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Industry News
Chrysler could be swapped for a GM stake  DaimlerChrysler shares edged higher Monday on a news report that the automaker was considering taking a stake in General Motors Corp. in exchange for its struggling Chrysler unit. Meanwhile, Russia's second-biggest automotive company denied that it was interested in the Chrysler business.

Earlier this month, DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said all options are on the table for the money-losing Chrysler business and he would not rule out a possible sale.

The Financial Times reported Monday that DaimlerChrysler was considering a move that would see it take a stake in GM in the form of a payment were a deal to sell it Chrysler were to go forward.

GM is the world's biggest automaker, but has been losing market share at home and is undergoing a massive restructuring that includes closing plants and shedding jobs.  More at Detroit News

Roush Racing (Ford) owner gives MLB player a...Toyota  Ortiz got his own present Wednesday morning. Arriving at the Red Sox minor league facility for his physical, Ortiz was greeted with a Toyota Tundra pickup, courtesy of owner John W. Henry......why is this of interest? Red Sox owner John Henry is Jack Roush's new partner at Roush-Fenway Racing, they run Ford Fusions and Jack Roush has spoken out against Toyota's involvement in NASCAR.....oops.  More at Hartford Courant
Corvette Racing Announces 2007 Driver Lineup  DETROIT - There will be familiar faces in different places when Corvette Racing returns to the American Le Mans Series in 2007 to defend its drivers, team and manufacturers championships. Corvette Racing officials have announced a revised driver lineup for the two-car Chevrolet factory team.

Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen will drive the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R in all ALMS events. They will be joined by Ron Fellows for three endurance races (Sebring, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans) as Fellows takes on new roles and responsibilities with GM Racing. Defending GT1 champions Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta will drive the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R, teamed with Max Papis in the three endurance events.

The six Corvette Racing drivers have a combined total of 109 ALMS victories and 11 championships. They've won races and championships in series ranging from karts and touring cars to open-wheel formula racers. More ...

Track News
Mazda Raceway looking for classic cars  Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is searching for classic sports cars for use in a display representing the 50th Anniversary of the world-renowned facility during the circuit’s Open House and Champ Car World Series test session on Saturday, March 10. Vintage sports cars attending the Open House will receive preferred parking upon arrival (while space lasts) beginning at 9:00 a.m. 

Additionally, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is planning a display area for unique sports cars and race cars that may be one of a kind or have contributed to the history of the facility. Those who feel their car fits the description should send a brief e-mail and photo describing their car and its contribution to race@laguna-seca.com.

Those who bring their late 1950’s era sports cars and dress in period costume will receive a pair of tickets to the U.S. Sports Car Invitational featuring the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series May 18-20. More ...

Johnson hammers NASCAR for phony cautions  FONTANA, Calif. — Jimmie Johnson held a lead of more than two seconds over Matt Kenseth — and growing — when NASCAR threw a caution for debris on the backstretch with 24 laps left in the Auto Club 500 Nextel Cup race Sunday at California Speedway.

At least in the minds of the leaders, the debris was nowhere to be found.

“Bull,” Kenseth radioed his crew chief Chip Bolin. “All that is is entertainment.”

Johnson agreed. “I had a comfortable two-second lead, and we had a caution come out for debris,” he said after the race. “I don’t think they’ve found the debris yet.”

[Editor's Note: Debris cautions to make for an exciting finish have been common in NASCAR for decades.  They probably should just write it into the rulebook.]

Stewart favored to win UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400  LAS VEGAS - Micah Roberts, oddsmaker for Station Casinos in Las Vegas, has chosen Tony Stewart as his favorite to win the March 11 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Jimmie Johnson, defending NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion and a two-time winner in Las Vegas, is a close second.  Stewart is favored at 6-to-1, while Johnson's odds to win have been set at 7-to-1. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has yet to visit victory lane at LVMS, is next at 8-to-1.  Matt Kenseth, who won here in 2003 and 2004, also is set at 8-to-1.

On the other end of the spectrum, hapless Michael Waltrip - who struggled at Daytona and failed to qualify at California - is saddled with seemingly insurmountable odds of 555-to-1. Tickets for LVMS' 2007 NASCAR Weekend, featuring the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race and the NASCAR Busch Series Sam's Town 300, may be purchased by calling the LVMS ticket office at (702) 644-4444 or online at www.LVMS.com.

Odds to win the 2007 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400:
Tony Stewart - 6-to-1.
Jimmie Johnson - 7-to-1.
Kasey Kahne - 7-to-1.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 8-to-1.
Matt Kenseth - 8-to-1.
Kyle Busch - 10-to-1.
Kevin Harvick - 10-to-1.
Jeff Burton - 12-to1.
Jeff Gordon - 12-to-1. More ...

Interim Crew Chief Chip Bolin Wins award  In only his second race in command of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion team, interim crew chief Chip Bolin guided Matt Kenseth to a successful defense of his Auto Club 500 title and a sweep of the California Speedway race weekend.  Rallying the No. 17 team from a 25th place qualifying run, the lead engineer-turned crew chief led Kenseth to his second trip to victory lane in less than 24 hours and his first Nextel Cup victory under a crew chief other than Robbie Reiser.  In addition to transforming a lackluster racecar into the fastest car on the track, Bolin displayed the poise and decision-making of a veteran crew chief.  For his pre-race adjustments and impeccable judgment, Bolin won the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. More ...
Industry news
Navistar suspends diesel production because of Ford  Ford Motor Co. said Monday morning that a decision by key supplier Navistar International Corp. will not disrupt production of SuperDuty pickups "in the near term." However, the automaker would not say how long it could keep its truck lines running if the recalcitrant vendor holds out.

Navistar announced Monday that it has halted production of the Power Stroke diesel engine it makes for Ford because of an ongoing contract dispute. The Warrenville, Ill.-based engine manufacturer is the exclusive diesel engine supplier for Ford's heavy duty pickup trucks.

In a statement today, Navistar said it "pays its suppliers and employees under contract terms and that it expects Ford to honor the terms of its agreement."

But Ford said Navistar is the one violating that contract. More ...

A few inquiries for NASCAR faithful  FONTANA - Just thinking. And thinking some more. While sitting in the media workroom at California Speedway, looking at wide-open spaces in the grandstands, pondering NASCAR questions.
1. If NASCAR "has 75 million fans," as it states without attribution (or shame) in its media guide, why did only 17.5 million people watch the sport's biggest event, the Daytona 500, last Sunday?
Did the other 57.5 million "fans" suffer power outages in their double-wides?
2. If Daytona viewership was off nearly 2 million from 2006 because this year's race didn't have the Winter Olympics lead-in NBC gave it last year ... how to explain the night-before Busch race's 26percent ratings decline when it went head-to-head against that Winter juggernaut last year?
3. If NASCAR is keen on engaging "Hollywood" during its two visits to Fontana each year, why did it schedule today's Auto Club 500 on the same day as the Oscars?
4. If the Labor Day race at California Speedway was the second-most watched event on the 2006 Nextel Cup schedule, why does it still have no title sponsor for the 2007 race?
5. If you and a few wealthy friends scraped up $100,000, could you get the Labor Day Weekend race named after your dog? More ...
Danica Patrick Wind Tunnel quotes  Below are select quotes from IRL driver Danica Patrick from the Feb. 25 edition of Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED:

Despain: Was the performance difference (between Andretti Green Racing and Rahal Letterman Racing) the key reason for you changing teams or was there more to it than that?

Patrick: (AGR) is a first-class operation all the way around, but the most important thing is that they are successful on the track … everyone was dominated last year by Penske and Ganassi, but there were only two people to beat them all year, and that was Tony (Kanaan) at Milwaukee and Marco (Andretti) at Sonoma, so it’s not the worst thing in the world. But (AGR) was fired up not to let that happen again. So, they are driven … that’s for sure.

Despain: Leaving Rahal had to be tough. Bobby backed you when you were an unknown Formula racer trying to make it in Europe, brought you to what was then the Toyota Atlantics and then to the IRL … we assume there was a bond there. The flipside to that is, again the team’s performance … all the rumors about Bobby’s level of commitment to the IRL … his son Graham in Champ Car. With all that background, when and why did you decide to leave Rahal Letterman? More ...

NASCAR announces more fines for cheaters  NASCAR announced today that three Nextel Cup Series crew chiefs have been fined for rule violations committed during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.

Lee McCall, crew chief for the #49 Dodge driven by Mike Bliss, has been fined $10,000 for violating Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing), 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment do not conform to NASCAR Rules), and 20-12.1 (unapproved lower rear spring mounts/offset) of the 2007 series rule book. The violation was discovered during opening day inspection for the Daytona 500.

Randy Seals, crew chief for the #34 Dodge driven by Kevin Lepage, has been fined $10,000 for violating Sections 12-4-A, 12-4-Q and 20-12.1 (unapproved lower rear spring mounts/slotted). The violation was likewise discovered during opening day inspection for the Daytona 500.

Scott Miller, crew chief for the #31 Chevrolet driven by Jeff Burton, has also been fined $10,000 for violating Sections 12-4-A, 12-4-Q and 20-12.1 (unapproved rear spring lower truck trailing arm mount/slotted). This violation was discovered during opening day inspection for the Budweiser Shootout. NASCAR PR

LA Times again slams NASCAR  The problems facing the California Speedway with the Auto Club 500 Sunday: There weren't enough violations beforehand, and there was no controversial finish.

That's what had everybody talking before and after the Daytona 500 a week ago, when five teams were busted for cheating and then officials delayed dropping the yellow flag while Kevin Harvick and Mark Martin dueled to the finish line.

But the NASCAR buzz died down this week — how could it possibly compete with the weeping judge in the Anna Nicole Smith court proceedings? — and as a result, there were impossible-to-ignore sections of empty seats in the grandstands at the speedway Sunday. I'm sure it didn't help the television ratings that the ever-popular Earnhardt literally bowed out on Lap 120. After his car blew the engine and spun out into the infield, Junior calmly undid his steering wheel, climbed out and took a dramatic bow.

We know NASCAR thrives on its stars, but I think it also likes controversy, just as it doesn't mind a few fisticuffs in the garage or big crashes, as long as everyone walks away unscathed. Those things get the mainstream media coverage that chief executive Brian France craves. They stretch the discussion beyond a minute of Sunday night highlights.

Meanwhile, veteran NASCAR reporters can usually predict when the next yellow flag for "debris on the track" will magically appear, the field will be tightened for a dramatic finish, and/or a big name will rejoin the lead lap. It's known as "a NASCAR yellow" in racing circles and it's as convenient as a referee's being distracted in wrestling. Sunday, it was on Lap 225, of 250, when Jimmie Johnson had a 2 1/2 -second lead. Suddenly, a yellow flag came out. You guessed it, debris.

"If anyone did see the debris, I'd like to know where it was," Johnson said.

He looked over at Gordon, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. Gordon shook his head to indicate he hadn't seen any either.

This is like the NBA, in which even the players are convinced that the league and its referees slant things in favor of the marquee teams and to stretch out playoff series.

Asked about the predictable nature of the yellow flags, Johnson said, "It did seem like there was one coming."

When pressed for explanation, Gordon motioned to the NASCAR trailer and said, "Go over there to that truck and ask."  Cheating will continue in NASCAR, and so will mysterious yellow flags. These aren't new developments.  More at LA Times 

Cooper Tires Exceed Expectations  In evaluating the performance of the new Cooper Atlantic racing tires this pre-season, paraphrasing the old postal service credo seems most appropriate – neither heat, nor cold, nor rain shall keep these tires from completing their appointed rounds.

Through several off-season tests, the new Cooper Atlantic racing slicks and rain tires have consistently demonstrated the ability to deliver the mail quickly and reliably, no matter what the conditions. Over the course of the first two series-sanctioned open tests – at Florida’s Sebring International Raceway in January and earlier this month at MSR Houston in Texas – competitors logged nearly 20,000 miles of track time on the new Cooper tires. And through the heat, rain and high winds in Sebring to the cold temperatures present at MSR Houston, the Atlantic tires have proven durable and have given the Mazda-Cosworth/Swift cars a high level of performance.

“It’s been a very successful transition to the Cooper Tires for us. They’ve been awesome right off the bat,” said Atlantic racer Jonathan Bomarito, who’s familiar with the Cooper brand after having won the Cooper Tires Formula Ford Zetec championship in 2003. “We went from running in the heat and the wet on a high-grip track in Sebring to running in the freezing weather on a fast track like Houston and no matter what the conditions, the tires have been tremendous. As a driver, you can’t ask for anything more.” More ...

Washington Treasurer rips NASCAR plan  State Treasurer Mike Murphy is blasting proposals to build a new Sonics arena in Renton and a NASCAR speedway near Bremerton, calling the plans bad deals for taxpayers.

Murphy says state lawmakers need only look at the financial bottom line from Qwest Field to see how the state's last "public-private partnership" with a professional sports team turned out.

The state will pay about $600 million over 25 years to pay off $300 million it borrowed to build the stadium, Murphy said. The debt is being repaid with a mix of King County taxes and state lottery money approved by a public vote in 1997 — sources that brought in more than $16 million last year.

The Seahawks will pay just $25 million in rent over 25 years, while receiving virtually all of the ticket, parking and concessions revenue from the stadium, Murphy said. Team owner Paul Allen contributed $130 million to the stadium's construction.

"We might as well dispense with calling these things public-private partnerships, because they really aren't," Murphy told the House Finance Committee on Tuesday.

In an interview Wednesday, Murphy was even more blunt in describing the proposed NASCAR and Sonics plans: "The private side gets rich. The public side gets screwed." Seattle Times

Eurointernational to run Italian in Europe  Eurointernational is set for their 2007 World Series by Renault season after announcing that they have signed Italian driver Alessandro Ciompi to drive their #26 World Series entry for the 2007 season, joining teammate Celso Miguez, entry # 25.

Alessandro Ciompi tested in World Series at the three 2006 post season tests at Paul Ricard, Vallelunga and Valencia and impressed everyone on hand.

"It was clear after the last Valencia test, that Alessandro was ready to join the World Series," said Antonio Ferrari, owner of Eurointernational Racing Team. "He was very competitive an it will be a pleasure to work with him and his sponsors throughout the season. I am extremely delighted to have this young Italian talented driver to join our World Series Team, who is ready for the best effort ever in the incoming season. Also, I am proud to announce that respected and accomplished engineer David Luff is joining our Team for the 2007 World Series Season to work with our Technical Director Nicola Sgotto and two new data acquisition engineers in our 2007 World Series technical squad." More ...

NASCAR type series spreads to Middle East and Asia  French motorsport legend Jean Alesi will make a spectacular return to racing in a brand new Asia and Middle East-based stock car championship beginning next autumn.

Former F1 and DTM racer Alesi is the first of many big name drivers set to take part in the Speedcar Series, a revolutionary contest competing 24 identical 600bhp race cars against each other on tracks across the Middle East and Asia. Organizers of the championship, Speedcar Series Ltd, aim to deliver non-stop excitement and entertainment with fast, open racing over 18 races in nine weekends. The cars will be specifically-built for the series with tubular, fiberglass 'silhouette' chassis coupled with an engine built in Charlotte, USA. More ...

Nick Fry explains green concept  In an exclusive interview with RealHondaF1.com held before today's launch, Honda Racing F1's CEO Nick Fry explained why the team have now decided to follow such a unique path in Formula One, and what it means for the team, the sport and the future.

Suggesting that the team may well have been forced into the new 'earth' concept due to a failure to sign any significant sponsors, Fry was unhesitant in his response.

"I think that's ill founded," he said. "I can understand people coming to that conclusion, but the thing for your readers to understand is that we're now owned 100% by Honda. More ...

Attendance woes continue to dog Cal. Speedway  If NASCAR is to be believed, the attendance at Sunday's Auto Club 500 was 87,000.  If track president Gillian Zucker is to be believed, this year's Nextel Cup race was an improvement over a year ago. If veteran track observers, notably writers who have covered stock car racing at Fontana, are to be believed, Sunday's gathering was among the smallest since NASCAR returned to Southern California in 1997.

The argument about attendance, which has cropped up only after NASCAR added a second Cup date in 2004, is hampered by the absence of real numbers. Track owner International Speedway Corp. has a policy of not releasing figures, opening the door for speculation.

Apparently, only the tax people know the true figures outside ISC corporate offices.

But Zucker wasn't buying the estimated crowd of 70,000 used by several publications, including this one. More ...

Engine woes fuel questions  It was hard to determine what impact NASCAR's switch to unleaded fuel had on Sunday's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway.  But the number of engine problems in the race suggests Nextel Cup Series crew chiefs might have some homework.

Engine problems sent Kasey Kahne and teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. to the garage within the first 70 laps of the 250-lap event.

Kahne couldn't say if fuel was a factor but he could sense something was different. "It's definitely different the way it runs, the way it takes off on restarts and how it shifts," he said. "I think the unleaded fuel is fine. We've just got to learn how to make it work."

Mark McArdle, director of Evernham Engines, expressed a degree of trepidation before the race. "The greatest concern we have with the fuel change is the durability consideration," he said. "Our greatest concern is with valve guide and valve seat wear."

Sunday's cool temperatures had engines running faster than normal at a track traditionally tough on engines. Four cars, including those of potential winners Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart, failed to finish because of motor failures last year. This year Truex's engine lasted seven laps. More at USA Today

IRL star 3 for 4  Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. was just 18 laps from the finish of Saturday's Busch race when he wrecked his Dodge – again. That makes it three wrecks out of four races in his short Busch Series career. Ordinarily, there would already be talk about his replacement. But these are not normal circumstances, and team owner Roger Penske is willing to do what it takes to get Hornish up to speed in NASCAR. Yahoo! Sports
Honda F1 Team Launches Environmental Concept  The Honda Racing F1 Team today announced a major new initiative for the 2007 Formula 1 season. To help raise awareness of the environmental issues facing the planet, the RA107 F1 car will simply feature a huge image of earth, in place of the advertising and sponsor logos which have featured and dominated all other F1 cars for decades.

The car’s new look is a powerful call to action for fans, sponsors, customers and members of the public to join Honda’s commitment to help address the environmental issues facing the world.

Via the website www.myearthdream.com anyone who wishes, will have the opportunity to have their name on the car, make a pledge to make a lifestyle change to improve the environment and make a donation to an environmental charity. Under the concept of “our car is your car”, each name will form a tiny individual pixel which will help build the image of planet earth on the car. Each name will be visible on the website when you make the pledge or under a microscope on the car. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
Piquet 'sure' of 2008 debut
Vietnam inks rights deal for F1
RBR won't reach 'goals' in 2007 - Coulthard
Delayed Aguri set for crash test repeat
Ferrari to run Oz-spec package this week
Ralf less confident about new Toyota
Now McLaren set pace in 2007 - Massa
Massa feels Ferrari 'respect'
Alonso to demo McLaren in Spain
Williams' Michael encouraged by pace
Toyota debut unique nose in Bahrain
Red Bull plans to test at Magny Cours
Cup overflows while other series run dry  It's the ultimate irony: Big-budget Nextel Cup teams pack up and go home while the Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series run races with less than full fields.

Welcome to equilibrium in action.

Are the entry list imbalances this weekend at California Speedway just a result of teams with tight budgets deciding to pass on a cross-country trip so close after Daytona -- or is it a sign of things to come?

Ask a dozen folks and you get a dozen answers, not all of them on the record. However, the one recurring theme is "money."

Busch owner Todd Braun said some financially strapped teams may be unwilling to spend more money than they can make.  More ...

Racing News
The Art of Gilles Villeneuve  For years Gilles Villeneuve lived his life on track on the edge, every corner, every lap. Fans world wide loved to watch, photographers also were drawn to him and they documented his career.  As his reputation grew artists had the time to paint their perception of Gilles on the edge. For ten days the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame and Museum will present an art exhibit entitled The Art of Gilles Villeneuve - A celebration of the life of Gilles Villeneuve.  More.... (PDF File)
LA Times pans NASCAR  UPDATE Close to 25% of the grandstand seats were empty at California Speedway Sunday, so Californians continue their lukewarm acceptance of NASCAR.  What was most disappointing was the fact the upper section was more empty than the lower section.  The upper section tends to be paid for by fans whereas the lower section tends to be bought by corporations who give away the tickets as part of a promotion.

02/25/07 The morning began early, as I checked out of the Hyatt Regency in Irvine, $129 for the room, $13.03 in taxes, $63 for dinner, $13 for self-parking and $14.99 for an in-room movie.

The wife, who will be sitting in the bleachers today for the red carpet arrivals — she'll be easy to spot, she'll be wearing Target — has made a point of seeing every movie up for any kind of Academy Award this year, save one, "The Good Shepherd."

She learned the movie was being offered by the Hyatt, so we paid $233.02 to make sure she has now seen every movie in the category of "art direction."

I suggested we rent a few other movies to make the night really memorable, but she said she couldn't see any good reason to spend more money.

Lucky me, I've got a frugal wife.

I left Irvine for the drive to Fontana. I figured I could make it in two or three days.

They've got another auto race way out there — a bunch of cheaters from down south coming here to make some noise, and probably run off with some of our women.

Last year the president of California Speedway, Gillian Zucker, offered a $1,000 donation to the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA if I stopped by the track. I wasn't surprised to learn they have to pay people to go to these things. More at LA Times


WILL THE MANDATED SWITCH TO UNLEADED FUEL AFFECT FUEL MILEAGE FOR OUR CHEVY TEAMS? "Yes. It is my understanding that they are going to have to add more fuel with the unleaded fuel than they do with leaded fuel. How much? I can't exactly say. That will be a question for each individual engine builder. From a performance standpoint, there is not a big difference."

BASICALLY, WHAT HAVE OUR NASCAR NEXTEL CUP CHEVY TEAMS HAD TO DO TO PREPARE FOR THE SWITCH TO UNLEADED FUEL? "The biggest challenge is the reliability and durability of the valves and valve seats. Leaded fuel has lubricity; unleaded fuel does not. Therefore, with the unleaded fuel they have experienced wear issues with the valves or valve seats." More ...

NASCAR disputes decline in appeal  Amid evidence that NASCAR peaked in popularity after a decade of tremendous growth, a recent incident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway suggests that the lull might be temporary. During a break from testing, Juan Pablo Montoya -- a former Formula One driver who migrated to NASCAR's premier Nextel Cup Series this year -- sat for a news conference.

One question came by telephone from a reporter in London for the British Broadcasting Corp., but he wanted the Colombian-born Montoya to answer in Spanish. NASCAR was born in the southeastern U.S. and bills its top event, the Daytona 500, as "the Great American Race." But Montoya, and his potential for attracting a legion of new Spanish-speaking fans around the world, is one of several developments in stock car racing that NASCAR believes could spark another growth spurt.

That would be welcome news for NASCAR after the sport appeared to level off in 2006.

  • Television ratings rose for only three of the Cup series' 36 races.
  • At least a dozen races failed to sell out, including the two run at 92,000-seat California Speedway in Fontana.
  • Even NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., groused in November that many races might be too long, perhaps fueling the problem.

It was an abrupt reversal for NASCAR, which had been riding a wave of rising attendance, TV viewers and sponsorship spending for a decade in becoming one of the nation's most popular sports.  More at Detroit News

formula BMW
Things shaping up real nice for Gelles Racing  Indianapolis, Indiana –  Gelles Racing has been very busy in the last weeks and basing upon the significant level of interest; team principal Bob Gelles is really confident he will fill all seats he has available in Champ Car Atlantic and Formula BMW USA before the next testing days. The racing crews traveled around the country from Florida to Texas and Louisiana taking to the tracks their racing machines for the drivers who are already on the roster and others who vie for a racing seat in either series. 

˝Winter testing has been outstanding for us, claimed team principal Bob Gelles. If we had a weakness last season; that has certainly been cured by the hiring of the best Engineers in the business.  We have Championship winning Engineers on both sides of the Gelles Team. By the time we get to Laguna Seca, we should have a four-driver team in Atlantic. The official testing season for the BMW USA starts a little later at Road Atlanta: we have some drivers under contract and it’s a matter of days before we announce all seats are filled.” More ...

Sold out Durban alive with anticipation. No!  UPDATE So much for the A1GP press release saying that Durban was alive with anticipation and that the race was a sellout. In fact attendance was way off from last year. Whereas last year the grandstands were packed, this year one can see many empty seats. With the cost of flying the series all the way to South Africa, this event must have been another A1GP financial bloodbath. After losing a reported $200M last year one wonders how much longer the investors will continue this.

02/24/07 The roar of the A1GP engines, the heat rising off the tarmac and crystal blue clear Durban skies set the scene of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport being held in Durban South Africa this weekend.

An electric atmosphere hovers over the Durban coastline, as enthusiastic motor sport aficionados are making their way to the track for an action packed qualifying session later today. An array of country flags fly boldly out of apartment and hotel windows as supporters cheer on their nations. More ...

OK to dip below yellow line on last lap  Drivers throughout the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series garage were still talking about last week's three-wide finish at Daytona International Speedway. While they admitted the finish was good for television, most wondered why NASCAR allowed Johnny Benson to drive below the yellow line - Daytona's out of bounds line - to jump from third to second in the final 200 yards. Benson wasn't penalized because "if you can see the checkered flag on the last lap, anything goes," according to NASCAR spokesman Owen Kearns. Augusta Chronicle
Doornbos to play in Pit Stop Tennis Pro Am game  Before Robert launched his motorsport career after attending the 1998 Belgian GP, he was working hard to become a tennis pro in The Netherlands. So Robert didn’t have to think long when he was invited by Dutch broadcaster RTV Rijnmond to visit the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in his hometown Rotterdam! After watching the game between Ferrer and Roche, Robert was also very keen to play a bit himself against one of RTV’s reporters as the cameras rolled.

Robert Doornbos has also planned to take part in the Melbourne Pit Stop Tennis Pro Am game on the Tuesday (13/03) before the Australian GP, after being invited by the Mark Webber Challenge Foundation. Next to his Red Bull colleagues Mark Webber and Scott Speed, also Christijan Albers, Alexander Wurz and Nick Heidfeld will attend the event.

Rossi fastest at Jerez, wins BMW  Valentino Rossi was fastest in today's 40-minute qualifying simulation in official practice at Jerez pipping the Repsol Honda's of Dani Pedrosa, both of whom were well clear of the field throughout the session. For his effort, Rossi won a new BMW sports car.

"It is great," said Rossi. "It is not important for the championship but it's the first battle and it means that our bike is a lot more competitive than last year.

"I had a fantastic lap in qualifying, so thank you to my bike - it was very good to ride. It was a good point to start from." More ...

Weber watching his next Schumacher  Watching the exploits of A1 Team Germany’s young superstar claiming his pole hat-trick in the intense Durban heat was managing guru Willi Weber. As Nico Hülkenberg is being hailed as the next Michael Schumacher, it is no coincidence that Weber is the manager of both drivers.

The last time Weber was at a race was in Zandvoort where Hülkenberg took his first victory of the season in the Feature race. The 19-year-old has now increased that tally to six and behind him in New Zealand and Australia are two double wins.

While rumors abound that this could be the last A1GP race of the current season for Hülkenberg, the team has confirmed that despite missing Mexico due to his F3 Euroseries commitments he will be driving in Shanghai and Brands Hatch. However, another German rising star, Christian Vietoris, will take his place in the car at the Mexico City track. Vietoris, who has been the German team’s Rookie session driver this season, is the winner of the 2006 Formula BMW World Final so already has an F1 test lined up as his prize for this.

Toro Rosso confirms Speed for 2007  UPDATE Scott Speed, America's only F1 driver, will be back in action in his home United States Grand Prix on June 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and in the rest of the races in the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship.

"That's the race I'm looking forward to most of all," Speed said. "The reception I got from the fans at Indianapolis last year was incredible."

As in his rookie 2006 season, Speed drive for Scuderia Toro Rosso. His teammate again will be Italian Tonio Liuzzi. After finalizing contract details, the team confirmed Speed on Feb. 24.

Speed, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Jan. 24, hails from Manteca, Calif. He is the first F1 driver from the United States since Michael Andretti competed for McLaren in 1993. More ...

Hülkenberg wins Durban sprint race  Durban, South Africa - A1 Team Germany has taken pole position for this afternoon's Durban Feature race having comfortably won the 20-minute Sprint race on the challenging street circuit. Nico Hülkenberg took the lead from the rolling start but as the field followed through the tight turn one, the action began. Brazil, Lebanon and Malaysia all sustained damage from contact with other cars and an error from fourth placed Switzerland allowed the Netherlands to squeeze by.

As the three damaged cars pulled into the pits at the end of lap one, Germany's Nico Hülkenberg worked to increase his lead which he then maintained throughout the duration of the race. Brazil and Lebanon were both able to repair the damage sustained and return to the race, but for Malaysia it was too severe and the team retired.

While Germany continued to lead, battles for position continued further down the field. Singapore's bad weekend continued as Christian Murchison, who had been making his way up from a 22nd on the grid, thanks to a spin during qualifying, put the car in the tire wall at turn four in an unforced error on lap eight. More ...

Kenseth inducted into Walk of Fame  Throughout his successful racing career, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWalt) has collected many plaques, trophies and other awards to display on his mantle. Kenseth was honored today with an accolade that won't leave California Speedway--a plaque with his likeness, as well as his footprint and signature cemented--literally--into history on California Speedway's Walk of Fame

The California Speedway Walk of Fame, which commemorates past NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series winners at California Speedway by setting a plaque with their likeness into a cement fixture, is a monument similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. During the plaque installation ceremony, the driver then has the opportunity to autograph the commemorative piece and place his or her feet into the slab before it dries. California Speedway began the Walk of Fame tradition in 1998 after Jeff Gordon took the checkered flag at the inaugural 1997 NASCAR Cup event at California Speedway. The ceremony was a huge success and the tradition has continued ever since. More ...

Harvick tops Cup Happy Hour times  
Pos No Driver Make Time Speed
1. 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 40.380 178.306
2. 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 40.398 178.227
3. 83 Brian Vickers Toyota 40.441 178.037
4. 01 Mark Martin Chevrolet 40.444 178.024
5. 2 Kurt Busch Dodge 40.483 177.852
6. 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 40.505 177.756
7. 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 40.508 177.743
8. 17 Matt Kenseth Ford 40.547 177.572
9. 40 David Stremme Dodge 40.583 177.414
10. 16 Greg Biffle Ford 40.584 177.410 More ...
Leffler takes out Montoya  Juan Montoya's continuing stock car apprenticeship took a hit when he became the innocent victim in a hard crash on lap 87 of Saturday night's Stater 300 NASCAR Busch race at California Speedway.

Jason Leffler was attempting to pass Kenny Wallace in a three-wide maneuver and appeared to move up the track too soon, making contact with Wallace. Leffler's car then turned abruptly toward the outside wall and hit it hard, collecting Montoya who was racing at the top of the banking. Photo by CIA Stock Photo

Sam Hornish Jr., like Montoya a former Indianapolis 500 winner making the transition to NASCAR, also crashed out late in the race.

Kenseth wins 4th Busch race  Matt Kenseth ran with the top of the field all night in the NASCAR Busch Series race at California Speedway and then made his move when it counted most to go on to win the Stater Bros. 300. Photo right courtesy of CIA Stock Photo

Kenseth’s trip to victory lane was brought on by a bold and powerful pass of Jeff Burton with 22 laps remaining, just after a restart had bunched up the field in the closing laps of the race.

Casey Mears, who started his first NASCAR Busch Series race for Hendrick Motorsports, made a charge during the final 10 laps but ran out of time to catch Kenseth, who bested Mears by .484 seconds. Kyle Busch came home third, followed by Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. More ...

Blaney puts Camry on pole  NASCAR history has been made today at the California Speedway as Dave Blaney gave Toyota its first ever pole in the Toyota Camry. Blaney, driver of the #10 ABF U-Pack Toyota, scorched a field that struggled with slick and loose conditions. Blaney came in at a time of 39.909 and a speed of 180.410.

Rounding out the top five were the #17 Dish Network Ford of Matt Kenseth, the #29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet of Jeff Burton, the #20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet of Denny Hamlin, and the #24 National Guard/40th Infantry Division of Casey Mears.

The Busch series race runs tonight, with the Stater Bros. 300 beginning at 7:30PM Eastern.
Melandri and Rossi on top at Jerez Saturday  The official MotoGP test at Jerez continued today with Marco Melandri and Valentino Rossi setting the pace as they work towards the opening race of the 2007 season. Riding the new Repsol Honda RC212V American Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa carried out further development work at the 4.423km (2.747 mile) circuit which hosts the second round of the World Championship on March 25.

Once the morning fog cleared, World Champion Nicky Hayden made significant improvements from yesterday, completing a marathon 91 laps – the most of any rider today. The talented 25-year-old American set his fastest lap time of 1m 41.259s during a 17-lap run and unlike some of the field chose not to test a qualifying tire. More ...

McLaren Mercedes 1-2 in Bahrain  Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton led the way for McLaren Mercedes as the first three day test at the Bahrain circuit came to an end. Alonso set a best lap of 1:30.994s a tenth faster than Rookie Hamilton.

Toro Rosso ran Scott Speed for the first time in the new Ferrari-powered STR2 indicating that perhaps the contractual problems have been resolved/ Speed was 16th fastest just behind Jarno Trulli’s Toyota and ahead of Tonio Liuzzi who ran only a handful of laps in the STR2.

1 . F. Alonso - McLaren Mercedes MP4-22 - 1:30.994 (+ 0.000 ) - 73 laps
2 . L. Hamilton - McLaren Mercedes MP4-22 - 1:31.094 (+ 0.100 ) - 53 laps
3 . F. Massa - Ferrari F2007 - 1:31.718 (+ 0.724 ) - 52 laps
4 . K. Raikkonen - Ferrari F2007 - 1:31.867 (+ 0.873 ) - 100 laps
5 . H. Kovalainen - Renault R27 - 1:32.032 (+ 1.038 ) - 86 laps
6 . R. Barrichello - Honda RA107 - 1:32.115 (+ 1.121 ) - 129 laps
7 . J. Button - Honda RA107 - 1:32.137 (+ 1.143 ) - 78 laps
8 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Renault RB3 - 1:32.220 (+ 1.226 ) - 73 laps
9 . N. Piquet - Renault R27 - 1:32.334 (+ 1.340 ) - 102 laps
10 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber F1.07 - 1:32.451 (+ 1.457 ) - 65 laps
11 . R. Kubica - BMW Sauber F1.07 - 1:32.475 (+ 1.481 ) - 95 laps
12 . A. Davidson - Super Aguri Honda RA106 - 1:32.553 (+ 1.559 ) - 126 laps
13 . F. Montagny - Toyota TF107 - 1:32.917 (+ 1.923 ) - 110 laps
14 . M. Webber - Red Bull Renault RB3 - 1:33.034 (+ 2.040 ) - 73 laps
15 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF107 - 1:33.062 (+ 2.068 ) - 104 laps
16 . S. Speed - Toro Rosso Ferrari STR2 - 1:33.255 (+ 2.261 ) - 60 laps
17 . V. Liuzzi - Toro Rosso Ferrari STR2 - 1:35.868 (+ 4.874 ) - 7 laps.

* Times courtesy of Renault.

Speed tests Toro Rosso in Bahrain  (GMM) As another dry day of Bahrain testing kicked off on Saturday, F1's only American Scott Speed sparked rumors of his imminent confirmation as Toro Rosso's second race driver for 2007 by emerging at the wheel of the new STR2 machine. Speed pictured right in Bahrain, photo courtesy of Red Bull. 

At the Sakhir circuit, it is the 24-year-old racer's first go in a formula one car since the season ending Brazilian GP last October.

Halliday fastest in 3rd Durban qualifying segment  
1 Matt HALLIDAY NEW ZEALAND 1:17.731 -
2 Nico HÜLKENBERG GERMANY 1:17.884 +0.153
3 Loic DUVAL FRANCE 1:17.919 +0.188
4 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 1:17.962 +0.231
5 Tomas ENGE CZECH REPUBLIC 1:18.208 +0.477
6 Alvaro PARENTE PORTUGAL 1:18.314 +0.583
7 Salvador DURAN MEXICO 1:18.397 +0.666
8 Richard LYONS IRELAND 1:18.483 +0.752
9 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 1:18.500 +0.769
10 Robbie KERR GREAT BRITAIN 1:18.503 +0.772 More ...
Halliday fastest in 2nd Durban qualifying segment  
1 Matt HALLIDAY NEW ZEALAND 1:18.181 -
2 Nico HÜLKENBERG GERMANY 1:18.430 +0.249
3 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 1:18.443 +0.262
4 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 1:18.502 +0.321
5 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 1:18.779 +0.598
6 Salvador DURAN MEXICO 1:18.786 +0.605
7 Ho-Pin TUNG CHINA 1:18.837 +0.656
8 Alex YOONG MALAYSIA 1:18.881 +0.700
9 Karl REINDLER AUSTRALIA 1:18.991 +0.810
10 Richard LYONS IRELAND 1:19.221 +1.040 More ...
Hulkenberg fastest in first Durban qualifying segment  
1 Nico HÜLKENBERG GERMANY 1:18.241 -
2 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 1:18.278 +0.037
3 Ananda MIKOLA INDONESIA 1:18.451 +0.210
4 Loic DUVAL FRANCE 1:18.620 +0.379
5 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 1:18.667 +0.426
6 Matt HALLIDAY NEW ZEALAND 1:18.673 +0.432
7 Salvador DURAN MEXICO 1:19.154 +0.913
8 Enrico TOCCACELO ITALY 1:19.291 +1.050
9 Alex YOONG MALAYSIA 1:19.409 +1.168
10 Alvaro PARENTE PORTUGAL 1:19.424 +1.183 More ...
Another Toyota driver 0 for 2  Jeremy Mayfield stepped out of his Bill Davis Racing Toyota after qualifying Friday and said his team did the best it could at California Speedway. It needed to do better.
Mayfield is 0-for-2 this season as the veteran tries to revive his career with Bill Davis Racing.

"We did all we could do," Mayfield said after his lap and before he knew whether he had qualified. "Everybody did their jobs. ... Everybody needs to go through this one time or another in their career and find out what pressure really is."

While Mayfield was 37th overall out of the 51 cars, teammate Dave Blaney was 14th.

"We just didn't get the job done - end of story," BDR Competition Director Tommy Baldwin said. "When you've got the 37 car [of John Andretti] running on maybe a quarter of the funding, and [it] gets in the show, it's pretty embarrassing." More ...

tv news
ESPN, Fox, Turner work together  ESPN has struck a cooperative agreement with NASCAR's other broadcast partners, Fox and Turner, to share camera crews as a cost-saving measure. "It's for the common good," said Jed Drake, ESPN's senior vice president and executive producer for NASCAR coverage. "It would be financial insanity to do it any other way. We'll share the cameramen and certain audio effects." Drake said that ESPN has an obligation with NASCAR to show highlights of other NASCAR-sanctioned events, but the network does not have any sort of cross-promotion agreement with Fox between the Busch and Nextel Cup broadcasts. Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
Hulkenberg fastest in final Durban practice  Germany's Nico Hulkenberg easily outdistanced his nearest competitor to lead the final practice session at Durban Saturday. Loic Duval, who led all the sessions Friday for Team France, was 2nd and Portugal's Alvaro Parente 3rd. Next up is the first qualifying session.

Practice Session 3 Results

POS DRIVER             TEAM           TIME   GAP_FIRST
1 Nico HÜLKENBERG      GERMANY        1:18.050 -
2 Loic DUVAL           FRANCE         1:18.506 +0.456
3 Alvaro PARENTE       PORTUGAL       1:18.683 +0.633
4 Matt HALLIDAY        NEW ZEALAND    1:18.941 +0.891
5 Richard LYONS        IRELAND        1:19.021 +0.971
6 Ananda MIKOLA        INDONESIA      1:19.164 +1.114
7 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN   NETHERLANDS    1:19.281 +1.231
8 Robbie KERR          GREAT BRITAIN  1:19.351 +1.301
9 Bruno JUNQUEIRA      BRAZIL         1:19.357 +1.307
10 Alex YOONG          MALAYSIA       1:19.361 +1.311
11 Narain KARTHIKEYAN  INDIA          1:19.365 +1.315
12 Neel JANI           SWITZERLAND    1:19.366 +1.316
13 Salvador DURAN      MEXICO         1:19.381 +1.331
14 Adrian ZAUGG        SOUTH AFRICA   1:19.437 +1.387
15 Jonathan SUMMERTON  USA            1:19.475 +1.425
16 Tomas ENGE          CZECH REPUBLIC 1:19.560 +1.510
17 Allam KHODAIR       LEBANON        1:19.647 +1.597
18 Ho-Pin TUNG         CHINA          1:19.740 +1.690
19 Enrico TOCCACELO    ITALY          1:19.814 +1.764
20 Karl REINDLER       AUSTRALIA      1:19.998 +1.948
21 Christian MURCHISON SINGAPORE      1:20.115 +2.065
22 James HINCHCLIFFE   CANADA         1:20.127 +2.077
23 Nur ALI             PAKISTAN       1:24.087 +6.037

Allmendinger too slow to qualify again  In qualifying for the Auto Club 500, David Reutimann, driving a Toyota owned by Michael Waltrip, was the final car among those needing to get in on speed and ran 182.431 mph. That bumped his car owner out of the race, as Waltrip had run 182.278 mph.  Meanwhile, AJ Allmendinger (right), who gave up a winning ride in Champ Car, once again was too slow to qualify for his 2nd straight Cup race in his Toyota. Brian Vickers, Allmendinger’s teammate at Team Red Bull, did qualify. He will start 15th after a lap at 183.852, proving it's not the car that is the problem.
Rahal Letterman GT2 program off to fast start  Rahal Letterman Racing's American Le Mans Series GT2 program is off and running. The Hilliard, Ohio-based team spent Monday and Wednesday at Sebring in the first test for its Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Type 997). Ralf Kelleners and Tom Milner both spent extensive time behind the wheel as preparations continued for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 17, the start of the American Le Mans Series season.

"It was a good test to start with. We didn't have any mechanical problems with the car," Milner reported. "We were able to spend time working getting myself and Ralf comfortable with the car. The team had been working hard for the test and developed a plan as to what they wanted to address and work toward. Sebring is notorious for being bumpy, and we definitely did a good job of getting the car ready for that and the street circuits (St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Houston) after that." More ...

Junior 'absolutely' intends to stay with DEI  So when Junior says he "absolutely" plans on staying at Dale Earnhardt Inc., and continuing to drive the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet, believe him.  "We're working towards a solution," Earnhardt said. "It's where I've been for so long. It's where I'd love to be. There's really no new updates as far as what we went over in Daytona, but Max (Siegel, DEI president of global operations) is a great guy. He's talented, and I think he'll do a good job at DEI, and I think he's going to learn it even faster than I thought he would.

"The more he knows about the sport and the more he can relate to the sport, the better he'll be able to make his judgment calls, 'cause a lot of his early decisions will be judgment calls because he can't base it on any experience in racing. So when he needs a hand, hopefully he'll ask the right person to get that kind of advice."

Earnhardt, who was filling his Winner's Circle obligations for Las Vegas Motor Speedway at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on Thursday, said most of his contracts have "taken a long time." At the NASCAR banquet in December, Junior said he expected an announcement by May. However, it's not likely that he anticipated the accompanying firestorm. Throughout the negotiation process, Junior has learned not to let personal feelings enter into the equation because it clouds the decision process. FOX Sports

Alonso ties the knot  Spain's double champion Fernando Alonso married Spanish singer Raquel del Rosario back in November, Spanish media reported Friday.

The couple wed on November 17 in the town of Limanes in northwestern Spain near Alonso's hometown of Oviedo, national radio and television said citing a report in regional newspaper La Nueva Espana.

Alonso and Rosario, who belongs to the band 'El Sueno de Morfeo,' reportedly met in June 2005 when the two took part in a radio program in Madrid.

At the end of November Spanish media said the two, who are both 25, had married in the Maldives islands in the Indian Ocean but the reigning Formula One champion's agent denied the reports. AFP

NASCAR Trucks: Toyota wins again  For the second week in a row, NASCAR veteran Mark Martin left a racetrack wishing that the race had ended just a few laps before the checkered flag actually fell.

The Daytona 500 runner-up, who lost to Kevin Harvick by two one-hundredths last week in NASCAR’s biggest race, was spun around on a restart by Ron Hornaday with five laps remaining in the San Bernardino County 200 and was again detoured from making a trip to victory lane.

The beneficiary of the mayhem between Martin and Hornaday was NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series veteran Mike Skinner, who took home the trophy on a cold, crisp night in southern California. More ...

Porsche rule out F1 foray  (GMM)  Porsche has ruled out entering formula one in the near future.

Denying that recent infrastructure developments were in preparation for a grand prix foray, the German sports car manufacturer's head of motor sport Hartmut Kristen said: "Motor sport for us does not have a purely self-interested purpose.  Rather, we want to satisfy the demands of our customers."

The quote appeared in the Financial Times Deutschland.

Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix hotels filling up  Several of Bahrain's hotels are already fully booked for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix to be held on April 13-15. Some hoteliers say they were fully booked as early as May last year, mostly by international corporate clients and all hotels have increased their rates by a slight margin.

However, others believe the response they got this year wasn't as good as it had been in previous years, while some say it was still early and that more bookings would be confirmed closer to the actual event.

Crowne Plaza sales and marketing director Zee Bassila said that the month of April was one of the hotel's busiest schedules.

Preparations for F1, coupled with the normal conferences, regular tourist visits and other events contributed to April being the month when the hotel earned the highest revenue, he said.

Edwards wins truck pole  
1 50 Carl Edwards Ford 176.354 40.827
2 5 Mike Skinner Toyota 176.082 40.890
3 36 Tyler Walker* Toyota 176.078 40.891
4 21 Mark Martin Ford 176.043 40.899
5 77 Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 174.800 41.190
6 33 Ron Hornaday Chevrolet 174.728 41.207
7 60 Jack Sprague Toyota 174.596 41.238
8 1 Aaron Fike* Toyota 174.512 41.258
9 9 Ted Musgrave Toyota 174.482 41.265
10 75 Dennis Setzer Chevrolet 173.833 41.419 More ...
NASCAR slams two more cheaters  NASCAR announced today that one NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series crew member has been fined and suspended and two crew chiefs penalized due to rule violations leading up to and during the Feb. 16 event at Daytona International Speedway.

Richard Riley, crew member of the No. 88 Chevrolet, has been fined $5,000 and suspended for the next six NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events through May 30. Riley also has been placed on probation until Dec. 31.

Riley was penalized for violating Sections 12-4-A, actions detrimental to stock car racing, for verbal abuse to a NASCAR official; and Section 12-4-D, a crew member who threatens to do bodily harm to a NASCAR official, of the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Rule Book. The violations occurred during the race itself. More ...

Yates talks about unleaded fuel  This weekend’s Cup race will be the first run with unleaded fuel. Doug Yates, who oversees Roush-Yates engines, says plenty of homework by the engine builders went into getting ready for this race.

DOUG YATES – Roush-Yates Engines – FROM A COMPETITION STANDPOINT, WILL THE FANS IN THE STANDS SEE ANY DIFFERENCE? “This is a big race and the unleaded fuel is a big change for these engines. The people in the stands, the only way they’re going to see a difference is if there’s attrition, but hopefully everybody’s done their homework and nobody has any problems. I listen to some of the reporters and things, and they say, ‘It’s just unleaded fuel, it’s no big deal,’ but it is a big deal. And what’s big about it is taking the lead out of the fuel takes some of the cushion, some of the lubricity out of the fuel. So, what we have problems with is valves and valve seats, and we’ve been through a very intense process of trying to find the right coatings to protect the valve from wear. That’s one of the issues that we have, and hopefully have done our homework and we won’t have any problems with those. All weekend long we’ll probably be limiting the mileage that we run. Where last year we may have practiced more, we’re going to try to limit some practice and try to do more inspection of the engine components to try to make sure we’re prepared for the race on Sunday.” More ...

Ferrari woes  Ferrari's Felipe Massa was an early trackside casualty on Friday morning as day two of the marathon Bahrain test got underway.  The Brazilian was observed checking out the problem, believed to be transmission trouble, at the rear of his 'F2007' as he awaited a lift back to the pits at the Sakhir track.

His glitch coincided with news from Europe that long time Ferrari man Nigel Stepney has asked to step into a lesser role for the 2007 season. Unhappy with the recent reshuffle that saw some of his colleagues promoted following the sabbatical of Ross Brawn, the Englishman will now see out the last year of his current contract responsible for Team Performance Development. He will not travel to the races.  Previously, Stepney was race and test technical manager, and in the Race Operations Manager role he will be replaced by David Lloyd.

Jerez day 1 test times  The MotoGP teams began the final pre-season test at Jerez today ahead of the eagerly awaited 2007 MotoGP Championship which begins with the Grand Prix of Qatar in two weekend’s time. The changeable weather and resulting variable track conditions limited the amount of useful time available to the teams today, though better weather is expected for later in the weekend.  Marco Melandri turned the day's fastest lap.

Thanks to the rain which fell intermittently until lunchtime, newly crowned World Champion Nicky Hayden had a slightly frustrating day. Having missed the last test here in November and with the track never fully drying out today, the 25-year-old American star didn’t feel totally comfortable and wisely elected to hold back from being totally committed. Hayden recorded a best laptime of 1m 45.901s, completing 63 laps and is confident of improvements tomorrow.

1. M. Melandri 1m 42.563s
2. C. Stoner 1m 42.634s
3. D. Pedrosa 1m 42.706s
4. C. Checa 1m 43.206s
5. A.Barros 1m 43.214s
6. R. De Puniet 1m 43.315s
7. L. Capirossi 1m 43.475s
8. A. Hofmann 1m 43.673s
9. T.Elías 1m 43.687s
10. S. Nakano 1m 43.817s
11. C. Edwards 1m 43.845s
12. C. Vermeulen 1m 44.052s
13. V.Rossi 1m 44.494s
14 O.Jacque 1m 44.659s
15. M. Tamada 1m 45.081s
16 S. Guintoli 1m 45.208s
17. V. Guareschi 1m 45.603s
18 S. Ito 1m 45.826s
19. N. Hayden 1m 45.901s
20. K. Roberts 1m 45.937s
21 K. Akiyoshi 1m 47.191s
22. J. McWilliams 1m 47.696s
23. A. Pitt 1m 49.365s

WOW re-signs with Team Australia  Team Australia has announced that Brisbane-based WOW Sight & Sound Superstores has joined it as a partner in both its Australian and International motorsport programs. As part of the new deal a WOW Sight & Sound Racing Falcon will be campaigned in this year’s V8 Supercar Championship Series, driven by talented Gold Coast-based Brazilian Max Wilson.

WOW Sight & Sound signage will also appear on the Team Australia Champ Cars of both Queensland native Will Power and young Frenchman Simon Pagenaud in this year’s Champ Car World Series, which will be highlighted by the Lexmark Indy 300 on the streets of the Gold Coast in October. WOW Sight & Sound will also feature on the Team Australia entry in the two NASCAR Nextel Cup road course events at Sonoma, California (June 24) and Watkins Glen, New York (August 12) to be driven by Australian star Marcos Ambrose and up to eight others. More ...

tv news
NASCAR TV ratings continue to fall  UPDATE The overnight rating of 10.1 rating/20 share held up as the final rating for the Daytona 500, down 11% from 2006.  The pre-race show came in at 6.9/16 share and the post-race show 8.9/16 share.   The 1-hour Toyota special "Chasing Sunday: The Race to the Cup" on Fox on Sunday garnered a 2.3/6 share on FOX.

02/19/07 Despite all the hype and media attention from ESPN and FOX, NASCAR continues to lose popularity, building the downward trend we saw all of last year.

Fox says this year's Daytona 500 race earned an overnight 10.1 rating/20 market share and an average audience of 17.53 million viewers, according to "fast national" figures from Nielsen Media Research. The network says at estimated 33.7 million Americans watched at least part of the race. These overnight ratings represent a drop of 11% from last year's NBC ratings of 11.3/23, and viewership of 19.35 million viewers.

Brian France blamed NBC's losing interest (after deciding not to renew with NASCAR after losing their shirt) for lasts year's ratings drop but in fact FOX has come in significantly lower.  France also predicted that with the added ESPN NASCAR coverage that ratings would increase this year.  Again he was wrong.  The industry will wait to see if this trend continues throughout the year.  With costs rising the series cannot afford for their ratings plunge to continue another year.

Better than Turn 4 at Daytona  This tunnel in Russia is the longest in-city tunnel of Europe.  There is a river running over it and water leaks at some points.  When the temperature reaches minus 38 degrees like it did this particular winter, the road freezes and the result is the attached video taken during A SINGLE DAY with the tunnel camera. Congratulations to the dual bus driver   .... This is better than turn 4 at Daytona. Remember-- this is only ONE day of video. (1.9 MB download)
French team fastest in Durban practice  Durban, South Africa - Having flown overnight from a GP2 test at the Paul Ricard track in the South of France, A1 Team South Africa’s main driver, Adrian Zaugg made his long awaited return to A1GP at his home race in Durban, South Africa this morning after a three race break as he recovered from surgery on a forearm injury.

Adrian flew in this morning and headed straight to the track for the first practice session of the Durban race weekend. Despite suffering a broken drive shaft on the first lap out, A1 Team South Africa recorded the 13th fastest lap of the morning session and 10th fastest lap of the afternoon session.

‘It felt as if I arrived just five minutes before the session, but I had enough time to start on time and get prepared in the car so that was okay. It was just a drive shaft that broke on my first lap but in motorsport things like that happen. Then I pushed a bit too much later, missed my braking and hit the wall, so we had to retire and I was only able to do one lap in the rookie session. The track is really fantastic and lots of fun to drive. It is a bit bumpy but everybody has the same problems and so this is not something I need to worry about’, Zaugg commented. More ...

Wash. track called "obscene piece of pork-filled corporate welfare"  Talk about going around in circles. Supporters of a proposed NASCAR racetrack near Bremerton told lawmakers on Tuesday the 83,500-seat speedway would create thousands of jobs and — unlike other professional sports stadiums — wouldn't cost taxpayers a dime in the long run.

But opponents painted the proposal as an "obscene piece of pork-filled corporate welfare" that would sully the local environment and create massive traffic problems.

Lt. Gov. Brad Owen called the proposal the best economic-development opportunity he has seen during his 30 years in state politics. But state Treasurer Mike Murphy spoke against it, saying state-funded debt should never be used to pay for private projects.

While Bremerton's mayor called the speedway a "great fit" for his city, other local officials from Kitsap County bashed the proposal. More ...

Heidfeld again shows BMW muscle  Nick Heidfeld in his BMW continued to set a blistering pace in preseason F1 testing Friday. In a trouble-free morning session Kubica started by finding a baseline set-up as it was his first day of testing in Bahrain. He then continued with further set-up work. Heidfeld carried out the scheduled aerodynamic tests and did a qualifying simulation during which he set today's overall fastest lap.

After the lunch break the BMW Sauber F1 Team carried out a detailed and successful race simulation, imitating the entire procedure including installation lap at 13.30 hrs, waiting time on the grid etc. At 14.00 hrs sharp the team's race began, covering the full 57 laps of the Bahrain GP distance with a two-stop strategy for both cars. The pit crew proved they hadn't forgotten anything over the winter, both F1.07 cars were reliable - and last but not least, the team was lucky because not a single red flag interrupted the first 2007 race simulation. The race pace of the cars was as expected and the team was very happy with this test day. 

Pos  Driver        Team                      Time     Laps
 1.  Heidfeld      BMW-Sauber           (B)  1:30.469  103
 2.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes     (B)  1:31.225   64
 3.  Button        Honda                (B)  1:31.807  107
 4.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes     (B)  1:31.934   87
 5.  Kubica        BMW-Sauber           (B)  1:32.220  100
 6.  Raikkonen     Ferrari              (B)  1:32.240   67
 7.  Piquet        Renault              (B)  1:32.539   82
 8.  Massa         Ferrari              (B)  1:32.584   68
 9.  Barrichello   Honda                (B)  1:32.614   63
10.  Kovalainen    Renault              (B)  1:32.973   67
11.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault     (B)  1:33.139   65
12.  Trulli        Toyota               (B)  1:33.155   90
13.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda    (B)  1:33.248  108
14.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault     (B)  1:33.930   42
15.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)  1:34.187   24
16.  R.Schumacher  Toyota               (B)  1:34.464   50

Sonoco mad at Shell’s exposure  UPDATE #2 A reader makes an excellent point - So what, grow up Sunoco..  What happens when the FedEx Chevy beats the UPS Toyota?  UPS the official express package service of NASCAR must be furious to see Denny on the podium and I don’t see the FedEx logos getting any smaller..   Phones, aspirin, tires and belts…  NASCAR has all the official suppliers it can wrap up in a contract and yet they still think they can pull the strings and keep other similar and competing business out of the gravy train.. Good Luck and Grow Up.. This is the free market and sponsorship money runs freely and carries a big stick.  Time to get all the sponsors back on the Champ Car bandwagon, some diversity in the marketplace is good.  Bob Petitt

02/23/07 A Shell executive said that Kevin Harvick will have a different uniform that will include the word "Pennzoil" on it more prominently for the race this weekend at California, but the company will explore its options beyond this weekend.  Kevin Ilges, director of U.S. Social Responsibility and Business Support for Shell Oil Company, said his company followed NASCAR's requirements last weekend for the Daytona 500.

The Shell sponsorship of Harvick's car has conditions because its fuel product competes with NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco. It must use the Richard Childress Racing No. 29 car to promote the oil side of its business.

Ilges said the logo, without the words Shell, is a company-wide logo and represents all of its products. On the hood of Harvick's car, the Pennzoil wording is bigger than the Shell logo. But on Harvick's uniform, there is big Shell logo. Scenedaily.com

02/22/07 It appears there was something that failed inspection after Sunday's Daytona 500 -- the uniform and helmet worn by race winner Kevin Harvick.

Facing complaints from Sunoco, the official fuel supplier of NASCAR, the sanctioning body has been in discussions with Harvick's Richard Childress Racing team to address concerns over Shell-Pennzoil's sponsorship on Harvick's uniform and helmet.

In response to those complaints, Harvick can no longer wear the driver's helmet used Sunday, which featured a prominent Shell logo, and his uniform will have to be redone to include less prominent Shell logos, multiple sources confirmed. More ...

industry news
Why Toyota is afraid of being No. 1  Toyota is relying on ever-savvier PR to avoid the U.S. backlash it dreads.
Ask consumers why Toyota may soon be the largest automaker in the world, and they will point to the Camry. Or the Prius. Or the RAV4. (It's the cars, stupid.) Ask manufacturing geeks, and they'll tell you it's about just-in-time production and a maniacal focus on constant improvement. (It's the engineering, dummy.) But there's another drama behind the carmaker's tire-squealing momentum. It's a story that might be called: How Toyota is winning the hearts and minds of America.

With a deft combination of marketing, public relations, and lobbying, Toyota has done a remarkable job over the past 20 years of selling itself as an American company. That drives the Big Three to distraction. Here's Chrysler communications chief Jason Vines: "The thing I resent is Toyota wrapping themselves in the American flag," he says. "We still employ more people and contribute more to the economy." More ...

Red Bull team scrambling  David Coulthard has admitted that Red Bull Racing is reeling and the first Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull car may be a dud.

Both the 35-year-old Scot and the RBR squad as a whole had pinned their hopes of a competitive season on the renowned designer’s RB3, after the team publicly wrote off its 2006 season early on to concentrate on Newey’s first car.

And now Coulthard has told Formula 1’s official website that the team still has a substantial amount of development work ahead of it before he could hit his targets in the forthcoming campaign. More ...

A1 Team Great Britain Announces Partnership  A1 Team Great Britain is thrilled to announce today a product partner relationship with Oakley, one of the world’s most recognized performance technology and lifestyle brands. 

Starting with this weekend’s eighth round of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Durban, South Africa, 23rd-25th February, A1 Team Great Britain will sport Oakley branding on its 550bhp A1GP car, heralding the beginning of the iconic brand’s involvement in A1GP as a Team Product Partner. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  UPDATE
Massa broken down, Stepney steps back
Liuzzi hopes STR keep third role vacant
BMW quicker than expected - Theissen

Alonso among world sport's highest earners
Car 'different' to old Honda - Aguri's Preston
Alonso to test Oz-spec McLaren on Friday
Red Bull plan last-minute European test
Alonso denies rift with former Renault engineer
New Honda not on the pace - Button
Heidfeld plays down BMW 'problems'
Rosberg calms expectations for 2007
TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday and Sunday  
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Fontana
2:00pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying Fontana
3:00pm-5:00pm (L) ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice Fontana
5:00pm-6:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Fontana
6:30pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series Fontana Incl Pre-show Stater Bros. 300
7:00pm-10:00pm (L) ESPN2

NHRA Qualifying Phoenix (Chandler, AZ)
12:00am-1:00am ESPN2
NHRA RaceDay
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
Tradin' Paint
12:00pm-12:30pm SPEED
NASCAR RaceDay Fontana
1:00pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Fontana
3:00pm-7:30pm (L) Auto Club 500 FOX
AMA Supercross Atlanta
6:00pm-7:00pm (2/24/07) SPEED
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NHRA Phoenix (Chandler, AZ) Checker Schuck’s Kragen Nationals
7:00pm-10:00pm (SDD) ESPN2
NASCAR Victory Lane Fontana
8:00pm-8:30pm (SDD) SPEED
The SPEED Report -30 minute edition
8:30pm-9:00pm SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain with guest Danica Patrick (IRL)
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

Star drivers lining up to help Washington track plan  UPDATE #2 This AP article makes it sound like some of the Washington legislators were not too impressed by NASCAR bringing in its drivers to try and sway their vote.

02/21/07 NASCAR is planning to bring in the big guns in support of a $368 million racetrack proposal that has, so far, left many lawmakers unimpressed.  Former NASCAR stars Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and current driver Greg Biffle - a Vancouver, Wash., native - will attend a function in Olympia on Wednesday and meet with lawmakers Thursday morning, International Speedway Corp. Vice President Grant Lynch said.

"We think we'll get a good turnout at the shindig we're throwing," Lynch said.

Petty, Waltrip and Biffle will have a private dinner with lawmakers in Olympia Wednesday night and will meet with lawmakers Thursday morning at the Capitol before flying to California for the Auto Club 500 this weekend, said ISC spokesman Lenny Santiago.

Santiago said the drivers would speak to lawmakers as people who are "within the industry that are not involved with the company but do race in our facilities."

"They're going to explain why they think this project is important to the state and what our facilities can generate in terms of economic impact," Santiago said. More...

02/20/07 Plans to build a NASCAR track in New York City have moved to the back burner, but International Speedway Corp. officials still have high hopes to get a speedway approved in the Seattle area.  ISC is sending three NASCAR stars to Washington this week to meet with state and local officials in an effort to promote the project.  NASCAR legends Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip will be there Wednesday and Thursday, along with Nextel Cup driver Greg Biffle, a Vancouver, Wash., native.  All of them are traveling to the West Coast anyway, because NASCAR races at California Speedway next weekend.  ESPN.com
A1 Team Portugal returns to A1GP  A1 Team Portugal makes a welcome return to the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport with driver Alvaro Parente behind the wheel for this weekend’s Durban street race. Having secured commercial support from national financial organization, Banif Group, A1 Team Portugal will compete in the final four rounds of the 2007/08 season.

Seat holder, Luis Vicente, who was also strongly involved in the 2005/06 team organization, spoke of the team’s re-entry to the series. ‘Thanks to the support of Horacio Roque, President of Banif Group, we now have the financial support to put A1 Team Portugal back on the grid in pursuit of wins in the World Cup of Motorsport. We have already shown that Portugal can be a strong competitor on the global motorsport stage and are confident of securing some top finishes in the last four races of this season before taking on the world in the 2007/08 season.’ More ...

Indy Car Day 2 testing Notebook  
Happy Birthday, Larry: A.J. Foyt surprised his son, Larry, with a bikini birthday cake Feb. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in honor of his 30th birthday.

He said the worst thing "is I can't say I'm in my 20s any longer."

Larry, who competed last week in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway, is in his first year as team director of A.J. Foyt Racing. Driver Darren Manning, participating in his second Open Test in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. car, was limited during the first day on the 1.5-mile oval because of a clutch issue.

All wet: Despite leading the first day of Indy Pro Series testing Feb. 20, Super Aguri Panther Racing rookie Hideki Mutoh was the bane of some jokes from countryman and IndyCar Series driver Kosuke Matsuura.
It seems Mutoh mistakenly put both of his cell phones, one for the U.S. and one for Japan, in the washing machine recently.

"After going to the gym I was really tired, and I just forgot them in my jacket pocket," Mutoh said. Matsuura and Mutoh are developing a strong friendship. They live in the same apartment complex in Indianapolis and spend quite a bit of time together. More ...

Wheldon tops IRL oval test  2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon paced the IndyCar Series Open Test on the oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the second consecutive day, but this time without incident.

Wheldon, who was fastest during testing on Day 1 at the variably banked 1.5-mile oval, recorded a lap of 24.9405 seconds, 214.350 mph in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara.

"It was a very good test in terms of outright speed, but I did destroy a car the first day," Wheldon said. "That was my first crash since 2003. I'm performing well, but there are still some improvements that we can make. I know (Tony) Kanaan is quicker than he's letting on, and Sam (Hornish Jr.) is always quick. Scott (Dixon) had a little bit of trouble with his car, but it will be fixed and he'll be up with us for the race. More ...

Industry News
Renault workers committing suicide  A French prosecutor has opened an inquiry into working conditions at a Renault technical design centre after three workers committed suicide since last October. The latest incident involved a man who died at his home last week, leaving a letter blaming work difficulties for his death.  In January, another worker drowned himself in a lake near the centre.  A third worker killed himself by jumping from the fifth floor of the main building of the centre last October.

"We have opened an inquiry into the working conditions of the people who committed suicide," said Michel Desplan, the public prosecutor in Versailles on Wednesday.

The CFDT workers union said that workers had been under increasing pressure since the company introduced a restructuring plan last year and called for Renault management to urgently evaluate the situation. Reuters

Watch South Africa A1GP race live on internet  A1GP is more than just another motorsport phenomenon; it's an entirely new sport - The World Cup of Motorsport. Pitting driver against driver and country against country for the first time in history, A1GP will bring together 25 nations representing 80 per cent of the world's population to actively compete on a level playing field. Watch it live here.  Future races including March 25 – Mexico, April 15 – Shanghai and April 20 – Great Britain will also be shown.  You must be using Internet Explorer 5.0 or greater to view this event.

A1GP races will be broadcast live, worldwide with the following exceptions: Viewers living in the United Kingdom, Holland, Ireland, Italy and Mexico cannot watch the races. Viewers in China, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Bangladesh and Hong Kong can watch the races 48 hours after their completion.

Waltrip crew chief fails to come clean  Michael Waltrip Racing vice president Ty Norris told ESPN.com Thursday that the company offered crew chief David Hyder an opportunity to come clean about the illegal additive found in the fuel system of Waltrip's Toyota following qualifying for the Daytona 500. Hyder didn't do it. In fact, he claims he can't. Norris said Hyder maintained his innocence -- even with the company promise of no termination in exchange for information. Norris said Hyder continues to say he has neither information nor answers as to what the substance is, how it was introduced into the fuel system or, ultimately, what it does. The crew chief was unavailable for comment Thursday. Hyder had been given an indefinite leave of absence with pay from Michael Waltrip Racing on top of his suspension by NASCAR. Norris said earlier this week that Hyder will not be allowed at the shop until it is determined if he had anything to do with the foreign substance that was found in Waltrip's engine during pre-qualifying inspection for last Sunday's 500. NASCAR suspended Hyder and competition director Bobby Kennedy indefinitely. Hyder also was fined $100,000 and Waltrip was penalized 100 championship points. A source close to the situation told ESPN.com last week that Hyder eventually will be fired. ESPN.com
Lucas di Grassi fastest at Paul Ricard  Lucas di Grassi has maintained his morning momentum by setting the fastest lap of the afternoon session at Circuit Paul Ricard.

The top four drivers were covered by just 0.3 seconds in an incredibly close final session of the first GP2 series test of 2007, with ART Grand Prix and iSport International dominating proceedings.

Perhaps dominating is too strong a word however, for while the top four positions were locked out by the current champions and the team many expect to be their closest rivals in 2007, the top 20 drivers were covered by just one second at the close of play today. This figure is an incredible feat when one considers that it was only yesterday that the field of 2007 got their hands on their new cars to test them for real for the first time. More ...

Track News
Mazda Raceway to host open house  MONTEREY, Calif. – Those waiting for the perfect opportunity to visit Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will have no better chance than Saturday, March 10, when the world-renowned track is inviting the local community to climb “over the hill” for a community open house. The event will wave the green flag on the 50th Anniversary Season of the world class facility with free admission.

On-track, the Champ Car World Series returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for a test session open to all teams and drivers competing during the season. More ...

Top 22 separated by six-tenths of a second  A record 23 driver/car combinations turned 2,817 laps on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval during the second and final day of Indy Pro Series preseason testing.  Bobby Wilson, right, led the way.

That’s 4,225.5 trouble-free miles on the sun-baked asphalt that will see the same cars March 24 in the first of 16 races (seven ovals). So after six hours of adjusting shocks, tinkering with wing angles and monitoring telemetry – among the items on checklists -- is everyone good to go?

On a day when the top 22 were separated by 0.6975 of a second, it appears the racing in the Miami 100 will be close and contentious. Last March, Jeff Simmons beat Nick Bussell to the finish by 0.0199 of a second.

Bobby Wilson, a title contender in 2006, led the way with a best lap of 185.876 mph (28.7611 seconds) in the No.1 Brian Stewart Racing car. More ...

Mario Andretti to star at GPLive event  One of the legends of motor sport, Mario Andretti is the latest star to confirm his attendance at the GPlive event at Donington Park in May. The 1978 Formula One World Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner is set to be reunited with one of his JPS Lotus cars at the event and is looking forward to meeting his many British fans.

“We are absolutely delighted that one of the most popular, approachable and eloquent drivers in the history of the sport has agreed to join GPlive. It is a huge complement to the event in its inaugural year” says event organizer Richard Morgan. “Perhaps more than any other driver in the sport’s history, Mario is a legend and an icon. GPlive is all about meeting your heroes, Mario is certainly a hero of mine!”

The Andretti story is truly the stuff of legends. Born in Montona, Italy in 1940, Mario and his family emigrated to America at the age of 15. Not however, before becoming hooked on motor racing, when he and twin brother Aldo climbed the fence at Monza to watch their hero Alberto Ascari in the Italian Grand Prix.

When the Andretti family arrived in Nazareth, Pennsylvania in 1955, they were penniless immigrants, but the two boys immediately began to haunt the local race track and within four years built their own car, to race on the oval track. For Mario it was the start of an amazing career.

The 1978 Formula One World Champion remains one of the most successful and versatile drivers in the sport’s history. In addition to 12 Grand Prix victories, he won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 NASCAR event, endurance sports car events and the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. His winning total stands at 111 victories and he has the unique distinction of being given top accolades in five different decades. He was voted US Driver of the Year in the 60s, 70s and 80, Driver of the Quarter Century in the 1990s and Associated Press named him Driver of the Century in January 2000.

Vegas GP looking for volunteers  Excellent volunteer opportunities are available for people interested in being part of the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix, coming to the streets of downtown Las Vegas on April 6-8, 2007.

Volunteers will enjoy a “behind-the-scenes” perspective in assisting with the presentation of this new and unique event. A variety of activities are planned around the first Champ Car auto race of the 2007 season, including major rock concerts, a charity gala, celebrity poker tournament, giant Easter egg hunt and much more, creating a festival of speed and entertainment. Each volunteer will receive many benefits, such as uniform shirts and cap, discounted tickets for friends and family, lunch and snacks each day, as well as a volunteer appreciation party. More ...

industry news
Toyota forced to offer hybrid incentives  After watching the Prius hybrid fly out of dealer showrooms the last six years, Toyota has started to nudge consumers with zero-percent financing and lease deals because supply has caught up with demand. Until recently, most Toyota dealers had waiting lists of two to three months for the fuel-efficient Prius, the most popular gas-electric hybrid model. But at the end of January, dealers had a 30-day supply, or about 10,000 vehicles, based on January sales.

Toyota quietly launched its first incentives on the Prius at the end of last month and has extended the offers until Feb. 28, though it doesn't plan national advertising to promote the program.

Offers include zero-percent interest for 24 months, 2.9% for 36 months, 3.9% for 48 months and 4.9% for 60 months, or a $219 lease for 36 months. Toyota also offers interest rates from 2.9% to 4.9% on the Highlander Hybrid SUV, which has been available with incentives before, as have hybrids from Honda and Ford.

Toyota's incentives come after the automaker sold 107,000 Priuses in the United States last year and increased production capacity in Japan in anticipation of selling 175,000 this year. Toyota expects total hybrid sales in the United States to grow to more than 250,000 this year from about 170,000 in 2006.

"We want to make sure that the hybrid system becomes mainstream. We have to start marketing the car," said Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor North America.

"Eventually, hybrids are going to be on everything" at Toyota. "It's going to be a permanent part of our plans."   More at Detroit Free Press

Busch league just a Cup imitation  NASCAR's second-tier Busch Series once was mainly a proving ground for young drivers trying to reach the top-level Nextel Cup Series. Today, it's hard to tell the two apart.

Cup drivers now dominate the Busch Series, which usually runs its races Saturday before the Cup events Sunday.

Kevin Harvick, a Cup regular, won nine of the 35 Busch races last year in easily winning the championship, and Cup drivers won all but two of the races overall.

Harvick won this year's Busch season opener, the Orbitz 300, a day before winning the Daytona 500.

The next four in points behind Harvick last year — Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley — all are full-time Cup drivers, prompting some observers to dub the series "Cup Lite" and the drivers "Buschwackers." More ...

Legge frustrated by uncertainty  What team the 26-year-old Katherine Legge form Guilford, England will be driving for remains uncertain. Last year, her rookie campaign in Champ Cars, she piloted a red and white machine for PKV Racing, owned partially by her sponsors, Kevin Kalkhoven, who is also a series co-owner.

When the 2007 season opens April 8 at Las Vegas, Legge could find herself driving for Dale Coyne Racing, for whom she drove during a testing session earlier this month in Sebring. Or she could be back with PKV.

"It's kind of frustrating for me," she said. More ...

Ferrari drivers on top  Felipe Massa (pictured right) and Kimi Raikkonen topped the timesheets on the first day of testing at Bahrain on Thursday. The Ferrari pair were separated by less than two tenths of a second. Photo courtesy of Ferrari 

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:31.766 86
2. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:31.901 47
3. Button Honda (B) 1:32.099 83
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:32.182 83
5. Barrichello Honda (B) 1:32.570 101
6. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:32.621 47
7. Vettel BMW-Sauber (B) 1:32.652 104
8. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:32.787 33.
9. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:32.810 49
10. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:32.996 76
11. Kovalainen Renault (B) 1:33.139 113
12. Piquet Renault (B) 1:33.816 92
13. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:34.077 27
14. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:34.595 31
15. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:35.265 35
16. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:36.345 2
Vegas GP Poker event to start  The world of poker takes the fast lane beginning Feb. 22 when the Poker Event at Vegas Grand Prix kicks off a 45-day run at Binon’s Gambling Hall & Hotel in downtown Las Vegas.  

Presented in the historical Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel, the event will begin with daily satellites on Thursday, Feb. 22.  Satellite winners will qualify for the Everyman Main Event to be held race week, Monday, April 2, through Friday, April 6, in the world-famous Benny’s Bullpen, the original home of the World Series of Poker.  

One of the highlights of the week will be the celebrity poker event Saturday, April 7, also being held in Benny’s Bullpen, benefiting Vegas Grand Prix charities via the Jenyon Foundation, Inc. The celebrity poker tournament will tout celebrities from the entertainment and poker world and be broadcast live athttp://www.pokernetcast.com .  

The celebrity tournament offers players the opportunity to play with celebrities and professional poker players such as Patrik Antonius, Robert Williamson III, Marcel Luske and Hoyt Corkins.  The $10,000 buy-in will fund a tournament prize pool and Vegas Grand Prix charities via the Jenyon Foundation, Inc.  

During the final week, the tournament can accommodate up to 1,000 players daily, potentially making it the largest field ever in downtown Las Vegas with a significant prize pool.  

Wendy Meadley, CEO of Poker Resource Network, is orchestrating the Poker Event at the Vegas Grand Prix. “This event brings together the best elements of the poker world:  the opportunity for the everyman player to play, the excitement of a celebrity event and the opportunity to give back to the Las Vegas community."
Super Aguri announces deal with Metris  The Super Aguri F1 team has announced Metris as an official industrial supplier. Metris will supply the team with high-tech metrology systems for dimensional quality control comprising laser scanners for CMM and portable arms complemented with the point cloud analysis software. These systems will enable the team to optimize their inspection processes during the production of various body and engine components for their cars.

"Metris is very proud to be an official industrial supplier to the SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM," comments Jos Jans, Director of Business Development, Metris. "It is both a great honor and a major responsibility for us to work together with SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM. Our partnership with the Formula One team is an excellent platform to showcase innovative technologies such as the Metris’ optical metrology solutions to the commercial automotive manufacturers."

“We’re partnering with Metris because of its impressive range of advanced metrology products,” says Daniel Audetto, Managing Director, SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM. "We are looking forward to using the Metris laser scanners that will enable faster and better inspection in order to take the performance of our cars to the next level. Having a team partner like Metris matches our goal of continuous improvement and we look forward to hopefully moving up the grid with their assistance." The Metris solutions are adopted by the majority of the leading F1 teams which are utilizing these on a daily basis during R&D, testing and production. Super Aguri PR

Massa in front at Bahrain test  (GMM)  Felipe Massa on Thursday is at the top of the times after the first morning session of the Bahrain test.

The Ferrari driver's best time so far, 1.32.351, is a couple of tenths quicker than Rubens Barrichello, in the black liveried Honda.

Next on the lunchtime timesheet are Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Heikki Kovalainen (Renault) and Nick Heidfeld (BMW), ahead of the two McLarens driven by Lewis Hamilton and Pedro de la Rosa.

With the exception of Williams and Spyker, who presumably for reasons of cost did not travel to the Middle East for the offshore test, every other formula one team also fielded runners on Thursday.

At the end of the three day run, a second Bahrain test at the Sakhir circuit kicks off next Tuesday.

Watch your back F1, here comes NASCAR  UPDATE #2 NASCAR is planning to use its Car of Tomorrow as a platform to create regional series around the world, this week's Autosport magazine exclusively reveals.

A hybrid version of the new car, which is set to make its race debut in America next month, is set to be developed with a spec V8 engine for use in other countries.

NASCAR vice-president of corporate communications Jim Hunter told Autosport: "We see an opportunity somewhere down the road to develop some sort of NASCAR series in various countries."

However, Hunter added that plans are still at very early stages, and he is unable to put a timescale on any project.

"We have discussed a hybrid car at NASCAR for a series somewhere in the future," he said. "At this point we don't even have one on paper." [Editor's Note: NASCAR is only popular in the USA and is well advised not to attempt global expansion. Overseas race fans are much more sophisticated and will not accept NASCAR's form of racing with stock block pushrod engines and carburetors. NASCAR's success in Mexico has been mediocre at best and when they tried to go to Japan they came back with their tails between their legs - a complete failure.]

02/15/07 Robbie Weiss, NASCAR's international managing director, said: "NASCAR is still a relatively unknown product in the UK, but last year it was the highest rated American sport on television in the UK. Autosport.com reports that Sunday's NASCAR race will be tape delayed in the UK and shown at 12:10 AM Monday morning.

02/13/07 If F1 thinks it has a stronghold on the global race market, think again.  NASCAR plans to go global, and with their huge war chest of money, even Bernie Ecclestone had better be worried.

NASCAR still has hopes to one day race in or near New York City and plans to try to take a methodical approach to foreign markets, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Tuesday.

During his address on the state of the sport, France said he wants anything international to be productive for all aspects of the sport.
The NASCAR Busch Series will compete in Mexico and Canada this year, and France said the next expansion could come in Europe, Latin America or Asia.

"My mandate is, 'How do we make sure the industry is expanding?'" France said. "Whether that's building cars or exporting cars, whether that's information, promotion, technology, you name it.

"This industry has got the model built. When we have opportunities internationally, it will have to be that the industry comes together and gets the benefit." Scenedaily.com

Montoya says open wheel racing harder than NASCAR  Excerpts from LA Daily News interview with Juan Montoya:

Question: Going from Formula One to NASCAR, how does this rank with anything else you've done?

Juan Pablo Montoya: Probably open-wheel is harder because everything happens faster, the level of grip is different. It's completely different cars. Here it's hard. It's a hard race car. It's all about confidence. I think the oval is all about the feedback you get out of the car.

For me, being so new to this, a mile and a half track are the hardest there are. You go in, you get out of the gas, get back on it, the car twitches. I'm out of the gas straightaway. I'm not taking any risks. At the same time, you want to run fast. As soon as you get a little bit comfortable, you start attacking and attacking and attacking. You start getting a little bit faster. More ...

Bahrain test kicks off  (GMM) Nine out of F1's eleven teams on Thursday morning started work at the Bahrain circuit.

In dry, bright and warm conditions, every outfit except Williams and Spyker started the final group test of the 2007 pre-season less than one month before the championship kicks off in Australia.
Turner joins Aston Martin team  Darren Turner will start the wheels turning for his 2007 racing season in a Team Modena Aston Martin DBR9, it was announced today. 

The Warwickshire-based Briton, who has driven more miles in an Aston Martin racing car than any other of the marque’s drivers, will be joining Team Modena’s Antonia Garcia (E) and Liz Halliday (USA) for the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida on 17th March, and Darren will be aiming for a repeat of his historic GT1 victory there in 2005.

“Sebring 2005 was the very first race for the DBR9 and no one really expected us to win,” recalls Darren.  “It’s such a hard circuit for cars and drivers as it’s so bumpy and can also be very slippery, but we just chipped away all week at making progress with the car and finding a good set up for the race, getting better and better each day, and it really paid off.  More ...

Evernham Appeals Penalties to all 3 teams  Appeals for the penalties passed out to the Nextel Cup teams of #9-Kasey Kahne, #19-Elliott Sadler and #10-Scott Riggs before the Daytona 500 were filed on Wednesday by owner Ray Evernham. Roush Fenway Racing filed an appeal on the penalties against Matt Kenseth's #17 team on Saturday. Evernham said before Sunday's race he was most concerned about the severity of the penalties, particularly the points deductions, and the damage allegations of cheating have done to the reputation of his organization. "That's been tarnished and it bothers me more than anything," Evernham said. Kenny Francis, Kahne's team director [crew chief], was suspended for four weeks and fined $50,000 after NASCAR inspectors discovered that two layers of duct tape covering an air hole near the rear wheel well came off during qualifying. Officials said the first layer had a razor slice in it that they believe was designed to force both layers of tape off. Kahne was docked 50 championship points and Evernham 50 owners' points for what NASCAR deemed a blatant attempt to create an aerodynamic advantage. Rodney Childers and Josh Browne, the team directors for Riggs and Sadler, were suspended for two races and fined $25,000 each when officials discovered the bolts that attach the rear spoiler to the trunk had holes drilled in them to help create an aerodynamic advantage. Their drivers were docked 25 championship points each. Evernham said the bolts were hollowed out to make them lighter and were used in all four restrictor plate races last season without penalty. NASCAR officials said a date for the appeal, to be heard by the National Stock Car Racing Commission, has not been set. ESPN.com
70 and 66 cars swap sponsors for California  Race fans may do a double take when they see the Haas CNC Racing entries take to the track at California Speedway this weekend. While the car numbers and drivers will be the same, the sponsors will swap spots on the two Haas Chevys. Johnny Sauter, whose primary sponsor is normally Yellow Transportation, will instead carry the Best Buy logos on his #70 entry this weekend. Jeff Green’s #66 car, which usually carries a blue and yellow Best Buy paint design, will instead be sponsored by Yellow Transportation. This is the first of two Nextel Cup Series races in which Green and Sauter will “swap sponsors” in 2007. GMR Marketing/Best Buy Racing PR
Vegas GP in the news  The Grand Prix is coming to Las Vegas! It's a idea to bring more tourists to our city, but of course we get to enjoy it as well. We want to let you know how you can find out more about the race, and how it will affect downtown neighborhoods.

The Las Vegas Grand Prix is part of the 2007 Champ Car World Series. It is scheduled for April 6th through the 8th. The race will actually happen on roads in and around downtown Las Vegas. It's a 2.4 mile course with 12 turns.

The city agreed to make a couple changes to roads on the course, but it hopes to make that money back, and a lot more, by bringing in an expected 150,000 people. Along with the cars winding around the track, there's a rock concert and a poker tournament planned.  More, including video clip, at kvbc.com

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday  
Courtesy of TVRacer.com 

NASCAR Busch Final Practice Fontana
1:30pm-2:30pm (L) ESPN2
NASCAR Live! Fontana
2:00pm-2:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Fontana
2:30pm-4:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Qualifying Fontana
4:00pm-5:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Fontana
5:30pm-7:30pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Fontana
7:30pm-8:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Race Fontana
8:30pm-11:30pm (L) SPEED

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

Latest F1 news in brief  
Staff changes at Williams, Red Bull
Spyker, Williams, head to Barca for final test
Speed moves closer to 2007 seat
Red Bull implement 'changes' to new car
Karthikeyan returns to A1 series
Bridgestone to supply four tire types in 2007
Kubica urges BMW to improve reliability
Berger questions Speed's 'commitment'
PJ Jones in Mexico  Road racing veteran P.J. Jones will drive Richard Childress Racing’s (RCR) No. 21 AutoZone Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the March 4 Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 NASCAR Busch Series race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez near Mexico City.

Jones has numerous starts in all three of NASCAR’s top series, including 20 Busch Series starts since 2000. The California native has also started two Indianapolis 500s (2004, 2006), more than 50 Champ Car races and multiple sports car races. His father, Parnelli Jones, is a legendary driver with victories in all forms of motorsports, including the 1963 Indianapolis 500. More ...

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