Clint Bowyer, Robin Miller and Ray Dunlap guests on Wind Tunnel Clint Bowyer, NASCAR Sprint Cup Driver, Richard Childress Racing, will be a featured guest on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain. In his fourth season as a Cup driver for Richard Childress Racing, Bowyer has solidified himself as a legitimate championship contender after finishing 3rd and 5th in the standings the past two years.
Robin Miller, SPEED Open Wheel Racing Analyst, will join Dave Despain to discuss the upcoming IndyCar season with the opening race in St. Petersburg less than a month away. Robin will also have the latest updates from Helio Castroneves' federal trial on tax evasion charges this past week.
Ray Dunlap, SPEED Camping World Truck Series Reporter, will also join Wind Tunnel to talk about Kyle Busch's amazing win in Atlanta and preview this year's stories in the Truck series. Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain is aired at 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm ET live on SPEED.
Katie Clements confident A1GP team will weather the storm
A1GP Team Great Britain team lost a major sponsor this season due to the recession, but is now receiving interest from sponsors priced out of costlier series’ such as Formula One, says team principal Katie Clements.
A potential title sponsor pulled out of talks just before the start of the season and Team Great Britain has managed only a single one-race major sponsorship deal since. Things have not gone smoothly on the track either. The team missed the first race of the season because of a delay in the delivery of the standard series chassis by the supplier contracted by A1GP. The cars have been hampered by technical problems since and the team lies tenth in the championship, having finishing third in the three previous seasons.
“It’s been very tough this season,” Clements told BritSport Weekly. “I’m not worried about the future of the team or the series, but it’s going to be tough. Going forward we [Team Great Britain] need to be funded from somewhere. We are not fully funded yet, but there is lots of interest from sponsors for season five [next season]. Particularly in the Surfer’s Paradise street circuit [at a beach resort in Australia].
Truex taken to hospital due to stomach painUPDATE Martin Truex Jr. has a small kidney stone but is not expected to miss the Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a team spokesman said Saturday afternoon. Truex likely will pass the stone tonight but even if he doesn’t, he should be cleared to drive. It would be a matter of pain tolerance because he cannot take strong pain medication and race or he could be in violation of NASCAR’s substance-abuse policy. Truex completed both practice sessions Saturday before going to Spalding Regional Medical Center in Griffin, Ga., because of the pain. He was released Saturday night but had not passed the stone.
03/07/09 Despite finishing in the top 15 in both of Saturday's practice sessions at Atlanta Motor Speedway, #1-Martin Truex Jr. left the garage shortly after practice ended complaining of pain in his side. "I think it's kidney stones," said the driver of the #1 Bass Pro Shop Chevy. Truex was seen in the infield care center at Atlanta Motor Speedway and transported to a local hospital. He is slated to start 23rd in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500. FoxSports
Bruno Senna has admitted that his hoped-for entry into Formula 1 in 2009 came unstuck largely as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he is adamant that it is 'not the end of the world' – and he remains hopeful of getting another chance in twelve months' time.
“At first it was a big disappointment,” Senna reflected, speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio. “Obviously it was something we thought we had a pretty good chance at, and I think we did, but it just turned out that things changed very quickly from the end of last year to now, and things are still changing a lot in Formula 1.
“We knew that Ross was quite busy with all the final preparations and last-minute arrangements for the team. They called us to cancel the meeting, and we didn't really hear from them officially in any way, but we just knew the way things were going and what the result would be.
“I think I did a really good job in the tests especially, and had I had any more opportunities to test, then I'm pretty certain I would have been able to secure the seat, but things just went in a way that I couldn't prove my capacity or my talent anymore. That's the way it is; the way the regulations are nowadays, it makes it very difficult for any drivers to go into Formula 1. It's the same for everybody.”
Brawn reveals why he chose Mercedes over Ferrari engine Ross Brawn has revealed more details behind his takeover of the Honda team and some of the decisions he’s made. Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Brawn makes the key revelation that he had the choice of Ferrari or Mercedes engines but chose the Mercedes because it was easier to fit into the Honda chassis. This is interesting because it had been widely believed that Ferrari had said no. He also says that they started modifying the chassis just after Christmas.
Brawn also reveals that, “When I left Ferrari I never imagined that one day I would become the owner of a team. But it would have been a real shame to close a team based on such fantastic people.”
Finally he reveals that Bruno Senna’s test “went well, but he doesn’t have the experience. It would have been too ambitious a challenge.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. essentially thinks NASCAR new car is junk. How much positive PR did the NASCAR media (sheep) give to the new car, believing all the storylines NASCAR threw at them?
NASCAR calls their new Sprint Cup car their Car of Tomorrow. We call it the Car of Yesterday because the technology on it is from the 1950's.
Drivers in Atlanta are struggling with grip and some are blaming the Goodyear tires, but not NASCAR's biggest star, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"I don't want to say too much," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. "We ain't really run the race yet. It's a handful, man."
But Earnhardt Jr. said there's more to the story than just the tires. Atlanta has an old surface, but it hasn't aged considerably over the last three or four years, when teams used to have a much better handle on the cars. The drivers were comfortable back then, he said.
So if the track hasn't changed, how much of the teams' frustration about getting hold of the tire and the handling has to do with NASCAR's new car?
"One hundred percent," Earnhardt Jr. said. "This is a hell of an excuse for a race car and it's hard to drive. It makes everybody's job harder, even Goodyear's."
Dover International Speedway will pay $11.689 million in purse and sanction fees to NASCAR for its two Sprint Cup Series races in 2009, its parent company disclosed in its annual report.
Purse and sanction fees are $6.15 million for the June event and $5.539 million for the September event, according to Dover Motorsports Inc.’s annual report filed Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company reported it will receive a total of $22.482 million in television revenues for those two races. Using the formula that the tracks receive 90 percent of the television revenue for the event and the teams receive 25 percent of the television revenue as part of the purse, approximately $6.245 million of Dover’s revenue went toward the purse for the two Cup races.
The chief of the Force India Formula One team and boss of a conglomerate that includes Kingfisher beer and Kingfisher Airlines, Vijay Mallya, has paid $1.8 million for a handful of Mahatma Gandhi's possessions. Mallya will donate Gandhi's iconic round-rimmed spectacles, leather sandals, silver pocket watch and the brass bowl and plate from which he is believed to have eaten his last meal to the Indian state to put in a museum.
Tony Bedi, Mallya's representative at the auction in New York said: “He is bidding for the country. I am sure all Indians will be pleased that these Gandhi items will be coming home. It’s worth a lot more if you look at the heritage of Mahatma Gandhi.”
Robert Maron, the chairman of the auction house stated: “We are happy to confirm that the Gandhi memorabilia is returning to India. We had hoped that would be the result. We are proud to have been able to bring the collection out of the private sector to India where it is planned to be on public display. Mr. Mallya’s intervention shows just how much India has changed."
Five Toyota cars suffer engine failuresUPDATE #3 So far, so good for Toyota Racing Development engines at Atlanta Motor Speedway. TRD, plagued by engine issues prior to race day the last two weeks, did not have to change an engine Friday in Atlanta. Using an oil with a higher viscosity and last year’s oil pump, TRD had no engine issues at Atlanta. The issue was with the lubrication of the lifter and the camshaft. TRD President Lee White said a quick look at five engines after Kobalt Tools 500 practice and prior to qualifying all looked good. “They’re fine from what we’ve seen,” White said.
03/04/09 Toyota Racing Development has reverted to the oil pump used on last year’s engine and will continue the modifications used in last Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas when its teams compete this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Michael Waltrip Racing, Red Bull Racing and Robby Gordon Motorsports use TRD engines. In the last two weeks, TRD has had to replace six engines during the race weekend – two at Auto Club Speedway in southern California and four at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The problem was a lifter or camshaft issue. TRD President Lee White said in a phone interview Wednesday that he believes the problems occur when there is no oil pressure as drivers are entering and exiting the garages during practice.
White said the oil pump used last year is better for those situations.
Stewart to work for free in 2009 (GMM) Sir Jackie Stewart will work at grand prix circuits for free in 2009, following criticism of his highly-paid ambassadorial role with the struggling British bank RBS.
After the Royal Bank of Scotland had to be bailed out by the British taxpayer amid the global financial crisis, the spotlight fell on the institution's most extravagant cash-splashing, including its sponsorship of the Williams team.
But it was perhaps former triple world champion Stewart, 69, who felt the most pressure, particularly after he responded to RBS staff cuts recently by saying "I signed a contract and have done my bit".
However, Scottish media on Saturday revealed that while Stewart will accept his approximately 1m euros in 2010 and 2011, he will work for nothing this year.
"This is a tremendous gesture by Sir Jackie, who has worked with great success for the bank since 2004," an RBS spokesman said.
Chevy drivers pray GM doesn't fold One day after General Motors announced that it may have to file for bankruptcy to stay in business, Chevrolet drivers voiced their support for the troubled manufacturer at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
They also uniformly expressed their belief that GM -- and by extension the Chevrolet brand -- will not only survive its current financial problems, but eventually emerge from them stronger than ever.
Tony Stewart switched from the mighty and financially stable Toyota cars (probably because his teammate Kyle Busch was eating his lunch week in and week out) just in time for Chevy to fold. When they do fold, it will have dire consequences for all the Chevy teams
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images for NASCAR
"I think the biggest thing is that we've got to get people to not be afraid to start spending money again. That's the only way the economy is going to recover -- to get people confident that they can start spending money again," said Tony Stewart, who doubles as a driver and owner at Stewart-Haas Racing, which fields his No. 14 Chevy and the No. 39 Chevy driven by Ryan Newman.
"The good news is that GM is doing its part with Chevy brands. They're building cars that are affordable and efficient. From the manufacturer's side, that's all you can ask for. I think they've really responded and done a good job in that aspect."
Stewart's assessment of GM was echoed by Kevin Harvick, who drives the No. 29 Chevy for Richard Childress Racing.
"General Motors is a very strong brand," Harvick said. "Obviously, they are going through tough times, but they are in a wonderful restructuring process right now. They're putting their company back on its feet. I think when the economy turns, they're going to be as good as they have ever been going forward.
Atlanta Tire Notes This will be the first time that NASCAR Sprint Cup teams will be running this particular set-up of left- and right-side tires . . . this set-up came out of a tire test with Greg Biffle, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sam Hornish and Scott Speed at Atlanta in January . . . compared to the tire recommendation at Atlanta last fall, Goodyear has made construction changes on both sides of the car for improved handling . . . the other change is to the left-side compound, which is softer for improved grip . . . the right-side compound is the same one used last fall, after already having been softened after the spring race at Atlanta . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Atlanta . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. The estimated pit window is every 50-55 laps, based on fuel mileage. Goodyear PR
Navarro Joins Andersen Racing Defending team champion Andersen Racing is pleased to announce that it has signed Denis Navarro to its driver roster for the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear.
He joins Richard Kent, Conor Daly and perhaps one other driver on the Palmetto, Fla.-based team's squad this year in that very competitive series.
Navarro finished third in the South American Formula 3 championship last year, earning four victories and four pole positions. Like Mario Romancini, who will drive for RLR/Andersen Racing in the Firestone Indy Lights Series, he hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Navarro will turn 22 on March 17 while he is in Sebring, Fla. preparing for the Star Mazda season opener there on March 20. His car will be sponsored by Navarro Medicines Distribution and Andersen Racing's team sponsor, Allied Interior Products.
NASCAR scrutinizing start and park team reasons NASCAR won’t create a hard-line rule prohibiting Sprint Cup teams from starting a race and then parking their car a few laps later, but NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said Friday there is an increased emphasis on making sure that the reason a team gives for falling out of the race is legitimate. Although there are only 36 cars that have the funding to run the entire season, several teams are trying to make races each week. In past years, when there haven’t been 43 fully funded cars, some drivers started the race, parked in the opening laps and pocketed the last-place money. “We owe it to the garage area [to make sure] that everybody is on the up-and-up,” Pemberton said in the Atlanta Motor Speedway garage Friday. “When they call [they’re] out, we will continue to look at what put those cars at. What we’re going to encourage at this level here is that people participate and do what they can do to race. What we want to prevent is someone legitimately trying to do a race setup and getting bumped out by somebody that may have gone above and beyond what the spirit of the rules are.” Pemberton said NASCAR doesn’t expect every team to be able to run up front, but those that make the final 43 need to be on the track racing someone. “There’s people that aren’t top-10 cars but they compete against other people that are 25th through 35th,” Pemberton said. “We need to encourage those guys to race each other.” As far as the Nationwide and Truck events, where there have traditionally been start-and-park racers over the last few years, Pemberton said there could be a little more leniency. “There’s more at stake with the purses and whatever else that goes on [in Cup], but we are going to encourage the level of competition throughout the ranks the best that we can,” Pemberton said. SceneDaily
Vasser won’t race in this year’s Indy 500 Jimmy Vasser, the 1996 Champ Car World Series champion, says he won’t be driving in this year’s Indianapolis 500, effectively ending his competitive driving career. Vasser, 43, has had no other offers to return to Indy-car racing. Additionally, he said he has priorities as a co-owner of Indianapolis-based KV Racing Technology. The 10-time race winner made his final start in Champ Car last year at Long Beach. He last competed at Indy in 2003.
“I’m working with (drivers) I’d like to have a more long-term relationship with, and one of those guys is not me,” he said.
“But I said my car needs to be fast and I need to not be a drag on the team — we need to have proper funding,” he said. “I think our cars are getting fast enough to compete for the win, but quite honestly we just don’t have the money for (me to drive).”
Renault's Bob Bell Q&A As was the case for the majority of teams, Renault was present at Jerez this past week for the group session which covered several days. Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet each drove the R29 during the course of the week, with varying results for each, but both reported good impressions overall.
There remains development work to be accomplished before the Australian Grand Prix at the end of the month, and the next set of testing begins this coming week.
Bob Bell, the Renault team's Technical Director, looks back at the work accomplished over the past few days. Drivability, reliability, and moveable aerodynamics were on the test program menu.
Bob, the team has completed another week of testing – give us an update on how things went in Jerez?
"The weather at the beginning of the week was disappointing, but the sun came out for the final couple of days and we were able to put a lot of miles on the car. This meant we could try out the new development parts that we hope to run at the first race in Melbourne, verify their performance and ensure their reliability. Overall it was a productive week for us."
Bridgestone assessing wet tire options Tetsuro Kobayashi, technical manager for Bridgestone Motorsport explains how the Formula One season is developing for the sole tire supplier, and what the manufacturer is doing to be improve the performance and safety through their products. Along with answers to why tire testing was a bigger priority than ever before, especially recently in Jerez, where some teams even tested tires for the 2010 season.
What was learnt from this test? "Once more we have had a test which has been difficult for data collection with temperature changes and a lot of rain and high winds. With many different tires used we have a lot to analyze, but we have seen no major issues. Teams understand that with so many regulation changes it will take time before they maximize their potential tire performance, but we have definitely seen good progress."
Why were so many different tires tested in Jerez? "Once the season has started we will not have testing like we have had in previous years so we have to make the most of pre and post-season testing. This is why we had many tire specifications available in Jerez."
Glamour girl could take F1 by storm Bikini model Danica Patrick is all fired up to give an entirely new meaning to curves in Grand Prix racing.
The glamorous 26-year-old is not just a pretty face - she is the only woman ever to score a first in one of America's scarily fast IndyCar championship races, where winning averages top out at 250mph. Now, having excited the United States car race fans coast to coast, and given her rival male drivers something to worry about on track, she is in line for a sensational call-up to Formula One.
The ultra-fast lady has been earmarked by Brit Peter Windsor, former world champion Nigel Mansell's old team manager at Williams and now the boss of the upcoming all-American USF1 outfit.
"I'm flattered even to be considered,” she said earlier this week, "and I shall be having talks with the USF1 guys about the issue pretty soon. You never know what may result from a conversation."
NOS Energy Drink to sponsor Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch NOS Energy Drink and Joe Gibbs Racing have announced the company's plans to sponsor the team's No. 18 Toyota and driver Kyle Busch in 14 NASCAR Nationwide Series races.
The company's first race as primary sponsor will be the April 4 event at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Expanding the relationship with NOS Energy Drink into 2009 is going to give us the extra horsepower to top our performance from last year,” said Busch, who won 10 Nationwide events in 2008. “Over the last year, they’ve been a big supporter of mine, and now NOS is taking it to the next level with the No. 18 team.”
Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Chris Dyson Joins RML for 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans Chris Dyson will be returning to the 24 Hours of Le Mans driving the #25 RML LMP2 Mazda Lola Coupe in the June 13th and 14th classic sports car race. Dyson is no stranger to the great endurance race having driven a Dome-Judd at the 2004 race with reigning FIA Sportscar champion Jan Lammers and finishing seventh, the highest-placed American.
In preparation for the 77th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the Circuit de la Sarthe, Dyson will be participating this weekend in the official ACO test at the Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet in southern France. Dyson will be partnering regular RML drivers Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos in the team's Mazda Lola B08/86 Coupe.
NASCAR Establishes Formula For Setting Track Restart Zone NASCAR has established a formula for determining the length of the restart zone on the track.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition, said Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway that officials will take the pit-road speed limit, double that figure and then set that as the distance in feet of the restart zone. At the start of this season, NASCAR created a zone where the leader must restart the race instead of giving the leader discretion from a certain area coming out of Turn 4 up to the starting line to restart the race. The rule is designed to create a more consistent restart at each track.
Pit-road speeds typically range from 30 to 55 mph, depending on the length of the track. That means the restart zone will vary from 60-110 feet, depending on the track.
"It will be twice the pit-road speed," said Pemberton. "It’s a means to get variable lengths in there for the race track itself. It’s something the garage area asked us to do. Is it perfect; maybe, maybe not. But, it’s a start."
Doug Robinson, who led IMSA through some of the darkest hours of sports car racing in the ’90s and is given much credit for its resurrection, has yet another mission. One of IMSA’s most influential executives since 1996, Robinson has begun his new role of special consultant to IMSA and the American Le Mans Series. He will work on his specialties of green racing and innovative technical development as both organizations concentrate on remaining on the leading edge of auto racing into the 21st century.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to contribute more directly in the development and transfer of environmentally sustainable green technology into the American Le Mans Series,” said Robinson. “Assisting our partners with their programs in order to demonstrate, inform and educate the public about these technologies is so vitally important to the future of the automobile in North America.”
Gil de Ferran looks ahead to his team's debut of new Acura
Gil de Ferran
With just two weeks to run before this year's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (21 March), opening round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series, de Ferran Motorsports is gearing up for its first appearance in the annual Florida classic. Team Principal and race car driver Gil de Ferran (pictured right) talks about his team's debut at Sebring and its step up to the premier LMP1 category with the new no.66 XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a.
What are your first impressions of the new XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a, which will be making its first competitive appearance at Sebring later this month?
"You only have to look at the Acura ARX-02a when it's standing still to know it's pretty interesting. It's clearly a highly-sophisticated machine with some of the most advanced technology that you'll find on any racing car. When we started the on-track test program, it was immediately evident that the car had plenty of potential. Being a brand new design, though, it was also clear that we needed all the time we could muster to ensure that we were getting close to unlocking its full potential before Sebring."
Q. Nick Heidfeld, are you happy with the team's preparations for the season so far?
Nick Heidfeld: "This year our preparations have been like a journey of discovery. There are so many new things about the car which all of us have had to get to grips with, and that's a lot of fun. As far as I'm concerned, the testing we've conducted so far has been very positive. The F1.09 is already driving pretty well for a completely newly developed car and it reacts well to changes in set-up.
"We can still improve on reliability but at no time have we been confronted by unsolvable problems and we have racked up more miles than several of our rivals. However, the restrictions on testing mean that every lost mile on the track tends to hurt. We've been able to make consistent improvements and still have a lot more ideas which we can develop.
"Unfortunately, I can't say where this puts us in comparison with our rivals - everybody keeps their cards close to their chests in testing. You never know exactly what kind of program the other teams are running, let alone how much fuel they have on board. I'll be happy when all the guessing games come to an end in Melbourne."
Q. Which of the changes to the car do you like most?
NH: "Firstly, I think the idea underpinning all the changes is the right one; after all, the aim was to make overtaking easier. I also think that the interplay of the various factors will have an effect here, if only to a certain degree – Formula One is not about to suddenly become like touring car racing. I'm pleased to see the return of slick tires.
"I never liked the fact that, in Formula One of all competitions, we didn't have slicks for such a long time. The effects of the noticeably reduced downforce on the cars' aerodynamics require an adjustment in driving style."
A levy imposed on Singapore's hotels during the 2008 Formula One Grand Prix season is to be reduced this year to help the city-state's ailing tourism industry. As Singapore's hotels are hit hard by slumping tourist arrivals, the five-night levy that hotels had to pay during the hosting of the inaugural F1 race last year would be reduced to a four-night period, the Singapore Tourism Board said Friday. The 2009 Singapore F1 Grand Prix is scheduled to get under way in September.
'This is a special measure for hotels this year, taking into consideration the current economic downturn,' the board and the Ministry of Trade said in a statement.
Fry 'marginalized' in Brawn's post-Honda era (GMM) The extent of Honda F1 chief executive Nick Fry's involvement in the newly-reborn Brawn GP is yet to be clarified.
The 52-year-old Briton, whose presence in the world of formula one dating back to the BAR team guise has often attracted harsh criticism, represented the Brackley squad on Thursday when the FOTA alliance presented its future vision to the press in Geneva.
But, several hours later, his name was not mentioned once in the 700-word press release heralding the birth of the team's new guise under the ownership and leadership of Ross Brawn.
In Geneva, Fry was the first to leave the FOTA event, refusing to take questions from the floor, The Guardian newspaper revealed.
He "did nothing to dispel the growing impression that he has been marginalized at the team he once led", the newspaper added.
Hamilton ends Jerez test with crash (GMM) The penultimate group test of the 2009 pre-season concluded at Jerez on Thursday under windy and cloudy Spanish skies.
As the formula one teams now prepare to head to Barcelona for the last official test outing before Australia, world champion Lewis Hamilton had the most notable incident of the day, crashing rearwards into a tire barrier at low speed.
McLaren said "a sudden gust of wind" had swept the Briton off the track.
Kimi Raikkonen also beached his Ferrari in a gravel trap, but the Finn was a full eight tenths quicker than Hamilton by the end of the day, while BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld outpaced them both.
Only six runners were in action, after both Renault and Force India ended their programs on Wednesday.
GM auditors doubt company can survive General Motors Corp. says there is "substantial doubt" about the company's viability and that bankruptcy is possible unless it can implement a broad restructuring plan, according to a regulatory filing today.
An independent audit done by GM's accounting firm found "our recurring losses from operations, stockholders' deficit and inability to generate sufficient cash flow to meet our obligations and sustain our operations raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern," GM wrote in its annual report filed this morning.
New Pacific F2000 season starts this weekend An eagerly awaited new season of Pacific F2000 competition roars into action this weekend at the famed Auto Club Speedway of Southern California.
The grim economic climate has resulted in fewer entries than in years past, but the level of optimism has been raised with the arrival of Terminal Velocity Processing as a new presenting sponsor.
"Tough times bring out the best in us all," says series founder and president Les Phillips. "We have to be resilient, and for a young racer trying to move his way up the ladder, resilience is one of the attributes he is going to need. All things considered, I’m very pleased with how the series is shaping up. We still have a strong and deep field of dedicated drivers and teams. I have no doubt the competition will be as fierce as ever."
McLaren Autosport BRDC finalist Aaron Steele tries Jim Russell Jim Russell Championship Series formally kicked off the 2009 season by welcoming McLaren Autosport British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) finalist, Aaron Steele. Steele became one of the first to test the capabilities of the new Jim Russell FJR-50 Formula 3 race car at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.
Steele made his US debut by testing the FJR-50 open wheel race car at Jim Russell Championship Series on February 9 and 10. Steele, 20, becomes one of the first to test in FJR-50 which is based on the successful and proven Lola B06-30 championship winning Formula 3 car. During his two-day test, Steele set a strong pace with impressive lap times. Steele worked with the Jim Russell Championship Series staff to evaluate his performance on the track using the Pi Research data acquisition system.
GM Says Chief Wagoner Was Paid $5.4 Million in 2008 General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner, working for $1 annually this year to keep U.S. government loans, had his total compensation cut to $5.4 million last year from $14.1 million in 2007.
Wagoner’s compensation included a salary of $2.1 million and he wasn’t paid a bonus, the Detroit-based automaker said in a regulatory filing today. The largest U.S. automaker lost $30.9 billion last year, the second biggest shortfall in the company’s 100-year history.
GM is cutting executive pay and will eliminate 47,000 jobs this year as part of a restructuring required to keep $13.4 billion in U.S. loans. Wagoner, 56, needs to convince the U.S. Treasury to lend the carmaker as much as $16.6 billion more to survive. GM is also closing or selling its Saturn, Saab and Hummer brands and seeking $6 billion in aid outside the U.S.
Rowdy adds Iowa truck race to his agenda Kyle Busch, the winner of the recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, will race at Iowa Speedway. Busch, who has won nine of 39 Cup Races since moving to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008, is scheduled to compete in Newton Sunday, May 17, in the NASCAR Camping World Series East/West Challenge.
Busch said he’s looking forward to racing at Iowa Speedway.
“Iowa Speedway is an amazing race track with exciting racing and its going to be a great show for the fans,” Busch said. “For some reason, Iowa Speedway has a history of somehow picking the winner of the All Star race in Charlotte by inviting a Cup guy out to run their race. I hope the tradition continues for us this year.”
Lincoln Electric and NASCAR Extend Relationship Lincoln Electric and NASCAR announced a five-year extension of their agreement in which Lincoln Electric remains an exclusive automotive partner under the NASCAR Performance brand and retains its competition contingency sponsorship which includes the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2009. Lincoln Electric became the exclusive NASCAR Performance sponsor of welders and welding helmets in 2000 and held contingency award programs in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In 2009, Lincoln Electric will add contingency sponsorships in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with weekly prize money provided to eligible teams based on finish position. Lincoln Electric will also continue their programs in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In addition, a year-end award of $5,000 and a Lincoln Welder will be presented to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion car owner during the season ending banquet. NASCAR PR
NASCAR team owner caught drunk NASCAR team owner Billy Ballew was arrested for driving drunk at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Wednesday night. Ballew confirmed the arrest during a telephone interview Thursday. "There's a lot of circumstances I don't want to go into right now," Ballew said. "I am 100 percent sure that it will be dropped." Henry County police said a county sheriff's department sergeant arrested Ballew at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday night. Ballew was booked into the county jail on a DUI charge and later released. Ballew said he was driving a sponsor from his condominium to the passenger's motor home when "an irate cop" wearing a cap marked "security" stopped him. The condo and the mobile home, said Ballew, are both on racetrack property. Ballew said he refused to take a breathalyzer test, but acknowledged that he was carrying a mixed drink in the car when he was pulled over. "It was only one drink. I was not drunk," Ballew said. "I was on Atlanta Motor Speedway property. I was not on the highway." The NASCAR [Camping World] Truck Series team owner has enlisted an all-star lineup of drivers over the years. The list includes Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Geoffrey Bodine, John Andretti and Kyle Busch. Atlanta Journal Constitution
Brawn GP confirms Button and Barrichello Our 2009 F1 Silly Season page is now complete. The new Brawn GP Formula One team has confirmed that its race driver line-up for the 2009 season will combine the talents of two of Formula One's most experienced drivers in Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.
The race-winning drivers will therefore continue their partnership at the team for a fourth consecutive year, forming the most experienced driver partnership on the grid with 423 Grand Prix starts between the pair.
“I am delighted that Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will form our race driver line-up for the 2009 season,” said Ross Brawn. “The vast experience and knowledge that both drivers bring to our team will prove invaluable as we aim to get up to speed in the shortest possible time to be ready for the first race of the season in Melbourne on 29 March. In what will be their fourth season together, their experience with our team in Brackley, our systems and our engineers, will prove a real asset.”
Honda announces Brawn GP F1 team Honda Motor Company Limited and Ross Brawn are pleased to confirm that they have reached agreement to secure the future of the former Honda Racing F1 Team. With immediate effect, Honda will pass ownership to Ross Brawn, Team Principal of the new Brawn GP Formula One Team.
Brawn GP has agreed a partnership with Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines, Brixworth, UK to supply the team with its 2.4 liter Mercedes-Benz FO108W Formula One engines.
The team can confirm that its race driver line-up for the 2009 season will combine the talents of two of Formula One's most experienced drivers in Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. The race-winning drivers continue their partnership at the team for a fourth consecutive year, forming the most experienced driver partnership on the grid with 423 Grand Prix starts between the pair.
Peter Dempsey joins AIM Autosport Star Mazda AIM Autosport is pleased to announce that Peter Dempsey will join the team to contest the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. Dempsey, a native of Ashbourne, Ireland, is slated to run in a third car for AIM starting with the first race of the season at Sebring, Florida in a few weeks. The twenty-year-old who was selected the Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year, is returning to the series following a strong run in 2008.
Over fourteen races last season, Dempsey recorded seven podium results including four victories and he started from pole three times. He would finish the season third overall in the championship but is hoping the move to AIM Autosport, which brought home the 2008 championship, will provide the opportunity to be on the top step this year.
"I am really looking forward to the challenge this year with a new team" commented Dempsey. "I feel I am with the right team to try and make amends for last years disappointments. Hopefully with the support from Motorsport Ireland and my sponsors that are to come on board we can we can get of to a good start at Sebring and stay in the title hunt for the whole year. I would like to thank Keith at AIM Autosport for being so patient as we put this deal together and I feel like the whole team package is right for 2009."
Dixon will battle “usual suspects” in attempt to repeat title Scott Dixon will attempt to become the second driver in IndyCar Series history to follow up one championship season with another. To do so, he’ll have to battle what most fellow drivers refer to as “the usual suspects.”
Those usual suspects include Dixon’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti, Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe, Andretti Green Racing’s Tony Kanaan and Panther Racing’s Dan Wheldon. Of those five drivers, four have won the IndyCar Series title in the past, accounting for five of the last six titles. Only Briscoe, who will be in his second season with Team Penske has yet to hoist the trophy.
A strong case can be made for any of the drivers considered contenders.
Dixon put together a record-tying six race victories in 2008 en route to becoming only the second driver to win multiple championships in the IndyCar Series. The New Zealand native also won the title as a rookie in 2003.
Risi Competizione confirms Kaffer In its bid to challenge for American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 Championship honors and retention of its class-winning 24 Hours of Le Mans title, Risi Competizione present for 2009 a mixture of much that is familiar, with some that is new.
It is today announced that experienced German sportscar driver, Pierre Kaffer, will be joining Risi regular Jaime Melo in the #62 Ferrari F430GT for the 2009 season, beginning with the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 21. They will be joined at Sebring by Mika Salo, the ever-popular Finn returning to the team for the 2009 endurance events as his schedule allows; the trio will present a formidable line up in what is likely to be intense competition in the GT2 class.
The Houston-based team, one of the most faithful stalwarts to the ALMS, begins the season by fielding two Ferrari 430 GTs in what promises to be the most competitive, popular and challenging GT2 class ever. For the third year running, Risi Competizione will be partnering with Krohn Racing, whose eponymous owner is also headquartered in Houston, Texas, for endurance events including the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Tracy Krohn, Nic Jönsson and Eric van de Poele will, as in 2008, be campaigning their distinctive green and blue liveried #61 car.
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Sponsor NEWS The world's three largest hobby manufacturers - Tamiya of America, HPI Racing and Kyosho of America - are bringing the first "Radio Control Motorsports Experience (RCME)" to the 35th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach April 16-19.
Located in the Lifestyle Expo in the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, the RCME is aimed at increasing awareness for the hobby-grade radio control market.
The RCME, a unique collaboration within the hobby community, will feature a wide variety of new and exciting products and include product displays, demonstrations and competitions with radio control drifting, rock crawling, tanks and mini tabletop race cars. Veteran radio control car announcer Scotty Ernst has signed on to be the master of ceremonies at the RCME display in Long Beach.
The RCME and the Lifestyle Expo, free to race ticketholders, are open from 3-6 p.m. Thursday, April 16; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 17-18, and 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday, April 19. The Expo also features a Kid's Zone and "Green Power Prix-View," highlighting alternative energy vehicles, renewable energy sources and healthy lifestyle ideas for inside and outside the home.
Newman Wachs hires defending champ Newman Wachs Racing celebrates the largest Atlantic Championship Series prize money funding in history with the completion of the strongest driver lineup of the modern Swift 016 era. Reigning Atlantic Champion, Markus Niemela will join reigning Star Mazda Champion, John Edwards in NWR’s campaign to win the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda. This two-car effort will be the strongest team NWR has ever had. Putting their efforts behind two drivers of this caliber, NWR is confident they can take the last step to securing the Championship’s one million dollar prize.
Markus hails from Rauma, Finland, and is the first driver to return to defend his title with a full-time effort since Lee Bentham, who won the 1998 title and finished sixth in the 1999 championship. He will carry the #1 on his Mr. Jones/ Nuclear Clean Air Energy/ Entergy Swift 016.
Niemela will return to the series-opener at Sebring International Raceway March 17-20 with a great deal of momentum. The two-time winner closed out his ‘08 championship with a win at the finale at Road Atlanta. Race day in Sebring will also be on his 25th birthday.
Meijer returns as race sponsor at Kentucky Speedway Retailer Meijer Inc. has extended its sponsorships of NASCAR Nationwide Series and IndyCar Series races at Kentucky Speedway.
Financial terms of the sponsorships were not disclosed.
Under the agreement, the June 13 NASCAR Nationwide Series event will be called the “Meijer 300 presented by Ritz.” The Aug. 1 IndyCar series event will be called the “Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Red Baron and Edy’s.”
Meijer also will serve as “Official Supercenter” of Kentucky Speedway for the seventh consecutive season, the speedway said in a news release.
In that role, Meijer will receive signage and advertising at the track, luxury suite access and event tickets for the races. In return, Meijer will promote the races in its stores.
Q&A Versus geared for IRL Under the leadership of president Jamie Davis Versus will show seven hours a week of the IRL.
It has been 2 1/2 years since Outdoor Life Network relaunched into the sports channel now known as Versus. In September, Versus hired Jamie Davis, a former ESPN executive, to guide the network over the next decade.
Davis spoke with The Washington Times as the network gears up for its latest challenge in broadcasting the Indy Racing League season, which starts in April. Here are the highlights of that interview, the full text of which can be read at washingtontimes.com:
Q: You came to Versus in September after serving as managing director for ESPN Star Sports in Asia. What were your marching orders?
Heidfeld tops final day of testing at Jerez Nick Heidfeld posted the fastest time on the final day of testing at the Jerez circuit with a best time of 1:20.052, over three tenths of a second ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Lewis Hamilton was third quickest, but over a second off Heidfeld's pace, the Briton completing just 58 laps. The world champion lost control of his car and ended up crashing backwards and damaging his McLaren's rear wing.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber Technical Coordinator, said: "The ever changing weather made it quite difficult to do continuous work during the Jerez test. Nevertheless we achieved the main targets of our development program. Basically we concentrated on set-up work and evaluation of new components. Running the BMW Sauber F1.09 for the first time in full wet conditions was a valuable experience as well. In addition on one of the days we had the chance to test the 2010 specification tires. Now we will have a busy weekend working out the program for the last pre-season test in Barcelona next week. Then we will also have a complete race simulation and pit-stop practice on the schedule."
(GMM) Nick Fry on Thursday all but confirmed widespread speculation that the Brackley based team will survive the withdrawal of Honda and race in 2009.
The Briton, thought to have assumed a diminished role in the Ross Brawn-led management buyout, in fact was the sole representative of the team at the FOTA press conference on Thursday.
He told the media an announcement about the team's future is expected "very shortly", adding: "I can't say any more at this stage."
Fry credited the unified FOTA alliance for making F1 sustainable for the team in the wake of Honda's massive financial investment.
"It's correct to say our team has, and will, benefit from FOTA in the future," he said.
"Everyone here (FOTA) has helped us preserve our team, and myself, Ross (Brawn) and our 700 employees all thank them for that," Fry added.
The Dutch website f1today.nl on Thursday reported that Honda's Friday shakedown of its 2009 car, which is expected to be colored predominantly blue with red features, has been moved from Silverstone to Snetterton, also in the UK.
SPEED to go LIVE Under the Lights from Daytona Bike Week SPEED will be live from Daytona International Speedway on Friday night (March 6) at 8:30 p.m. ET, as one of the world’s most prestigious and historic motorcycle events -- the Daytona 200 by Honda -- goes under the lights for the first time in event history.
Ralph Sheheen will call play-by-play for SPEED with 1985 Daytona 200 winner and AMA Motorcycle Hall-of-Fame racer “Fast” Freddie Spencer providing analysis and Greg White reporting from the pits.
“Most of what people say about stock car racing at night also applies to bikes,” said SPEED’s Dave Despain, a 1998 Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee. “The fact that the biggest race of the year becomes a night race is certainly intriguing. The parallels to stock car racing cannot be ignored. The first Daytona 200 ran on the beach course in 1937, more than a decade before the birth of NASCAR. Like the stock cars, the bikes migrated to Daytona International Speedway, but not immediately.
Tagliani says it's '50-50' he'll have full-time ride
With the IndyCar season just weeks away, Canada's best hope for a full-time driver on the open-wheel circuit is finding big-bucks sponsorship elusive and the future a toss up.
"It's 50-50 at the moment," Alex Tagliani said from Las Vegas when asked if he'll be racing in all 17 IndyCar events for Conquest Racing this summer, including races at Toronto and Edmonton.
"We've been working really hard on sponsorship. It's just trying to put everything together."
The 36-year-old from Lachenaie, Que., says he has rounded up a couple of sponsors in his home province, but still lacks a major advertiser to reach the $2 million to $3 million needed to at least get his ride secured for the first two races.
Renault chief Flavio Briatore has voiced his opinions on a Grand Prix around the streets of Rome, claiming that the concept would be a 'fantastic idea'. Formula One already hosts street races in Melbourne, Monte-Carlo, Valencia and Singapore with a part-street circuit in Montreal and the new venue of Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi due to host this season's finale. The idea of a Rome Grand Prix is fantastic," Briatore exclaimed to the country's ANSA agency. "From the television standpoint, it would be really spectacular. But it would mean sacrificing the race at Monza. If it does happen, I think it should only be a one-off." Italy had traditionally held two races since the eighties until the Imola event, titled the San Marino Grand Prix, was dropped from the calendar after 2006.
Now is the time for Marco Andretti. At 21 he must start challenging for wins on a regular basis if he is to continue Andretti legacy
Because the Indy Racing League and Champ Car have ended their hostilities that splintered open-wheel racing for 12 years, a familiar name once again will be navigating the downtown streets at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16-19. It's a name that has played a vital part in the great event across the decades, not to mention a vital part in the sport of car racing.
Indeed, 21-year-old Marco Andretti, son of Michael Andretti, grandson of Mario Andretti, will be returning to a city where his family has etched a sacred legacy across the decades.
You must understand that Mario Andretti still is given credit for throwing a lifeline to Chris Pook's troubled Formula One race in 1977 with a thrilling victory that staunched the ominous financial bleeding.
Andretti would become a fixture in Long Beach's highest profile affair, as he would go on to win three more races here to secure himself a spot in this city's Motorsports Walk of Fame in front of the Convention Center on Pine Avenue.
'Honda' saga rambles on as Melbourne looms (GMM) Only 20 days remain until official scrutineering at Albert Park, and yet the fate of the team commonly known as 'Honda' or 'Brawn Racing' is still yet to be clarified.
It seems clear that team boss Ross Brawn's management buyout has been successful -- he attended the FOTA meeting in Geneva on Wednesday, even though the subsequent statement did not mention his affiliation with a specific team.
Britain's The Sun newspaper, however, confidently "revealed" that the 700 workers at Brackley will be formerly told of the buyout on Thursday, even though a "small number" of jobs may be lost.
The Press Association, meanwhile, reports that the Mercedes-powered 2009 car will be shaken down at Silverstone on Friday ahead of a four-day test at Barcelona next week.
Citing an unnamed source, the news agency also said an official announcement is expected before the beginning of the Spanish group test on Monday.
At the same time, the Dutch morning newspaper De Telegraaf linked the Honda buyout with the Dutch sports car maker Spyker, who amid financial difficulty sold its team to Force India at the end of 2007.
Asked about the speculation, a Spyker spokesman issued a "no comment" to the Dutch website f1today.nl.
Force India missing from FOTA meeting (GMM) Team owner and boss Vijay Mallya, or another representative of Force India, was missing from Wednesday's meeting of the FOTA alliance in Geneva.
In a press statement, the Formula One Teams Association attached a photo of the gathering, which confirmed the Indian billionaire's team was not represented as final discussions about a blueprint for the sport's future were held.
The statement said "senior management from the FOTA-affiliated" teams had met ahead of Thursday's press conference in the Swiss city.
Many teams, including Renault, Ferrari, Toyota and McLaren had two representatives present, while Ross Brawn - who heads up FOTA's technical arm - was there despite the lack of confirmation about the survival of the team commonly known as Honda.
Christian Horner and Franz Tost both attended, even though their respective Red Bull and Toro Rosso teams are both owned by the energy drinks brand.
It is believed Mallya will be present at Thursday's press conference, where the FOTA proposals - devised with the aid of worldwide market research - will be announced.
Changes to qualifying and the points structure are believed to be on the agenda, as will be the mandatory revealing of more team data including radio transmissions.
Karthikeyan to test Audi R10 India's most successful racing driver, Narain Karthikeyan, has been invited to test by Team Kolles Audi R10 TDI LM P1 Sportscar. The revolutionary diesel powered Audi R10 TDI is amongst the most successful racing cars in history, with 3 consecutive Le Mans victories in 2006, 2007 & 2008. The private test will be conducted at the Eurospeedway Lausitz Circuit near Berlin in Germany. Team Kolles team owner is Dr. Colin Kolles, who was Narain's Team Principal when he raced for the Jordan Formula 1 team in 2005. The test will be conducted during the week starting 8 March 2009.
Team Kolles will be racing the two Audi R10 TDI race cars in the European LeMans series (LMS) and The 24 Hour Le Mans endurance race in 2009. The test will focus around evaluation of an improved aerodynamic package, and will offer Narain his first taste of an LM P1 Sports Prototype racer. Dr. Kolles has been working with Audi since 2006 in DTM (German Touring Car Championship).
Narain Karthikeyan, "I am very excited about this test that Dr. Kolles has offered me. I have been following the Le Mans races for many years now, and have been waiting for the right opportunity to test one of the front running cars. The Audi R10 TDI is a legendary racer, and I feel honored, privileged and thankful for this opportunity. I have been talking to some people who have driven the Audi R10 TDI, and they all tell me that it is blindingly quick and has plenty of downforce, very similar to a Formula 1 car. These attributes in a race car resonate very well in my brain, and I can't wait to get to Germany and start what could be a very exciting adventure."
Ecclestone Says He’ll Help Save Germany’s F1 Race Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone said he’ll help save the German Grand Prix, which needs financial help this month to avoid dropping off the calendar for the first time in 49 years.
“We’ll look after them,” Ecclestone said in a phone interview. “I don’t think there will be any problems.”
The Hockenheim circuit, owned by the City of Hockenheim, needs backing to host next year’s race after racking up a 5.3 million-euro ($6.6 million) loss on last season’s event, racetrack general manager Karl-Josef Schmidt said by telephone. Ticket sales slumped 37 percent to 60,000 since 2002.
The Test Track at Epcot has been sponsored by General Motors under a 10-year agreement signed in 1999. GM may not renew.
Struggling U.S. auto giant General Motors Corp. is considering pulling out as sponsor of Test Track, the high-speed Epcot attraction among the most popular rides in all of Disney World.
A 10-year contract between Disney and GM expires this year. And GM, which lost $31billion last year and is relying on loans from the federal government to stay in business, may not be able to afford to renew the pact.
Disney and GM are negotiating new terms but have so far been unable to strike a deal. GM has indicated it wants a resolution by the end of this month.
"We're still in discussions with them and haven't made a decision," GM spokeswoman Kelly Cusinato said. "It's definitely one that I think people are doing everything they can to preserve."
It is a lucrative partnership for Disney: Though neither company would discuss the terms, Automotive News reported last month that GM pays Disney close to $5million a year.
Former NASCAR driver charged with making moonshine Charges were filed late this morning in connection with a large liquor still found near the North Wilkesboro Speedway on Speedway Road and blown up by authorities Thursday night. Carl Dean Combs 57, of Speedway Road, North Wilkesboro [NC], was charged with manufacturing non-tax paid liquor, as well as one count each of possessing, possessing ingredients to manufacture and possessing equipment to manufacture non-tax paid liquor, said N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) Agent Shon Tally. Tally said Combs was at his nearby residence when he and other ALE agents found the still in the back of a gray shop building behind a go-cart track, near the North Wilkesboro Speedway. Combs made 24 Sprint Cup, then Winston Cup, starts from 1981-1984 with a best finish of 8th at Atlanta in Nov 1983. He also was a five-time champion in NASCAR's now-defunct Goody's Dash Series and was a crew chief for car owner Junior Johnson. Wilkes Journal Patriot
Alonso tops Wednesday times in JerezUPDATE Final times of day:
03/04/09 Contrary to weather reports, it has been another sunny day in Jerez this morning, as teams returned to the track for the fourth consecutive day of action at the Spanish track. By the end of the morning session, as teams broke for lunch, Spanish hero Fernando Alonso had set the fastest time, a competitive 1m19.945s. The Renault driver was three tenths faster than his nearest rival, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
Unofficial morning times from Jerez: 1. Fernando Alonso (Renault) - 1:19.945, 48 laps 2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) - 1:20.250, 65 laps 3. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:20.520, 41 laps 4. Jarno Trulli (Toyota) - 1:20.861, 51 laps 5. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:20.894, 58 laps 6. Kazuki Nakajima (Williams-Toyota) - 1:20.948, 39 laps 7. Adrian Sutil (Force India-Mercedes) - 1:21.476, 55 laps 8. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:21.753, 7 laps
Kansas Speedway gets title sponsor for Cup race Locally-owned supermarket Price Chopper and Kraft Foods have signed on as the title sponsors for Kansas Speedway's fall NASCAR race. The deal, announced Monday, comes at a time when NASCAR tracks are struggling to attract sponsors in a weak economy. The Oct. 4 race will be called the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods. Financial terms of the deal were not announced.
"It's great to have a locally-owned company in Price Chopper on board to support racing at Kansas Speedway,'' Kansas Speedway president Jeff Boerger said. "Kraft Foods has been a great partner in motorsports and I look forward to working with both companies on the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods.''
Formula BMW Americas Wraps Up Preseason Testing Program The preseason activities of the Formula BMW Americas Championship came to a chilly end today at Carolina Motorsports Park as two days of testing wrapped up on the 2.3-mile road course in Kershaw, South Carolina without the mercury ever reaching the 50-degree mark.
Unseasonably-cold weather posed a challenge to the teams that needed the two days of testing to get ready for the March 20-22 season-opening weekend at Puebla, Mexico, but returning veteran Gabby Chaves (EuroInternational) was equal to the task in leading a tight field that saw 11 drivers covered by less than three seconds after two days of testing.
Chaves ran a week-best lap of 1:29.185 at the end of Tuesday’s action to lead the two-day test, but the young Floridian was trailed closely by EuroInternational stablemates Giancarlo Vilarinho at 1:29.415 and Michael Lewis at 1:30.212.
Toyota U.S. Sales Plunge Record 40% Toyota Motor Corp., facing the first loss in 59 years, suffered a record drop in U.S. sales last month as the recession in the world’s largest auto market cut industry wide demand to the lowest since December 1981. Asia-based carmakers’ sales declined a combined 34 percent from a year earlier, led by a 40 percent plunge for Toyota, the world’s largest automaker.
Toyota has turned to Japan’s government to borrow money for U.S. car loans as private investors demand as much as 50 percent more in interest for the company’s debt. Plunging sales and a stronger yen forced the Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker to triple its operating loss estimate for this year within a two- month period.
“They are in full-blown crisis right now,” said John Casesa, a partner at consulting firm Casesa Shapiro Group LLC in New York. “They’re tearing up their business plan.”
Honda Motor Co., Japan’s second-largest carmaker, had a 38 percent drop and Nissan Motor Co.’s sales fell 37 percent. General Motors Corp. said sales plummeted 53 percent, while Ford Motor Co.’s fell 48 percent and Chrysler LLC reported a 44 percent decline. GM and Chrysler are surviving on $17.4 billion in U.S. government loans.
Team Sebah Lola LMP1 photos Here are the first pictures of Speedy Racing - Team Sebah Lola's 2009 liveries, before departure for Paul Ricard HTTT for the 2009 Le Mans Series official test days (8th and 9th of March). The Lola B08/60 Aston Martin LMP1 will be chrome and red, the Lola B08/80 Judd LMP2 will be chrome and blue. Final liveries will be unveiled to the public and the media on Sunday morning at the circuit. All team's drivers will be present at Paul Ricard during the two days test driving for the first time their 2009 spec cars.
The Aston Martin and regular Lola look almost identical so it is no wonder Lola issued the press release yesterday accusing Dave Richards of lying to the public as if the car was actually an Aston Martin.
Lamborghini sees orders canceled in downturn As stock markets started to crash in October, some worried financiers and entrepreneurs thought it prudent to cut back on excesses -- starting with their orders for Lamborghini luxury super sportscars.
Suddenly, the Italian automaker's key clients either didn't have the cash to spend on the speedster or thought better of such conspicuous consumption amid news of bank failures, mortgage foreclosures and job losses.
CEO Stephan Winkelmann confirmed Wednesday that the company has started to receive order cancellations. He declined to say how many, suggesting that in some cases dealers were able to find other buyers, but it was a sharp shift. Even during the softening of the U.S. market in early in 2008, Lamborghini customers were proving durable.
Q&A with Ragan, Wood brothers and Wolfe • David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion, returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend looking to do what Kyle Busch did on Sunday in Las Vegas – win in front of his hometown fans. Ragan spoke about the best and worst part about going back to Atlanta.
• The Wood Brothers, owners of the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion, and driver Bill Elliott are running a limited schedule this year and, after a two-race hiatus, will return to the circuit this weekend for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Woods have more wins at AMS – 12 – than any other race team; their last victory there was in 1993 with driver Morgan Shepherd – and with a little help from defending series champion Alan Kulwicki. Co-owner Eddie Wood remembers that day, and talks about the current team’s preparation for this weekend.
• Brian Wolfe, Director, Ford North America Motorsports, has watched Matt Kenseth win the first two races of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, including the Daytona 500, and Greg Biffle capture last weekend’s NASCAR Nationwide Series event in Las Vegas. Wolfe spoke about what that kind of success means to Ford Motor Co.
New sponsor for BMW team The next test in Barcelona this coming week will see the BMW Sauber F1.09 out on track with a brand-new partner on board: the world leading forex broker FxPro will be part of the team's livery with its branding on the highly visible spaces on the front wing and side mirrors. The company's logo will also appear on the drivers' helmets and overalls, as well as the team's clothing, trucks and pit equipment.
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "We are delighted about our new collaboration with FxPro. Particularly in economically challenging times such as the present, it is a great achievement for our BMW Sauber F1 Team and for Formula One to have gained another strong partner."
De la Rosa: 2010 tires working well McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa has said that the 2010 Bridgestone tires he is helping to test at Jerez this week are working well. The new tires incorporate technology allowing them to function at lower temperatures because the use of tire warming blankets is banned from 2010. De la Rosa was positive about the performance of the rubber, which was also adversely affected by low track temperatures yesterday.
“It wasn’t that bad. Bridgestone has brought new compounds which are designed to work at lower temperatures, so it wasn’t so hard to bring them heat them up,” the Spaniard is quoted as saying by autosport.com.
“After a long run they were very worn out, but this is normal. We were trying to complete the biggest number of laps per set.”
Rain could affect entire Jerez testUPDATE After finally seeing sunshine yesterday, latest weather reports do not read well for the teams with just two days of running left at Jerez. Today's weather forecasts predict more light rain this afternoon followed by a heavy downpour overnight and yet more wet conditions tomorrow. Monday's session has already been compromised this week as a result of poor weather. Today sees former champion Kimi Räikkönen take over from team-mate Massa at Ferrari as Nick Heidfeld steps into the BMW cockpit in replacement of Kubica. Glock, fastest for the last two days, hands the Toyota TF109 over to Jarno Trulli. World Champion Lewis Hamilton also makes an appearance today for McLaren.
After Jerez, just one more official pre-season test remains in Barcelona next week before the championship kicks off in Australia on the last weekend of the month. The Barcelona test will be particularly important as there are just seven days between Australia and the second meeting in Malaysia.
03/02/09 (GMM) An extended five-day test, one of the last before the trek to Australia for the 2009 season opener, kicked off at Spain's Jerez circuit on Sunday.
With an extra day added to the earlier schedule, the test could however be affected by rain throughout the week.
On Sunday, when Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was quickest by some margin, a few showers and multiple red flags held up proceedings.
Every team except Toro Rosso and Honda were in action, including Force India, whose Giancarlo Fisichella was impressed with the new VJM02 despite managing only 31 laps.
"I am however quite surprised and happy about what I felt with the behavior of the car today. It's very promising," the Roman veteran, trying for the first time the newly Mercedes powered car, also equipped with a McLaren gearbox, said.
McLaren's Pedro de la Rosa was down the order in the MP4-24, and like Robert Kubica in the BMW-Sauber he was evaluating Bridgestone's proposed tire blanket-less slicks for 2010.
The new McLaren was also fitted with a fully 2009-specification wing for the first time in a while.
Felipe Massa, second quickest, beached his car into the gravel at one point, and Williams' Nico Rosberg also had an off.
Honda Grand Prix Pit Notes Yacht Club Party Deck Open to Ticket Holders at the Honda Grand Prix
If you have ever wanted to visit the Yacht Club at the Honda Grand Prix, you will have your chance in 2009. For the first time ticket holders can access the Yacht Club and catch the race on a special party deck inside the Yacht Club. Previously the Yacht Club was not open to ticket holders, but that has changed for this year. “We made some changes to the Yacht Club this year and the biggest one is more access for general ticket holders at the Grand Prix,” said Dale Dillon, manager of the Honda Grand Prix Yacht Club. “Our spot along the bay has great viewing and the new party deck is sure to be one of the best spots on the race circuit.”
Andretti Foundation Gala Moves to the Vinoy
The 2009 Michael Andretti Foundation Gala is scheduled for Friday, April 3 and the popular annual event has a new home in St. Petersburg. For the first time the Gala will be held at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort. Many of the drivers from the IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series attend the event and are a big part of the festivities. IndyCar stars Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Hideki Mutoh and Dario Franchitti are already confirmed for this year’s Gala. Proceeds from the event benefit All Children’s Hospital Pediatric Trauma Center, Bayfront Baby Place and The Mayor’s Mentors & More Program. Tickets for this year’s event are $200 each. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.AndrettiFoundationGala.com.
Team Stargate Worlds Initiates First Test of the Season A little less than a week after announcing its formation Team Stargate Worlds completed its first test of the season with drivers Frankie Muniz and Simona De Silvestro. The cars made their debut at the team's home track of Buttonwillow Raceway. The 1.374-mile track provided a full day's worth of testing as well as an opportunity for both drivers to get acquainted to their new Team Stargate Worlds surroundings.
The occasion marks the first time both drivers have hit the track since the last race of the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season. Though the threat of rain continually loomed over the track throughout the day the conditions remained dry and ideal for the Team Stargate Worlds duo. Both Muniz and De Silvestro combined for a total of just over 400 miles.
Yamaha team set for rebrand under terms of US$5m Monster deal Energy drink Monster, which sponsors MotoGP superstar Valentino Rossi to the tune of US$1.6 million per year, has signed a title sponsorship deal with Yamaha’s Tech 3 satellite team. The team will be rebranded as Yamaha Tech 3 from the 2009 season for at least two years.
The bikes, ridden by Colin Edwards and James Toseland, will be decked out with the Monster Energy M-Claw logo which also adorns Rossi’s helmet. The deal represents Monster’s latest push in their campaign to break Europe. The brand is the number one by-volume sales energy drink in the USA.
RPM team sticking with old Dodge engines Each of the Richard Petty Motorsports [#9-Kahne, #19-Sadler, #43-Sorenson, #44-Allmendinger] drivers will race the R5 Dodge engine for the foreseeable future say team officials. Mark McArdle, vice president and director of competition for RPM about the use of the current engine: “We are using the R5P7 right now while the R6P8 engine is still in development with us. We look at it as a risk/reward issue and right now, we think it is a little bit risky considering the situation we are in with our teams. We like what we have right now. We are making decent performance numbers with the new engine and trying to develop a level of reliability in to it that we have in the R5. It’s our position that in the first third of this racing season we can’t afford the risk of giving away any points so we are going to be very conservative in what we do. We are keeping our options open with regard to our utilization of the R6P8. When we deem it wise to race it, we will. It’s likely you will see us compete with it at some point this season, but to what level of commitment we haven’t decided.” The #44 Dodge of A.J. Allmendinger will carry the Charter Communications paint scheme this weekend. RPM PR
Kyle Busch has been winning in the Truck, Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series on a regular basis the past two years. In fact over those two years he is the winningest driver in NASCAR by a wide margin. Jeff Gordon said he was the best driver he ever raced against.
Kyle Busch proved once again on Sunday that he's the cream of the North American auto racing driving crop when he won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Shelby 427 at the speedway in his hometown of Las Vegas.
He not only won that race, he humbled everybody else who was in it. Sure, he was challenged periodically once he got the lead, but any time somebody else got really close, he simply swatted them away as you would a house fly.
What made his victory all the more amazing is that after winning the pole in qualifying trials Friday, he was forced to change his Toyota engine, which meant he had to start at the back of the 43-car field.
So he won the race by coming through the field from dead last. You don't see that sort of thing very often.
Earlier in the week, Kyle Busch said he was very open to the idea of driving for the new U.S. Formula One team that was officially launched last Tuesday. He suggested that he'd like to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship first but then, yes, he wouldn't mind going off and conquering the world before returning to Cup to finish out his career.
Back in Barcelona following his Qatar test crash, Dani Pedrosa will need an operation on his left arm on Wednesday to fit a screw in a fractured radius bone, with his injured left knee also in need of surgery.
Having had a full medical assessment at the USP Institut Universitari Dexeus clinic in his native Barcelona on Tuesday, as a result of his Monday night Qatar test crash, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa has been diagnosed with a fractured left radius (one of the bones in the forearm) and a severely cut and bruised left knee.
Barrichello hopeful, Senna 'upset' (GMM) Rubens Barrichello has indicated he is set to prolong his record-holding formula one career for at least one more year, while countryman Bruno Senna admits his hopes for the vacant Honda seat have faded.
It has been reported this week that, despite rookie Senna's strong links with the Brackley based team throughout the winter, the soon-to-be-renamed outfit has plumped instead for an unchanged driver lineup.
"My faith says that next week I'll be driving a competitive car in the tests in Barcelona -- although I have no document in my hands that assures me of that," 36-year-old Barrichello, already in Britain awaiting developments, told Sao Paulo's O Estado newspaper.
25-year-old Senna, meanwhile - the nephew of Barrichello's late mentor Ayrton Senna - admits he met with team boss Ross Brawn on Wednesday "and he cancelled" their prospective collaboration for 2009.
"I'm kind of resigned to trying something else," he told the same newspaper, amid speculation the 2008 GP2 runner-up might switch to the German touring car series DTM.
Senna said: "I'm just a little upset because this situation has dragged on for so long, making me lose better professional possibilities.
"Now I'm going to get together with my family, with my advisors, and decide what way to take."
An announcement about Honda's plans for 2009 is possible on Friday, when it is expected the newly Mercedes-powered car may be debuted at Silverstone.
The team, likely to be known as Brawn Racing in 2009, did not comment.
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