrilled to have Tomas driving for us and greatly value the experience John brings to our race team," Luczo Dragon co-owner Jay Penske said. "Tomas is one of the top drivers on the IndyCar circuit. His presence and ability will give us a chance to win in each of our three races. Add in John's leadership and we feel very good about the direction of our team." More ...

Elliott to retire for good at end of 2008  
Bill Elliott
After 33 years on the NASCAR trail, Dawsonville's Bill Elliott is ready to head down another path. #21-Elliott, who did not finish high enough in Thursday's 150-mile qualifier to start Sunday's Daytona 500, said 2008 will be his last year as a Sprint Cup driver. "I've thoroughly enjoyed it, but it's time to move on and let this other generation have it," Elliott said. "I just feel like it's good to let everyone know what my thinking is. I've kind of put it off and rolled with the flow these last few years, but it's time. It's time to go do something different." He said he'll continue to drive the #21 Wood Brothers Ford on a part-time basis as he had planned, but if the Woods' other drivers, Marcos Ambrose and Jon Wood, seem ready to take on a larger role, he might cut short his planned 17-race schedule. "Ambrose might fall into place, or Jon might fall into place, and that would be what the Woods need to do to make the next step," he said. Another young racer is figuring into Elliott's decision, too —- his 12-year-old son Chase, who is rapidly developing into a formidable competitor in the Bandolero racing series. Traveling to Chase's races and also competing in Cup races has proved to be a logistical nightmare. "Last summer, I'd go race with Chase on Thursday night, then I'd pick up and go to wherever the Cup race was," Elliott said. "The earliest I got anywhere was 10 p.m., and it could be up to 4 in the morning to get where I was going, depending on when we raced. That's crazy." As a full-time driver, Elliott won 44 Cup races, 55 poles and the 1988 championship, but since going to part-time status after the 2003 season, he has had just one top-10 finish, at Indianapolis in 2004. Still, he has no regrets about the latter part of his career. Atlanta Journal-Constitution
McLaren meeting with Italian prosecutor delayed  McLaren's scheduled meeting with an Italian prosecutor investigating the spy scandal of last season has been delayed indefinitely, the prosecutor's office confirmed to Reuters this afternoon. The meeting was due to take place on Monday.  According to the Reuters story, McLaren confirmed it had received some papers from the prosecutor this week, which its lawyers are reviewing.
Peugeot enters 12 Hours of Sebring  
Peugeot 908
On the heels of an impressive showing last month at the American Le Mans Series Winter Test, Peugeot announced Friday that it will compete for the first time in North America by entering the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on March 12-15.

Pedro Lamy, Nic Minassian and Stephane Sarrazin will pilot the diesel-powered Peugeot 908 in the 12 Hours. It was Sarrazin who posted the fastest time in the three-day test at Sebring last month, a blistering 1:42.801 (129.571 mph) that was more than two full seconds better than last year’s record-setting qualifying mark turned in by Audi’s Marco Werner.

Peugeot 908
“Peugeot’s confirmed entry into the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring sets the stage for one of the most anticipated editions of America’s greatest endurance race,” said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. “It is another validation of the importance that manufacturers and teams place on competing at Sebring and in the American Le Mans Series. More ...
Closest Ever A1GP Title Battle Heads to Durban  
Durban street circuit
Durban, South Africa - For the first time in the history of the series, the top two nations in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport are level on points, as the incredible championship battle heads to the streets of Durban, South Africa for round seven on 22-24 February.

As the championship reaches its climax with four rounds on the 10-event calendar remaining, New Zealand leads the series due to number of race wins but is level with France on 96 points. Switzerland lies just three points behind while host nation South Africa is now fourth on 79 points, after Adrian Zaugg secured his nation's second win of the season last time out after an incredible drive in treacherous conditions at Eastern Creek in Sydney.

The Durban event is the only street circuit on the calendar and, unlike some of the permanent race tracks which host A1GP events, none of the drivers are able to test or race there at other times of the year. The tight, twisty street circuit punishes mistakes more than any other track and is considered to be one of the most difficult circuits on the calendar. More ...

Bob Lutz: Global warming is a "total crock of sh*t"  According to D Magazine, at a private lunch, GM chairman Maximum Bob Lutz said global warming is a "total crock of sh*t." Bob adds "I'm a skeptic, not a denier. Having said that, my opinion doesn't matter." Speaking about the battery-driven Volt, Lutz said, "I'm motivated more by the desire to replace imported oil than by the CO2 [argument]." At the lunch Bob also said hybrids like the Prius make "make no economic sense" and the Volt is exciting for him because "it's the last thing anybody expected from GM." Don't hold back Bob, tell us what you really think.
TV News
Weekend USA TV Reminders  UPDATE #3 The final TV reminders for Saturday and Sunday have been added to the schedule below.

02/14/08 The final TV reminders for Friday have been added to the schedule below.
02/13/08 The final TV reminders for Thursday have been added to the schedule below.
02/12/08 Courtesy of TVRacer.com
NASCAR Live! Daytona
11:00am-12:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup practice Daytona 
12:00pm-1:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Daytona 
1:00pm-2:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup final practice Daytona 
2:00pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Daytona 
3:00pm-4:30pm (L) SPEED
2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Preview Show 
3:30pm-4:00pm ESPN2
2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series Preview Show 
4:00pm-4:30pm ESPN2
NASCAR Craftsman Truck practice Daytona 
4:30pm-5:30pm (L) SPEED
SPEED TV double-lists Sprint Cup Qualifying at the same time,
but Daytona Speedway's site has Craftsman Truck practice scheduled
NASCAR Live! Daytona 
5:30pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
Dave Despain on Assignment Daytona 
6:00pm-7:00pm (R) SPEED
6:00pm-7:00pm ESPN2
Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel - Dario Franchitti
Part of Show 
6:00pm-7:00pm (R) HBO
Check local listings for your time zone.  HBO channels vary.
SPEED Report Daytona 
8:00pm-9:00pm SPEED More ...
Stepney looking forward to FIA hearing  UPDATE (GMM)  Alleged Ferrari spy Nigel Stepney will shortly face F1's governing body to explain his role in the espionage scandal of 2007.

Amid the controversy last year, involving the transfer of Ferrari secrets to McLaren's chief designer Mike Coughlan, the FIA warned that the British pair would be pursued by their legal department and possibly banned from international motor sport "for a lengthy period".

Stepney's lawyers on Friday confirmed that the FIA cancelled a London meeting last Thursday because of 'flight problems' in Geneva.

The meeting is now expected to take place some time in March.

"Mr. Stepney is very much looking forward to this postponed opportunity to put his side of the story in a legal environment, rather than continue to endure ill-informed allegations against him," Buckinghamshire-based solicitors Coyle White Devine said in a statement.

Nigel Stepney
02/15/08 Former Ferrari-employee Nigel Stepney issued a statement today saying he is eager for the FIA hearing to discuss the espionage case. Stepney is convinced this will clear his name.

The statement said: "Despite having to endure months of unfounded allegations, Mr. Stepney has maintained a dignified silence, secure in the knowledge that he would, one day, be able to explain his position and offer a perspective based on more than 30 years as a Formula One 'insider'.

"He was ready to do this at the FIA disciplinary hearing scheduled for Thursday 7th February in London. Unfortunately, the FIA's legal team was unable to attend this hearing, citing 'flight difficulties' in Geneva as a reason. The hearing will now take place at some stage after 7th March 2008.

"Mr. Stepney is very much looking forward to this postponed opportunity to put his side of the story in a legal environment, rather than continue to endure ill-informed allegations against him."

tv news
Gopher Cams at the Daytona 500  Gopher Cam, a small, stationary high-definition point-of-view camera buried underneath the asphalt track surface, inches below the yellow line at Daytona International Speedway will be used Sunday. There are four Gopher Cams in-place for the 50th Daytona 500, one in each of the track's four turns. This is the first instance where a camera has been installed below the surface of a superspeedway, and this is the first time that a sub-track surface camera is HD caliber. The cameras have also been paired with high quality condenser microphones, another first, for an unbelievably realistic audio/video experience. The camera hardware and electronics have been installed six inches below the asphalt, and is housed in a cylindrical stainless steel fixture. The lens is less than a half-inch in diameter, and camera is angled slightly to see oncoming traffic. The assembly is covered by a protective dome that is four-inches in diameter and rises less than one-quarter inch above the track surface. Cars rolling over them will have no idea of their presence. The cameras are connected to Fox's mobile production units outside DIS via copper wiring that was trenched in below the track and grass and run to where it meets up with the network's advanced fiber optic wiring system. Installation of Gopher Cam, with the cooperation of Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR's Competition and Media Group department's, was conducted over a three day period last week and tested during the Budweiser Shootout Saturday night. The wiring and stainless steel housing for Gopher Cams remain behind in-place after the race, but the actual cameras travels with Fox to be used at the next race location. A plate replaces the dome that is used on race day. Gopher Cams are currently being installed in all NASCAR in Fox Sprint Cup race locations, including California Speedway in Fontana (Feb. 24) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 2). While most tracks will have as many as four Gopher Cams, similar to DIS, the number at any individual track may vary. Fox Sports PR
Wood Brothers miss first 500 since 1962  The Wood Brothers will not compete in the Daytona 500 for the first time since 1962 after Bill Elliott failed to advance through his qualifying race Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.

"I don't think there are words that can describe it, but that's life,'' Elliott said. "There will be days like this."

Sunday's 50th Daytona 500 will be only the third time the Wood Brothers have not been a part of this race.

Co-owner Eddie Wood said he'll remain for the race but admits he'll likely have a hollow feeling.

"I don't know what that'll feel like [not to be in the 500]. I'm sure it's going to be bad,'' he said.  "Our race team is better than it was last year, by far. We don't have the results. Our practice times and everything we did this week were better than what we've had in the past. It's hard being a single-car team like we are."

Merger keeping IRL and Champ Car teams on hold  Indy Racing League founder Tony George didn't offer any news before flying to England for Scott Dixon's weekend wedding, nor did the four owners of the Champ Car World Series, who face rumors of impending bankruptcy.

Kevin Kalkhoven told the Toronto Sun that talk of bankruptcy was "absolutely wrong," but he refused to provide further insight.

"We know there has been and continues to be discussions on the possibility of a merger," said Derrick Walker, who owns a Champ Car team and is trying to organize one for the IRL. "We know very little else.

"There are some obvious signs that Champ Car is on hold until these discussions are finished. It's also fair to assume that Gerry Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven have invested a considerable amount of time and effort into making Champ Car a success. So if this merger is to happen, it represents a considerable change in their strategy."

Just like racing fans, team officials are anxiously awaiting a resolution. George has said he will provide cars and engines to teams that move to the IRL. Meanwhile, IRL team owners wonder if they will receive assistance, too, particularly if a handful of races are added. Budgets have been settled for months. More ...

Auto loan delinquencies hit 10-year high  A further sign of the weak economy, auto loans at least two months delinquent hit a 10-year high in January, Fitch Ratings said today, signaling the continued spread of consumer weakness to beyond homes and credit cards.  The firm said 0.77 percent of U.S. prime and subprime auto asset-backed securities were more than 60 days behind on payments, with the rate jumping 12 percent from December and 44 percent from a year ago.  Subprime delinquencies topped the 4 percent level for the first time since late 1997, reaching 4.03 percent last month, up 10 percent from December and 43 percent from a year earlier.
Brembo renews commitment to F1  Brembo prepares to start the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship season with the consolidated role of official supplier of brake systems for some of the best Formula One teams, which for many years have been relying on the Italian company to optimize the braking performances of their race cars. This season, Brembo, which entered into Formula One in 1975, will also support the teams in terms of highly technological innovation, performance and safety, providing calipers, pumps, discs and carbon friction systems.

All the components provided by Brembo are designed and continually improved in cooperation with each team. For the 2008 Formula One season, Brembo will supply the following teams: BMW Sauber F1 Team, Force India Team, Honda Racing F1 Team, Panasonic Toyota Racing, Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, Scuderia Toro Rosso. Because of the profitable partnership with the Formula One teams, Brembo is able to continuously produce more technological and innovative products.

The continuous research for new technological solutions and components offering maximum reliability and solutions integrated with the engineering of the cars represents an important testing laboratory. The innovations, discovered and utilized in Formula One, are the final result of a continual challenge, allowing Brembo to provide technically differentiated solutions for each team and driver, improving daily work at every grand prix, and always against the clock. Research and development is, for Brembo, the successful key with regard to original equipment, aftermarket and, last but not least, international motorsports. Every year 5.2 per cent of the total turnover is invested in testing and designing the most innovative brake systems. More ...

track news
Pole Day Under the Lights at Chicagoland  Chicagoland Speedway announced today that it will kick off a new season of racing when the facility's newly added lights are turned on for the first time during this year's NASCAR Pole Day on Thursday, July 10. In addition to practice runs for the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Pole Day is also scheduled to include practice and qualifying sessions for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Along with all of the on-track activity, Pole Day will also feature another Miller Lite Rock N' Racing Concert. Country music star and Pocahontas, Ill. native, Gretchen Wilson, will be performing a free concert at the track's Miller Lite Oasis at approximately 9 p.m. following NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying. An opening act is scheduled to start around 8 p.m. Large crowds are expected for Pole Day and the concert, so guests are encouraged to arrive early.

"Pole Day has always provided a great opportunity to jumpstart the excitement of our race weekend, but this year, that level of excitement will be amplified when we turn on the lights for the first time at Chicagoland Speedway," said Matthew Alexander, president of Chicagoland Speedway. "In addition to being a part of this inaugural ceremony, fans will also have the opportunity to enjoy a free concert after Cup qualifying, which should make for a very memorable experience." More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Liuzzi blames Berger for Toro Rosso exit
  • Jani confirms interest in Force India seat
  • Kolles confirms arbitration to continue
  • Piquet says gap to Alonso closing at tests
  • Ferrari has margin over 2008 rivals - Fisi
  • Fisi eager for Force India update
  • 2008 pre-season nears end

Liuzzi blames Berger for Toro Rosso exit
(GMM)  Vitantonio Liuzzi has pinned the blame for his departure from the formula one grid on Toro Rosso co-owner and former grand prix winner Gerhard Berger.

With Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais taking his place at the Faenza based team for 2008, 27-year-old Liuzzi says he was pushed out because Berger, the Austrian veteran of more than 210 races, does not like him.

"He has never been a fan of mine, just like Adrian Newey, who in the past blocked my arrival as a regular Red Bull driver," Liuzzi, now Force India's reserve driver, told the Italian magazine Autosprint.

The Italian insisted earlier this week that he is maintaining a relationship with Toro Rosso's other owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, in order to keep the Red Bull door open.

Liuzzi also suggests that his new Force India contract includes the possibility of racing again in 2009.

Jani confirms interest in Force India seat
(GMM)  Neel Jani has confirmed that he is hoping his Indian descent will open a door for him at formula one's newest team.

The 24-year-old, who formerly tested for Sauber and Toro Rosso, races under the flag of Switzerland, but his father was born in India.

Rumors this week are linking him with a possible role at Force India, which is co-owned by the flamboyant Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya.

"I would certainly like to race for Force India next year," Jani, who currently drives for the Swiss team in the A1GP series, told the publication DNA India.

He refuses to give much else away, but suggests that he has already chatted with Colin Kolles, the team's German team boss.

"It's too early, but things move fast in F1," Jani explained.

"It is better to be prepared.  I am yet to have an eye to eye contact with Mr. Mallya and Kolles and am looking forward to it."

Jani also confirmed that he still has a relationship with the Red Bull stable.

"But I am free to do my own thing.  Let's see," he added. More ...

Drivers who will miss the Daytona 500  The following drivers failed to make this year's Daytona 500:
Repsol Honda Team launch in Zaragoza, Spain  The kick-off of the World Motorcycling Championship is just two weeks away, in the city of Doha, where the Qatar GP will be held. Right before the start of what promises to be an exciting season, today Thursday the presentation of the Repsol riders and teams who will defend their colors in the 2008 Championship took place, in an event whose central figure was the Aragonese capital and the International Exhibition 2008.

Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden as members of the Repsol Honda Team; Julián Sim¢n, of the Repsol KTM 250cc team, and Esteve Rabat and Marc Márquez as members of the Repsol KTM 125cc team, have been named Ambassadors of the Expo 2008.

The presentation started at midday with an official reception by the Mayor of Zaragoza, Mr. Juan Alberto Belloch, of the Repsol riders in the Town Hall of the city. Next, the protagonists of the day were able to visit and see for themselves how construction is going on at the exhibition, which is planned to open to the public next June 14th . Before that, they had the chance to admire the photographic exhibition “Repsol Champions” in the city's Chamber of Commerce, with historical images of World Champion Repsol riders like Angel Nieto, Alex Crivillé and Jorge Martínez Aspar, among others.  More ...

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