Billionaire Bruton Smith wants taxpayer money A bill that would offer tax incentives to Speedway Motorsports Inc. if it brings a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race to Kentucky Speedway could be introduced to state lawmakers next week.
Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith and former Kentucky Speedway chairman Jerry Carroll joined Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and other state leaders at a news conference today at the state Capitol announcing a proposed amendment to the Kentucky Tourism Development Act.
SMI bought Kentucky Speedway last year from Carroll and his founding partners for $78.3-million and Smith said today that he could spend as much in improvements to the facility, including the addition of 50,000 more seats, tripling the number of restrooms and adding more spots for motor homes.
He also declared, again, that there would be a Cup race next year at Kentucky Speedway.
Chrysler: Without $5 billion more in loans, it's overUPDATE How bad is it at Chrysler? So bad they have one foot in the grave and the grave digger is beginning to backfill the hole.
You won't see many clocks on the walls at Chrysler's headquarters in Auburn Hills.
The automaker took most of them down -- to save an estimated $20,000 a year on batteries and having workers change the time twice a year for daylight saving time.
It's part of the company's intensified efforts to live on a shoestring budget as it operates on $4 billion in federal loans. Chrysler, which is seeking another $3 billion in assistance, is expected to turn in its viability plan to the government today as a condition of receiving those funds.
Meanwhile, Chrysler is cutting to save money. So far, it has:
• Stopped plowing the top floor of five parking decks and four paved lots at its headquarters complex, for a total savings of more than $350,000 this winter.
• Removed 40,000 of the 80,000 light bulbs at its headquarters complex to save $400,000 a year.
• Cut spending on Christmas decorations by at least $11,000, to $1,000 in 2008.
• Turned down the temperature in hallways from 72 degrees to 68, to save $70,000 a year.
• Put 32 pieces of art, appraised in 2007 at $2.3 million, up for sale.
• Cut food services. Hours were trimmed at the main cafeteria. Four satellite cafeterias, sandwich kiosks and the executive dining room have been shut down. Detroit Free Press
02/17/09 Chrysler LLC will need an additional $5 billion to survive the U.S. recession, telling the Obama administration today that it plans to cut an additional 3,000 jobs this year and eliminate the Chrysler Aspen, Dodge Durango and the Chrysler PT Cruiser as part of its restructuring plan.
The automaker, which disclosed today that it lost $8 billion in 2008, warns that if it does not receive the federal money and needed concessions by March 31, "management believes the only alternative would be to immediately plan for an orderly wind down of all operations through a court-supervised liquidation.
"This is clearly not an alternative Chrysler would prefer, but is one that the Company is prepared to implement if required," the company said in its submission to the U.S. Treasury.
Penske's automotive empire is crumbling under the economic downturn
Penske Automotive Group Inc. posted its first quarterly loss in 10 years, missing analysts’ expectations for a profit, and more than doubled its planned job cuts as new-car sales tumbled. Most of the fourth-quarter net loss of $509.9 million, or $5.61 a share, came from expenses to write down the value of assets, Penske said today. Without those costs, the loss was $2 million, or 2 cents a share, compared with the average estimate of earnings of 4 cents among 9 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
A 37 percent plunge in new-vehicle sales at the second- largest publicly traded U.S. car retailer highlighted crumbling demand in its home market and in the U.K. Recessions in both countries eroded gains from diversifying outside the U.S.
“The trends were all negative,” said Rex Henderson, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates Inc. in St. Petersburg, Florida.
New-car sales were in line with low expectations, and revenue from used cars, truck leasing and dealerships open more than a year all trailed expectations, Henderson said. He rates Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based Penske as “underperform.”
Penske fell 95 cents, or 13 percent, to $6.31 at 10:25 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares tumbled 60 percent in the 12 months before today. Bloomberg
Formula BMW Americas Holds First Official '09 TestUPDATE The sixth season of open-wheel racing’s most complete driver development series officially got underway Monday and Tuesday as the Formula BMW Americas Championship conducted its first official test at Florida’s Palm Beach International Raceway.
The growing roster of drivers and teams from North, Central and South America that will compete in the 2009 Formula BMW Americas Championship came out for two days of spirited testing on the 2.038-mile PBIR road course. The driver lineup featured a good mix of returning competitors and rookie drivers making their first steps into Formula BMW Americas competition, and the time sheets showed that the mix of drivers should make for a strong racing season.
Returning driver Gaby Chaves (EuroInternational) set the fastest time of the final day with a best lap of 1:16.232, while his teammate Michael Lewis was second-quickest, and fastest in the morning session, in what was his first-ever outing in the Formula BMW FB02.
“I think the car is quite well built. It’s stiff, it has a lot to it and it really gives the driver a lot to do,” Lewis said. “You can feel the way the changes affect the car, the chassis package is well-balanced, I really like driving the car.”
Burton to Appear on ABC Daytime’s “General Hospital”
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will trade in his fire suit and helmet for an acting role on ABC Daytime’s “General Hospital.”
Burton, a 21-time winner in NASCAR’s premier division, will visit the set of General Hospital Feb. 19 and take part in scenes with top neurosurgeon and Port Charles resident Dr. Patrick Drake. Drake’s character, which is played by Canadian actor Jason Thompson, is an avid fan of racing on the popular daytime Emmy award-winning series.
“I’m excited about going to the set of General Hospital and taking on a role with Jason,” explained Burton. “I’ve been in commercials and was a guest star on a sitcom a couple of years ago so I’m hoping those appearances prepped me for my soap opera debut. Luckily, I get to play myself and talk racing, which will help take some of the pressure off.”
After Thompson teaches Burton the ins and outs of being a soap opera actor, the roles will reverse when Thompson visits Auto Club Speedway, located in Fontana, Calif., to shadow Burton on the day of the Auto Club 500. The South Boston, Va., native will treat the actor to a pace car ride before heading out to his sponsor’s hospitality tent where both will participate in question-and-answer and autograph sessions. Before taking a seat atop the Cat Racing team’s pit box for the Sprint Cup Series race, the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada native will participate in the race track’s pre-race festivities by attending the driver’s meeting and driver introductions.
Scheduled air time of Burton and Thompson’s episode is slated for mid-March.
Rolex 24 Viewership Increases 47 Percent Television viewership of the Rolex 24 At Daytona broadcasted on SPEED for the opening round of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, increased by 47 percent over the 2008 ratings.
The SPEED broadcast featured 14-and-a-half hours of live coverage of the 47th running of the Daytona International Speedway classic. The initial tune-in on FOX averaged nearly one million households and 1.2 million viewers.
The Jan. 24-25 event featured the closest finish in the history of major international 24-hour races. The Brumos Porsche team and driver David Donohue held off Juan Pablo Montoya of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates by .167 seconds, with the top four cars within 11 seconds at the checkered flag. The broadcast of the finish had more than half a million households and nearly three-quarters of a million viewers tuned in as the cars received the checker flag.
South Africa once again plays host to the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport this weekend but it’s a case of pastures new for the nation versus nation championship with the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in the Gauteng Province making its debut on the schedule, Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd February.
Round 5 of the 2008-09 A1GP season switches to the historic 4.26km circuit, located 20km north of Johannesburg, following three highly popular A1GP street races on a specially designed temporary track incorporating the stunning shoreline in Durban.
TW Steel, the ‘Official Watch & Timing Partner’ to A1GP, is already an active presence in South Africa with retailers across the country selling the impressive range of oversized watches – including the sought-after TW Steel A1GP collection, created to celebrate TW Steel’s partnership with the ‘World Cup of Motorsport’.
This weekend’s on-track activities will again be supported off-track with the hosting of the final of ‘Miss TW Steel South Africa’. The winner of Sunday’s final, hosted at the track between the Sprint and Feature races, will go on to the grand final in London, England later in the year to compete against all the other ‘Miss TW Steel’ national winners for a prize of $25,000 US and a photo-shoot in a leading lifestyle magazine.
GM needs $2B more or they too are done General Motors Corp. will need at least $2 billion by March to stave off bankruptcy, telling the Obama administration it may take up to a total of $30 billion in federal aid to keep the company afloat.
GM's submission brings the total request for aid from itself and Chrysler LLC to $39 billion, after Chrysler asked today for an additional $5 billion on top of the $4 billion it's already received. Without at least $7 billion from the Obama administration to the two automakers by the end of March, both face collapse.
GM said in addition to the $2 billion it needs in March and the $13.4 billion it's already received, it would require an additional $2.6 billion in April, along with a replacement for a $4.5 billion line of credit that expires in 2011. It also said it could require another $7.5 billion should the U.S. market remain depressed for a few years.
US motorsports sponsorship off only 6% According to IEG Sponsorship Report, a leading authority on sponsorship, North American-based companies will spend an estimated $3.3bn in motorsport this year - down just six percent on the $3.5bn spent last year. The slide is the first recorded since IEG began tracking motorsport sponsorship in 1985. According to the report sponsorship deals are still being done but the money involved is coming down and the sponsorships are changing with more deals done for less than a full season. Still the fact that it is down only 6% bodes well for motorsports survival. Other industries could only wish they were down just 6%.
GM Presents U.S. Government Updated Plan General Motors (NYSE: GM) today presented the United States Department of Treasury with an updated plan that boldly responds to the weaker global auto market conditions and details the company's long term viability. The plan, which provides a comprehensive review of key aspects of GM's restructuring, is the first of two status reports required by the loan agreement signed by GM and the U.S. Treasury on Dec. 31, 2008.
The plan submitted today addresses the key restructuring targets required by the loan agreement, including a number of the critical elements of the turnaround plan that was submitted to the U.S. government on Dec. 2, 2008. Among these are: U.S. market competitiveness; fuel economy and emissions; competitive labor cost; and restructuring of the company's unsecured debt. It also includes a timeline for repayment of the Federal loans, and an analysis of the company's positive net present value (NPV).
The plan also details the future reduction of GM's vehicle brands and nameplates in the U.S., further consolidation in its workforce and dealer network, accelerated capacity actions and enhanced manufacturing competitiveness, while maintaining GM's strong commitment to high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles and advanced propulsion technologies.
NASCAR Trucks Continue Double-Digit Ratings Climb The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on SPEED picked up right where it left off in 2008 with a double-digit Nielsen Ratings increase from the season opener in Daytona.
The Friday night race, won by Todd Bodine, scored a Nielsen mark of 1.90 (1,393,000 households), making it the No. 1 show on cable during that time period. The rating marked an increase of 21 percent from last year’s 1.57 (1,128,000 households). The race broadcast peaked at a 2.28 (1,673,000 households), up 29 percent from last year’s peak of 1.77 (1,272,000 households).
“It was another fantastic race and a great way to start the 2009 season,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is loaded with great storylines and we’re jacked up about how the audience continues to respond.”
In addition to the race, SPEED’s pre-race show, NCWTS Setup hosted by Krista Voda, scored a Nielsen Rating of .80 (585,000 households), up 33 percent from last year’s .60 (434,000 households).
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series enjoyed its most-watched season to date in 2008, as 19 of the 22 races on SPEED saw year-to-year Nielsen Ratings increases, 15 in double digits.
The next Truck race will be on FOX Saturday at 3 p.m. ET from Auto Club Speedway in California, with Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Mike Joy in the booth; Chris Myers, Jeff Hammond and Phil Parsons in the Hollywood Hotel and Krista Voda, Dr. Dick Berggren and Matt Yocum in the pits. The series returns to SPEED on March 7 at 1 p.m. from Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Kentucky Gov. Beshear Announces Pursuit of Sprint Cup Series Event Gov. Steve Beshear today voiced his support for an amendment to the Kentucky Tourism Development Act to add a new eligible category of so-called “legacy expansion” projects. At a Capitol news conference, Gov. Beshear and bill sponsor House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins were joined by representatives of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. to discuss the positive impact this legislation would have on the future of motorsports in Kentucky. Bruton Smith, chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., owner of Kentucky Speedway, and Jerry Carroll, consultant to Speedway Motorsports, Inc. said today that passage of this legislation would put Kentucky in position to host the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, that sanctioning body’s top racing series. “The impact of a NASCAR Sprint Series Cup race for Kentucky is undeniable,” Gov. Beshear said. “NASCAR is the number one spectator sport in the United States and is broadcast in more than 150 countries and 30 languages. I’m excited about the potential of Kentucky joining these ranks.”
Under the proposed legislation, legacy expansion projects must conduct events that are in the top league, series or sanctioned level of their type of event, provide permanent seating for 65,000 spectators and be broadcast nationally. The venue must have previously been approved for incentives and the expansion project must exceed $30 million and present one or more “premier events” not previously held in Kentucky. "I am hopeful that this legislation will receive favorable consideration in light of the significant impact landing a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Kentucky Speedway would have on our economy,” Rep. Adkins said. “The governor and his staff are to be commended for pursuing this exciting opportunity for Kentucky.” The legislation, which Rep. Adkins plans to file next Monday, would also expand the availability of time over which the tax credits can be taken for the original investments made and the significant expansion at the Kentucky Speedway. Kentucky Speedway PR
TRG Motorsports to Run Next Four Sprint Cup Races TRG Motorsports will run their No. 71 Chevrolet Impala SS in the next four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rounds at the Auto Club Speedway in Southern, California, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and the legendary Bristol Motor Speedway.
Kevin Buckler, TRG Motorsports team principal, is working hard to get sponsorship while the team focuses on accruing enough points to be in the top 35 in owner points going into the fifth race at Bristol.
"We are pulling out all of the stops to make the next four races," Buckler said. "We want to be in the top 35 in owner points by the time we finish Bristol. We have signed up David Gilliland and Slugger Labbe to help us accomplish that goal. The water is deep in NASCAR and we are not afraid to dive in with the sharks, but we have a very steep learning curve ahead of us and we will do our best."
Lucas Oil named presenting sponsor Lucas Oil Products, an industry leader in lubricants and fuel treatments, has been named a presenting sponsor of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the world’s most prestigious drag race.
The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil is set for Sept. 2-7 at historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. The race is the final event of the regular season in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship and will feature more than 10 hours of television coverage by ESPN2 and ESPN2HD. Tickets are available for the event by calling (800) 884-NHRA.
The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil can define a drag racing career and past winners of the event comprise a who’s who of the quarter-mile sport, including its greatest legends: Nine-time winner Bob Glidden; ‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits, an eight-time winner; seven-time winners Don ‘The Snake’ Prudhomme and Tony Schumacher, and four-time winner John Force. The demanding event will showcase more than 1,000 drag racing vehicles and competition in 12 NHRA categories, including the marquee 7,000 horsepower Top Fuel and Funny Car categories.
Window World Extends Sponsorship After a successful debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series during the 51st Daytona 500, Window World Inc. announced today it will extend its sponsorship of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports team driven by John Andretti.
One of the sport’s newest sponsors, Window World will be the primary sponsor of the Front Row Motorsports Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway on February 22, Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 1, Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 8 and Bristol Motor Speedway on March 22.
“This is great news for Front Row Motorsports and Window World,” said Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins. “Daytona was the first time Window World sponsored a race car. On the track, and off the track, their program was a success. The Window World customers and employees have all rallied behind this program. We want to continue that momentum for another four races.”
Texas-based team Mundill, entering their third year in the Star Mazda Championship, is pleased to announce it will expand its team with the recent acquisition of a Pescarolo/Judd LMP1 car from Rollcentre Racing. The Texas-based team is confident that an American Le Mans Series program will compliment the team’s effort in Star Mazda, creating an opportunity for drivers, engineers and mechanics to develop their craft and move up under the same roof.
“My main focus this season will be on the Star Mazda Championship," said Anders Krohn, who will drive one of Mundill's Star Mazda Championship entries in the 2009 season. "But being able to help develop Mundill’s American Le Mans Series program provides me with the ideal situation of moving up inside the same team and working with the same great people. The American Le Mans Series would also allow my sponsors to gain improved exposure.”
The Star Mazda championship, now entering its 19th year as one of the most prolific and successful 'gateway' driver development series, is sanctioned by ALMS and will race as a support event at ALMS, Grand-Am, NASCAR and ARCA events in 2009. But Mundill team co-owners David Mundy and Jeff Hill have always had a particular affinity for the high-tech Le Mans prototypes.
Verizon commits to strong presence in NASCAR Verizon Wireless went to the Daytona 500 last week knowing the speedway was off limits, so it set out to capture the rest of the town.
Sprint’s title sponsorship of NASCAR’s top series doesn’t leave a lot of room for its competitors, but Verizon, which is assuming Alltel’s sponsorship at Penske Racing, was intent on putting its marks in NASCAR for the first time, both around Daytona Beach and through the Fox broadcast.
A dozen branded Smart cars, wrapped like Verizon’s Nationwide Series car, toured Daytona Beach’s hot spots, distributing flyers and carrying street teams into crowded areas to mingle with fans. A popular oceanfront night spot, the Ocean Deck, was rebranded into the V Lounge for four days. There, the goal was to put Verizon products in the hands of consumers to experience mobile content on V-Cast.
IndyCar welcomes 2nd season of unification Let the real first season begin.
IndyCar Series teams will return to the track Feb. 24-25, marking the first time since unification was announced last February that all teams will participate together at an Open Test.
With last year’s unification announcement coming just days before pre-season testing, teams and drivers new to the IndyCar Series spent months playing catch-up. They missed the February Open Test at Homestead-Miami and had a separate Open Test at Sebring, Fla. They went deep into the season acquiring and preparing back-up cars.
Despite the challenges, 2008 was a banner year that included breakthrough wins by rookies Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson.
With a full year of unification in the rearview mirror, 2009 promises to be even better.
Finnish driver Henri Karjalainen has become the latest name to sign up for the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship as he bids to follow in fellow countryman Keke Rosberg’s tracks from F2 into Formula One.
22-year-old Henri has already experienced success in three continents having raced in Europe, Asia and North America during the last four years. He joins Formula Two after finishing runner-up in the 2007 Formula 3 Asia Pacific Championship, taking five wins and five podiums from the 13 races he contested, before progressing into the Formula Atlantic Championship for 2008.
Karjalainen has also competed in GP2, having been invited to replace fellow Finn Markus Niemelä for the Turkish round of the 2007 championship following a string of impressive results in the 2006 Asian Formula Renault Challenge. Henri scored one victory and three podiums for the Asia Racing Team, whilst he also competed in five Formula 3 Asia races during the same season.
FOX makes excuses for lower Daytona 500 TV rating Recent Daytona 500 TV Ratings 2009 9.2/19 Share 16.0 million 2008 10.2/20 Share 17.8 million 2007 10.1/20 Share 17.53 million The rain-shortened Daytona 500 last Sunday (2/15) reaffirmed its status as one of America’s premier annual sports events. Despite losing to rain what are historically its most-watched laps, this year’s average audience of 16.0 million viewers places the Daytona 500 ahead of many of the country’s iconic sports events including the NCAA Final Four (15.4 million viewers), Beijing Olympics (15.2 million), 2008 NBA Finals (14.9 million), Kentucky Derby (14.2 million) and the final round of The Masters (13.1 million) and US Open (12.1 million). The Daytona 500 also maintained its position as the No. 1 motorsports event on television, outdistancing last year’s Indianapolis 500 by 122% (7.2 million).
The 2009 Daytona 500 on Fox on FOX averaged a 9.2/19 household rating/share according to fast national figures released by Nielsen Media Research. This year’s edition of the Great American Race is the second broadcast by FOX since 2001 negatively impacted by the weather. The last rain-shortened Daytona 500 came in 2003, and posted a 9.8/21, with an average audience of 16.8 million viewers. Last year’s full 200 lap, 500 mile race earned a 10.2/20, with 17.8 million viewers. Clearly, Sunday’s rain interruption prevented the Daytona 500 from enjoying the explosive viewership growth it typically experiences over its final laps. The 2009 Daytona 500 was called due to rain with 48 of 200 laps remaining. Last year, viewers arrived in droves to catch the conclusion of the race, lifting the rating for the last half-hour of racing +16% higher than the previous half-hour (12.1 vs. 10.4). On Sunday, the final half-hour grew by just +1% over the previous half-hour (9.8 vs. 9.7). Fox Sports PR
Bahrain testing Tuesday - Kimi on top Once again today at Sakhir, Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari continued with the test session that began at this track last week, alongside BMW Sauber and Toyota.
On Raikkonen's program was evaluation of various set up options on the Ferrari F60, of the Bridgestone tires available and on development of new components.
A problem with the cooling element of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, shortly after 11.30, delayed the program by three hours. Once it was fixed Raikkonen concentrated on long runs interspersed with pit stops. Once again the day ended with practice starts.
Raikkonen was able to complete 107 laps and recorded the fastest lap of the day on a 1:32.102s. Felipe Massa takes over the F60 on Wednesday.
Sakhir Tuesday 1 . K. Raikkonen - Ferrari F60 - 1:32.102 (+ 0.000 ) - 107 laps 2 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF109 - 1:32.230 (+ 0.128 ) - 149 laps 3 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber F1.09 - 1:32.585 (+ 0.483 ) - 104 laps.
Toro Rosso team still for sale Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz says the Toro Rosso F1 team is still up for sale.
Mateschitz announced last year that he was putting his share in the Toro Rosso outfit up for sale, at the time owning 50 per cent of the outfit.
At the end of the year, though, he became the full owner of the traditionally backmarker team after co-owner Gerhard Berger sold him his stake.
And although at the time it looked as if Mateschitz would hold onto the team, who won the 2008 Italian GP with Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull energy drink boss says he still wants to sell Toro Rosso as a result of the F1 regulations.
"If a respectable prospective customer comes along we will talk with it," he said in an interview with Kleine Zeitung. "So, in the medium term, Toro Rosso is still for sale. Because there is no change in the rules that says we are not allowed to build one chassis for two teams." Sporting Life
The new Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S proved particularly rapid during a second round of testing at the Aut¢dromo do Estoril in Portugal last week. During three days of trials, Zytek Motorsport and the Quifel-ASM team worked on the development of the LMP2 version. The result, after over 2,000kms, indicated that, despite the new ACO regulations, the latest Ginetta-Zytek is going to be an even more potent racecar than its class winning predecessor.
Quifel-ASM's regular drivers, Olivier Pla and Miquel Amaral both took turns at the wheel. Observed Olivier, "At the end of the three days I was very happy with the balance of the car. We tried a number of changes and the car is even better than I had expected. Despite the extra drag and decrease in power caused by the new regulations the team was still achieved a faster lap time with the Ginetta-Zytek than the car that it used last year. I am now looking forward to the season and showing everyone its potential."
New name for Surfers race The IRL withdrew from the event in Surfers Paradise after failing to negotiate a new date for the race to better suit the newly merged American open wheel category.
After much speculation, it was announced late last year that the international ‘one make’ open wheel series’, A1 GP, will take the place of the IRL and will share one of Australia’s biggest sporting events with the V8 Supercars.
The first Super GP will be held at Surfers Paradise from October 22-25. The Events headline acts will be the A1 Grand Prix of Australia and the so far un-branded V8 Supercar Challenge and is expect to raise $60 million dollars for the state.
The Queensland Government will inject 11.5 Million dollars (Au) into the race per year.
Jani aims for Swiss Consistency A1 Team Switzerland’s Neel Jani believes that consistency will be the key that could help it successfully defend the A1GP title it won last season.
Last month’s Taupo event was the best weekend Neel Jani and the team had had all campaign, with the victory in the Feature race backed up by second place in the Sprint. The weekend was also a personal first for Jani, with it being the only one of his eight A1GP victories which he has not secured from pole position.
It moved the team into second place in the overall standings, within 13 points of pace-setter Ireland. Jani insists that rounds such as the Malaysian Feature race, where Jani retired on the opening lap after a spin, will need to be kept at a premium because of Ireland’s seemingly unstoppable consistency, with Adam Carroll putting the Celtic Tiger into the top two five times in the last six races.
Renault F1 team to downsize The Renault F1 team has announced that it is beginning a consultation period about job losses at its Enstone base, the BBC reports. The team had been hit this week by the news of title sponsor ING´s withdrawal from the sport and the news comes amid uncertainty around the future of the team.
However, a statement released by the team denied that the job losses were connected with world carmakers economic worries. The team blamed the sport’s recent cost reductions for the proposed cuts, which are likely to affect the aerodynamic department and the test team.
“Unlike other companies in the area this ‘restructuring’ of the team is not a direct consequence of the economic downturn but rather due to the change in the F1 Regulations.
“In fact, the jobs potentially made redundant are in the test team and in the aerodynamic departments, which were both affected by the new rules”.
Audi starts the 2009 DTM season at the Hockenheimring on 17 May with something new: For the first time there is not a single change to the driving squad compared to the previous year.
"2008 was the most successful year in the motorsport history of AUDI AG," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "The drivers were also a major factor in this, which is why we saw no reason to change anything on our proven driver squad."
As in 2007 and 2008, Mattias Ekström (Sweden), Tom Kristensen (Denmark), Timo Scheider (Germany) and Martin Tomczyk (Germany) will drive the four latest generation Audi A4 DTM cars, which are once again fielded by Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline.
Good weather at last in Bahrain (GMM) After sandstorms ruined last week's running in the island Kingdom, the three teams in Bahrain were relieved to find perfect conditions on Monday as a second consecutive test kicked off.
Christian Klien, the fastest of the trio in the BMW-Sauber, as well as Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Jarno Trulli did much more than 100 laps apiece, and were separated on the final timesheet by just half a second.
"It was a very intense day," said Raikkonen. "We tried to make up the time we lost last week."
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told the Italian newspaper La Stampa: "Fortunately the sandstorms are over."
Letter invites angry F1 drivers to IndyCar (GMM) With a tongue-in-cheek "open letter", America's IndyCar series has offered to house formula one drivers who do not want to pay the FIA's high Superlicense fees.
In a response to the disgruntled Grand Prix Drivers' Association's (GPDA) letter of last week, FIA president Max Mosley told F1's stars that they should switch to more affordable categories if they believe their current mandatory credentials are too expensive.
In the GPDA letter, the F1 drivers compared the cost of reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton's 2009 license - $270,000 (USD) - with the flat $4000 fee per license charged by NASCAR.
"Please note that an IndyCar Series license fee is only $1,000 -- a bargain that includes your/three guest hard cards for venue admittance, participant accident medical insurance coverage and other benefits," the fictitious open letter signed by "Indy Racing League management" and posted on indycar.com read.
"There are no closing fees, user fees, points fees or even landing fees for your aircraft," it added.
Travis Pastrana guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Travis Pastrana will be a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Tuesday night, February 17. The Tonight Show airs on NBC at 11:35 pm - 12:35 am in most time zones. Please check your local listings for your time zone.
Matt Kenseth to be guest on Live with Regis and Kelly showUPDATE A reminder that this show will be aired today.
02/16/09 Matt Kenseth, winner of the 2009 Daytona 500, will be a guest on the "Live with Regis and Kelly" show on Tuesday, February 17. The show airs at 9:00 am - 10:00 am in most time zones. The network varies. Please check your local listings for your time zone.
Fisichella MSI expands into EuroF3 Fisichella Motor Sport International will undoubtedly become the world's most diverse and far-reaching motor racing team in 2009 after committing to its fifth international championship with the addition of Euroseries 3000 to its repertoire.
The move sees FMSI returning to its roots, as its first major championship successes took place in the Italian and European Formula 3000 categories. FMSI will also compete in 2009 in the GP2 Series, GP2 Asia, Formula BMW Europe and Superleague Formula.
In addition to confirming its Euroseries 3000 entry for 2009, FMSI is also pleased to confirm one of its drivers for the program will be Rodolfo Gonzalez, who is currently competing in the GP2 Asia Series for the Italian squad.
Fisichella Motor Sport first raced as a team in the Italian F3000 series in 2005 and made an instant impact, with its two drivers dominating the championship from the very first race. With five race wins and a further three podiums, the team's consistent performance and reliability led to FMS winning the drivers' and team championships in its first season of competition.
Las Vegas Strip to host NASCAR Hauler Parade In 2008, tens of thousands of people lined the Las Vegas Strip to watch the NASCAR team haulers parade down one of the country's most famous streets. Due to the overwhelming enthusiasm for last year's parade, the haulers are coming back this year.
The 2009 edition of the NASCAR Hauler Parade will begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26. The colorful NASCAR team haulers, transporting the Sprint Cup race cars that will compete later that week in the Shelby 427, will parade north on the Strip among the world's most well-known hotels and casinos.
"During the week of the NASCAR events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, this entire town becomes NASCAR crazy," said Chris Powell, LVMS general manager. "The response from last year's parade was amazing.
San Francisco race fans can meet Daytona 500 winner
Race fans are invited to Willie Mays Plaza at AT&T Park in San Francisco this Wednesday, Feb. 18, for a midday rally with Matt Kenseth, the winner of the 2009 Daytona 500.
Kenseth, who won Sunday's Great American Race, will come to San Francisco to meet with race fans, as well as take a Victory Tour Through the Streets of San Francisco, all courtesy of Infineon Raceway and NASCAR.
The appearance marks the Official Countdown to the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at Infineon Raceway, June 19-21 (Father’s Day weekend).
"When the checkered flag drops in Daytona it’s always the signal for our team that NASCAR will soon be headed for Sonoma," said Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway. “We’re looking forward to greeting Matt and getting a little preview of our race in June.”
Daytona proves Earnhardt Jr. a wanker Dale Earnhardt Jr. is NASCAR's most popular driver by far. In terms of performance on the track in recent years, and especially at this year's Daytona 500, he, clearly, is also the sport's most overrated driver [outside of IndyCar's Danica Patrick.]
The Earnhardt name is iconic in NASCAR circles. Face it, the late, great Dale Sr. is a god to auto racing fans. It is no wonder Junior is celebrity. But, how much of it is by name? Many of those cheering faces in the crowd might be making the mistake of believing the son is a chip off the old man's block.
Dale Junior has still yet to prove that he possess the Earnhardt racing gene. Amid high expectations, currently, he does not rank among Sprint Cup's best drivers.
So far, his best year was in 2004 where he won six races and finished fifth in the final point standings. Since then, NASCAR's most popular driver has won 3 times over a total of 145 races. This is his second year as a member of the best team in racing, Hendrick Motorsports, where three time defending champion Jimmie Johnson, four time champ Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin are his teammates. Junior certainly is not the best driver in the Hendrick stable. Would he rank four out four on his own team? More at Sporting News
For quite some time, he has had trouble running down Jimmie Johnson. He has been behind the older Busch brother for a while, and now the younger one has passed him too. Even Greg Biffle has been the more accomplished driver in recent seasons.
So, yes, you could say Dale Earnhardt Jr. is struggling to keep pace. Which would be fine if it was just a driver here or a driver there who had gotten the better of Junior. Something like that could be explained. It could be justified.
The TRG team — that stands for The Racers Group — led by owner Kevin Buckler, whose car, driven by Mike Wallace, missed the Daytona 500 by one position. That one position cost $500,000, Buckler said. "Last place in the Daytona 500 pays $250,000, and I had a sponsor who was ready to come aboard for the race, if we made it, for another $250,000. So it hurt."
But Buckler is entered in the California race next week, and he plans to attempt the next four races with driver David Gilliland, who was the odd man out in the Yates organization this year. Orlando Sentinel
Blackberry executive to race in Long Beach Doug Fregin is going racing!
The 49-year-old Fregin, co-founder and retired Vice President of Operations for Research in Motion, makers of the popular Blackberry communication devices, had the top bid of $55,250 in a week-long online auction to race against a field of stars from TV, movies and the sports world in the 33rd Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.
The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is one of six races, including the debut of the IndyCar Series, to be part of the 35th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend April 16-19.
All proceeds from Fregin's winning bid will go to the Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach which, since its inception, has contributed more than $2 million to a wide cross-section of charitable organizations throughout the greater Long Beach area.
Conquest Racing Set to Test at Homestead Conquest Racing is gearing up to go testing next week at the IndyCar Series pre-season test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The crew has been hard at work over the last few months working on developments for the 2009 season and is anxious to get back to the racetrack in order to measure their progress.
With unification happening at such the last minute a year ago and a 2008 schedule that was pretty much non-stop, the off-season was welcomed by all. The crew and engineering staff were able to take the time to look back in detail at the last season in order to see what worked, what didn’t work and what needed improvement.
Already showing a higher performance level at the last few races of the season, the team is extra motivated heading into this year after all the work that has been done over the winter months.
“We learned a lot over the course of 2008 and we’ve been pretty busy working on developments that will enhance the team’s performance in 2009,” said team owner Eric Bachelart. “Now we’re looking forward to evaluating them on track as we continue to prepare for the start of the season in less than two months.”
Renault statement regarding ING's withdrawal The ING Renault F1 Team understands completely ING’s decision not to extend its Formula One sponsorship beyond the 2009 season.
“During the past three years, the Team and ING have enjoyed a rewarding and successful relationship,” commented Renault F1 Team Managing Director, Flavio Briatore. “ING has been an enthusiastic and supportive partner for the Renault F1 Team in all respects,” he continued. “They have been a true success story and have become a brand that is recognized worldwide thanks to an innovative and proactive sponsorship program with our Team and Formula One.”
“However,” he concluded, “we have been aware for quite some time that the world’s current financial climate was calling for a restructuring of our sport and with FOTA we have moved in that direction. Drastic cost reductions have been on FOTA’s agenda as one of the first priorities and with the ongoing program of measures we are confident we can guarantee a solid future for our team and for Formula One.”
[Editor's Note: Aside from the difficulty of finding a replacement title sponsor in such a difficult economy, Renault has a history of turning up in F1, winning and then quitting. Team leader Flavio Briatore has already admitted he only intends to stay in the sport until the end of 2010. And Fernando Alonso is widely believed to be defecting to Ferrari as soon as one of their regular drivers leaves or is sacked. The prospect of having to replace him and Briatore, compounded by their financial pressures, could mean Renault have more reasons to leave F1 than to stay.]
Klien tops test times in Bahrain Monday Testing resumed today at the Bahrain International Circuit in the middle of the desert. BMW Sauber F1 Team test driver Christian Klien as the fastest man on track. He was faster than Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Toyota's Jarno Trulli. Testing will continue tomorrow.
Results Pos. Driver Team Time Laps 1. Klien BMW-Sauber 1:32.544 131 2. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:32.804 116 3. Trulli Toyota 1:33.064 141
Motorsports This Week on ESPN NASCAR Nationwide Series Season from California on ESPN2
After starting the 2009 season at Daytona, the NASCAR Nationwide Series continues on the other side of the country this weekend with a 300-mile event at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Live, flag-to-flag coverage presented by GoDaddy.com airs Saturday, Feb. 21, beginning at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD with NASCAR Countdown. ESPN2 will be the home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season, with selected races on ESPN and ABC.
Dr. Jerry Punch will be the lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN2’s coverage, joined in the booth for analysis by 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett, one of the founding drivers of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and two-time Cup Series champion crew chief Andy Petree. Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Shannon Spake and Vince Welch will report from the pits, while two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Tim Brewer will be in the ESPN Craftsman Tech Garage.
Allen Bestwick will host NASCAR Countdown with analysis by 1989 NASCAR Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty, a winning team owner in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, in the ESPN pit studio.
Evernham, Craven, LaJoie on NASCAR Now Monday Roundtable Discussion
The Monday, Feb. 23, edition of NASCAR Now, ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information show, at 5 p.m. ET will feature host Allen Bestwick leading a roundtable discussion of the latest NASCAR news and races. Panel members will include ESPN NASCAR analysts Ray Evernham, Ricky Craven and Randy LaJoie.
Guy Smith to drive new Zytek Former Le Mans 24 Hour race winner Guy Smith will again compete in the legendary 24 Hour race this year (13-14 June).
Smith, aged 34 from Driffield, races for the Portuguese Quifel-ASM team for a second consecutive year at Le Mans but driving a brand new Ginetta-Zytek 09S LM P2 class sportscar.
2003 Le Mans winner Guy commented: “I’m delighted to be going back to Le Mans with the ASM team.
“I’ll drive a new Zytek which has already proven to be competitive and should give me a great chance of winning the LMP2 class. You cannot underestimate the challenge of the 24 Hour race but I know what it takes to win there and I’m confident that with the package we have we’ll be in good shape.”
Ford sees 4-cylinder future with turbocharging Ford plans to double its 4-cylinder engine volume and offer a 4-cylinder option for every car and crossover vehicle by 2013. "We're all about the smaller displacement as a way to drive significant fuel economy without sacrificing performance," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of global product development. The plan relies on Ford’s EcoBoost engine technology, which combines turbocharging and gasoline direct injection to improve fuel efficiency and combustion, and allows a smaller engine to generate horsepower comparable to a larger conventional engine. Kuzak said it’s conceivable that Ford will even offer a 4-cylinder with EcoBoost on the F-150 pickup. See full story on Ford’s four-cylinder future.
Ecclestone pledges to save Honda F1 team The CEO of Formula One Management (FOM) Bernie Ecclestone has said he will do everything in his power to ensure a re-named Honda team will be able to compete in this year’s Formula One Championship.
The Japanese manufacturer pulled out of the sport in December last year. Team principal Ross Brawn and chief executive Nick Fry are looking for new owners, backers or a management buyout.
“We've been talking to them (the management), whatever happens we'd like to see the Formula One team stay in business,” Ecclestone told the Times Online.
Honda spent an estimated £210 million in a 2008 season where they scored just 14 points from 18 races and finished ninth overall.
Ecclestone however refused to comment on whether a direct financial commitment would be made by the FOM.
As AutoRacing1.com has told you repeatedly, the electric car (with electric recharge from pollution-free nuclear power plants) is the future and the design of new electric cars is going on worldwide as we speak. The internal combustion engine will eventually become a dinosaur. Here Swiss automotive visionary Frank M. Rinderknecht presents the Rinspeed iChange, the world's first car whose body adapts to the number of passengers on board. The streamlined, lightweight zero-emission concept car is powered by a 150kW electric engine, capable of propelling the car to a top speed of 220 km/h. The energy for the electric motor comes from lithium-ion batteries that are available in two different stack configurations for short- and long-distance driving.
SCCA benefits from McLaren-Mercedes $100-million fine Remember the $100-million fine the FIA imposed on the McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team in 2007 for the team's involvement in the Ferrari spy scandal? Of that money, $50,000 will go to the Sports Car Club of America's Club Racing program, as part of a payout from the FIA's recently developed Motor Sport Safety Development Fund. The SCCA will use the grant money to improve its track approval process, and the organization now seeks candidates to take part in a new track safety program.
With the grant, SCCA plans to expand its pool of track reviewers, who are needed to approve circuit changes that go beyond the scope of a division's executive steward. The training program will include formal classroom training as well as field experience with SCCA track reviewers and inspectors. By increasing the number of qualified personnel, the track approval process will become quicker and more efficient, the SCCA said.
Spoiled brat Dale Earnhardt Jr. ruins a great race
Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn't half the driver his late great father was and he has ridden his father's coattails to become the highest paid NASCAR driver
The most deserving driver did not win the Daytona 500 Sunday.
Junior should be ashamed of himself for one of most blatant cases of reckless driving in recent Daytona 500 history. And so, too, should NASCAR officials for not having the guts to hammer Earnhardt with a stiff penalty.
Remember when the NBA used to have the Jordan Rules? It looks like NASCAR now has its version of the Junior Rules.
Former driver and Fox broadcaster Darrell Waltrip probably spoke for the NASCAR establishment when he said, "I give Junior the benefit of the doubt."
Doesn't Junior always get the benefit of the doubt?
Daytona 500 Recap Video NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series began its season with a soldout Daytona 500. Below is the race recap and words from first-time winners of the Great American Race Matt Kenseth and Jack Roush.
ING to pull out of F1 at end of 2009 (GMM) The Dutch bank ING on Monday announced that it will end its formula one sponsorship activities at the end of 2009.
It was already clear that Renault's embattled title sponsor was reviewing the F1 program - which also includes trackside advertising and naming sponsorship of grands prix - because of the global financial crisis.
The Dutch government recently moved to safeguard ING Group, who had posted a second consecutive multi-billion dollar quarterly loss and decided to cut F1 spending by 40 per cent this year.
The three-year title sponsorship of Renault was due to expire at the end of this year. A statement said ING has decided "not to renew" the deal and therefore will "end its presence in F1" beyond 2009.
"ING has enjoyed the relationship with Renault F1 and will continue to work closely with the team during the final year of the partnership," the statement added.
US team eyes Danica Patrick for F1 seat (GMM) Ken Anderson, one of the principals behind the prospective F1 team USF1, has confirmed interest in signing Danica Patrick.
Patrick, the 26-year-old female star of America's open wheeler series IndyCar, is "great", Anderson said in an interview with the Associated Press.
"She gets a lot of press," he added. "(Indianapolis Motor Speedway president) Tony George would probably be pretty mad with me if I took her out of the IRL but we'll see.
"I don't know if it's something she wants to do. We'd certainly love to test her and go from there."
The American news agency also revealed more details about USF1's 2010 plans, to be officially launched next week.
The annual budget, for example, will be around 50m euros, there will be at least 100 staff, and American names Scott Speed, Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden were mentioned as other candidates for a seat.
Anderson also confirmed reports that USF1 is considering setting up a European base at the Spanish headquarters of the Le Mans team Epilson Euskadi.
Quotes of the week "It's just a Goodyear right-rear tire. So it's the same thing everybody has been talking about all week. It's the same stuff that we always talk about every year -- the failures that Goodyear has. I think that's part of their marketing campaign. The more we talk about it, the more press they get. I think they forget that it's supposed to be in a good way, not a bad way. Don’t get them [Goodyear officials] anywhere near me. Don’t bring them anywhere close; don’t let them come close. I don’t want anything to do with them. I'm ticked right now. I'm not happy. I'm not cordial. I'm not nice. I'm not anything right now and I shouldn't be. If it was because two guys wrecked and it was a driver's mistake that's one thing. But a manufacturer that has the sole deal here; they don't have any competition and they can't give us something to keep us from having problems like this. So I don't know. I'm just amazed at how much everybody kisses their (rear ends) right now. I'm just tired of talking about them. Tired of them being an issue. And us talking about them right now isn't going to change anything because it falls on deaf ears and that won't change.” Tony Stewart, NASCAR driver, Stewart-Haas Racing, reacting to Stu Grant, director of worldwide racing, Goodyear, offering to explain Goodyear's exploding tire issues.
"I won't even watch it [Daytona 500] on TV, that's what it's like. It's crap is what it's like." Petty also commented about Reed Sorenson posting the fastest time during Saturday's practice while driving the iconic No. 43 Dodge that Richard Petty drove to seven championships, "It means nothing to me. Let's be real honest. There's Richard Petty Motorsports or whatever you want to call it. But there is no Petty Enterprises." Kyle Petty, NASCAR driver, who has run the season-opening Daytona 500 race more than 25 times, but was usually a backmarker, lost his job when Petty Enterprises merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports and was rebranded Richard Petty Motorsports
"It's going to be really wet out here, because I'm crying like a baby. I tell you what, after last year, winning a race means a lot to me. I've had a lot of great opportunities in my life -- from my family getting me in racing and really ... all the sponsors that we have that have stuck by us and made this happen in an up-and-down economy. Man, I don't know. Winning the Daytona 500 is definitely a dream moment. It's just an unbelievable feeling." Matt Kenseth, NASCAR driver, Roush Fenway Racing, after winning the rain shortened Daytona 500
Matt Hawkins: killed in freak accident Matt Hawkins, one of the brightest young stars of the short track world, has passed away at the age of 21. Hawkins lost his life after an incident involving an accidental gun discharge Friday night in Georgia. On the track, Hawkins had built up an amazing resume. He won in his first career starts in both the ARCA RE/MAX Series and USAR Pro Cup Series - a seemingly-impossible accomplishment that may never be matched. He also won numerous Pro Late Model races in the Southeast and finished in the top three of the Snowball Derby for the last two seasons. 51 Sports
Foyt on open wheel drivers in NASCAR A.J. Foyt was a pretty good open-wheel driver (four Indy 500 wins) and he wasn't a bad stock-car racer either.
So what did he make of all those top-notch open-wheel drivers who came into the sport last year and struggled or failed?
"Whoever said they were good open wheel drivers?" Foyt said yesterday. "Top open wheel drivers came over here and did pretty damn good. Look back at Jeff Gordon, he was pretty good in open wheel, Tony Stewart was pretty good in open wheel, Ryan Newman was pretty good in open wheel. So you can name quite a few of them. You are going to have some of them that was never that good in open wheel I feel, you have to call a spade a spade, but your top open wheel guys did pretty decent over here. I probably didn’t give you the answer you wanted to know, but I am going to tell you what I think."
Actually, A.J., that's exactly what we wanted to hear. We journalists do love controversy.
Foyt went on to say it's not something you can really learn.
"I think that is something that you are born with," Foyt said. "...I was one of the fortunate ones that could cross back and forth and it really didn’t make that much difference to me. ... I think that’s something you are born with and gifted with, I don’t think that is something you can train yourself or make yourself do. I think it has to fall automatic. When it falls automatic, you are going to be very successful." Orlando Sentinel
Matt Kenseth to be guest on Late Show with David Letterman Matt Kenseth, winner of the 2009 Daytona 500, will be a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday night, February 16. The Late Show is aired at 11:30 pm - 12:30 am ET/PT on CBS.
What happened that took you out of the race? "I'm not sure. Some guys having some bad days and not doing their best out there. Made their bad day our bad day and we had a problem. It's just a shame, that M&M's Toyota was so, so strong today and led all those laps and was running up front. I was just playing with my teammate up there and having a great time. It was just unfortunate that two guys got together that were a lap down and were fighting over nothing."
What did you see in the accident? "One guy that had problems all day on pit road [Earnhardt Jr.] made his problems our problems and then our problems a big problem. It was just unfortunate with that and it was really uncalled for to have two lapped cars to be racing each other and bumping each other like that. You'll have that I guess in big time auto racing."
How strong was your car before the accident? "I think we were the best car out there. Us, the 24 (Jeff Gordon) was strong, the 11 (Denny Hamlin) was strong, a couple other guys that we were battling with, but felt like our car was the car to beat. We were awfully good and just running out front and biding our time. I don't think we fell worse than sixth or fifth the whole time out there. Just a really sad feeling."
How frustrated are you that two lapped cars caused the accident? "It is what it is -- I'm not going to change anything now. It's unfortunate that a guy that's messed up his whole day on pit road and screwed up that he has to make our day worse. It wasn't our problem that he was a lap down and fighting with another lapped car -- I don't know even what they were fighting for because the outside lane was coming. Those cars just should have sat there and waited and got back in line when they could."
How surprised are you that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was involved in the accident? "I'm not really very surprised. It doesn't matter -- it could be anybody out here."
Is it hard to ease back in with the 'yellow line rule'? "It's not very difficult to ease back in, you just role out of the throttle and fall back in line." [Basically saying Earnhardt is a wanker.]
How big of a mistake was that for the other drivers? "It looked pretty big to me -- it cost the winning car the chance to win the race."
How confident are you that you were going to win the race? "100 percent."
Legendary Car Owner Raymond Parks Attends 51st Daytona 500
NASCAR President Mike Helton (left) and NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France (right) flank Raymond Parks, the first owner to win a championship in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Over half a century after his cars and drivers raced their way into history, former NASCAR team owner Raymond Parks returned to the track for Sunday's 51st Daytona 500.
Parks, who celebrates his 95th birthday in 2009, attended the pre-race drivers meeting. He also participated in several photos with NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and NASCAR President Mike Helton, plus another photo with one of his historic race cars – a black 1939 Ford Coupe on display in Daytona International Speedway's Sprint FANZONE.
A Dawson County, Georgia native, Parks is one of stock-car racing's earliest – and most successful – team owners. NASCAR founder Bill France drove for him and his cars were considered among the best of their time.
"Raymond Parks is one of the nicest men the sport has ever known," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president for corporate communications. "He's a true southern gentleman, and he supported the sport long before NASCAR was a household word."
Funded by successful business and real estate ventures in Atlanta, Park began his career as a stock-car owner in 1938 with drivers Lloyd Seay and Roy Hall.
His pairing with another Atlantan, mechanic Red Vogt, produced equipment good enough to dominate the sport throughout much of the 1940s. Driver Red Byron won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title in 1949 in a Parks-owned car.
NASCAR reverses in-race penalties Apparently NASCAR's electronic monitoring of pit road speeds isn't any more of an error-free solution than the use of stopwatches. During a round of pit stops during the second caution of Friday night's Camping World Truck Series opener at Daytona International Speedway, three drivers were flagged for speeding - Kyle Busch, Timothy Peters and Tayler Malsam - and each served their penalty. But before the race restarted, NASCAR officials declared over the radio that Busch and Peters' penalties were rescinded due to an error, although Busch didn't get the news in time to reclaim his original position in the lineup before the penalty. Over his team radio, Busch was livid over NASCAR's uncertainty. The mistake marks the first time NASCAR has rescinded a speeding penalty since it instituted electronic pit road speed monitoring in 2005. The new system was designed and promoted as being "cut and dried," utilizing computers that easily highlight offenders in red. Charlotte Observer
Biofuels May Do More Harm Than Good The use of crop-based biofuels could speed up rather than slow down global warming by fueling the destruction of rainforests, scientists warned Saturday.
Once heralded as the answer to oil, biofuels have become increasingly controversial because of their impact on food prices and the amount of energy it takes to produce them.
They could also be responsible for pumping far more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than they could possibly save as a replacement for fossil fuels, according to a study released Saturday.
"If we run our cars on biofuels produced in the tropics, chances will be good that we are effectively burning rainforests in our gas tanks," warned Holly Gibbs, of Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment.
Gibbs studied satellite photos of the tropics from 1980 to 2000 and found that half of new cropland came from intact rainforests and another 30 percent from disturbed forests.
"When trees are cut down to make room for new farmland, they are usually burned, sending their stored carbon to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide," Gibbs said.
For high-yield crops like sugar cane it would take 40 to 120 years to pay back this carbon debt.
For lower yield crops like corn or soybeans it would take 300 to 1,500 years, she told reporters at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
"Biofuels have caused alarm because of how quickly production has been growing: Global ethanol production increased by four times and biodiesel by 10 times between 2000 and 2007," Gibbs said.
"Moreover, agricultural subsidies in Indonesia and in the United States are providing added incentives to increase production of these crops."
Gibbs estimates that anywhere from a third to two thirds of recent deforestation could be as a result of the increased demand for biofuels, but said an increased demand for food and feed also play a major role.
What is certain is that much of the expansion of cropland in response to growing demand and rising prices is occurring in the tropics where there is an abundance of arable land and climates ideal for growing biofuel crops like sugar cane, soy and oil palm. More at Newsmax
Tony Stewart pissed about Goodyear's exploding tiresUPDATE #2 Ryan Newman refused to believe his tire had been punctured.
"I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it for one minute," Newman said after being told of Grant’s explanation. “I know what a puncture feels like and this didn’t fell like that. I started to feel it come apart.”
Grant said that he would talk to Stewart to try and explain the situation to him personally, but Stewart may not be in a forgiving mood should Goodyear officials try to meet with him. [Yeah right, like the puncture did not happen from all the debris from the wreck that happened after the tire exploded.]
“Don’t get them anywhere near me,” Stewart said while his crew prepared the backup cars behind him. “Don’t bring them anywhere close; don’t let them come close. I don’t want anything to do with them.”
02/15/09 The right-rear tire that blew on Ryan Newman's car during practice and caused a wreck that took out his teammate, Tony Stewart, as well was the result of a puncture and not a shoddy tire, a Goodyear official said.
"At this point the evidence would be a classic case of a punctured tire," said Stu Grant, general manager of worldwide racing for Goodyear. "You can see a clear puncture mark through the tread and the belt package."
Stewart, however, is beyond angry at the company.
"I'm ticked right now. I'm not happy. I'm not cordial. I'm not nice. I'm not anything right now and I shouldn't be," he said. "If it was because two guys wrecked and it was a driver's mistake that's one thing," he said. "But a manufacturer that has the sole deal here; they don't have any competition and they can't give us something to keep us from having problems like this. So I don't know. I'm just amazed at how much everybody kisses their (rear ends) right now. I'm just tired of talking about them," he said. "Tired of them being an issue. And us talking about them right now isn't going to change anything because it falls on deaf ears and that won't change."
Grant said he understood Stewart's frustrations and that he planned to talk to him about the matter.
"Tony is a passionate race driver and he is extremely frustrated right now," Grant said. "And I think that's what you hear in his comments."
Tony Stewart has had it with Goodyear's exploding tires
02/14/09 A relatively and unusually calm Speedweeks exploded in controversy Saturday at the very moment Ryan Newman's right-rear tire did the same, resulting in an accident that forced both Newman and his owner/driver teammate Tony Stewart into backup cars for Sunday's Daytona 500.
“It's the same stuff that we always talk about every year -- the failures that Goodyear has.” Stewart, owner of Newman's No. 39 Chevrolet as well as his own No. 14 Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing, was livid with Goodyear for what he claims are faulty tires that have been issued to Sprint Cup teams for the season-opening race. It wasn't the first time Stewart has blasted Goodyear for bringing bad tires to a race, as he did so last year at events in Atlanta and Indianapolis.
But this time, as he experienced his first tire blowout and blowup as a car owner, Stewart seemed even hotter than usual.
"It's just a Goodyear right-rear tire," Stewart said. "So it's the same thing everybody has been talking about all week. It's the same stuff that we always talk about every year -- the failures that Goodyear has. I think that's part of their marketing campaign. The more we talk about it, the more press they get. I think they forget that it's supposed to be in a good way, not a bad way." More at NASCAR.com
Rosberg calls for minimum weight for drivers German Formula One driver Nico Rosberg has called for a minimum weight for Grand Prix drivers. In an report by Der Spiegel news magazine made available ahead of Monday's publication, the Williams driver said that if a pilot did not weigh enough, weights should be placed in the car.
Several drivers are said to have lost a considerable amount of weight since last season to compensate for the heavier weight of their cars which has been brought about by new regulations.
The 23-year-old Rosberg admitted that he too "looked very carefully at his body over the winter."
He said that there was a huge amount of pressure on the drivers and that some teams even called on their drivers to lose weight. "It should not be that we start looking like ski-jumpers or jockeys."
Rosberg said that smaller drivers like Felipe Massa had an advantage over their bigger rivals and that there should be a minimum weight for the drivers with their seats.
Leffler penalized for rough driving NASCAR imposed a five-lap penalty on Jason Leffler in Saturday's Nationwide Series race for rough driving in turning Steve Wallace and triggering a wreck that collected Scott Lagasse and Justin Allgaier as well. Leffler's crew in the No. 38 Toyota pleaded their case with NASCAR but to no avail.
"I never had a problem with Jason. I don't know what happened," Wallace said. "What goes around comes around."
[Editor's Note: Amazing how NASCAR can impose penalties after a race that results in revised race finishing order, yet if the winner cheats with an illegal car NASCAR lets the cheater keep the win and imposes some other sort of penalty, usually loss of points, loss of money and even a suspension of the Crew Chief. If we are a team that wants a Daytona 500 win to our credit we're going to cheat to high heaven, take the win, pay our penalty, and be forever listed as the winner of the 2009 Daytona 500. Welcome to NASCAR.]
JGR signs young talent Joe Gibbs Racing announced Friday it has signed 15-year-old Darrell Wallace Jr. to its driver development program, joining 17-year-old Matt DiBenedetto, whose signing was announced last week.
Wallace was last year's top rookie in the United Auto Racing Association, finishing sixth overall in the points and becoming the youngest driver to win a race at Franklin County Speedway, his first victory in Late Models. He is scheduled to return to the UARA circuit this year.
"We started a diversity program with Reggie White several years ago and we have had great success assisting talented young drivers, including Aric Almirola and Chris Bristol, as well as Marc Davis, who we continue to support," said J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR. "It is going to be great watching Darrell and Matt DiBenedetto grow in their development together."
Liuzzi wins but Melandri stars MotoGP star Marco Melandri came within four laps of a shock Speedcar Series victory under the lights at Losail in Qatar on Saturday night, but a mechanical failure took him out, handing the victory to Vitantonio Liuzzi, who headed an Italian 1-2-3.
Melandri, who started only his second-ever car race from pole position, rocketed away at the start and built up a 7.5sec lead by lap nine, which was when Liuzzi passed Thomas Biagi for second place.
Liuzzi got the hammer down, and ate into Melandri's lead initially, but the Italian bike racing star had stabilized the gap, and was on course for a major shock victory, until his car suddenly slowed on lap 15.
"I was concentrating on not making any mistakes, but my gear changes were becoming more difficult, which didn't make it easy," said Melandri. "Then, all of a sudden, there were no more gears and I was out."
Shelmerdine mows down jackmanUPDATE A Mayfield Motorsports spokesperson said jackman Kyle Roland was released from Halifax Medical Center on Friday after sustaining injuries in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway.
Kyle Roland is attended to by medics
CIA Stock Photo
02/12/09 Entering the pits during his 150-mile Gatorade Duel qualifying race Thursday, Kirk Shelmerdine ran into jackman Kyle Roland, who was taken to Halifax Medical Center with an injury.
Shelmerdine continued to race and the crew – made up of members of Mayfield Motorsports and Furniture Row Racing – continued to work the remainder of the event.
Roland, who was hit by the center of the front fender of Shelmerdine's car and then seemed to roll on the hood before falling to the ground, was conscious and moving his legs while on the ground on pit road. He is a member of Mayfield’s new team.
“I’m pretty much worried about not hitting the other race cars,” said Shelmerdine, who made his name as a championship crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Sr. “The guys with feet have got to worry about not getting run over. That’s the way they told me when I was a crew guy.
“I hate that it happened. I hope he’s not badly hurt, and I’m going to go check on him. That’s a hard fall, especially carrying that weight.”
Mayfield Motorsports crew chief Tony Furr said he believed it was a shoulder injury.
“I think there’s something wrong with his shoulder,” Furr said. “He did take a hard fall. Hopefully he’s OK. … I haven’t had a chance to check on him myself.” SceneDaily
Daytona still predicting sellout for the 500UPDATE #3 Daytona International Speedway has no more of its 159,000 grandstand seats available for the Daytona 500 on Sunday, according to a track news release.
About 5,600 tickets had been discounted from $99 to $55, and the track decreased the capacity from 168,000 to 159,000 when it replaced bleacher sections in the grandstands with chair back seats with arm rests.
“NASCAR fans remain the most loyal and passionate in sports and we’re proud to host a full house for this year’s Daytona 500,” Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig said. “These are tough and challenging times but the fans have responded overwhelmingly. We appreciate their support and look forward to hosting another history-making event.”
Infield tickets, at $100 apiece, are still available. Parking in the infield is $50.
02/14/09 It is the day before the Daytona 500 and the race still is not a sellout. Track officials say the number of available grandstand seats is now down the hundreds. If you want to get a Daytona 500 ticket at this point, your best bet is to head to the track ticket office inside The Daytona 500 Experience. An infield ticket for Sunday's race is a flat $100 and available at the tunnel gates. Infield car parking is $50, as space permits.
02/12/09 There are fewer than 1,000 seats available for the Daytona 500, track president Robin Braig said Wednesday afternoon.
Braig said if the race sells out, he would still put an asterisk by it because 5,600 tickets that sell for $99 had been lowered to $55.
“We did drop ticket prices, and I don’t want to stand here and have the long arm of [the late former NASCAR Chairman] Bill [France] Jr. reach down and smack me upside the head and say, ‘You really didn’t sell that thing out,’” Braig said.
The track capacity is 159,000. It used to be 168,000, but the track eliminated approximately 9,000 seats when it replaced bleacher seating on the frontstretch with seats that included armrests.
Many of the remaining Daytona 500 tickets available are high-end seats, including $380 tickets in the Nextel Tower on the frontstretch, which are some of the best seats.
“For the first time ever, the tickets we have left are the best seats,” Braig said. “It’s usually just the opposite, the worst seats go last. We have those [good ones] available and that’s a sign of the economy that people can’t afford the high-end seats.” Scenedaily.com [Editor's Note: Another sellout and the cheapskates who own the track (ISC) cannot afford to resurface the bumpy track before 2012]
02/09/09 Much like the people who try to sell knives and exercise equipment on television during the middle of the night, promoters are offering all-you-can-eat deals, free parking and discounted tickets for a lot of main events - including the Daytona 500.
"We have only 10,000 or 15,000 [tickets] to go - only is an operative word - before we're sold out," Daytona president Robin Braig said. "We were sold out in October of last year at this time. We understand we're behind."
So to make up the difference, Daytona slashed the price of some backstretch seats from $99 to $55. The speedway also is offering a $15 ticket for the Gatorade Duel qualifying races on Feb. 12, the Camping World Truck Series race on Feb. 13 and the Nationwide Series race on Feb. 14 to allow fans to eat all the hamburgers, hot dogs and chips they want.
Sorenson tops final practice times for 500 Richard Petty Motorsports driver Reed Sorenson led the final NASCAR Sprint Cup practice for the Daytona 500 in a session marred by the crashed of Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman. Sorenson, driving the No. 43 Dodge, turned a fast lap of 191.575 mph. Roush Fenway Racing’s Matt Kenseth was second at 191.042, with Penske Racing’s Kurt Busch third at 190.815.
The right-rear Goodyear tire on Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet exploded, and Stewart slammed into him. Both drivers were forced to backup cars.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth, with Roush Fenway’s Greg Biffle fifth. Sixth through 10th were David Ragan (Roush Fenway), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick Motorsports), Joey Logano (Joe Gibbs Racing), Jeff Gordon (Hendrick) and Brian Vickers (Red Bull Racing).
NASCAR HotPass is FREE in 2009 Feel every thunderous turn of the 2009 Sprint Cup Series with 4 driver channels, compliments of DIRECTV: * Each Driver Channel focuses on one driver throughout the race * See the network broadcast and video from the driver's in-car camera on one screen * Listen to the broadcast network audio and the driver's team audio. NASCAR HotPass has been reformatted for 2009, but still has many of the same features as previous seasons. Some features have changed and are no longer available. DIRECTV.com
NASCAR evaluating new restart ruleUPDATE NASCAR is evaluating the 50-foot distance announced at the Budweiser Shootout as the new standard for the leader to restart an event. It could decrease from track to track based on driver input, officials said. Under the new rule, the leader has between the double-red line 50 feet from the start-finish line and single-red line at the start-finish line to start the race. Otherwise, the starter on the flag stand will start the field. ESPN.com
02/07/09 NASCAR has taken the restart option out of the leading drivers hands.
In the past, NASCAR had set of double-red lines on the wall, typically coming out of Turn 4, and drivers had the option of starting in the vicinity of the lines or anytime before reaching the flagstand.
NASCAR now will throw the green flag if the leader is 50 feet past the double-red lines and has not mashed the gas. A single-red line on the wall will signify the end of the restart zone. There will be no penalty for a driver who fails to restart the race in the zone, but he would be an idiot not to because the rest of the field will blow right past him.
Last year, drivers kept restarting closer to the flagstand instead of the vicinity of the red lines to play mind games with the opposition.
“Things change from time to time, and we’re getting to where we wanted to talk about it and the teams wanted to talk about it,” NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. “We talked to the drivers and the teams, and this is a start of what we think would be a solution to some of the restarts.”
The rule will go into effect for the Budweiser Shootout tonight at Daytona International Speedway and the length of the zone could change.
“We want to stay as consistent as we can,” Pemberton said. “We know that there might be situations, whether it be road courses, 2 1/2 miles, five-eighths miles [tracks]. Our goal is to have a zone that can go almost everywhere we go. We’ll see.”
Weekend USA TV RemindersUPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below. Courtesy of TVRacer.com Sunday NASCAR Now 10:00am-11:00am ESPN2 NASCAR in a Hurry -The Daytona 500 10:30am-11:00am SPEED NASCAR Raceday -The Daytona 500 11:00am-2:00pm SPEED AMA Supercross San Diego 12:00pm-1:00pm (2/14/09) CBS Road to Daytona Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jimmie Johnson Tony Stewart Juan Pablo Montoya 1:00pm-2:00pm FOX Sports NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500 2:00pm-7:30pm (L) FOX Sports AMA Supercross Lites San Diego 6:00pm-7:00pm (2/14/09) SPEED Movie: Cars (2006) 6:00pm-8:30pm 8:30pm-11:00pm ABC Family Check local listings for your time zone The SPEED Report 7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED NHRA Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals Pomona 7:30pm-8:00pm (2/10/09) ESPN2 NASCAR Victory Lane -The Daytona 500 8:00pm-9:00pm SPEED Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain Darrell Waltrip (NASCAR) Robin Miller (Open Wheel Racing Analyst) 2009 Daytona 500 Winning Car Owner 9:00pm-10:00pm SPEED All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com
Season premiere of Wind Tunnel tonight The season premiere of Wind Tunnel will be aired live tonight at 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm ET on SPEED. This marks the beginning of the show’s 7th season on-air.
Darrell Waltrip, 3-time NASCAR CUP Champion and FOX Sports NASCAR Analyst, will be tonight's guest co-host to discuss today's running of the Daytona 500. The featured interview will be the winning car owner of the 2009 Daytona 500. Robin Miller, SPEED Open Wheel Racing Analyst, will be a guest on tonight's season premiere of Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain, and will share his thoughts on the upcoming IndyCar season.
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