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60th Anniversary of NASCAR  Sixty years ago today, the intent of Bill France Sr. became clear. Determined to bring organization to the long-disjointed sport of stock car racing, France had his newly formed sanctioning body – the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing – incorporated.

It became official, on Feb. 21, 1948. NASCAR had been born.

Incorporation was actually prefaced by NASCAR’s first-sanctioned event, on Feb. 15, 1948. That race was run on a “beach-road” course that used both the Atlantic shoreline and a portion of State Road A1A, with Red Byron winning.

“Big Bill” France, of course, wanted everyone to win. One of his basic tenets was that for NASCAR to survive – much less thrive – everyone involved would need to benefit.

France had talked about that two months earlier, during the now-famous meeting in December 1947 at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, which resulted in NASCAR’s formation. Retrospect makes some of his words from that meeting seem prophetic, such as the following:

“Stock car racing has got distinct possibilities … and we do not know how big it can be if it’s handled properly. …. I believe stock car racing can become a nationally recognized sport by having a National Point Standing. … We must try to get track owners and promoters interested in building stock car racing up. We are all interested in one thing that is, improving the present conditions.”

France and his fledgling sport took a huge step toward all of the above, on Feb. 21, 1948.

MINI Motorsports to Continue Support of USTCC  
Building upon the success of our rich heritage in motorsports, the MINI Motorsports Board at MINI USA is proud to present the MINI Motorsport Awards Program for 2008. Our proud tradition continues as MINIs have become well-acclimated in many forms of competitive racing while MINI enthusiasts continue to forge new paths into new motorsport arenas.

USTCC is proud to be at the top of the three professional road racing series to be included in the MINI contingency program.  MINI Motorsports will be paying $2,000 for 1st place, $1,000 for 2nd Place and $750 for 3rd.  A $4000 year end championship bonus is also at stake.

MINI USA will offer publicity support to any individual or race team that campaigns a MINI in the US Touring Car Championship with any podium finish.

MINI driver and 2006 USTCC Rookie of the Year, Rich Peterson has announced he will campaign the MIINIdeck Motorsports MINI Cooper S in the 2008 USTCC season. “We are excited that MINI USA is continuing to support the USTCC for 2008,” said Rich Peterson. MINI’s involvement with racing goes back to the earliest days of the original Mini in the early “60’s” and continues today.

For more details about the program please visit www.miniusa.com or www.ustcc.com.

Joe Craven Appointed USTCC Race Director  Richmond, CA – Series officials today announced that Joe Craven has been appointed the Race Director for the United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) series.  Mr. Craven’s job will include items such as coordinating the West coast events, being the liaison with the host, carrying out event activities, overseeing the tech staff, and general rules enforcement.

Craven brings more than 20 years of experience in management and 10 years of experience racing in club racing.  His background is diverse with years of computers and mechanical engineering experience.  “We are very excited to have Joe on board with us.  He brings a wealth of experience to USTCC that will help grow the series.  Joe is extremely intelligent and has terrific engineering skills,” said Ali Arsham, USTCC Coordinator. 

“It is very exciting to be a part of the USTCC.  I have followed the series for many years and there are many things that I love about the series.  I hope to be able to make the series run smoother at the events” said Craven.

Craven resides in California with his family.  He graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a Mechanical Engineering degree.  He will be reporting to Dave Balingit who will continue to be the Chief Steward

TUMS Top 10 From Daytona  The first stop of the 2008 season at Daytona International Speedway once again had the stars of the Sprint Cup Series experiencing several indigestion-causing incidents. From qualifying woes to last-lap lead changes, the 50th anniversary of the Daytona 500 proved to have several TUMS moments. Each weekend, PRN lead anchor Doug Rice picks the Top 10 TUMS Moments from last weekend’s racing activities.

The Top 10 TUMS honors go to:

10. Jacques Villeneuve finds out that he is out of Bill Davis Racing after failing to make the Daytona 500.
9.  Bill Elliot fails to qualify for the Daytona 500 and the Wood Brothers are forced to go home early. 
8.  Joe Nemechek has a lug-nut go through the oil pan dashing his hopes of a good finish.
7.  Despite winning both series support races, Toyota falters late in the 500 as Tony Stewart finishes third followed by teammate Kyle Busch in fourth position.
6.  Jeff Gordon fails in his attempt to win his fourth Daytona 500 as his DuPont Chevrolet has suspension misery and struggles to a 30th-place finish.
5.  After contact from behind on Lap 177, Jimmie Johnson and his Lowe’s Chevrolet never can recover and drops out of contention.
4.  On Lap 183, Clint Boyer gets turned around while leading the Daytona 500 by Juan Pablo Montoya and relinquishes the lead.
3.  David Ragan swerves on the track and pushes his teammate Matt Kenseth into the wall.
2.  Casey Mears crashes into Turn 1 on lap 195 after contact from Tony Stewart.
1.  Tony Stewart is leading at the white flag but is denied his first Daytona 500 after being double-teamed by the Dodge’s of Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman.

track news
Talladega Open New Infield Park  In response to strong demand from race fans wanting more opportunities to stay overnight in Talladega Superspeedway’s infield, track officials announced today the opening of the Orange Infield RV Park.  The Orange Infield RV Park is a reserved overnight park with space for 180 RVs.  The all-reserved infield typically sells out well in advance of the race, so guests are encouraged to reserve their spaces early. 

“Staying in one of the many overnight parks at Talladega Superspeedway has become a tradition for thousands of race fans,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Rick Humphrey.  “After our races last year, our guests expressed the desire for more opportunities to stay overnight in the infield.  The Orange Infield RV Park is a response to that demand." More ...

tv news
Danica Patrick to be on Ellen DeGeneres Show  Danica Patrick will be a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Friday, February 22.  Danica will discuss the 2008 Indy Car season, and her recent appearance in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. The time and network for The Ellen DeGeneres Show varies.  Please check your local listings for your time zone. 
Merger to be announced Friday, Champ Car to be no more  UPDATE #2 A meeting that could unify U.S. open-wheel racing is still on schedule for tonight, an Indy Racing League spokesman said this afternoon.  Kevin Kalkhoven, a co-owner of the Indianapolis-based Champ Car World Series and the series' chief negotiator in the dealings with IRL founder Tony George, was due in the city from London late this afternoon. He will be meeting with George to finalize the last remaining details.  A news conference to announce the unification is expected Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A time for the event has not been announced.  Indy Star

02/21/08 IRL founder Tony George and Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven are meeting Thursday afternoon in Indianapolis and according to a Champ Car spokesman are expected to sign a deal that would end the 12-year rift between the American open-wheel racing series.

"Our expectations are that they will cover the final points of the agreement and, if all goes well, they will be prepared to make an announcement on Friday," said Champ Car spokesman David Higdon.  USA Today

02/20/08 IndyCar officials have tentatively scheduled a press conference for Friday as early as 11 a.m. in Indianapolis, where they will announce that the long American open-wheel racing war has come to an end.

Series officials had hoped to make the announcement Thursday. But Champ Car principal Kevin Kalkhoven will not be back from England, where he is tending to family business.

Friday's announcement will end the 13-year feud that began when Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George announced the creation of a new racing series on March 20, 1994. At that time, most of the teams that competed in the Indianapolis 500 were in CART, a series that went bankrupt and would later be revived as Champ Car.

George's original intention was to have CART teams participate in what was then known as the Indy Racing League. But most of those teams refused, starting a lengthy and divisive battle for supremacy in North American open wheel racing. More ...

The DISH Network to sponsor Roush cars for 15 races  Roush Fenway Racing announced DISH Network has signed on as a sponsor in the 2008 Sprint Cup Series. DISH Network will have a team representative and serve as a primary sponsor in 15 Sprint Cup Races in 2008, alternating between three Roush Fenway drivers. Greg Biffle will drive the #16 DISH Network Ford Fusion in 11 Sprint Cup races, Carl Edwards will drive the #99 Ford in three races [this week at California is one] and Matt Kenseth will race the #17 Ford in one race [Bristol in March]. The DISH Network team of drivers will be dubbed the DISH Network AllStars. The DISH Network AllStars first race is Sunday, Feb. 24 featuring the 2007 Nationwide Series champion #99-Carl Edwards. Roush Fenway Racing PR
Barcelona Day 3: Nakajima fastest  Kazuki Nakajima topped the times on a dry final day of testing at Barcelona in Spain on Thursday.  He set his best time right at the end of a three-lap run near the end of the session.

Today's times:


Driver Team Time Laps
1. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:22.153 32
2. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.185 64
3. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.208 92
4. Massa Ferrari 1:22.213 95
5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:22.248 108
6. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:22.477 81
7. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:22.499 102
8. Badoer Ferrari 1:22.535 102
9. Alonso Renault 1:22.657 61
10. Glock Toyota 1:22.901 109
11. Piquet Renault 1:23.286 104
12. Kobayashi Toyota 1:24.132 56
13. Hulkenberg Williams-Toyota 1:24.222 59

Heikki says not ready for F1 in 2007  (GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen admits he was not ready for formula one twelve months ago, but has now set his sights on beating his highly rated new teammate, Lewis Hamilton.

The Finn had an appalling debut grand prix in Melbourne last year with Renault, but will return to Australia one year on hoping to give title protagonist Hamilton a run for his money at McLaren.

"I will do everything I can to beat him," Kovalainen, 26, is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

"I don't think I was physically and mentally ready last year.  I hadn't prepared well enough.  But I've already changed things to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Kovalainen insists that he is fully comfortable at the wheel of his new mount, the Mercedes-powered MP4-23; a car with which Briton Hamilton is hoping to improve on his runner-up spot in the 2007 drivers' championship.

"I'll be turning up for the first grand prix in Melbourne in a car I feel fully comfortable in and know exactly how to set up," he said.

"The increased confidence should enable me to have a good race," the Finn added.

Honda team extends with ENEOS  The Honda Racing F1 Team is delighted to announce a new agreement with leading Japanese oil company Nippon Oil Corporation (NOC) which extends its existing partnership to cover the 2008 season.  The agreement sees the continuation of the supply of NOC's ENEOS lubricants to the Honda Racing F1 Team and the ENEOS logo will once again appear prominently on the racesuits of the team's race drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello from the Australian Grand Prix, in addition to appearing on the fireproof suits of the Honda race team mechanics.
Audi confirms DTM lineup for '08  
(L to R) Jarvis, Legge and Winkelhock
AUDI AG targets the successful defense of the DTM championship title with an interesting and strong mix of big names and young talented drivers. Oliver Jarvis (GB/24), Katherine Legge (GB/27) and Markus Winkelhock (D/27) have secured the three remaining cockpits within the Audi factory team for which racing drivers from around the world were in contention.

"We really couldn’t complain about a lack of interest," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "A lot of big-name drivers also approached us, which shows just how interesting Audi and the DTM are. It was, however, clear from the off that we would stick to our strategy of further rejuvenating our driver squad and, quite logically, to nurture our own talent alongside our established stars."

Oliver Jarvis, Katherine Legge (both Great Britain) and Markus Winkelhock (Germany) made lasting impressions during a driver evaluation in Spain and, in the process, secured their seats for the 2008 DTM.

With the 27-year-old Markus Winkelhock, Audi signed one of the most promising and well-known young German racing drivers. The Swabian scooped the headlines worldwide last year when he sensationally led the race on his Formula 1 debut at the Nürburgring. He laid the foundations for his future at Audi with solid performances in the DTM as stand-in for the injured Tom Kristensen and later in the Audi customer team Futurecom TME. More ...
NASCAR hammers Gordon  UPDATE Robby Gordon Comments on NASCAR's Penalty  -  This was an innocent mistake made by someone not even on my team.  They accidentally supplied us the new Dodge noses that NASCAR hasn't yet approved because of what amounted to a clerical error.  It was discovered during technical inspection and corrected before the race.  It was not even close to being an intent to create some competitive advantage, and the mistake was not even made by my team.  This penalty is way out of proportion when you compare it what happened last year when a team was penalized 100 points for adding a substance to the fuel, or when a team deliberately changed the bodies of the COT.  To penalize my team the same amount when we didn't even make the mistake, and the mistake was nothing more than inadvertent human error by someone else is just not fair.  Other teams who have had similar issues to what happened with the nose on my car were only penalized 25 points.

I hope that NASCAR can reconsider when they have all the facts.  In the meantime, we have no choice but to appeal this penalty.  We started the season off on a high note with a top 10 finish at Daytona and we look forward to continuing that at California and Las Vegas.

02/20/08 NASCAR has issued penalties and fines to the No. 7 team that competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rule infractions found during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.

The No. 7 car driven and owned by Robby Gordon was found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-3.10A (unapproved front bumper cover) of the 2008 NASCAR rule book. The violations were found during opening day inspection for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 8.

As a result, Gordon has been penalized 100 championship driver and owner points. Crew chief Frank Kerr has been fined $100,000, suspended for the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events until April 9 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2008.

Ford misses China market goal  Ford Motor Co. is making money in China and has touted its record sales there last year, up more than 25 percent over 2006. But internal company documents obtained by The Detroit News show the automaker missed its 2007 market share target, which means Ford is growing in China but not fast enough to catch up with its competitors.

The Dearborn automaker's rivals broke into the market earlier and have already established their brands among China's growing consumer class. With annual vehicle sales in the Asian nation expected to equal the United States within 10 years, Ford cannot afford to lose ground.

"It's critical because of the size of the market," said Mike Hanley, head of Ernst & Young LLP's global automotive industry group, who said vehicle sales in China grew by more than 20 percent last year. "The growth has just been staggering. That's why capturing a portion of that market share is so important."

Defining its brand remains a challenge for Ford in China. The company also is still struggling to build a local supply base -- something it must do to take full advantage of the country's low labor costs. Ford's Focus compact became one of the 10 best-selling cars in the People's Republic last year, but the automaker's profit margins were slimmer than some of its competitors' because many of the parts used to build the Focus are still made outside China.

Ford says it is learning from marketing mistakes, convincing important suppliers to follow it to China and aggressively expanding its manufacturing capabilities in the country.

"We started out later, but we are really moving decisively and quickly," Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in an interview.  More at Detroit News

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Renault 'a long way behind' - Alonso
  • Better weather expected for Spanish tests
  • F1 nearly bled Spyker to death - CEO
  • Alonso dismisses Hamilton racism scandal
  • Fuji to limit attendance for 2008 GP
  • Damon Hill's son begins racing career
  • Renault, Alonso, dismiss 'W' wing rumors
  • Ralf spurred on by brother's DTM warning

Alonso climbs aboard his Renault that he says is too slow
Renault 'a long way behind' - Alonso
(GMM)  Three weeks before the formula one circus congregates in Melbourne for the season opener, Fernando Alonso has reported that his 2008-spec Renault is not in a position to compete for race wins.

In fact, the former double world champion is quoted by the Spanish news agency EFE as suggesting that even podium places early this year are not likely.

"Where are we?  Quite a long way behind," 26-year-old Alonso said in Barcelona this week for the penultimate test of the winter.

"We are not in a position to do anything about McLaren, Ferrari or BMW.

"Ferrari are favorites but they're not in a different world.  We however belong more to the group including Williams and Red Bull," he added.

Interestingly, despite the mixed messages coming out of the BMW Sauber camp recently, Alonso singles out the German team's 2008 car as one of the standouts of the pre-season.

"They are very fast," he said.  "They always use full tanks (of fuel) and record very good times."

Better weather expected for Spanish tests
(GMM)  After adverse weather affected the opening two days of this week's Barcelona test, forecasters are calling for better conditions for the final session on Thursday.

Ferrari joined the action at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday, where four other teams are running ahead of the pre-season's last test at the same Spanish venue next week.

After a rainy opening day on Tuesday, conditions on Wednesday remained cold and wet, moving McLaren to again sit out the action altogether as teams altered their scheduled programs.

"Tomorrow the forecast is better -- we have been waiting for these conditions all week, so fingers crossed," said Renault's Fernando Alonso.

Conditions at Valencia for BMW Sauber's exclusive test were slightly better on Wednesday, but Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld did have to conduct their race simulation on a wet track. More ...

CARA Charities 27th Annual Fashion Show  May in Indianapolis brings fast cars, fans and the social event of the season…the 27th annual CARA Charities Fashion Show and Luncheon. On Thursday, May 22, the downtown Marriott will play host to this spectacular gathering for the first time.

The magnificent Mezzanine level ballroom will be the site as the fabulous fashions of Secret Ingredient take to the runway. Racing personalities as well as community notables will be models for a day. Charismatic anchor Scott Swan of WTHR-TV returns as the emcee. Also returning will be "First Ladies of Racing" Janet Guthrie and Lyn St. James. Lyn will be accompanied by her "Women in the Winner's Circle," young race car drivers who will be featured in the show.

Also in the spotlight will be The Cody Unser First Step Foundation. Cody participated in previous Fashion Shows as a youngster and is looking forward to returning. Cody has become a spokesperson for and an inspiration to those experiencing neuroimmunologic disorders and her Foundation is planning events in Indianapolis to help educate people about living with paralysis while remaining as independent as possible. More ...

Corvette team confirms drivers  Corvette Racing’s roster of championship-winning drivers will return in 2008 to race the Chevrolet factory team’s twin Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars in the 12-race American Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen will drive the No. 3 Corvette C6.R, joined by Ron Fellows for three endurance races (Sebring, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans). Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta will drive the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R, teamed with Max Papis in long-distance events.

“Continuity and consistency are two of the cornerstones of Corvette Racing’s success, and that is reflected in our longstanding relationships with these championship-winning drivers,” said Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing Road Racing Group manager. “They thoroughly understand the team’s overall objectives, and they are total professionals both on and off the race track. We’re very proud to have these six drivers as part of the Corvette Racing family.”

Corvette Racing’s six drivers have a combined total of 135 ALMS victories, 13 ALMS championships, and 17 class victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. They’ve been successful in series that span the spectrum of motorsports from karts to Formula 1. More ...

Q&A with Danica Patrick  
(Note: Numbers in parentheses are the approximate time codes on the audio MP3)

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. We appreciate you joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. Our guest today is IndyCar Series driver, Danica Patrick. Good afternoon, Danica.


MODERATOR: Danica is preparing for her fourth season in the IndyCar Series, and her second driving the No. 7 Motorola car for Andretti Green Racing. Last year she finished a career-best seventh in points while recording four top-five finishes and 11 top-10 finishes. Her best finish came at the Raceway at Belle Isle where she finished second.

First of all, before we talk too much racing, it's been kind of a long off‑season, Danica. We know you've been busy with Super Bowl commercials, the Swimsuit Issue. How much time have you been able to spend racing, whether that be testing the IndyCar Series car, or do you do some other things like karting and other sorts of driving to kind of stay in the game?

DANICA PATRICK (1:00): As far as staying in the game and getting going and staying sharp and fit, I don't drive anything else. I test as much as they'll ask me and let me. But you know, that's fairly limited in and of itself. We have so many drivers on our team that it gets spread out.

And so I did a few tests in the off‑season, which is good, and all that went well. Some different stuff than normal for me. So it was really good. You know, it's a change from the year before where I was held to a contract until December, and then only got one test day before anything official started. So it was like I was starting so raw with the team that this is going to be much different for me.

But as far as keeping busy, other than that as far as staying fit I definitely stay physically fit and stay strong throughout. I never stop working out. Because I have things like swimsuit issue stuff to do and commercials and print advertising, and there's always a reason to stay looking good.

So that keeps me busy in the off‑season.

You know, some of the stuff that we do in the off‑season is groundwork for the future, and some stuff that will play out later on. You know, it's an investment of your time. But other things are things that pay off and put you in front of either the second-highest rated show in history or, you know, the biggest-selling magazine of the year. So those things do pan out and do show right away.

Between Danica racing, the business and the brand, and keeping the sponsors and everybody else happy for the immediate time, I stay pretty busy. More ...

NASCAR nails truck series cheaters  NASCAR announced today penalties and fines to the No. 30 and No. 33 teams that compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, as a result of rule infractions at Daytona International Speedway.

The No. 30 truck was found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-Q (truck parts, components or equipment that doesn’t conform to NASCAR Rules); and 20B-12.9D (device designed to reduce the bed panel height at the points of inspection) of the 2008 NASCAR Rule Book. The infractions occurred during pre-qualifying inspection on Feb. 14.

Driver Todd Bodine has been penalized with the loss of 25 championship driver points and truck owner Stephen Germain has been penalized 25 championship owner points due to the violations. Crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. has been fined $10,000 and suspended for the next four NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events until April 30 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2008.

The No. 33 truck, driven by Ron Hornaday Jr. was found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-Q (truck parts, components or equipment that doesn’t conform to NASCAR Rules); and 20B-3.1.1 (spoiler braces exceeded the maximum one inch width). Crew chief Rick Ren has been fined $5,000 as a result of the infraction. This violation occurred during opening day inspection on Feb. 12. NASCAR PR

track news
California Speedway announces entertainment for weekend  California Speedway announced today its complete roster of race officials for both the Auto Club 500 and the Stater Bros. 300 races.  San Diego Chargers Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman will round out the lineup of race officials, serving as an honorary starter for the 2008 Auto Club 500.  Merriman joins a group of race officials that includes three-time Emmy-award winning actor and comedian Brad Garrett who will serve as the Grand Marshal and Interscope Geffen A&M Records recording artist Kina Grannis who will perform the National Anthem.  Additionally, blues-rock legends ZZ Top will serve as Grand Marshals and Grammy-nominated country music artist Little Big Town will perform the National Anthem for Saturday’s Stater Bros. 300.

Merriman, 23, will wave the green flag, signaling to the 43 Sprint Cup drivers the start of the race.  In his third year out of the University of Maryland, the former first-round draft pick has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his three seasons in the NFL.  Garrett, the star of the FOX comedy “’Til Death” will give the “Gentlemen Start Your Engines” command while Grannis will perform the Star Spangled Banner.

ZZ Top will serve as Grand Marshals for the Stater Bros. 300 on Saturday, February 23 before performing in a special pre-race concert on Sunday.  One of the most recognizable bands in American music thanks to their signature beards and dark sunglasses, Billy F Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard formed ZZ Top in 1969 and have maintained their original lineup for more than four decades.  The trio was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. More ...

tv news
Helio, Danica on Oprah, Ellen  UPDATE A reminder that Helio Castroneves will be a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show on Thursday, February 21.  The show airs at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm in most, but not all, time zones.  The network varies.  Please check your local listings.

02/19/08 Two of the IndyCar Series' most recognizable stars will appear on national television shows this week.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show on Feb. 21 while Danica Patrick will appear on Ellen on Feb. 22.

The Oprah show will feature winners from ABC's 'Dancing with the Stars.'

"My experience with 'Dancing with the Stars' has been an amazing opportunity," Castroneves said. "Now that my reign as the show's newest champion is coming to a close, what better way to cap it off than to appear on 'Oprah?' I'm very excited and honored to be a guest on her show, she has been a true pioneer in the industry and it really makes you realize how much success 'Dancing with the Stars' has achieved. Not only will Thursday's appearance on 'Oprah' be a fantastic way to introduce the cast for the sixth season, but it will also be an excellent chance to get all of the IndyCar Series fans across the country excited about the start of the 2008 season at the end of March."

NASCAR suspends 6  Chad Walter, the crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Nationwide Series team, was suspended for six races on Wednesday after it was determined the spoiler was altered to create a competitive advantage in Saturday’s opener in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Also, Earnhardt was penalized 50 championship points and car owner Rick Hendrick 50 owner points. JR Motorsports plans to file an appeal, which will allow Walter to remain the crew chief for this weekend’s race at California Speedway. We have two strong teams at JR Motorsports and look forward to a good weekend at Fontana,” said Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, who oversees operations for the organization. Six other Nationwide teams also were penalized for violations discovered during post-qualifying inspection. Five crew chiefs — Gene Allnut (Kertus Davis), Jon Wolfe (Johnny Sauter), Bob Edwards (David Gilliland), Steve Dame (David Stremme) and Charlie Wilson (Cale Gale) — were suspended for six races.
IMSA hires Atlantics race director  
Beaux Barfield
The International Motor Sports Association announced today that Beaux Barfield will take the position of Race Director for the 2008 IMSA Challenge by Michelin season. The Houston resident will begin his duties immediately.

Barfield’s background consists of 24 years of motorsports management experience, working with a variety of sanctioning bodies. Among his previous duties included 2006 IMSA GT3 Cup Race Director; Race Director, Champ Car Atlantic Championship for the last two years; Steward, Champ Car World Series; Race Director, Trans-Am Series; and Chief Steward, Formula Ford 2000.

“Our competitors deserve our undivided attention,” said Tim Mayer, IMSA COO. “Bringing Beaux on board ensures that we have both a dedicated Race Director and the right level of expertise to work with this growing series.”

“I am excited to be a part of the IMSA family,” Barfield said. “Although most of my officiating and driving career has been with open-wheel cars, my heart has been in sports car racing since I was a child. I am looking forward to returning to as Race Director for the IMSA Challenge by Michelin in addition to becoming involved with the American Le Mans Series and the Star Mazda Championship. IMSA has great momentum and stability, and will allow me to take my officiating to a higher level.”

The IMSA Challenge by Michelin opens its season with the American Le Mans Series at Sebring. 

Champ Car and Indy Car spotted together  Below are a few photographs shot today of a Firestone/Bridgestone display at a Midas Muffler Shop in North Richland Hills, Texas.  Is this the latest sign that the merger is on?  Doubtful, we suspect it is just Firestone doing their marketing of both brands - Firestone and Bridgestone.  This is Chassis # DP01-002 in case you are curious.

AGR Dallara and NHLR Panoz

Barcelona test Day 2: Massa fastest  Felipe Massa topped the times on a damp 2nd day of testing at Barcelona in Spain on Wednesday.  Mark Webber showed once again that the Red Bull team has made gains, slotting in 2nd quick.

The weather continued to dominate proceedings at Barcelona on the second day of this week's test program. There was again rain before the start of the day's running and regular showers after that ensured that most of the action took place on a wet track. The 2008 restrictions on testing mileage and tires mean that most teams did not do much morning running.  Conditions improved slightly in the afternoon.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Massa Ferrari 1:30.673 46
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:31.213 43
3. Badoer Ferrari 1:31.288 33
4. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:31.654 44
5. Alonso Renault 1:31.731 28
6. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:31.963 97
7. Glock Toyota 1:32.407 33
8. Trulli Toyota 1:32.571 47
9. Hulkenberg Williams-Toyota 1:33.102 53
10. Nakajima Williams-Toyota no time 33
11. Piquet Renault no time 1

NASCAR News and Notes  If last week’s season-opening Daytona 500 is any barometer, expect more “raciness” in this Sunday’s Auto Club 500 at California Speedway.

NASCAR’s new car, beginning its first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, promises a ramped-up competitive environment along with significant safety boosts and cost-containment measures.

Certainly last week’s Daytona 500 was one of the most competitive in the race’s 50-year history — winner Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel-SAMSUNG HDTV Dodge) took the lead on the last lap.

The event’s 42 lead changes were the most since 2001 (49) and the fifth time since 1972 that a Daytona 500 produced 40 or more lead changes.

Also consider that 16 drivers led at least one lap, the second-highest total in Daytona 500 history. Only the 2006 race had more leaders (18).

And the new car begins 2008 by racing at four consecutive tracks for the first time, including California, where series teams tested on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

“I’m looking forward to these cars because everyone is so close,” said Carl Edwards (No. 99 DISH Network Ford) during the test, which was preceded by a two-day test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “I believe that opens the opportunity for the drivers to be able to make a little bit bigger difference. I think that’s going to be a pretty good thing.”

“I think you're going to see a lot of people moving around,” said Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet) at the preseason test, of Sunday’s Auto Club 500. “I think this car, even at Las Vegas, you could move around and make time. You're just going to see a lot of different grooves develop as the race goes on.” More ...

As merger nears, LB race expects a boost  Although no official confirmation was forthcoming Tuesday, a much-discussed merger between Champ Car World Series and Indy Racing League appears on the brink of being consummated.

A report Tuesday on SPEEDtv.com said a deal that would make the rival open-wheel series one entity is done and that a news conference making that formal announcement could come as early as today.

The report said that an accord has been reached that would bring several Champ Car teams and a handful of Champ Car races into the IRL realm.

One of the races that would presumably be contested under the IRL banner would be the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which is scheduled to run April 18-20.

David Higdon, executive vice president of strategic development for Champ Car, said the Long Beach race has been one of the major points of discussion during negotiations because the IRL already has a race scheduled that same weekend in Japan.

"It is obviously the crown jewel of the Champ Car stable and we all know that it is critical to the state of open-wheel racing now and in the future," Higdon said of the Long Beach race. More ...

tv news
Dario Franchitti to be on Craig Ferguson show  Dario Franchitti will be a guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson early Thursday morning, February 21 (late Wednesday night).  The show airs at 12:30 am - 1:35 am on CBS in most time zones.  Please check your local listings.
Watkins Glen staff await outcome of merger  Paul Tracy and Helio Castroneves side-by-side heading into the Ninety. Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti jockeying for position down the backstretch and into the chicane. Justin Wilson against Dan Wheldon diving into the boot in a battle of the Brits.

These are some of the possible scenarios at Watkins Glen International in July if reports of an end to the 12-year-old civil war in open-wheel racing are accurate. Craig Rust, president at The Glen since 2002, was cautiously optimistic Tuesday after reading intelligence gathered by Speed Channel and ESPN. In his 13 years in the auto racing industry, Rust, like so many other enthusiasts, has heard this all before.

“We’re very excited about this if it ... we’ll take a deep breath and raise a glass when it’s formally announced. I’ve seen too many close calls,” said Rust, fresh off a trip to Sunday’s Daytona 500. “We’re still being cautious here, nothing has been formally announced, I haven’t heard from the (Indy Racing League), I have not heard from (International Speedway Corp.) saying, ‘Hey, this is a done deal.’ That’s what seven or eight years of merger talk does to you.”  More at The-Leader.com

tv news
Castroneves to be on Rachael Ray show  Helio Castroneves, IRL driver and winner of last season's Dancing with the Stars, will be a guest on the Rachael Ray show on Wednesday, February 20. Helio will have his first ever cooking lesson.  The time and network varies for the Rachael Ray show.  Please check your local listings.
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Spanish rain disturbs Tuesday testing
  • Stepney denies giving dossier to McLaren
  • McLaren sponsors dominate F1 exposure
  • Rampf defends BMW's 'risks' with 2008 racer
  • Vettel looks forward to '08-spec Red Bull
  • Spanish sponsor completes McLaren exit
  • Sutil says Fisi good for his F1 career

Spanish rain disturbs Tuesday testing
(GMM)  Bad weather marred formula one testing at Spanish circuits on Tuesday.

As the winter pre-season entered its penultimate week, four teams began running at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya but were disturbed by showers that persisted throughout the day.

The leading two Williams cars, decked out in the personal wishes of its past world champions, persisted with substantial programs, but Red Bull, Renault and Toyota limited their laps.

McLaren, meanwhile, opted to stay dry in the pits, revealing in a statement that conditions "will be reviewed again" on Wednesday morning.

BMW Sauber's first of three exclusive test days at Valencia was also disrupted by Spanish rain.  The German team explained that it "decided to save testing mileage" rather than clock up too many wet laps.

Stepney denies giving dossier to McLaren
(GMM)  Alleged Ferrari spy Nigel Stepney has denied passing reams of the Italian team's secrets to McLaren co-conspirator Mike Coughlan.

The Briton, formerly a key engineer at the Maranello based team, was this week interrogated by Modena prosecutors, where he reportedly admitted contact with Coughlan but denied giving the suspended chief designer the famous 780-page Ferrari dossier.

Stepney's account differs to that of Coughlan, who has admitted to receiving the dossier.

"Maybe all that material got stolen, but that has nothing to do with Stepney," his Italian lawyer, Sonia Bartolini, is quoted as saying by the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

"This is why he's disappointed with Coughlan and his contradicting statements, while Stepney's statements to the magistrate are consistent with those given to the FIA," she added, albeit admitting that the pair "scribbled some drawings" at a meeting in Barcelona last spring.

To the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, meanwhile, prosecutor Giuseppe Tibis raised the prospect of interviewing other espionage figures - possibly those employed by McLaren - in March. More ...

Penske Automotive 2007 sales grew 16.5 percent  Penske Automotive Group today said its 2007 sales and earnings grew despite a softer market for new vehicle sales.

For the full year, sales grew 16.5 percent to $13 billion from $11.1 billion a year ago. Net income for 2007 was $127.7 million, up from $124.7 million in 2006.

The Bloomfield Hills-based auto retailing chain said its sales for the period ended Dec. 31 rose to $3 billion from $2.86 billion in the fourth quarter of 2006. Penske Automotive’ fourth-quarter income was $29 million, compared with $30 million for the same period a year ago.

Chairman Roger Penske in a statement called the U.S. new vehicle market "challenging" but said that was offset by growth in used car sales as well as service and parts revenue.

Ritz Crackers launches Kraft “Race to Win a Ride” Sweepstakes  Ritz crackers, the official cracker of NASCAR® and the brand that is always “Open for Fun,” has teamed up with Roush Fenway Racing and Ford Racing Technology to offer consumers the chance of a lifetime with the Kraft “Race to Win a Ride” Sweepstakes. Beginning February 4, 2008 through September 29, 2008, five lucky consumers will have a chance to win a trip to the NASCAR® Sprint Cup Series Championship Weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway® in November 2008 and will also have the opportunity to meet racing great Matt Kenseth, and other Roush Fenway Racing drivers at the race. From this group of five, one winner will also be randomly selected to win a 2009 Ford Racing equipped Mustang V6 sports car.

The Ritz cracker NASCAR®-themed campaign is powered by several highly visual marketing vehicles, including an on-pack promotion and in-store displays, as well as print, radio, television and online advertising.

There will also be fun, interactive consumer events taking place throughout NASCAR® Speedweeks and The DAYTONA 500® February 10th to 17th, 2008. More ...

Germain Racing adds Chrissy Wallace to NASCAR's diversity program  Mike Wallace's daughter Chrissy has been picked up by the team [Germain Racing] for NASCAR's diversity program. She'll start driving in ARCA and short-track races in June. "She's a good, real cute girl who will mix it up with the guys," [Bob] Germain said. "The first team that gets one female driver in the Cup will be helped from a marketing standpoint."  The News-Press
Tryson named Crew Chief of the Race  Pat Tryson, crew chief for the #2 Penske Miller Lite Dodge driven by Kurt Busch in the Sprint Cup Series, was named the Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” for Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Tryson will receive a $1,000 check as a result of his leadership and strategic thinking during the race. Despite facing tough obstacles throughout the race, Tryson and his team rebounded to finish second in the “Great American Race,” helping propel teammate Ryan Newman to victory. Due to electrical problems in the qualifying race last Thursday, Busch was forced to use a “Champion’s Provisional” to line up 43rd on the starting grid on Sunday. After experiencing a handful of challenges, the Tryson-led team bounced back from tight handling conditions, a speeding penalty and a serious overheating condition to finish runner up. The 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge is a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, a panel will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief that goes to victory lane, but the crew chief that made the biggest difference to his team.

Representatives from Wypall Wipers, together with FOX/Speed television analyst Jeff Hammond, and three of NASCAR’s top crew chiefs who represent Wypall, including Todd Berrier of the Richard Childress Racing #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy team, Bob Osborne of the Roush Fenway Racing #99 Office Depot Ford team, and Kenny Francis of the Gillett Evernham Motorsports #9 Budweiser Dodge team, make up the panel of judges.

In addition to the $1,000 check, the winning crew chief will receive signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. The crew chief with the most weekly top wins will be honored as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale in Homestead, FL. The Wypall Wipers Chief Challenge will continue throughout the remainder of the 2008 season and spotlight the men behind the machines.

Mark Martin to make 700th start at California  
Mark Martin
Mark Martin will make his 700th career Sprint Cup start this weekend when the green flag drops at California Speedway, becoming only the 13th driver in NASCAR history to reach the milestone.

The Principal Financial Group will serve as the sponsor of the No. 8 Chevrolet and will feature a paint scheme that showcases a special 700th-start logo in tribute to Martin’s accomplishments.

“It’s not really how many races you started that matters, it’s how fast you went in those races that people remember,” joked Martin when asked about the accomplishment.  “But really it says a lot about all the people that have worked on all those cars for all these years. I have to thank each and every crew chief and each and every crew guy that played a part in everything we were able to do over the past 20 plus seasons.”

Martin started his first Cup race on April 5, 1981 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. He started fifth and finished 27th; humble beginnings for what would go on to be one of the most successful careers in NASCAR history. Heading into Sunday’s event, Martin has started 699 Cup races, totaling 35 wins, 41 poles, 239 top-five finishes and 385 top 10s. In addition, he made 621 consecutive starts from 1988 to 2007 before walking away from full-time Cup racing with the points lead in hand following the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March 2007. 
More ...

Long Beach GP track construction begins  
Long Beach GP
The first step toward turning Shoreline Drive in downtown Long Beach into a 200-mph front straightaway took place this morning as construction began for the 34th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The first of more than 14 million pounds of concrete blocks that line the 1.97-mile circuit in downtown Long Beach was set in place, with the help of Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. It marks the beginning of two months of work preparing the 11-turn racing circuit for race weekend April 18-20.

Grand Prix Association of Long Beach director of operations Dwight Tanaka and his staff of 40 will put in more than 30,000 working hours installing concrete blocks, three miles of fencing and 16,000 bolted-together tires, along with 15 huge spectator grandstands, seven pedestrian bridges and eight giant-vision boards for full-circuit TV coverage. More ...

Junqueira back to Brazil A1GP Team  
Bruno Junqueira
Team Brazil has taken the surprise choice of recalling two of its former drivers for this weekend’s meeting in South Africa.

Bruno Junqueira and rookie Alexandre ‘Xandi’ Negrao will form the team’s driver line-up in South Africa this weekend.

Junqueira, who made his name in American open-wheel racing drove in six races for the team last season – but crucially, one of them was the unforgiving Durban street circuit in Brazil. He finished seventh in the Feature race at the circuit last season, and his experience could prove vital. More ...
track news
Pepsi To Serve As Title Sponsor  California Speedway has announced a multi-year agreement with Pepsi to serve as the title sponsor for the Speedway’s fall NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race.  The race which traditionally takes place at the end of the Labor Day weekend and this year will run on August 31, 2008 will now be known as the Pepsi 500.  In addition to its role as the title sponsor of the race, Pepsi will continue to serve as the “official soft drink and non-alcoholic beverage provider” of the Speedway, a designation the brand has held since 1997.

“Through this relationship with Pepsi we are aligning this race with a global brand that has had a presence in our sport for many decades. They place a huge focus on their racing program by partnering with premier names like Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr and now California Speedway,” said Gillian Zucker, President of California Speedway.  “Pepsi’s presence in the entertainment world, provides us with one more unique way to enhance the California Speedway fan experience.”

Pepsi will bring new excitement to California Speedway with this title sponsorship by expanding the entertainment beyond the competition on the track.  In addition to the race, the Pepsi 500 will include a special Pepsi Smash concert featuring top musical artists and unique on-site activities throughout the weekend to entertain the fan. More ...

Sherman joins Panther Racing  Panther Racing has signed veteran Brent Sherman to drive its Indy Pro Series car for the 2008 season. Sherman recently completed a test with Panther on the road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Panther team owner John Barnes believes the Minnesota-born driver can lead his Indy Pro Series team to another championship season.

"It says a lot about the Indy Pro Series when a driver of Brent Sherman's caliber wants to make this historic move from NASCAR to open-wheel racing," Barnes said. "I was surprised when I got the first call from Brent, but after getting to know him and seeing his talent first-hand in Panther's (Indy Pro Series) car, I realized this is a guy that can win races and deliver another championship to our race team."

Sherman competed in the Barber Dodge Pro Series and Grand Am before making the move to the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2004. He racked up more than 60 starts in the Nationwide Series from 2004-2007. He began the 2006 season as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver with BAM Racing.

"Open-wheel racing is where I started my career and I'm happy to be back with a team like Panther Racing," Sherman said. "I want to be successful, and I'm here to win races and championships. I've been a lot of places in my career, but the opportunity to drive for a championship caliber team like Panther is the opportunity I haven't had elsewhere."

"I'm just really excited to join Panther Racing and a great series like the Indy Pro Series," Sherman said. "I don't think a lot of guys in NASCAR realize the kind of opportunities the Indy Racing League has. Guys down there are scraping together all the money they can find to run a partial season or a test in ARCA, Craftsman Trucks or the (Nationwide) Series when they could run a full season of Indy Pro Series. I'm happy to be here."

AirTran Airways using Danica look-alikes at LaGuardia  AirTran Airways, a sponsor of Danica Patrick's, recently announced that passengers at LaGuardia Airport in New York will have the privilege of their own personal pit crew to get through check-in fast, thanks to a hustling team of Danica Patrick look-alikes.  Instead of changing tires and fueling cars, the "Danica Pit Crew" will work the AirTran Airways ticket counter, assisting travelers with their luggage and helping customers speed through check-in.  To complete the racing theme, passengers will exit the check-in area by crossing a "finish line" between two checkered flags.

The airline will use the Danica Pit Crew to kick off its new IndyCar Series promotion, sending racing fanatics to select races throughout the 2008 IndyCar Series.

"AirTran Airways continues to be a great sponsor on the No. 7 Motorola Team car," Patrick said. "The pit crew promotion is a great opportunity for race fans to get closer to the action than ever before - just remember to bring your ear plugs."

55 cars for LeMans  Endurance rhymes with excellence! The list of entrants invited to take part in the Test day on 1st June, the prelude to the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours, is the perfect illustration of this. Out of the 88 entries sent in to the ACO Selection Committee, 55 have been selected plus 8 reserves. On the list are the cream of endurance drivers and some of the best in Formula 1!

As the entry forms began to flood in, each one more interesting than the one before, it quickly became obvious that the 76th Le Mans 24 Hours was going to reach an incredible level of suspense.

And that proved to be the case with the international flavor of the teams (14 nationalities) and the wide variety of cars. The attraction that the Le Mans 24 Hours exerts is such that the whole world wants to take part in it, and everybody wants to use it to showcase their talents. This year the route to the rostrum is going to be a very tough one given the number of potential winners in each category. The spectators, who beat the crowd record year after year, and the TV viewers are going to enjoy a marvelous spectacle. More ...

TV News
SPEED sees ratings increase  In its second year of live and exclusive coverage of the Gatorade Duel at Daytona, SPEED delivered a 12 percent ratings increase over 2007, with race coverage scoring a final Nielsen Household Rating of 2.10 (1,512,000 households) compared to last season’s 1.87 (1,307,000 households), making it the second-most watched program in SPEED history.

According to Nielsen Media Research, SPEED was ranked No. 1 among the 69 basic cable networks in Households and Total Viewers during the live Valentine’s Day broadcast of the Gatorade Duel at Daytona.

“SPEED recognizes The Gatorade Duel at Daytona as an integral piece of the fabric that makes up Daytona Speedweeks,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “And as a network, we never took it for granted that The Duel was a major part of a huge SPEED presence at a very historic weekend of NASCAR competition. Simply having the Duel on SPEED is great … the fact that we delivered significant ratings growth is absolutely awesome.”

This year’s Duel coverage peaked at 2.65 (1,910,000 households), topping last year’s peak of 2.48 (1,728,000 households).

The SPEED ratings growth continued a trend that began early in Speedweeks, with the pre-Bud Shootout edition of NASCAR RaceDay scoring a Nielsen Household Rating of 1.53 (1,101,000 households). On the first Saturday of Daytona coverage, five SPEED programs scored a Nielsen mark of “1” or better. NASCAR RaceDay was up 17 percent from a year ago, the ARCA RE/MAX Series race scored its best ratings in network history, up 16 percent (1.46 vs. 1.26), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice was up 8 percent (1.11 vs. 1.03) and two episodes of NASCAR Live! were up 18 percent and 26 percent respectively.

Champ Car owner doesn't see many teams in IRL  
Paul Gentilozzi
The four owners of the Champ Car World Series could decide the fate of the Indianapolis-based series today, but one of them offered a word of caution. Paul Gentilozzi doesn’t expect to see very many, if any, Champ Car teams in the Indy Racing League this season.

“I don’t know of a Champ Car team that is a go,” Gentilozzi said today. “(One owner) told me he’d run (the Indianapolis 500), but he will not run the season.”

Walker Racing is the only Champ Car team that has confirmed its interest in joining the IRL, but team owner Derrick Walker reiterated today that he still doesn’t have the financial backing to make the move.

Said Gentilozzi of moving his Rocketsports team to the IRL: “I can’t make the numbers work.”

Gentilozzi said his Brazilian driver and sponsor aren’t interested in oval-track racing, which is the cornerstone of the IRL.

Gentilozzi said Champ Car’s owners have a document in their possession to vote on, and a decision could come as early as today. Bankruptcy is among the options they could consider. Gentilozzi did not discuss the document’s details, but it likely centers on bankruptcy of the series they purchased in 2004.

Gerald Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven and Dan Pettit are the other owners of the series.
David Higdon, Champ Car’s executive vice president of strategic development, said there will be no announcement today.

“We’re in the same position we were last week: Discussions are being held, but nothing is done,” he said. “We’re continuing to operate as Champ Car. We should know imminently which direction we’re heading.” Indy Star

IROC to be liquidated  The  International  Race  of  Champions  (IROC  series)  officials announced today the All-Star auto racing series will liquidate all tools, equipment, race cars and memorabilia in a two-day public auction on March 7th and 8th  at IROC headquarters in Tinton Falls, NJ.

The IROC series has been dormant since the conclusion of the 2006 season due to lack of sponsorship. IROC President Jay Signore said, "We're all very sad to see IROC come to  an end, but the competition for major corporate sponsorship is very tough  and the car manufacturers have not shown any interest.  We kept hope alive as long as we could but now it's time to look forward and move on."

Spanning four decades the IROC series left its mark in auto racing history staging 120 events at 16 different world-class race tracks across the United States and amassing a roster of over 125 of the biggest names in stock car, open wheel and road racing from throughout the world. Twenty-one of those greats have won the elite IROC championship along with the bragging rights of beating out the best of the best. More ...

Barcelona Day: Rosberg on top  On a track that was damp all day, Nico Rosberg turned the fastest lap on day 1 of testing in Barcelona.


Driver Team Time Laps
1. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:30.675 73
2. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:32.370 96
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:32.599 26
4. Alonso Renault 1:32.820 16
5. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:32.924 22
6. Trulli Toyota 1:33.283 57
7. Piquet Renault 1:40.073 8
8. Kobayashi Toyota no time 1

Hamilton's dad takes blame for Swiss tax blunder  
Lewis Hamilton
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton's father has taken the blame for the PR disaster of the McLaren rookie's move to Switzerland last year.

Many high earning formula one drivers enjoy the tax benefits of residing in the western European country, but 23-year-old Hamilton insisted that his decision to leave Briton was motivated only by the desire for a quieter life.

Only in the subsequent heat of criticism and ridicule in the press did the young Briton have to admit that minimizing tax was also a factor.

But to the Daily Mail newspaper on Tuesday, Hamilton's father and manager was quoted as taking the blame for the blunder.

"If I have any regrets, it is the way we managed the move to Switzerland. It was my idea," Anthony Hamilton said.

Hamilton Snr now openly admits that his son, who recently signed a more lucrative contract to stay with McLaren into the future, moved to Switzerland because of tax.

"I always said to Lewis that, if he started to make any money, he would have to move abroad," Anthony added.

"It could be a very short career - we just don't know - and you have to take care of what you have got."

AGR hires Ziggy  Another sure sign that a merger of Champ Car and the IRL is upon us - Andretti Green Racing (AGR) announced today it has hired Champ Car racing veteran Paul “Ziggy” Harcus as team manager. Harcus, who has nearly 30 years of racing experience, will join AGR’s management team and oversee various aspects of AGR’s four-car IndyCar Series program.

Harcus spent the previous three racing seasons as the director of operations for the Champ Car World Series. As the director of operations, Harcus oversaw all technical aspects of the race cars. He was charged with administrating all inspections as well as managing all race officials.

Harcus also spent two seasons working in the IndyCar Series with Kelley Racing where he served in the team manager role. He directed all aspects of the two-car operation and worked with drivers Al Unser Jr., Scott Sharp and Tony Renna.

Before his stop in the IndyCar Series, Harcus spent more than 10 years working at PacWest Racing. Harcus began working as a chief mechanic before moving into the team manager position of PacWest’s Indy Lights program and working with future IndyCar Series champions Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon.

"Paul is a great addition to our team," said Andretti Green's chief executive officer Kim Green, who co-owns Andretti Green with partners Michael Andretti and Kevin Savoree. "He has a wealth of experience and great knowledge that allows him to join Andretti Green and make an immediate contribution to our organization."

Andretti Green, which is in its sixth year of operation, continues to field four cars in the IndyCar Series and also campaigns a single-car effort in the American Le Mans Series. In January of 2008, Andretti Green announced a partnership with AFS Racing to operate a two-car Indy Pro Series operation. AGR also owns the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will see its fourth annual event April 4-6, 2008.

tv news
Ryan Newman to be on Live with Regis & Kelly  UPDATE A reminder that Ryan Newman will be a guest on the Live with Regis and Kelly show today.

02/18/08 Ryan Newman, winner of the 50th running of the Daytona 500, will be a guest on the Live with Regis and Kelly show on Tuesday, February 19.  The show airs at 9:00 am - 10:00 am in most time zones.  The network varies.  Please check your local listings for your time zone.
RCR teammates Burton, Bowyer in altercation after Daytona 500  Shortly after the finish of Sunday’s Daytona 500, SPEEDTV’s cameras spotted Richard Childress Racing drivers Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer in a heated exchange in the garage area, and it appeared that Burton was repeatedly grabbing and pushing Bowyer as he was trying to walk away.  Sources say that Burton was extremely upset that Bowyer was not drafting with him at the end of the race although we have yet to confirm this.
Bridgestone reports 55 pct profit jump  Bridgestone Corp. said Tuesday its net profit for the 2007 calendar year jumped 55 percent as its brisk tire sales and a weaker yen offset a rise in raw material costs.  The Tokyo-based maker of tires and industrial rubber products, jostling for the top spot in global tire sales with France's Michelin, posted a net profit of 131.6 billion yen ($1.22 billion) for 2007, compared with 85.1 billion yen the previous year.
Former driver Jerry Karl killed in an auto accident  (Jerry Karl),Gerald E. Karl, 66, died Saturday, February 16, 2008, in Baltimore County, Md., as the result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident. He was the loving husband of Linda L. (Loveland) Karl, with whom he celebrated 45 years of marriage April 18, 2007. He was born April 29, 1941, in Jamaica, N.Y., a son of the late Emil A. and Ruth (Burke) Karl.

Gerald was the former owner and operator of Karl Aviation at the Capital City Airport, New Cumberland. He was also a professional race car driver who drove in the Indianapolis 500 six times. He retired from driving in the mid 1980's, but continued in the business as a race car owner. Gerald was a member of the Elks Lodge in Stevensville, Md., Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Club, and York County Racing Club. He was an avid fisherman and pilot. In addition to his wife, Gerald is survived by a daughter, Donna L. Krumm and her husband, Dave of Oregon, Ill.; a son, Scott E. Karl and his wife, Stacey of Wellsville; eight grandchildren, Elizabeth, Christine, Scotty, Tasha, Terra, James, Paul and Matthew; and a brother, James Karl of Valley Stream , N.Y. He was preceded in death by a son, James E. 'Jimmy' Karl. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend the funeral 11 a.m. Friday and the visitations from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday and from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday at Emig Funeral Home, 47 N. Queen St., Dover, Pa. Officiating will be the Rev. Larry Hale, pastor of Glenvale Church of God, Marysville. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Injured Drivers Fund of York County Racing Club, 568 Yale St., York, PA 17403. Published in the York Daily Record & York Dispatch on 2/19/2008

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Hamilton won't respond to Ecclestone remarks
  • Prosecutors probe spy Stepney in Italy
  • Hakkinen joins elite Laureus academy
  • Toro Rosso logistics manager dies
  • Keke Rosberg to attend all F1 races in 2008

Hamilton won't respond to Ecclestone remarks
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton is reluctant to comment on Bernie Ecclestone's playing down of the Barcelona racism affair.

After McLaren driver Hamilton was racially abused by some Spanish spectators at a recent winter test, F1's chief executive earlier this week dismissed the FIA's subsequent promise of an anti-racism campaign as not "necessary".

The anti-racism group Unite Against Fascism denounced Ecclestone's dismissal as "totally unacceptable", with a spokesman insisting to the British newspaper The Guardian that there "should be a clear message that bigotry and racism are not tolerated in formula one".

But in St Petersburg on Monday to collect his Laureus award, the 23-year-old responded: "It's not really something I want to comment on.

"I've moved forward and I'm looking forward to the first race," F1's only black driver is quoted as saying by PA Sport.

Hamilton returned to testing action at Jerez last week, and he will be back at the Circuit de Catalunya from next Monday.

"Honestly, I can't wait to get back out there," the Briton insisted.

Prosecutors probe spy Stepney in Italy
(GMM)  Alleged Ferrari spy Nigel Stepney on Monday was questioned for three hours by Italian prosecutors.

Michael Schumacher's sacked former chief mechanic, accused of attempted sabotage and passing reams of secret information to rivals McLaren, was "cooperative and thorough", Modena magistrate Giuseppe Tibis is cited as relaying by ANSA.

The Italian news agency also quotes Stepney as saying he was "very calm" at the questioning, but his lawyer Sonia Bartolini told reporters that she thought other people have not been investigated enough.

McLaren officials including Ron Dennis and Martin Whitmarsh were originally slated to also be interrogated by Tibis on Monday, but their presence was called off.

The six McLaren chiefs, however, as well as suspended McLaren designer Mike Coughlan, remain under investigation, and are likely to be questioned in Italy in the coming weeks, ANSA added. More ...

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