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DATE News (chronologically)
02/25/08
tv news
NASCARSprint

Waltrip and Reutimann to be on Montel Williams show
Michael Waltrip and David Reuitmann will be guests on the Montel Williams show on Tuesday, February 26.  The time and network for the Montel Williams show varies. Please check your local listings.

Comment
02/25/08
nassprint

Johnson favored to win Sunday's UAW-Dodge 400
Micah Roberts, oddsmaker for Station Casinos in Las Vegas, has set the odds for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  It is no surprise that two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson tops that list.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, is listed at 7-to-1.  He has won the past three UAW-Dodge 400s at LVMS and is hoping to achieve a feat no driver has attained since 1998: win the same race four consecutive times.

Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth - no strangers to LVMS' victory lane - are listed at 8-to-1, but Tony Stewart, who is winless at LVMS, is close to them at 10-to-1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been placed at 13-to-1.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Burney Lamar, Kyle Petty and Ken Schrader are listed at 500/1.

Read more & Comment...
02/25/08
ips

Brian Stewart Racing inks Juan Manuel Polar
Brian Stewart Racing announced Feb. 22 that Peruvian driver Juan Manuel Polar will compete in the Indy Pro Series during the 2008 season.

"The Indy Pro Series is a very high-level series and it's very, very competitive," Polar said. "I want to say thanks to Brian Stewart Racing for giving me the opportunity to participate in the series. I'm very happy to be here, and I hope I can do very well."

The 24-year-old has competed in various ladder series in Europe and has spent the last two seasons racing in Spanish Formula 3's Copa de Espana division, finishing as the series' runner-up in each season.

"There are certain places you look for drivers, and you know if they've done well there, they'll do well here," said team owner Brian Stewart, whose team won the Indy Pro Series entrant title in 2005 and 2006. "If a guy has done well in British F3, Italian F3, French F3 or Spanish F3, you know in any one of those series, you know you have a good driver."

Comment
02/25/08
irl

IndyCar Series announces course change at Infineon Raceway
Infineon Raceway
The IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series will utilize a slightly modified road course when the series return to Infineon Raceway Aug. 22-24 for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County.

On the 12-turn course, the cars will now exit Turn 6 and go directly onto the track's drag strip into Turn 7 instead of looping to the left on the road course.

"By staying on the drag strip and then heading back into the Esses, we create a harder braking area and thus a better passing zone going into Turn 7," said Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations divisions of the sanctioning Indy Racing League.

The new configuration, which will shorten a lap around the circuit from 2.26 miles to approximately 2.245 miles, was evaluated by IndyCar Series drivers Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay during a test last December in Sonoma.

"I think it's going to make an improvement for the race," said Dixon, who won the Motorola Indy 300 at the track in 2007. "Hopefully, it's going to create a passing opportunity for some people. I think it's a good choice and will make a great addition to the weekend."

"Eliminating the bend to the left and now going up the drag strip makes for a wider passing opportunity, and I think that's good," said Hunter-Reay. "Any passing opportunity is great for the series and good for the fans who come out and watch."

Since the IndyCar Series began competing at the facility in 2005, race winners include Dixon (2007), Marco Andretti (2006) and Tony Kanaan (2005).

Comment
02/25/08
irl

2008 season opens with Homestead test
The IndyCar Series officially opens the 2008 season Feb. 27-28 with the first Open Test of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Drivers will test on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval from 4-10 p.m. (ET) both days in preparation for the season-opening race at the facility under the lights on March 29.

"We're very much looking forward to getting back to the racetrack and preparing for the 2008 season," said Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations division of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series and the Indy Pro Series. "Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sebring International Raceway (where teams will test March 3-6) both offer first-class facilities in warm-weather venues to allow our teams and drivers the opportunity to get ready for another season of outstanding racing."

Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon, who will be seeking a series-record fourth consecutive victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway, will use the track time to work out off-season kinks and work on race craft.

"After the end of the season I had in '07, it makes you even more determined to get in the car," said Wheldon, who recorded two early victories in 2007 but had only one top-five finish in the second half. "Anytime I'm in the race car I'm incredibly happy."

Read more & Comment...
02/25/08
f1

Barcelona Day 1: Hamilton fastest
Lewis Hamilton turned the fastest lap on Monday to top the two Ferrari drivers in Barcelona.  This was the first day of this week's final full pre-season test.

Pos

Driver Team Time Laps
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.276 78
2. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:22.319 82
3. M.Schumacher Ferrari 1:22.428 83
4. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:22.724 54
5. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.852 71
6. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:22.974 108
7. Alonso Renault 1:23.021 79
8. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:23.075 75
9. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:23.091 62
10. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.115 71
11. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:23.188 95
12. Klien BMW-Sauber 1:23.239 43
13. Liuzzi Force India-Ferrari 1:23.270 70
14. Piquet Renault 1:23.442 42
15. Glock Toyota 1:23.609 86
16. Kobayashi Toyota 1:23.880 29
17. Barrichello Honda 1:24.460 115
18. Wurz Honda 1:24.667 109
19. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:24.826 25

Comment
02/25/08
automotive

Porsche halts production of 911s after explosion
Automaker Porsche AG said Monday that an explosion at its plant where 911 models are made has halted production for two to three days.

Two workers were injured in a gas explosion early Monday at the Zuffenhausen factory, the only facility that produces the 911 model, with an output of 160 cars a day.

Porsche said gas leaked from a drying oven in the paint shop and ignited. The workers were taken to a hospital for treatment and later released.

"The extent of the property damage cannot be determined at this moment, Porsche said in a statement. "Because the sprinklers went off, parts of the production as well as the paint shop are under water."

Comment
02/25/08
cc
irl

Wind Tunnel to discuss merger with George and Kalkhoven UPDATE #3 Highlights of the discussion of the Champ Car/IRL unification on Wind Tunnel last night are listed in this Rumors article.

02/24/08 The two main players in this week’s unification in American open wheel racing will join Dave Despain on Wind Tunnel. Tony George, the Founder and CEO of the Indy Racing League, and Kevin Kalkhoven, former co-owner of the Champ Car World Series, will join Dave Despain and Robin Miller live via satellite to talk about the big announcement and discuss their views on the future of open wheel racing in America.

02/23/08 Mario Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve will be the featured interviews on Wind Tunnel on Sunday night.

02/22/08 Robin Miller, SPEED’s Open Wheel Racing Analyst, who has been following the story of the unification of American open wheel racing (officially announced Friday afternoon) closely the past several weeks, will join Dave Despain in the studio to Co-Host Wind Tunnel this Sunday February 24th at 9 p.m. ET.

Featured Interview: Mario Andretti (1969 Indy 500 winner, 1984 CART Series Champion)

Veteran open wheel racing champion, Mario Andretti, will be a featured interview on Wind Tunnel this Sunday February 24th. As an Indy 500 and CART Series champion, Mario has been a proponent of a unified American open wheel racing series for some time now. He will share his opinions on Friday’s big announcement as well as share his view on how this will impact the future of open wheel racing in America.

Featured Interview: Jacques Villeneuve (1995 Indy 500 winner & CART Series Champion)

1995 CART Series Champion, Jacques Villeneuve, will also be a featured interview on Wind Tunnel this Sunday. As the last CART champion before the infamous split in 1996, we’ll get Jacques’ thoughts on the unification.

In addition, we’ll talk to Jacques about his aspiring NASCAR career, which was abruptly put on hold last week after failing to qualify for the Daytona 500.

Plus more guests to be announced.

Comment
02/25/08
irl

Hunter-Reay confirmed by Rahal team
Hunter-Reay
Ryan Hunter-Reay opened eyes throughout motorsports last season when he stepped into the Rahal Letterman Racing Indy Car at Mid-Ohio and made his series debut without a single lap of testing and carried the car to a seventh-place finish.

The American-born Hunter-Reay will now get a chance to chase the championship in 2008 with a full complement of preseason preparation as the Floridian was named today as the driver of the #17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Rahal Letterman Racing.

“It’s great to make this official.  Driving for Rahal-Letterman Racing and Ethanol is a huge honor and a great opportunity; together I am certain we are going to make the most of it,” Hunter-Reay said. “Since I first jumped in the #17 Ethanol IndyCar at Mid-Ohio our goal has been to establish a solid foundation so we could build for a competitive 2008 season.  Over the course of six races and six tests we have created a great chemistry within the team and made substantial progress in developing the car around my driving style and setup preferences.  My motivation and the confidence I have in the team allows me to be very optimistic as we focus forward.  Being an Ethanol spokesperson and representative, on and off the race track, means I will be very busy during this historic year for open wheel racing in America.”

Read more & Comment...
02/25/08
cc
irl

Conquest to field 2 entries in unified series
Following last Friday’s announcement of unification between the Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League, it is with great enthusiasm that the Conquest Racing team is today confirming its participation as a two-car team in the 2008 IndyCar® Series season.

“Finally, we have come together as one,” expressed Conquest Racing Owner Eric Bachelart. “It’s been a long time coming and we can now all move ahead in the same direction under one roof. The work is only starting but now that there is solidarity in open-wheel racing it will make it that much easier to take this sport to where it needs to be. It’s a great moment for open-wheel racing in general and for the fans and our sponsors. We are happy to be competing under the Indy Racing League banner with our other fellow ‘Champ Car’ competitors against established IndyCar Series teams and we are also looking forward to the new challenge that this unification brings us.”

The move will be a return of sorts for the open-wheel team. Conquest Racing previously competed in their first full Indy Racing League season in 2002 with Frenchman Laurent Redon. That year, the team not only took home the “Rookie of the Year” honors but also claimed a podium finish at the third race of the season in Fontana, California . Their IndyCar Series debut came in 2001 at Joliet, Illinois where Redon scored a seventh place finish.

Read more & Comment...
02/25/08
f1

Schu would win Hamilton head-to-head - Mosley
It would be sheer folly to think Hamilton can even qualify to shine Schumacher's shoes.
(GMM)  Max Mosley has echoed Willi Weber's belief that Michael Schumacher would win a straight fight against F1's newest sensation, Lewis Hamilton.

As the pair both test at the Circuit de Catalunya on Monday, the FIA president declared that despite the excitement surrounding Hamilton's rookie season, seven time world champion Schumacher would still be the racer to bet on had he not retired at the end of 2006.

Asked by the Austrian broadcaster ORF who he thinks would win a hypothetical head-to-head, Mosley replied: "Schumacher!

"If you think about his teammates, they were almost all very strong, and some of them were tremendously strong -- but he was always the strongest," the Briton added.

Mosley also said that he hopes reducing costs in formula one can attract new manufacturers to the sport.

"If we can succeed in what we intend, and a manufacturer can clearly see that the costs are under control and the research expenditures are reasonable and in a useful direction, then I think we will see new ones," he said.

He also interestingly spoke out against the advent of biofuels in motor racing, even though the FIA has mandated a 5.75 per cent blend for F1 in 2008.

Mosley insists that, for formula one, the forthcoming energy recovery route is a better one.

"I have enormous concerns about biofuel," he said.  "What we really need to be looking at is better exploiting the source of the energy."

Mosley also said he is not expecting any more espionage scandals in F1.

"I think people always knew what was not allowed, but now it has been underlined.  We will never again see something on the scale of last year," he added.

Comment
02/25/08
f1

Super Aguri to miss final winter test
(GMM)  Struggling Japanese team Super Aguri has confirmed that it will sit out the final group test of the 2008 pre-season in Barcelona this week.

As every other outfit got up and running at the Circuit de Catalunya on a damp Monday morning, word began to emerge that the financially embattled Leafield based squad has been forced once again to yield to its political problems.

Super Aguri's transporters, however, have been at the circuit for some time, as team boss Aguri Suzuki late last week commenced crisis talks with Honda officials in Tokyo.

"As talks ... continue, we have decided to focus our efforts on preparing for the first race in Australia as the freight leaves shortly.  We shall therefore not be testing this week in Barcelona," the team confirmed.

Comment
02/25/08
cc
irl

Champ Car fans bitter about merger UPDATE #3 Another more forgiving fan writes, I too harbor very better feelings and an underlying current of distrust towards Tony George.  But I cannot help but feel that maybe we are better off with one person calling the shots considering the way OWRS has been handling themselves especially in the last year.  What is done is done folks, and what we have is what we have.  I'd perhaps have some serious venom to spew if not for what I heard come from Tony's own mouth; a schedule that is a balance of ovals, streets, and road circuits, and (hopefully) introducing a respectable and much, much safer car.  Do I trust Tony George to deliver?  Not really, but then again, don't think he has a choice at this point.  He recognized that what CART was in the mid 90's is what this sport needs to become, and regardless of how much I just want to punch the guy for wasting all our time with his actions, as a fan of this sport, I have to give this peace, and this guy, a chance to work this series into what Champ Cars and its fans have known all along what it can and needs to be in order to succeed. Andy Fogiel, Lansing, MI

02/25/08 Another bitter Champ Car fan writes, So here we are, 12 years after the creation of the 'vision'. What do we have?

This was the attendance at the 1999 CART race in Fontana.  The grandstands were packed and it would dwarf the present day NASCAR crowds at this same track.  That is how far the sport of open wheel racing has fallen in the USA
Mark Cipolloni
Indy 500 glory? Gone
Indy 500 bumping? Gone
Ford? Gone
Toyota? Gone
Mercedes? Gone
Lola? Gone
Reynard? Gone
Swift? Gone
Gurney/Eagle? Gone
Three quarters of the fans? Gone
Too many sponsors to count? Gone
Michigan? Gone
Nazareth? Gone
Road America? Gone
Cleveland? Gone
Toronto? Gone
Laguna Seca? Gone

Ugliest cars in the history of Indy racing? Check
Worst-sounding cars in the history of Indy racing? Check
Indy cars that fly through the air? Check
Indy 500 and Indy-series champions not even bothering to defend their championships? Check
Indy racing giving power steering to Danica to try to steal a win for her? Check
Shady officiating to steal an Indy 500 win from Paul Tracy? Check
Sports fans now think that the '500' means Daytona? Check

The future of American open-wheel racing is now 100% being led by the man that is 100% percent responsible for all of this. And we're supposed to be happy about this?

Paul Tracy was right.  Alan Saliwanchik

02/23/08 Another fan writes, I am shocked and devastated at the negative responses in regards to the Champ Car/IRL merger. I have worked with the Champ Car Safety Team and IRL Safety Team members and am happy to hear of the two groups back together. Either one or both series would have folded and then all that we would have had was neckcar racing. This year will be a huge transition year with most of the Champ Car races being canceled but I can almost guarantee you that more of the races will be back in the next few years and that they will get rid of some of the useless ovals from the IRL schedule. Be patient and watch what open wheel racing can become again and the Indy 500 be what it once was. I also believe the Indy Car will be changed to more of the Panoz type of car so we will have less of the "flying" cars that are out there now and have some great racing in the future. This can be an exciting time and I can only hope that we as open wheel racing fans can come together and take over the top racing series in the U.S. as it once was. This can only be good for open wheel racing!! Jeff M. Cuomo

P.S. I am a huge Champ Car fan and hated the IRL with a passion but with Champ Car having input this will be a great thing!!

Another writes, Why is it that all of the Champ Car fans think that they are better than the IRL and their teams and fans?  The technology isn't good enough and oh yeah they don't race all over the globe.  Aren't these some of the reasons that Champ Car failed?  Oh and by the way there is a series for those people it's called Formula 1.  Then they can hang out with the rest of the racing world that holds their noses held high in the air watching technology that nobody can afford and bad racing.  Signed IRL FAN.

02/22/08 We received a number of letters like the one from this bitter Champ Car fan over the raw deal Champ Car got as a result of the merger. "How can this be called a merger when almost nothing is being retained from one side? Not the employees that dedicated decades to the sport, not the cars, not the engine, not the tracks except for a handful [it remains to be seen how a race at Long Beach can be run with no support personnel who were all fired or 10 cars that may or may not show up]. A hostile takeover is less damaging than this mess. And how can this be viewed as a step forward when in reality it is reverting back a few decades in performance, variety, and on and on. IRL was started as an abortion and should not have been allowed to be carried to term. Now everyone is stuck with a retarded version of what was once a great product. I am dumbfounded by how unprofessional this was handled with little regard for people involved in the sport. If media thinks that everyone is overjoyed with this, they should interview the promoters of Long Beach, Edmonton, Cleveland, and ..... the list is endless. I just hope that some of the affected will have their final say in court and make the individuals accountable for their !*%$-up.

P.S. Only five Champ Car employees were retained, do not know who they are but hoping that the brilliant mind of Steve Johnson is part of that group because IRL is already brimming with such leadership so such an addition should only expedite the inevitable . Also rumor is that Honda does not want to move the Mid-Ohio date that conflicts with Edmonton so how that will play out remains to be seen. One of the people whose business was affected by irresponsible actions is the Portland promoter and he says it like it is so hopefully more will be said about this than all this 'feel good' crap from IRL camp. And Walker feels good because he got cash from Kevin.... that would make everyone feel better, too bad not everyone is getting it. I wonder if TG had a gun to Gerald Forsythe's head or some very significant money transfer had occurred. If the rumor is true about GF wanting $10,000,000 for his cooperation, perhaps if that indeed what was paid, perhaps someone can sue for damages and their share. Also even if CCWS is an LLC, if the owner and a stakeholder is misleading and downright lying about the way the business is going, I think there has to be some law against such conduct. ENRON and what happened to those involved comes to mind. Again, call me bitter, call me stupid but do not tell me this is a merger because I would call you a liar just like Kevin Kalkhoven.

P.P.S. Look for A1GP in Australia."  A bitter Champ Car fan

Comment
02/25/08
nassprint

Toyota most powerful NASCAR engine
Hendrick Motor Sports had apparently found a way to squeeze more power out of their engines, according to dyno numbers, but actually had to dial back some. Yet, it’s not Hendrick that has Pat DiMarco, of Ford Racing Tech Engineering concerned. "Toyota has the most power out there right now," DiMarco said during one of the several rain delays the NASCAR Sprint Cup series endured trying to get the Auto Club 500 concluded Sunday night at the newly renamed Auto Club Speedway of Southern California. "Especially now that they have Gibbs [Racing] on board; those guys are doing most of the engine development." DiMarco is pleased with the strength being shown by the Roush-Yates engine program. "The engines are strong," DiMarco said, especially when you look at what Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards were doing Sunday. "From and engineering standpoint, we’re just a little behind last year." DiMarco pointed out that NASCAR has pretty much taken away much opportunity to change anything on the cars. "It’s all chassis development and suspension parts to get the cars to grip better," he said. "The sport is going where it’s all engineering." Ford Racing

Comment
02/25/08
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • Silverstone in sound financial shape
  • Alonso impressed with BMW's recent form
  • Ferrari to dominate '08, Trulli repeats
  • Pedro not predicting '08 pecking-order
  • Massa not fazed by McLaren's Barca feats
  • Ozzy to lap up 2008 season opener

Silverstone in sound financial shape
(GMM)  Although the running of the British grand prix beyond next year is in doubt, the operators of the Silverstone circuit appear to be in sound financial shape.

According to the latest accounts for Silverstone Circuits, owned by the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), the venue recently made an after-tax profit of $2.5 million, compared with a $5m loss in the previous accounting period.

The profits, revealed by the Independent newspaper to include the 18 month period of the 2005 and 2006 British grands prix, come amid F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone's demands that Silverstone pay higher race promotion fees and drastically improve its ageing facilities.

The BRDC also reportedly has cash reserves of more than $23m, and the latest accounts do not take into consideration the boost in F1's popularity in Britain since Lewis Hamilton broke onto the scene last year.

Silverstone's current promotional contract with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management company expires after the 2009 race.

Meanwhile, the accounts of the McLaren Group show an operating loss of $4.5m in 2006.  One year earlier, the Woking based company made a $28m profit.

A report in the Daily Mail blames the figures on the loss of F1 title sponsor West and flagging sales of the SLR supercar.

Alonso impressed with BMW's recent form
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso says BMW Sauber could be set to give his former team McLaren a run for its money in the 2008 season.

While the Spaniard agrees that Ferrari is marginally clear of the field for the forthcoming season, he points out that Swiss based BMW Sauber has made solid steps forward since it was recently revealed that the German team was struggling with its new car.

"Two or three weeks ago they were a little bit behind, quite close to us," Alonso, 26, is quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper AS.

"But things can change so quickly, and now they are almost on a par with McLaren."

The 2005 and 2006 drivers' champion thinks BMW's F1.08 single seater is "very fast", even if the car's potential is often masked by running high fuel loads.

"Sometimes, you realize that their times were set early on in a batch of 25 or 30 laps, or with 60 or 70 kilos of fuel on board," Alonso marveled.

"BMW is the team that has surprised me the most in the past two or three tests," he confirmed.

While acknowledging Ferrari's strong position with its F2008 model, meanwhile, Alonso does not agree that the Italian team is all but guaranteed the championship.

"I heard that Trulli or Fisico said they (Ferrari) have already won the title, but I don't believe in that," he insists.

Read more & Comment...
02/25/08
nassprint

Rain, seeping water turn Cup race into marathon UPDATE #2 A water crisis in California usually means there's too little of it. On Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, the opposite was true.

Just about everything liquid-related that could go wrong, did in the Auto Club 500, but it wasn't from lack of trying. The race started three hours late because of heavy overnight and morning showers, and even then was delayed when Michael Waltrip's car began spewing oil during the parade lap.

Then water -- standing and falling -- played a key role in a pair of red flags before the race reached the 100-lap mark.

After two accidents in the first 21 laps, both appearing to be the results of water seeping up through cracks in the track surface, NASCAR officials stopped the race and spent 67 minutes working to resolve the issue.

However, the dew point and humidity worked against efforts to make the track suitable to continue the race -- and in the end, or 2 a.m. ET, officials were forced to concede, at least for now.  The race will resume at 10 a.m. PT on FOX. The NASCAR Nationwide Series Stater Bros. 300. will run approximately one hour following the conclusion of the Auto Club 500 on ESPN2.

The Auto Club 500 was red-flagged after 87 laps due to inclement weather. Efforts to dry the track were halted at 11 p.m. PT. The race will resume with Lap 88.

02/24/08 A red flag has halted the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 500 again, for rain falling at the Auto Club Speedway.

Jeff Gordon led 19 laps up until a red flag was thrown at lap 21 for an incident involving Casey Mears, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Sam Hornish Jr. and Reed Sorenson. The crash started in Turn 2 when Mears lost control and then clipped Earnhardt Jr. Mears came to a rest on his side after Hornish collided with the back of his No. 5 Chevrolet.

02/24/08 The rain has stopped and the jet dryers are out to prepare the Auto Club Speedway for today's running of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 500. The race was originally scheduled to start at 4 p.m. (ET).

Comment
02/25/08
nnw

Nationwide Series race postponed to Monday
NASCAR has postponed the Nationwide Series Stater Bros. 300 at Auto Club Speedway for the second consecutive day.  The race was postponed from Saturday to Sunday, with it scheduled to be run after the Sprint Cup race, when rain washed out events at the California track.  With the Sprint Cup race under red flag conditions at 10 p.m. EST Sunday because of rain, and with that race still 163 laps from completion, NASCAR officials postponed the Nationwide event to Monday.

Comment
02/24/08
a1gp

Bleekemolen slams Ammermuller
Michael Ammermuller
Jeroen Bleekemolen believes justice was done following A1 Team Germany’s exclusion from the Sprint race in Durban today.

Michael Ammermuller was judged to have caused an avoidable collision with Bleekemolen, and Germany lost sixth place as a result. The incident occurred at the final corner, when Ammermuller ran into the back of the Dutch car, spinning him round and stopping the race.

Bleekemolen gave a strong TV interview immediately after the race, labeling Ammermuller as ‘mad’, and that he would ‘never speak to him again in his life’.

However, Bleekemolen remained strong in his viewpoints, even when the dust had settled after today’s Feature race.

‘Germany just hit me in the rear really hard,’ Bleekemolen said. ‘And I still don’t know what he was thinking.

Read more & Comment...
02/24/08
a1gp

Ammermuller defends driving record
A1 Team Germany’s Michael Ammermuller has reacted strongly to his disqualification from the Sprint race in Durban today.

He was judged to have caused an avoidable collision with the Netherlands’ Jeroen Bleekemolen, and the team lost sixth place as a result. The incident occurred at the final corner, when Ammermuller ran into the back of the Dutch car, spinning him round and stopping the race.

It is the fourth driving penalty Ammermuller has received in races this season, and the 22-year believes he is being treated unfairly.

‘Every time I do so something and it’s not exactly 100 per cent clear then I always get the worst penalty,’ Ammermuller said. ‘To me it looks like Germany shouldn’t win.

Read more & Comment...
02/24/08
v8

Three more SuperV8 drivers hospitalized
Three more V8 racing drivers have been admitted to Royal Adelaide hospital in a second serious accident to mar this weekend's Clipsal 500.

A day after a high speed crash in V8 Supercars' second-tier Fujitsu series left 27-year-old Ashley Cooper on life support, V8 Ute drivers Matt Kingsley, Craig Dontas and Colin Corkery are under observation in hospital after a heavy crash on Sunday.

It is believed Kingsley is in the most serious condition but all three drivers are conscious. The crash happened at turn three, while Cooper's incident was at the fast turn eight.

Cooper, a 27-year-old from Ulladulla on the NSW south coast, crashed heavily into a concrete barrier at speeds believed to be above 200km/h on Saturday morning and was given an emergency tracheotomy to help him breathe.

He was then rushed to hospital by ambulance where he was treated for severe head trauma, swelling of the brain and internal injuries.

His wife Casey has flown from their NSW home to be at his bedside. They have two young children. Cooper's mother Maree and father Alan are also with him at the hospital. The entire crowd, drivers, pit crews and staff were asked to stand in silence as V8 Supercar chaplain Garry Coleman led a prayer dedicated to Cooper at 12.30pm local time on Sunday. The Age

Comment
02/24/08
track news

Silverstone turns a profit
Crowd at Silverstone in 2006
Silverstone's hopes of retaining the British Grand Prix have received a major boost, according to reports in the Independent.

The British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC), which owns the Silverstone venue, has been warned by Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone that facilities must be significantly upgraded in order for the race to remain at the track.

The BRDC have got local authority approval for the redevelopment of the circuit and the news that Silverstone made £13.6m in gross profits in 2005-2006 will be welcomed by officials hoping to see the £25m project through.

Silverstone's F1 contract runs out in 2009 and the upturn in financial fortunes will help the BRDC's plans to construct a new pit and paddock complex, a test centre, business park, two hotels, a university campus, and some new homes near the circuit.

The £13.6m profit is a superb turnaround for the track as it made a £2.6 loss the previous year. Setanta Sports

Comment
02/24/08
track news

Revised deal may rev up Milwaukee Mile track plan
Dan Clarke in Milwaukee pits in 2006
The latest deal intended to save the century-old Milwaukee Mile Speedway at State Fair Park puts more money in the hands of the real estate investors who signed on to rescue it, leaving the park with nearly $800,000 less a year to pay down its own $10 million deficit. But in return, it turns up the heat on Milwaukee Mile Holdings LLC and Chairman Craig Stoehr to make good on their plans to build a hotel and restaurant complex that park officials hope will buoy their struggling Wisconsin Exposition Center.

And it adds new protections for a group of Wisconsin investors who hold a minority stake in Stoehr's venture.

Both sides touted the revised contract, approved this past week by the park's board of directors and the state Building Commission, as the best way to preserve racing at the storied track and generate new revenue for the park.

"This really puts us on solid footing going forward, not just for the race track, but it also lets us proceed on the development," said Stoehr, whose group lost $3.6 million since taking over the Mile in December 2005.

"We think the changes will make them break even or make money in a year or two," said Craig Barkelar, the fair park's deputy director and chief financial officer. "We want the hotel and restaurant," and the changes are expected to help accomplish that, Barkelar said. More at JSOnline.com

Comment
02/24/08
cc

Champ Car employees hurt most by merger
A reader writes, Dear Auto Racing1, While the unification (I won't call it a merger) of open wheel racing is a great step forward for the sport, I'd hope that all involved don't forget about the nearly 50 people at the Champ Car headquarters, as well as the "weekend warriors", Safety Team and Pace Car Team that helped make Champ Car events the successes they were, who are now out of a job.

After weeks of no communication from the owners and the high amount of stress associated with that, the employees at the headquarters were unceremoniously given their walking papers on Friday afternoon.  All received a basic compensation package and were shown the door.  Even though Kevin Kalkhoven was in town that day, he couldn't be bothered to visit to thank the hard working and dedicated employees who tried to make his company a success.  Not even a thank you for your efforts e-mail from him or any of the owners.

And to add insult to injury, the employees were also told that "the IRL has said they have no openings for you."  An offer from Tony George to at least ask the former Champ Car employees to forward their resumes to the IRL would have gone a long way towards creating some good will in the situation.  Instead we were all summarily left out in the cold.  Guess it proves that hard work, dedication and sacrifice just mean very little to some people.

Signed,
An ex-Champ Car employee who hopes the ALMS or the NHRA is hiring

Comment
02/24/08
a1gp

Germany excluded from Sprint race
A1 Team Germany has been excluded from sixth place in this morning’s Sprint race in Durban, South Africa.

Michael Ammermuller was judged to have ‘caused an avoidable collision’ with the Netherlands’ Jeroen Bleekemolen, and was not classified in the final results.

The incident occurred at the final corner, when Ammermuller ran into the back of the Dutch car, spinning him round and bringing out the red flag.

The penalty moved the rest of the field up one place, earning extra championship points for Australia, Portugal, Mexico, Malaysia and the USA.

It is the fourth driving penalty Ammermuller has received in races this season. In Malaysia’s Sprint race he collided with Canada’s Robert Wickens and was given a 25-second time penalty.

In the following Feature race, he was given a pit-lane drive-through penalty for an incident with Great Britain’s Oliver Jarvis, and ultimately excluded for a similar incident with Erik Janis’ Czech Republic car later in the race.

Comment
02/24/08
irl
cc

Orientation for Champ Car teams Monday
The Indy Racing League will know which former Champ Car World Series teams are serious about joining the IndyCar Series when an orientation meeting is held Monday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Brian Barnhart, the IRL's president of competition, expects representatives from six teams accounting for 10 cars at the meeting. "(More) is an absolute home run," he said Saturday.

The expected two-car teams are Newman/Haas/Lanigan, PKV, Forsythe/Pettit and Conquest, with Walker and Minardi Team USA fielding one each. If all participate, the IRL will have 26 cars.

Barnhart said the Pacific Coast team, a California-based entity that fielded two cars in Champ Car, has expressed interest but might not be able to make the meeting due to the short notice.

The IRL has its first test of the season this week at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but the former Champ Car teams are not expected to be ready to participate. Barnhart has scheduled a pair of tests for those teams -- March 19-20 at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, a road course, and March 24-25 at Homestead, an oval track. Indy Star

Comment
02/24/08
cc
irl

Derrick Walker: Switch to IndyCars very expensive
Derrick Walker
After four long weeks, we can finally say the deal is done. Walker Racing wanted to take this opportunity to update the fans again with what we know and where we go from here. Thankfully, the wait is finally over and we can start moving on. Certainly a lot of time has gone by and we can see what damage the split has caused. However, common sense has prevailed and we are off and running.

Now the merger is done. It's day one of the rest of our lives. What are we doing and what is needed to complete the transition for the teams?

One of the major hurdles for the teams is going to be getting access to all of the parts necessary to turn up and compete at a level similar to what they were doing in Champ Car. There is a lot to learn about the new car, which will be a separate learning curve and a separate hurdle. In the next six weeks the teams have to get cars, kits and all the parts necessary to run the cars, build them and test for at least four to six days, which will be a luxury if they manage it for the first event.

Read more & Comment...
02/24/08
nastruck

Busch Edges Bodine For 7th NCTS Victory UPDATE Want to know what Sprint Cup will look like in a year or two?  Just see the truck results below.  Top 4 are Toyotas as well as 7 of top 10.

Kyle Busch celebrates winning the San Bernardino County 200 at Auto Club Speedway
Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
02/23/08 At age 16, Busch was kicked out of Auto Club Speedway and banned from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race there because the weekend also featured a CART event sponsored by cigarette maker Marlboro and federal law precluded persons under age 18 from participating in events sponsored by tobacco companies.

On Saturday, Busch returned to the two-mile track as a 22-year-old veteran and pulled away from Todd Bodine in the final 10 laps of the San Bernardino County 200 to claim his seventh win in the truck series and his first in a Toyota. Busch led 51 laps in opening a 20-point lead over Bodine, who won the season opener last week at Daytona International Speedway but entered the race tied in the points standings with Busch and Johnny Benson because of a 25-point penalty incurred for a bed panel height infraction at Daytona.

"This means the most to me than anything," said Busch, who finished 1.415 seconds ahead of Bodine. "In this race in 2001, I was kicked out of the racetrack. I probably could have sat on the pole and won the race that day."

Read more & Comment...
02/24/08
tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE #2 The final TV reminders for Sunday have been added to the schedule below.

02/23/08 The final TV reminders for Saturday have been added to the schedule below.

02/21/08
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Friday
The Ellen DeGeneres Show - Danica Patrick
Time and Network Varies
Check local listings for your time zone
NASCAR Nationwide Practice Fontana
12:30pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
Movie: Grand Prix (1966)
2:30pm-5:45pm TCM
NASCAR Sprint Cup Practice Fontana
3:00pm-4:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Qualifying Fontana
4:30pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Fontana
6:00pm-6:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Now 
6:00pm-6:30pm ESPN2
NASCAR Sprint Cup Qualifying Fontana
6:30pm-8:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nationwide Final Practice Fontana
8:30pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Fontana
10:00pm-11:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Qualifying Fontana
11:00pm-12:30am (R) SPEED

Read more & Comment...
02/24/08
irl

From the too funny department
From the Ilmor website:

This team of people working in partnership with Honda Performance Development in California created an engine that has totally dominated the last few seasons of racing in the IRL.

[Editor's Note: There was only one engine in the IRL.  They dominated themselves.]

Comment
02/24/08
nnw

Nationwide race rescheduled due to rain
The Stater Bros 300 has been rescheduled for tomorrow after rain hampered efforts to run the second race in this year’s NASCAR Nationwide Series at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California today.

The race will now be held one hour after the completion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway, the Auto Club 500, which is scheduled to start on Sunday 24 February at 4:00pm US Eastern time. Full time zone conversions are listed below.

Be sure to check marcosambrose.com and nascar.com for updates. NASCAR.com is expected to stream live television coverage of the race.

RESULTS: Practice
1. #32 Kyle Busch 40.146
2. #60 Carl Edwards 40.247
3. #20 Tony Stewart 40.408
4. #2 Clint Bowyer 40.428
5. #33 Kevin Harvick 40.443
6. #5 Dale Earnhardt Jr 40.443
7. #64 David Stremme 40.609
8. #47 Kelly Bires 40.660
9. #99 David Reutimann 40.666
10. #38 Jason Leffler
28. #59 Marcos Ambrose 41.641

2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series Standings – After Race 1 of 35
1. Tony Stewart 190
2. Kyle Busch 180
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr 165
4. Brian Vickers 165
5. Matt Kenseth 155
6. Bryan Clauson 150
7. Greg Biffle 146
8. Denny Hamlin 147
9. David Ragan 143
10. Carl Edwards 134
39. Marcos Ambrose 46

REVISED RACE SCHEDULE
Race Start – One Hour after completion of Cup race.
Cup Race Start: 4:00pm US Eastern – race finish approximately 8:00pm US Eastern.

Approximate Race Start Time for Stater Bros 300:
9:00pm US Eastern – Sunday 24 February 2008
6:00pm US Pacific – Sunday 24 February 2008
1:00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time – Monday 25 February 2008

UNITED STATES TV SCHEDULE
Sunday 24 March 2008
ESPN2
Approximately 9:00pm US Eastern

Comment
02/23/08
cc

Champ Car Safety Team letter
I would like to take this opportunity and  thank the Owners of Champ Car for a wonderful 9 years of service. I would like to say to all of my Safety Team buds it was fun and a privilege to work with you and help put on a great show for all of the CART / Champ Car fans around the world!

A special thanks to all the officials and the women back at Indy for all their hard work. Also let's not forget the Medical staff that took care of the race family.

Last but not least a round of applause to Director Lon. B, Dave. H, and Mike C. for managing, training, and organizing the Safety Team.

Most of all to our Fans we thank you for your support and kindness while visiting your cities / countries. It was the utmost privilege to put on a great show for YOU.

Be safe and keep the Open Wheel Spirit "Alive"  Safety Team member Otto

Comment
02/23/08
nassprint

Happy Hour Speeds from California
Happy Hour at Fontana was rained out after only 35 minutes of practice.  Californian native Jeff Gordon was fastest during the shortened session, while Bobby Labonte and Kasey Kahne both had minor incidents as they scraped the wall during practice.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is steady rain in the morning giving way to showers continuing through the afternoon.  Much better conditions are predicted for Monday if tomorrow is a wash.

Pos

#

Driver

Manufacturer

Time

Speed

Laps Run

1 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont/Cromax Pro Chevy 40.096 179.569 17
2 99 Carl Edwards Dish Network Ford 40.183 179.180 15
3 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 40.244 178.909 14
4 8 Mark Martin Principal Financial Group Chevy 40.248 178.891 16
5 17 Matt Kenseth Carhartt/DeWalt Ford 40.264 178.820 14
6 07 Clint Bowyer DirecTV Chevy 40.318 178.580 14
7 41 Reed Sorenson Target/Energizer Dodge 40.330 178.527 15
8 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota 40.342 178.474 19
9 20 Tony Stewart Home Depot Toyota 40.395 178.240 10
10 19 Elliott Sadler Best Buy Dodge 40.400 178.218 15
11 29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevy 40.445 178.020 6
12 6 David Ragan AAA/Southern California Insurance Ford 40.453 177.984 8
13 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Wrigley's Juicy Fruit Dodge 40.490 177.822 13
14 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Dodge 40.507 177.747 10
15 5 Casey Mears Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevy 40.527 177.659 9
16 1 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops Chevy 40.548 177.567 10
17 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevy 40.552 177.550 8
18 31 Jeff Burton AT&T Mobility Chevy 40.611 177.292 15
19 26 Jamie McMurray Crown Royal Ford 40.644 177.148 11
20 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 40.676 177.009 12
21 12 Ryan Newman alltel/Samsung HDTV Dodge 40.686 176.965 10
22 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy/National Guard Chevy 40.692 176.939 11
23 18 Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota 40.756 176.661 10
24 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge 40.789 176.518 10
25 66 Scott Riggs Haas Automation Chevy 40.799 176.475 9
26 15 Paul Menard Menards/Quaker State Chevy 40.872 176.160 16
27 38 David Gilliland freecreditreport.com Ford 40.919 175.957 13
28 44 Dale Jarrett UPS Toyota 40.924 175.936 12
29 28 Travis Kvapil Teamyatesracing.com Ford 40.947 175.837 8
30 78 Joe Nemechek Furniture Row Racing Chevy 41.005 175.588 10
31 55 Michael Waltrip NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 41.054 175.379 9
32 43 Bobby Labonte Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Dodge 41.090 175.225 6
33 77 Sam Hornish Jr.# Mobil 1 Dodge 41.128 175.063 12
34 22 Dave Blaney Caterpillar Toyota 41.163 174.914 9
35 96 J.J. Yeley DLP HDTV Toyota 41.186 174.817 7
36 7 Robby Gordon Jim Beam Dodge 41.223 174.660 7
37 40 Dario Franchitti # Target Dodge 41.231 174.626 12
38 21 Bill Elliott Little Debbie Snack Cakes Ford 41.276 174.436 12
39 01 Regan Smith # Coors Light Chevy 41.334 174.191 14
40 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota 41.368 174.048 6
41 70 Jeremy Mayfield Haas Automation Chevy 41.442 173.737 5
42 45 Kyle Petty Wells Fargo Dodge 41.490 173.536 9
43 34 John Andretti Chevy 41.506 173.469 5

# Denotes Rookie

Comment
02/23/08
nassprint

Robby Gordon sponsor sticks up for him UPDATE Dodge officials admit a mistake from their Motorsports Engineering staff led to Robby Gordon having the wrong nose on his car at Daytona. Kipp Owen, director of Dodge Motorsports Engineering, issued a statement Friday about the infraction. "While the nose meets the template for the car of tomorrow, it has not yet been approved by NASCAR or use in racing," Owen said in a statement. "The prototype parts were in the warehouse, and share the same basic part number as the approved ... nose. It was an unfortunate series of human errors compounded by the very short time frame [Gordon's team] had to get their cars changed to Dodge Chargers in time for the Daytona 500. Dodge has taken the appropriate steps in the warehouse to make sure that prototype parts can not be mistaken for approved parts in the future and hopes that the circumstances surrounding this error are considered."

02/22/08 Jim Beam, sponsor for Robby Gordon Motorsports, has written a letter to NASCAR asking that the sanctioning body consider the team’s appeal of a recent penalty.

Robby Gordon and his NASCAR Sprint Cup team were penalized 100 points, $100,000 and crew chief Frank Kerr was suspended six races following the usage of an unapproved nose at Daytona. The infraction was caught prior to practice. The team, which switched to Dodge just prior to the season-opening Daytona 500 activities, said that it was sent the wrong Dodge nose and did not intentionally try to skirt the rules. The part did fit the template, but was one that NASCAR has not approved for usage in races.

Gordon has already announced that he is appealing the decision. Friday at California Speedway, a letter from Jim Beam concerning the infraction was made public. The letter, which is signed by Thomas J. Fiocco,  president and CEO, reads:

“As a proud sponsor of Robby Gordon for the past four years, Jim Beam believes that the 100-point penalty handed down by NASCAR is excessive – we support his decision to appeal.

Read more & Comment...
02/23/08
nascar

Former Hendrick Motorsports GM Jimmy Johnson Passes
Former Hendrick Motorsports general manager Jimmy Johnson passed away Friday evening at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte after suffering a stroke earlier in the week. He was 61.

"So much of what we are today can be traced back to the late nights and long hours that Jimmy put in," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group. "He had a vision and a passion for this company, and it showed in everything that he did. It's impossible to measure the impact he had on Hendrick Motorsports."

Read more & Comment...
02/23/08
Automotive

Average age of U.S. cars increasing
People are keeping their cars and trucks longer as quality improves and the uncertain U.S. economy makes new purchases less appealing, according to a study released this week by automotive consulting firm R.L. Polk & Co.

Polk said the median age of cars on U.S. roads was 9.2 years in 2007. That ties the previous year's record high. In 2007, 41.3 per cent of all cars were 11 years or older, compared with 40.9 per cent the year before.

The median age for trucks and sport utility vehicles rose four per cent to 7.1 years. Dave Goebel, a consultant for Polk's aftermarket team, said those numbers are starting to reflect a surge in truck and SUV purchases in the mid- to late 1990s.

Goebel said he expects the average age of trucks and SUVs will rise and eventually be on par with cars once the segment stops its tremendous growth and settles into a more stable pattern.

Comment
02/23/08
f1

Still work to do says Ferrari tech boss
(GMM)  Ferrari's technical director has tempered expectations that the Italian team is set to utterly dominate the forthcoming Australian grand prix with its 2008 specification car.

Maranello based Ferrari has undoubtedly been the performance standout of the winter period, even though McLaren seemed to have pegged back the gap as the top two teams tested head-to-head in Barcelona this past week.

But despite the apparent superior pace of the F2008 single seater, it has encountered the odd reliability glitch recently -- including on Saturday, when Ferrari tested alone at the Circuit de Catalunya.

In the middle of a full simulation, test driver Luca Badoer had to 'retire' his 2008 model with an oil leak, the Scuderia confirmed.

"That means we still have some work to do to be ready for the race in Melbourne," said Aldo Costa, technical boss.

"It's enough that one detail is not right to destroy the whole race," he added.

Comment
02/23/08
cc
irl

Surfers race welcomes merger
Gold Coast Indy 300 General Manager Greg Hooton. has welcomed today's announcement that both the Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League would be moving forward under one unified open-wheel banner in 2008.

The Gold Coast has hosted a CART or Champ Car race since 1991 and the event has become one of the world’s great motorsport spectacles with four-day crowds in excess of 300,000 for the past five years.

While the final make-up of the new-look series is yet to be announced, Hooton said he and event Chairman, Terry Mackenroth, will be heading the US next week to meet with the new organization.

That trip will be pre-empted by a meeting with V8 Supercars Chairman Tony Cochrane to discuss the continued equal billing of both V8 Supercars and the new open-wheel series on the Gold Coast program. 

Read more & Comment...
02/22/08
cc

Portland slams Champ Car
Portland's 25th anniversary Champ Car race, scheduled for July 27 at Portland International Raceway, is expected to be scratched after officials from the Indy Racing League and Champ Car signed a deal today to unify the two American open-wheel series.

The IRL will reportedly include Champ Car's Long Beach, Edmonton, and Surfer's Paradise (Australia) races for 2008, and perhaps two more Champ Car events.

Mark Wigginton, the PIR track manager, said he is disappointed that Portland will lose its race but that he also believes the IRL will consider PIR for 2009.

IRL officials did not return phone calls today.

"I'm pretty disappointed, because you don't get very many opportunities to have a 25th anniversary race," Wigginton said. "I'm also disappointed in the way Champ Car has handled this from the very beginning -- the way they've treated their staff, their competitors, the people that work for them, and the fans."

Wigginton was alluding to the fact that many Champ Car teams found out about the merger talks through conversations with reporters. "You had a business slowly closing down, you had a lot of people (still working) to put on a good show and offer a good product, and everything was done in secret," Wigginton said. "They haven't been straightforward with any of their stakeholders. It's just too bad. -- it was a bad end (for Champ Car)."

Wigginton said PIR, which has just been re-paved, will not take a financial hit without a Champ Car race. "What we've made in the last couple years is just a little more than we would make in a typical week of rental," Wigginton said. "I've got an open date in July now. We're going to take a hard look at what sort of options we can come up with. If nothing else, we will just have a normal week." The Oregonian

Comment
02/22/08
cc
irl

Merger results in Cleveland GP cancellation
"We were surprised and disappointed by today’s announcement, but as stakeholders and fans of open-wheel racing we are pleased that there is now one unified open-wheel racing series in the United States. Due to the complicated and last-minute nature of this merger, the Cleveland date could not be accommodated for 2008. However, I had a very encouraging conversation with Tony George today and we are excited about the prospect of bringing this new series to Cleveland in 2009."  Michael T. Lanigan, Owner/Chairman of Mi-Jack Promotions

Comment
02/22/08
nassprint

Auto Club Speedway offers refund
Mother Nature kept NASCAR at bay on the first official day of the Auto Club Speedway, but even rain can’t keep fans from an opportunity to see racing action at the newly-renamed Speedway.

Fans who purchased a ticket for today’s races can apply the cost of their ticket to a ticket for Saturday’s NASCAR doubleheader.  Fans wishing to purchase grandstand admission seating can upgrade to a Saturday ticket for $20 while fans wishing to purchase reserved seating can upgrade to a Saturday ticket for $30.

Tomorrow’s action begins at 9:30 a.m. with practice for the Stater Bros. 300.  Race action continues with the San Bernardino County 200 at 12:00 pm, followed by the Stater Bros. 300 race.  After the conclusion of tomorrow’s historic doubleheader, George Thorogood and the Destroyers will play during the Miller Lite Rock ‘n Racing Show in the Opportunity, California FanZone.

To purchase tickets to the Auto Club 500 weekend at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California, please call 800-944-RACE or log on to www.racetickets.com.  The 2008 Auto Club 500 weekend will mark the highly anticipated Southern California debut of the Car of Tomorrow and feature a special pre-race concert by blues-rock legends ZZ Top.  Fans are encouraged to come early to races and take advantage of all the attractions in the Opportunity, California FanZone including the Miller Lite Rock ‘n Racing Show featuring a performance by George Thorogood and the Destroyers.  Opportunity, California FanZone is a multi-million dollar facility enhancement including delicious food at Apex by Wolfgang Puck, the Speedway's official retail store called Impulse, amazing sounds of live bands at the entertainment stage, and shade and leisure areas.  For more information visit www.autoclubspeedway.com.

Comment
02/22/08
cc
irl

Team Australia applauds merger
Craig Gore
Team Australia co-owner and Australian businessman Craig Gore has applauded today’s announcement of a unification between the Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League in 2008.

While the final details are expected to be released over the next week, including the positioning of the annual Gold Coast Indy 300 in Australia, a brief statement today confirmed an agreement to end the 12-year split.

During the last five weeks there has been plenty of speculation about the ‘players’ of both sides of the open-wheel fence, including Team Australia, which Gore says will compete in the new unified series.

Gore was on the ground in Indianapolis and was involved in initial meetings involving leaders from both existing series, which eventually led the final unification announcement today.

“There is no doubt that this is a great day in world motorsport history,” said Gore.

“The unification has been a long time coming, but now we can all go forward together.

Read more & Comment...
02/22/08
irl
cc

PCM hopes to enter 2 cars in merged series
Tyler Tadevic, Team Director - Champ Car's Pacific Coast Motorsports
“We are thrilled to have a unified series, without a doubt this provides the strongest platform for our partners going forward.  It is our intention for Pacific Coast Motorsports to continue its open-wheel endeavors.  Our goal is to be on the IRL grid at the GAINSCO Grand Prix in Miami with two IndyCars. We are working diligently on this program and welcome all opportunities.  In addition, it is our intention to continue our Atlantic program with our young American stars Frankie Muniz and Carl Skerlong.  Vicki O’Connor (Atlantic President) has a long, successful history leading the Atlantic series and we are confident she will find the series a good home.  We are grateful to the Champ Car community and to our fans who have shown us great support and we look forward to a brighter future for Open-Wheel Racing in North America.”

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02/22/08
cc
irl

Houston GP not part of merger
After owners of Champ Car and the Indy Racing League completed an agreement in principle Friday that will unify the sport for 2008, the Grand Prix of Houston announced that the 2008 event will not include the Champ Car World Series.

Statement from Michael T. Lanigan, owner/chairman of the Grand Prix of Houston:

“We were surprised by today’s announcement, but as stakeholders and fans of open-wheel racing we are pleased that there is now one unified open-wheel racing series in the United States. Due to the complicated and last-minute nature of this unification, the Houston date could not be accommodated for 2008. However, I had a very encouraging conversation with Tony George today and we are excited about the prospect of bringing this new series to Houston in 2009.

We are very comfortable with the idea of holding our 2008 event with the American Le Mans Series headlining our weekend festivities, but need to explore the possibility of bringing on additional racing events and attractions to enhance the weekend. We have some issues to work through with our partners including Reliant Park and the American Le Mans Series, but we are excited about 2008 and we expect more details to follow soon.”

Comment
02/22/08
nassprint

Rain washes out qualifying in Fontana
It doesn't rain very often in Southern California but when it does, it creates problems. NASCAR found that out on Friday at Auto Club Speedway.

After a day-long effort to dry the track, a mid-afternoon downpour finally forced NASCAR officials to cancel the entire day's activities. That meant no Sprint Cup qualifying, as five cars were sent packing without making a lap. Nationwide Series and Craftsman Truck Series qualifying were also wiped out.

The field for Sunday's Auto Club 500 was set by the NASCAR rulebook. That puts Hendrick teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon on the front row, while A.J. Allmendinger, Ken Schrader, Patrick Carpentier, Mike Skinner and Burney Lamar failed to make the field.

Kurt Busch, Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott were added because of past champion's provisionals, while Brian Vickers, David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip are currently in this season's top 35 in owner's points. John Andretti and Joe Nemechek were the final two cars to make the field, based on their finishes in last week's Daytona 500.

Read more & Comment...
02/22/08
cc
irl

Statement from Grand Prix of Toronto
“The unification of Champ Car and IRL is beneficial to race fans, sponsors, event promoters and Canadian motorsports in general. Our team of staff, partners, sponsors and supporters is continuing to work diligently to ensure that Toronto’s premier racing festival, the Grand Prix of Toronto, has the most solid foundation on which to build continued success for many years to come.  From a sport and business standpoint, the positives outweigh the negatives,” said Charlie Johnstone, President and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Toronto, referring to the unification announcement.

Noting that Toronto is one of the largest financial and business centers in North America, Johnstone lauded the city as “an ideal location to showcase the unified series to a knowledgeable fan base, as well as national and international companies. It is also a centre endowed with strong private and public support.  We are confident these significant factors will merit serious consideration of Toronto as an ideal racing destination in the schedule of a unified series."

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02/22/08
irl
cc

2008 Grand Prix of Cleveland race canceled
The event, which was to have taken place from June 20-22, 2008, has been canceled because of the merger of two formerly competing racing teams.  The merger of the Indy Racing League (IRL) and the Champ Car World Series resulted in conflicting dates for races, including the Grand Prix of Cleveland.

The new unified racing circuit has chosen to keep its race in Iowa that weekend and cancel Cleveland. That breaks a 26 year continuous run for the Cleveland race, which became known as the "Roar on the Shore."

Champ Car owner Michael T. Lanigan said today, "Due to the complicated and last-minute nature of this merger, the Cleveland date could be accommodated for 2008."

When the Grand Prix and the City of Cleveland signed a 5-year contract in November, 2007, Mayor Frank Jackson said the race had a $30 million yearly economic impact on the city.

Attendance in 2007 grew more than 31% to 151,000 fans according to promoters. Cleveland City Council President Martin Sweeney called the race one of Cleveland's "unique assets."

Lanigan did say that plans are underway to keep Cleveland on the racing circuit in 2009.

"We are excited about the prospect of bringing this new series to Cleveland in 2009 and we are already in discussions about that possibility," Lanigan said in a prepared statement. WKYC

Comment
02/22/08
cc
irl

Laguna Seca expects to lose Open Wheel race
As many of you have probably heard by now, the Champ Car World Series and Indy Racing League have just announced that they completed an agreement in principal to unify the two series. The Champ Car World Series is scheduled to race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, May 18 during the Monterey Festival of Speed, and to conduct testing on March 13-14. Until an official announcement is made regarding the 2008 Champ Car World Series schedule, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has issued the following statement:

“The Monterey Festival of Speed, May 16-18, will continue to feature the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, along with the Atlantic Championship and Formula BMW.  Other race series are being considered for the weekend and a revised schedule will be released soon.

Fans with questions about the Monterey Festival of Speed are encouraged to call the ticketing hotline on Monday, February 25 after 8:00 AM PST at 1-800-327-SECA (7322).”

Further details on the Monterey Festival of Speed weekend will be available once the open-wheel race leagues announce their plans for the 2008 season.  Mazda Raceway PR

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02/22/08
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Reactions to Champ Car/IRL merger UPDATE #2
TIM MAYER - IMSA/ALMS
"IMSA and the American Le Mans Series have been monitoring the talks between the owners of the Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League very closely.  We have enjoyed good relations with both. However, instability in the business of auto racing is bad for everyone concerned. We hope that the events of recent days lead to a more stable situation; one where teams, promoters, sponsors and fans can invest their time and money back into the sport. Ultimately this would be the best resolution for all of us, including the American Le Mans Series.

"For 2008 we have six of our twelve races slated to be shared with the two open wheel racing series, three with CCWS and three with the IRL. We have been asked by many to speculate on how this transition will affect these events, and other aspects of our business, including the four development series that we are proud to sanction. Many details have yet to be worked out, so it is simply too soon to know all of these answers, and we do not think it is productive to speculate. However, we believe that it will affect our participation in the events very little. We have run successful events at many of these venues with and without the open wheel series. We are currently working on the promotion of all twelve of our events, and will continue to do so. We have a growing series with incredible drivers, teams, manufacturers and sponsors, a stable relationship with the event promoters and with the television broadcasters, and we look forward to displaying our great racing,  at all of the venues on our schedule.

"Finally, we look forward to working with the combined open wheel series, to continuing to promote the sport of auto racing and to serving our fans."

02/22/08
HONDA'S REACTION
Officials at American Honda and Honda Performance Development are thrilled with the announcement that America's two premier open-wheel racing series have united.

"We are elated that the sanctioning bodies have elected to combine into a single, cohesive and powerful IndyCar Series," said Erik Berkman, president of Honda Performance Development, the wholly-owned motorsports subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.  "For some time now, Honda has been clearly on record as supporting the concept of a single, unified American open-wheel racing series.

"We welcome the opportunity to provide our Honda Indy V-8 racing engines to all participants in what we believe will instantly be a larger, stronger and even much more competitive field; and we eagerly look forward to what surely will be a very exciting 2008 racing season. Not only is this unification good for all the teams and sanctioning bodies; most importantly, it is great for fans of open-wheel racing, whose loyalties have been divided by two competing racing series."

Beginning with its initial entry into Formula One in 1964, Honda has a long record of involvement in open-wheel racing at the highest levels of the sport.  Worldwide, Honda accomplishments have included 72 Formula One Grands Prix victories; four consecutive F-1 Constructors' Championships (1988-91); and eight MotoGP motorcycle road-racing world championships in the last 13 years.

In the U.S., Honda began Championship Auto Racing Team (CART) competition in 1994, winning its first manufacturers' and drivers' championships in 1996.  Three more manufacturer titles (in 1998, '99 and 2001), five additional driver crowns (1997-2001) and 65 race victories highlighted Honda's nine seasons in CART.

Honda entered the IRL IndyCar Series in 2003, and again quickly established a winning record against strong competition from other major automotive manufacturers.  From 2003-05, Honda teams and drivers scored 28 victories in 49 races, including Indy 500 and IndyCar drivers' and manufacturers' championships in 2004 and '05.

For 2006, Honda became the single engine supplier to the IndyCar Series, and the company continued in that role last year.  During the course of the 17-race 2007 IndyCar Season, 36 drivers recorded a total of 166,608 miles with just a single in-race engine failure - a demonstration of outstanding design and build quality rarely seen in a highly stressed racing engine.

02/22/08
WALKER RACING EMBRACES OPEN WHEEL UNIFICATION
Indianapolis, IN -  Today finally marks the end to the 12 year battle between the Champ Car World Series and IndyCar Series.  The two entities officially split back in 1995, and are finally reuniting. Walker Racing is proud to be a part of the historic unification.

“It’s back to the future,” stated Derrick Walker, Walker Racing owner. “It’s been a long road, but it has finally come together.  From a fan and sports business point of view, one open wheel racing series in the United States has long been recognized as what fans and sponsors want to have both series together and I’m happy to say that Walker Racing embraces the decision.  I also want to give a special thanks to all the past and present CART/Champ Car officials for all their hard work in giving us some great seasons.”

A veteran to the sport, Walker has over 40 years of racing experience, and 17 of those years have been as a team owner.  Walker Racing opened its doors in Indianapolis in 1992 and has been competing in open wheel racing ever since.  The team has run the likes of Willy T. Ribbs, Robby Gordon, Gil de Ferran, Scott Goodyear, Christian Fittipaldi, Darren Manning, Sarah Fisher, Alex Tagliani and Will Power.

This won’t be the first time to the IndyCar Series for the Indianapolis based squad.  The team ran Sarah Fisher in 2000 and 2001. Walker Racing made history when Fisher became the first woman in the record books in Indy-style racing when she finished second at Homestead.  She also went on to earn two top ten finishes.

The path won’t be easy in the beginning, but Walker Racing is ready for the challenge.  “It’s going to be a rough old ride, because we don’t have the familiarity with the Dallaras and it’s a more experienced formula, but the bottom line is that it’s great news to put this thing together,” commented Walker.

Walker Racing will hit the pavement March 11-14 in Homestead as they take the Dallara around the 1.5 mile oval and start getting acquainted to a united series.


BOBBY RAHAL
"This is a great day for open-wheel racing and one that I and my Rahal Letterman Racing team have looked forward to for a long time. I applaud all of those that made this possible, but want to especially recognize all of those that made sacrifices and concessions to secure the future of open-wheel racing. I truly believe that this is the first step toward restoring open-wheel racing and the Indianapolis 500 to not only where it once was, but beyond."


EDDIE GOSSAGE - TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Historic News That Ends Split That Began In 1996 Should Provide Boost To Open-Wheel Racing, Bombardier Learjet 550k At TMS

FORT WORTH, Texas: Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage provides reaction to the unification of open-wheel racing in America and what effect it will have on the sport. Texas Motor Speedway plays host each June to the Bombardier Learjet 550k and the event annually attracts a race-day crowd second only to the Indianapolis 500 in the IndyCar Series. This season’s Bombardier Learjet 550k will be held Saturday, June 7 and “America’s Original Nighttime Race” remains one of the preeminent events in the series.

General reaction: “The fans have won and we have to give Tony George and the Indy Racing League credit for making a generous offer to resolve this issue. This is spectacular news, but we all have to be cautious because the act of unifying open-wheel racing in America is not a cure for all that ails the sport. It is a necessary and huge first step, but there is much work to be done.”

Promoter perspective: “The most important aspect is that the unification brings the promoters the stability of full fields with a depth of talent. Last season, we had a 19-car field and we have not had more than 22 starters since 2002. I’m hopeful that this will provide us with those large fields in excess of 25 cars that used to be commonplace in open-wheel racing. The combination of the larger fields with the talent depth should ultimately result in even more exciting racing for our fans. Fan interest – both at the track and on television – remains critical to growing the sport from this point on. We’ll continue to do our part to make it flourish.”

What Champ Car brings in terms of talent: “The majority of their stars already have come to the IndyCar Series or in the case of Sebastien Bourdais gone to Formula One, but they still have one of the best personalities in the sport in Paul Tracy. There also is a young talent pool led by Bobby Rahal’s son Graham that could benefit from the marketing of the IndyCar Series and help the group emerge as future stars. With the loss of some key IndyCar stars such as Sam Hornish Jr. and Dario Franchitti to NASCAR, this also should immediately help in replenishing the talent pool.”

The fans: “To win back its fans, Indy-car racing now has to be humble, stabilize its schedule, solidify its driver lineup and feverishly market its stars. Every decision by everyone in Indy-car racing needs to be made for what is in the best interest of the fans. Today, the unification of the sport best serves the fans.”

The future: “I hope everyone involved doesn’t immediately think that the unification on its own will have Indy-car racing challenging NASCAR anytime soon. It will help unify the interest in the sport, but it will take everyone in the series to make sacrifices to grow the sport and take it to another level. Promotion, marketing, public relations, driver accessibility and sponsor activation are just a few of the many aspects that will have to take advantage of this long-awaited opportunity.” 

ANDRETTI GREEN RACING

Michael Andretti, chairman, Andretti Green Racing:
"This is a huge day for the IndyCar Series and for our sport as a whole, for sure. Over the years, whether I was in the role of driver, team owner or promoter, I have always wanted a unified sport. That has been my only goal throughout this entire process and I applaud everyone who played a role in making this happen. So many people have worked tirelessly, both publicly and behind the scenes, to get this done. Everyone can now focus on taking the IndyCar Series to new heights for the good of our sport and everyone involved in it."

Kim Green, chief executive officer, Andretti Green Racing:
"Obviously I think this is a very important announcement for the overall health of open-wheel racing in America.  I'm pleased that so many people were able work out a lot of very complex and difficult details of a deal that ultimately led to a unified series.  As a competitor, I know that the teams and drivers who will be joining the IndyCar Series will only make things more competitive.  Although we have spent several years apart, the open-wheel racing community is a family and I'm personally thrilled that we will all be competing at the same venues once again."

Kevin Savoree, president and chief operating officer, Andretti Green Racing:
"As a lifelong fan of IndyCar racing, I'm thrilled to hear that there will be one, unified series in this country.  The sport is filled with so many exciting drivers, colorful characters, strong, competitive teams and incredible venues that I know everyone is just ready to get at it.  Andretti Green Racing certainly is going to be ready for the challenge.  We feel privileged to compete in the IndyCar Series and today's announcement only strengthens an already highly-competitive series.  This is a day that racing fans have been anticipating for some time and I think it will provide unbelievable entertainment for years to come."

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Officials Respond

Quote from Kevin Savoree, Managing Director of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
“The unification of the two major sanctioning bodies in open wheel racing is perhaps the single biggest development in the history of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg since we announced the formation of the event in 2004.  This historic realignment of open wheel racing brings all of the top drivers and teams to St. Petersburg and will make an event that is already an entertaining and integral part of the region’s sports calendar, even stronger.”

Quote from Tim Ramsberger, Vice President and General Manager, Andretti Green Promotions, owners of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
“Over the last three years we have seen racing fans come to St. Petersburg and connect with drivers like Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon, Helio Castroneves and so many other stars of the IndyCar Series.  Now, with the addition of even more drivers and teams to the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, we know this will make a more entertaining weekend for the fans and a stronger event for St. Petersburg. We have been fortunate to not only succeed over the last three years, but have made this a destination event for race fans from across the region and the nation, and this announcement will take that to a whole new level.” 

ESPN Statement on Today’s Open Wheel Unification Announcement

"This is a good day for fans who have long awaited a unification of the two series and we hope it is the beginning of a bright future for open wheel racing."
John Wildhack, Executive Vice President, ESPN Programming and Acquisitions

Statement from Watkins Glen International President Craig Rust

“Being not only a promoter but a fan of open wheel racing, I am thrilled to see the merger happen as it is very important to the success of open wheel racing to have one unified series.  Watkins Glen International is excited to once again host the 4th of July weekend event with our partner Camping World and believe that our open wheel racing history and heritage, makes us a natural fit for the series on this holiday weekend.  With a host of activities scheduled including a Friday night block party, fireworks and musical entertainment, along with all the great racing, we hope that all open wheel racing fans will come out to support the unified series on July 4-6, 2008.”

Michigan International Speedway

With the announcement Friday that Indy Racing League and Champ Car officials have signed an agreement in principle to unify America’s two open-wheel series for 2008, Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis issued this statement:

“It’s fitting that during Michigan International Speedway’s 40th anniversary season the country will finally have one open-wheel series to enjoy. I hope that this new era for open-wheel racing will find a suitable fit among the country’s tracks, both historic and new.

“Though we are focused on our NASCAR events for this season, we are always looking for viable business options for the future at Michigan International Speedway and the state of Michigan. We would certainly talk to any race sanctioning body that is interested in us hosting an event at our speedway if the date and racing series are viable business options for us.

“We are excited about 2008 at Michigan International Speedway and are supportive of a unified open-wheel series. We wish them the best of luck for this and future seasons. I commend the hard work and dedication that it must have taken to put together all the moving parts that make up the agreement in principle. As a race fan and a track promoter, I applaud everyone involved.”

Michigan International Speedway has a rich tradition in its 40-year history of hosting some of the most thrilling motorsports events ever attended, many of them open-wheel races. The inaugural event on Oct. 13, 1968, was a 250-mile Indy-car race won by Ronnie Bucknum. It would be his only win.

The speedway hosted open-wheel events, Champ Car events and Indy Racing League-sanctioned events throughout its history through 2007.

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02/22/08
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Bridgestone Firestone Applauds Open-wheel Unification News
Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT), joins the rest of the motorsports world in applauding the announcement that America’s two major open-wheel racing series will unify this season under a single banner.

The agreement ends a split of open-wheel teams, talent and sponsorship that lasted 12 seasons. Bridgestone Firestone Motorsports was a strong supporter of the two series, the Indy Racing League and its IndyCar Series, and the Champ Car World Series, serving as sole tire supplier to both since 2000 and adding marketing leverage as a strong promotional partner with each organization.

Bridgestone Firestone generated great exposure for its tire brands in the series – since 2002, Bridgestone has been the Official Tire of Champ Car and Firestone the Official Tire of the IndyCar Series, Indy Pro Series and Indianapolis 500 Mile Race – yet the tire maker fully realizes the benefits of a single, unified series.

“Overall, Bridgestone Firestone Motorsports is quite pleased for the sport,” said Al Speyer, Executive Director, Bridgestone Firestone Motorsports. “We are looking for a unified American open-wheel racing series to maximize fan interest, as well as bring in additional teams, drivers and sponsors – all of which will contribute to the health and growth of that series. We are eager to work with everyone involved in the transition and look forward to an even more promising future.”

First and foremost in BFNT’s racing future is resolving how to most effectively continue garnering positive exposure for its tire brands. No final decision has been made which brand – Bridgestone, Firestone or a combination – will be utilized in the unified series this season. That will be determined after a careful evaluation of options by BFNT officials. Regardless, the company intends to remain a valued and visible promotional partner for open-wheel racing.

“As always, we look forward to a solid future supplying the best racing tires in the business,” Speyer added. “The synergies possible with all of the great people involved working toward a common goal really excites us.”

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02/22/08
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Deal signed to merge Champ Car and IRL
Owners of Champ Car and the Indy Racing League completed an agreement in principle Friday that will unify the sport for 2008.

Gerald Forsythe, co-owner of Champ Car, signed an agreement in principle in Chicago, joining his partner Kevin Kalkhoven and Indy Racing League founder and CEO Tony George who had signed late Thursday in Indianapolis.

Details about the agreement will be forthcoming. IRL PR

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02/22/08
racing news

After accident Labonte calls for changes
Bobby Labonte had a busy week after last Sunday’s running of the 50th Daytona 500.  Although Labonte was satisfied with his 11th place finish, his best finish since 2004, he had concerns for his Bobby Labonte Racing dirt late model team driven by four-time Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Champion Earl Pearson Jr.

Pearson Jr. was involved in a violent, end-over-end accident Saturday night prior to the running of the Daytona 500 at the Volusia Speedway Park located in Barberville, Florida.  Pearson was cut from his car and transported to a local hospital where he was evaluated and released.  The accident, however, brought attention to the safety aspect of dirt late model racing and what measures can be taken for improvement.

“It was a serious accident,” said Bobby Labonte Racing owner Bobby Labonte.  “We’re very happy to know that, with some rest, Earl will be back to 100 percent.  However, we have to make sure that we are taking all the proper steps to make sure our cars are as safe as possible.”

Those steps began Tuesday and Wednesday of the past week when Labonte met with officials from both the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series and the World of Outlaws Late Model Series at his teams race shop located in Archdale, North Carolina.  Labonte and officials examined the damaged dirt late model and discussed immediate steps to improve safety for all dirt late model teams and drivers across the country.  Labonte hopes to take his NASCAR experiences, and all its safety improvements in recent years, and help translate some components to the dirt late model racing world.

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02/22/08
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Kalkhoven leaves town without a deal UPDATE #2 Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven left Indianapolis shortly before noon today after failing to strike a deal with Indy Racing League president Tony George to unify open-wheel racing in the U.S.

Kalkhoven could not be reached for comment, and George admitted to being "anxious" that details are still not resolved after a lengthy dinner meeting Thursday night at a downtown restaurant.

"We're still not where we need to be, and the more time passes the more challenging it becomes," he said.

George said the leaders of the two Indianapolis-based sanctioning bodies would continue working on the project, but he couldn't predict when it might come to a conclusion.

"We're still working just because he's not here," George said.

The IRL postponed a news conference today because George said there was no need to have one without all the details resolved.

"We want to have as positive of a press conference as we can have when we do have one," he said. Indy Star

02/22/08 Fred Nation, the executive vice president of public relations for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation, echoed the same sentiments as the joint release.

“Talks have concluded for the evening with much progress,” Nation said. “The process will resume on Friday morning. There will not be a scheduled news conference on Friday at this point. We hope to have a more complete report on the status Friday morning.”

Nation said there is no cause for concern even though a news conference planned for this morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was put on hold.

"Absolutely not," he said. "They made a heck of a lot of progress, but they're not over the hump yet."

The IRL is seeking full rights to Indy-style racing, including its history and trademarks. All future races will be held under the IndyCar Series banner, and Champ Car's owners are not permitted to operate a rival series based in the U.S.

The season begins March 29 at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. It is not clear which Champ Car teams will participate, but that wasn't the pressing issue after 12 years of contentious relationships between people on both sides.

Nation said a resolution of the April 18-20 weekend was a key topic of discussion Thursday night after Kalkhoven arrived from a family trip to London.

Champ Car is to race in Long Beach, Calif., on April 20, one day after the IRL is to race in Motegi, Japan. Several options were considered, but it's likely the principals decided to continue with both events using each series' respective cars and awarding IRL points equally.

Jim Michaelian, the Long Beach Grand Prix president, acknowledged that wasn't an ideal situation, but he, like the rest of the open-wheel community, needed to hear the plan laid out by George and Kalkhoven.

"We've all got to wait to find out on that one," he said.

The IRL also is looking to add Champ Car races in Edmonton, Alberta, and Surfers Paradise, Australia, to its 2008 schedule.

The Edmonton race, set for July 20, requires an adjustment because that conflicts with the IRL's race in Lexington, Ohio, an event key to Honda, the league's lone engine supplier.

The IRL will offer Edmonton officials the July 27 and Aug. 3 dates. The former is the same day as the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

The Australia race is set for Oct. 26, which is an open date for the IRL. The IRL is under contract to crown its season champion at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 7, which means a deal with Chicagoland's owner (International Speedway Corp.) must be struck or the Australian promoter must accept the race being an exhibition.

The unified series will be officiated by the IRL. Champ Car, or CART as it was known at its inception in 1979, will no longer exist. Indy Star

02/22/08 The following statement was issued tonight jointly by the Indy Racing League and the Champ Car World Series:

"The ongoing talks between the Indy Racing League and Champ Car World Series will continue into at least Friday in regards to the unification of open-wheel racing. Any confirmation of unification will be made once an agreement is in place. There are no plans for a news conference at this time. Much progress has been made toward unifying the sport"

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02/22/08
a1gp

Netherlands Tops Durban Friday Practice
South Africa - A1 Team Netherlands set the pace in the second of today's two free practice sessions in South Africa as round seven of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season got underway around the streets of Durban in hot and humid weather conditions.

Jeroen Bleekemolen recorded the best lap time of the day, a 1m18.738s, around the 3.28 km circuit, just over half a second off Brazil's lap record. Germany's Michael Ammermüller, who was an impressive 1.3 seconds quicker than the rest of the field at the end of the rookie practice session this morning, clocked the second fastest time of the day.

Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis, who hasn't driven an A1GP car since December 2007, and USA's Jonathan Summerton were on good form this afternoon, setting the third and fifth fastest lap times respectively. This was particularly impressive as both nations did not have the benefit of this morning's rookie session. Switzerland's Neel Jani was sandwiched between GBR and USA in fourth.

Home nation South Africa's Adrian Zaugg pleased his local fans by setting the sixth fastest time of the day despite limited track time, closely followed by Australia's John Martin in seventh. Title leaders A1 Team New Zealand and France had a tough time around the streets of Durban, finishing the session 11th and 15th respectively.

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02/22/08
track news

Auto Club inks naming rights for California Speedway
International Speedway Corporation and the Automobile Club of Southern California—the nation’s largest member of the AAA federation—today unveiled details of a new partnership.  Speedway President Gillian Zucker and Auto Club CEO Tom McKernan announced the re-naming of the state’s premier motorsports facility as the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California.

Zucker and McKernan cited the long history and proud tradition of motorsports in California, and the role their two organizations have played in making the Speedway the state’s most popular sporting venue, with two NASCAR Sprint Cup races and other events attracting nearly 500,000 fans every year.

“The Automobile Club of Southern California does more than recognize the alignment of its brand with motorsports—Auto Club members are also race fans. So, this relationship was built to not only extend the Auto Club’s brand exposure but also to provide a broad-reaching, positive impact at the track for race fans,” Zucker said.  “The Auto Club’s commitment to its members and fans will be seen over the next ten years in facility improvements, fan promotions and cutting edge guest amenities.  We believe this relationship is the start of a new era for motorsports in Southern California and we look forward to the day when one in every two households in Southern California has not just a member of Auto Club but a member of the Auto Club Speedway fan family.”

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02/22/08
f1

Schu to test alongside Raikkonen on Monday
Michael Schumacher
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher will make his debut at the wheel of Ferrari's 2008 contender at the final group test of the pre-season in Spain next week.

We have learned that the 39-year-old German, who retired from competition at the end of 2006, is scheduled to run in the F2008 on Monday, as reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen circulates in another of the Maranello based team's Melbourne-spec single seaters at Barcelona.

It will be the first time that the two famous drivers have gone head-to-head in the same car at the same circuit, and the occasion is therefore certain to draw much attention in the racing world.

Schumacher, 39, is scheduled to hand over the F2008 to Raikkonen's current teammate Felipe Massa for the other two days of the test at Montmelo, a municipality north of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain.

In recent months, the German has previously tested for Ferrari at Barcelona and Jerez.

Meanwhile, at the Circuit de Catalunya on Friday (today), Ferrari is exclusively conducting a full race simulation, with Massa and official test driver Luca Badoer in command of the cars.

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02/22/08
lmes

Enge tastes new Aston Martin powered LMP1 Coupe
Tomas Enge's first test with the new Aston Martin powered LMP1 Coupe has made a big impression on the Czech driver. Enge's first taste of the car, which is being developed for Charouz Racing System by Aston Martin Racing, came during a test at Snetterton, which he fully enjoyed . He shared the wheel with team-mates Jan Charouz, a fellow Czech, and Stefan Mucke, from Germany.

Despite a minor interruption due to heavy fog, the test was a successful one. Enge completed 50 laps in the new prototype and praised the car. Mucke was equally happy. On this occasion Charouz spent most of his time on other testing duties, as the LMP1 Coupe was just one of several different cars that Aston Martin Racing had taken to the circuit.

The next test for the LMP1 Coupe is scheduled for 2nd and 3rd March at Le Castellet, as part of the official Le Mans Series session.

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02/22/08
automotive

Ferrari steps up efforts to woo Japan's big spenders
Ferrari Spyder
Italian sports car maker Ferrari announced plans Friday to rev up its sales efforts in Japan, targeting the country's growing pool of big spenders despite an uncertain economic outlook.  Ferrari will set up its first fully owned subsidiary in Japan from April to strengthen its presence in Asia's largest economy, dismissing suggestions that the Japanese market was being overshadowed by the boom in China.

"The Japanese market is still going for a long time to represent the largest market in Asia," said Ferrari's Asian chief Marco Mattiacci.

"This is a market that has almost 1.2 million high net worth individuals -- one of the highest concentrations of wealth in the world -- so there's plenty of opportunity. The key factor is to keep being exclusive," he said.

The automaker said details of its investment and the size of its operations were still being thrashed out. It will leave the retail side to its existing Japanese partner for now. Yahoo

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02/22/08
f1

Brembo renews commitment to F1
Brembo prepares to start the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship season with the consolidated role of official supplier of brake systems for some of the best Formula One teams, which have been relying on the Italian company to optimize the braking performances of their race cars for a long time.

This season Brembo, which entered into Formula One in 1975, will also support the teams in terms of highly technological innovation, performance and safety, providing calipers, pumps, discs and new-generation carbon friction systems. All the components provided by Brembo are designed and continually improved in cooperation with each team.

For the 2008 Formula One season Brembo will supply the following teams:

  • BMW Sauber F1 Team
  • Force India Team
  • Honda Racing F1 Team
  • Panasonic Toyota Racing
  • Red Bull Racing
  • Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
  • Scuderia Toro Rosso

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02/22/08
a1gp

Geo TV broadcasting Pakistan's A1GP campaign
Fans of A1 Team Pakistan are now able to see their country in action in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, following an agreement with Geo TV Network which was established in 2002, and is the fastest growing channel network in Pakistan. The broadcast channel Geo Super, a subsidiary of Geo Channel Network, will show live A1GP coverage and highlights of the remaining race weekends this season and fans will be able to watch Adam Khan, driver for the home team, racing for the pride of Pakistan at international race venues around the globe.

Geo Super is the first Pakistani sports channel, which was launched in Oct 2006 and has played a major role in development of sports in Pakistan. During this one and a half years of its existence Geo Super has brought the biggest happening of the Sports world exclusively to the viewers in Pakistan. On the domestic front the channel has played a very important role in developing non-conventional sports at grass root level by telecasting live events of tennis, cricket, football, volleyball, marathon, squash, and snooker.

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02/22/08
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Merger talks leave Cleveland promoter puzzled
The promoter of the Grand Prix of Cleveland said Thursday he is "in a fog" like everyone else on exactly what is happening between the Indy Racing League and the Champ Car World Series.

Mike Lanigan, chief executive for Mi-Jack Promotions, said unification talks are going on, but he has no indications about the future of the races he promotes in Cleveland and in Houston.

Gerald Forsythe (L) and Kevin Kalkhoven
"I've talked to [Kevin] Kalkhoven, once, and Gerald Forsythe, once," Lanigan said of two CCWS owners. "The only thing they've told me is they are in discussions. No one has told me Cleveland and Houston are out, or that they are in, quite frankly."

Lanigan said he is for unification between the two open-wheel series, but it always has been with the understanding Cleveland, in particular, would be part of the deal. Last fall, Mi-Jack and the city of Cleveland signed a five-year race agreement through 2012.

"We have a huge amount of money invested in Cleveland and Houston," Lanigan said. "But the light at the end of the tunnel for us was always unification. That would bring Houston and Cleveland closer to profitability. I always thought Cleveland was near the top of their radar screen. And maybe that will happen. But I don't know anything right now."  Cleveland.com

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02/22/08
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • More bad weather expected for last test
  • Aguri talks now over, Karthikeyan hints
  • Honda 'happy' despite slow pre-season
  • Ferrari not so superior says Renault's Symonds
  • Piquet will not attend son's GP debut
  • Schu better than Hamilton - Willi Weber

More bad weather expected for last test
(GMM)  After a few days of disrupted testing in Spain, the final week of the 2008 pre-season is also likely to be staged in inclement conditions.

Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, also the scene of the final group test beginning on Monday, turned on better weather on Thursday, as four teams wrapped up the penultimate session of the winter.

BMW Sauber's exclusive test at Valencia has also been disrupted by bad weather, although conditions in the eastern city had improved by Thursday afternoon.

After a damp start, McLaren on Thursday got into action for the first time this week at Barcelona.

Ferrari intends to stay at the Spanish circuit on Friday, before the major action resumes on Monday.

"The weather is still a question mark, with a mixture of sun and rain forecast," said Toyota engineer Dieter Gass.

Honda, meanwhile, intends to conclude its 2008 preparations after Barcelona with another test in early March, at Jerez.

Aguri talks now over, Karthikeyan hints
(GMM)  Narain Karthikeyan has indicated that talks about a race seat this year at Super Aguri are no longer taking place.

It was reported recently that an Indian consortium, led by the telco Spice Group, was pushing for former grand prix driver Karthikeyan to be central to its planned buyout of the Japanese team.

Key Aguri backer Honda, however, was reportedly vehemently opposed to the appointment of 31-year-old Karthikeyan, who raced for a season with Jordan in 2005.

Currently a driver in the A1GP series, Karthikeyan told the publication Mid-Day that he has now effectively given up on the F1 option for 2008, although it is not clear if Super Aguri's Spice Group talks have also been scuppered.

"I am willing to wait," he said.  "Six months, a year.  If F1 happens then good, otherwise I am quite pleased with this."

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02/22/08
racing news

Despite loss of racing business, Cosworth doing well
Cosworth, the U.K.-based engine builder that lost its last Formula One customer at the end of 2006, faces another possible blow with word that Champ Car (for which it is the sole engine supplier) is set to go out of business or merge with the Indy Racing League.

The company--owned by Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven--eliminated 200 jobs after losing its deal with WilliamsF1.

However, it has developed new markets in the aerospace and defense industries. Cosworth is hiring staff and investing about $2 million in new machinery to fulfill orders for precision-engineered pistons for aerospace and premium automotive customers. AutoWeek

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02/22/08
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nastruck

NASCAR eliminates rookie practice for 2 series
NASCAR has eliminated the rookie practice portion of its weekend schedule for Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series teams.  For the last two years, the Nationwide and truck rookies would get an extra practice (typically a half-hour session). They would get a set of tires specifically for that test session.

Now, practice sessions have been increased by about 30 minutes for the entire field. But rookies get an extra set of tires for the race weekend. That extra set can only be used in practice.

“It would be great if we had more practice than the veteran guys, but that extra set of tires allows us to run all the laps,” said Roush Fenway Racing truck rookie Colin Braun. “They have so much practice where if you only have one set tires, you can’t maximize all the laps anyway.”

Rookies said they could impacted more at a short track such as Bristol and Martinsville, where it will be difficult to get a good mock qualifying lap in.

“I get less open track time,” TRG Motorsports truck rookie Andy Lally said. “The other thing is the seasoned veterans can now take their time and do some more changes. It’s a little bit of a disadvantage compared to the past what rookies may be able to gain over the vets. But if it makes sense for the series, because there just aren’t that many rookies, what you end up doing is giving too much to too small of a group of people.” Scene Daily

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02/22/08
alms

Intersport team tests cellulosic E85 fuel
Intersport Racing Lola
Photo credit: John Thawley ~ Creative Communications Group
Intersport Racing became the first American Le Mans Series team to run the Series’ new cellulosic E85 race fuel on the track. The Dublin, Ohio-based team tested its AER-powered Lola B06/10 on Monday and Tuesday at Sebring International Raceway in preparation for the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on March 15.

“This was an easy choice for us,” remarked Clint Field, team owner and driver. “It's the right thing to do. As one of the pioneer teams that started with the American Le Mans Series in 1999, we wanted to support its efforts in establishing itself as the global leader in Green Racing.”

Intersport became the first prototype team in the Series to commit to campaigning on IMSA’s cellulosic E85R, supplied by KL Process Design. Corvette Racing will use E85R to power its two factory Corvette C6.Rs in GT1. Drayson Barwell Motorsport will see its Aston Martin Vantage V8 compete on the fuel in GT2. In order to balance the amount of energy in a tank of fuel, all E85R-powered cars will compete with 110 liters compared to E10-powered cars having a maximum capacity of 90 liters.

While consumer ethanol is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, cellulosic ethanol goes a step further in terms of conservation. It is produced from biomass such as wood waste, switchgrass or citrus.

Earlier this year, the American Le Mans Series reaffirmed its position as motorsports' global leader in alternative fuels by announcing it's partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy and SAE International to incorporate “Green Racing” principles into its 2008 racing season. The American Le Mans Series will be the first motorsports series to meet those criteria.

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