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Charlotte to Campaign to Keep All-Star Race Charlotte to Campaign to Keep All-Star RaceA group in charge of promoting Charlotte wants the city to spend thousands of tax dollars to keep NASCAR's All-Star Race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord.  The race brings millions of dollars to the Charlotte area, and members of the group say it is worth saving. Charlotte and Mecklenburg County may spend $125,000 to try and keep the race in this region. The tax money would be spent of a slate of NASCAR related functions the week leading up to the May 21st race. Special Uptown events and a NASCAR VIP Appreciation Party would be held. Money would also be spent on promoting the race, and highlighting its ties to the Charlotte region. WSOC
Lowe's bumps to be removed Lowe's bumps to be removedUsing data from both a satellite circling 22,000 miles above the Earth and a global positioning system device attached to an SUV being driven around the track by H.A. (Humpy) Wheeler, Lowe's Motor Speedway will have its racing surface smoothed by diamond-grinding in time for the track's May NASCAR events.  The plan to be announced at a news conference at the track this afternoon means the 1.5-mile track's surface will not be repaved, but will be smoothed to remove bumps and other inconsistencies instead.  The work is aimed at creating more side-by-side racing for the Nextel All-Star Challenge on May 21 and the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29. Engineers spent more than 30 hours with lasers making a three- dimensional virtual map of the track's surface. Then Wheeler, the track's president, drove around the track in each of three distinct racing lines carrying the GPS device. MercuryNews
Blackhawk Motorsports to field Daytona prototype for Stallings and Gurney Blackhawk Motorsports to field Daytona prototype for Stallings and Gurney The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series welcomed another new Daytona Prototype team as Blackhawk Motorsports owner/driver Bob Stallings announced today that his team will field a Pontiac-powered Riley for himself and co-driver Alex Gurney beginning with the inaugural U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on the weekend of April 29-May 1. More....
Daytona 500 Ratings up across the board Daytona 500 Ratings up across the boardFox's telecast of Sunday's Daytona 500 matched the 2002 Daytona 500 as the highest-rated race in NASCAR history.  The ratings for Sunday's race in eight of the nation's top-10 TV markets (i.e. not NASCAR 'Bubba' markets, proving NASCAR is very mainstream now) showed double-digit increases compared with the ratings for last year's race, reports USATODAY.

The rating in New York (5.5) improved 17 per cent, Detroit (11.6) 47 per cent, San Francisco (5.8) 32 per cent, Atlanta (20.4) 28 per cent, Dallas (9.5) 23 per cent, Washington (11.9) 19 per cent, Philadelphia (10.4) 11 per cent and Chicago (9.0) 10 per cent.  Overall, the rating for Sunday's race topped the rating for last year's Daytona 500 on NBC by 3 per cent.  In the five years that Fox and NBC have combined to televise NASCAR, the average rating of 10.4 for the Daytona 500 is 17 per cent higher than the 8.9 average for the previous five Daytona 500s on CBS.

SPEED Channel scores highest TV rating in history SPEED Channel scores highest TV rating in historySPEED Channel's live coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday night from Daytona International Speedway scored a Nielsen Rating of 2.1 (1,330,000 households), the highest rating for any program in network history. "We're obviously very excited to start our 2005 NASCAR season like this," said SPEED Channel President Jim Liberatore. "SPEED enjoyed a strong offseason in the ratings and a lot of us had an expectation that this could be a breakout year for the network.

"Of course, when you have a race where two teams are both convinced they belong in Victory Lane until 15 minutes after the event is over, you know you had a great race with a memorable finish. That's the kind of close, exciting racing the NASCAR Craftsman truck series brought to the network when we started broadcasting it three years ago."

The rating for the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 was up 31 percent over 2004 (1.6).

Now in its 10th year on the air, SPEED Channel brings viewers live, exclusive coverage of the entire NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule. The next race will be Friday at 9 p.m. ET from Fontana, California.

Other live racing from Daytona on SPEED Channel also earned strong ratings, with the ARCA RE/MAX event scoring a 1.11 (701,000 households) on Feb. 12 and the Crown Royal IROC race getting a 1.47 (932,000 households) on Feb. 18.
UAW and Ford to sponsor Talladega race UAW and Ford to sponsor Talladega raceTalladega Superspeedway today signed a multiyear sponsorship deal with the United Auto Workers and Ford that titles the fall NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at the track the UAW-Ford 500. The partnership also makes Ford the official car and truck of the facility. EA Sports titled last year’s fall event at Talladega. UAW and GM hold title sponsorship rights to the fall event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway The Daily
Sirius Satellite Radio takes over NASCAR Broadcasts in 2007 Sirius Satellite Radio takes over NASCAR Broadcasts in 2007UPDATE Sirius Press Release: SIRIUS Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) today announced an agreement to give SIRIUS North American satellite radio rights to broadcast NASCAR racing and events that will bring unprecedented programming and marketing opportunities to NASCAR fans. Beginning in 2007, SIRIUS will broadcast all NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races live on a specially created, 24/7 NASCAR channel, and SIRIUS will be the only place on satellite radio to listen to NASCAR.

As part of the agreement, SIRIUS will become the Official Satellite Radio Partner of NASCAR, with exclusive trademark and marketing rights, and the right to sell all advertising time on its NASCAR channel and during the race broadcasts. SIRIUS will pay NASCAR rights fees totaling $107.5 million over the term of the agreement, with the highest payments in the final years of the term.

"We're thrilled that NASCAR has chosen to move to SIRIUS," said Mel Karmazin, CEO of SIRIUS. "Without question, SIRIUS is the content leader in satellite radio. This decision places SIRIUS on track to become the content leader in all of radio, and we believe it will be an important driver of subscriber growth and advertising revenue. Our 24/7 NASCAR channel will super-serve NASCAR's 75 million fans nationwide in a way that's never been done before. In addition to the races, SIRIUS will take fans behind the scenes for inside news and bring them exclusive shows featuring their favorite drivers. It will be the ultimate NASCAR lifestyle experience."

"SIRIUS is the sports leader on satellite radio, and sports programming is a leading reason subscribers choose SIRIUS," said Brian France, Chairman and CEO of NASCAR. "When you combine NASCAR's growing popularity with SIRIUS' commitment to bringing the best in sports to its subscribers, it's easy to understand why we made this move. We believe that our partnership with SIRIUS will offer the best possible experience to NASCAR fans nationwide."

SIRIUS and NASCAR will work together to develop an extensive consumer marketing and outreach campaign for NASCAR fans. This effort could include advertising, cross-channel promotion throughout SIRIUS programming, officially licensed products, extensive at-track activation and ways for current NASCAR fans to switch to SIRIUS.

NASCAR is the number 2 rated sport on television, second only to the NFL. Its 75 million fans nationwide are a testament to the sport's overall growth and broad appeal. NASCAR has the most brand loyal fans in all sports. Plus, with a 10-month season, the longest in U.S. pro sports, sponsors and advertisers are visible to NASCAR's fan base for most of the year. 


02/22/05 Sirius Satellite Radio on Tuesday announced a five-year agreement to give Sirius North American satellite radio rights to broadcast NASCAR racing and events that will bring unprecedented programming and marketing opportunities to NASCAR fans. Beginning in 2007, Sirius will broadcast all Nextel Cup Series, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series races live on a specially created, 24/7 NASCAR channel, and Sirius will be the only place on satellite radio to listen to NASCAR. As part of the agreement, Sirius will become the Official Satellite Radio Partner of NASCAR, with exclusive trademark and marketing rights, and the right to sell all advertising time on its NASCAR channel and during the race broadcasts. Sirius will pay NASCAR rights fees totaling $107.5 million over the term of the agreement, with the highest payments in the final years of the term. Sirius and NASCAR will work together to develop an extensive consumer marketing and outreach campaign for NASCAR fans. This effort could include advertising, cross-channel promotion throughout Sirius programming, officially licensed products, extensive at-track activation and ways for current NASCAR fans to switch to Sirius. NASCAR PR  [Editor's Note:  You can assume XM Radio is out after 2006.]
Harris, de Ferran join Goodyear in broadcast booth Harris, de Ferran join Goodyear in broadcast boothABC Sports and ESPN today hired former IndyCar driver Gil de Ferran as an analyst for their coverage of the IRL IndyCar Series. de Ferran will work alongside fellow analyst Scott Goodyear, while Todd Harris handles play-by-play duties. Jack Arute will work the pits for races on ABC, while Vince Welch does likewise for ESPN. Dr. Jerry Punch and Jamie Little will cover the pits on both networks ABC Sports
More snow for Renault at Silverstone More snow for Renault at SilverstoneThe Mild Seven Renault F1 Team’s second day of testing at Silverstone began with a covering of snow on the British circuit. However, conditions improved through the morning and by early afternoon, the team was able to complete very limited running prior to further snow showers later in the afternoon.

Consequently, Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella were able to conduct limited pit-stop practice work with the race team, while Franck Montagny shook down a brand new R25 chassis prior to its departure for Melbourne.

Christian Silk, Chief Testing Engineer “We continued preparations for the winter Olympics during the morning at Silverstone, although the progressive improvement in conditions somewhat hampered our program. However, on a more positive note, this did enable us to shake down the latest chassis for Melbourne, and to complete ‘live’ pit-stop practice with the drivers and race team during the early part of the afternoon. Our test will conclude tomorrow: hopefully, we will see some better weather and warmer temperatures to enable Franck to do some useful running.” Renault F1 Team

McLaren shakedown MP4-20 at Silverstone McLaren shakedown MP4-20 at SilverstoneTeam McLaren Mercedes preparations for the Australian Grand Prix continued apace at the Silverstone circuit in the UK today. Kimi Raikkonen was in attendance to shakedown the MP4-20 that he will be driving at Melbourne in 11 days time. The shakedown was scheduled to allow the team to run Kimi's chassis before the first Grand Prix of the new season, as it had been rebuilt at the McLaren Technology Centre following the damage sustained in Barcelona on Tuesday 15th February.

The session was affected by poor weather conditions in the UK, with the snow that had fallen overnight only melting mid-morning. Kimi took to the track at 14:00 and completed the required program, whilst conducting various systems checks on the car including fuel and hydraulics. At the end of the day, the MP4-20 returned to the McLaren Technology Centre, where it will be packed ready to leave for Australia this coming Friday, 25th February.

As a consequence of the FIA regulation that states that teams are not permitted to simultaneously test at more than one circuit, the test team based in Valencia this week spent the day preparing the two MP4-19B's for tomorrow's session at the Spanish track, where work will focus on distance tire testing with the compounds selected for Australia. McLaren Mercedes

Webber fastest in Valencia Tuesday Webber fastest in Valencia TuesdayMark Webber was the fastest driver today at Valencia. The McLaren MP4-19B's of Pedro de la Rosa and Alex Wurz didn't test today because Kimi Raikkonen was at Silverstone to shakedown an MP4-20. FIA regulations say a team can't test at two tracks on the same day. Ralf Schumacher replaced Olivier Panis who was supposed to test, indicating the team is struggling at the run-up to the season opener.
1. M. Webber - BMW Williams FW27 - 1'10"087 (+0"000) - 154 laps
2. R. Schumacher - Toyota TF105 - 1'11"005 (+0"918) - 64 laps
3. M. Schumacher - Ferrari F2004M - 1'11"490 (+1"403) - 142 laps
4. R. Barrichello - Ferrari F2004M - 1'12"154 (+2"067) - 65 laps
5. T. Sato - BAR Honda 007 - 1'13"252 (+3"165) - 82 laps
Earnhardt Jr. impressed with Californians Earnhardt Jr. impressed with CaliforniansIt takes a lot to knock the socks off of one of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitors, and Californians have conquered that feat with one of the sports most popular drivers - Dale Earnhardt Jr.

In a media advance to help promote California Speedway's Auto Club 500 on Sunday, February 27, that the driver of the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet will be competing in, Earnhardt talked candidly about the Southern California market place and race fans.

With 18 million people residing in the five counties that surround the Fontana, Calif., motorsports facility, there's a lot to be learned about the sport and adapting what was once a predominately Southern lifestyle. For Earnhardt, it doesn't seem so difficult.

"The automobile is huge, and to be out there racing it, it's almost Apple Pie, you know as American as Apple Pie is to me," he said.  "To me, everyone should embrace it. People who are like, 'its just cars going around in circles', because that's the case half the time, but there's a lot of other stuff going on at the track that they don't see or they don't get at the time of the day [when they are there]."

Then again, Southern California seems very different from what Earnhardt is used to. He said, "Out here, you have to wait for everyone to decide [racing] is cool and then the rest of the crowd will follow suit. There's a lot of different things out here that are occupying people and racing just isn't the biggest yet. When you are going to come into a market like California or LA, you have to bring your best product.  We want to give them the best show we can."

Earnhardt has competed at California Speedway since it opened in 1997, first in the NASCAR Busch Series when he secured a race win in 1998 and a pole position in 1999 and now in the NEXTEL Cup Series. Earlier this month, he participated in a two-day test session at the 2-mile, D-shaped oval, which brought out a large crowd of race fans. 

"I was really amazed by how many people came out to the test," he said. "I have never seen anything like that before, and this is California. To have 7,000 people come out and watch, that blows me away because we are just testing. That's the boringest part of our job and people were checking it out and we weren't in North Carolina - it's kind of crazy. I think that says a lot about the fans here, there are people everywhere that are hardcore, dedicated fans. I was amazed by that and hopefully the turn out for the race will be just as impressive. 

The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to California Speedway for the second race of the 2005 season, the Auto Club 500 on Sunday, February 27. Come see what the racing phenomenon is all about and catch a glimpse of Earnhardt as he tours the superspeedway. Tickets are $65 and $105. Get an in depth look at the racing world with a pre-race weekend pit pass for $55.  For ticket and event information, call 800-944-RACE [7223] or visit www.californiaspeedway.com.

Williams squashes Pizzonia’s Champ Car hopes Williams squashes Pizzonia’s Champ Car hopesThis Autosport.com article says, Williams test driver Antonio Pizzonia has been told that he can all but forget making the switch to Champ Car racing this season, with his current team bosses having admitted that they can't afford to let him go.

The Brazilian was left hugely disappointed when Williams opted to sign Nick Heidfeld as Mark Webber's teammate this year, and has made no secret of the fact that he is considering a move to the United States as a way to carry on racing.

But team boss Frank Williams has made it clear that he will not release Pizzonia from his contractual commitments with the team – especially because, if Heidfeld fails to impress, he wants the option to bring Pizzonia back into the race team.

“We want him to stay on board. Nick may let us down, and we may then want to put Antonio in. If he was offered another race chance in Formula 1 then there's no way we would hold him back, but with Champ Cars we will not look at it favorably because we need him as a test driver.”

Pizzonia hinted last week that he could be testing Champ Car within a matter of days, but those hopes look certain to have been dashed with Williams drafting him in to their final pre-season test, as well as having him on promotional duties at the season opening Australian Grand Prix.

And although Williams admitted that the decision to sign Heidfeld had ‘broken Pizzonia's heart', Williams was adamant that Pizzonia would likely get another chance at racing in F1. “It could well happen,” said Williams. “He is very good.”

German DTM
Race in Moscow postponed to 2006 Race in Moscow postponed to 2006The DTM round scheduled to be held in Moscow on 26th June, 2005, has been postponed to 2006. In his postponement request to the ITR e. V., Viktor Kiryanov, President of the Russian Motorsport Association mentioned the excessive organization measures as main reason. Particularly the completion of the circuit modifications necessary to guarantee the safety of drivers and spectators according to the FIA standards (Féderation Internationale de l’Automobile) was close to impossible. “Quite obviously, we comply Moscow’s request,” said ITR Chairman Hans Werner Aufrecht. “The drivers’ and spectators’ safety is priority No 1, therefore, we won’t make any compromises. Now, the persons in charge have time enough for the appropriate preparations. We look forward to contest a race in Moscow, in 2006.”

Aufrecht: "We look forward to contest a race in Moscow, in 2006."In spite of the postponement, the 2005 DTM calendar will consist of eleven rounds, with Brno replacing Moscow as 2005 DTM venue. On 5th June, the Czech circuit will be the venue of DTM round No 4. The race in Oschersleben has been postponed by three weeks and will now take place on 26th June, the previous date of the Moscow round, thus being the fifth race on the calendar. All tickets already purchased for the Oschersleben round stay valid.

Following the DTM launch, on 5th April, the 2005 DTM season will kick off on 17th April, at the Hockenheimring. The race calendar consists of eleven races, held in five countries, with the Hockenheimring also being the venue of the season finale, on 23rd October.

Roush Racing testing at Kentucky Roush Racing testing at KentuckyKentucky Speedway's weekly calendar shows that Roush Racing has scheduled a Nextel Cup test for Tuesday. The track says the team is scheduled to test a research-and-development car with a driver to be named. Spectators are permitted to watch from the track's Fan Center, but the track cautions that schedules are subject to change. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
McLaren Mercedes land Johnnie Walker McLaren Mercedes land Johnnie WalkerMcLaren Mercedes confirmed today that it has entered into a long- term Partnering agreement with Johnnie Walker, the world's number one Scotch whisky, which sells in almost 200 markets all over the world.

The famous Johnnie Walker brand and 'striding man' will prominently appear on the side of the engine cover of the Team McLaren Mercedes cars for the first time at the Turkish Grand Prix on 21 August 2005. In addition the Johnnie Walker branding will appear on Kimi Raikkonen's, Juan Pablo Montoya's, Alex Wurz's and Pedro de la Rosa's overalls, as well as on the uniforms of Team McLaren Mercedes personnel.

The sponsorship links the classic Johnnie Walker brand with Team McLaren Mercedes and Formula One, which are capable of matching Johnnie Walker's aspirations and values on a truly global scale. Involvement in the professional, precision and technology-driven environment of Formula One creates a powerful and highly visible platform from which to communicate with consumers about individual choice and responsible drinking.

The issues of responsible drinking and individual choice are at the heart of debates on alcohol. Through this pioneering Partnership Johnnie Walker will tackle these issues directly. Drawing on the success of Diageo's sponsorship of NASCAR in North America, with the Smirnoff Ice and Crown Royal brands, Johnnie Walker's relationship with Team McLaren Mercedes will demonstrate that beverage alcohol companies can effectively promote responsible drinking and change consumer attitude to over-consumption and drinking and driving.
In addition to its annual sponsorship and marketing investment, the brand will spend £2 million every year directly on responsible drinking programs in Grand Prix markets.

"Around the world, Johnnie Walker is recognized as an icon of personal progress," explained Marketing Director for Johnnie Walker, Charles Allen.

"It is international, high-status, sophisticated and dynamic. Team McLaren Mercedes and Formula One match all these characteristics and provide a fantastic platform to engage consumers with excitement and passion.

"At the same time we will use the sponsorship to communicate individual choice and what we believe responsible drinking is really about. We will do this through advertising themed on responsible drinking which will be capable of working around the world. In individual markets, we will invest in locally led programs to address the issues of greatest importance in each market. Consumer engagement at two levels – the excitement and status of Formula One and the control and judgment necessary to deliver success in this most competitive sport - is the key to Johnnie Walker's approach."

"Our branding on Team McLaren Mercedes' 2005 season car will be executed with discretion. Johnnie Walker is recognized in nearly 200 markets. We want to explore more opportunities to engage and motivate the 25 to 35-year-old consumers who are critical to both Johnnie Walker and Formula One," said Allen.

"When we looked at Formula One, the choice to partner with Team McLaren Mercedes was an easy one to make. They are an extremely professionally run team with great ambition and have in our view the most exciting and eye-catching driver line-up in Grand Prix racing – Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya," explained Allen.

"We believe that this sponsorship will help us take Johnnie Walker to a new level in terms of its attractiveness to consumers around the world. I think our investment is also a vote of confidence in the future of Scotch Whisky. Johnnie Walker is the first Scotch Whisky brand to enter Formula One – I believe that is important for the long-term recognition and health of the category."

Ron Dennis, Chairman and CEO, McLaren Group said: "McLaren is supported by highly-valued, long-term partnerships with some of the world's most distinguished brand names. We're delighted to welcome Johnnie Walker to join this group.

"Working with Johnnie Walker and our other partners, we will enter the 2005 season with a new car, two competent drivers and aim to pose a strong challenge. It's a great time for Johnnie Walker to join us and the whole of Team McLaren Mercedes welcomes them. We look forward to winning together."

Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport added: "The commitment of Diageo to join our team with their world-renowned brand Johnnie Walker is another good signal demonstrating the attractiveness of Formula One in general, and especially our team for prestigious sponsor partners. Diageo's plan to use their involvement with Johnnie Walker as a platform for responsible drinking messages will be strongly supported by us as it is an important aspect of our partnership."

The Johnnie Walker Global Brand Team which will lead the sponsorship for the brand will examine opportunities to speak to consumers about Johnnie Walker, Team McLaren Mercedes and Formula One through advertising, relationship marketing - such as email - on and off trade promotions and through specific responsible drinking initiatives tailored to meet the needs of individual Johnnie Walker markets.

The commitment to engage consumers on individual choice and responsible drinking is integral to the sponsorship. This commitment is fully supported by Team McLaren Mercedes whose reputation for success in Formula One has been built on a commitment to professionalism, rigorous standards and supreme organization.

Speaking on this subject Ron Dennis stated: "Responsibility is as critical on the highway as it is on the racetrack. I know we will work together on ways to inspire people to take that responsibility – to strive for higher standards in their driving and in how they approach those times when they are not driving – when they want to enjoy themselves." Press Release McLaren Mercedes

Daytona 500 overnight USA and Canada TV ratings Daytona 500 overnight USA and Canada TV ratingsUPDATE #2 Jeff Gordon's win in the Daytona 500 scored record TV ratings north and south of the border. TSN in Canada said its coverage Sunday averaged 506,000 viewers, making it the most-watched auto race in the broadcaster's 20-year history. The audience peaked at 645,000 from 5:30 to 6 p.m. EST as the race neared the checkered flag, TSN said citing Nielsen Media Research figures. TSN's previous auto ratings high was 481,000 for the 1997 European Grand Prix. The last time the network aired the Daytona 500 was 2003 when it drew 240,000 viewers. The previous Daytona 500 high on TSN was in 1999 (244,000). [Editor's Note: With NASCAR getting more TV viewers on TSN in Canada than any F1 or Champ Car race ever got on TSN, it bodes well for NASCAR's popularity in Canada and elsewhere around the world as the American sanctioning body eyes a Cup race in Canada, Mexico and even China in coming years. With that said, these are TSN stats. They are NOT free to air stats. For many years F1 races from around the world were broadcast on CBC. TSN is a subscription channel and it does not come as part of the basic cable package. Further, the CANADIAN Champ Car races and the CANADIAN F1 race are NOT on TSN, they are on national network channels.  Rogers provides WUTV (FOX) Buffalo as part of its basic package in Ontario.  Thus, the Nascar audience in Canada could have been even larger than reported.]  02/21/05 FOX's 10.9 ties the highest rating ever recorded for a NASCAR race, matching the rating set for the 2002 Daytona 500 on NBC, and is up +3% vs. last year's race on NBC (10.6/24). Yesterday's 18.7 million viewers makes it the second most-watched NASCAR race ever (18.8 for the 2002 Daytona 500), the most-watched ever on FOX, and +5% better than a year ago (17.8 million). Nielsen estimates that 35.3 million Americans watched all or part of yesterday's race, another best for FOX. The 2005 Daytona 500 caps the biggest twelve month viewership period in FOX Sports' 11-year history. In the calendar year beginning with last year's NASCAR Nextel Cup race in Rockingham and ending with the 2005 Daytona 500, FOX totaled just under 1.3 billion viewers, the network's largest total ever for any twelve month period. In addition to regular season coverage of NASCAR, MLB and the NFL, the last 12 months saw FOX Sports broadcast the MLB All-Star Game, postseason and World Series, the NFL postseason, including the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XXXIX, plus yesterday's Daytona 500. FoxSports 02/21/05 The Daytona 500 overnight TV rating on FOX was a 10.9/23 national rating/share, up 3% from last year and tied for the highest rated Daytona 500 ever. We hear NASCAR was hoping for a bigger increase from the later starting time, but the final rating, due out later this week, can go up significantly as we have seen from previous NASCAR TV ratings when all the smaller markets are counted.
Stewart wins Contingency Awards Stewart wins Contingency AwardsTony Stewart led a race-high total of 107 laps during Sunday's Daytona 500 on his way to a seventh-place finish in Joe Gibbs Racing's #20 Chevy and collected three of the eight contingency awards announced after the event. Stewart's prizes were the Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award, MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award and WIX Lap-Leader Award. The Bud Pole Award went to Dale Jarrett, and the Commit to Win Award went to Jimmie Johnson. Mobil Oil Command Performance Driver of the Race went to Dale Earnhardt Jr., while Travis Kvapil was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race. Elliott Sadler earned the USG Improving The Finish Awards after starting 39th and finishing 11th. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Safety-Kleen signs up with NASCAR Safety-Kleen signs up with NASCARSafety-Kleen Systems Inc., a Plano supplier of parts cleaning and oil refining services, has signed a two-year sponsorship deal with NASCAR. The exact amount that Safety-Kleen will pay NASCAR was not disclosed, but NASCAR officials say it's "a seven-figure deal." Under the deal, Safety-Kleen will use the NASCAR name and sponsorship logo on uniforms worn by about 1,300 of its customer service representatives, who clean auto parts and dispose of industrial and hazardous waste. NASCAR branding also will appear on the sides of some 200 new trucks that Safety-Kleen will use on its routes. The company also has tentative plans to retrofit its existing fleet of 1,800 route trucks with the NASCAR mark. Meanwhile, NASCAR will play a prominent role in Safety-Kleen's print ads and other marketing, especially to repair shops and service departments of auto dealerships. The company has more than 200,000 customers, all of whom do repairs on cars and trucks. In addition, the company will put a NASCAR "performance mark" on its mechanical parts cleaning equipment. Safety-Kleen also is the exclusive provider of environmental services to about 40 racing teams on various circuits, including 20 in NASCAR. Dallas Business Journal
Earnhardt Crew Chief wins award Earnhardt Crew Chief wins awardPete Rondeau had the weight of the racing world on his shoulders this weekend. After an unbelievably dominant feat by the #8 Budweiser team in last year's Daytona 500, everyone was expecting Rondeau's debut as crew chief to bring Dale Earnhardt Jr. a repeat performance. Although it looked bleak for Rondeau in the beginning stages of the race, he took a car that was barely running in the top-20 and transformed it into a top-five finisher. For his efforts, Rondeau was voted the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. The panel voting for the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Race consisted of Buddy Shacklette of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Robbie Resier and a WYPALL Wipers Representative. All three members of the panel agreed Rondeau was the top pick. With his win, Pete Rondeau is in first place in the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Challenge. The crew chief with the most weekly wins at the end of the season will be named WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and receive $20,000.00. For more information, visit www.wypall.com. Wypall Wipers PR
Industry News
Kalbfell named to head Alfa Romeo-Maserati Kalbfell named to head Alfa Romeo-MaseratiKarl Heinz Kalbfell, Chief Operating Officer of Alfa Romeo, is also to be nominated Chief Executive Officer of Maserati, replacing Martin Leach who is leaving the Company.  With this additional role, Karl Heinz Kalbfell will assume responsibility for the Alfa Romeo-Maserati “sports car pôle” announced last week. This will allow the two marques to achieve important industrial and commercial synergies.   Furthermore, Giuseppe Bonollo is to be nominated Head of Product Portfolio Management, charged with developing the Fiat and Lancia ranges. Frank Stephenson will be nominated Head of the Fiat, Lancia and Commercial Vehicle Styling Centre.   Both Giuseppe Bonollo and Frank Stephenson, who transfer from Ferrari, will report directly to CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Meanwhile, Maserati announce that Chief Executive Officer Martin Leach is leaving the company with immediate effect. Martin Leach said: “ I immensely enjoyed the period spent in Maserati. Maserati is a great company and it is ready to begin a new development phase. I wish the whole team in Maserati and in Ferrari, all the best. ”  Maserati would like to thank Martin Leach for the substantial contribution he made, preparing the company for the next development phase and wishes him all the best for the future.

Leach is the second manager to leave Fiat, less than a week after Herbert Demel was ousted from Fiat Auto. That in turn was only days after CEO Sergio Marchionne settled a $2 billion deal to dissolve a partnership with General Motors, which he said was holding back Fiat.

Pastorelli signs as Jordan Friday driver Pastorelli signs as Jordan Friday driverUPDATE #3 Press release from Jordan making it official - Nicky Pastorelli will be a Jordan Grand Prix test driver, the team announced today. The 21 year old Dutchman, reigning Euro 3000 Champion, is the first driver to be officially included in the 'Young Driver Program' initiated by MidlandF1 to help promising junior drivers develop their talent in preparation for entry to Formula One.

“We have been watching with interest the development of Nicky’s career," said Managing Director of Jordan Grand Prix Colin Kolles. "He’s quick and has demonstrated that he is a winner so we are pleased to be able to bring him on with the opportunity to learn F1 as our test driver. We’re looking forward to working with him.”

Nicky Pastorelli commented, “I am very excited about this opportunity and I would like to thank Jordan for placing their trust and confidence in me. Getting some laps in the car at the Barcelona test last week was an unexpected but fantastic experience and I want to do a good job for the team now as an official test driver. I’m looking forward to my next F1 outing.”

02/19/05 From Nicky Pastorelli's own website: Nicky Pastorelli did an unexpected short test with Jordan F1 today at Barcelona. It was even so unexpected that he had to borough Narain's helmet! A close source told www.Flagworld.com that the official announcement, about Nicky going to be the 'Friday' driver at GP weekends, will be made on Monday 21st, next week. It all happened very quickly, Wednesday Nicky's management team traveled to Barcelona and this morning (Friday) they came to an agreement! This automatically means Nicky will not compete in Champ Cars this year. Derek Walker has been extremely good to Nicky and his management, they appreciate very much what he has done but did not expect it would turn around like it did!

Following the latest speculations on internet over the last few days, Nicky Pastorelli’s management would like to make the following announcement: The negotiations with Walker Racing about a possible entry of Nicky Pastorelli in Champ Cars this season are put on hold. Behind this decision lies the fact that the management of Pastorelli is working very hard on a new development in Nicky’s prosperous racing career. Manfred Ravetto, Pastorelli’s manager comments: “We are about to finalize a very interesting deal for Nicky. I am sure that this new move is a very good and important step for Nicky’s career. I cannot comment further on it at this point, but we will announce some very interesting news soon. Just wait and see… NickyPastorelli.com Photos of Nic

Pastorelli testing Jordan by Jordan F1

02/18/05 Although Pastorelli is in talks with the team, possibly with a view to becoming its Friday test driver, he has made it clear that nothing is decided yet – although the situation may become more obvious after the final pre-season test at Silverstone next week. “Let's hope this will bring something good in the future. I am also looking at Champ Car possibilities and let's see. I know the team will be in Silverstone next week but I don't know if I will be there…Yet.”

Jordan's Adrian Burgess has admitted that Pastorelli is in the running for a test drive role with the team, but said that no decision had yet been made about when the outfit would start running a third car. “We are getting geared up to run a third car, but whether or not we run in Melbourne we don't know yet,” he said. “Nicky is one of the drivers who may possibly sit in the car if we run it, but we don't know yet.” Autosport.com

02/18/05 Dutchman Nicky Pastorelli is close to signing a one-year contract at the Jordan F1 team. Pastorelli will become Jordan's third driver and test for the team at Friday's test sessions. Pastorelli is the second Dutchman who will be active in the upcoming season in Formula One. Country mate Christijan Albers will be racing at the Minardi team. His signing at Jordan is expected to be announced later on Friday afternoon. [Editor's Note: Some European websites reported yesterday that Dominguez would be Jordan's Friday driver in 2005 even though AutoRacing1.com quoted Mario as saying he would definitely be in Champ Car in 2005. This news sets the record straight, as reported by AutoRacing1.com]
Don’t just blame Tony George Don’t just blame Tony GeorgeYou constantly comment and remind AutoRacing1.com readers of the fact that IRL is turning into the old CART of yore and you are VERY quick to blame Tony George for destroying open wheel racing and for the state of OW racing in American motorsports.  

I think you are also not giving blame where it also belongs.  The CART (not Champ Car) TEAM OWNERS.  People like Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, Barry Green, Pat Patrick, et. al.   These team owners who were so focused on making the almighty dollars for themselves.  These owners spent their time and resources on doing what was right for themselves, no matter where it ended them up. (Look no further than Toyota and Honda money).

Look at Honda and Toyota money a bit closer.  CART is the one that let the manufacturers take their ball and go home. Remember the pop-off valve debacle of 2001 at Detroit?  CART management wasn’t strong enough to handle it. When both of the engine companies howled loudly enough, CART couldn’t do anything to keep them in the series because they didn’t have enough of a hand to control them in the first place. 

We have seen how this hurt Champ Car. No sponsor dollars.  Several of the best funded, most competitive teams HAD to follow the money that the engine companies dangled out to ensure their teams could survive. (Even at that a few couldn't.)

That was not due to Tony George being at the root of it.  CART ownership, and management of the series is what drove the manufacturers away.   TG just simply provided an alternative for them to go to.  Think back to IRL of 2000.  Teams were barely hanging on for sponsor dollars and field fillers abounded.  Until the influx of Engine Money and CART teams fleeing to jump sides (mostly because they needed the money).

Meanwhile Chip, Barry (well, Kim and Michael), and Roger all got richer in the process..  By dumping CART stock when it was still worth something.  By selling their own series short and forgetting where they came from.  I believe it would have been plenty feasible for the teams now in IRL to have stood ground in CART/ChampCar with the sponsor dollars, with Cosworth/Ford to remain.  Ask Newman/Hass.  Ask Forsythe.  They stayed and are arguably the two top teams in the series.  The others that went where the dollars were (due to manufacturer influence, and team owners going on record saying they didn’t have confidence in CART leadership) are the real reason that  both series exist where they do in 2005.

Yes, Tony George started the split.  I suppose you can argue that he did "start it all".  But that family subsidizing of the series until the 'Engine Money' came around was on the verge of drying up.  Just ask the teams that don't exist in IRL anymore. Ask the ones barely hanging on.   It was rumored on this site and many others at the time that IRL was "one foot in the grave", before the Engine Money, and if CART/ChampCar had the management in place to properly schmooze Honda and Toyota, as well as the proper hand on running the series (instead of the Team Owners on the board of directors) then the IRL may quite possibly have been run out of business.

So in summary, blame TG, but don’t let CART/Champ Car off the hook.  Blame the team owners.  Blame the sellouts who jumped ship rather than the ones who took some risks and cash loss to STAY in Champ Car when the funds were available. Blame the old CART management.  Just be aware, and don't let readers who are new to the game think that TG is the be-all, end-all of where to point fingers that have ruined the sport of Open Wheel Racing that I love so dearly. Edward Koczan South Bend IN 

Dear Edward, You make some very valid points, there are a lot of people to point fingers at in this entire mess.  The greed for money is usually the root of all evil.  However, as you rightly point out, had Tony not started the IRL in the first place none of this would have happened, which is exactly the point we keep making.   If Tony had started two or three CART teams for American drivers he would have had plenty of influence over the series, and CART/Indy Car Racing would have been much stronger because of it.  Instead today we have a fractured sport dwarfed by NASCAR that has such a monumental lead that can't be overcome. Tony George can forget about his prediction he made a few years ago at a Motorsports Conference that he was going to make the IRL the biggest racing series in the world.  That may have been possible had the split never happened, but not now.  History will show (actually it already does) that Tony and his advisors made a serious error in judgment. Mark C.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Spaniard on top
Fisi's team
Button's no 'boy band'
V8 men snub Webber
'We'll suffer in Oz' - RB
Mystery at Melbourne airport
HANS for Aussie V8
McLaren's 'humor' weapon
'We won't win' - Webber
Who's 'graining'?
Cracking actor
Schu lucky German - 'Flav'
JPM more 'focused' - Ron D.
IRL Green Flag Tour kicks off at Indy IRL Green Flag Tour kicks off at IndyWith a helping hand from 1996 IRL IndyCar® Series co-champion Scott Sharp and the Green Flag Tour gas-powered two-seater, ABC broadcaster Jack Arute carried a green flag across the Yard of Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to begin the Indy Racing League's Green Flag Tour.

"Jack, I'm trusting you with this flag," IRL President Brian Barnhart said. "Are you sure I shouldn't give this to Scott?"

Arute and several other IndyCar Series personalities will bring the flag, the gas-powered two-seater and a Chevy SSR safety vehicle to 13 cities over the next two weeks. In all, the tour will cover more than 7,500 miles en route to Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 6, where the flag will be used to start the season-opening race, the Toyota Indy 300.

"It's going to be 13 markets in 13 days," Arute said. "We're going all across the country, and good Lord willing, we'll end up in Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, March 6 to deliver the flag.

"It's going to be a little less than 8,000 miles. We're going to rotate through and take the pace car and the two-seater to all the markets. There isn't going to be a lot of time in each market, we're going stop off and deliver the IRL's message."

Arute will drive most of the way in a Chevy SSR Pace Vehicle he'll share with two other co-drivers.

"We'll rotate drivers and kind of work it like the endurance racers do, three hours on and three hours off," he said. "It could be a little rowdy by the time we get to Miami."

Sharp, the only driver to compete in each of the previous nine seasons, also participated in the kickoff, appearing on several Indianapolis radio and television stations before the ceremony. The driver of the No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone entry shared Arute's enthusiasm for the start of the tour.

"Jack is driving and he's carrying the green flag and I told him, 'You better not be late. We need the flag,'" Sharp said. "It's going to be great. Just to get the awareness out there and to tell the people what's happening with the IRL, I think it's great. It's a great way to showcase the year I think we're going to have on track."

Next Stop: Denver: Alex Barron and Patrick Carpentier of Red Bull Cheever Racing and Jack Arute will appear on television stations KMGH and KUSA during mid-day newscasts.

Tour Stops:
Feb. 23 at San Francisco: Bryan Herta of Andretti Green Racing.
Feb. 24-25 at Los Angeles: Team co-owner Michael Andretti and drivers Dario Franchitti and Dan Wheldon of Andretti Green Racing.
Feb. 26 at Phoenix: Fernandez Racing owner Adrian Fernandez.
Feb. 27 at Dallas: Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford and driver A.J. Foyt IV of A.J. Foyt Racing.
Feb. 28 at Chicago: Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Ryan Briscoe of Chip Ganassi Racing.
March 1 at Detroit: Team co-owner Doug Boles and driver Tomas Scheckter of Panther Racing.
March 2-3 at New York: Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice of Rahal Letterman Racing.
March 4 at Atlanta: Local dignitaries.
March 5 at St. Petersburg, Fla.: Local dignitaries.
March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway: Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske.
[Editor's Note: With Champ Car being the last major racing series to start their season on April 10th in Long Beach, followed by a 6-week gap to their 2nd race in Monterrey, Mexico, which is outside the country, and not returning to the USA until June (after the Indy 500) in Milwaukee, it will be interesting to see what sort of promotional campaign they put together so the fans and the media don't think they fell off the face of the earth and died.]

Homestead lies again Homestead lies againThe Homestead -Miami track is once again calling their upcoming Miami Grand Prix (Miami?  Since when is Homestead in Miami) the 'World's Fastest Sports Cars.'  This is of course an outright lie and since we are always happy to expose such BS, why should we stop now?  The ALMS 'sports cars' as well as the FIA-GT sports car, not to mention the Japanese series, and the European LMES series all run circles (no pun intended) around the oval track cartel (France family) version of sports cars called Grand-Am.  BTW, Homestead used the same lies in their advertising last year and if the race had 10 spectators in the grandstands that was a lot.  Road racing fans are too smart to fall for such trickery.

As a point of background info - When CART ran at the Homestead-Miami Speedway Ralph Sanchez brought along the name of the downtown race "The Miami Grand-Prix".  When he sold his lease of the facility to ISC he also sold all of the Copyrights, Intellectual, Property etc. to ISC as well.   ISC then did not use the "Miami Grand Prix name.  That is until the downtown CART race came along where they then resurrected the name for the Grand-Am race.  Most people still called the Grand-Prix Americas the Grand Prix of Miami.

Stewart's Busch car was illegal, but..... Stewart's Busch car was illegal, but.....NASCAR's post-race inspection of Tony Stewart's winning Busch car Saturday has provoked considerable complaint in the NASCAR garage.  Stewart's car was lower than legal when it rolled through the inspection station after the race, but NASCAR brushed aside the issue, saying the car was low because of damage received during Stewart's romp through the grass. Joe Balash, the Busch tour director, said, "After reviewing the car thoroughly, the right rear height was good, but the left rear was slightly under tolerance and also had body damage to the left-rear quarter panel and rear bumper area. Everything else on the car checked out fine." Winston Salem Journal
Jim Beam donates $100,000 for responsible drinking Jim Beam donates $100,000 for responsible drinkingJim Beam Bourbon has donated US$100,000 to 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup team Robby Gordon Motorsports (RGM). The funds will be used to promote responsible drinking. Throughout the 2005 NASCAR season, RGM will make donations from this fund to local universities in various race markets for the purpose of alcohol education. The US$100,000 total will help to fund Alcohol 101 Plus educational programming produced by The Century Council, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to eliminating underage drinking. Gordon presented the first donation of US$10,000 to the University of Central Florida at the Daytona International Speedway on Friday (18 February). Throughout 2005, Robby Gordon Motorsports will present one local university in various NASCAR markets this season each with a US$10,000 check on behalf of his organization and Jim Beam. The donations will help fund each school’s implementation of The Century Council’s Alcohol 101 Plus education program and alcohol education activities. Team PR
Gordon’s Winning car Inducted Into DAYTONA USA Gordon’s Winning car Inducted Into DAYTONA USAFor the third time in his career, Jeff Gordon's #24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet will spend a year inside DAYTONA USA, the official attraction of NASCAR. Following his third Daytona 500 victory on Sunday at historic Daytona International Speedway, Gordon's winning #24 Chevrolet was inducted into the attraction on Monday morning in the Eckrich Champion's Breakfast. The car will rest inside Gatorade Victory Lane at DAYTONA USA for the next 364 days and will be returned to the team before the start of the 48th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 19, 2006. Gordon and his crew chief Robbie Loomis participated in a fan forum as enthusiastic race fans huddled together in the motorsports attraction. Gordon and Loomis also received their winning Daytona 500 leather jackets from Speedway President Robin Braig and Gatorade presented the 2005 Daytona 500 champ with a framed photo from the Victory Lane celebration. Another Daytona 500 tradition continued with the signing of the car by Gordon and his crew. But the Hendrick Motorsports crew added a new twist. Last week, Hendrick Motorsports mechanics who worked on the #24 car back at the shop in North Carolina signed a white paneled sticker just in case the car won the Daytona 500. That sticker now rests on bumper of the car. Following his induction ceremonies, Gordon will handle media obligations that come with a Daytona 500 victory in both New York City and in California. Included in the many appearances he's expected to make are Live with Regis and Kelly and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. DIS PR
Bad day for F1 testing Bad day for F1 testingIn the final week of pre-season running prior to Melbourne, tests were abandoned at Silverstone and Imola due to poor weather. At Silverstone (England), Renault, Red Bull and Jordan succumbed to the sub-zero temperature and intermittent snowfall. ''The circuit (was) closed for much of the day,'' read a Renault statement. Franck Montagny completed the most laps -- three.

Red Bull's David Coulthard, meanwhile - whose team later abandoned the sodden circuit - lapped just once. Jordan didn't run at all.

Renault, with McLaren also set to arrive, will attempt pit stop practice on Tuesday. On Monday, the team's pit crew were in action at Enstone HQ. Meanwhile, over at Imola (Italy), Sauber said snow made it 'impossible' to run a F1 program.

New teams to play GPWC against Bernie New teams to play GPWC against BernieDespite Sauber's decision to sign the 'GPWC' memorandum of understanding, newly-owned independent colleagues Jordan-Midland and Red Bull intend to make the carmaker group wait.  At a recent meeting, every team (including Minardi) except the aforementioned trio pledged their allegiance to the threatened 'breakaway' championship.

But Red Bull's Christian Horner explained to The Guardian: ''We have circulated a note to GPWC saying we are committed to the (current) ... championship ... until ... 2007.''  Jordan's new principal Trevor Carlin, similarly vowing to 'sit tight,' also indicated that the team was considering both the Concorde and GPWC route.  He told the newspaper: ''If we jump in (too soon) ... we will have no clout or influence.'' [Editor's Note: In other words, they will wait to see who gives them the best deal and will play one against the other.]

'I had to sell' - Jordan 'I had to sell' - JordanFear of bankruptcy and illness fuelled Eddie Jordan's decision to sell his grand prix team.  The veteran Irishman said the 'risk' of plugging ahead in 2005 had become 'far too great.  ''I had to sell,'' he told British tabloid News Of The World.   ''Bankruptcy would have been a horrible end and trying to raise the money just to keep going was ... becoming insane.''  Jordan, who founded the Northamptonshire-based team in 1991, also revealed that the burden of life at the back of the grid had started to have an impact on his health.  He added: ''This way, I've been given a dignified exit.''
2005 driver lineup 2005 driver lineup
Scuderia Ferrari
No.1- Michael Schumacher (Germany)
No.2- Rubens Barrichello (Brazil)
Test- Luca Badoer (Italy), Marc Gene (Spain)

No.3- Jenson Button (England)
No.4- Takuma Sato (Japan)
Test- Anthony Davidson (England)

No.5- Fernando Alonso (Spain)
No.6- Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy)
Test- Franck Montagny (France)

No.7- Mark Webber (Australia)
No.8- Nick Heidfeld (Germany)
Test- Antonio Pizzonia (Brazil)

No.9- Kimi Raikkonen (Finland)
No.10- Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia)
Third- Pedro de la Rosa (Spain)
Test- Alexander Wurz (Austria)

No.11- Jacques Villeneuve (Canada)
No.12- Felipe Massa (Brazil)
Test- (none)

Red Bull Racing-Cosworth
No.14- David Coulthard (Scotland)
No.15- Christian Klien (Austria)
Third- Vitantonio Liuzzi (Italy)

No.16- Jarno Trulli (Italy)
No.17- Ralf Schumacher (Germany)
Third- Ricardo Zonta (Brazil)
Test- Olivier Panis (France)

No.18- Narain Karthikeyan (India)
No.19- Tiago Monteiro (Portugal)
Third- TO BE CONFIRMED (Nicky Pastorelli)

No.20- Christijan Albers (The Netherlands)
No.21- Patrick Friesacher (Austria)
Test- Chanoch Nissany (Israel)

Da Matta tests on Homestead Road Course Da Matta tests on Homestead Road CoursePKV Racing's Cristiano da Matta completed his first full days of testing with the team running February 17-18 on the Homestead road course, in Homestead, Florida. Da Matta, who signed with PKV Racing on February 1, participated in a 'shakedown' session on February 4 at Sebring International Raceway, but had to leave the test due to his commitment to compete in the Rolex 24. As a result, the two-day test at Homestead was the first significant time the 2002 Series Champion has spent in a Champ Car in 27 months having competed in Formula One the last two seasons.

"PKV Racing had a very good test on the Homestead road course," said General Manager Jim McGee. "Cristiano (da Matta) ran both days and completed 350 miles. The two days of testing gave him a lot of track time to get reacquainted with a Champ Car and based on our data his times were very competitive," McGee noted. "However, the main objective of the test was to continue to work through our aerodynamic and mechanical programs and we made a lot of progress in both those areas. The PKV Racing crew also spent part of the test working on 'hot' pit stops in anticipation of the start of the 2005 season. Overall, it was a very good test for the team," concluded McGee.

Commenting on the test da Matta said, "I feel very positive after being in the PKV Racing car for two days. We ran a lot of miles and had no trouble. This was the first significant amount of time I have had to work with the engineers and mechanics and the fact that we were very competitive makes me excited. We still have a lot of work to do, but as of right now I know we can be competitive."

Da Matta went on to explain, "The first morning it took me a little time to get up to speed because I had to concentrate on coordinately my footwork. But, by the end of the morning session I was running competitive lap times and by the end of the first full day of testing I felt very comfortable in the PKV Racing car. I am glad that we have a little break in testing before going to Fontana. It will give me some time to go over things mentally. I know I still have some work to do, but by the time we get to the Fontana test I know I will be feeling even better than when I left Homestead. "

Next up for PKV Racing is three days of testing on the road course at California Speedway in Fontana, California, March 7-9. Both da Matta and teammate Jimmy Vasser will participate at the test.
GP2 Series schedules first test GP2 Series schedules first testThe GP2 series is pleased to announce that the first official test session of its inaugural championship season will take place at Circuit Paul Ricard, France, from Wednesday February 23rd until Friday February 25th.  Following delivery of the teams' first cars earlier this month, this private test will be the first opportunity for the 12 teams, their engineers, mechanics and drivers, to get to grips with the machinery that will be at their disposal for the 2005 campaign.  The test will also mark the very first occasion on which more than one GP2 car has run concurrently on the same track. GP2 series
Snap-on tools sponsors Spencer Snap-on tools sponsors SpencerMarking its 85th anniversary as a company and 10th season with Team ASE, Snap-on Tools Company, in association with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, unveiled a one-of-a-kind, one-race-only paint scheme for Jimmy Spencer's No. 2 Dodge Mopar Ultra Motorsports truck, which Spencer raced this weekend at the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Overall, the No. 2 truck started in the 21st position and finished in 2nd place.

To pay homage to Snap-on's unforgettable history, the front end of Spencer's truck featured an exclusive paint design with the familiar Snap-on red paint scheme accented by sterling silver flames and a special 85th anniversary emblem. The rear half of the truck featured a white background highlighting red Snap-on and blue ASE logos.

According to Carl Johanson, Snap-on Tools Motorsports marketing manager, "This year is a very special time for us as we look back with pride on our commitment to building the highest-quality tools and being the total solutions provider for professional technicians and racing teams. Our decade-long partnership with Team ASE has been part of that storied tradition and is very important to us as we look ahead with great excitement."
Snap-on Tools is a charter member of the Team ASE/Ultra Motorsports racing family, serving as a sponsor during every one of the team's 10 seasons. In January 2005, Jimmy Spencer joined fellow Ultra teammate Ted Musgrave, driver of the No. 1 Mopar Dodge for each of the 25 truck series races.

"Together, the partnership between ASE and Snap-on has experienced firsthand the incredible growth of the Truck Series and Team ASE," said Ron Weiner, ASE president.  "For years, our drivers, crews and teams have relied on Snap-on tools to perform at their best under extreme conditions. And every time performance counts, Snap-on tools have been there."

Renault gets frozen out of Silverstone Renault gets frozen out of SilverstoneFreezing temperatures and intermittent snow showers prevented the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team from completing any useful running during today's test session at Silverstone. The circuit remained closed for much of the day, and Franck Montagny completed just three laps during the afternoon, conducting installation laps and systems checks.

The team will remain at Silverstone tomorrow, hoping for improved conditions in order to conduct pit-stop practice with Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella. Franck Montagny will also be present, and the team hopes to run an acclimatization program for his first full run in the R25.

Monday test times from Valencia Monday test times from ValenciaMcLaren dominated the first day of the final test at Valencia before the new season kicks off next week. The team's two test drivers were in action completing over 230 laps between them and finishing over two seconds clear of Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.

Mark Webber was in action driving for the BMW WilliamsF1 team. Despite the cold weather Webber managed over 80 laps in the cold but sunny conditions. "Mark was on duty for the team today in Valencia and spent the morning concentrating on set-up work while in the afternoon he carried out some tire testing for Michelin," said test team manager Tim Newton. "Despite strong winds, Mark managed to complete 81 laps. He will be joined by Nick Heidfeld tomorrow."
Driver Constructor Time Laps
1. Pedro de la Rosa Team McLaren Mercedes 1m09.030s 128
2. Alex Wurz Team McLaren Mercedes 1m09.047s 107
3. Michael Schumacher Scuderia Ferrari 1m11.334s 92
4. Mark Webber Williams BMW 1m11.505s 82
5. Rubens Barrichello Scuderia Ferrari 1m11.666s 83

F1 tires, Michelin has the upper hand right now F1 tires, Michelin has the upper hand right nowFor the 2005 season the tire manufacturers need to make sure their tires are durable enough to last, but soft enough to help produce good lap times without graining. In the 2004 season the Michelin’s suffered more than the Bridgestones in this respect, but it seems as if now the tide has turned….

“It seems as though, with a new, slightly stronger compound, we are not as shaken in that field.” revealed Michelin’s Pierre Dupasquier in weekly French magazine Auto Hebdo. “On the other hand, and this is just personal thoughts, it seems as though Bridgestone are discovering this phenomenon, which they did not know last year!”

“They (Bridgestone) have a fast first lap, then worsen and lose a second during the second and third lap, to then gain their performances back. The future will tell us whether this will remain the situation or not,” he added. “We have slightly increased the structure’s toughness on our products, which means that we hardly grain anymore.”

With that said, Bridgestone was behind at this juncture last year, then came out with a new tire just before the season opener and Ferrari went on to dominate the season. Don't underestimate Bridgestone's ability to respond.

Former Champ Car title winners hit the testing trail Former Champ Car title winners hit the testing trailJust two weeks removed from trying their hands at sports-car racing, 2002 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion Cristiano da Matta and 2003 title winner Paul Tracy got back down to their primary businesses with Champ Car testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Tracy and his Forsythe Championship Racing squad made their first test laps of the 2005 preseason, running two days of testing on the Homestead infield road course. They were joined by PKV Racing over the two days as da Matta completed his second and third test days of the year.

“I'm really excited about being back in the car,” Tracy said. “We worked through our testing program and didn't have any problems at all. We concentrated on making the car better than last year and I think we are moving in the right direction. We ran our fastest laps on the last run of each day so we know we were making some good progress.”

Neither team reported any major problems and each turned approximately 175 miles per day on the Florida track, which hosted Champ Cars on the oval from 1997-2000.

“PKV Racing had a very good test,” said new PKV Racing Team Manager Jim McGee. “Cristiano ran both days which gave him a lot of track time to get reacquainted with a Champ Car and based on our past data his times were very competitive. However, the main objective of the test was to continue to work through our aerodynamic and mechanical programs and we made a lot of progress in both those areas.”

Forsythe’s squad ran just the one car for Tracy over the two days as they continue preparations on the rest of its 2005 Champ Car program but Forsythe Championship Racing General Manager Neil Micklewright reported that the team got a lot done in its first outing of the year.

 “Overall we were pretty pleased,” Micklewright said. “We tried some various geometries on the car and we went back and re-tested some of the things we used last year to make sure that they were things we wanted to use. It was good to get everybody back in the groove.”

Both PKV Racing and Forsythe Championship Racing will take the next couple of weeks to analyze the data before heading out to Fontana for a March 7-9 test session on the California Speedway infield road course. Champ Car

Nine cars to the Dyno Nine cars to the DynoNASCAR took nine cars to the engine dyno following the race: the top five finishers — #24-Jeff Gordon, #97-Kurt Busch, #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #10-Scott Riggs and #48-Jimmie Johnson, #07-Dave Blaney, #37-Kevin Lepage, #2-Rusty Wallace and #6-Mark Martin. The engine dyno, which NASCAR uses to measure rpms to find out who is generating the most horsepower, is used a few times a year at bigger tracks such as Daytona, Talladega and Michigan. FoxSports/Sporting News
New "X-measurement" New "X-measurement"Nextel Cup teams were given a new "X-measurement" across the roof of the cars that lines up with the original X-measurement that stretches across the rear windows. Before the change, teams could lengthen the right side of the car, which would give the driver an aerodynamic advantage, especially in the corners. FoxSports/Sporting News
Sauber signs GPWC MOU Sauber signs GPWC MOUSources claim that Sauber has followed the example of McLaren, WilliamsF1, Renault, Toyota, Minardi and BAR, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Grand Prix World Championship.

This means that only two of the nine 'rebel' teams - Jordan and Red Bull - have yet to sign, a tremendous boost for the GPWC, though as witnessed with a previous MOU between the GPWC, Bernie Ecclestone's FOA and the SLEC shareholders, these actually mean little.

Contacted by Pitpass on Monday afternoon, a Sauber spokesperson confirmed that the team has signed the MOU but was unable to give further details. Sauber's decision to sign up, in the wake of Ferrari's shock decision to stick with Bernie Ecclestone and F1, is further proof of the 'rift' between the Swiss outfit and its engine supplier, a rift that (apparently) began when the Swiss team signed up to the cost cutting measures proposed at the Brazilian GP, a move that caused team boss Peter Sauber much discomfort.

In the last week the GPWC has gained much credibility, with several insiders admitting that they were very impressed with the breakaway series' recent presentation. One team boss has told Pitpass that the presentation was "very, very professional" and that the team behind the series has "clearly done its homework". Pitpass.com
Don't call NASCAR redneck anymore Don't call NASCAR redneck anymoreAshton Kutcher, the honorary starter, spoke of his bitterness of being told he couldn't wear blue jeans to a news conference before Sunday's Daytona 500.  "I couldn't understand because it's one of the biggest redneck sports . . ." he began.  Then the TV/film star quickly threw his comments in reverse when reaction was negative.  "Rednecks in a good way, I'm a redneck," Kutcher quickly added. "I've never watched a race in khaki pants before."

Auto racing doesn't seem to fit the stereotype of good ol' boys anymore. At least NASCAR seems to be fighting that image with full force.  Three hours before racing started, NASCAR opened a virtual non-stop flood of celebs into the infield media room.

They ranged from actress Vanessa Williams (who sang the National Anthem) to Boston Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon, an Orlando Dr. Phillips High School graduate, to war hero Jessica Lynch and Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame.

Williams even called her role in Sunday's race, "One of those once in a lifetime experiences."  From athletes to actors to singers, a racetrack packed with celebrities all paid respects to the sport and its drivers. More at Florida Today

Pit stop practice for Renault Pit stop practice for RenaultOne of the effects of this winter's changes to the technical and sporting regulations has been to change the way pit-stops will happen: not only do the strategy experts predict one less stop per race on average, but in dry conditions the tires will not be changed. Make no mistake though -- the mechanics still have a key role to play, and that's why the Renault F1 Team mechanics were hard at work yesterday on pit-stop practice at Enstone.

"The key to a successful pit-stop is training," explains Chief Mechanic Jonathan Wheatley. "No stop is ever perfect: the driver can come in too quickly, or you can have a minor problem aligning the fuel hose. The secret is how well the team recovers from any of those small problems. There is not time to give people instructions during a stop -- so we have to rely on proper training."

This meant the mechanics spent yesterday rehearsing every possible scenario they may encounter during a race, in two one hour sessions at the Whiteways Technical Centre. After a briefing, they completed a one hour session in the morning, conducted a performance evaluation, then another hour in the afternoon. But why bother, if the pit-stops won't even include tire changes?

"It's true that the stops will look slightly different in the dry," acknowledges Wheatley, "but if conditions change and we need to fit wet tires, or if it rains through a race, then we will have to change tires and fuel the car at the same time... which means we have to train for the possibility. The new rules don't actually change our practice that much: we need to prepare for the 90% of likely scenarios we will encounter, and also the 10% of unlikely ones!"

After sacrificing their Sunday, the mechanics will be in action once again at Silverstone on Tuesday, when they conduct live simulations with the race drivers. "People don't always see the teamwork involved in F1," concludes Wheatley. "The pit-stops are a visible symbol of it, and they give the mechanics a role in the race that can mean we win or lose positions. That is a big responsibility, and one we take very seriously." Renault

Weather again cancels Sauber test Weather again cancels Sauber testThe Sauber team little track time on Sunday due to the rain and snow and had hoped for better conditions on Monday. However, it was not to be. "Due to snow on the track and very low temperatures it became impossible to run the cars and therefore we decided to discontinue the test," said Willy Rampf, Sauber's Technical Director. Consequently we were not able to conduct our program in the originally planned extent. This cancellation does not have a direct impact on our preparations for Melbourne." Sauber
Formula 3
American Charlie Kimball signs with Carlin American Charlie Kimball signs with CarlinTwenty year old American Charlie Kimball has signed to compete with Carlin Motorsport in the 2005 British Formula 3 International Championship. Kimball completes the driver line-up for the double championship winning team and both parties are looking to continue their heritage of success. Kimball plans to build on a successful season in the British Formula Ford Championship where he notched up two wins and three poles, and Carlin is keen as ever to repeat their Championship winning form of 2001 and 2003.

Carlin team principal, Trevor Carlin said, "Charlie is a nice kid and will bring a lot to the team. All our drivers are inexperienced but so is most of the grid. This will be the year of the rookie."

Kimball visited the team in Aldershot, England, on Thursday February 17th for a seat fitting in preparation for his first test on February 22nd. "I’m really looking forward to this step up – I’ve done quite a lot of F3 testing in the off season so I know the old car and now my team mates and I have the responsibility of giving useful feedback to the Carlin engineers in the new 2005 Dallara," said Kimball. "I am really excited about this season- I know the tracks and the racing, and relish the technical challenge of Formula Three."

For more information on Charlie Kimball, please visit www.CharlieKimball.com, and for more information on Carlin Motorsport, please visit www.Carlin.co.uk.

Sepang taking advantage of Indian driver's popularity Sepang taking advantage of Indian driver's popularitySepang International Circuit organizer and promoter of the 2005 Malaysian Grand Prix, has arranged a sales mission in Bollywood next week to take advantage of the F1 fever in India.

“There’s a lot of excitement in India now on F1 with their driver Narain Karthikeyan racing this season with Jordan. It’s only rationale that we make full use of this opportunity to woo in more fans from India,” explained SIC General Manager Ahmad Mustafa.

“We had close to 1,000 fans from India last year. Now, with an Indian driver on the starting grid and a host of corporate sponsors from India supporting his cause, I am confident that we could get many more fans from India."

Apart from a presentation for a group of 60 corporate sponsors in Mumbai, Ahmad Mustafa would also be meeting the local journalists and TV to promote the 2005 Grand Prix. India had always been a key market for Sepang and its main agents Kouni Travel and Trust Holidays of India has a comprehensive networking of sub-agents throughout the country.

“We also had a good turnout of about 800 fans from India for the 2003 event when Bollywood star Celina Jaitley was made the F1 Ambassador,” said Ahmad, adding that Celina was a significant factor that contributed to the attendance of 103,485 fans for the 2003 race.

“Between Sepang and Shanghai, I strongly believed that they would prefer to come to Sepang because the Chinese Grand Prix would be a little too long for them to wait to see their hero in action,” concluded Ahmad. Source SIC

NASCAR sponsorship sends stocks higher NASCAR sponsorship sends stocks higherThis USA Today article says, Racing fans weren't the only ones riveted to the corporate logo-covered NASCAR racers in Sunday's Daytona 500: Wall Street has picked up on the huge popularity of auto racing and is rewarding companies that are connected with it.  Companies such as Ford Motor, General Mills and Georgia-Pacific have enjoyed big returns on the stock market after announcing they are sponsoring a NASCAR team, according to a study of 24 sponsors.

Researchers found the companies enjoyed mean gains in stock market value of more than $300 million the two days after the announcement.

"It's big money," says Stephen Pruitt, finance professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and study co-author, adding that no other sports sponsorship triggers this kind of stock reaction. "Investors recognize that when a company does a sponsorship of a NASCAR team, it gets them into a loyal and moneyed demographic."

The study found that sponsors from the auto industry enjoy the biggest gains. Companies such as Ford Motor and DaimlerChrysler saw 2.4% average increases in their stock prices, beating the 1.3% average stock price gains of all the sponsors.

Tim Conder, leisure analyst at A.G. Edwards, says Wall Street's initial reaction is reasonable because racing fans will increase their spending on a company's product by a factor of three after a NASCAR sponsorship. "The NASCAR fans are very loyal," he says.

Consumers have a stronger connection with auto racing than with other sports. "Everyone drives a car. There's a more direct association," Conder says. So if a car sponsored by Ford wins, it's a positive reflection on the brand.

Also, NASCAR sponsors have much freedom and can slap their names and logos onto just about everything in the sport, says Abe Madkour, executive editor at Sports Business Journal. "Everywhere you look in NASCAR, there's a sign on a car, track or (guard) rail," he says. "The opportunities to maximize your exposure are plentiful."  More.....

Monteiro and Jordan wrap up testing in Spain Monteiro and Jordan wrap up testing in SpainJordan Grand Prix moved on Friday into the fourth and final day of the team's test at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. Tiago Monteiro schedule concentrated on race simulation work for reliability testing in the morning. At the end of the test day, Monteiro completed 120 laps.

Tiago Monteiro said "It was very important because every kilometer of running is valuable and as always, I wanted to do more than as had done in the week so far. So I was really eager to go out and do a lot of laps. We had planned our first qualifying and race simulation which we were a little bit anxious about, but it went very well - I did 56 laps and two stops. It was great and physically I'm really happy as I had no problems at all. In the afternoon we tested various parts of the car and we improved the lap times a lot. We are getting slightly closer to the front, more or less three seconds from the fastest time, which is not bad considering how little running we have had. The whole week has been one of evolution. We have been through a lot, tried out a lot of things and learned a lot. I feel like I have integrated well with the people on the team and I'm really enjoying it. So far so good?.

Driver Team Time
F. Alonso Renault (M) 1:13.971
G. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:14.074
R. Schumacher Toyota (M) 1: 16.518
N. Karthikeyan Jordan (B) 1:16.999
T. Monteiro Jordan (B) 1:17.560
N. Pastorelli Jordan (B) 1:24.731
(B) Bridgestone
(M) Michelin

World Series by Renault
Robert Kubica tops test in Paul Ricard Robert Kubica tops test in Paul RicardThe World Series by Renault 2005 Teams did spend another worthy day of work in the Circuit Paul Ricard HTTT. Tomorrow they will transfer to the Circuit of Catalunya, in Barcelona, where they will test for two days (23-24 February).

In the second day, with the improved track conditions, the expert drivers were soon in decent lap times. Simon Pagenaud was very fast in the morning session, followed by Robert Kubica (Epsilon Euskadi) and Marko Winkelhok (Draco Multiracing USA) packed in a few tenths of a second.

But the fastest lap time ever was to be set by the Polish Robert Kubica, improving the best time of a 2004 WS car by 3 tenths of a second. "The test has been very interesting for me. After 20 laps yesterday I have spent the day testing different solutions in the car. The World Series by Renault is going to be a very tough championship because the best teams of the WS and the FRV6 are in it, and the level will be very high."

Pagenaud and Salignon, both in a Saulnier Racing car, finished second and third of the day, but they were not able to beat Alx Danielsson's (Dams) best register the day before. 2004 FRV6 winner Giorgo Mondini (Eurointernational) achieved the sixth fastest time, behind Andy Zuber (Carlin Motorsport).

The former DTM driver Marko Winkelhok (Draco Multiracing USA), trying to get used to single-seater competitions again, was 4th overall in today's test: "This is really different from DTM. I'm learning the car and the circuit. I don't know Barcelona at all. The Team is fantastic and they are helping me a lot. I think it will be a very interesting Season for me."

In the morning Pastor Maldonado (DAMS) had a big crash in the second corner when he was in new tires. The French team did a hard work repairing the car and the RDD driver was able to complete five some laps.

Italians Alex Ciompi and Raffaele Gianmaria, testing for Avelon and GD Racing respectively, were the only drivers that did not use new tires as both cars suffered engine problems.

World Series by Renault- Circuit Paul Ricard HTTT
Day Two
20 February 2005
Best Timed Laps

1. Robert Kubica (POL) Epsilon Euskadi 1.16.795 88
2. Simon Pagenaud (FRA) Saulnier Racing 1.17.125 54
3. Eric Salignon (FRA) Saulnier Racing 1.17.283 33
4. Marko Wilnhelhok (AST) Draco Multiracing USA 1.17.371 48
5. Alex Zuber (AST) Carlin Motorsport 1.17.788 104
6. Giorgio Mondini (ITA) Eurointernational 1.17.865 99
7. Patrick Pilet (FRA) Jenzer Motorsport 1.18.222 49
8. Stefano Proetto (ITA) Interwetten 1.18.257 97
9. Robert Antinucci (USA) RC Motorsport 1.18.472 96
10. Ernesto Viso (VEN) Cram Competicion 1.18.669 90
11. Pastor Maldonado (VEN) DAMS 1.18.696 36
12. Raffaele Gianmaria (ITA) GD Racing 1.19.012 92
13. Alex Ciompi (ITA) Avelon Racing 1.19.461 61
14. Colin Fleming (USA) Jenzer Motorsport 1.19.820 25

Collective Test
Day One (19/02/2005)
Best Timed Laps

1. Alx Danielsson (SUE) DAMS 1.17.090 691
2. Will Power (AUS) Carlin Motorsport 1.17.127 103
3. Simon Pagenaud (FRA) Saulnier Racing 1.17.680 98
4. Eric Salignon (FRA) Saulnier Racing 1.17.943 56
5. Marko Wilnhelhok (AST) Draco Multiracing USA 1.18.099 66
6. Robert Kubica (POL) Epsilon Euskadi 1.18.111 12
7. Patrick Pilet (FRA) Jenzer Motorsport 1.18.249 38
8. Damien Pasini(FRA) Cram Competition 1.18.373 89
10. Félix Porteiro (ESP) Epsilon Euskadi 1.18.426 58
11. Matteo Meneghello (ITA) Eurointernational 1.18.510 97
12. Jaap van Laagen (NED) KTR 1.18.517 72
13. Colin Fleming (USA) Jenzer Motorsport 1.18.911 65
14. Giovanni Tedeschi (ITA) RC Motorsport 1.19.159 98
15. Tomas Kostka (CZ) GD Racing 1.19.343 111
16. Stefano Proetto (ITA) Interwetten 1.19.376 39
17. Olivier Thielemans (NED) Draco Multiracing USA 1.20.600 44
18. Fred Vervisch (NED) Avelon Racing 1.21.622 92

Press Release RPM

Chevy wins Daytona 500 Chevy wins Daytona 500Chevrolet won the 47th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway. Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo, won the legendary event, taking the checkered flag after a dramatic two-lap shootout at the finish. The win represents Chevrolet's fourth victory during this year's Speedweeks after sweeping both Gatorade 150 races on Thursday and the Busch Series event on Saturday.

"This is a great start to the season for Chevrolet as we attempt to defend the manufacturers' title in 2005," said Alba Colon, program manager for Chevrolet's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup program. "It was a great drive by Jeff Gordon to capture his third Daytona 500 win and we're happy to see all of our teams do well today, particularly the #10 team. There were a few unfortunate incidents along the way but overall, we had five out of the top 10 cars. This is a day we have been working toward for months."

Chevrolet Monte Carlo race cars led more laps of the Daytona 500 than any other; Tony Stewart led over half the race in his #20 Home Depot Chevrolet Monte Carlo, but after a string of caution periods near the end of the race, Gordon made his move to the front and took his 70th career NEXTEL Cup victory. The Chevrolet driver has now won six races at Daytona, including the last two and is proving to be a master of restrictor plate racing after taking three of the last four at the two superspeedway tracks on NASCAR's schedule.

"I knew all week that the team had done an amazing job on the car," said Gordon. "I know how much effort the guys on this team have put in every single year to try to win this thing. Sometimes you get the results and sometimes you don't. But when you've got a car like I had this week, you certainly want to take advantage of it. You know, it was just a fantastic day and a fantastic car."  NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition returns next weekend at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. GM Racing

Petty Rips Harvick Petty Rips HarvickCount Kyle Petty as another driver who isn't ready to sing "Kumbaya" with Kevin Harvick, who instigated Thursday's big crash after "bump-drafting" Jimmie Johnson along a turn. The dicey strategy involves a trailing car bumping the car ahead of it. "It is absolutely, positively idiotic," Petty said. "At 180 mph, whether you're running in a straight line or you're running in the corner, you shouldn't be running into people. We should be better drivers than to run into each other. Let's go back 10-15-20 years; who heard of bump drafting? People raced each other clean." Orlando Sentinel
Fan Injured after race Friday Night Fan Injured after race Friday NightA race fan was injured late Friday night when a transporter ran over him as it was leaving the track.  The truck was leaving the infield after Friday night's race at Daytona International Speedway when a golf cart cut in front of it. The driver of the cart lost control, hit a bump and a passenger was ejected. The truck then ran over the male fan, Matthew Jensen of St. Petersburg, Daytona spokesman David Talley said.  Jensen was transported to Halifax Medical Center, where he underwent surgery Friday night and was in intensive care Saturday, Talley said.  Also, another unidentified male fan died of a heart attack in an offsite parking lot, Talley said.  Jackson Sun
Champ Car must act now Champ Car must act nowDear AutoRacing1.com, Well, I knew it would be painful, but I got through it. The season premier of Wind Tunnel With Dave Despain. 95% of the show was NASCAR. Blah! Blah! Blah! I am sure it will get better as usual once other series get going. Nice bit of info from Robin Miller on Vitor Meira not being sponsored by Centrix. Could this be the news coming from Newman/Haas? I keep hearing that Champ Car has good news to let out of the bag, but time is running out. I would highly suggest if they have any kind of good news to report they get it out soon. I personally hope they do. I have always been, and I think always will be, pro Champ Car. But now is the time for them to act. NASCAR is huge, but still only caters to people whose heads spin in circles. The IRL is what it has always been, (crap), and the almighty Formula 1 is possibly in trouble of becoming CART/IRL all over again. I know everyone in Champ Car is working very hard and have done some nice things, but now is the time they must blow the IRL dead out of the water and become a premier series again. I'm sticking with Champ Car all the way. Try to improve in 2005, then hit them big time in '06. Here's hoping for all that good news very soon. Deke McTeer, Twin Lake, MI Dear Deke, Expect to hear a number of Champ Car team sponsor and driver announcements between now and the opener in Long Beach. As for Centrix leaving the IRL, they are not the only sponsor that has left Indy Car Racing. Before the split, Indy Car Racing under CART had more corporate sponsorship (in dollars) than NASCAR. Since the creation of the IRL and the split, most of those sponsors are now in NASCAR. The damage that the split has done to Indy Car Racing is unconscionable. Mark C.
Brian France keeps accelerating Brian France keeps accelerating"I think when we're all dead and they write the history of NASCAR - granted the wheels had been put in motion by Bill Jr. - they'll say Brian was the one that came in and realized that you had to make major changes to align yourself with the new sports fan," ABC commentator Jack Arute Jr. said. "I think the great part with Brian is that he didn't have this long legacy of being a passionate auto racing fan. He had exposure in the business community and understood what needed to be done. I have the utmost respect for Bill Sr. and I have even more respect for Bill Jr., but Brian was a guy that when he first came, I wasn't convinced, and he has converted me and made me his No. 1 fan. I really like his thought process and I like what he's doing." More at Hartford Courant....
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
No F1 for Dominguez
Snow stopped Imola run
Dutchman to land Jordan job
McLaren in F1 quit threat
Williams 'not a top team'
'Still time' for Verstappen
Klien's in - official
Schu better than me - DC
Cosworth's F1 coup
Oz minister to drive F1
Schu nearly joined McLaren
'Flaw' in FW27 design
'Why I fired Frentzen'
GPWC win seventh F1 team
'I don't want Bernie's job'
Schu set for 'difficult' year
'Ferrari still favorite'
Ralf likes Sunday quali
RB to tackle Schu - Brawn
Fisi on track for Oz triumph
Jordan to run 'third' car?
Malaysia and India
World Series by Renault
New 3.5-liter WSR car 2 sec faster than F3000 New 3.5-liter WSR car 2 sec faster than F3000At the time the World Series by Renault teams start working with their drivers in Paul Ricard so as to prepare the 2005 Season, the development team in charge of the Formula Renault 3.5 and the Mégane Trophy finished their program after 3 days of testing in Vallelunga, Italy.

Jonathan Cochet, the driver in charge of the development of the Formula Renault 3.5, had completed 1400 km. in the circuit of Vallelunga. The Frenchman, that reported to feel very comfortable with the car in this track, lap-in 1.01.800, which means that the new World Series car has been two seconds fastest than the former F3000.

The development test has been focused in the validation of the final version of the engine and the tire compound Michelin S505. The test also served to check different technical aspects of the car, specially the cooling system.

Testing then moved to Paul Ricard HTTT. Alx Danielsson (DAMS) topped the list of times of the first day of collective test, where the World Series by Renault Teams are preparing the 2005 Season.

The World Series by Renault Teams run the 2004 chassis as they will get the first FR 3.5 unit at the end of the month. Most of the teams present in Paul Ricard are already working with their confirmed drivers, but some others are in the middle of an evaluation process.
The last confirmation came from the Team Jenzer Motorsport. They have signed the French Formula Renault champion Patrick Pilet. With this announcement the Swiss Team has completed his 2005 line-up, alongside the USA driver Colin Fleming.

The first day of testing has been sunny and the Mistral only blow during the late hours of the afternoon, what has made the journey quite easy for the drivers. Nevertheless, the maximum air temperature was never higher than 8C Celsius.

Alx Danielsson (1.17.090) was the fastest driver today, completing 69 laps. The Sweden driver even beat the best time of a WS car in this Circuit (Kubica, 1.17.394, in December 2004).

“The Team has rented the Dallara-Nissan on purpose for this test so we start the day from zero," said Danielsson. "We spend a lot of time with the set-up so I just had 30 laps in the afternoon where I can really profit. It’s the first time I drive such a powerful car and DAMS is the most professional team I have ever work with. I’m delighted to have signed with them and I’m really confident for the Season.”

Will Power was testing with Carlin Motorsport and was in command of the World Series drivers after the morning session. The Australian driver will continue to test wit the Team in Barcelona, as Sunday Alex Zuber, the only confirmed driver in the British outfit, will be on duty.

Saulnier Racing finished the day with his driver, Simon Pageneud, in third position. The Runner-up in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2000 has impressed very much in his first ever test in Paul Ricard. “I did not know the track, neither the car, but I have enjoyed a lot. There are a lot of good drivers here so I’m more than happy to see myself in the top three positions." WSR

Rain and snow halt Sauber Rain and snow halt SauberSauber Petronas continued its three-day test at the Circuit Enzo e Dino Ferrari today but with rain and then snow falling, the day was essentially a washout with neither driver recording a representative lap time.

Jacques Villeneuve covered nine laps in chassis C24-01. Felipe Massa ran only the installation lap in chassis C24-02.

"Originally we had planned for Felipe to test Michelin tires for the Imola race in April, and Jacques was supposed to run a race simulation," said Chief Race Engineer Jacky Eeckelaert. "However, due to the bad weather conditions and in consequence the cold track surface the tires didn't reach the necessary operation temperature."

"Under these circumstances testing had been too dangerous and moreover pointless. We will see tomorrow morning if the weather and track conditions will allow us to complete our test. Nonetheless we are happy that we didn't have this situation yesterday already, but that we were able to run a lot of laps to gather valuable data." Sauber

Honda forced Jordan to sack Frentzen Honda forced Jordan to sack FrentzenEddie Jordan has finally said why he fired Heinz-Harald Frentzen in 2001 – to appease Honda who wanted a Japanese driver, even though Frentzen was the better driver. Jordan told Irish newspaper The Sunday Independent that he was forced into dropping Frentzen because Honda wanted Japanese driver Takuma Sato.

"At the time I couldn't let him renew the contract because my only way of holding onto the Honda engine was by giving Sato the drive,” said Jordan. I loved Frentzen. He won more grands prix for Jordan than anyone else. But I had to protect the engine situation - that was absolutely crucial. I took it on the chin. Nobody except myself and one or two in Jordan realized why I had to do what I did. I was in a position I hated. I wanted to keep Frentzen but I couldn't.”

NASCAR hooks Mr. Casual Fan NASCAR hooks Mr. Casual FanThe most powerful person in sports today is not Bud Selig, Paul Tagliabue or David Stern. It's not George Steinbrenner or Mark Cuban, not Barry Bonds or Shaquille O'Neal. It's not even Victor Conte.

No, the most powerful person in sports today is Mr. Casual Fan.

Sports executives lie awake at night dreaming up ways to win over the casual fan. They know if they can lure the go-with-the-flow viewer, they are guaranteed a winner in the all-important television ratings.

No one will ever touch the NFL in terms of popularity, of course, but beyond that nothing is certain. Every sport has its die-hard fans, some more than others, but the casual fan is fickle, which is why he's become so powerful. It is the casual fan who decides which sport is hot and, subsequently, which sport rakes in the most sponsorship dollars.

People who can recite Robin Yount's lifetime batting average on command or diagram Bo Ryan's swing offense on a bar napkin don't want to hear it, but the hottest sport in the country is auto racing. Actually, it's NASCAR, which has reduced all other forms of racing to minor league status.

With the Nextel Cup season-opening Daytona 500 set for today, the Wisconsin State Journal was able to convince Mr. Casual Fan to sit long enough for a question-and-answer session.

Q: What is your favorite sport these days, Mr. Fan?
A: Easy, it's auto racing. Since the major networks discovered NASCAR four years ago, it has become the hottest thing on television this side of "Desperate Housewives."

Q: What did you watch before NASCAR hit it big?

A: A little football, a little baseball, a little basketball, golf, tennis, poker. All the biggies.

Q: What about hockey?

A: What's hockey?

Q: Fair enough. But how did NASCAR get you to watch a bunch of guys who do nothing but turn left for 4 hours most Sunday afternoons?

A: It's simple. NASCAR is what sport used to be in this country.  Like I said, auto racing is what football, basketball, baseball and hockey used to be. There are no preening showboaters, no steroid scandals, no season-ending labor disputes, no contract holdouts, no competitive imbalance. About the worst thing these guys do is raise their rear spoiler an eighth of an inch higher than they're allowed. Plus, NASCAR is the most fan-friendly sport going. If a driver goes into the stands, it is to sign an autograph, not nail some patron with a right hook.

Q: But how did a sport that has its roots in the once-thriving moonshine industry go mainstream?

A: For one thing, it's perfect for TV. Look at the sports that are thriving today. Football, baseball, basketball, golf and auto racing all translate well to the small screen. Get enough cameras and everything can be replayed from 15 angles. Especially the crashes. More at Wisconsin State Journal

Indy offers little to wave flag about Indy offers little to wave flag aboutThis Houston Chronicle article says, with only 20 in series, field in Indianapolis could be difficult to fill.  The hottest IndyCar racer at the end of 2004 can't find a ride going into the 2005 season. Adrian Fernandez's plight pretty well sums up the problems of open-wheel racing in North America, with the IRL and the Champ Car circuits continuing to go their separate ways.  The popular 41-year-old Mexican driver they call "Mu-chacho" won three of the final six races down the stretch, only to have his sponsors — Quaker State of Mexico and Telemex — pop his balloon, cutting off the cash flow because the IRL lacks a presence in Mexico, which is Champ Car turf. More...
George’s role as team owner draws criticism George’s role as team owner draws criticismThis Indiana Business Journal article pans Tony George for owning an IRL team, basically because he compromises his position as series owner (potential conflicts of interest.). To be fair, Champ Car has the same situation as Messrs. Kalkhoven, Forsythe and Gentilozzi all own race teams as well as a piece of the series. However, what is hypocritical about George is that everything he criticized about the old CART, the IRL has now essentially copied, including, now, team owners also running the series. So we ask again, what was the real reason the IRL was created? Answer, because Tony George wanted control. Result? He's destroyed Indy Car racing by splitting it. If he had become a team owner in CART, for 1/4 of what he has spent on the IRL he could have run three 2-car teams for American drivers and had all the influence in CART he wanted, perhaps even taking it over from the inside. Look at where the sport was in 1995, and by every measure imaginable, it is now in far worse shape. A politician or a company President with such a record would have been run out of town a long time ago.
Briatore: Schumacher was like a taxicab driver Briatore: Schumacher was like a taxicab driverRenault boss Flavio Briatore told the Sunday Telegram newspaper he had high hopes that his Spanish driver Fernando Alonso could take the fight to Ferrari's Michael Schumacher this season.

"We and other teams must put Michael under more pressure because last season he was like a taxi driver, with one arm out of the window. It was so easy," he said.

"If you put him under pressure you can be successful, as (Damon) Hill and (Mika) Hakkinen were. We have to do that for the good of the sport and I think it will be better this year."

Raikkonen like a breath of fresh air Raikkonen like a breath of fresh airKimi Raikkonen's recent exposure of his private parts in a London lap-dancing club should be seen as a breath of fresh air for Formula One, according to Renault boss Flavio Briatore. "If Raikkonen was my driver and he went to a club for a drink and some fun, I would have no problem with that," the Italian, famed for his own playboy lifestyle, told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

"We have to understand that a young driver is not a robot. As long as he is not drinking the night before a race, why not?  You don't want drivers to be like bookkeepers. A driver needs to have a personality," said Briatore.  "What Raikkonen did is like a breath of fresh air. Maybe he should be given a drink before he speaks to the press in the future."

McLaren were unhappy with the reports. "We've got a whole range of multi-national brands that are associated with our team and they don't invest in Formula One for this sort of imagery," chief operating officer Martin Whitmarsh said at the time.

"Now the kids look like they are fabricated," said Briatore. "They're all the same. I don't recognize 60 percent of them out of their overalls. I used to know them all -- now I can't even pronounce some of their names."

Schumacher must change his driving style Schumacher must change his driving styleMichael Schumacher is prepared for a tough challenge in 2005 and he has been warned by Ross Brawn that'll have to change his driving style to adapt to the new tire regulations for 2005.

"I'm sure it will be a much more difficult year," Michael told The Sunday Times. "Firstly, it was unexpected for us to be much stronger than the others at the start of 2004, and whatever mistakes they made they probably won't repeat. At the same time, it has been very tough to get to where we are and we'd like to hold on. I believe we can."

Meanwhile, Brawn, the Ferrari technical director, acknowledged that the new rule which requires drivers to use the same set of tires through qualifying and a race, will require Schumacher to change styles. "One thing Michael does supremely is drive in stints - say, 20 laps flat out, then come in and change the tires and start again," Brawn explained. "This year, with only being allowed one set of tires per race, he'll have to adapt. What's interesting is that he has always been harder on tires than Rubens [Barrichello], so he's going to have to be much more measured."

Renault’s countdown to the season opener Renault’s countdown to the season openerDuring the weeks between the launch of a Formula One car and the start of a new season, the sole aims of some 800 people are to perfect its reliability and performance.   On February 1st 2005, the new Renault R25 was officially presented to the world. However, in contrast to the bustle of the photographers' flashes, speeches and general festivities of the launch in Monaco, the atmosphere was far more studious back at Enstone and Viry-Châtillon. The countdown to the season's curtain- raiser was already well underway and everyone at Renault F1 Team was conscious that every day that passed had to be put to maximum effect… More....
F1 technology and its influence in road car design F1 technology and its influence in road car designAs the over 600 employees at Toyota Motorsport created the TF105, few would realize what a profound effect their hard work could have on the future development of Toyota road cars around the world.

"There is actually a total interaction between the road car side and the F1 program in regards to technology transfer," explained Toyota Motorsport President John Howett. "Although we wouldn't see the identical part on an F1 car replicated in a road car or vice versa, the technology, design and production methodology we have implemented goes directly back into Toyota Motor Corporation and is used to further enhance their capabilities for new model designs."

Existing technology and know-how from the production of Toyota road cars is manipulated specifically for use in the F1 program and subsequently taken to new levels before being drafted back into the road car business at a far superior level.

"It is a two-way street," noted Howett. "The levels of this technology in F1 is obviously much more stressed than it would be in a road car, in terms of thermal stress, G-force and load, for example, but as a consequence the road car division learns from that and allows them to gain a competitive advantage in the future."

Toyota's Production System (TPS) has also been transferred from road cars to the F1 team to give Toyota Racing a unique competitive advantage over its rivals. "TPS is basically about making a part in half the time, but with twice the quality," Howett continued. "With TPS, we can better optimize our work flow and save time."

"The real motivation behind this technology transfer is Toyota's spirit to challenge," he added. "It all comes down to the challenge of winning in Formula One coupled with the challenge of pushing road car, production and design technology of Toyota around the world to new, exciting and ultimately rewarding limits." Toyota

NASCAR fans heavy smokers, and soon drinkers NASCAR fans heavy smokers, and soon drinkersNASCAR fans are 28 percent more likely to smoke cigarettes than non-race fans, according to Simmons Market Research. That's why Nicorette gum has entered the sport as a sponsor. A year after NASCAR kicked the habit of taking money from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. as a title sponsor, the sport will welcome non-smoking products on Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 41 Dodge. NicoDerm CQ patch, Commit lozenges and Nicorette gum will be on the rear deck lid of Casey Mears' car all year. "It's long proven that many NASCAR fans are smokers and they are heavy smokers," said Steve Kapur, marketing director for GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. "We've also found that many of them would like to quit smoking. So for us, this was the perfect place to be, especially because of how supportive NASCAR fans are of the sponsors."

Now that NASCAR is allowing hard liquor companies to sponsor race cars, it won't be long before NASCAR fans, who are extremely loyal to the companies who sponsor in NASCAR, will soon be buying their products in bulk and become heavy drinkers and alcoholics. Young kids, who were so influenced by Winston sponsoring NASCAR and became smokers, are generally gullible and will, despite promised ads to the contrary, think that drinking and driving fast is OK.

Get the body bags ready now. It's not so bad when a drinker kills themselves, it's bad when they kill another innocent motorist by driving drunk. Related Article

No new Ford heads at Daytona No new Ford heads at DaytonaAlthough Ford won approval for a new cylinder head in the Busch and Craftsman Truck series, teams will be using last year's engines at Daytona. The new engines won't be ready until the following week's race at the California Speedway. Some Ford teams said there were delays in getting all the new parts in time for Friday night's Florida Dodge Dealers 250 for the trucks and Saturday's Hershey's Take 5 300 for the stock cars of the Busch Series.
Rice takes 5th in IROC debut Rice takes 5th in IROC debutBuddy Rice learned Friday night that champion drivers and identical cars make for rough racing.  Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion from Rahal Letterman Racing, made his Crown Royal International Race Of Champions (IROC) debut at Daytona International Raceway against eleven other championship drivers in the 40-lap (100-mile) dash that looked more like a demolition derby than a race at times.

At the finish, Rice took fifth in his first IROC race and scored the highest position for an open-wheel driver in the field.  In front of Rice Friday night were NASCAR drivers Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr., Bobby Hamilton and Matt Kenseth.  But the story of the race was not the finish but the bumping and shoving during the event.  “Man, that was fun but pretty rough out there,” said Rice, who opens his IRL IndyCar Series season on March 6 in Homestead, Fla., in his No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda Panoz Firestone machine.  “On lap 18 or 19, I got hit pretty hard and the car developed a monstrous push.  Thanks to Jim Sauter (IROC test driver) for making me drive a pushing (understeer) car in practice.  That gave me an idea what would be going on during the race.”

Rice started fifth and moved up and down the lineup with the usual drafting on the 2.5-mile, high-banked Daytona tri-oval.  In five laps, Rice ran from 12th to fourth as he became accustomed to the stock car style of driving on the banking. On several occasions, Buddy tried the outside line to pass but was shifted back in the field as no drivers would help him in draft on the high line.  On lap 25, the yellow flag came out with Rice in fifth.  In a double-file restart, Buddy made a great start and moved high on the track in an attempt to jump to the lead.  But again he was forced wide and held out of the inside draft.  That moved Rice back to tenth.

On lap 36, a six-car pile up in the third turn left carnage throughout the track and the red flag came out.  Rice was able to avoid the mishaps and began seventh in the restart.    He moved to fifth quickly with four laps remaining but could not mount a challenge on the leaders due to his car’s handling difficulties.  “I thought I had a run on the restart because I moved outside and was going around the leaders,” said Rice.  “But Mark Martin moved me up on the track and I was a sitting duck for the rest of the guys on the inside. No open-wheel guys got any breaks tonight in this race. [Editor's Note: And they never will as IROC was made for NASCAR drivers]  I know I learned a lot about this kind of racing and I’ll be prepared for the next race (April 15 in Texas).  It was fun to race with all of these guys tonight.  But they were playing pretty rough.  That is part of the game here.”  Rice’s other three IROC appearances are April 15 at Texas Motor Speedway, Sept. 8 at Richmond International Raceway and Oct. 29 at Atlanta International Raceway.

Harvick crashes into Martin in final practice Harvick crashes into Martin in final practiceHours of hard labor got Mark Martin's car back in shape to race in the Daytona 500. Then NASCAR's wrecking ball, Kevin Harvick, smacked the side of it during Saturday's final practice and it was back to work again.  "I don't know what his problem is," crew chief Pat Tryson said as he pointed out the fresh paint scrapes on the right front fender. "But we'll get it fixed. We're probably at 90 percent right now, we've got some more work to do and we'll be ready for tomorrow."
Bump Drafting controversy in Daytona Bump Drafting controversy in DaytonaThis AP article says, Ban the bump draft! That's the cry echoing around the garage area at Daytona International Speedway heading into Sunday's Daytona 500.  Bump drafting - thumping the rear bumper of the car ahead to help speed up a pass - has become a common sight during races on Daytona's 2.5-mile oval.

On Thursday, during the second 150-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500, NASCAR bad boy Kevin Harvick used the tactic at the wrong moment, hitting the rear of race leader Jimmie Johnson as they drove through the second turn.  The contact sent Johnson spinning and sparked a seven-car pileup that did major damage to the cars of Harvick, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Joe Nemechek and Dave Blaney. Martin's team was attempting to repair his car, but the other four were all forced to switch to backup cars and will have to start from the rear of the 43-car field in Sunday's 500.

Martin, who also raced in the non-points Budweiser Shootout Feb. 12, said the level of on-track aggression has definitely gone up this month.  ''Both of the qualifying races were rougher than normal,'' he said. ''The Shootout seemed to be a wreck looking for a place to happen and it was incredible that we didn't have one.''

Kyle Petty really dislikes the bump drafting tactic.  ''I think it is absolutely, positively idiotic. Period,'' Petty said.  ''At 180 miles per hour, whether you're running in a straight line or in the corner, you shouldn't be running into people,'' Petty said.  ''We should be better drivers than to run into each other. Let's go back 10, 15, 20 years. Who heard of bump drafting? People raced each other clean.''

But Ricky Rudd said just about everybody uses bump drafting these days.  ''In our racing now, because you get stuck beside somebody, it's not just a case of saying, 'I'm going to give this guy a rap and let him know I'm back here.' It's like, 'Hey, come on and hit me. I need to get by this guy because I've been sitting behind him for two laps and I need to get on and go.'  ''The pattern has been getting more and more aggressive.''  NASCAR doesn't discourage it at all, read more....

Mark Martin's thoughts on the 500 Mark Martin's thoughts on the 500Mark Martin got back on the track for the first time since his crew made repairs to his No. 6 Viagra Taurus, which was badly damaged in Thursday's Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying race. He spoke about how the car felt after Saturday's practice.

HOW IMPRESSED ARE YOU THAT YOUR CAR WAS 11TH AFTER PRACTICE? "I'm just honored to be a part of this team. It's an honor. These guys will do anything. That's why I wanted them back this year. I really love these guys, so it's really an honor to have them back."

HOW MUCH DID THIS PRACTICE SESSION RE-ENERGIZE YOU? "I'm happy. I'm happy right now. We missed a day of tuning on our car, but it's a good enough car. Sometimes you don't have a good car and you tune on it and it doesn't help. It seems like this car runs good no matter what we put in it."

WHERE ARE YOUR EMOTIONS NOW COMPARED TO THURSDAY? "Last night got me over my frustrations of Thursday. I had 100 percent confidence in the team. They said they were going to fix it and that meant it would be right. I told them I didn't care if we practiced or not. If they could fix it, we didn't need practice. If they couldn't fix it, all the practice in the world wasn't going to help us win, so this is a good thing."

HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING SUNDAY? "Better than they would have been if they hadn't fixed that car."

CAN YOU PUT A NUMBER OF WHERE THE CAR IS NOW VERSUS BEFORE THE WRECK? "I think it's where it was right now. I don't know how much better you can get it and we certainly didn't have a lot of time to work with it, so it's where it was on Thursday and I'm happy with that."

PAT TRYSON, Crew Chief - No. 6 Viagra Taurus - "That was pretty good. It's pretty close to where it was. The track is obviously a little different, but that was a pretty good practice and now we'll just tweak on it for the race."

HOW BIG WAS IT TO BE AHEAD OF SCHEDULE AS FAR AS REPAIRS WENT? "I was hoping they would give us a little more time to work on it, but we still managed to get it done. We've still got some work to do. It's not 100 percent yet, but it's closer than it was so we'll see."

WHAT PERCENT WOULD YOU SAY IT IS RIGHT NOW? "It's probably about 90 percent right now. We've got some more work to do tonight to finish it up, but it'll be ready for tomorrow."

Jarrett's thoughts on the 500 Jarrett's thoughts on the 500Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, will be starting from the pole in Sunday's Daytona 500. He provided some final thoughts after Saturday morning's one-hour practice session.

YOU HAD SOME CONCERNS AFTER THURSDAY'S DUEL ABOUT THE CAR. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS NOW? "I think we've helped our car, but I don't know that we've gotten it to the point that I can say, 'Man, I really feel good about this.' We seem to have some issues, especially in traffic, of trying to keep the front end of the car down and it's being more difficult than what I wanted it to be. We made it better and more drivable, but we still need to be a little bit better to win the race. Mike and I have some ideas and we're going to put those in place and see if we can go out and race for 500 miles."

I'M SURE YOU HOPE HISTORY REPEATS. THE LAST TIME THIS RACE WAS RUN ON FEB. 20 YOU WON IN 2000. "If we have to rely on history for that to happen, that's cool, too. I don't care what we have to rely on. We'll bring up all the history we can and if that gets us to Victory Lane, so be it. I don't care what it is as long as we get there."

THINGS HAVE BEEN KIND OF AGGRESSIVE TO THIS POINT. DO YOU THINK GUYS WILL SETTLE IN TOMORROW ONCE THE RACE STARTS? "No, I think it's going to be pretty aggressive racing all day. I don't see it calming down much. I think that as long as there are plenty of cars left at the end that the end is going to be pretty wild."

Sauber and Minardi test at Imola Sauber and Minardi test at ImolaSauber Petronas started its three-day test at the Circuit Enzo e Dino Ferrari today. Jacques Villeneuve covered 63 laps in chassis C24-01 to set a best time of 1:23.777s. Felipe Massa ran 106 laps in chassis C24-02 with a best time of 1:23.485s.

The test is the first for the team at Imola with Michelin tires. The team hope to find additional downforce a well as pace in what is their final test before heading to the Australian Grand Prix. Felipe Massa's lap of 1:23.485s would have placed the Brazilian 16th on the grid for last year's San Marino Grand Prix.

"Today Felipe ran an aerodynamic program and compared different front wings," explained Chief Race Engineer Jacky Eeckelaert. "Part of this was the assessment of a newly developed front wing being a result of our wind tunnel work."

"Beside this Felipe tested Michelin tires for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Jacques worked on further set-up improvements and thereby concentrated on a new traction control software."

"Tomorrow Felipe will test tires for the Grand Prix in Imola in April and will carry out some set-up work too. For Jacques we have scheduled a simulation of a race weekend." Minardi were also in action today at the circuit with 2005 race drivers Patrick Friesacher and Christijan Albers just over two seconds slower than Villeneuve.
1 . F. Massa - Sauber Petronas C24 - 1:23.485 (+ 0.000 ) - 106 laps
2 . J. Villeneuve - Sauber Petronas C24 - 1:23.777 (+ 0.292 ) - 63 laps
3 . P. Friesacher - Minardi Cosworth PS04B - 1:25.883 (+ 2.398 ) - 59 laps
4 . C. Albers - Minardi Cosworth PS04B - 1:25.983 (+ 2.498 ) - 47 laps

Stewart wins Busch opener at Daytona Stewart wins Busch opener at DaytonaTeammates Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick ganged up on the Chance 2 duo of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. to sweep past with less than three laps remaining to win the Busch Series' season-opening Hershey's Take 5 300 on Saturday.   Stewart's victory ended Earnhardt Jr.'s streak of three consecutive Busch openers and was the 2002 Cup champion's first Busch win.  Stewart, Harvick, Earnhardt Jr., Truex Jr. and Robby Gordon were the top five, followed by Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip, Greg Biffle, Reed Sorenson and Carl Edwards.  Using a newer set of tires down the stretch, Stewart ultimately led a race-high 46 laps. Paul Menard led 37 laps.

Fin Car Driver Make Laps Status
1 #33  Tony Stewart Chevrolet 119 Running
2 #21  Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 119 Running
3 #81  Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 119 Running
4 #8  Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet 119 Running
5 #55  Robby Gordon Chevrolet 119 Running
6 #38  Kasey Kahne Dodge 119 Running
7 #99  Michael Waltrip Chevrolet 119 Running
8 #66  Greg Biffle Ford 119 Running
9 #41  Reed Sorenson* Dodge 119 Running
10 #60  Carl Edwards* Ford 119 Running
11 #195  Bobby Hamilton Dodge 119 Running
12 #2  Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 119 Running
13 #25  Ashton Lewis Ford 119 Running
14 #87  Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 119 Running
15 #261  Mike Wallace Pontiac 119 Running
16 #28  Derrike Cope Ford 119 Running
17 #11  Paul Menard Chevrolet 119 Running
18 #34  Randy LaJoie Chevrolet 119 Running
19 #44  Justin Labonte Chevrolet 119 Running
20 #18  J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 119 Running
21 #64  Jeremy Mayfield Dodge 119 Running
22 #27  David Green Ford 119 Running
23 #12  Tim Fedewa Dodge 119 Running
24 #59  Stacy Compton Ford 119 Running
25 #10  Michel Jourdain * Ford 119 Running
26 #6  Paul Wolfe* Dodge 119 Running
27 #23  Shawna Robinson Chevrolet 119 Running
28 #47  Jon Wood* Ford 119 Running
29 #20  Denny Hamlin* Chevrolet 119 Running
30 #0  Kertus Davis* Chevrolet 119 Running
31 #49  Steve Grissom Ford 119 Running
32 #36  Stanton Barrett Chevrolet 119 Running
33 #143  A J Fike * Dodge 119 Running
34 #5  Kyle Busch Chevrolet 119 Running
35 #35  Jason Keller Ford 118 Running
36 #4  Ryan Hemphill * Dodge 113 Out of Race
37 #22  Kenny Wallace Ford 102 Running
38 #72  Donnie Neuenberger* Chevrolet 100 Out of Race
39 #32  Shane Hmiel Chevrolet 75 Out of Race
40 #14  David Stremme Dodge 56 Out of Race
41 #1  Johnny Sauter Dodge 33 Out of Race
42 #40  Sterling Marlin Dodge 22 Out of Race
43 #7  Jeff Fuller Chevrolet 3 Out of Race

FOX bringing Cablecam to Daytona 500 FOX bringing Cablecam to Daytona 500Fox Sports liked the shots it received from "Cablecam" for its NFL coverage so much that it is bringing the camera to NASCAR, including the Daytona 500 Sunday. For football, "Cablecam," a camera riding on a cable high above the field, produced some interesting close-ups. Viewers could get a feel for the quarterback eyeing receivers down the field or returners finding holes to run through. For NASCAR, Fox is hoping it will give a closer look at the drivers, particularly in the pits. "It gets us right over the track with the hands and the eyes," race announcer Mike Joy said in a teleconference Tuesday. "I love it when I hear (analyst) Darrell (Waltrip) say, 'Now look at the guy's hands. Look at what he's doing.' That's what we're trying to bring out." The camera's cable for Fox's Daytona 500 coverage Sunday is three times the length of the one the network used at the Super Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. Albuquerque Tribune
New series replaces Dash New series replaces DashA new series has been developed to fill the void created by the suspension of the IPOWER Dash Series.  Randy Claypoole announced the formation of the International Sports Compact Auto Racing Series, which will run compact stock cars with V-6 engines.  "We have several team owners who have invested in ISCARS," said Claypoole, who is president and CEO of the new series, which will be headquartered in Ormond Beach. "In the last two years, they have seen two sanctioning bodies come and go. We don't want this season to completely get away from us."
Goodyear wants to renew NASCAR deal Goodyear wants to renew NASCAR dealGoodyear officials confirmed Friday that they are ready to begin negotiating an extension to their current NASCAR contract, which expires in 2007. Goodyear is the only tire supplier for NASCAR’s Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck series. Speed Channel
Pruett gets caught up in IROC accident Pruett gets caught up in IROC accidentDefending Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Champion Scott Pruett of CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates hoped luck would be on his side after drawing the seventh starting spot for Round One of the Crown Royal IROC Series at Daytona. But with horsepower reaching a crescendo in Turn 3 and 36 laps showing on the scoring tower, the Big One dealt Pruett an unfavorable blow, sending the former Daytona IROC winner into the wall with Sebastien Bourdais planted in his passenger side door.

The opening laps saw Pruett take the high side, driving his #01 Gold 500hp IROC machine to as high as third. He held that position until the competition caution on Lap 25 of 40, and earned a bonus point for making his way into the top three at the break.

On the ensuing restart, Pruett elected to start on the inside lane behind the front row, but patience was running thin and the 12-car pack began to dance around the 2.5-mile superspeedway as the lap count dwindled. After falling to fifth briefly, Pruett found himself in a dicey situation exiting the backstretch and when the leaders checked up entering Turn 3, he was a turned around and escorted into the wall by the defending Champ Car title winner Bourdais, relegating him to a 10th place finish.

“I really couldn’t tell you what exactly happened out there,” said Pruett, who stands tied for ninth with six championship markers in his eighth IROC season. “We were running really well in the first segment, and I felt I was in a great position to have a shot at it toward the end. There are just a lot of championship caliber drivers out there all gunning for position. It’s too bad we got caught up in the melee and were unable to continue.”

NASCAR final ratings NASCAR final ratingsUPDATE #3 Final: Budweiser Shootout 2/12 Fox 8:30-9:45pm 5.3/10
Final: Nextel Cup Daytona 500 Qualifying 2/13 Fox 1:00-4:15pm 2.9/7 02/15/05 NASCAR'S first action of 2005 enjoyed a mixed reception from television audiences. Fox’s broadcast of Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway was the highest-rated sports program of the weekend, drawing an overnight Nielsen Media Research rating of 4.7 and an 8 share, according to today's Sports Business Daily. (The 2004 event was carried on cable’s TNT, so results aren't directly comparable.) Fox's coverage of Sunday's qualifying session for the Daytona 500, however, fell well short of last year's overnight ratings for NBC's coverage of the qualifying session. This year’s 2.7/6 overnight figures were 20.6 percent below last year's 3.4/8 overnight figures on NBC. NASCAR Scene 02/15/05 Fox’s coverage of the season-opening Bud Shootout NASCAR race lifted the network to No. 1 among adults 18-49 Saturday. Fox had a 3.7 average 18-49 rating for the night. NBC finished second Saturday night at 2.4/8, while ABC and CBS tied for third, each at 2.0/6. Fox led at 8 p.m. the race averaging a 3.7 among 18-49s. NBC was second with a 2.0 average for a repeat of “Law & Order” and ABC third with a 1.8 average for an hour of Peanuts and Winnie the Pooh Valentine’s Day specials. Fox led again at 9 p.m. with another 3.7 average. CBS was second with a 2.3 average for a “CSI” repeat, while NBC finished third with a 2.2 average for a repeat of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Nielson Ratings 02/14/05 The overnight rating for the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout on FOX in prime time on Saturday night was a 4.7/8 Share.  The overnight rating for Daytona 500 qualifying on FOX (Yes, NASCAR is so popular even qualifying gets full live 'network' TV coverage) was a 2.6/6 Share over a 3+ hour time period. - this for the most boring thing we have seen on TV in a long time, which underscores what loyal fans NASCAR has.
Odds to win Daytona 500 Odds to win Daytona 500There is currently a three way tie for the ‘favorite’, heading into NASCAR’s first race of the year this Sunday at Daytona. According to sportsbook.com, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmy Johnson are all at 9/2 odds to win the 47th annual Daytona 500. “Daytona is the mecca of the American auto racing world. It’s the biggest race of the year for NASCAR, and it’s the biggest race for Sportsbook.com,” says Alex Czajkowski, Marketing Director, Sportsbook.com. “We’ve got Gordon, Junior and Johnson all in contention and we expect to see a lot more action on the race before Sunday afternoon.” Jimmie Johnson, coming off a win this past Saturday night will share the front row with Dale Jarrett, who takes the pole for this Sunday’s race. Full odds for the Daytona 500 include:
Driver Odds
Jimmie Johnson 9-2
Jeff Gordon 9-2
Ryan Newman 20-1
Dale Earnhardt Jr 9-2
Kasey Kahne 20-1
Tony Stewart 12-1
Mark Martin 25-1
Kurt Busch 15-1
Matt Kenseth 20-1
Jamie McMurray 20-1
Elliott Sadler 20-1
Dale Jarrett 12-1
Greg Biffle 20-1
Bobby Labonte 35-1
Jeremy Mayfield 35-1
Kevin Harvick 25-1
Rusty Wallace 60-1
Jeff Burton 25-1
Michael Waltrip 7-1
Sterling Marlin 60-1
Joe Nemechek 30-1
Ricky Rudd 40-1
Brian Vickers 75-1
Casey Mears 60-1
Carl Edwards 100-1
Kyle Busch 100-1
Scott Wimmer 100-1
Scott Riggs 75-1
Bobby Hamilton Jr 100-1
Brendan Gaughan off
Jeff Green 100-1
Jason Leffler 100-1
Martin Truex Jr 75-1
Field ( Any Other Driver ) 30-1
GPWC can use F1 name GPWC can use F1 nameBernie Ecclestone will be powerless to prevent any rival series set up by the manufacturer consortium GPWC from using the term 'Formula One,' according to reports in the business section of Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper that claim that, while the GPWC has yet to provide full details of its own series, it would be free to call its category F1 if it wanted as there are precedents that would prevent Ecclestone claiming the title as his own. According to the patent office's Dr Jeremy Philpott, the term 'Formula One' refers to 'a type of motorsport [defined by engines size, etc], rather than applying to goods or services coming from a specific individual or legal entity, which he further clarifies by explaining that trademarks 'are not supposed to be descriptive of the goods or services, but be distinctive of them'.

Records show that, despite the best efforts of his Formula One Licensing arm and in spite of the successful registration of logos bearing the image 'F1', Ecclestone has no claim on the phrases 'F1', 'Formula One' or 'Formula 1', and, consequently, they have been used in other contexts, including other sports.

"The fact that the marks are in common parlance and insufficiently associated with a single provider of goods and services may act as a problem for registration," Philpott added, "Bernie Ecclestone and the GPWC have equal right to call their series 'Formula One'."

"We have not excluded the possibility of using the Formula One name," admitted GPWC consultant Xander Heijnen.

Ralf pans Williams BMW team Ralf pans Williams BMW teamRalf Schumacher has said that his former team BMW Williams are far from being a top team and has no chance of providing a championship winning car for the 2005/06 campaign.

“I did not know I was driving for a top team," Schumacher told the Kolner Stadt Anzeiger. "It did not seem that way in the six years I was there. The high expectation levels at BMW Williams were totally unrealistic.  Apart from the (BMW) engine there was not much quality there and the optimism could not be justified.  I do not think BMW Williams have a championship winning car this season," Schumacher added.

McLaren turned down Schumacher McLaren turned down SchumacherRon Dennis, the technical guru at the centre of the McLaren F1 team, has revealed that they rejected the chance to sign Michael Schumacher before he joined Ferrari. Since hooking up with the Italian outfit, the combination of Schumacher and Ferrari has ruled the roost over the sport and the news that history may have been quite different will intrigue fans of F1. "We had the opportunity to have Michael but we didn't take it," Dennis told Autosport.  "It was about five years ago. There was a discussion and a genuine interest on both sides. It was do-able.  Could we have arrived at a point where he would have driven for us? I believe so. But we didn't get to the point of saying: 'Do you want to drive for us?'  It wasn't just my decision. It was reached by the people we need to discuss these things with, so it's not something I regret or don't regret.  That was the opinion we reached as a group and I was one part of it."
Earnhardt is sandbagging Earnhardt is sandbaggingDon't let Dale Earnhardt Jr's slow qualifying speed fool you.  He was sandbagging.  He showed his hand a bit when he finished 2nd to teammate Michael Waltrip in Thursday's 150-mile qualifier.  Earnhardt was the fastest in Daytona 500 practice Friday with a lap of 190.484 mph, the first 190+ lap we have seen so far this year.  He's ready to dominate on Sunday.
Nextel Cup until 2006 Nextel Cup until 2006Nextel Chief Operating Officer Tom Kelly said his company's pending merger with Sprint could be finalized as early as July. If the deal doesn't close before September, Kelly said the Nextel Cup Series wouldn't face any potential name changes until after 2006. Kelly said the popular Nextel Experience at-track exhibit will be expanded in 2005 along with more national promotions, and Nextel also will focus heavily on promoting its all-star race in Charlotte, NC, working with the city to make it a "multiday event." The '06 schedule hasn't been decided, but Kelly said there have been no discussions about moving the all-star race to Richmond International Raceway, which is about 100 miles from Nextel headquarters in Reston, VA. Richmond Times Dispatch
Fellows welcomes Maserati challenge Fellows welcomes Maserati challengeUPDATE Pictured to the right is the latest photo of the Maserati MC12 testing at Paul Ricard yesterday in FIA-GT trim. Note the long tail and long nose, both of which will have to go in order to be allowed to run in the ALMS or at LeMans. Both series require that the cars body silhouette be identical to the street car version. However, in the Maserati's case, the street car is smaller than the ALMS and ACO minimum sizes so will have to be increased, particularly in width in order to be allowed to compete. It is now up to Maserati to make the modifications necessary. Whether they will has yet to be officially confirmed by the factory.

In testing this week at Paul Ricard was conducted by Andrea Bertolini and Fabio Babini. The official test driver completed 62 laps, stopping the clock at 1'48"317 while the Pirelli driver ran 45 laps with a best time of 1'49"347. Team Vitaphone, with the German Michael Bartels, and Team Racing Box, with Giuseppe Perazzini and Gabriele Matteuzzi at the wheel, were also present at the test session. The two teams will compete in the international FIA GT championship and the Italian GT championship, respectively. AF Corse’s Trofeo Light will dispute the Italian GT series with Rui Aguas and Luca Frigerio in the driving seat. The testing program was concerned with development of Pirelli tires, traction control and long reliability runs.

02/18/05 AutoRacing1.com caught up with Corvette driver Ron Fellows at Thursday night's ALMS affair in Manhattan. Fellows expressed his complete confidence in the new Corvette C6R (last year's C5R pictured right). "The new body is better aerodynamically and on the long straights at LeMans that should be important," said Fellows. The new car is already faster than last year despite the rules restrictions and the 7-liter Vette engine cranks out a comfortable 600 HP that will run for 24+ hours. I welcome the challenge from Aston Martin, Ferrari and even Maserati this year. Bring them on."
Labontes sign up for two more races Labontes sign up for two more racesBobby Labonte, the only driver to win NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series championships and the head of Bobby Labonte Enterprises, and Kevin Doran, president of Doran Racing, recently announced plans to jointly field a car for two Rolex Sports Car Series races in 2005 in addition to the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Bobby and Terry Labonte--a two-time NASCAR champion--teamed with IndyCar star Bryan Herta and sports car racing ace Jan Magnussen to co-drive the No. 44 Doran Labonte Racing Pontiac Doran. in the Rolex 24 At Daytona on February 5-6. The foursome ran among the leaders for much of the event, before gearbox issues removed them from contention for the victory in the waning hours of the race. They finished ninth.

Doran Labonte Racing's plans call for Bobby and Terry Labonte to share the No. 44 machine with Magnussen in the Paul Revere 250 at Daytona June 29-30 and the August 11-12 event at Watkins Glen, N.Y. Both of those races will be held in conjunction with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events.

Brumos Porsche Expands DP Effort Brumos Porsche Expands DP EffortBob Snodgrass, President and CEO of Brumos Porsche of Jacksonville Florida announced today the formation of Brumos South to maintain and prepare his two PORSCHE-FABCAR Daytona Prototypes competing in the Grand-American Rolex series.  Brumos South will be located in Jupiter Florida, and will be overseen by Michael Colucci. The shop will oversea the preparation of the cars as well as provide the at tract services Brumos/Red Bull entry #58. The #59 car will continue to be crewed by the Derek Granison led group responsible for the car for the past three years.  “We feel the opportunity to have both cars prepared side by side was a good one and know the Colucci led crew to be one of the best in the Grand-American Rolex series.
Candlelight tribute for Dale Candlelight tribute for DaleOn Friday, February 18, fans gathered from all across the country in remembrance of the legendary Dale Earnhardt. A Silent Candlelight Tribute is held every year on this day at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. corporate headquarters in Mooresville, NC.  This year, at Daytona International Speedway during “Trackside Live” on Speed TV (7-8 p.m. ET), fans simultaneously took part in the candle lighting ceremony. Teresa Earnhardt will light the first candles at Daytona, while fans gathered in Mooresville at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. will do the same. Dale Earnhardt
Daytona 500 Could be Biggest Ever Daytona 500 Could be Biggest EverFox drops the green flag at the Daytona 500 on Sunday, and the bet here is that its broadcast will top NBC's 10.6 national rating for last year's race. The 2004 Daytona 500 was seen by 33.5 million viewers, the second-highest TV rating since live broadcasts of the race began in 1979. Such impressive numbers reinforce NASCAR's emergence as one of the nation's Big Four sports. The last time a hockey game drew similar ratings in the States was Canada's victory over the U.S. in the Olympic gold-medal game at Salt Lake City in 2002. That game drew a 10.7 national rating on NBC, making it the highest-rated hockey game on American television since the 1980 Lake Placid Games. CNNSI
White Supremacist Group in Daytona White Supremacist Group in DaytonaA national white supremacist group with a branch in Tampa says its members will attend the Daytona 500 race this weekend to disseminate its message and try to recruit newcomers to its fold. But officials at Daytona International Speedway said Wednesday the West Virginia-based National Alliance will not be spreading the word on raceway property. "We've heard that they're coming," said David Talley, spokesman for International Speedway Corp., "and I will tell you that they won't be allowed to hand out fliers on raceway property. "We do not intend to curb the group's First Amendment rights, but no one is allowed to spread fliers on raceway property." News Journal [Editor's Note: NASCAR's reputation as a White Supremist Red Neck sport will get a boost by this group's activities. The group knows the best place to get new recruits, NASCAR fans, and will probably conduct its activities just outside speedway grounds.]
Renault end week on top Renault end week on topRenault completed the final day of its penultimate winter test yesterday at Circuit de Catalunya. The team’s program included race distance runs for both drivers, tire selection for the opening races and set-up development. Most encouragingly, the team completed the highest mileage of the winter so far with the R25, and continued to set encouraging times on both long and short runs.

The team will test for three days at Silverstone next week, from Monday 21 to Wednesday 23 February. Franck Montagny will make his first runs in the R25 on all three days, while Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella will be present on Tuesday for pit-stop practice with the race team.

“Today was the best day’s running of our winter test program,” stated Chief Test Engineer Christian Silk. “Both drivers completed race distances with the car, and performance on the long stints continued to be extremely encouraging; indeed, the lap-times were backed up with excellent feedback from both Fernando and Giancarlo.”

“The mechanics also deserve recognition for their work this week. We extended our running by a day at short notice, and not only did they adapt fantastically well to ready the cars, but they continued working flat out until our final runs of the day. They have done an excellent job this week and throughout the winter. We have had a very positive test, and the elements are falling into place for Melbourne; we will sign off the final items during our running next week at Silverstone.” Renault F1 Team

Jordan team does over 200 laps on Friday Jordan team does over 200 laps on FridayJordan Grand Prix completed the fourth and final day of the team’s test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Friday. Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan’s schedule concentrated on race simulation work for reliability testing in the morning. At the end of the test day, Monteiro completed 120 laps with a best of 1:17.560 while Karthikeyan completed 83 laps with a best of 1:16.999.

"Today was very important because every kilometer of running is valuable and as always, I wanted to do more," explained Tiago Monteiro. "So I was really eager to go out and do a lot of laps. We had planned our first qualifying and race simulation which we were a little bit anxious about, but it went very well - I did 56 laps and two stops," Monteiro continued. "It was great and physically I'm really happy as I had no problems at all."

"In the afternoon we tested various parts of the car and we improved the lap times a lot. We are getting slightly closer to the front, more or less three seconds from the fastest time, which is not bad considering how little running we have had. The whole week has been one of evolution. We have been through a lot, tried out a lot of things and learned a lot. I feel like I have integrated well with the people on the team and I'm really enjoying it. So far so good."

Meanwhile, 2004 Euro 3000 Champion Nicky Pastorelli was also in action for the team, completing 29 laps and putting himself firmly in the frame for the third driver role with the squad.

Jordan has yet to make any official announcement regarding the testing role with the team, with rumors first suggesting that Mario Dominguez would be the third driver at the European events while the team would do without the third driver at the fly-away races. Now it seems all is open again for the third seat at the team.

Pastorelli completed 29 conservative laps in the Jordan Toyota, recording a best of 1:24.731s, seven seconds off Karthikeyan's best on the day. Jordan

German DTM
New Audi A4 DTM gets first test New Audi A4 DTM gets first testThe new Audi A4 DTM is running. On Monday, Audi "works” driver Tom Kristensen took the race touring car with which Audi is targeting the successful defense of its title in Europe’s most popular touring car series around its eagerly anticipated maiden laps on a test track in Southern Europe. In subsequent test drives, Kristensen and the current DTM champion, Mattias Ekström, completed more than 1,000 kilometres with the champion car’s successor. "This was primarily a roll-out,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "There were no bugs worth mentioning, the first impression rendered by the new Audi A4 DTM is highly positive.”
Owing to the road car change, the Audi A4 DTM of the model year 2005 features a completely new design, with its striking single-frame grille and new body shape clearly distinguishing itself from last year’s victorious contender. "We’ve tried to build a car that would be as perfect as possible,” Dr Ullrich said. "The new A4 DTM not only sports a more dynamic look but in effect is even more dynamic than its successful predecessor.”
This impression was confirmed by Tom Kristensen: "The new A4 looks aggressive, it is aggressive and it feels aggressive,” said the six-time winner of Le Mans who performed his first roll-out for Audi. "This was a really special feeling. I just couldn’t wait to see what had happened at Audi Sport following the title win. Ever since I’ve driven for Audi, I’ve known nothing but one direction: moving forwards. And I wasn’t disappointed this time either.”
At mid-point of the five-day tests, Kristensen handed the wheel over to Mattias Ekström, who had come directly from the Sweden Rally, filled with the same eager anticipation about his new racer as his team-mate from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. "I really like the new A4 DTM,” commented the champion. "After only a few laps I felt right at home. Of course there’s still quite a bit of work ahead of us and we need to find the best set-up. But I’m convinced that the new A4 will suit my style of driving even better than last year’s car.”
Bourdais gets crashed out of first IROC race Bourdais gets crashed out of first IROC raceSebastien Bourdais saw his debut in the Crown Royal IROC Series end in a hail of carbon fiber Friday night at the Daytona International Speedway as the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion was taken out in an incident not of his making. Bourdais, who started from the pole in the 40-lap race, was making a run in the middle of the pack with six laps to go when he hit the spinning car of Scott Pruett, ending his day.

Bourdais got shuffled back in the field on the start when Max Papis couldn't keep up with him despite a good start that left Bourdais ahead going into the second turn, but the Champ Car title winner had come back to the top-five after 12 laps.

He dropped back again in the middle part of the race but was climbing back through the field when disaster struck. Pruett got spun after contact with Steve Kinser, sending Pruett sliding directly in front of Bourdais. The resulting contact ended the day for Bourdais along with five other drivers, leaving Bourdais credited with 12th place. Champ Car

Hamilton wins crash-filled truck race Hamilton wins crash-filled truck raceIt was an expensive night in Daytona as over half the field was taken out of the race due to accidents.  NASCAR had to go to the videotape to determine the winner of Friday night's Florida Dodge Dealers 250, which showed Bobby Hamilton had completed the pass of Jimmy Spencer just before the final caution flag to grab the win in the crashed filled event.  It was a Dodge 1-2 with the Toyota of Todd Bodine third (Photos courtesy of Dodge/Getty Images).
Fin Car Driver Make Laps Status
1 #04  Bobby Hamilton  Dodge 100 Running
2 #2  Jimmy Spencer  Dodge 100 Running
3 #66  Todd Bodine  Toyota 100 Running
4 #99  Ricky Craven  Ford 100 Running
5 #1  Ted Musgrave  Dodge 100 Running
6 #08  Ken Weaver  Chevrolet 100 Running
7 #29  Brad Keselowski  Ford 100 Running
8 #75  David Starr  Chevrolet 100 Running
9 #24  Wayne Edwards  Chevrolet 100 Running
10 #23  Johnny Benson  Toyota 100 Running
11 #88  Matt Crafton  Chevrolet 99 Accident
12 #17  David Reutimann  Toyota 99 Accident
13 #16  Jack Sprague  Chevrolet 99 Accident
14 #4  Casey Atwood  Dodge 99 Accident
15 #59  Robert Pressley  Dodge 99 Accident
16 #46  Dennis Setzer  Chevrolet 99 Accident
17 #02  Kelly Sutton  Chevrolet 99 Running
18 #21  Mike Harmon  Chevrolet 99 Running
19 #12  Robert Huffman  Toyota 96 Accident
20 #10  Terry Cook  Ford 96 Accident
21 #30  Chad Chaffin  Toyota 95 Accident
22 #13  Tracy Hines  Chevrolet 90 Accident
23 #62  Steve Park  Dodge 82 Engine
24 #07  Sean Murphy * Chevrolet 81 Running
25 #5  Mike Skinner  Toyota 73 Accident
26 #6  Ron Hornaday  Chevrolet 67 Running
27 #8  Deborah Renshaw  Dodge 66 Radiator
28 #38  Brandon Whitt  Toyota 64 Running
29 #22  Bill Lester  Toyota 63 Accident
30 #77  Brendan Gaughan  Dodge 61 Accident
31 #18  Chase Montgomery  Dodge 49 Accident
32 #50  Todd Kluever * Ford 67 Accident
33 #19  Regan Smith * Chevrolet 48 Accident
34 #9  Shigeaki Hattori * Toyota 48 Accident
35 #15  Kerry Earnhardt  Chevrolet 47 Accident
36 #14  Rick Crawford  Ford 10 Accident
Test times from Homestead Test times from HomesteadUPDATE Paul Tracy was also testing on Friday at Homestead but did not do much running for part of the day due to mechanical gremlins. Da Matta was quite happy to be back in a Champ Car. Jim McGee was very impressed with him. Walker Racing is supposed to be at Homestead testing next week. 02/18/05 Our sources at the Homestead-Miami Speedway today report that PKV Racing and Forsythe Racing were testing.  Da Matta was running in the mid 1:08's while still getting acclimated with the car and sorting it out. Compare that to Franchitti's IRL best time of 1:10:1. Mark C.
Rio MotoGP cancelled Rio MotoGP cancelledThe FIM announced today the cancellation of the Brazilian round of the MotoGP World Championship, by the following press release :

“Following the lack of a signed contract, the Rio Grand Prix is cancelled. The Portuguese Grand Prix will be moved to April 17. The Turkish Grand Prix will take place on the new circuit of Istanbul on October 23.”

Alex Barros, Brazilian sole rider on the grid, could not hide his disappointment at the announcement. ”As far as the cancellation of the Rio GP is concerned, obviously I'm disappointed. It is the second time this has happened (the first was in 1998) but this is even more disappointing because it was probably going to be the last Grand Prix at this track. The city prefecture is actually planning to demolish part of the track and reduce the overall length to 3,100 meters. That means it would only have been used for national races”.

The calendar is the following :
April 10 Spain - Jerez de la Frontera
April 17 Portugal – Estoril
May 1 China – Shanghai
May 15 France - Le Mans
June 5 Italy – Mugello
June 12 Catalunya – Catalunya
June 25 ** Netherlands – Assen
July 10 United States - * Laguna Seca
July 24 Great Britain - Donington Park
July 31 Germany – Sachsenring
August 28 Czech Rep. – Brno
September 18 Japan – Motegi
September 25 Malaysia – Sepang
October 1 ** Qatar Doha – Losail
October 16 Australia - Phillip Island
October 23 Turkey *** - Istanbul
November 6 Valencia - Ricardo Tormo Valencia
*: Only MotoGP class
**: Saturday
***: subject to contract

Drunken Hendrick employee resigns Drunken Hendrick employee resignsHendrick Motorsports officials confirmed Thursday that the organization's director of chassis engineering, Eddie Dickerson, has resigned.  The resignation, which became official on Tuesday, came two days after Dickerson's arrest early Sunday morning on charges of disorderly intoxication.  According to a Daytona Beach Shores Police spokesperson, Dickerson, 49, who lives in Mooresville, N.C., was found at 4:04 a.m. Sunday alongside A1A in nothing but a towel.  The incident was reported to police by a clerk at the nearby Oceanside Inn.  Dickerson's arrest came hours after Hendrick driver Jimmie Johnson won Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.
Pennywise to perform at LBGP Pennywise to perform at LBGPPopular Southern California band "Pennywise," one of the cornerstones of the punk-rock revival of the 1990s, will be the featured performers at the Saturday, April 9 Rock-N-Roar Concert Presented by KROQ, part of the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  The concert will begin at 4:30 p.m. on the sound stage in front of the Long Beach Convention Center and is free to all race ticket holders.  In past years, the Rock-N-Roar Concert has featured acts like the Goo Goo Dolls, Third Eye Blind and Everclear. The concert will be followed immediately by the Tecate Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pageant.

The original members of Pennywise - Jim Lindberg, Fletcher Dragge, Byron McMackin and Jason Thirsk - all attended the same high school in Hermosa Beach.  In 1989, they released their debut EP - "A Word from the Wise" - on Theologian Records.  A local college DJ passed the record on to Epitaph Records, which signed the group in 1990. The group has developed a sound that has been described as "edgy, melodic skate punk."

Through constant touring and recording, as well as appearances on surfing and snowboard concerts and videos, Pennywise has developed a dedicated following, especially in Southern California.  "We always love playing extreme sporting events and as long as Sylvester Stallone isn't driving this year, this should be pretty extreme," said Dragge. "We're also big racing fans so it will be an awesome weekend."

The band released "Unknown Roads" in 1993, followed by "About Time" in 1995.  After the death of Jason Thirsk in 1996, Randy Bradbury replaced him on bass and the band's fourth album. "Full Circle" was released in April 1997.  The band has since released "Live at the Key Club," "Land of the Free?" and "From the Ashes," all on the Epitaph Records label.

The 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach features the 200-mph Champ Cars and stars of the Champ Car World Series as its headline racing event at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 10. Race-goers on Saturday, April 9 will get to see celebrities bang fenders with professional drivers in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at 12:15 p.m.; qualifying for the Champ Car race, Toyota Atlantic Championship and Trans-Am series during the day, and the inaugural Long Beach Drifting Challenge, featuring the hot cars of Formula Drift.

Tickets for the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will run April 8-10, 2005, are on sale now. Ticket prices range from $32 for a Friday/Saturday-only general admission ticket to $114 for a three-day ticket, which includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seating on upper levels of the grandstands. Limited pre-paid parking packages are available and can be purchased when ordering tickets. Handicapped seating, Bosch Champ Car Garage passes, hospitality club packages and super photo tickets are also available for purchase. Tickets can be ordered via credit card by using the toll-free ticket hotline,  (888) 82-SPEED, or online at longbeachgp.com.

FOX kicks off 2005 with Daytona broadcast FOX kicks off 2005 with Daytona broadcastNASCAR kicks off the ’05 season with Sunday’s Daytona 500 at the recently-renovated Daytona Int’l Speedway. Fox’ live coverage of the Great American Race begins at 1:00pm ET, with the green flag expected around 2:15pm. As with all of the net’s NASCAR broadcasts this year, the race will be presented in HD. Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds will call the action, with pit coverage from Dick Berggren, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Jeanne Zelasko. Host Chris Myers and analyst Jeff Hammond will provide prerace and studio coverage from Victory Lane.

The same Fox production crew that worked Super Bowl XXXIX made the 95-mile trip from Jacksonville to Daytona for Sunday’s race, and “NASCAR on Fox” Dir Artie Kempner said, “It’s a monumental job by our technical crew in getting everything together from one site to another. … From a production standpoint, we’ve never had this before at Fox” ORLANDO SENTINEL.

Like its Super Bowl coverage, Fox will use its overhead Cablecam along the front straightaway and over pit row. Kempner: “This camera just gets you to places that no other camera has ever been able to get you to before” (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 2/18). And the net’s “Crank It Up” segment, when the announcers “go silent while viewers hear the roar of the cars’ engines, will be enhanced by a switch to Dolby 5.1 audio for the 100-plus microphones installed” at the track USA TODAY

NASCAR and ad partners flexing marketing muscle NASCAR and ad partners flexing marketing muscleSPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL reports that NASCAR will break two spots, via Boone Oakley, as part of a new ad campaign during Fox’ broadcast of the Daytona 500, “with one spot promoting the Busch Series and another promoting the Craftsman Truck Series. Each commercial will air once during the weekend’s broadcast and then will continue to run throughout the year” SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/14 issue.

Best Western, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, Domino’s Pizza, ExxonMobil, Gillette, Office Depot, Toyota and UPS also will break campaigns during Fox’ broadcast.

General Motors has extended its sponsorship deal with Richard Childress Racing, making the GM Card the official credit card of the team. Three RCR Nextel Cup Chevrolets, driven by Kevin Harvick, Dave Blaney and Jeff Burton, will be outfitted with GM Card decals. GM’s deal with RCR dates back to ’86.

Disney also will have a significant presence at Daytona, as six wrapped Chevrolets featuring Disney characters will be throughout the speedway. The cars also will run a lap prior to the singing of the National Anthem. Additionally, the speedway’s retail center will feature a Disney store and a 50-foot Disney trailer. The effort, tabbed “Race Across America,” will be showcased at select Nextel Cup events throughout the year THE DAILY

Post Petit Le Mans Motorcycle Charity Ride Post Petit Le Mans Motorcycle Charity RideJim Osborn and Chilipepper Racing announced today the date of the annual Post Petit Le Mans Motorcycle Charity Ride as Sunday, October 2nd 2005. The popular ride that benefits The Lighthouse Family Retreat, starts at Road Atlanta the day after the Petit Le Mans.

“This has become a terrific event,” said Osborn, “and The Lighthouse Family Retreat is a terrific cause. Last year we were joined by road racers, Stu Hayner, Randy Pobst, Terry Borcheller, Greg White from SPEED Channel’s Two Wheel Tuesdays television show and a host of others… we expect even more this year.”

The event will start at 10:00am Sunday, October 2nd, where riders will meet at Road Atlanta, mingle and with stars. Riders will then do a lap of Road Atlanta and proceed on the ride stopping for lunch with SPEED World Challenge and ALMS drivers.

Riders can enter the event by registering for one of two levels of participation. For a $300 contribution, riders can join the ride for the lap of Road Atlanta and lunch with the stars. For a $400 contribution, riders will additionally receive a 4-day pass to the Petit Le Mans weekend and Saturday lunch in the Chilipepper Racing hospitality tent in the Road Atlanta paddock area. All donations are tax deductible and go to The Lighthouse Family Retreat.

“This is such a great cause,” expressed Osborn. “The Lighthouse Family Retreat does wonderful things for families of young cancer victims. When you see how families benefit from the Lighthouse program, you just want to do everything you can to see them continue their work.”

Sponsors for this year’s Post Petit Le Mans Motorcycle Charity Ride are Road Atlanta, Chilipepper Racing, Trenton Forging, Autosport Development, SPEED Channel, Kennedy Wealth Management and the television show, Sports Car Revolution.

Registration forms are available at http://www.roadatlanta.com/promotions/CR-Registration.jpg or by contacting laurel@chilipepperracing.org

Toyota Barcelona Test Round-Up Toyota Barcelona Test Round-UpJarno Trulli - Best lap time: 1m16.072s
Jarno, this was your first test with most of the aerodynamic package that will race in the Australian Grand Prix. How did it go?
It has gone quite well. We put in a lot of laps - 100 on Tuesday and 122 on Wednesday - but it has been quite difficult to make a precise judgment about how the car is performing because of the unusual track conditions here this week. They changed the Barcelona track surface recently, making it difficult to understand how to get the best out of the car and the tires. The wind has also been gusting, which has made it harder to make direct comparisons.

What are your first impressions of the new package?
It went very well straightaway, and it is certainly an improvement. But what has been unusual this week is that drivers have gone quicker with very old tires than with brand new ones, so it is hard to understand the real potential of the car. No one has done quick laps straightaway here - instead you need to do a lot of laps to get your pace up. We worked that out a bit late, but we are still confident looking ahead to Melbourne.

Ralf Schumacher -Best lap time: 1m16.281s
Ralf, how much progress has there been on the TF105 with the new aerodynamic package this week?
The new aerodynamic package obviously improves the car massively. We can't give an exact figure of how much it has improved because the conditions here have been difficult and people's lap times have been all over the place. It is also hard to compare lap times with the last time we were in Barcelona because the circuit was brand new. But it always helps to have more downforce and this is quite an improvement. We still have work to do but we are reasonably happy with the package so far. Late on Friday I spun due to an electrical problem and we decided to stop the test because there was not enough time to fix it and to do any more meaningful work.

Teams seem to be struggling to go quick on their first lap out. Will that be a problem when the season starts in Australia?
I think that's been a problem for all the drivers here this week. With the new harder tires and less downforce it seems to be more difficult to generate the heat in the tires for the first lap. But it has been exceptionally cold here in Barcelona, so I would imagine that should not be such a problem when we start running at more normal temperatures. We'll be going to Melbourne doing our very best to start the season with a solid points finish.

Ricardo Zonta - Best lap time: 1m14.502s
Ricardo, you have been running in last year's TF104. How has the test gone for you?
I spent my two days here working on Michelin tires, which are going to be very important for this year's new rules. We were running on the TF104 with changes to the downforce to approximate to this year's cars. It was quite busy for me because we were doing some long runs. It is also difficult to choose tires on this track surface because you don't feel much difference. But it went very well, and on both days we completed our program early.

Your next planned appearance for Panasonic Toyota Racing will be in Melbourne. What will you be doing in the meantime?
From here I am heading back home to Brazil for ten days. From there I will fly directly to Australia, where I will arrive on the Tuesday before the grand prix weekend, ready to drive the third car on Friday.

Olivier Panis will test for Panasonic Toyota Racing at Valencia from February 22-25. Ralf Schumacher, Jarno Trulli and Ricardo Zonta are not scheduled to do any more running before the Australian Grand Prix.

Alonso blisters Barcelona Alonso blisters BarcelonaFernando Alonso sets the best time of the week today in 1'13"971, leaving the Toyota of Ralf Schumacher and the Jordan drivers a distant memory.  Nicky Pastorelli had the opportunity to test for Jordan and completed 29 laps in the EJ15, using Karthikeyan's helmet. and Monteiro's car!
1. Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m13.971s, 100 laps
2. Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1m14.074s, 132 laps
3. Ralf Schumacher (Toyota), 1m16.518s, 51 laps
4. Narain Karthikeyan (Jordan), 1m16.999s, 83 laps
5. Tiago Monteiro (Jordan), 1m17.972s, 120 laps
6. Nicky Pastorelli (Jordan), 1m26.792s, 29 laps
Rubens not worried that Ferrari is behind Rubens not worried that Ferrari is behindRubens Barrichello has admitted that Ferrari are currently playing catch-up.  The Brazilian believes that McLaren and Renault will be the teams to beat at the first race of the year in Melbourne.  He said: "We no longer have the advantage that we could enjoy a year ago.  “At the moment I think Renault and McLaren are slightly ahead. But we're not going to panic.  "We always knew that we could have a hard time in the early races but you still have to bear in mind that in Australia and Malaysia we will be competing in very different weather conditions."
ALMS NY City media blitz ALMS NY City media blitzThe American Le Mans Series continued its New York media and marketing initiative this Thursday with a "live" WB Channel 11 Morning Show appearance by ALMS Champion JJ Lehto. Hosted by Craig Treadway, the WB also featured the No. 1 Champion Audi R8, which Lehto will pilot at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March. Lehto's interview can be viewed today at www.wb11.com under the subheading, Morning News.

A keynote event of ALMS activities in the Big Apple took place Thursday evening at the Tourneau TimeMachine, the world's largest retail watch location, located at 590 Madison Avenue in Manhattan. ALMS sponsor JeanRichard Swiss Watches unveiled its special edition ‘Sebring' watch to commemorate the historic Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring endurance event to an invited audience of media, business executives, JeanRichard customers and sports car enthusiasts.

Lehto, GT1 Class Champion Ron Fellows, and ALMS President and CEO, Scott Atherton were also featured in the New York Times Wednesday in the article, ‘European-Style Auto Racing Is Taking Hold in United States'. The article focused on the basics of the ALMS, its expanding popularity, as well as what it takes to compete in the series. The ALMS contingent were also involved in activities at Sports Illustrated and S.I. For Kids this week. [Editor's Note: In a day or two AutoRacing1.com will publish an interview with ALMS President Scott Atherton done at the Tourneau TimeMachine by President Mark Cipolloni]

(L to R) On display last night at the Tourneau TimeMachine 2005 Corvette C5R, Panoz prototype, JJ Lehto, ALMS President Scott Atherton
Photos by AutoRacing1.com

JeanRichard Limited Edition '12 Hours of Sebring' Watch JeanRichard Limited Edition '12 Hours of Sebring' WatchOn February 17, 2005, the American Le Mans Series and JeanRichard Swiss Watches announced the release of the ‘12 Hours of Sebring' TV Chronoscope Wrist Watch, a limited edition watch created to honor the historic Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Each watch will be individually numbered and feature classic JeanRichard movements as well as Sebring specific additions including a 12-hour timer to track each hour of the ALMS endurance race. The announcement took place in the heart of New York City at the Tourneau TimeMachine store, the world's largest retail watch location at 590 Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

"The JeanRichard Sebring watch is a special and outstanding tribute to the American Le Mans Series and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the most historic and significant sports car endurance race in North America," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "The ALMS is the premier sports car racing series in the world, making the relationship with JeanRichard such a perfect fit, due to its tradition of creating some of the world's most exceptionally fine watches. The craftsmanship behind the special Sebring edition and all of the JeanRichard watches is second-to-none, just like the American Le Mans Series."

"As we conclude the successful launch of our limited edition watch paying tribute to the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the American Le Mans Series, it is with great pleasure that I can say that the event and activities of the week were a great success," commented Ron Jackson (Photo right), President of JeanRichard North America . "It is clear that the personal and corporate partnership that JeanRichard shares with the ALMS has created an event that could only be realized through our true cooperation with each other. I very much look forward to the 2005 ALMS season and our growing partnership with the ALMS and its tremendous fan base."

The ALMS takes pride in its association with the series' valued sponsors and constantly strives to provide the absolute best return on investment to those organizations involved with the world's greatest sports car racing series. In an agreement that began in 2004, JeanRichard Swiss Watches, a subsidiary of Girard-Perregaux, became the official time-keeper of the ALMS as well as provider of exceptionally crafted premium watches to class winners at both the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Chevy presents Petit Le Mans events. In addition, JeanRichard also makes unique premium watch presentations to award winners at the season ending ALMS awards banquet.

Jourdain talks about his move to NASCAR Jourdain talks about his move to NASCARNASCAR Busch Series driver Michel Jourdain Jr. took part in a press conference this morning in the Daytona International Speedway infield media center to discuss preparations for next month’s inaugural Telcel-Motorola Mexico at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Jourdain participated in a media event at the Mexico City track following Daytona testing to promote the first NASCAR race south of the border.

“I’m sure it’s going to be huge. If the NASCAR Busch Series went alone to Mexico it would have been a huge event. NASCAR is so big in the States and the press has been following it in Mexico the last couple of years more and more. Since the rumor started about me coming to the series and since we announced our agreement, we’ve been getting more media, and now with Adrian [Fernandez], this announcement is huge and it’s fantastic for me to be racing with Adrian again and in Mexico City. I think it’s going to be one of the biggest races of the year for the series and for the track. I think it’s going to be the biggest race of the year in Mexico. It’s great to be a part of this event.”

“He’s been in the top of motorsports in the world since 1993 when he went to Indy Lights first and did well right away, and in CART, right away he was fighting for the wins, so it’s been almost 15 years that he’s been on the covers of the news all the time.

"It’s something that we don’t have that often in Mexico. It’s been a soccer player and a couple of boxers that have had that. Hopefully a lot of you will come to Mexico City and see that for yourself. Adrian is huge and I think compared with a lot of the other big names in sports in the history of Mexico he’s tried to be closer to the people and the media and he has kept himself in a good position. A lot of those other guys after five years, they go crazy.”

“It was hard in a sense because I had been there for a long, long time and have a lot of friends there and we were pretty established there, but I saw a huge opportunity to come up here because NASCAR is just so huge and growing so much and this race in Mexico, I thought it would be the best opportunity for my future.”

“Jimmy and pretty much everybody I talked to said that this was the way to go.”

“Of course, I knew coming in that it was going to be part of it. The banging and hitting each other, it’s good and I like it and it’s the same for everybody.”

“I like it a lot. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve raced lots of different types of cars when I raced in Mexico, so I’m having a lot of fun. I do believe that this is more the way racing should be.”

“It’s a lot. It’s totally different the way it drives with how big the car is to understand how wide you can go and where the other cars are. The language also and the changes in setups, everything is just so different.”

“Of course, Mexico City. It’s going to be really, really good for me to go back there, but also every race. I’m looking forward to every track.”

“A little bit of both. We both started a conversation a couple of years ago. I was interested and they were interested in bringing up a Mexican and I tested with ppc a couple of years ago."

BAR Honda complete test BAR Honda complete testBAR Honda completed a three-day, three-driver, exclusive test in Valencia on Thursday as preparations continue for the new season which starts in Melbourne on 6 March. Race drivers Jenson Button and Takuma Sato drove for the first two days of the test, with third driver Anthony Davidson arriving on Thursday to take over from Jenson. The team continued to focus on aerodynamic and tire evaluations at the penultimate test before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

The test began on Tuesday with Button driving the 007 car and Sato in the '05 Concept car. Although the blustery winds meant that conditions were not ideal, both drivers worked through tire programs in addition to putting some good mileage on the Honda engine. Button completed 111 laps with Sato completing 138 laps.

The drivers changed cars on the second morning with Sato in the 007 car. He completed an aerodynamic evaluation, alongside a long-run tire program, covering 57 laps for the day. In the Concept car, Jenson spent the early runs finding a good set-up before moving on to a tire compound evaluation. His final lap tally for the day was 97 laps.

Sato continued in the 007 car on Thursday, running through an aerodynamic evaluation, to complete a total of 145 laps. Anthony Davidson joined the test to take over from Jenson in the Concept car, completing a total of 95 laps running through long tire evaluations. The team return to the circuit next week.

Jenson Button "We were able to put some valuable mileage on both cars car this week, running through aerodynamic and tire programs in preparation for the start of the season. The wind made the running a little difficult but overall I am happy with the progress made. We'll be back in Valencia next week for one final test before the real action begins in Melbourne."

Takuma Sato "We completed a lot of laps this week and are very happy with the results from some intensive engine, tire and aerodynamic work. We could only run one new car due to preparations back at the factory for the first race but still the work we achieved was useful. I'm feeling positive about our testing progress as we get so close to the new season."

Anthony Davidson "It was good to get back in the car today and we had a positive test. Conditions were better this morning following a couple of windy days so I was able to get results from the long run tire evaluations. We completed most of our planned program for the Concept car and are progressing all the time."

Andrew Alsworth, Test Team Manager "The main objective this week has been to finalize the specification of the cars for the Australian Grand Prix. The first two days were very windy which meant we had to modify our plans slightly. We did however manage to complete the full test program, concentrating on both engine and tire work. We will conclude the pre-season testing schedule next week test here in Valencia."

Shuhei Nakamoto, HRD Engineering Director "The latest specification engine went pretty much as we thought it would, and we will be bringing in a further upgrade to complete pre- season preparations back here next week." BAR

Jones to work for Ganassi Jones to work for GanassiBruce Jones, 40, will start work next Monday with Chip Ganassi Racing in Concord, N.C.  "It's a step for me, I think there will be more opportunities there (Ganassi Racing)," said Jones. "I just feel that Chip Ganassi is a big organization, with Cup teams it would be stepping in the right direction for me."  This Saturday will mark his last race with NEMCO Motorsports of Mooresville, N.C., owned by Joe Nemechek of Lakeland.  "It's tough to leave Joe (Nemechek) because of all he did for me," said Jones. "He gave me a huge racing opportunity and I'll never forget that."
Industry News
Donington Park to get major upgrade Donington Park to get major upgradeThe Leicestershire grand prix circuit of Donington Park, is to undergo a radical improvement to modernize its facilities to 21st century specifications later this year. Its entire pit-garage, race control and media centre complex are to be replaced. The latest phase in the ongoing work at the circuit follows on from the total resurfacing of the track and the upgrading of hospitality suites at Redgate. This represents an investment of more than £5million by circuit lessees Clear Channel Entertainments.

The circuit, which has hosted the British Motorcycle Grand Prix on an annual basis since 1987, has the contract to stage the event through until 2009 and these radical improvements are geared to the needs of the world's leading competitors. The work on the buildings is scheduled to start in October, after the completion of the 2005 racing season. This will include the clearance of the site and the building of a 38-garage pit complex with race control, timekeeping, administration offices and media work room on the first floor and a commentary box on the second floor.

Donington Park's Managing Director Brian Pallett said: "Our current facilities are no longer suitable for staging major events. This is a situation that Clear Channel has reacted positively to, which underlines its commitment to the sport and to the circuit for which they hold the lease until 2021."

Earnhardt wins pole for Daytona truck race Earnhardt wins pole for Daytona truck raceChevrolet’s Silverado NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams swept the front row for Friday night’s Daytona 250 on Thursday evening at Daytona International Speedway. Kerry Earnhardt put the No. 15 Kraft Foods/Albertson Chevrolet Silverado on the pole with a lap 49.321 seconds, 182.478 mph.  Dennis Setzer captured the outside of the front row in the No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado with a time of 49.368 seconds, 182.304 mph. This is the first career pole for Earnhardt in any NASCAR major touring division.

“This is a pretty awesome deal for our Billy Ballew Motorsports team,” said Earnhardt who was the 38th of 42 trucks attempting to qualify.  “Ritchie (Wauters, crew chief) and the guys just gave me an awesome truck. This is my very first pole ever; this is just a great start for our season. It was so awesome to come over here in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and put the No. 15 Billy Ballew Kraft/Albertson Chevrolet Silverado on the pole. The truck is really fast.”

2005 Daytona 250 Starting Lineup (Top 10)
Pos.     No.       Car                                          Driver
1          15        Kraft Foods Silverado          Earnhardt
2          46        Chevrolet Silverado              Setzer
3          12        Toyota Tundra                        Huffman
4          22        Sun Trust Toyota                    Lester
5          13        ThorSports Silverado            Hines
6          66        Bow/Tech Toyota                   Bodine
7          9          Aisini Toyota                           Hattori
8          19        Xpress Mtrspts Silverado     Smith
9          30        Germain Toyota                     Chaffin
10        77        Jasper Engines Dodge         Gaughn

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Webber might not fly
Brit TV to snub final quali
Webber set for Bridge stunt
GPWC's next step
McLaren take top time
French drought hurting GP
Sauber and BMW
Renault 'ahead' of Ferrari
Indian scolds 'rookie' attack
Another rehash for '05 Toyota
Schu still calm
BAR wrap up at Valencia
Ferrari 'might be sold'
Grove duo 'still friends'
'I'm too aggressive' - FA
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