Fontana Nationwide race TV Rating ESPN says ESPN2’s coverage of Saturday night’s Stater Bros. 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race from Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., earned a 1.9 household coverage rating from Nielsen Media Research and drew more than 2.51 million viewers. Last year’s race, which was delayed by rain until Monday, had earned a 1.2 rating.
Scott Dixon tops Ryan Briscoe on Day 1 It wasn't Will Power's choice to sit out the initial 90 minutes of the IndyCar Series Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
No, his preference would have been to drive the No. 3 Team Penske car while the sun hung high above the first-turn tower of suites until being asked to turn off the track lights on the way out. When you're designation is test driver, pry the wheel from my hands is the reaction.
Teammate Ryan Briscoe shook down the car before turning it over to Power for his initial laps on the oval with the team, which called him out of the bullpen in mid-January as regular driver Helio Castroneves' federal court proceedings draw nearer. Power doesn't find the situation uncomfortable, though he did acknowledge it's still a bit odd to be wearing the signature red & white firesuit.
"I feel comfortable in what I'm doing, which is testing. I'm not really looking that far ahead," said Power, who recorded five top-10 finishes in 16 races with KV Racing Technology's 2008 entry into the series. "I'm looking forward to many laps on the track because the ovals are where I struggled last year (two top 10s). These (Penske) guys have a tremendous amount of experience and Ryan is very good on ovals, so I'll really be learning as much as I can. I'm just happy to be working with a very good team."
Jimmie Johnson favored to win Sunday's Shelby 427 at LVMS Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is favored to win Sunday's Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Johnson - a three-time winner at LVMS from 2005-2007 - got the nod today from Fred Crespi, Director of Race and Sports for The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver will start Sunday's 427-mile grind at 9/2 - ahead of local hero Kyle Busch at 6/1 and 2009 Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth (who also won at LVMS in 2003 and 2004) at 8/1.
Jeff Gordon, who won the Las Vegas race in 2001, is listed at 7/1 and rookie sensation Joey Logano's odds are 50/1.
Jimmie Johnson - 9/2 Kyle Busch - 6/1 Carl Edwards - 6/1 Jeff Gordon - 7/1 Greg Biffle - 8/1 Matt Kenseth - 8/1 Mark Martin - 15/1 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 15/1 Denny Hamlin - 15/1 Kurt Busch - 20/1 Tony Stewart - 20/1 Kevin Harvick - 22/1
Danica Patrick flattered by F1 reportsUPDATE Indy Racing League driver Danica Patrick has done an about face. Just a few days after telling everyone how happy she is in the IRL, she now says she’d consider jumping to Formula One. Patrick has been targeted as one of four possible drivers for a new U.S.-based F1 team that was launched today.
Danica never won an Atlantic or IndyCar road course. Is she ready for Formula 1?
(GMM) Female IndyCar driver Danica Patrick admits she is flattered by the reports linking her with formula one, but on Thursday she said chiefs of the prospective USF1 team have not yet contacted her.
But the 26-year-old American, earmarked this week for a F1 test by USF1 principal Ken Anderson, also told the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail that she might not even be interested in travelling to Europe to contest the famous world championship.
She said she had read the reports linking her with USF1 for 2010 but "there weren't any quotes from me because they haven't spoken to me".
"It's very flattering," Patrick added. "I think that any time you are in the same sentence as formula one, it's a flattering thing."
The reports, however, have already been met with cynicism in Europe, with one blog by Telegraph writer Andrew Baker - entitled 'Does F1 need a swimsuit model?' - predicting Patrick would only be a "lure to commercial sponsors".
Patrick, who as a teenager contested some junior open-wheel series in England, said she is happy to now race full-time in her native US.
"I haven't really expressed a lot of excitement and interest in world travel," she said on Thursday in Toronto.
"We'll see what they (USF1) say though. Maybe they'll call."
Marco Andretti in the Team USA car at Kyalami. Kyalami is where his grandfather, racing great Mario Andretti, won his first F1 race in 1971 for Ferrari (below)
A1 Team USA driver Marco Andretti put his below par weekend down to still learning to find the best way to set up the A1GP Powered by Ferrari car. A1 Team USA came to Kyalami with high hopes of landing a top result, but left the circuit on Sunday evening with just an eighth place finish in the Feature race to its name.
“We’re still learning these cars,” Andretti told A1GP.com. “But until we try things in terms of set-up, we don’t know whether they will work or not. I was optimistic that we were going the right way after I was second fastest in final practice, but then we committed to something before qualifying that turned out not to be right and we didn’t have time to change it back and that wrecked our weekend.”
Andretti thus qualified 17th and 13th and then the team elected to use the Sprint race as a test, ending up where he started, in 17th.
“That was worth doing, though,” the 21-year-old continued, “as we found something that helped us lap at a good race pace in the Feature race. Hopefully that progress can be carried forward to the next race in Portugal.”
Mann tops Firestone Indy Lights test During the 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season, there may have been no better team on ovals than Panther Racing.
Based on the results of the first Open Test of the 2009 season, Panther may not be so willing to give up that title.
Pippa Mann topped the speed charts for a second consecutive day at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a lap of 28.4776 seconds, 187.726 mph, on the 1.5-mile oval.
“I’m really, really pleased,” said Mann, who topped the rookie testing session on Feb. 24. “My Panther Racing Firestone Indy Lights car has been really fast every time I’ve been in it on both days. It’s been a huge learning experience. I got better running in traffic. I can’t not be happy with how we ran. I hope when we get to the race weekend, we have a similar performance.”
Duno, Wilson late additions to test Two drivers who are still finalizing their racing plans were late additions to the list of drivers for the Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Milka Duno tested the No. 23 Newman/Haas/Lanigan entry, while Justin Wilson drove the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing entry.
Duno made 18 starts for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2007-08, recording a best finish of 14th at Chicagoland Speedway where she led five laps.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to test with this championship team,” Duno said. “It’s always a driver’s dream to be with a good team. I learned a lot with Robbie Buhl and everyone at Dreyer & Reinbold (Racing) last year and I’ll miss talking with them every day. The plan is to do the whole championship (season). It’s now up to me to do a good job. They know how to win a race. When you work hard and have the right conditions, good things will come. It was a small team but we had big potential. Every day I learned something new.”
Wilson made 16 starts in the IndyCar Series in 2008 as a rookie with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, recording a victory on the streets of Belle Isle in Detroit.
“Obviously, we’re looking forward to joining Dale Coyne Racing for this test and hopefully for the season,” Wilson said. “We’re still working on finalizing things.”
“The main thing is take it easy, one step at a time. There are no prizes for the test. We’ll build up to speed, work on our car and take it from there. It’s more getting to know each other than prove ourselves right now. I’m excited to be working with a great engineer in Bill Pappas. We feel that we can do a lot with a little provided everything goes ahead.”
IndyCar Series Open Test underway The IndyCar Series opened the 2009 season with an Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Twenty drivers began a five-hour practice session at 4 p.m. EST on the 1.5-mile oval, including four past champions, nine race winners and four rookies. The 20 cars and drivers on track is the most at an Open Test since the Test in the West Feb. 6, 2002 at California Speedway.
2008 champion Scott Dixon paced the field at the dinner break with a best lap of 25.2919 seconds, 211.372 mph. Dixon recorded the first of six victories in 2008 at the facility.
“Homestead is such a particular track,” 2004 series champion Tony Kanaan said. “Although it’s an oval, you can’t test at Homestead for Richmond, you can’t test at Homestead for Iowa, so it’s definitely just to get the team motion going, the team working together, teammates adapting to new engineers, different engineers, different stuff that we learned over the course of the winter. It’s going to be great just to be back on the racetrack.”
Testing continues until 10 p.m. EST and resumes from 4-10 p.m. Feb. 25.
Auto Club 500 TV ratings plungeUPDATE FOX spin on lower TV ratings: Fox Sports’ coverage of the Autoclub 500 at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday evening (2/22) was the top-rated, most-watched sports event of the week and was one of the highest-rated prime time programs among several popular demographic categories, including adults 18-49. According to Nielsen Media Research, the race posted a 6.0/10 national household rating/share, with 10.2 million viewers watching, by far the highest-rated and most-watched sports event of the week. Placing a distant second was Sunday’s final round of the Northern Trust Open on CBS (3.7/7, 4.8 million viewers). Sunday’s Autoclub 500 coverage also fared well opposite expected stiff competition from the Academy Awards. FOX’s 5.9/9 prime time household average on Sunday fared +28% better than FOX's recent performance versus the Oscars (4.6 average from 2004 to 2007). Last year’s NASCAR race opposite the Academy Awards show was delayed by rain and pre-empted the planned prime time lineup, so it was excluded from this comparison. The 2009 Academy Awards on ABC averaged a 20.6/36. FoxPR
02/23/09 Auto Club 500 TV Ratings: NASCAR Sprint Cup racing on Fox averaged a 5.3/8 for the Auto Club 500 presented by Quaker State from California. Though that's down -13% from last year's 6.1/10 for the same race, yesterday's race was by far the top-rated sporting event for the weekend. That -13% year-to-year gap could shrink in the nationals with a good meter-to-national ratings index. Yesterday's race powered Fox to a second-place finish for the night opposite competition from the Academt Awards [Oscars] on ABC. Fox's prime average of 5.3/8 (7-10p) placed second behind ABC's 18.8/28, but beat CBS's 4.8/7, and NBC's 3.4/5. Last night's Prime average was also FOX's best Sunday night in six weeks. Sunday’s race improved over FOX’s recent Oscar night performances. Last night's 5.3/8 is +10% better than FOX's Sunday Prime average opposite the Oscars from 2004-2007. Last year is excluded from that comparison because the NASCAR race was delayed by rain and pre-empted the planned Primetime lineup. That +10% edge over recent Oscar nights is likely to increase when NASCAR gets its typically strong meters-to-nationals boost. The 2009 Academy Awards on ABC averaged a 23.5/36 from 8:30-12m, up +7% over last year's 21.9/33
Hendrick engine problems caused by bad parts Hendrick Motorsports officials say a bad batch of parts led to engine failures by #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #5-Mark Martin in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. "Both cars had valve train failures that were related to a specific batch of parts from a vendor," said Doug Duchardt, HMS' vice president of development. Duchardt said the parts were not restricted to use by Earnhardt and Martin, whose cars are prepared out of the same building. He said they also were used by Hendrick drivers #24-Jeff Gordon and #48-Jimmie Johnson, as well as lease programs such as Stewart-Haas Racing. Earnhardt finished 39th and Martin 40th after both lost their engines within 25 laps of each other. Gordon finished second and Johnson was ninth, combining to lead 138 of 250 laps. #14-Tony Stewart was eighth and led three laps. "So we're glad it wasn't more widespread," Duchardt said ESPN
GM axes new Volt engine plant General Motors Corp. has scrapped plans to build a new plant to produce engines for its Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle and instead will build the engines in an existing Flint facility.
The move will save money and utilize available floorspace within the Flint South engine plant on Bristol Road, the automaker announced today.
GM had said in September it would invest $370 million in a new 552,000-square-foot manufacturing plant that would produce 4-cylinder engines for the Volt and the Chevrolet Cruze small car. Instead, GM will spend $250 million installing new machinery and equipment at Flint South.
Preparation work will start this spring and engine production is expected to start in December 2010.
That's about one month later than when GM said the Volt would reach showrooms, but the automaker has said it could build the engines in other facilities and ship them to Michigan.
The new engines include a 1.4-liter turbo engine for the Cruze and a 1.4-liter naturally aspirated engine for the Volt.
Bob Varsha reacts to USF1 announcement Bob Varsha, the Voice of Formula One on SPEED, reacts to the public announcement by newly formed USF1 race team partners Ken Anderson and SPEED commentator and long-time Formula team manager Peter Windsor on their plans to build and operate a Formula One race team in Charlotte, N.C., which hopes to start competing for the World Driving Championship at the beginning of the 2010 season.
SPEED, the definitive network for motorsports and the automotive lifestyle, broadcast the news conference live, and we caught up with Varsha immediately following the event to get his thoughts:
SPEED: Do you feel this will bring new fans to the sport?
Bob Varsha: I don’t think there’s any question about it. It’s great for the sport, it’s certainly great for us at SPEED and great for the American racing fan. I think it’s going to highlight for a whole lot of people that the Charlotte, N.C. area has really become a ‘Motorsports Valley’ of technology of sorts. It will bring greater awareness of all of that, and it’s just a win-win all around.
SPEED: Do you think their lean and open model of operation will be something that will work for the future of Formula One?
Mario Andretti plugs grandson Marco for new USF1 team Mario Andretti says his grandson, Marco, can fill a seat on the American team that plans to enter Formula One in 2010.
Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson unveiled their plans Tuesday for a team to be called USF1, and say they are committed to hiring two American drivers. They rattled off a list of candidates, including former F1 driver Scott Speed, IndyCar star Danica Patrick and NASCAR's Kyle Busch.
But Mario Andretti says his 22-year-old grandson would be perfect for the job.
"If I were to design a Formula One driver today, I would design Marco," he says of the current IndyCar Series driver.
USF1 team announcementUPDATE #2Video Highlights Drivers: None yet Sponsors: None yet Engines: None. Sending out proposals to manufacturers, not limited to US builders Financing: 90% in place, looking for more investors
Why Charlotte: Lots of facilities with testing and manufacturing equipment, lots of real estate (closed down race shops) to choose from, lots of out of work motorsports employees.
Why the U.S.? The recession has actually helped this team get off the ground. The weaker US dollar makes the cost of operations far less in the US than in Europe. Many manufacturers who supply F1 teams with parts are US based, making shipping cheaper and faster. The weak real estate market makes the cost of living and operating easier, plus many communities are offering tax incentives to lure new business. With many NASCAR and IRL teams cutting back, there's more suppliers looking for new customers (also offering incentives).
Logistics: Not as complex as one might think. Team will maintain a European base in Spain to store their haulers and pit equipment for races on the continent. To transport their cars to the venues, team will utilize transportation services already offered by F1 free of charge to teams.
The team mentioned that by using the air cargo services offered by F1, their cars might make it back to the shop in Charlotte before the European-based teams can drive their haulers back to their shops.
"The car's going to made in America, the team's going to be based in America, and once we'd established that it was pretty logical to have American drivers," Windsor told US broadcaster Speed TV.
"The interesting thing is that if we're going to be running an American, except Scott Speed, we'll be running a driver that has no experience.
"Once we've established that, it's a very broad spectrum of drivers that we can be talking to."
Last week IndyCar race winner Danica Patrick said she was 'flattered' by reports linking her to USF1, although she hadn't yet been in contact with the team, and Windsor confirmed that she could be a candidate.
"It's nice to know she's flattered - we're flattered that she's flattered," he said.
"She's definitely on the list - all American drivers that have got the credentials, and she certainly has, are.
"To me she's definitely got road dust on her and she's a person that we should be looking at, but we're looking at everybody.
"Danica is fabulous."
He also cited former Champ Car title contender AJ Allmendinger, another NASCAR convert, as an example of an American with USF1 potential.
"From what I can see, AJ is very, very good in the wet, he's a hard trier, he's a racer, I think he's exactly the sort of guy," said Windsor.
But Windsor didn't rule out signing a non-American driver for USF1's maiden season.
"There is a slight possibility that we might run one experienced driver, therefore by definition not American, in year one, maybe," he said.
"We haven't actually addressed that issue in its entirety."
Windsor admitted that USF1 would have to accept a non-US engine supplier, but believes the American connection will be attractive to the manufacturers already in F1.
"As much as it would be great to have one of the top three (car companies) from Detroit, no (it won't happen)," he said.
"In fact, the Formula 1 regulations won't even allow that anyway because the engine is now frozen, the regulations are frozen, you've got to run an engine from one of the existing Formula 1 suppliers, and we all know who those are.
"It's just a question of doing a deal with one of those companies.
"Let's not forget that America is the biggest market for virtually every car company in Formula 1, so I think there's going to be some interest in USF1."
Ganassi sponsor Target reports profit plunge Target Corp. said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit fell 41 percent as consumer spending suffered amid high unemployment and other economic woes. The discount retailer earned $609 million, or 81 cents per share, in the quarter ended Jan. 31. That compares to $1.03 billion, or $1.23 per share, a year earlier.
Revenue in the quarter fell 1.6 percent to $19.02 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 5.9 percent, the company said. Sales at new stores partially offset that.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who typically exclude one-time items, had expected Target to earn 83 cents per share on revenue of $19.5 billion.
The company also has seen rising delinquencies in its credit-card business, another source of trouble. The credit card business dragged down fourth-quarter results with a one-time, pre-tax loss of $135 million. Target was forced to take the loss because it had to add another $245 million to its reserve to cover delinquencies.
Tony Stewart sponsor reports big loss Office Depot Inc. said Tuesday it lost $1.54 billion in the fourth quarter as hefty charges and sharply lower sales in North America and abroad weighed on the office supply chain. The loss was much larger than analysts expected, and Office Depot shares tumbled 20 cents, or 13.8 percent, to a fresh 52-week loss of $1.25 in morning trading. "We are disappointed with the fourth quarter results," Chief Executive Steve Odland said on a conference call with analysts. "As these times have gotten tough for our customers they have significantly cut back their spending, including their spending on office products."
(GMM) Italian prosecutors are still pursuing alleged Ferrari spy and saboteur Nigel Stepney.
It emerged this week that a Modena court closed a chapter of the protracted 2007 'spy saga' by fining four McLaren engineers who pleaded 'nolo contendere' (no contest).
"A line has finally been drawn under this matter," a McLaren spokesman said.
But the case against Briton Stepney, who was sacked by Ferrari, is ongoing, with chief prosecutor Guiseppe Tibis hoping to conclude the case by March, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Tuesday.
Stepney, who now works for the on-board race camera company Gigawave, is accused not only of handing over to McLaren a 780-page Ferrari dossier, but also attempting to sabotage the Italian team's Monaco-bound cars.
A1GP boss withdraws Honda interest A1 Grand Prix boss Tony Teixeira has said he had been until recently talking to Honda about acquiring the Japanese manufacturer's Formula One team.
"I was one of the guys talking to Honda in the last two weeks," the South African told the Autosport website.
Honda announced in December they were pulling out of Formula One due to the global financial crisis, leaving the team still seeking a rescuer with the season due to start in Australia on March 29.
Virgin Group boss Richard Branson has expressed an interest but a management buy-out now looks the most likely route, other than closure, after Honda said on Monday they had received various offers but no serious buyers.
Bell adds ALMS races for 2009 British GT driver Rob Bell has secured a seat to race in two of the 2009 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) races with the reorganized Drayson Racing team. Rob Bell will be behind the wheel of the No. 007 Drayson Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT2 at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on 21 March and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on 26 September. Bell will drive alongside owner/driver Paul Drayson and Jonny Cocker at the events. Bell commented about the opportunity, “We’ve been pushing hard to put a deal together for Sebring and Petit Le Mans and to have landed them both with Drayson Racing is just fantastic. I know some of the guys in the team and Dale (White) brings a huge amount of know how, so I hope I can also bring something extra to the table. If we keep out of trouble and have a bit of luck it would be great to be on the podium with three British drivers in an Aston.
Unified open wheel racing weathers economic storm Unification of U.S. open-wheel racing occurred a year ago this week, and its timing could not have been better, the sport's leader said Monday.
If the owners of the two Indianapolis-based companies -- the Indy Racing League and the Champ Car World Series -- had not come together on their own, IRL founder Tony George said he believes the current economic slide would have dictated a merger.
"No question, we would have absolutely, without question in anyone's mind, been forced together," he said.
George, whose family owns Indianapolis Motor Speedway, acknowledges unification has not cured all of the sport's ills, but he considers Indy-car racing to be in relatively good shape given the global financial struggles.
Mansfield Replaces Nashville on schedule The change in venue was approved by ARCA officials after promoter Joe Mattioli III reached an agreement with Mansfield Motorsports Park owner Mike Dzurilla to run the event at Mansfield.
"We've worked with Joe and the Mattioli family for decades, and this request falls under our guidelines for realigning an event date," said ARCA President Ron Drager. "Mansfield is a quality facility and we know how Ohio race fans have supported events like the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Toledo Speedway and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Mansfield in the past. We look forward to June 20."
Court fines no surprise to McLaren team (GMM) Fines levied by an Italian court against McLaren engineers this week were no surprise to the Mercedes-powered team, a spokesman insists.
It emerged on Monday that, at the protracted end of the 2007 Ferrari 'spy saga', McLaren's Rod Taylor, Jonathan Neale and Paddy Lowe were ordered to pay 150,000 euros apiece by the Modena court, while sacked designer Mike Coughlan was fined 180,000.
"The proceedings in Italy were merely the officializing of what had been proposed long before, namely the 'nolo contendere' agreement," the team spokesman said from Woking.
'Nolo contendere' means 'no contest', where a defendant neither admits nor disputes the charge but accepts the effect of a guilty plea.
The McLaren spokesman added: "A line has finally been drawn under this matter."
It is reported that McLaren will almost certainly pay the engineers' fines, with the possible exception of Coughlan.
Ron Dennis lays down the axe
Dennis' view of Ferrari 'totally changed' (GMM) Ron Dennis admits that the rancor of McLaren's prior relationship with Ferrari has now completely changed.
"Today I have a totally different view of Ferrari than one year ago," the outgoing McLaren team principal said during an interview with Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
Dating back to 2007, McLaren and Ferrari - recently the most competitive teams on the grid - were locked in a bitter quarrel over the transfer of sensitive information belonging to the Italian team.
"At that time our relationship was very difficult, but perhaps difficult times bring people together," Dennis continued.
"I now have an excellent relationship with Luca di Montezemolo. He is a key figure among the teams (FOTA alliance) to improve the sport," Dennis added.
USF1 Press Conference on SPEED TuesdayUPDATE #2 A reminder that this press conference will be aired live today on SPEED at noon ET.
02/23/09 SPEED will interrupt regularly scheduled programming tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon ET to broadcast a USF1 press conference from the SPEED studios in Charlotte, N.C. The press conference will be hosted by veteran motor sports broadcaster Bob Varsha, with USF1 Technical Director Ken Anderson and USF1 consultant Peter Windsor on-site.
Anderson, who worked for the Ligier and Onyx F1 teams in the 1980s, before becoming a successful designer and engineer – most notably with former IndyCar chassis constructor G-Force, is the designer and builder of the Concord-based Windshear rolling wind tunnel. Windsor, a former Formula One team manager, currently serves as a F1 pit reporter for SPEED broadcasts.
Racing legends Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney will participate via taped interviews and phone.
02/23/09 A live press conference will be held on the SPEED channel on Tuesday, February 24 at noon ET/9:00 am PT for the first official public announcement of the new USF1 team.
The conference will include a feature on the history of American involvement in Formula 1. Principal Peter Windsor and Technical Director Ken Anderson will be present, and there will be a phone-in interview with Mario Andretti, comments from American racing legend Dan Gurney, and Q&A with the press.
Doornbos completes first day on an oval Newly-announced Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) driver Robert Doornbos completed his first day of testing on an oval tonight at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway. Doornbos, 27, who joined three other IndyCar Series rookies at the test, completed 111 laps in the No. 06 Dallara-Honda-Firestone entry.
“Driving on an oval is definitely different than I expected,” said Doornbos. “It felt like going to a new school on the first day. I didn’t really know what to expect but I got a lot of information from the team but you have to do it for yourself. The first five laps I thought ‘Oh my god, where did I end up?’ But that’s because you have to run at a certain pace and once you reach that pace its actually quite fun so we ended the day on a good note and I can go to bed with a smile.
AIM to run young drivers Continuing their tradition of developing young talent, AIM Autosport is pleased to announce the signing of David Ostella (Canada) and Jorge Goncalvez (Venezuela) to compete in the team colors for the 2009 edition of the Star Mazda Series presented by Goodyear. Both drivers are seventeen years old and most recently competed in the Formula BMW Americas series. The move to Star Mazda is a significant step up the ladder in North American motorsport. AIM Autosport has a winning record in the Star Mazda series including securing the 2008 championship for seventeen year old American driver John Edwards.
Yasukawa joins Indy Japan 300 field Roger Yasukawa will join Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi in September alongside regular driver Michael Conway.
"I am very excited that I will be racing again at the Indy Japan this year," Yasukawa said. "I ended my Indy 500 last year with results that I did not expect, but I feel confident about this year racing with a solid team."
Yasukawa has started 18 of his 38 IndyCar Series races with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, most recently the Indianapolis 500 in 2007. Yasukawa has nine top-10 finishes, with a best finish of seventh (twice).
Four IndyCar Series rookies set for first test While 12 Firestone Indy Lights rookies tested on the oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway Feb. 23, four IndyCar Series rookies stood champing at the bit, waiting for their turn on the 1.5-mile variably-banked oval.
Stanton Barrett, Mike Conway, Robert Doornbos and Raphael Matos were scheduled for bonus test time later that evening. Some in the diverse group, such as Barrett, have had significant time on ovals but never in an IndyCar Series car. Others, such as Conway and Doornbos, have a lot of open-wheel experience but not on ovals. Matos, the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion, has the benefit of running all the circuits on the IndyCar Series schedule in a similar car.
All spent the day preparing for their maiden voyages of the 2009 season.
Twelve Firestone Indy Lights rookies test A dozen Firestone Indy Lights drivers successfully completed rookie testing Feb. 23 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, clearing the way for them to compete on ovals during the 2009 season.
“All of the rookies ran very smoothly,” said Firestone Indy Lights race director Tony Cotman, who oversaw the rookie testing. “There are some excellent drivers in the group and others that can be as good with additional seat time, but overall it was a very successful test day. I look forward to seeing them in traffic tomorrow.”
Though their goal was to focus on seat time rather than outright speed, Panther Racing’s Pippa Mann topped the speed charts with a lap of 28.4996, 187.592 mph in her No. 16 Panther Racing car.
“It’s one thing to be fast when you are on your own, but I need to run in traffic,” Mann said. “I hope we can get some of that tomorrow when everyone else is on the track tomorrow.”
Brazilian Mario Romancini, testing the No. 5 car for RLR/Andersen Racing was second at 187.380 mph, followed by AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing’s Sebastian Saavedra (187.069 mph), Panther Racing’s Martin Plowman (186.741 mph) and Guthrie Meyer Racing’s Ali Jackson (186.391 mph).
Seven veteran drivers, plus Canadian rookie James Hinchcliffe, will join the Open Testing session on Feb. 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
IndyCar Series champions Scott Dixon (2008), Dario Franchitti (2007), Dan Wheldon (2005) and Tony Kanaan (2004) posed with a large sand sculpture of the IndyCar Series championship trophy as the series prepares for the start of the 2009 season, which will begin and end with races in Florida.
The season opens April 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, and the 2009 champion will be crowned Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The four drivers will begin their preparations with the season’s first Open Test Feb. 24-25 at Homestead-Miami.
Quotes from today’s event:
Scott Dixon: (About starting the season at St. Petersburg) “I think it’s a great way to start the season. First we go to St. Pete and then Long Beach and Kansas before the season gets into the grit of it. I think for road course or street course lovers like us it’s a great way to start it off. I’m definitely looking forward to St. Pete. It’s a fantastic race. I haven’t had the best luck there the last few years, but I’m definitely looking forward to going back.”
Changes coming for new Ferrari Ferrari's Aldo Costa is very pleased with how the F60 has performed during the pre-season tests, including the still in progress KERS unit. But despite some technical glitches that have hampered the teams running, the F60 has proven to be fast as it has topped the time charts on almost every day of testing at Sakhir. And neither driver has complained so far, as both are feeling comfortable with the 2009 contender.
Costa said on Ferrari's official site: "There might be some problems ahead, like the ones we've had over the past two days with the completely new components of the KERS, or with experiments, like the ones we had on the gearbox."
"(But) as far as the KERS is concerned I have to say that we're quite satisfied with what we've seen so far, although there's still lots of work to do."
Stewart's Crew Grabs Tissot Pit Road Win The No. 14 crew for Tony Stewart took top honors Sunday, winning the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award at the Auto Club 500 Sprint Cup race in Fontana, Calif.
Stewart's Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala SS spent the least amount of time on pit road (260.940 seconds) during the 250 lap, 500-mile race at Auto Club Speedway. The winning pit road performance helped Stewart to an eighth-place finish in the second race of the season.
“This (Auto Club Speedway) isn't one of my strongest tracks, and to come out of here with a top-10 with this young of a team as far as us working together, that’s a pretty strong statement right there,” said Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing team. "Our guys had really great pit stops. That last pit stop, they got us out seventh, but I just couldn't hold us up there. I felt like team-wise, we've been solid for two weeks straight.”
Force India will unveil new car on Sunday Force India will unveil their 2009 challenger, the VJM02, at the Jerez test circuit on Sunday, the team confirmed today.
The Anglo-Indian outfit entered into a technical partnership with McLaren-Mercedes at the end of last year and the team’s new car, a direct product of this collaboration, will enjoy Mercedes-Benz power and feature a McLaren gearbox and KERS units.
The VJM02 is set to undergo an extensive development program ahead of the season opening Australian Grand Prix, and the team will be hoping that it will catapult its drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil, further up the pecking order in 2009.
FIA clarifies new engine rules The FIA has clarified the engine rules for the 2009 season, stating that teams will not be allowed to change an engine after the third free practice on Saturday morning. Forcing engines to be used continuously from FP3 until the race on Sunday. Thus cutting costs since no extra personnel will be needed to carry out all the work on both cars.
Charlie Whiting told 'autosport', "I think there's enough in the parc ferme rules to say that you couldn't change an engine after qualifying starts, although of course now if you had to, there's no penalty associated with it." Meaning that teams will only be allowed to change an engine if there is a proven problem.
This move essentially deters teams from swapping engines between qualification and the race, with the intent of using a fresher unit in the latter. Seeing how all Formula One teams are required to use no more than eight power units during the season, with a penalty given for the ninth, teams were originally figuring out ways for the restriction to have less of an impact on performance, such as changing engines between individual events within a GP weekend. But that has now been nixed.
Craig Gore goes bustUPDATE After emerging from an extended personal bankruptcy 10 years ago this September, Craig Gore built a business empire on the Gold Coast.
His diversified group, which today claims to have more than $1billion worth of projects in progress, includes a website modestly claiming Gore himself is "recognized as one of Australia's leading entrepreneurs".
His interests are spread across property development, financial services, telemarketing, real estate management, wine exports, agribusiness, entertainment, aviation, building materials and civil engineering.
However Mr. Gore now faces the very real threat that much of his work could be blown away once again.
He has still got all the outward trappings of success: the Bentley, the helicopter, two jets, the 21m cruiser and a flash home on Ephraim Island.
Yet even with this conspicuous consumption, the 42-year-old multi-millionaire must be worrying that his fall-and-rise life story has hit another juncture, this time heading south in a process relentlessly accelerated by a souring economy.
He must be wondering if he will go the way of his father, who still looms large 15 years after dying in exile.
Mike Gore developed Australia's first gated community, Sanctuary Cove, in the late 1980s.
However just a few years later, he fled to Canada with debts of $45million and died broke there in 1994.
Versus to offer IndyCar fans more extensive coverage VERSUS, the network that celebrates real competition and the exclusive cable television home of the IndyCar Series, today announced details for extensive additional race programming in 2009, which will accompany the network’s live race telecasts. In total, the network will air more than 130 hours of IndyCar Series coverage throughout the season with a minimum of seven hours each week the network airs a race, the most ever during a race week. The programming will include four hour-long specials in March, additional programming in May surrounding the Indianapolis 500 and three-hour programming blocks on Mondays each race week that will feature flag-to-flag coverage of Firestone Indy Lights events and encores of IndyCar Series races. All IndyCar Series telecasts will be produced and available in HD.
“It’s important to us that racing fans are given more coverage than ever before, and we are very excited about the terrific schedule we put together for the first season of the IndyCar Series on VERSUS,” said Marc Fein, executive vice president of programming, production and business operations for VERSUS. “Ancillary programming to launch the season a month early, coupled with Indy Lights events and encores of IndyCar Series races throughout the season are great complements to the in-depth coverage of our 12 live races.”
Motorsports This Week on ESPN NASCAR Nationwide Series from Las Vegas on ESPN2
The NASCAR Nationwide Series, the highest-rated TV series on ESPN2, makes its only appearance of the 2009 season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, and ESPN2 will have live, high definition coverage of the 300-mile race on Saturday, Feb. 28, beginning at 4 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown. ESPN2 will be the home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season, with selected races on ESPN and ABC. The race re-airs Monday, March 2, at 9 a.m. on ESPN Classic.
Dr. Jerry Punch will be the lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN2’s coverage, joined in the booth for analysis by 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett, one of the founding drivers of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and two-time Cup Series champion crew chief Andy Petree. Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will report from the pits, while two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Tim Brewer will be in the ESPN Craftsman Tech Garage.
Allen Bestwick will host NASCAR Countdown with analysis by Brad Daugherty, a winning team owner in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and Jarrett in the ESPN pit studio.
Obama staff anti-American The vehicles owned by the Obama administration's auto team could reflect one reason why Detroit's Big Three automakers are in trouble: The list includes few new American cars.
Among the eight members named Friday to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and the 10 senior policy aides who will assist them in their work, two own American models. Add the Treasury Department's special adviser to the task force and the total jumps to three.
The Detroit News reviewed public records to discover what many of the task force and staff members drove, but information was not available on all of the officials, and records for some states were not complete.
At least two task force members don't own a car, and there are still two open slots on the 10-member panel that will be filled by the secretaries of labor and commerce, who have not yet been appointed.
The co-chairs of the task force -- Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers -- both own foreign automobiles.
Vision Racing Indy Lights For the first time since the team's inaugural season in 2005, Vision Racing will field a Firestone Indy Lights full-time entry for 2009 with series sophomore and race winner James Davison as driver.
Both Davison and the Vision Racing Lights team will have a partner in the paddock with which to size up the strong Firestone Indy Lights competition. Just last month, the newly formed Bryan Herta Autosport announced it would enter the Firestone Indy Lights with driver Daniel Herrington via a technical partnership with Vision Racing. Now that partnership has been further extended with Vision Racing's own entry and both teams will operate in cooperation out of Vision Racing's 32,000 square foot facility in Indianapolis, Ind.
Toyota re-hires exec Toyota was in the midst of record-breaking sales back in 2007 when Yoshimi Inaba, then president of North American sales, left the company to take a new role at Central Japan International Airport Co. in Nagoya, Japan. Since then, despite taking the crown as world's largest automaker from General Motors, Toyota has hit a rough patch in the wake of the global economic downturn and has experienced massive sales declines and its first yearly operating loss in over 70 years. It's all very un-Toyota-like, and it's prompting major changes at the very top of the company's ranks.
Incoming-president Akio Toyoda has announced plans to bring Inaba back into the fold, where he will again oversee various projects at Toyota, including some in the crucial North American market. Will the new leadership allow the Japanese giant to quickly right the ship and regain its air of invincibility? As always, time will tell. Auto Observer
NASCAR Stars Back Off Resort Project Three of the NASCAR celebrities who endorsed the Sheridan Ridge resort development have returned their lots, and the other two have drastically reduced the price paid, county records show. Quit-claim deeds recorded Dec. 30 indicate that drivers Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart and crew chief Greg Zipadelli gave their lots back to Sheridan Ridge Private Reserve LLC, the North Carolina company formed in 2006 to develop a NASCAR-themed community in the Southwest Virginia region. Deeds of correction were entered the same date for their property as well as lots owned by driver Elliott Sadler and FOX Sports personality and former crew chief Jeff Hammond, reducing the price of each lot from $323,205 to $50,000 - just enough to cover the lot release fee. "Certain infrastructure improvements to the Property were never completed," according to the deeds of correction, "and the value of the Property on the recording date was actually $50,000." In what has been a controversial project from the start, Sheridan Ridge selected a 1,400-acre site on the steep slopes of Walker and Little Brushy mountains to build a multi-million-dollar residential development with more than 500 houses and a 53-acre "village center" featuring shops and amenities. Bristol Herald Courier
Takanobu Ito named to lead Honda Honda Motor Co. named Takanobu Ito, head of core automaking operations, as its new chief executive today, in an effort to provide fresh leadership to battle a global crisis in the auto industry. Ito, a 55-year-old research and development expert with U.S. experience, replaces Takeo Fukui, 64, who will remain on the board as adviser, Japan's No. 2 automaker said in a statement.
Both Fukui and Ito said the change at the helm is a message of its determination to turn a new leaf and press ahead with technological innovations — its longtime strength — to lift its sagging business, and have the momentum to be prepared to take advantage of a recovery, when it comes.
"We are facing hardships that come once in a 100 years," Ito said.
Ito said he would continue in Fukui's footsteps in developing ecological and affordable products such as the Insight gas-electric hybrid, which has been a hit since going on sale recently.
"Honda's strength has been its sensitivity to changing times and ability to respond quickly to customer needs," he told reporters at the company's headquarters. "My job is to come up with products that can pave the way for new times."
New bodywork rules have worked - Heidfeld (GMM) Nick Heidfeld suspects the sweeping new aerodynamic regulations for 2009 have succeeded in making formula one cars easier to pass.
Many observers have expressed reservations about this year's single seaters; not only their questionable aesthetics but about whether the Overtaking Working Group's agreed changes to the bodywork rules have actually worked.
But after running alongside the new Ferrari and Toyota contenders in Bahrain last week, 31-year-old Heidfeld said he could feel the changes in effect at the wheel of his BMW-Sauber F1.09.
"I finally got a chance to actually tail another car," the German explained to his website.
He said the new cars are easier to follow closely and "this should certainly make overtaking a lot simpler".
"I'm hoping that this suspicion will be confirmed over the weeks to come," Heidfeld added.
The veteran of 153 grands prix will return to action at the Jerez tests early in March.
Speedcar Series returns to Dubai, Melandri to try again Speedcar Series will run the fourth round of the season at the Dubai Autodrome on February 27-28, 2009. MotoGP rider Marco Melandri will return for the race weekend to try and repeat his surprising performance in Qatar with better results.
Mid way through the season now with the first three rounds completed in Dubai, Bahrain and a night event in Qatar, the top order contending for the Speedcar Series Season 2 Championship title is tightly packed. Formula One drivers Gianni Morbidelli, Johnny Herbert and Vitantonio Liuzzi currently lead the table with just 8 points between first and third places.
New drivers this season have proved to be tough contenders including Thomas Biagi who made the podium in both Bahrain and Qatar and stands fifth in the rankings after Jean Alesi.
Marco Melandri made his racing debut at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar and stunned the field by staying in the lead for almost the entire second race - where he started on pole position having finished in 8th place in Race 1 and benefiting from the reverse grid for the following race. However, four laps short of the chequered flag Melandri suffered a broken gear box and gifted the lead to Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum, the only UAE driver currently in seventh place in the Drivers' Championship Standings in the Series is holding his own against the more experienced international drivers.
Ana Beatriz back with Sam Schmidt Sam Schmidt Motorsports announced Feb. 20 that it has signed Ana Beatriz as driver of the No. 20 Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry in the Firestone Indy Lights. Beatriz, who goes by the nickname "Bia,"enters the 2009 season as a strong contender for the championship title after finishing third as a rookie in 2008. Beatriz became the first woman in history to win a race in the Firestone Indy Lights when she took the checkered flag at the Nashville Superspeedway in July. She also received the prestigious Firestone Indy Lights Rising Star Award.
"I'm very excited to return to the Firestone Indy Lights with the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team," Beatriz said.
"We had a great year in 2008 as a group, and now we can focus on trying to win more races. It's great to be back. I know (managers) Andre Ribeiro and Augusto Cesario made the right choice last year in helping me establish myself as a driver in U.S. motorsports and racing in the Firestone Indy Lights with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Being with Sam again is amazing, and being able to stay with team will allow us to continue moving forward. I'm excited Healthy Choice is back with us, and I'm hoping we can win a championship with everyone involved."
USF1 team has no interest in Honda team On a Wind Tunnel interview Sunday night Peter Windsor, soon to be team owner of the newest squad to join pitlane next season, USF1, has revealed that the cost of setting up a new team with partner Ken Anderson in the United States is going to be a much cheaper alternative than purchasing the remnants of the almost defunct Honda Racing Team and that the philosophy behind their new venture is completely opposite to everything that the Brackley based squad has ever stood for.
“Absolutely not!” he told us about the possibility of purchasing Honda. “Far too many people, far too expensive, too much debt, massively cancerous infrastructure, a team born for the completely wrong reasons, BAT pouring money out of the sky, it was completely the wrong philosophy. We are the other way, our philosophy is the smallest number of the best possible people. Honda’s (philosophy) seems to be the greatest number of maybe the best people they can get but they certainly have a massive number of people that we wouldn’t even contemplate.”
Speed TV will be airing the live official announcement of the newest team to join Formula One tomorrow, February 24th at midday US Eastern Standard time. While there will be no official launch as such, as the new car will not be ready until later this year, Windsor will officially reveal their plans for the 2010 season.
Fontana's Track boss touts passion, turnout Despite the economic crunch that has hit California particularly hard and predictions of a disastrously small turnout Sunday, it appeared the grandstand that holds 105,000 spectators was more than half full.
Auto Club Speedway president Gillian Zucker was obviously pleased with the numbers.
"This says a lot about what Southern Californians feel about NASCAR," she said as the cars zoomed around the nearby track. "I think there is not any kind of question about how hard this part of the country has been hit by the economy.
"...To see this kind of a crowd in this grandstand says a lot, I think a heck of a lot, about how we've promoted this event and how much people are beginning to care about this sport the same way with the same passion as they have in the Southeast."
NASCAR does not check video on rainout finishes Jeff Gordon told his team last week after the Daytona 500 that he believed he could have been scored 12th instead of 13th in that Sprint Cup race, depending on the interpretation of NASCAR rules and policies. The final verdict: He was 13th. Here's why Gordon was confused: When the caution comes out during a race, the field is frozen and reset to the previous scoring line. Depending on the track, there are a dozen or so scoring lines spread throughout the oval. But NASCAR policy is that on the last lap, it uses video in addition to the scoring lines to determine the final position. Gordon believed he had passed David Reutimann after passing the scoring line, but before the caution came out for rain in the Daytona 500. NASCAR later called the race because of rain. Gordon crew chief Steve Letarte discussed the situation with NASCAR officials after the race to learn about the interpretation, which was that NASCAR will only use video on the final scheduled lap or green-white-checkered situation. "We use the non-video freezing of the field because we didn't know that we weren't going to go back racing," NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said Friday at Auto Club Speedway. Scene Daily
The end of Stepneygate Italian justice is a curious thing that can drag on for years on end and it is thus interesting to see that McLaren and the investigators in Modena appear to have reached an agreement to bring an end to Stepneygate, with a number of fines for McLaren personnel. The team is expected to pay them all, except that of Mike Coughlan, which he is expected to have to pay himself. There were three fines each of $200,000 for Rob Taylor, Paddy Lowe and Jonathan Neale. The team is expected to pay these and although there is no official word on this matter, it seems that the decision was taken to end the affair at whatever cost, rather than letting it drag on for years. There is, of course, an implication of guilt in accepting such a settlement, but McLaren's view has long been that it exists to go racing and that to lose focus on that would be a mistake. Grandprix.com
Honda CEO Fukui to retire, Honda F1 future unclear Honda Motor Co has announced that Takeo Fukui is to retire as president and chief executive officer in June. He will be replaced by Takanobu Ito. The 55-year-old joined Honda in 1978 and worked in R&D for much of his career, heading Honda R&D in the Americas from 1998 onwards. He went on to become head of Honda R&D in 2003 and stayed in that position until being appointed chief operating officer of automobile operations in April 2007. He has been the general supervisor of motorsports since April 2004.
The good news for Honda is that he is a motor racing man but given the state of the car markets at the moment it is unlikely that this will change Honda's decision to quit F1. The emphasis will be on technological innovations and more environmentally-friendly vehicles and thus if F1 can provide good value for money and development in this area, Honda could one day return. Thus it makes little sense for the team to be disbanded and the assets sold off. To waste that investment makes no sense and so the idea of a management buyout remains the most likely way forward, with Honda perhaps retaining options to buy the team back when the financial outlook improves. Honda is expected to report profits on March 31 of around $856m, which is a lot lower than forecast but a healthy sum nonetheless.
"Instead of copying all the ideas from A1GP, just buy me out! Everything we are is what Formula One is trying to be." Tony Teixeira, chairman of A1 GP, commenting that Formula 1 pilfered A1GP's ideas; like using a single tire supplier, similar specification engines, and the Force India-style concept of national team pride.
“I tried to help with the management buyout. They should have taken what I offered. It was a very good offer for everybody concerned. It gave them complete protection but they wanted to do things on their own. Now all we can do is hope and pray! I don’t think anybody knows what is going to happen with Honda. It is up to them to make up their bloody minds. The silly thing is we have got Bruno [Senna] wanting to drive. It would be fantastic for everybody to have the name Senna back in F1. If we lost a McLaren or Ferrari or somebody like BMW, people would wonder what’s going on. But I don’t think that will be the case with Honda. They didn’t do too much last year, did they?” Bernie Ecclestone, President and CEO of Formula 1 Management and Formula One Association
"I've got it parked within the white lines; pit it." Michael Waltrip, NASCAR driver, Michael Waltrip Racing, shouted angrily to his rattled pit crew during the Stater Bros. 300 Nationwide race as their car faced completely backwards after Brandon Whitt's Ford hit Michael Waltrip's Toyota as he was pulling into his pit stall. The team collected themselves and performed a four tire stop on their car facing backwards.
"Drew has brought magic to the team. His dad was a coach and he played real competitive sports in high school, so he knows how to build a team, he knows how to capitalize on the energy within a team and we needed that. We had all the right people with the right skill sets on the team, but we just need somebody to create the magic and Drew has done that." Team owner Jack Roush on Matt Kenseth's new crew chief Drew Blickensderfer who is 2-for-2 in wins.
“Absolutely not!” he told us about the possibility of purchasing Honda. “Far too many people, far too expensive, too much debt, massively cancerous infrastructure, a team born for the completely wrong reasons, BAT pouring money out of the sky, it was completely the wrong philosophy. We are the other way, our philosophy is the smallest number of the best possible people. Honda’s (philosophy) seems to be the greatest number of maybe the best people they can get but they certainly have a massive number of people that we wouldn’t even contemplate.” Peter Windsor, soon to be team owner of the newest squad to join pitlane next season, USF1, on Wind Tunnel Sunday night.
Brown, Capps, Coughlin pick up big wins at 25th Phoenix The silver anniversary of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist Nationals in Phoenix was highlighted by triumphant wins by Antron Brown (Top Fuel, pictured), Ron Capps (Funny Car), and Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock).
Brown and Coughlin edged out respective multi-time Phoenix victors Brandon Bernstein and Kurt Johnson in the final round. Capps singled in the final as Mike Neff wasn't able to stage.
Brown and Capps leave the second event of the 24-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series as the point leaders, while Coughlin is a close second behind Pomona winner Jason Line.
881 dealers closed in 2008 Dealerships dropped like flies in 2008, with 881 retail stores resigned to history at year's end. The steep drop in vehicle sales and difficulty finding cash to finance inventories were the main reasons for the record decline, but 2008 won't likely hold that title very long. While vehicle sales dropped 18% in 2008 to 13.2 million vehicles, many analysts are expecting 2009 sales to plunge all the way down to 10 million units. The additional drop in sales, along with domestic automakers' drive to consolidate their dealer networks, will likely make 2009 very difficult on franchises. Predictably, domestic-brand dealers were the hardest-hit, suffering 80% of the overall casualties. GM, Ford, and Chrysler are likely hoping the trend continues through 2009, as Detroit automakers have less than 50% of the US retail market and closer to 75% of the overall dealerships. Reuters
Gauteng, South Africa – Johannesburg’s Miss Amy Lombard was crowned ‘Miss TW Steel South Africa’ on Sunday as TW Steel, the ‘Official Watch and Timing Partner’ to A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, hosted the fifth round of its global search for ‘Miss TW Steel 2008-09’ at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit. Amy’s success was celebrated alongside race wins for A1 Team Netherlands and A1 Team Switzerland as A1GP made its series debut at Kyalami having raced in Durban previously.
Lombard won a TW Steel watch and $1500 U.S. along with the title of ‘Miss TW Steel South Africa’, having impressed both the judges and the enthusiastic crowd on hand to watch the competition, held between the Sprint and Feature races in a packed weekend schedule.
Sunday’s judges included Claudia Henkel, no stranger to such competitions having won ‘Miss South Africa’ in 2005, and Zino Ventura, the reigning ‘Mr. South Africa.’ They were joined on the panel by TW Steel CEO, Jordy Cobelens, and Gary Hopkins from Luxco, TW Steel’s South African distributor, as well as Simon Robinson from A1GP.
Amy Lombard will now be flown to London, England later in the year to go head to head with the other national winners of ‘Miss TW Steel’, each competition being hosted on A1GP race weekends. In addition to aiming to be crowned ‘Miss TW Steel 2008-09’, the overall winner will be presented with $25,000 U.S. in prize money and enjoy a photo-shoot with a leading lifestyle magazine.
Friday qualifying leaders stay on top in Phoenix The top performers in the Professional ranks during Friday qualifying remained the qualifying leaders despite an onslaught of great runs in the final day of qualifying at the Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals in Phoenix. Mike Edwards (pictured) will head into final eliminations from the No. 1 spot in Pro Stock, while father and son crew chiefs Ed and Jason McCulloch tuned their respective drivers Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Larry Dixon (Top Fuel) to the top spots.
Never before in drag racing history had a father and son tuned drivers to No. 1 spots in different Professional classes at the same event. This occurred in just the second race of the younger McCulloch's tuning career.
Though Dixon has been followed closely by his competitors in Top Fuel, he is the only leader in the Professional ranks that clearly had the best car during both days of qualifying. Mike Neff had the best Saturday in Funny Car, and Greg Anderson and Allen Johnson were slightly quicker than Edwards in Pro Stock on Saturday.
Dixon was the class of the field throughout qualifying. He wheeled the Alan Johnson/Al-Anabi Racing dragster to respective runs of 3.843, 3.807, 3.828, and 3.818 en route to the 32nd No. 1 qualifying effort of his career. To open eliminations on Sunday, he'll face Terry Haddock, a Funny Car driver who will be making his first start in Top Fuel.
"I'm happy to see Jason got his first pole, and I think it's really neat that his dad got one, too," said Dixon. "It's great to be up here with a brand-new team. When you look at what [team owner] Alan Johnson has done over the past 15 years, not qualifying in Pomona with only one shot was just a small hiccup.
BGB drops out of Grand-Am Koni series For the first time in 5 years, BGB Motorsports will not contest a season of competition in the Grand-Am Koni Sports Car Challenge Series. The team is currently making preparations to cease their Porsche program. The group supports two Porsche 911 Carreras in the Grand Sport class and has been supporting Porsches in the series since the inaugural Grand Sport race at Daytona in 2004, when the Grand American Road Racing Association revised what was then known as Grand-Am Cup, into 2 classes. Team Principal John Tecce commented:
“This is the first year that we are not able to secure season-long funding commitments from drivers for at least one of our cars. In seasons past, even if the deal came together after Daytona, we usually had something by this point. With the uncertainty in the markets and with discretionary spending, we’re just as affected as everyone else, as we experience the same problems as everyone else. We’ve had to make some difficult decisions about the program. My first introduction to professional motorsports and the first sports car race I ever attended was the Grand-Am Cup race at the Watkins Glen in 2001, and I’ve only missed 2 events since.”
New Donington to provide 'great racing' Peter Wahl, who is a partner in Hermann Tilke's circuit design group, and one of the architects behind the new Donington Park grand prix circuit, is confident that the new track will provide both a suitable challenge and plenty of action.
"The long straight will be very fast, but then it goes into a slow hairpin and I believe that will create the perfect overtaking place, and that is what we need, more overtaking, more excitement," he said.
"There is the new piece on the circuit infield, and that will be demanding and exciting.
"It goes downhill steeply and into a left-hander - the drivers will feel the high pressure there, and then they will have to accelerate back uphill."
"Donington presented a big challenge - there are the big spectator banks, the tradition of the flowing downhill section at Craner Curves to the Old Hairpin, the racing through what is like a country garden, but then we have to provide the new sections," he said.
Honda chiefs turned down Bernie's help (GMM) Honda team bosses turned down Bernie Ecclestone's financial help for their attempted management buyout.
In an interview with News of the World, the F1 chief executive revealed he offered to assist Nick Fry and Ross Brawn to complete the deal, which also would have given him a voice inside the FOTA alliance.
"They should have taken what I offered," said the 78-year-old, amid reports that Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is now close to buying the Brackley team.
"It was a very good offer for everybody concerned. It gave them complete protection but they wanted to do things on their own. Now all we can do is hope and pray," Ecclestone added.
The Briton said he does not know what is going to happen, but expressed frustration that the uncertainty is also threatening the unconfirmed debut of Bruno Senna.
"It would be fantastic for everybody to have the name Senna back in F1," said Ecclestone.
Ticket demand decline in Malaysia (GMM) Compared with the same time last year, 20 per cent fewer tickets have been sold for the forthcoming Malaysian grand prix.
To the New Straits Times newspaper, the Sepang circuit's chief executive Razlan Razali confirmed that the global financial crisis has had an effect on the organization of the 2009 event.
"It is a 20 per cent drop in ticket sales compared to the same period last year, but we expect walk-in sales to increase as we move closer to the race," he said.
The circuit, located near capital Kuala-Lumpur, is scheduled to host round two of the 2009 calendar, on 5 April, a week after the Melbourne season opener.
Kyle Busch, hot on the heels of last year's NASCAR domination, proved once again Saturday he is NASCAR's best driver by a wide margin
Then, following a period of frequent controversial comments that were often very funny, the same observers started addressing him as "Rowdy." But after watching his amazing performance last Saturday at the Auto Club Speedway maybe it's time we all start calling him "sir."
Busch led 143 of the 150 laps en route to winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Stater Brothers 300. His Joe Gibbs Racing/Z Line Designs Toyota completely dominated this event. This win came a matter of short hours after Busch ran away from the competition and won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race making him the first NASCAR driver to win two races, in two different series, on the same day. Oh by the way, in between these two events, he also ran his Sprint Cup Toyota during the final practice session, AKA Happy Hour, where he kept the car in the top ten on the speed charts.
Kyle Busch made the rest of the NASCAR drivers look like monkeys at Fontana on Sunday
There's only one way to describe it: Kyle Busch just simply beat up the competition en route to winning Saturday's San Bernardino County 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at the Auto Cub Speedway. He performance was dominant on the track and his Billy Ballew Motorsports team was dominant on pit road. When the checkers flew at the end of the scheduled 100 laps Busch crossed the start finish line with a full nine second lead over runner up Todd Bodine. That's how strong his Miccosukee Resort Toyota Tundra was. At the beginning of the race he roared out of the front row pole position and by lap number six he held a three second led over his nearest competitor.
Now for you fans who prefer to read negative comments about Kyle Busch you may be disappointed. There only seems to be one negative comment available from this race: Kyle Busch didn't drive a completely flawless race because he only led 95 of the 100 laps.
The Tale of the Tape: Busch's domination Kyle Busch entered unchartered territory Saturday, becoming the first driver in NASCAR history to win two national series races in one day. What is more impressive, however, is the manner in which it was done.
Busch earned a perfect Driver Rating of 150.0 in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series San Bernardino County 200 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series Stater Bros. 300 at Auto Club Speedway. It was the fifth time Busch accomplished the feat in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and second in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He also posted a perfect Driver Rating in the last NASCAR Nationwide Series event held at Auto Club Speedway, in August 2008.
Driver Rating takes several statistical categories into consideration, including Average Running Position, Percentage of Laps Led and Percentage of Fastest Laps Run. Busch dominated each of these categories in both races:
NCWTS San Bernardino 200
NNS Stater Bros. 300
Average Running Position
% of Laps Led
% of Fastest Laps Run
This is just the third time a driver has won both a NASCAR Nationwide Series and a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in the same weekend. There have been 31 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series-NASCAR Nationwide Series sweeps. No driver has ever won all three races in the same weekend.
Weekend USA TV RemindersUPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below. Courtesy of TVRacer.com NHRA Qualifying Phoenix 12:00am-2:00am ESPN2 Nationwide Race Stater Bros. 300 Fontana 2:00am-4:00am (R) ESPN2 Bodine Bobsled Challenge Lake Placid 3:00am-5:00am (R) SPEED Nationwide Race Stater Bros. 300 Fontana 9:00am-11:00am (R) ESPN Classic NASCAR Now 10:00am-11:00am ESPN2 NHRA Qualifying Phoenix 11:00am-12:30pm (R) ESPN2 AMA Supercross Atlanta 12:00pm-1:00pm (R) SPEED NHRA Race Day Phoenix 12:30pm-1:00pm ESPN2 AMA Supercross Lites Atlanta 1:00pm-2:00pm (2/21/09) SPEED NASCAR Performance Fontana 2:00pm-2:30pm SPEED NASCAR Smarts Fontana 2:30pm-3:00pm SPEED NASCAR in a Hurry Fontana 3:00pm-3:30pm SPEED NASCAR Raceday Fontana 3:30pm-5:30pm SPEED NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 500 Fontana 5:00pm-10:00pm (L) FOX Sports The SPEED Report 7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED NHRA Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals Phoenix 7:00pm-10:00pm (SD) ESPN2 Movie: 199 Lives: The Travis Pastrana Story (2008) 8:00pm-10:00pm ESPN Classic Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain Peter Windsor (SPEED F1 Reporter) Miguel Duhamel (5-time Daytona 200 Winner) 9:00pm-10:00pm SPEED NASCAR Victory Lane Fontana 10:00pm-11:00pm SPEED Monday (Partial) A1 Grand Prix South Africa 8:00am-11:00am (2/22/09) Setanta Sports Check local listings for your time zone All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com
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