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Biffle's Crew Wins Tissot Pit Road Award in Vegas  Greg Biffle's #16 team claimed the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award at Sunday's Shelby 427 Sprint Cup event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Biffle's Ford Fusion spent the least amount of time on pit road -- 252.400 seconds -- during the 285-lap, 427-mile race. The speedy #16 pit crew has helped lift Biffle to fourth place in the driver point standings. The #16 over-the-wall crew consists of: Todd Zeigler (front-tire changer), Colin Pasi (front-tire carrier), Kyle Power (rear-tire changer), Kevin McDowell (rear-tire carrier), Rodney Fetters (jackman), Billy Manchester (gasman), Ryan Dextraze (catch can) and Chris Elliott (windshield). The team's crew chief is Greg Erwin and the pit crew coach is Andy Ward. For winning the weekly Tissot Pit Road Precision Award, the #16 team will receive $5,000. The payout for the season-championship pit road team will be $100,000 and a Tissot watch for the driver and members of the over-the-wall crew. DMF Communications/Tissot PR
tv news
NASCAR: Las Vegas TV Rating drops  UPDATE NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing on FOX once again dominated weekend sports coverage. Sunday’s (3/1) race from Las Vegas Motor Speedway scored as the most-watched and highest-rated weekend sports event giving NASCAR on FOX that distinction for the third consecutive week. Sunday’s victory by hometown favorite Kyle Busch averaged 11.1 million viewers (6.5/12 national rating/share) towering over the next closest event, ABC’s Lakers/Suns broadcast, which recorded 4.7 million viewers (3.1/6). According to Nielsen Media Research, FOX’s 11.1 million viewers on Sunday is up 5% over the 10.6 million viewers Sprint Cup Racing at LVMS has averaged from 2001 to 2008 on FOX. Sunday’s 6.5/12 equals the average household rating over the same eight-year span [down 9% from 2008 which was 7.1/13 and 12.1 million viewers]. Fox PR

03/02/09 NASCAR on Fox earned a 5.5/10 yesterday evening for racing from Las Vegas. Sunday's 5.5/10 is the top sports rating of the weekend by a wide margin, +45% better than ABC's 3.8/8 for Lakers-Suns yesterday afternoon. Compared to last year's overnight rating, FOX's 5.5/10 is down -11% versus a 6.2/12. However, note that in each of FOX's NASCAR races this season the rating has compared better to last year in the nationals than in the overnights.
RLR/Andersen Racing Tabs Romancini  
Mario Romancini
One of the most competitive rides in the Firestone Indy Lights Series will go to Brazil's Mario Romancini.

RLR/Andersen Racing co-owner Dan Andersen announced today that the 21-year-old from Sao Paulo, Brazil will be behind the wheel of his team's No. 5, which will be sponsored by Allied Building Products Corp., Win Brazil Marketing and Revita, a recycling company for paper, plastic and aluminum beverage bottles and cans.

Romancini is signed to participate in the full 15-race season and compete for both the championship and the series' Rookie of the Year award.  He has already won two other Rookie of the Year awards in other open-wheel series, as he was the top rookie as well as the series runner-up in the South American Formula 3 series in 2007. The year before that he was Rookie of the Year and finished fifth in the Formula Renault series in Brazil. Last year he drove on many legendary European circuits while competing in the World Series by Renault. Prior to focusing on formula cars he honed his craft by recording many impressive records in karting. More ...

Stoner dominates Day 3 in Qatar  Casey Stoner ended the Qatar test at the top of the timesheets, having dominated the final night at the Losail track. The Ducati rider, who had also been quickest at Sepang last month, was 0.989 seconds clear of second-placed Jorge Lorenzo, whose Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi completed the top three.  Once again Stoner was significantly faster than his American teammate Nicky Hayden who many believe needs to retire.


Pos Rider Bike Time Laps
1. Casey Stoner Ducati 1:55.744 31
2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1:56.733 82
3. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1:56.972 75
4. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 1:57.224 70
5. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1:57.225 53
6. Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1:57.253 42
7. Randy De Puniet Honda 1:57.401 77
8. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1:57.449 74
9. Colin Edwards Yamaha 1:57.515 46
10. Alex De Angelis Honda 1:57.591 61
11. Toni Elias Honda 1:57.804 66
12. Mika Kallio Ducati 1:57.938 54
13. Niccolo Canepa Ducati 1:57.946 50
14. Yuki Takahashi Honda 1:58.412 61
15. James Toseland Yamaha 1:58.786 51
16. Marco Melandri Kawasaki 1:58.851 73

Losail Lap Record: Casey Stoner 1:55.153s (2008)

Fiat to Take 35% Chrysler Stake  UPDATE #3 Fiat S.p.A. CEO Sergio Marchionne is slated to travel to Washington D.C. to meet Thursday with President Barack Obama’s auto team and discuss an alliance between the Italian automaker and Chrysler LLC, which is lobbying for $5 billion more in federal loans.  Marchionne will explain how Fiat would share technology with Chrysler to give the Auburn Hills-based automaker the knowledge it needs to jumpstart its development of small cars, said Fiat spokesman Gualberto Ranieri.

Chrysler, which is already operating on $4 billion in federal loans, and Fiat in January reached a non-binding deal to form a partnership that would give Chrysler access to Fiat’s small-car technologies in exchange for a 35% stake in Chrysler.  Both companies have said that additional federal loans will be essential to the deal. Detroit Free Press

01/27/09 Fiat S.p.A. CEO Sergio Marchionne and a team of Fiat senior executives visited Chrysler LLC headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Saturday morning, according to a letter to Chrysler employees from CEO Bob Nardelli.

The Fiat team visited a display of vehicles in Chrysler's design dome and met with Nardelli; Tom LaSorda, co-president; Frank Klegon, executive vice president of product development; Frank Ewasyshyn, executive vice president of manufacturing, and other executives.

"This was a very positive meeting," Nardelli's letter said of the Fiat visit. "This potential alliance is very promising, but getting there is totally contingent on meeting the viability plan required of us by the U.S. Treasury.

"We must work even harder to find ways to reduce costs while investing in product improvements and innovation that will support our sustained viability for the long term. We're stepping up this process." AutoWeek   More ...

New Renault R29 getting reliable  
Renault R29
The ING Renault F1 Team enjoyed a productive day in Jerez as Fernando Alonso completed a mammoth 152 laps en route to setting the third fastest time of the day. With yesterday's session being washed out by heavy rain showers, the team was keen to make the most of the dry and sunny conditions today. Initially the track was damp, but by mid-morning conditions had improved enough to allow Fernando to get down to some valuable set-up work on slick tires. The team also evaluated some new developments while continuing to add mileage to the car.

"Today was a very productive day as I managed to complete 152 laps which gave us lots of useful data,” Alonso said. “At this stage of the season it's important to have as much time in the car as possible to get used to the new rules such as the moveable wings and the KERS system and so I'm happy to have done so much today. Everyday we keep learning new things and I'm feeling more and more comfortable in the car. Hopefully tomorrow we can have another dry day to build on the work we did today."

Fernando remains in the R29 tomorrow for the team's final day of testing this week.

Mathiasen and Bomarito re-up for 2009  Last season’s dominant Team-Driver combination has once again teamed up to chase the 2009 Cooper Tires presents the Formula Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda. American, Jonathan Bomarito once again joins forces with last season’s owners of the year, Ray and Leslie Mathiasen and the Mathiasen Motorsports team that took Bomarito to a series high for race wins, poles and laps led on their way to a close runner up position in the 2008 Atlantic Championship.

The team returns with the full squad intact from last year and race engineer/technical director Alain Clarinval looks forward to getting off to a fast start in the series testing at Palm Beach and Sebring in preparation for the season opener March 20, 2009 at Sebring, Florida during the 12 Hours of Sebring weekend of racing. “This is a fantastic chance for us to go back with our well oiled machine of a team and an outstandingly talented driver that we know how to support and provide for him to be the very best. It’s like wearing old shoes that are so comfortable but that got polished to a mirror and with new laces to tighten them well,” stated Clarinval.

Stated team owners Ray and Leslie Mathiasen, "We are extremely grateful to Jonathan that he has agreed to return and drive for us once again in 2009.The team we have assembled for the most part will be identical to the one that came so close to winning the Atlantic Championship in 2008 and now also includes a full time data support engineer to assist Alain Clarinval". We definitely have some unfinished business to take care of and with the added incentive of a substantial improvement in the prize fund structure provided by the Atlantic series, everyone on the team is totally committed to achieving our mission of winning the 2009 Atlantic Championship. It's been a long off season and we can hardly wait for the first race of the season in Sebring this month. This is a great series and we are proud to once again be part of it."

Bomarito shared the other’s enthusiasm for the upcoming season stating, “I am really looking forward to being back with Mathiasen Motorsports. To say we have some unfinished business is an understatement. I want to thank Ray and Leslie Mathiasen for giving me another opportunity to keep racing and further my career in Motorsports.”

Formula Atlantic, North America’s premiere open wheel development series, has a 35 year storied tradition of advancing the careers of some of the world’s top racing talent. From legends such as Villeneuve, Rosberg, Rahal, Vasser and Andretti to the new blood like Allmendinger, Fogarty, Pagenaud, Gurney, young Graham Rahal and Raphael Matos, there is no question that Formula Atlantic remains one of the world’s most formidable proving grounds for Championship winning auto racing talent in Formula 1, IndyCar, ALMS, Grand Am, NASCAR and every other top Motorsports series.
Vegas Nationwide race TV Rating  ESPN says ESPN2’s coverage of last Saturday’s Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series rate earned a 2.1 household coverage rating from Nielsen Media Research.  The rating matched that of last year race, which also was carried on ESPN2, and averaged 2.8 million viewers.  The network also says the race was the highest-rated sporting event on cable television for the weekend.
Prosecution: Helio Castroneves cheated IRS  Brazilian Helio Castroneves -- two-time Indy 500 champ, TV's Dancing with the Stars winner -- believed in the ''land of opportunity,'' until it came time to pay his taxes to the U.S. government, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Then the multimillionaire race car driver thought he was ''above the law,'' Assistant U.S. Matt Axelrod said during opening statements in Castroneves' tax-evasion trial in Miami.

Castroneves, who owns a mansion in Coral Gables, is charged along with his sister, Katiucia, and his Michigan attorney, Alan R. Miller in a conspiracy to evade paying taxes on more than $5 million from the driver's racing and licensing agreement with the Penske Team between 1999 and 2004.

''They thought that the rules that apply to taxes didn't apply to them,'' Axelrod told the 12-person federal jury. ``In this land of opportunity, these defendants didn't miss an opportunity to play by their own rules.''

But the defense team countered the prosecution's case was a ''fiction,'' fueled by the IRS' drive to target the 33-year-old celebrity.

''They have come up with a fiction,'' Castroneves' attorney, Roy Black, said in his opening statement, saying his client's tax obligation was legitimately deferred until May. More ...

GM reports February sales plunge  General Motors dealers in the United States delivered 127,296 vehicles in February, down 52.9 percent compared with a year ago, driven by a 75 percent reduction in fleet sales. However, GM's car sales compared with January were up nearly 23 percent, and crossover sales increased 6 percent, as financing availability continued to improve and slightly more fleet orders were able to be filled.
Glock's Toyota fastest at Jerez Tuesday  
Timo Glock when the track was still wet
Following yesterday's rain, it was back to sunnier weather for the F1 teams in action at Jerez today. The showers continued until shortly before the start of testing but the sun appeared soon afterwards. The tarmac took two hours to dry out but after that there was dry running for the rest of the day. Timo Glock spent the morning putting in a race simulation in the Toyota TF109. He completed the run without any problems in the changing conditions before moving on to set-up work, setting the day's fastest lap during a late qualifying simulation. Jarno Trulli is scheduled to take over for the next two days.

"That was a productive day," said Glock. "This morning we were again a bit unlucky with the conditions, which made the race simulation quite tough. But it was useful to find out when to change to slick tires and our pace wasn't bad. Then we got some dry running for the rest of the day. We did a lot of set-up work and late on we did some shorter runs to make it through the program. We've made it through a lot of miles over these two days and we're making useful progress."

"Overall it was a good day", Kubica said after completing his third day of testing in Jerez. "We were able to make up some of the time we lost yesterday when rain meant we had to change our schedule. I started on extreme wet tires, changed to wet tires and finally drove slick tires. Together with the various different set-up solutions I tried that helped me get an even better feeling for the car."

Today's times:


Driver Team Time Laps
1. Glock Toyota 1:19.814 141
2. Massa Ferrari 1:20.238 134
3. Alonso Renault 1:20.296 152
4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.535 85
5. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:20.621 63
6. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:21.021 98
7. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:21.069 98
8. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:21.412 125

GM begs Europe for government aid  General Motors’ struggling European operations will run out of sufficient money to operate in the second quarter of this year unless governments across Europe provide aid, GM President Fritz Henderson said at the auto show here today. To avoid that immediate and disastrous shutdown, GM will set its European operations up as an entity in which third parties will hold a considerable stock interest, perhaps more than 50%, Henderson said.

“It’s important that GM Europe stays within General Motors,” Henderson said, adding that he was “not in a position to foreclose” any option, including European governments owning more than half of the new business.

GM is seeking 3.3 billion in euros or about $4.125 billion from the European countries

GM’s plan will still allow the company to use its global resources to develop powertrains and vehicle architectures that will be produced and sold around the world, Henderson said.

GM is not speaking with any private investors, making government aid the only alternative to a virtual shutdown when GM Europe runs low on operating money.

That would immediately put 250,000 to 300,000 people across Europe out of work, GM Europe President Carl Peter Forster said, adding that problem would cost governments more than the billions of dollars of aid GM is seeking.

Opening arguments to be heard in Castroneves tax fraud case  
So far the judge has sided against Castroneves in pre-trial arguments made by his defense team
Opening arguments in Miami federal court begin Tuesday in the tax-evasion case against Brazilian race car driver Helio Castroneves, the two-time Indy 500 winner and the Dancing with the Stars celebrity.

Castroneves, 33, is charged along with his sister and attorney in a conspiracy to evade paying taxes on more than $5 million from the driver's racing and licensing agreement with the Penske Team between 1999 and 2004.

If convicted, Castroneves, a Brazilian national who owns a mansion in Coral Gables, and the others could face from five to 10 years in prison -- plus hefty fines.

There has been a flurry of pretrial motions by both sides following the filing of the grand jury indictment last October. In almost every instance, Castroneves, his sister, Katiucia Castroneves, and the racer's Michigan lawyer, Alan R. Miller, have come out on the short end. More ...

Herbalife to sponsor E.J. Viso  Herbalife Ltd. will be the official nutritional sponsor of IndyCar Series racer E.J. Viso under a sponsorship deal announced Monday. The agreement also gives Herbalife exclusive branding rights on Viso’s helmet, which he will wear during the 2009 IndyCar Series. According to a release from the company, Viso has been a consumer of Herbalife products for the past 10 years, making him an ideal brand and product endorser.

“I’ve seen the benefits of using Herbalife products first-hand – from healthier nutrition to keeping me energized, so I can’t be more pleased about representing Herbalife,” Viso said in the statement.

Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Viso, 24, has raced in both GP2 and IndyCar Series Championships, and was a Formula One test driver.

Los Angeles-based Herbalife (NYSE: HLF) is a global network marketing company that sells weight-management, nutrition, and personal care products.

Sprint Cup teams engine problems had different causes  The president of Toyota Racing Development says the engine failures incurred by the three Roush Fenway Racing teams during Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway were unrelated to the problems five Toyota teams experienced on Saturday. "Not in any way related,'' Lee White said on Monday. "We're going to take 100% responsibility for maybe not having all of our ducks in a row with durability testing when we got to the racetrack to be ready for the decisions the teams put the engines through to get ready for qualifying.'' Four teams supplied engines by TRD -- #00-David Reutimann and #47-Marcos Ambrose of Michael Waltrip Racing and #83-Brian Vickers and #82-Scott Speed of Red Bull Racing -- had to switch engines and start at the rear of the field. Pole-sitter and eventual race winner #18-Kyle Busch also started at the back of the field after switching engines, but his was built by Joe Gibbs Racing. White said all seven teams supplied engines by TRD likely will go to Atlanta this week with the same new generation engine but with the conservative package -- a thicker lubricant and small mechanical change that determines how much oil stays around the camshaft -- that reduced horsepower by three to four at Vegas. He blamed the Toyota failures on teams trying to get more horsepower out of the engine for qualifying and practice. Instead of returning to Charlotte, N.C., on Monday he flew to TRD headquarters in California to make sure the issue wasn't a factor moving forward.

Roush Fenway co-owner Jack Roush on Sunday speculated that the new tire Goodyear introduced led to blown engines by #17-Matt Kenseth, #6-David Ragan and #99-Carl Edwards. Doug Yates, who runs the Roush Yates engine program, wanted to wait until the engines were fully examined before commenting. "I think we misjudged how fast this tire was going to be, and the engine turned more,'' he said. "It's the same spec on the engine that we had all of last year. It wasn't something new or experimental. I had great confidence in it.'' White said he is comfortable moving forward after Sunday in which three Toyotas finished in the top eight -- including two with the more conservative TRD engine -- and eight were in the top 22. ESPN.com
FIA boss Max Mosley hits out at the current state of F1  FIA boss Max Mosley has hit out at the current state of Formula One, claiming that the sport possesses a 'culture of wastefulness' as well as cost issues which must be rectified to ensure a safe future for the sport. The endeavor for success has succeeded over any kind of financial discipline. Formula One is becoming ridiculous," Mosley explained to German publication Spiegel. The FIA president is warning teams that more manufacturers could find themselves in the same position as Honda and withdrawing from the sport if rising running costs are not seen to in the immediate future.

He continued: "Maybe we (the FIA) could turn things around completely and grant technical freedom while imposing limits to the budgets." Mosley also warned that, with shares of Daimler at an all-time low and those of Renault just over the ten euro mark, job cuts in large car companies are far more than a distant possibility.

"What happens when people have to be made redundant? Can it still be justified to invest so much money in Formula One?" he questioned. "Nobody can rule out the possibility of having a fax landing on the desk of a racing team's headquarters saying: Sorry, that's it."

Ill Buemi sits out Adria debut  (GMM)  Sebastien Buemi had to sit out Tuesday's closed-door shakedown debut of the 2009 Toro Rosso car.

At the Adria circuit in Italy, his French teammate Sebastien Bourdais was instead at the wheel of the Ferrari-powered STR4.

The Swiss newspaper Blick said rookie Buemi, 20, will take over on Wednesday.  "It's because I have the flu," he is quoted as saying.

Swiss Buemi also gave a predictable preview of the Adrian Newey-designed car.  "It's like the Red Bull, only in our colors!" he said.

Massa 'happy' with '08 title support  (GMM)  Felipe Massa believes most formula one drivers were barracking for him in the title showdown with Lewis Hamilton last year.

At the Interlagos finale, many drivers were quoted as supporting the Ferrari driver over McLaren's Hamilton, the eventual winner of the 2008 title by a single point.

"Yes, I think so," he said in an interview with The Guardian.  "I was very happy.  They were supporting me because I always respect everybody.  I always respect my team and my competitors.  I never had problems with anybody."

Interviewer Donald McRae asked Massa, 27, if Hamilton is different.  "Even when I had problems with somebody, afterwards it was fine," the Brazilian answered.

"When I had a problem with Alonso I saw him face to face.  He said sorry and it was fine," Massa said.

McRae wrote in the newspaper piece that Briton Hamilton, 23, has been accused of arrogance.  "Not going into it too much, I was quite happy to see that the other drivers were supporting me," Massa said.

Does Massa like his 2008 championship foe?  "I think he's OK.  In GP2 he was racing for my manager's team but, for sure, I don't have so much experience with him after he comes to F1," said the Paulista, referring to Hamilton.

"Some people change.  I don't know if he has changed a lot in his normal life.  I don't have so much experience of him to say."

Sutil backs Kolles, Gascoyne sackings  (GMM)  Force India driver Adrian Sutil has backed boss Vijay Mallya's decision last year to sack the team's top managers.

After the Silverstone based squad failed to score a point in 2008, Indian billionaire Mallya dismissed team principal Colin Kolles and technical boss Mike Gascoyne.

Co-owner Mallya, despite also overseeing his Kingfisher and United Breweries brands, and his Indian Premier League cricket team, now heads the F1 team.

But German Sutil, 26, insists the decision to farewell Kolles and Gascoyne was right.

"There were quite a few problems at the end of last season and the team decided to sort out those problems, and made the decision to make a new start without Colin Kolles and Mike Gascoyne," he said.

"The atmosphere is very good so obviously the decision was right -- it helped us," Sutil told F1's official website.

Sutil's relationship with Kolles dates back to 2004, when he raced with Kolles' F3 team.  Under Kolles' leadership, Sutil entered formula one with the Silverstone-based F1 team, in its former Midland and Spyker guises.

"I have to give credit to Colin for the fact that he kept this team alive," Sutil admitted.  "We have to be fair and say that he did a good job.  But formula one changes so I think it was the right decision."

Bourdais shakes down new Toro Rosso  Scuderia Toro Rosso today began the closed-door shakedown program for its new 2009 challenger, the Ferrari-powered STR4 at Adria Raceway.

Contrary to earlier reports, the new car is being shaken down by Sebastien Bourdais and not new rookie team-mate Sebastian Buemi.

In addition, we previously reported that the test would take place on Wednesday but the test had been brought forward one day.

“The program has changed,” a spokesperson told ESPN Racing-Live.com. “Bourdais is doing the shake down today. 

Being a private close door test, things can easily change.”

The team is expected to take part in the Barcelona group test which begins next Monday.

Massa wants shorter F1 races  (GMM)  Felipe Massa believes shortening the distance of grands prix would be a worthwhile reform.

Ahead of the outlining of the FOTA alliance's vision for the future of the sport this week, the Ferrari driver said he would lop about 15 laps from the tail of the 300 kilometer-plus races.

"Too often nothing happens in the last 15 laps," he told the Roman daily La Repubblica.

The Formula One Teams Alliance will lay out its plans at a Geneva press conference on Thursday, to be attended by all team bosses, including Renault's Flavio Briatore.

"We want to see more spectacular grands prix and reduce the costs," the 58-year-old is quoted by European publications as saying.

"We want to reduce costs by 40 to 50 per cent, and we want teams of 200 people, not two thousand."

Toyota seeks Japanese government assistance  Toyota Motor Corp has applied for a loan backed by the Japanese government to help its finance arm lower its funding costs as the global crisis tightens access to credit, a company official said on Tuesday. Toyota, facing an operating loss of $4.6 billion this business year, was seeking a loan of about $2.1 billion through its wholly owned car-loan financing firm, Toyota Financial Services, public TV broadcaster NHK reported earlier. Chronic fear of default is making low-cost funds harder to come by, especially in the United States, even for cash-rich companies such as Toyota. "Toyota is not in danger. It's out to get the lowest price for funding that the strength of its credit can get," said Yasuaki Iwamoto, an analyst at Okasan Securities. "On the balance sheet, it doesn't matter if the funds are private or public." Toyota, the world's top automaker, is in a much better position than its competitors, which have a higher percentage of loans in arrears, he said. CNBC/Reuters
Kyle Busch parties hard in Vegas  On Sunday, Kyle Busch edged out Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton at the Shelby 427 race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. To celebrate, he partied at Vegas hotspot Body English in the Hard Rock Hotel with friends Sunday night.

This race set a Vegas record for cautions as almost 1/4 of the race was run behind the pace car. Busch started on the pole but didn't lead that first lap.

Busch pulled through at the end of the race, however, and claimed the win with a comfortable lead in front of both Bowyer and Burton.

Sunday nights are Sunday school nights at Body English, where ladies who wear schoolgirl outfits drink free champagne until midnight. That wasn't necessary while Busch was celebrating there last night, however - the racing champ purchased 10 bottles of champagne and sprayed most of the bottles out onto the crowd on the dance floor. All Headline News

Sprint Cup: Las Vegas recap  Nevada native Kyle Busch won his first race at his home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Diamond in the Desert. Hear from an emotional Busch as well as runner-up Clint Bowyer, and find out why Matt Kenseth couldn't make history. More ...
Versus to kick off big IRL campaign  The Indy Racing League’s new TV partner is getting ready to launch a full-throttle promotional offensive. The Comcast Cable-owned Versus TV network is launching a promotional campaign March 7 that will not only be seen on Versus, but across Comcast channels, and in print, on billboards and possibly even in movie theaters.

While full of horsepower, it seems the campaign is getting revved a little late given that the season opener is April 5 at St. Petersburg, and this is the first year Versus has aired IRL races. I’m surprised I didn’t see a single IRL promotional spot during last month’s week-long Tour of California bicycle race featuring Lance Armstrong. And there have been few sports during National Hockey League games.

But maybe Versus will make up for its late start with intensity. According to IRL officials, the campaign will air on Versus (and other Comcast Cable channels) nationwide. The print, billboard and movie ads will be targeted at Tampa/St. Pete, Dallas, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Nashville, Tenn. Then Versus will expand it from there. ESPN certainly never promoted the series like this. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Test cuts dangerous for drivers - de la Rosa
  • Ferrari sits out rain-drenched Jerez test
  • Bahrain wants benefit from credit crunch
  • Force India not raising false hopes - Mallya
  • Abu Dhabi homologation set for July
  • USF1 not interested in hiring Button
  • Force India consent to Honda-Merc engine deal
  • Recession cost Force India sponsors - Mallya
  • Emirates denies Honda sponsorship rumors
  • Briatore expects Piquet to perform in 2009
  • Team silent as Honda F1 saga reaches apex
  • F2 has not affected Williams' F1 effort

Pedro de la Rosa
Test cuts dangerous for drivers - de la Rosa
(GMM)  F1's ever-tightening test restrictions are potentially dangerous, McLaren reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa insists.

The veteran Spaniard, also president of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), said the limited pre-season miles and the total ban on in-season track development means reserve drivers will be "rusty" if they are called upon to race at grands prix.

"We could be a problem in the safety aspect if you haven't driven enough," the 38-year-old said at this week's Jerez test, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The last time de la Rosa contested grands prix was in former team regular Juan Pablo Montoya's seat in 2006, but he said the test regulations were very different then.

"The only thing I was not used to was to take a start, but this year the situation would be very different if I have to replace a driver mid-season, because I will have been four or five months without having driven an F1 car, with the problems that brings to the rest," he explained.

De la Rosa even doubts the testing limitations will succeed in drastically cutting costs, with teams turning instead to expensive wind tunnel, simulator and computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

"I think that testing is the cheapest way to develop a car," he said.  "That's my opinion."

Ferrari sits out rain-drenched Jerez test
(GMM)  As was forecast, heavy and constant rain affected the entire day of testing at Spain's Jerez circuit on Monday.

Seven of the eight teams present persisted, but Felipe Massa spent the session in the garage and was also seen trackside wearing a raincoat, as Ferrari opted to sit out the abysmal weather.

"As the week goes on the weather should improve," said Renault's chief test engineer Christian Silk.

"With the start of the season so close, it's a shame to have a fully wet day."

Bahrain wants benefit from credit crunch
(GMM)  Bahrain is hoping to capitalize on the global recession by attracting more European visitors than usual to the grand prix next month.

According to the local Gulf Daily News, some tickets for the 2009 event at Sakhir have been slashed by more than 40 per cent.

"We expect that a lot of businesses that would normally travel to far away races will be looking carefully at Bahrain," chief executive Martin Whitaker said.

"Ultimately, yes they will be looking at their cash flow, but at the same time they will be looking at maybe not travelling to Australia, China and Malaysia, but considering the shorter haul route to Bahrain," he added. More ...

Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix News  
The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix is one of the most widely followed events on the annual Formula One World Championship. Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) chief executive Martin Whitaker revealed yesterday that over 540 million viewers tuned in from around the world to watch last year's race on television. The massive global audience adds to the nearly 100,000 other spectators who attended the three-day extravaganza in Sakhir.

Whitaker hopes for much of the same following for this year's Grand Prix, and he trusts that it will be a much greater "spectacle" on the track than in years past following the many rule changes implemented for the upcoming season.

"That championship last year, going right down literally to the last 500 meters after a whole season, speaks volumes for F1," Whitaker told the GDN. "And with all the changes in regulations this year, I think we're in for another great season and a fascinating Bahrain Grand Prix; it will definitely be a great spectacle in the kingdom once again."

Whitaker was speaking on the sidelines of a Press conference where he announced the BIC's plans for this year's greatly anticipated race weekend, which takes place between April 24 and 26 as the fourth round of the F1 World Championship. More ...

Melbourne gears up for world's first Twilight Grand Prix  
A brand new race schedule for the 2009 FORMULA 1™ ING Australian Grand Prix which will see on-track activity start at lunchtime and finish at sunset across all four days. The world’s first “twilight” Grand Prix will start in Melbourne at 5:00pm (AEDST) on Sunday, 29 March.

In order that Formula One practice and qualifying sessions occur at approximately the same time and under the same conditions as the race itself, on-track action will now commence and conclude later across the entire Grand Prix festival.

Friday practice sessions will take place between 12:30pm – 2:00pm and 4:30pm – 6:00pm.

Saturday practice will occur from 2:00pm – 3:00pm, with qualifying now starting at the later time of 5:00pm. More ...

Montreal to keep its Nationwide race  Stock-Car Montreal, a subsidiary of International Speedway Corporation (ISC), announced it has signed a three-year lease with the Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal to host major motorsports events on the historic Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.

In addition, the management of Stock-Car Montreal announced that tickets to the third annual NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge will be available to the public beginning in mid-March. More ...

Racing News
Jim Russell announces 2009 schedule  
Jim Russell Racing German F3 cars
Ready to build upon its successful and competitive inaugural year, the new Jim Russell Championship Series (JRCS) has announced the 2009 season schedule– kicking off on April 18 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.   

JRCS, the official racing series of the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School, will feature an eight-race schedule that will conclude on November 13, where two champion drivers will be announced, one for the Championship Class and one for the Masters Class.  All eight JRCS race weekends include two races per weekend, coaching from expert racing drivers and access to deluxe hospitality at the Jim Russell complex located at Turn 1 of Infineon Raceway.  The 2009 JRCS race schedule also includes three official testing dates and eight official practice dates.  All JRCS races are held at the Infineon Raceway, one of the most challenging race tracks in North America.  JRCS also announced that it will host a non-points paying race at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma IndyCar weekend on Sunday, August 23, 2009.  Drivers will compete in front of more than 40,000 Indy race fans, sponsors, guests and support personnel. More ...

Dale Coffey dies  Former CART corner worker Dale Coffey passed away at home following an illness, at 50 years of age, on February 27, 2009. He is survived by two sons, Zachary and Kyle Coffey of Cement City, MI; fiancée, Francine Moon of Jackson; one sister, Lisa (Dave) Willard of Westland; and one brother, Chris (Leslie) of Akron, Ohio. He was preceded in death by his mother, Velma Coffey. Dale was a member of the Army National Guard Airborne Rangers and also a member of the American Veterans M.C. He was a tool and die maker by trade, working in the profession for 25 years. Dale was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed hunting and fishing his entire life. Family will receive friends on Tuesday, March 3 at 4:00 p.m. with a service following at 5:00 p.m. at Arbor Grove Congregational Church, 2621 McCain Rd, Jackson, MI. The Reverend John Doud officiating. In lieu of flowers, donation can be made to a trust fund for his children, Zachary and Kyle through American One Federal Credit Union, Brooklyn branch.
Tom Anderson hopes for change in fortune  
Tom Anderson
Tom Anderson has been around the track a time or two, if you’ll excuse the phrase. Co-principal of Lowe’s Fernandez Racing in the American Le Mans Series, Anderson and the rest of the team are hoping to make amends for what he called one of the most frustrating seasons he can remember following an LMP2 campaign that saw seemingly never-ending bad luck. The first step in turning that page is the season-opening 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida.

Question: How do the challenges of running in the American Le Mans Series compare to others in which you’ve been involved?

Answer: The technology that this Series has available is by far ahead of anything right now with the exception of F1. Alongside that, there are so many more options available to teams with multiple tire manufacturers, chassis, engines and the other variables that come with it. It’s not a spec series like so many other championship these days. Part of your work is picking the most competitive package.  Adding to these challenges are the length of the races. Even through the American Le Mans Series has fewer races than say the IRL, we actually race for more hours over the course of the season.

Our longest race is the 12 Hours of Sebring, which I think is the most demanding race in North America for several reasons, including the fact the track is based on a WWII airfield. Some of the track is quite rough, and it’s a challenge to keep anything together for 12 hours on that surface. More ...

Stoner tops Monday testing in Qatar  A strong wind blowing sand across the track Monday meant that the MotoGP riders’ lap times were not as fast as in the race here in 2008. Honda rider Dani Pedrosa hit his left wrist and left knee in a fall and was taken to the circuit medical centre where initial x-rays showed no signs of a break. However, the impact re-opened the existing wound in his left knee, which required three stitches. Pedrosa will now fly home and undergo further precautionary scans. He will be hopeful of being fit for the final pre-season test at Jerez, Spain which begins on 28 March.

Monday Test Times

1. Casey Stoner  (Ducati)  1:57.139  37 laps
2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)  1:57.747  51 laps
3. Colin Edwards  (Yamaha)  1:57.817  41 laps
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda)  1:57.879  60 laps
5. Chris Vermeulen  (Suzuki)  1:58.018  24 laps
6. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki)  1:58.264  42 laps
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)  1:58.400  63 laps
8. Alex De Angelis  (San Carlo Honda) 1:58.441  53 laps
9. Nicky Hayden  (Ducati)  1:58.577  54 laps
10. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda)  1:58.619  28 laps
11. Randy De Puniet  (LCR Honda)  1:58.936  55 laps
12. Toni Elias  (San Carlo Honda) 1:59.036  56 laps
13. Yuki Takahashi  (Scot Honda)  1:59.153  65 laps
14. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki)  1:59.195  63 laps
15. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati )  1:59.266  36 laps
16. Mika Kallio  (Ducati)  1:59.764  48 laps
17. James Toseland  (Yamaha)  2:00.234  51 laps

Formula Ford
Newgarden to take on Europe  
Josef Newgarden
The ’08 racing season was a incredibly successful development year for rising American open-wheel standout Josef Newgarden, filled with exciting on-track battles, regular success and some positive opportunities.  In an effort continue pursuing his dream of a Formula 1 career, Newgarden has confirmed that he will be making the move to Europe in 2009. The talented young driver from Tennessee will contest the entire 25-race British Formula Ford Championship this coming season, driving with series front-runners and former Formula Ford Festival winner Joe Tandy Racing.

"Moving to the UK on a full-time basis this year is going to be a real challenge, but I have already spent a few months here and have made some great friends and connections," stated Newgarden, from his new home base. “Now that I’ve signed with Joe Tandy Racing, I’m ready for my next hurdle en route to one day competing in the F1. Although I will not underestimate any of my competition, I know I am up to the challenge. I can’t wait to continue testing ahead of the season-opener in mid-April." More ...

Lola calls Dave Richards a liar  Following a number of inaccurate and misleading quotes given by the Aston Martin Chairman David Richards, regarding the supply of the Lola LMP1 chassis to Aston Martin Racing for this year's Le Mans 24 Hours and Le Mans Series program, Lola has decided to set the record straight.

The Lola Aston Martin is a Lola designed and built car. It is not a 'radical re-design' as stated by Aston Martin Racing. Aston Martin has undertaken some body styling cues that required some CFD work to try to reinstate the Lola Aero performance and minor bespoke mechanical changes to accommodate the styling changes. Lola has spent over two and a half years in the research and development of this state of the art car costing several millions of pounds. Aston Martin contracted with Lola in December 2008 to buy our cars because they knew that as a result of the 2008 performance that we had the leading LMP1 customer car and Aston Martin didn't have the time to develop their own car. When Aston first mooted rehomologation of the Lola car and was given the cost of their contribution to IPR and R&D the negotiations broke down. It is completely inappropriate that Aston Martin should now attempt to achieve "ownership" through misrepresentation in the media.

Lola's binding contract with Aston Martin is for two cars the nomenclature of which under the contract is that the cars must remain Lola Aston Martin.

racing news
Didier Theys Announces His Retirement as Driver  Didier Theys, one of the most successful and popular endurance sports car drivers on either side of the Atlantic, today announced his retirement as a professional race car driver.

Theys, 52, will continue to work in the sport as a consultant and driving coach, both for individual drivers and teams and for World Class Driving, where he is the driving director.

A native of Nivelles, Belgium and that country's Driver of the Year in 2002, Theys came from modest means and a family with no connections in the sport.  He took out a bank loan for his first Formula Ford championship, and with his driving talent, expertise on set-ups, tenacity, perseverance and friendly personality, he built a career as a professional race car driver at the top of the sport for more than 30 years. More ...

Glock fastest as rain hits Jerez testing  With just a few weeks to go until the season opening Australian Grand Prix, the penultimate group test at Jerez today was hit by heavy rain ensuring that the lap times around the 4.428km Spanish test venue remained over ten seconds slower than those recorded in the dry yesterday.

Timo Glock topped the timesheets in his Toyota TF109. Glock completed 89 laps, his fastest of 1:30.979s coming on his 83rd lap of the day.

Robert Kubica was second fastest in his BMW Sauber, just four-tenths shy of pace-setter Glock while Nico Rosberg posted the third best time just a fraction slower in his Williams Toyota.

Giancarlo Fisichella was again back behind the wheel of the brand new Mercedes-powered Force India as the Italian veteran was able to put another 54 laps on the VJM02 package.

For the second straight day Sebastien Vettel was left stranded on circuit as his Renault-powered RB4 let him down. Vettel, who set the pace yesterday in the dry with a best lap of 1:19.055s, had to be content today with the fifth best time.

Testing continues on Tuesday.

Today's Times
1 . T. Glock - Toyota TF109 - 1:30.979 (+ 0.000 ) - 89 laps
2 . R. Kubica - BMW Sauber F1.09 - 1:31.327 (+ 0.348 ) - 70 laps
3 . N. Rosberg - Williams Toyota FW31 - 1:31.451 (+ 0.472 ) - 114 laps
4 . G. Fisichella - Force India Mercedes VJM02 - 1:31.547 (+ 0.568 ) - 54 laps
5 . S. Vettel - Red Bull Renault RB5 - 1:32.220 (+ 1.241 ) - 102 laps
6 . H. Kovalainen - McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 - 1:33.371 (+ 2.392 ) - 91 laps
7 . N. Piquet - Renault R29 - 1:33.476 (+ 2.497 ) - 66 laps
8 . F. Massa - Ferrari F60 - No Time (+ N/A ) - 0 laps.

racing news
Quotes of the week  UPDATE
“Listening never hurt anyone. It’s interesting, right?” Danica Patrick, IndyCar driver, Andretti Green Racing, on speculation that NASCAR and F1 teams are interested in signing her

"Unfortunately, our company has a slight cold right now.  But we would like to cure this cold as quickly as possible and work towards reaching that happiness [of racing]." Takanobu Ito, the future Honda CEO, set to take over Honda Motor Company in June

"I tell you what, this is pretty cool. I didn't know exactly what it would mean, but coming to the checkered flag, there were knots in my stomach. It's bigger than winning the Daytona 500. I said it wasn't going to be, but it is. I just had to kiss the ground this place was built on (recalling watching every phase of construction)." Kyle Busch, NASCAR driver, Joe Gibbs Racing, after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his hometown track

"Clint Bowyer slipped off the bottom just a little bit.  So I had my left sides right on the white line there, got a good drive through the center of the corner because it gripped good.  I got right up to him.  He started coming back down a little bit.  I'm like, 'Oh, don't do that.'  He got loose and I got by him.  Fortunately it was a clean move for us.  We were able to get by him.  He was able to rebound with a second-place finish.  I think he got by (Jeff) Burton there at the end.  He had a good strategy there to stay out on his old tires.  He knew what to expect with his car.  He wasn't the fastest car because of those tires, not having any.  We were able to have just a little bit better grip than he did and pass him."  Kyle Busch, NASCAR driver, Joe Gibbs Racing, on his winning pass.

"It's been kind of a crazy weekend and a crazy race.  I'm kind of disappointed that we didn't start out as well as what we had practiced all weekend.  The car wasn't where it needed to be.  We had to make some major adjustments.  Sometimes you just have to scratch and claw and kick, spit and fight for a win.  That's what this whole race team did, along with Kyle (Busch) today.  I think they took advantage of an opportunity when it came."  Steve Addington, Crew Chief, Kyle Busch's No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing when asked if he thought his car was capable of winning the race Sunday

"If I were to design a Formula One driver today, I would design Marco. He learns quickly. He’s very much of a free spirit." Mario Andretti, World Racing Legend, promoting grandson, Marco Andretti, to drive a Formula 1 car for the new USF1 team

“The fact that we are in a recession means people actually listen to us now and take us seriously because it all adds up. Forget the $48 million bond days, forget the $100 million budgets, forget the $30 million retainers for drivers. Over the next three or four years, things are going to change dramatically in Formula One and that’s our period. I first told Bernie Ecclestone about this in Brazil ’06, and he was his usual specific self and said, ‘Great, get it done.’ The FIA equally have known about this in detail now for about five to six months and instantly grasped the program and accepted the program as we wanted to do it as, dare I say it, the poster child of how a Formula One team should be going into the next generation facing a recession and the rule changes. How we are approaching it – the lean, mean skunk works approach – is exactly the sort of thing the FIA are looking for, so they say, for the future.” Ken Anderson, Team Principal, new USF1 team

"Peter Windsor is a very appealing young man … they used to say Tommy Lasorda would bleed Dodger blue, well (Peter) bleeds Formula One red and you can feel it. It’s a genuine thing. He is a very good student of it. I just feel like he is a huge asset to the team, and the knowledge he has built up and the credibility he has maintained is all very, very positive." Dan Gurney, World Racing Legend, commenting on Peter Windsor's credibility and experience to help run the new USF1 team 
tv news
Motorsports This Week on ESPN  
Evernham, Craven, Wallace on NASCAR Now Monday Roundtable Discussion

NASCAR Now, ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information show, holds its weekly roundtable discussion of the latest NASCAR news and events in a one-hour episode airing Tuesday, March 10, at 1 a.m. ET (late Monday night). Host Allen Bestwick will be joined by NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Mike Wallace and ESPN NASCAR analysts Ray Evernham and Ricky Craven. 

Episodes of NASCAR Now air Tuesday through Friday of this week at 5 p.m. The one-hour weekend edition of NASCAR Now airs Sunday, March 8, at 10 a.m. with a preview of that day’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

NASCAR Now is hosted by Nicole Manske, Mike Massaro and Bestwick and originates from ESPN’s high definition studios in Bristol, Conn. Contributors include NASCAR Insiders Marty Smith and Angelique Chengelis, analysts Ray Evernham, Tim Brewer, Brad Daugherty, Boris Said, Ricky Craven and Randy LaJoie, and ESPN.com reporters Ed Hinton, Terry Blount and David Newton. The NASCAR on ESPN team event coverage team of Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Dr. Jerry Punch, Andy Petree, Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Shannon Spake and Vince Welch also make frequent contributions to NASCAR Now. More ...

Castroneves trial starts today  IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves goes to trial today in federal court in Miami on tax evasion charges. Prosecutors claim that Castroneves, his sister and business manager Katiucia Castroneves and Michigan attorney Alan Miller "conspired to hide" more than $5M from the IRS from '99-'04. If convicted, the three "each could face more than five years in prison." The trial is "expected to draw paparazzi and television crews"  South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Pakistan targets Portugal return  A1 Team Pakistan has set its sights on a return to A1GP racing action in the Algarve in Portugal on 12 April.  A fortnight ago the team tested their new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car, running more than 150 laps at the Phakisa Freeway Circuit in Welkom, South Africa, but elected not to race in Kyalami.

Seat holder and driver for the team, Adam Khan, was behind the wheel and was pleased with the progress the team made over the course of the test session.

“It’s been a long wait for me to have a car which I could safely and comfortably fit, but it’s been worth it,” he said. “I really enjoyed the handling of this new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car, and I was gaining confidence throughout the test. It was a very smooth running test and with the excellent reliability we had, we were able to quickly move on to developing our performance. More ...

Abu Dhabi F1 on track despite crisis  (GMM) Preparations for the inaugural Abu Dhabi grand prix remain on track, despite the problems struck by the official F1 theme park in nearby Dubai.

It emerged last week that F1-X developer Union Properties halted construction of the theme park due to the global financial crisis and the drying up of bank liquidity.

With fellow developer Aldar Properties in the midst of a similar project, the Abu Dhabi F1 track and other ventures on Yas Island, it was feared the scene of the 2009 season finale might also be affected.

But Yas Island Project director Steve Worrel said: "The global economic meltdown has helped the projects as more workers and bidders are available now."

The United Arab Emirate capital's inaugural grand prix is scheduled for November 1.

Tester Wurz calm amid Honda rumors  (GMM) Alex Wurz is staying calm amid raging speculation the team currently known as Honda will survive to contest 2009.

The F1 veteran confirmed to sportnet.at that he remains "under contract as spare and development driver" with the Brackley based squad, whose future has been clouded since owner Honda Motor Co. announced it is withdrawing from the sport.

According to the latest strong rumors, however, the team has been taken over by a group of existing management, with the new guise 'Brawn Racing' or 'Brackley F1' possibly to be announced officially on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, it is rumored the new Mercedes-Benz powered car - formerly to be titled the RA109 - will be shaken down at Silverstone, ahead of a single full pre-season test in Spain prior to Melbourne.

"I will believe it only when official confirmation comes from Japan," Wurz said. "With the Japanese, everything can move very fast."

SMI tracks seeing ticket surge  With four of the next five Cup races – Las Vegas (SMI), Atlanta (SMI), Bristol (SMI), Martinsville (ISC) and Texas (SMI) – at the SMI tracks, company president Marcus Smith has seen a surge in recent ticket interest.

“We really start rolling in March, April and May,” said Smith, who also is president of Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “We’ve seen a big pickup in tickets once the season got kicked off. We’ve also seen a big pickup in people taking advantage of the deals that are out there.”

“I thought it was really good,” Smith said. “The racing in Daytona was awesome. I felt the guys were trying to win it from lap 1. … The California race ended up being a good race. The last 50-60 laps of a real duel between [Matt] Kenseth and [Jeff] Gordon was great. Last year, the guys would wait until the last 20 laps or so before they started really pushing the car.” More ...

Q&A with Vegas Sprint Cup winner Kyle Busch  
The JGR M&M's Toyota crew gives Kyle Busch quick service in Las Vegas
How great is this win in your hometown?
"This is pretty cool.  I didn't know exactly what it would mean.  Coming to the checkered flag there were knots in my stomach.  This is probably as big as the Daytona 500 -- I said it wasn't going to be but it is.  I want to thank M&M's, Interstate Batteries, the fans, Marquee Jets, Toyota, TRD, NOS Energy Drink, Pedigree, Combos -- everybody on this team. They're phenomenal, what can I tell you.  Should have got one yesterday but missed out on it.  I apologize to the Nationwide guys, but this is sort of a little bit of redemption here today."

What was it like winning after starting in the rear?
"We just had to battle back.  We didn't have the best car out there today but we had a car we kept working on - just kept making better.  I don't know where I get credited for winning this thing, whether it's from the back or from the pole.  Either way we conquered both of them, that's for sure.  Steve Addington (crew chief), I have to thank that guy.  He's the leader in this team, everybody believes in him -- I believe in him.  As long as you have that everything seems to run smooth." More ...

A1GP News Round Up  With A1GP World Cup of Motorsport heading onto the home straight as regards Season Four attention is now switching to the next race, the championship standings and the first race of Season Five.

The sixth event of the season, A1GP Algarve, Portugal, on 10-12 April is at a brand new venue for the series and one of the most eagerly awaited on the calendar by the series in general and A1 Team Portugal in particular. A1GP is not the only series to have been to the impressive Autodromo International Algarve for testing as Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver, Felipe Massa, was there in his Formula 1 car in December. The Brazilian visited A1GP Gauteng, as he was in South Africa for a sponsor event, and spent time with A1 Team Portugal where he joined Filipe Albuquerque in a photo shoot to help publicize the Algarve event. More ...

Williams 'skate fins' legal - Michael  (GMM)  Despite the banning for 2009 of winglets and other bodywork appendages, Williams' new FW31 hit the Jerez test track on Sunday featuring the prominent 'skate fins' on the cockpit sides.

The large vertical fins are reminiscent of last year's engine cover 'horns', which because of the aerodynamic rules changes for 2009 are no longer seen on the cars.

But despite suggestions the surfboard-style Williams fins may be illegal, technical director Sam Michael explained: "In the area of the head restraint, the 75 millimeter radius (bodywork) rule does not apply."

The Australian clarified to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that the fins are not downforce-producing, but rather "flow aids".

Michael said BMW-Sauber has already dabbled with a similar concept and that it is likely "others will follow suit".

Also evident from recent test appearances is that Toyota is staying with the so-nicknamed 'shark fin' engine cover concept for the new TF109 single seater.

Liuzzi interested in Le Mans drive  UPDATE (GMM)  Vitantonio Liuzzi could race at the famous Le Mans 24 hour event this year.

The 27-year-old Italian is already active in the Middle Eastern-based touring car series Speedcar, as the workload of a formula one test driver throttles back even further due to the new restrictions.

Liuzzi will travel the entire 2009 calendar as Force India's reserve driver, but his only taste of the VJM02 single seater is likely to be a short Silverstone shakedown prior to Melbourne.

After that, the in-season test ban comes into force, and testers for most F1 teams will instead be active in other racing categories.

"Of course I will try to have a look round to try and keep racing without taking my focus away from F1, as this is for sure my main thing," Liuzzi, a veteran of 39 grands prix for Red Bull's F1 teams, said.

"I want to keep my racing experience going and that's why I am looking at projects such as the Le Mans 24 hours.

"The plan is still fluid for now, but for sure I will try many categories that can keep me racing at a top level," he added.

Tonio Liuzzi
Vitantonio Liuzzi has admitted that he would be interested in a drive at Le Mans this summer due to the new testing regulations brought into play in Formula One. Liuzzi will remain with the Force India team this season as test and reserve driver but will see his time at the wheel of the new VJM02 hit by new rules that severely limit testing over the course of the year.

“Unfortunately the rules this year do not favor test drivers very much, both pre-season and during the season, but I am still really looking forward to it,” he said. “There have been many changes in the regulations, both on the technical and aerodynamic side, with new systems such as KERS and also slick tires being used, so it will be a difficult year for everybody as it will change the field a lot. I am excited about this as, from a driver perspective, it's a new challenge with lots of new things to discover and develop.

“Of course I will try to have a look round to try and keep racing without taking my focus away from F1, as this is for sure my main thing. I want to keep my racing experience going and that's why I am looking at projects such as the Le Mans 24 hours. The plan is still fluid for now, but for sure I will try many categories that can keep me racing at a top level.” More ...

New poll on USF1  The results of our previous poll are shown below.  See our home page and vote for which American drivers the new USF1 team should choose.

For future races the IRL should add more
Ovals 13%
Road Courses 50%
Airports 19%
Street Circuits 17%

Rain interrupts MotoGP test in Qatar  The first installment of the official MotoGP night test in Qatar was unexpectedly halted by rain today as the Grand Prix paddock assembled at the Losail International circuit near Doha. Shortly after the circuit opened at 6pm and the first riders had ventured out, a heavy shower brought proceedings to an abrupt halt. With no sun to dry the floodlit surface, wet patches remained on parts of the track until the end of the test at 12 midnight. With lap times rendered largely meaningless, several riders - elected not to ride today. Teams will return to the desert circuit tomorrow, looking to the skies and hoping for clear weather.

Nicky Hayden  2m 00.717s  31 laps
Marco Melandri  2m 00.867s 35 laps
Mika Kallio  2m 01.020s 29 laps
Alex De Angelis  2m 01.074s 15 laps
Niccolo Canepa  2m 01.328s 26 laps
Chris Vermeulen  2m 01.843s 6 laps
Yuki Takahashi  2m 03.221s 18 laps
Andrea Dovizioso  2m 03.233 s 15 laps
James Toseland  2m 03.417 s 7 laps
Randy De Puniet  2m 03.580s 18 laps
Colin Edwards  2m 03.652s 8 laps
Toni Elias  2m 08.637s 3 laps
Jorge Lorenzo  2m 24.832s 1 laps
Valentino Rossi  12m 31.872s  1 laps
Dani Pedrosa      0 laps
Casey Stoner      0 laps
Loris Capirossi      0 laps
Ardoin joins JDC for Star Mazda  In their quest to regain the series title in the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear, JDC MotorSports has announced the signing of Alex Ardoin for the 2009 season. The former series race winner joins the ‘07 Star Mazda Champions following significant discussions during the off-season, putting another top pilot in the JDC line-up. With the addition of Ardoin, JDC MotorSports now has two series veterans on its roster, having signed Brazilian Caio Lara earlier in the year, and they appear poised to not only win races but to challenge for a second series crown during the 13-race campaign. More ...
Vettel dominates opening morning in Jerez  UPDATE Sunday testing is over and Fastest lap overall remained Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing) with a time of 1:19.055 min over the 4.428 km circuit. Some drivers were testing 2010 spec Bridgestone tires for next year. Testing continues for another 4 days.

F1's best driver by a wide margin, Sebastian Vettel, goes fastest in the lowly Red Bull car.  Imagine him in a McLaren!
Pre-season testing resumed today in Jerez, as eight teams took to the track to kick-start this week's five-day session, unusually beginning on a Sunday. Other than Toro Rosso and Honda, all teams were on duty, while most of the attention was being attracted by Force India, who debuted their VJM02 at the hands of Giancarlo Fisichella.

Although the weather was overcast and dry for the entire morning session, light drizzle began to fall just after lunchtime, before descending into a heavy shower shortly afterwards. Although the weather is expected to clear up in a few hours, rain is highly likely for the remaining days of the test.

Over the course of the morning session, just a single red flag period stopped running, when Felipe Massa stopped on-track just after noon. A second red flag was caused by Nico Rosberg after lunch, bringing the action to a halt for 20 minutes. More ...

Conway impresses in debut Indy test  
Mike Conway
Mike Conway caught the attention of his fellow Indy Racing League drivers by finishing in the top 10 at the first official test of the season in Miami this week. 

The Sevenoaks driver finished eighth overall in the two-day test at the Homestead Miami Speedway, ahead of front-runner Danica Patrick and 2007 champion Dario Franchitti.

Conway completed 276 laps in his first ever outing on an oval circuit for the Dreyer & Reinbold team, having agreed a deal to move to America in January.

The former British Formula 3 champion finished 14th after day one as he got used to the new car and surroundings. The following day saw him produce a best lap of 25.4299 seconds, averaging 210 mph, which secured eighth spot and made him the quickest rookie.

The 25-year-old was delighted with his debut performance in the series and admitted he is warming to racing on ovals at speeds of more than 200mph.     

He said: “The test went really well. We started off slowly as it was my first time on an oval, but we made lots of changes and got quicker and quicker. It’s a learning curve really coming into this sport from my background, but to finish the test with eighth place was a great result.

“It was pretty daunting the first time you turn at over 200mph as you are thinking ‘this is fast.’ I got used to it pretty quickly and it was really enjoyable to drive at those kinds of speeds.

“Towards the end of the test we got to run in traffic so I got to see what it would be like in a race scenario. It was great to be able to get to overtake people using the drafting techniques.”

Conway has one more test session at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama on March 21-23 before the season begins at St Petersburg on April 5.

Whitmarsh reveals offers to lead F1 teams  
Martin Whitmarsh
(GMM)  Martin Whitmarsh kicked off his new career as McLaren team principal by revealing it is not his first chance to lead a formula one team.

The 50-year-old, who for 20 years has been Ron Dennis' right-hand man at the Woking based outfit, officially stepped up to the top job on Sunday, with group CEO and chairman Dennis to focus on a broader role within the company.

But even though his move from British Aerospace to McLaren dates back to 1989, Whitmarsh told Sunday newspaper reporters at the team's futuristic headquarters that he has occasionally been asked to jump ship.

"I've had offers to be team principal at rival teams but this is the greatest motor racing team in the world and I wouldn't feel comfortable anywhere else," he said.

It is said that Whitmarsh and Dennis, a self-diagnosed obsessive perfectionist, are so similar in their approaches to formula one that very little will change at McLaren in 2009 and beyond.

But Whitmarsh insists: "Ron and I have common views but I am not an identikit of him.

"On the fundamental issues of how to go motor racing we are very similar in how we approach things," he admitted.

Vise-Grips on the battle field  Irwin Industrial Tools, a Newell Rubbermaid company and maker of the most reliable and versatile locking tools, the Irwin Vise-Grip, announced today that Dr. Bryan Fox of Chesapeake, Va., was selected as the winner of the "Tell Us Your Irwin Vise-Grip Story" promotion. Dr. Fox, an orthopedic surgeon for the United States Navy, was honored for using an Irwin Vise-Grip to perform spinal surgery during Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a result, Dr. Fox will be awarded a VIP Experience this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where he will meet Sprint Cup Series driver Jamie McMurray and the #26 Irwin Industrial Tools Vise-Grip Ford team. In Sunday's third event of the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season, McMurray will be sporting the Irwin Industrial Tools paint scheme, the first of eleven this season Fox also is receiving an Irwin Vise-Grip custom-branded chopper valued at $25,000 built by East Coast Custom Cycles. A member of the U.S. Navy for more than 25 years, Dr. Fox found a unique use for his Vise-Grip as a spine surgeon on the battlefield in the Middle East. In the heat of battle, Dr. Fox needed to perform emergency spinal surgery on a soldier who had a combination of screws and rods that had been implanted into his infected spine. Complicating the medical challenges at hand, Dr. Fox did not have access to the specialized tools necessary to deal with the soldier's different spine implants. Dr. Fox did, however, have access to a pair of Vise-Grips. He sterilized his Vise-Grip tools and used them to remove the rods and screws from the soldier's infected spine, effectively saving his life. See full story and images at Irwin Industrial Tools site
tv news
Weekend USA TV Reminders  UPDATE A reminder that we have suspended posting the Weekend USA TV Reminders commencing this weekend.  You can still obtain all of the current race program listings from the TV Racer and Race Fan TV links at the bottom left-hand side of our Home Page.

02/27/09 We will suspend posting the Weekend USA TV Reminders starting this weekend.  You will still be able to obtain all of the current TV schedules by clicking on the links to TV Racer and Race Fan TV at the bottom left-hand side of our Home Page.  We apologize if this will cause you any inconvenience.
McMurray under the weather  
Jamie McMurray
Jamie McMurray had the fastest Ford in Saturday's final practice session, but a bout with the flu prevented him from feeling good about his chances at a win. McMurray, seventh fastest overall, headed to the infield care center after practice to ask for new medication. "The medicine that I've got right now is not really working," said McMurray, who fell ill Tuesday night. "You think you'd be better by now and I'm not, so I'm going to see if they'll give me something else to help with my chest. My eyeballs are the biggest issue right now. There's a lot of pressure on them and when the car loads up in the corner it really hurts my eyes." McMurray was also ill the week of the season-opening Daytona 500, as were several other drivers. Associated Press
Drivers to Conduct Fan Forums at SMI Races  NASCAR drivers and Speedway Motorsports are teaming up to bring fans closer to their favorite drivers than ever before. The new "PRN Up To SPEED" program will bring NASCAR's top names out for fan forums at the SPEED Stage during each of the 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends at Speedway Motorsports' seven speedways across the country. The Performance Racing Network's on-air personalities will emcee question-and-answer sessions with some of the sport's biggest personalities at the SPEED Stage leading up to SPEED's regularly scheduled weekend programming.

"PRN Up To SPEED" will kick off Sunday at 9:30am/et, at the SPEED Stage located in the Las Vegas Motor Speedway midway. The stellar lineup will include Las Vegas-native Kyle Busch, legendary NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, and four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon. Each Speedway Motorsports track [Atlanta, Bristol, Infineon, Las Vegas, Lowe's, New Hampshire, Texas] that hosts a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will hold "PRN Up To SPEED" sessions during their respective race weekend. The location of the SPEED Stage may vary from track to track, but at all Speedway Motorsports facilities, the stage is always located in an area where access is free of charge for fans. SMI PR

Force India keen to find Indian talent  
Dr. Vijay Mallya
Force India team Vijay Mallya has admitted that he would love to run an Indian driver as part of his team's Formula One challenge in future, although such a move 'isn't right at the current time'.

"Much has been made of our decision not to employ an Indian driver, but it was my feeling that, although there is great talent out there, it is not right for Force India at the current time," he said. "Of course at some point, from a patriotic point of view, I would love to see an Indian driver driving an Indian car and I have always said that with 1.2 billion people there must be a Lewis Hamilton in there somewhere! We will keep our eyes peeled and if, or when, the time is right, you'll see it happen.

"Giancarlo and Adrian worked well for us in 2008. We certainly benefited from having Giancarlo's experience and Adrian is a hungry, upcoming driver who also knows the team well. It was the best driver combination available at the time."

"I think the prospects are bright, challenging and exciting," he said. "India has a strong, young and upwardly mobile middle class. The Indian economy is expected to grow at seven per cent despite the global economic meltdown and the quest for entertainment is growing.

"Force India have partnered with MTV to produce a reality show called 'Fast and Gorgeous' to identify four speed divas who will represent Force India during race weekends. This is expected to add great excitement amongst the youth and add further to the exponentially growing F1 television audience in India. There is also great media interest with national newspapers, whose circulation is amongst the highest in the world, regularly featuring the Force India Formula One Team."

NASCAR changes restart zone distance for Las Vegas  NASCAR is still experimenting with new distances for the restart zone. This weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it’s 90 feet.

The zone two weeks ago was 50 feet at Daytona. Last week, it was 110 feet at Auto Club Speedway in California.

NASCAR has created the restart zone to limit the area where the leader may restart the event.
Nationwide Series drivers were told of the change during their prerace drivers meeting Saturday.
tv news
Graham Rahal and Ron Capps will be guests on Wind Tunnel  Graham Rahal, Indy Car driver for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, will be a featured guest on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain this Sunday.  Graham is entering his second season in the IndyCar Series with the famed Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team.  He became the youngest Indy Car winner in series history, winning in just his first career start last year on the street circuit in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Ron Capps, NHRA Funny Car points leader, will also be a featured guest on Wind Tunnel this Sunday.  After winning the season’s first two events at Pomona and last Sunday in Phoenix, Capps finds himself atop the NHRA Funny Car standings by 97 points.  He has finished second in the Funny Car championship three times in his career and dominated the 2007 season before falling to fourth in the final standings.

Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain will be aired on Sunday, March 1 at 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm ET live on SPEED.

Alesi scores sensational double in Dubai  
Jean Alesi
Former grand prix winner Jean Alesi charged his way through the pack to win Saturday's Speedcar Series race at Dubai Autodrome, to add to his victory from the previous day.

Alesi, who started seventh on the reversed grid, pulled off some trademark stunning passing maneuvers as he carved through the field. It was a closely-matched race, however, with just seven seconds covering the top four after 40 minutes of racing.

Pole-sitter Damien Pasini led from the rolling start, but blatantly jumped the gun as he pulled out a big lead on his pursuers. Not only did he then quickly slip backwards through the pack on the opening lap, he received a drive-through penalty for his troubles. More ...
Racing News
Finlay Motorsports Announces Driver/Team Management Program  The formation of Finlay Motorsports Driver & Race Team Management was announced today by Finlay Motorsports President Rob Finlay.  This new division of Finlay Motorsports will provide a comprehensive suite of motorsports-related services designed to assist drivers at every stage of their careers from karting through the top levels of professional racing.  Services include everything from choosing the right racing school or series, planning a budget and negotiating contracts to driver coaching, physical/ mental preparation, engineering/car setup training, web sites and public relations.

Drivers already on the roster include graduates of the Finlay Motorsports Driver Development Program, such as NASCAR racer Michael McDowell, Daytona Prototype standout Michael Valiante and rising open-wheel and endurance racer Dane Cameron. 

"Finding your way through the maze of modern motorsports is a complex challenge that even the best drivers and teams can use help with," says Finlay, a experienced businessman/racing driver.  "We've structured Finlay Motorsports Driver & Race Team Management to serve a wide range of situations, whether you're a businessman looking to fulfill your dream of going racing, a young hotshoe who needs advice about the right path to get your career started, a seasoned pro negotiating your contract or an owner looking to build or re-structure a team.  We can help you make the right choices, cut the best deal and put together a winning effort quickly and efficiently." More ...

Speedway offering discount tickets  Kentucky Speedway wants to make going to its races this season an attractive and feasible option.  Taking a cue from other motorsports venues, Kentucky Speedway today will unveil discount ticket packages and promotions.

"I think it's just the reality of the marketplace that we're all in," Kentucky Speedway President Mark Simendinger said. "Look at retailers. Look at other sporting venues. Look at auto manufacturers. Look at people selling houses. Whatever it is, if you're not aggressive, then you're going to be left behind, and we don't want to be left behind."

Speedway Motorsports Inc. bought Kentucky Speedway last year and, in addition to bringing a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race to the track, the company's chairman wants to add 50,000 seats. Kentucky Speedway now has grandstand seating for 66,089 fans.

The ticket packages and new promotions apply to the track's three showcase events this season - the NASCAR Nationwide Series race June 13, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race July 18 and IndyCar Series race Aug. 1. The Nationwide Series and IndyCar Series events were announced sellouts last year. More ...

Three F1 teams tested this week  (GMM) This week saw a break in pre-season group testing, but at least three formula one teams kept up the track action with now less than a month to go until the 2009 season opener in Australia.

The most work was completed at the permanent Ricardo Tormo facility near Valencia in Spain, where Red Bull quietly got in a four day test with both Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel at the wheel of the new RB5.

It is reported that the Milton Keynes-based team did not strike any serious problems, and neither did Australian Webber, who completed two consecutive days at the wheel of a F1 car for the first time since his leg-breaking cycling crash late last year.

One of Vettel's tasks, meanwhile, was the shakedown of a second model of the Adrian Newey penned 2009 car.

Lap times were not released.

Also this week, Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer completed straightline aerodynamic tests with the F60 at Vairano, while Adrian Sutil took the controls as Force India's VJM02 was rolled out at Silverstone in new colours ahead of its proper test debut at Jerez.
Rosberg warns: Start winning or I'm leaving  
Pretty boy Nico Rosberg actually thinks another team will pick him up if he leaves Williams
Nico Rosberg has told Williams he could leave at the end of the season if they fail to give him a competitive car in 2009. The 23-year-old's contract expires this year and the son of Formula 1 star Keke Rosberg has made it clear he wanted to be challenging for the title sooner rather than later.

He said: "For me this is a crucial year mainly because I want to have success in my sport. That's what I am racing for. I hope I have the car to have that this year, it's very possible.

"But if not then I will have to see because by 2010 I really want to be in a top car.

"I really wish it could be with Williams. That would be something special, to have success with such a great team would be a special feeling."

"I'm really focused on the beginning of the new season and getting the best out of the new car. More ...

track news
Indy Centennial Era Gala highlights include Kinkade art unveiling  
IMS CEO Tony George, left, and famed painter Thomas Kinkade after Kinkade unveiled his Studio Masterwork that will serve as the cover of the 2009 Indianapolis 500 Official Program
Shawn Payne
Renowned artist Thomas Kinkade unveiled a new Studio Masterwork painting that will serve as the cover of the collectible 2009 Indianapolis 500 Program during the Centennial Era Gala on Feb. 27 in Indianapolis.

Kinkade revealed his piece, called Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 100th Anniversary, during the cocktail hour of the elegant Gala at the Indiana Convention Center. Described as a celebration on canvas, the painting spans the 100 years of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's history.

Known as The Painter of Light, Kinkade recently was named the featured artist for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Centennial Era, a three-year series of events that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the facility in 2009 and the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2011. More ...

Capital Window Signs NASCAR Partnership with TRG  Capital Window, today has signed a multi - race partnership on the No. 71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet Impala SS with driver David Gilliland in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starting this weekend at the Shelby 427 being run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Capital Window logoCapital Window specializes in packaging and positioning companies to experience growth and attract capital. Capital Window has helped many companies attract millions of dollars in private equity funding. The Capital Window team of seasoned entrepreneurs whose skills at measuring opportunities, packaging companies and raising capital has consistently helped individuals and companies achieve their goals.

Vegas qual. 2-27-09"We equip companies with effective tools to enable them to reach their goals," Thomas Carter, Capital Window founder said.  "Our focus is to help overcome the major hurdles associated with the process of growing a company, and free entrepreneurs to focus on core aspects of running the business. This was the main reason to sponsor TRG Motorsports and partner with Kevin Buckler with their new Sprint Cup Series team!"

"We are very excited to have a new partnership with Capital Window," Kevin Buckler, TRG Motorsports principal said.  "We are even more proud to bring on a sponsor with a Business to Business approach to NASCAR on and off of the track. We look forward to working with Capital Window during these changing times in the business world from new business models to growing new companies in 2009."
Q&A with Vegas polesitter Kyle Busch  
Kyle Busch and his NASCAR dominating Toyota
Can you take us through your qualifying run?
"I didn't know what to expect so I just gave it what I thought it needed in order to run a fast lap and it stuck pretty well.  It was just a little bit edgy in three and four coming to the green.  I kind of felt that so I expected it going back down there.  One and two is pretty decent.  It wanted to get loose but it just never really stepped out so I just kind of put my foot back to it and drove off the corner.  That's great for this M&M's Toyota.  These guys worked their butts off this morning to change the engine and get us back up there.  I want to thank the 11 team as well.  They scuffed a set of tires for us and that was the set that we used here for our run.  Good team players here."

Are you happy to be in the front row with your brother Kurt (Busch) here in your hometown?
"Apparently we were both wrong in figuring what the fast time was going to be.  It's cool that we were both up there and qualified on the front row but unfortunately for myself I won't be in the cool photo at the drop of the green flag next to my brother up there, we'll have to drop to the back of the field for the engine change.  I've got to give great thanks to the team. They did an awesome job here today with the M&M's Toyota to get a new TRD power plant in that car and to get it prepared and take some information from what our teammates were doing and what the rest of the field was doing as far as qualifying practice went.  We didn't get any laps in qualifying trim.  We just went out there and sailed a lap as fast as I thought I needed to go and fortunately it was fast enough so it's pretty cool." More ...

Nissan to skip 2010 Detroit Auto Show as well  The Detroit auto show -- which has been fighting to retain its standing as the world’s premier auto show -- has had two major setbacks this week.

Days after Detroit City Council rejected a long-sought expansion plan for Cobo Center, the aging facility where the show is held, a major automaker said it would not be returning to the show in 2010.

Nissan said Friday that it is planning to skip the North American International Auto Show in Detroit for the second straight year, a decision that highlights the ongoing challenges show organizers face as automakers scrutinize their marketing budgets.

Nissan spokesman Scott Vazin said the company is continuing to cut back on the marketing dollars it spends on auto shows because of difficult industry conditions.

“It is really about product cadence for us. Based on the products we have coming, that’s where they line up in terms of those shows,” said Nissan spokesman Scott Vazin.

Organizers were stunned by Nissan’s announcement last November that it would skip this year’s show. Several other niche automakers also cancelled. What’s more, show organizers had to fight in January to convince several German manufacturers to return to Detroit in 2010.

Rusty and Evernham team up to run at Bristol  Rusty Wallace and Ray Evernham announced that they will team to pilot a #2 Chevy in the March 21st Saturday Night Special at Bristol Motor Speedway. The event marks Wallace’s first career start at Bristol while driving a Chevy. Said Wallace, “When the opportunity to run this race first came about, of course I was interested, but I just didn’t really pay it a lot of attention. But then, when I saw all of these guys signing up to run, there was no way I was going to let Junior Johnson, Harry Gant and those guys get another chance at Bristol’s Victory Lane without me. I’ve been in Victory Lane there a lot of times before and you can bet that Ray and I are going to be trying like heck to get there again. Everyone’s acting like this thing’s just going to be for charity, but you better believe that we’re all in it to win it. Ray and I are bringing a bad little hot rod painted up just like my old Miller Genuine Draft cars and we’re going to try to take it to them one last time at Bristol.”

Noted Evernham, “When you look back at it, Rusty and Jeff (Gordon) were really the guys to beat at Bristol for a long, long time. Through all of those races, I’d like to think that I’ve learned a few tricks about how to get around Bristol. Believe me, we’re going to use all of them that Saturday night.” Wallace and Evernham both currently serve as studio analysts for ABC and ESPN’s coverage of NASCAR and can be seen each weekend during NASCAR Countdown. Rusty Wallace Racing PR

Johnson, Montoya included on witness list  
Helio Castroneves
NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya and Roger Penske are among the potential witnesses that could be called in the tax evasion trial of open-wheel racing driver Helio Castroneves, his sister, Katiucia, and his attorney Alan Miller.

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday in U.S. District Court in Miami. If convicted on all counts, all three defendants could face 78 months in prison, according to pretrial briefs.

Miller, a noted sports attorney who played football for the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, has three-time Cup champion Johnson among his clients and has put Johnson and team owner Penske on his witness list. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Montoya and other open-wheel drivers will also appear on the witness list for Castroneves, who has driven for Penske in the Indy Racing League. The scope of their potential testimony is not listed, and their inclusion on the witness list is no guarantee they will actually be called to testify. More ...
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