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Canada and Mexico will never get Cup races  NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said not to expect the Nextel Cup schedule to expand in the future or Cup dates awarded in Mexico City or Montreal.

"The Busch Series is working really well in those markets right now," France said. "The domestic schedule is at or near the end of where it needs to be." (In other words there is no room on the schedule for a Cup date in Mexico or Canada)

However, three locales on France's shortlist for Cup races are Seattle, Denver and New York City, but local opposition will probably nix those efforts.  And if any one of those three were to come to fruition, another track will have to give up a date.

Track News
DEI testing at Kentucky Tuesday  Dale Earnhardt, Inc., driver Kerry Earnhardt is scheduled to lead research and development efforts during a one-day test at Kentucky Speedway Tuesday, March 13. Fans can view test sessions for free from the designated area outside the speedway Sparta, Ky., Fan Center. Sessions usually begin at 9:00 a.m., and end at 5:00 p.m. Times will vary based on team goals and driver schedules. Kentucky Speedway PR
Villeneuve aiming for win at LeMans  Former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve says that he can win the Le Mans 24-hour race, despite his Peugeot team's new car and anticipated reliability issues.

Villeneuve told Radio Canada that, unlike his team, he will not be treating this year's race as a mere learning experience and will be going all out to win.

"Peugeot and I don't have the same approach," said the 1997 Formula One world champion, who will join NASCAR after his run at Le Mans from June 16-17.

"I might not have the chance to do Le Mans in 2008 so for me, it's 2007 that counts, it's very important and I'm going to do everything to win.

"Now, if the car is not ready, that's a shame, but that's the way it is. We'll still give it a shot."

track news
Upcoming TMS NASCAR weekend schedule  
Saturday, April 7th
8:00am  Workhorse Custom Chassis VIP & Outside Campgrounds Open

Tuesday, April 10th
9:00am – 5:00pm Texas Motor Speedway Credentials Office Hours

Wednesday, April 11th
9:00am – 5:00pm Texas Motor Speedway Credentials Office Hours
10:00am Hellmann’s Reserved Infield Camping Opens (South Tunnel)
4:00pm – 5:00pm  NBS Haulers Enter (park only)

Thursday, April 12th
5:30am NBS Registration Opens
6:00am NBS Garage Opens
7:00am – 7:00pm Texas Motor Speedway Credentials Office Hours
10:30am Gate 4 Opens
11:00am-12:10pm NBS Practice
12:20pm-12:50pm NBS Rookie Practice
1:00pm – 2:00pm NBS Practice
6:00pm NBS The Dallas Morning News Qualifying (Busch)
7:00pm NBS Registration Closes
8:00pm NBS Garage Closes
8:00pm Fandango (Open to season ticket holders only) More ...

Sebring Day 1: Audis out front  The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is starting 2007 the way the 2006 American Le Mans Series ended. Audi Sport North America posted the two fastest times Monday during the week’s first test session for Saturday’s season opener.

Four-time Sebring winner Tom Kristensen (right) posted the day’s fastest lap at 1:45.177, nearly 0.7 seconds under teammate Allan McNish’s qualifying record set last year in the Audi R10 TDI. Both diesel-powered entries are new cars that feature improvements over last year’s Sebring and Le Mans winner.

The sister car of Emanuele Pirro, Marco Werner and Frank Biela was second quickest with a best time of 1:45.816. The R10 TDI won all eight races it competed in last season including seven in the American Le Mans Series.

“Visibly you can’t see a difference (between this year’s car and last year’s),” said Kristensen, who will race with Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello. “But because of the diesel engine and to get it drivable, there have been quite a lot of things done to the electronics and taking feedback from the drivers and getting to know the feedback of the different circuit characteristics. We have improved things in terms of springs and roll-bars, and the car is closer to being on the limit.” More ...

racing news
Quotes of the week  UPDATE
"Standing starts are great," exclaimed Jason Hawthorne from San Jose, California. "I really like them and they put on quite a show. I cannot wait to go to the San Jose Grand Prix and see the full field drag race into the first turn." (After seeing the Champ Cars practice standing starts at Laguna Seca Saturday)

"It amazes me," Mears said. "Every time I think Robby Gordon can't do anything more stupid than he's already done, he one-ups himself. It's so early in the race. The tires are one of the hardest tires to drive we've had all year. It's such a long race, and he puts us three-wide going into Turn 1. It's ridiculous.  He's trying to pull something off in the first opening laps when it means nothing, and I guess he's trying to be a hero, you know?" (After being taken out by Gordon in an early race accident in Las Vegas on Sunday)

TONY STEWART, NASCAR driver, Joe Gibbs Racing
“It [stinks],” Stewart said. “You think a company like Goodyear can do a lot better job than what they’re doing. Especially for a company that’s been in this business for so long.  They don’t care about the competition. They don’t care about the drivers. They don’t care about the teams.  All they care about is not having bad publicity and not blowing tires and getting bad publicity because of that.  I thought Daytona was one of the worst tires we have ever ran on, but I will guarantee you this is definitely the worst Goodyear tire I think I have ever been on in my entire nine years of driving [in the] Nextel Cup Series," Stewart said. "It never ceases to amaze me on how they can always trump their ace how bad they can build tires for us."  Stewart said he’d give half of his $5 million-plus salary to have the Hoosier Tire Company make tires “instead of the crap we’re running on now.”   (Tony Stewart blasted the tire Goodyear brought to Las Vegas Motor Speedway after his qualifying attempt for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400)
After the Sam's Town 300 Busch Series race, Stewart continued his criticism of Goodyear by saying they were "playing God" by bringing a new, harder tire from the one teams tested with in January.  Stewart also blasted the track itself, for its decision to change the banking from 12 to 20 degrees in the turns. The combination of higher banking and harder tire led to a bevy of crashes and a race-record 12 cautions. "If you look at the last 36 hours and look at how many cars we've torn up, ...if I were car owners, I would send bills to the race track," Stewart said.  "Goodyear, I would think they would be up on this ... but they don't know how to build a tire [that holds up in these conditions]," Stewart said.  "Look at how many good teams and good drivers crashed today. Are they going to say that we forgot how to drive?  If the tire used at Las Vegas were any harder, the next thing we're going to be running is forklift tires." More ...
Sebring Monday Notebook  Nine years ago, Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen first shared a seat at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Monday saw the two reunited in the American Le Mans Series in one of Corvette Racing’s championship-winning Corvette C6.R. Magnussen and O’Connell will compete for the full season in the team’s No. 3 entry.

O’Connell and Magnussen were teammates for the Panoz factory prototype effort and recorded the marque’s first Series victory with a win at Mosport in 1999, their only full-season effort together. Together they have combined for 36 class victories and 80 podium finishes in 124 starts.

“Johnny and I had a lot of success with Panoz, and I’m looking forward to that again,” Magnussen said. “Hopefully we can win a championship together. Our driving styles are very similar so there won’t be any problems there.”  More ...

Bourdais quote misleading  Sebastien Bourdais stated on a SPEEDTV.com interview Sunday that the increase in speed of the new Champ Car was largely as a result of the repaving that was done to the Mazda Raceway circuit last year. This repaving was done prior to Toyota's attempt to break the track record last August, so that record also would have benefited from the improved surface. In other words the Champ Car went faster on the same surface.

Others we talked to thought the increase in speed for the new Champ Car was more a result of the shorter wheelbase (car turns better in tight corners) and higher underbody downforce rather than the new surface.

tv news
Jenkins leads ESPN2's coverage of Indy Pro Series  Veteran motorsports broadcaster Bob Jenkins will return to the ESPN family in 2007 to call the play-by-play of ESPN2's coverage of the Indy Pro Series, which will air live on indycar.com and on a tape-delayed basis on the all-sports network. Robbie Buhl and Mike King will complete the broadcast team for the 16 races.

Jenkins, one of the first announcers hired by the network when it debuted in 1979, anchored ESPN's and ABC's coverage of the NASCAR Nextel Cup from 1981-2000 as well as working on the IndyCar Series broadcast team for several years. He also worked for the IMS Radio Network, anchoring the Indianapolis 500 broadcast from 1990-99.

"All signs point to the most competitive season yet for the Indy Pro Series, with new teams, an impressive list of drivers and some new venues," Jenkins said. "Having been away from the play-by-play role for a few years, I'm excited about making a return to ESPN and working with Robbie and Mike." More ...

Formula 3 series planned for USA  CHICAGO, IL --- Jerry Kunzman, Executive Director, National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and R. Cary Capparelli, President, Omni-Communique Inc., announced the formation of an exploratory committee to research the feasibility of re-establishing the international Formula Three race category in the United States.

“Both Cary and I agree that there may be a real need to bring back a United States Formula Three championship,” said Kunzman. “Interest has always remained very high.”

Capparelli added, “Formula Three is the proper formula to develop American Formula One drivers. A long term goal is to establish all international categories in North America.”

Capparelli is the founder of the original United States Formula Three Championship which ran with success in 2000 in association with Volkswagen. NASA was the organizing and sanctioning body for its race at Sears Point. The committee will determine a need of both a United States only series and a full continental North American Championship. The group is targeting a 2009 startup.

Reader Feedback
Gore pressures Champ Car series owners  UPDATE #2 Dear Autoracing1.com, I agree entirely with the fan that wrote that feedback. Why is the IRL not being slammed for only having 18 cars? Champ Car has an excuse. It is only in its 3rd year of existence & the IRL has been in business for at least a decade. Plus they have the most famous race in the world, "The Indy 500," so what is their excuse? Champ Car I think finally have their head above water with all the progress they have made with this off-season adding new races, a new TV package (which was done late so we won't see the benefits of the new TV package until the next off-season when teams have something solid to attract sponsors with) and with the new car which is now faster then even an F1 car. I think Champ Car's future looks very bright. It's only a matter of time before they are back to the glory days. Rod Orlando, FL.

03/12/07 Dear AutoRacing1.com...In your comments about Craig Gore criticizing other Champ Car owners for not running two cars... you finished your article by saying "Gore is absolutely correct though, a 20 to 22 car grid is where Champ Car needs to be at. A 17 or 18 car grid looks weak and unimpressive."

In the interest of fairness... I hope that I will also see you say that the F1 grid looks "weak and unimpressive" too with its 18 cars.

Or... perhaps I will also see you say that the IRL grid looks "weak and unimpressive" with its 18 cars listed for this season. More ...

Daytona, Montoya helping ticket sales  The close Daytona 500 finish along with the controversial penalties from last month have sparked ticket sales for NASCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway and Lowe's Motor Speedway, according to Humpy Wheeler, the president of the Charlotte track as well as track operator Speedway Motorsports Inc.  "When you've got as many tickets as we've got to sell when you've got two dates, the drama has got to continue," Wheeler said this past weekend at Las Vegas. "I have a feeling that this Montoya thing is going to get bigger than anybody thinks about.  "If he wins a Cup race, if he wins a couple of Busch races, if he gets in a conflict with somebody, it's going to be something."  Scenedaily.com
Champ Car newbie’s ready for season opener  The inaugural Vegas Grand Prix, round one of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season is just around the corner and after several months of 15-hour work days, the new team in Champ Car,  Pacific Coast Motorsports is ready!

PCM wrapped their final pre-season test on Saturday at Champ Car’s Spring Preview at the historic Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway.  The event started with media day on Thursday where PCM introduced their team and colors to the media at their official unveiling at the beautiful new Red Bull Energy Center at the raceway.  Team director Tyler Tadevic spoke to the media “We are thrilled to be a part of Champ Car. 

There are a lot of motorsports options in the U.S. and we made this decision very carefully.  We feel Champ Car is the most commercially viable choice for us, with the best level of competition.  The new car proves the ownership group has made a long-term commitment and we are confident we made the right choice, we intend to have a long and successful future in the Champ Car arena.”  Tadevic continued, “Making this a reality in such a short amount of time has been a massive effort by everyone at PCM, but we did it and we are ready to go.  We are realistic with our goal as a new team with two new drivers and a new car, in an extremely competitive series but we intend to run near the top-ten by the end of the first season.”  More ...

Audi in front as Sebring opens  The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is starting 2007 the way the 2006 American Le Mans Series ended. Audi Sport North America posted the two fastest times Monday morning during the day’s first test session for Saturday’s season opener.

After winning in each of its eight times out in 2006 – including Sebring and Le Mans – the diesel-powered R10 TDI of defending race winners Rinaldo Capello, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen was quickest at 1:45.308. The time is already a half second under the race qualifying record. The sister car of Emanuele Pirro, Marco Werner and Frank Biela was next at 1:46.082.

The five fastest LMP2 cars all were under the current class qualifying mark, led by the first of Dyson Racing’s Porsche RS Spyders of Butch Leitzinger, Andy Wallace and Andy Lally at 1:46.703. They were followed by Penske Racing’s Porsche of Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Helio Castroneves. More ...

Demi, Ashton and others attend Newman charity event  PALO ALTO, Calif. --- After his race team completed their final test prior to the Champ Car World Series (CCWS) season-opener in Las Vegas April 6-8 at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) co-owner Paul Newman headed to Palo Alto for an event to raise support and awareness for another of his passions -- The Association of Hole in the Wall Camps (AHITWC).  Actors Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were among the notable guests that evening.

Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist Cliff Higgerson and his wife Judy hosted the benefit for Newman's Camps at their home in Palo Alto.  During the evening Newman and Camp associate Robert Forrester gave a presentation on AHITWC.  They were followed by Champ Car Co-Owner Kevin Kalkhoven, a board member of AHITWC, who spoke about the Camps and the CCWS.  The group included powerful CEOs and Silicon Valley executives as well as some big names from Hollywood. In addition to Moore and Kutcher, other notables included Charlie Ebersol and girlfriend Danielle Panabaker, an actress on CBS’s TV series “Shark” with James Woods.  She also appeared in “Empire Falls” with Newman.

Both Demi Moore and Aston Kutcher hope to attend the upcoming Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach as guests of NHLR along with a number of other celebrity guests.

No link between Prodrive and Aston Martin  Prodrive boss David Richards says the buyout of Aston Martin has nothing to do with his company or his Formula One team. People have put two and two together and got six," Richards told reporters during a press conference to confirm the buyout. "This is something personal to me and has nothing to do with Prodrive.  Our plan was always to go into Formula One in partnership with an existing team, and the plan is still to do that."
Acura to unveil its own ALMS chassis  Acura Motorsports officials will unveil the new Acura ARX-01a chassis during a ceremony this Thursday (March 15, 2007) at the famed Sebring International Raceway.

The new Acura ARX-01a chassis, developed by Honda Performance Development (HPD) through a technical partnership with Wirth Research in England, will be campaigned by the Andretti Green, with drivers Bryan Herta, Tony Kanaan and Dario and Marino Franchitti; and Highcroft Racing, with drivers David Brabham, Duncan Dayton and Stefan Johnasson, organizations during the 12-stop North American road racing series.

The Lowe's Fernandez Racing team, with drivers Adrian Fernandez, Luis Diaz and David Martinez, will field the Lola B05/40 chassis in 2007.

All three Acura cars are fitted with the new Acura LM V8, a 3.4-liter, normally-aspirated V-8 engine, designed and developed at HPD in Santa Clarita, Calif.  All three Acura teams will be utilizing Michelin performance tires.

tv news
Big motorsports week for SPEED   
  • Formula One’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix – LIVE on SPEED
  • The 55th running of the historic 12 Hours of Sebring – LIVE on SPEED
  • 15 hours of NASCAR coverage from the rocket-fast Atlanta Motor Speedway, including exclusive coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series – LIVE on SPEED

And that’s all in the first 48 hours of the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

SPEED will puts its versatility and expertise on display in grand fashion this week, tapping the talents of nearly 500 crew and contractors with access to nearly 180 different cameras to bring SPEED viewers complete coverage from the Formula One season opener, the famed 12 Hours of Sebring and the NASCAR weekend in Atlanta.

“This is the kind of weekend where SPEED shines,” said Rick Miner, SPEED Sr. VP Production & Network Operations. “We will have nearly 30 hours of live coverage with crews on-site at three major events in three very different settings, giving SPEED viewers the opportunity to experience some of the most diverse and competitive motor sports events of the racing season … all in the span of a few days.” More ...

Michelin vows to sue the FIA  (GMM) Departed F1 tire supplier Michelin has announced that it has initiated "legal proceedings" against the sport's governing body, the FIA.

After pulling out of formula one in protest of the control tire rules for 2008, Michelin - through its BFGoodrich brand - then lost the recent World Rally tire tender to Pirelli.

In a statement on Monday, Michelin said it is requesting that the FIA's decision "be annulled due to irregularities in the tender process."

ALMS regulars ready to take on challengers  The list of drivers who have posted victories at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring has no equal anywhere in North American motorsports. Competitors from all disciplines of racing have tried to tame the 3.7-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway, many coming up short.

This year some of the top names from open-wheel racing – Tony Kanaan (pictured right), Helio Castroneves and Graham Rahal – will join the 102 drivers who previously have won at Sebring. Former IRL champion Kanaan is part of the lineup for Andretti Green Racing, which will debut its Acura-powered prototype in LMP2. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves will drive a new Porsche RS Spyder for Penske Racing. Rahal will look to join father Bobby, the 1987 winner, as a Sebring champion as part of Rahal Letterman Racing’s GT2 effort with a Porsche.

“I’ve always watched the Sebring race. I’ve been there many times for testing on the short course,” Kanaan said. “Being able to join all the names, the race itself and the tradition, and adding that to my resume is exciting.”

Some of the biggest stars from Formula 1, NASCAR, Champ Car and the IRL have at one time or another driven at Sebring. Four Indy 500 champions went on to win at Sebring: Bobby Rahal (pictured left with his son Graham), A.J. Foyt, Arie Luyendyk and Mario Andretti. Among those from the NASCAR ranks who have attempted to win at Sebring include Fireball Roberts, Benny Parsons and Bill Elliott. The last NASCAR driver to win at Sebring was Terry Labonte in 1984 in the GT class.

“This really is a tremendous experience for me,” said Castroneves (pictured right), who also drives for Penske in the IRL. “This type of racing is not just about being fast; you have to be consistent as well. When Penske decided to give me this opportunity, I was very excited.”

That goes both ways. Many Series drivers are looking forward to competing against the likes of Kanaan, Castroneves and Rahal for a number of reasons. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  UPDATE
Sauber turned down DC, Panis, in '05
Melbourne showers to clear by race day
Symonds admits Renault 'not out front'
Ill Trulli calls off Japan stopover
Qantas, Foster's, renew Aus GP sponsorships
Heidfeld not signed for 2008 - Theissen
No plans yet for Toyota 'B' car - Vasselon

Bernie vows to change F1's points system
Davidson 'no comment' on Honda's Earth Car
Webber not too old for Red Bull - Mateschitz
Ralf admits interest in future team boss role
Old critic changes mind about Alex Wurz
Rosberg targets points for '07 start
Champ Car claims F1 scalp over track record
Schu's manager has no plans to retire
Ferrari out in front says Alonso
De la Rosa to commentate in 2007
Massa defends Kimi amid tabloid gossip
No title sponsor for Spyker in 2007
Ferrari drivers to share spare car in '07
Knaus Wins Crew Chief of the Race Award  Undeterred by Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s new pavement, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team collected their third UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 title in a row. Led by crew chief Chad Knaus, Johnson pulled away from the competition in the final eleven laps to become the most-accomplished driver in Las Vegas Motor Speedway history.  The victory, however, was not an easy one, and it required great preparation and adjustments from Knaus and the No. 48 team to give Hendrick Motorsports its 150th career victory. Following a  pass-through penalty from a pit stop infraction, Knaus made all of the right adjustments to the Lowe’s Chevrolet, cementing a place for both his team and driver in the record books and earning himself the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race Award. More ...
tv news
Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC  The NASCAR Busch Series heads to one of NASCAR’s fastest race tracks, Atlanta Motor Speedway, this weekend and ESPN on ABC will have live coverage of Saturday’s 300-mile race. The Atlanta event is one of six select NASCAR Busch Series races this season that will air on ABC, with the other 29 to be televised by ESPN2.

Atlanta Motor Speedway is known for producing close finishes and ABC viewers could be in for a finish rivaling the thrilling last lap in last week’s event from Las Vegas Motor Speedway in which Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch bumped and ground their way to the finish line, with Burton winning and Busch spinning backwards under the checkered flag.

Coverage will begin with the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show at 2:30 p.m. ET, with the race to start at 3 p.m. Play-by-play announcer Jerry Punch will be joined in the booth by 1989 NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace and two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Andy Petree for analysis. Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro will serve as pit reporters. Brent Musburger and Chris Fowler will host the telecast. Studio analysts Tim Brewer and Brad Daugherty will join Fowler in the ESPN Pit Studio during the telecast. More ...

Mario Dominguez acknowledged in Mexico  Last week Mexican Champ Car driver Mario Dominguez, aka Super Mario, received an acknowledgment for his twenty-year career as a race car driver from the Mexican Government Sports Ministry, as well from the Mexican Federation of Auto Racing.

In interview for Televisa Deportes after receiving the acknowledgment Mario commented “I started when I was 11 racing go karts and right now is like if I were starting once again, I have not reached all my achievements yet. Everything I have learned in these 20 years I believe you have to take it forward so Mexico can achieve big triumphs and championships; I have always fought to place the Mexico’s name on the top” Dominguez added.

Carlos Hermosillo, Mexican Sports Secretary expressed his gratefulness and said that Mario is the kind of leader the country needs, “(they) have to be strong, (they) have to know perfectly that the only way to achieve their willpower in life is from effort (spirit), and tenacity.”

Mario who still does not have a ride for the 2007 Champ Car championship, but is not losing hope. “I have three good offers [as we previously reported] from RuSPORT, Minardi and Conquest, but I don’t have any contracts yet. I am hoping to sign with someone (one of the teams) in the coming weeks."

Even receiving this kind of acknowledgment from the Mexican Government, Mario is still ride-less thanks to the poor interest of the Mexican companies in him and Champ Car. Many things should be in place for the season, like signing a TV contract to broadcast the entire season on Network TV as it was in the past in the golden years of CART on TvAzteca. When Champ Car realizes that these steps should be done before asking drivers to take sponsorship along them to the seat, many drivers like Mario may be able to land sponsorship. Hector Serrano reporting from Monterrey, Mexico

Gordon sponsor woes  For Robby Gordon life as an independent owner-driver on the NASCAR circuit is getting tougher. First, long-time sponsor Harrah's has dropped its financing; the world's largest gaming company is in the process of going private in a $17 billion sale. Second, planned new sponsor Monster, the Red Bull energy drink rival, has yet to sign on as one of Gordon's backers, a deal that was expected here.  Then yesterday he triggered an early accident with a daring inside pass attempt that wound up taking out Casey Mears and Ward Burton. Winston Salem Journal
Loeb wins Rally Mexico  Sebastien Loeb drove his new Citroen C4 to a 55.8 second win over the Ford of runner-up Marcus Gronholm in the Rally Mexico.

Pos Driver Make Time
 1. Loeb Citroen 3h 48:13.3
 2. Gronholm Ford + 55.8
 3. Hirvonen Ford + 1:27.7
 4. Sordo Citroen + 1:43.7
 5. Atkinson Subaru + 2:24.1
 6. Stohl Citroen + 3:45.5
 7. Latvala Ford + 4:10.8
 8. Wilson Ford + 12:22.6
 9. H Solberg Ford + 14:15.7
10. Higgins Mitsubishi + 20:31.2

BMW sweeps WTTC races in Curitiba, Brazil  
Race 1 Results
  N° Driver Laps Time  GAP
1 2 Jorg MULLER (BMW 320si )  16  00:25:38.208   138.36 km/h 
2 1 Andy PRIAULX (BMW 320si )  16  00:25:38.629   + 0.421 
3 3 Augusto FARFUS (BMW 320si )  16  00:25:39.442   + 1.234 
4 11 Gabriele TARQUINI (SEAT Leon )  16  00:25:47.084   + 8.876 
5 6 Robert HUFF (Chevrolet Lacetti )  16  00:25:47.909   + 9.701 
6 20 Tom CORONEL (SEAT Leon )  16  00:25:48.532   + 10.324 
7 4 Alessandro ZANARDI (BMW 320si )  16  00:25:49.216   + 11.008 
8 12 Yvan MULLER (SEAT Leon )  16  00:25:51.488   + 13.280 
9 9 Jordi GENE (SEAT Leon )  16  00:25:51.757   + 13.549 
10 23 Pierre-Yves CORTHALS (SEAT Leon )  16  00:26:01.959   + 23.751  More ...
New GM engine not quite ready  GM's new R07 engine may not be ready for prime time. Introduced last fall, the new engine is the first to be designed specifically for racing by GM. It was touted as the being the successor to the production-based engines that had been used by GM in stock car racing since the mid-1950s. In using what is referred to as a "clean sheet of paper" while designing the engine, GM's engineers were confident they had addressed the kinds of issues that plagued previous designs, in turn building a race-ready powerplant. However, the planned rollout of the new engine into Nextel Cup competition, which originally was slated for sometime later this month or in April, has been delayed. When asked to comment on the delay, GM Racing program manager Pat Suhy said that teams were still testing the new engine and were not yet comfortable with giving up their current engine, the very reliable SB2 – which won its first race when Dale Earnhardt took it to victory lane at the season-opening Daytona 500 in 1998. Although the new engine has not seen a lap of real competition, teams are able to simulate the stresses of a race weekend on their shop dynamometers, which are used to measure power and durability of engines. Those tests include running the engines until they are hot, letting them cool down and then heating them up again, which is known as heat cycling. What teams have found hasn't been all that comforting. "We've blown at least one of them up," said one senior team member who asked to remain anonymous. He did stress that failures do occur whenever teams work on something totally new. And, he added, he expects Chevy teams will continue to test the new engine, including on actual race weekends. Yahoo Sports
Bridgestone explains visible tire differentiation plans  Bridgestone has confirmed that it will make its two specifications of dry-weather race tires visibly different from each other, after an eleventh hour change to this year’s Formula One Sporting Regulations.

According to the revised rules, “each tire supplier must undertake to provide no more than two specifications of dry-weather tire at each event, each of which must be of one homogenous compound and visibly distinguishable from one another when a car is on the track.”

With drivers having to use both compounds during each race, the differentiation of the tires will allow fans to monitor the order in which teams are using their tire compounds, adding an exciting additional element to the races. More ...

Q and A with Ashley Force  Like father, like daughter. Ashley Force made her NHRA POWERade Funny Car debut earlier this season, following in the tire tracks of her father, 14-time champion John Force. Ashley, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, qualified in each of the first two races of the season, which resumes next weekend in Gainesville, Fla. She met with the NASCAR media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this morning.

ASHLEY FORCE – Castrol GTX Ford Mustang – LAS VEGAS MUST BE A SPECIAL PLACE FOR YOU. YOU QUALIFIED FOR YOUR FUNNY CAR LICENSE HERE. “Vegas has a special meaning to me. We did a lot of testing here in the past year, to get into the Funny Car, and it’s actually where I finally got my license. It’s a great track and a fun town, of course. Actually, about a year and a  half ago during our testing, Gary Scelzi, one of our competitors, took me over here to the NASCAR track because they were testing, and got to kind of see another side of motorsports. I’m glad to be back here. I’m on the wrong side of the road, I’m over in the wrong track, but I’m excited to see this place and how they do their thing.” More ...

Denver residents tell NASCAR to stay out  Yet another city is rejecting NASCAR. Over the past two years city after city has told NASCAR it's not interested in its form of entertainment. NY City, Washington State, Portland and now Denver (for the 2nd time). As TV ratings continue to plummet and empty seats are frequently seen in the grandstands indicating a downward trend in popularity, it appears the wheels are beginning to fall off the NASCAR gravy train. Best quote below: "If I want to see a bunch of cars make left hand turns, I could watch my son do that in cul-de- sac."

The city has yet to receive a proposal for a 75,000-seat NASCAR racetrack within its boundaries, but opponents and proponents are already revving their engines. About 300 people and the City Council took up one of the three basketball courts Monday night at the Commerce City Recreation Center to listen to more than 100 speakers either vent their criticism of a huge racetrack in their midst or voice their support.

Council members devoted more than three hours to the "citizen communication" period before moving on to their regular agenda. That time was dominated by residents who wanted to speak about the very early stages of the International Speedway Corp.'s interest in a Commerce City site for a racetrack.

A few proponents came decked out in their red-and-black Dale Earnhardt Jr. jackets and other racing paraphernalia.

Nearly 80 opponents encouraged the council to stop the racetrack before International Speedway even gets to the starting line. More than 50 signed up to speak in support of the idea. More ...

RuSPORT-Rocketsports alliance bearing fruit  It appears to be that the engineering alliance between the RuSPORT and Rocketsports team will bear much fruit this year. Rather than having no teammates, Justin Wilson (RuSPORT - pictured right)) and Alex Tagliani (Rocketsports) and their respective engineers will collaborate on car setup as if they were teammates. Both cars ran well in testing at Laguna Seca and the fact that both drivers ran almost identical times tells us that the two drivers may enjoy similar setups.

Rocketsports, which ran in the back half of the field in recent years would end up 10th on Saturday at 1m06.760s for Tagliani to Wilson's 1m06.755s - both under the old Champ Car record from 2000.

"I am very pleased with our results over the past two-days," said Justin Wilson. "We were only a few tenths away from the top of the field in the #9 CDW car, so we are quite pleased about that."

He added, "I think that working with Rocketsports was a great opportunity and we all worked very well together. It was definitely an advantage to have a team-mate, especially an experienced one like Alex (Tagliani). I feel that we were both able to benefit from working together and it showed. Overall it was a very positive experience as we prepare for our first race in April."

“It has been a great two days for us,” an excited Alex Tagliani proclaimed. “We have been so fast, and due to a combination of two things: my new engineer Chris Lerch, (pictured right) and our joined-efforts with RuSPORT. I am just so excited to be working with Chris, we really have a good connection. Also, I have a good relationship with Justin (Wilson) off-track, and to work with him in a more professional matter in a team setting, as been a great opportunity. He is a world-class driver and it is an honor to have this chance to work with him as a teammate. So those two efforts really benefited me as a driver, and Rocketsports as a team.”

Industry News
Chrysler recalls almost 1/2M vehicles  Chrysler Group said on Friday it would recall over 489,000 vehicles, including recent models of the Jeep Liberty, Dodge Durango and its all-new Dodge Avenger sedan.  The recall was the second such action by Chrysler in two weeks. In late February, the No. 4 U.S. automaker recalled almost 51,000 vehicles to reprogram software for anti-lock brakes. Chrysler, the struggling U.S. arm of DaimlerChrysler AG, said it was recalling 328,424 Durango SUVs because of the risk of overheating linked to an integrated circuit in the instrument cluster of the vehicles. The recall covers 2004 to 2006 model year SUVs, Chrysler said.
Mexicans comment on their Champ Car prospects  Imagen Deportiva, Imagen Radio, one of the must respected news radio stations in Mexico sent a special reporter to Laguna Seca Friday and reports the following:

David Martinez statement of his possible ride for the season with Forsythe Racing:

"We are close to doing a deal for the whole season. Here I am, leaving to go back to Monterrey, but leaving happy. I know the people within the team (Forsythe) hope I race with them, but now we just have to wait"

Mario Dominguez statements of his ride-less season so far:

"It's really weird, I'd like to be running these cars, but unfortunately that is not possible. I have not been able to close a deal with the Mexican sponsors. Right now I am in talks with three teams: Minardi, Conquest and RuSport, the last one the one I tested with in Sebring. I just have to find something to be racing in 2007".

"Some teams do not have sponsor support, that is why many drivers have to look for sponsorship money. Many of us (other winning drivers) have years doing this, we are established, and winners, but yet we are looking for a ride"

"Auto racing has shown that it is an excellent way for companies to showcase their products. I hope to convince them to help me" ... "I am not quitting until I am able to race. I have many things to do, many races to win" Hector Serrano reporting from Mexico

Fan Forum Q and A from Mazda Raceway  
Gill Campbell, CEO and General Manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Steve Johnson, President of Champ Car
Kevin Kalkhoven, Co-owner of Champ Car

Question: "It's been 3 years since the Champ Cars competed here at Laguna Seca. Please talk about the improvements that have been made."

Gill Campbell: "We've spent $10.5 M on safety improvements. We tore down the old media center, built the Red Bull Energy Center for hospitality, and built announcer booths. This is a world class facility ranking in the top ten worldwide. But we are a third class spectator facility and trying to improve that."

Steve Johnson (opening remarks): "I have placed a bounty of $5,000 offered to the first driver who breaks the F1 Toyota recent practice record of 1:06.309 second lap." (Champ Cars were within 0.3 second from Friday's test times; Bourdais earned the honors with about 5 minutes of practice left on Saturday afternoon with a time of 1:05. 88 seconds. Kalkhoven had a photo op with a handful of money - cash paying Seb the $5,000).

"More announcements are coming soon for teams. There will be a number in the next two weeks. This season we are going to give you the best racing you've ever seen. We expect to see a lot of side-by-side racing excitement all year." More ...

Team PR from final day of Champ Car testing  
Minardi Team USA
Minardi Team USA and driver, Robert Doornbos, took up today where they left off yesterday at the Champ Car World Series Spring Training event at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. The Dutch driver was again among the first on track at the start of the morning session, and rapidly up to speed. Running quickly and consistently, he amassed 53 laps, recording a best lap of 1 min 06.959 secs, just half a second off the time of pace-setter, and reigning Series champion, Sebastien Bourdais. The pattern continued in the afternoon, with Doornbos fourth fastest at one stage, but then on lap 21, his car left the track and hit the barriers at Turn 6. Fortunately, the driver emerged unscathed, but with only a relatively short time remaining until the end of the session, it was not possible to recover the car and effect repairs. Before the incident, Doornbos had been working through a chassis set-up program on the Panoz DP01, carrying out several longer runs aimed at assessing the car’s behavior on cold tires and with differing fuel loads. Despite the premature end to the day, Minardi Team USA personnel remain pleased with the progress made during the two-day Spring Training session, and remain on course in terms of their pre-season preparations. More ...
Junqueira fast, then crashes  Bruno Junqueira proved that he was fast Saturday at Mazda Raceway Seca. Taking over the Dale Coyne car driven by Andrew Ranger Friday, Junqueira's lap times were a whopping 2.2 seconds per lap faster than Ranger's. His fast lap of 1m07.048s was good enough for 10th fastest, but late in the afternoon session he had a major spin and that ended his day. Andrew Ranger has some money to bring to the table, but Junqueira proved today he's clearly the faster of the two drivers. Assumptions are that the 2nd seat at Dale Coyne Racing would go to Junqueira or Ranger.
Burton busch-whacks Busch to win in Vegas  Jeff Burton wrecked Kyle Busch coming to the finish line to win the Sam's Town 300 on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Photo by CIA Stock Photo shows Busch spinning as Burton takes the win after wrecking him

Busch had been dominant for much of the race, and took the lead – which looked like the race’s final lead change – with seven laps to go.

But Burton had different plans.

Burton kept gaining on the younger Busch, inching his way closer to the No. 5 Delphi Chevrolet’s back bumper.  The only question left: did Burton have enough laps to pull off the comeback? More ...

Bourdais shatters F1 record in Champ Car  With 10 minutes left in today's test session Sebastien Bourdais (pictured right on a fast lap) has shattered the lap record at the 11-turn, 2.238 mile Laguna Seca set last year in the Toyota TF106 F1 car by Ricardo Zonta. 

Last August Toyota brought one of their $10 million F1 cars to Laguna Seca with a slew of factory engineers and Bridgestone sticky qualifying rubber with one goal in mind, to beat the Champ Car lap record at Laguna Seca.  After trying hard Zonta turned a lap of 1m06.309s to beat the Champ Car record that stood since 2000 set by Helio Castroneves at 1m07.772s.

Today Bourdais, in his $250,000 'spec' Champ Car shattered that record by 1/2 second in his new Champ Car on hard Bridgestone tires (Bridgestone brought no softer red option tires to the test) to take back the outright lap record from F1. Bourdais set the new mark at 1m05.880s.

The new record is almost 2-seconds under the old Champ Car lap record set in the days of huge horsepower when Honda, Toyota and Ford were trying to beat each other into the ground.

Fernandez and Diaz and Sebring  Next week’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring may be the most important race in the careers of Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz. The two will lead the charge for Acura and Lowe’s in the LMP2 class of the 2007 American Le Mans Series, along with Sebring third driver David Martinez. Having already claimed a special 12-hour race among the three Acura-powered teams at Sebring, now the focus turns to the real deal in the Series’ opener.

Adrian Fernandez
“We lasted the 12 hours, and Luis and I drove a good pace. The Acura program has been good since Day 1. The engine on its own has been very reliable and very strong.”

“(Sebring) is obviously very rough. They haven’t done much to it in a long time, which is good because it keeps the track unique. It’s like the old Milwaukee oval track; when it was bumpy it was great and when they paved it was bad. So it’s a good that we have a track like that. It has a little bit of everything. It’s very easy to make mistakes because you’re going very fast and you have to keep your eyes open at all times.” More ...

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

NASCAR RaceDay Las Vegas
2:00pm-4:00pm (L)  SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup  Las Vegas UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400
4:00pm-8:00pm (L) FOX
MotoGP 250 Qatar
5:00pm-6:00pm (3/10/07) SPEED
MotoGP World Championship  Qatar
6:00pm-7:00pm (3/10/07) SPEED
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Las Vegas
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Sir Stirling Moss (Racing Legend)
Scott Speed (F1 Driver)
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED

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

Bourdais lowers Champ Car record  Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver Sebastien Bourdais lowered the Champ Car lap record Saturday morning to 1m06.380s on the 11-turn, 2.238 mile Laguna Seca Raceway in his No. 1 McDonald's car.  That is just a whisker shy of the outright lap record set last August by Ricardo Zonta in the latest Toyota F1 TF106 car of 1m06.309s.  We'll see if someone can beat it this afternoon.

A total of 7 drivers got down into the 1m06s bracket with Will Power and Neel Jani the closest to Bourdais.

Pos Driver # Team Lap Time Mph
1 S. Bourdais 1 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing 1:06.380 121.374
2 W. Power 5 Team Australia 1:06.424 121.294
3 N. Jani 21 PKV Racing 1:06.606 120.962
4 G. Rahal 2 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing 1:06.710 120.773
5 A. Tagliani 8 Rocketsports Racing 1:06.804 120.604
6 J. Wilson 9 RuSPORT 1:06.870 120.485
7 R. Doornbos 14 Minardi Team USA 1:06.959 120.324
8 P. Tracy 3 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:07.067 120.131
9 M. Halliday 34 Conquest Racing 1:07.080 120.107
10 S. Pagenaud 15 Team Australia 1:07.234 119.832
11 B. Junqueira 19X Dale Coyne Racing 1:07.258 119.789
12 J. Wilson 9X RuSPORT 1:07.544 119.282
13 T. Gommendy 22 PKV Racing 1:08.325 117.919
14 K. Legge 11 Dale Coyne Racing 1:08.501 117.616
15 A. Figge 29 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:08.521 117.581
16 R. Dalziel 28 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:08.905 116.926
17 S. Bourdais 1X Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing 1:27.054 92.549

Gelles signs 2nd and 3rd driver  Gelles Racing now has three drivers signed for their Atlantic team in 2007.  Brazilian Luis Mussi was the 2nd driver signed for the season at Gelles.  He joins the previously signed Maximilian Götz from Germany, and recently signed Richard Heistand from the USA.
On balance Champ Car better off  Dear AutoRacing1.com, I enjoyed your latest article and found it to be a fair assessment of where Champ Car is at. Some key weak areas for sure, but on balance I agree it is far better off and I think now that Kevin Kalkhoven is back from counting penguins in Antarctica things will come together nicely before the first race in Las Vegas. Danny Johnson, St. Louis
Top NASCAR team takes ride-buyer  Ride-buying even goes on in NASCAR with its top teams it seems. "Canada's best young stock car driver may fall victim to Roush-Fenway Racing's need for cash. Peter Shepherd, 21, appeared penciled in to drive the No. 50 Ford F150 in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for up to 22 races this season after impressing everyone with his winter tests. But a Roush-Fenway announcement this week that unheralded T.J. Bell , 26, has brought Heathcliff Cat Litter money to the team trumps Shepherd's superior driving skills" the Toronto Star writes.
Legge confirmed at Dale Coyne? No  UPDATE Katherine Legge has denied that she has agreed with terms to join Dale Coyne Racing in 2007, despite reports to that effect.  "Nothing has been agreed yet," she insisted, "Obviously, I am hoping to get something sorted very soon, and have been talking with various people, but there is no deal at the moment."

03/10/07 According to this article Katherine Legge has been confirmed at Dale Coyne Racing. He's still waiting to announce the second driver.

"Longtime Champ Car team owner Dale Coyne confirmed Friday that Katherine Legge, who was let go by PKV Racing after last season, will drive for his team in 2007."

Question - if she is confirmed why was she not announced on Media Day at Champ Car Spring Training?

Mexican fans trash WRC cars  Rocks were purposely placed on the road in front of the competing cars and thrown at them while at speed in the Rally Mexico Friday.

Speaking at the end of the opening leg, after both of his drivers', Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Sordo were affected by the incidents, Citroen team boss Guy Frequelin denounced such acts.

"The incidents that affected several drivers were inadmissible," he confirmed. "Rallying comes with enough inherent risks as it is and we can well do without such stupid, irresponsible acts." Loeb meanwhile was equally damning and while the rock that was thrown at his car on SS2, the 29.66 kilometer Ortega test, did not cost him any time and he ended the day in the lead, it did damage the windscreen, albeit on the co-drivers side.

"There was a problem when a stone was thrown at the windscreen by a spectator [in the second stage of the day]," he added. "It's just a shame. That's such a stupid thing to do."

Stewart blasts junk Goodyear tires  UPDATE “It [stinks],” Stewart said. “You think a company like Goodyear can do a lot better job than what they’re doing. Especially for a company that’s been in this business for so long.

“They don’t care about the competition. They don’t care about the drivers. They don’t care about the teams. All they care about is not having bad publicity and not blowing tires and getting bad publicity because of that.”

Stewart said he’d give half of his $5 million-plus salary to have the Hoosier Tire Company make tires “instead of the crap we’re running on now.”

[Editor's Note:  And to think NASCAR just signed another long-term deal with Goodyear when for years we have been saying Goodyear tires are horrible.  NASCAR just keeps making one mistake after another as its popularity continues to fall.]

03/09/07 Tony Stewart blasted the tire Goodyear brought to Las Vegas Motor Speedway after his qualifying attempt for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 on Friday.  "I thought Daytona was one of the worst tires we have ever ran on, but I will guarantee you this is definitely the worst Goodyear tire I think I have ever been on in my entire nine years of driving [in the] Nextel Cup Series," Stewart said. "It never ceases to amaze me on how they can always trump their ace how bad they can build tires for us."

Goodyear racing sales and marketing director Greg Stucker said later that he respects the two-time Cup champion's input.

"We do have a lot of respect for his abilities and what he can feel in the race car," Stucker said. "Tony is one of those guys, him and his whole crew are pretty easy on stuff.

"He is one of those guys that could always make the softer combination work and work very well. That was to his advantage. As we've gone harder with some of our recommendations to accommodate what the coil-binding setups are doing to the tires, that maybe he almost feels like it penalizes him."

The new tires probably drop times by three- to four-tenths a second, and the teams are more than a full second slower as a combination of the much hotter conditions and the new tires. Stucker said.

"We're trying to make a recommendation, a setup, that is safe and secure for all of them, no matter what they throw at it," Stucker said. "That's probably the biggest challenge we have.

racing news
Charges dropped against Bobby Unser  Misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and obstructing an officer have been dropped against three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser, who was arrested along with his brother during a fracas at a roadblock last August.  A joint statement issued by Unser's lawyers and the Bernalillo County sheriff's department said the charges were dismissed because the incident had been "a mutual misunderstanding" with sheriff's deputies.

Unser and his brother, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Sr., were arrested Aug. 9 after deputies cordoned off a road named for the famous racing family. Deputies contended the brothers tried to get around the roadblock and ignored orders to leave the area, where authorities had cornered an armed carjacking suspect.

The Unsers contended they were on their own property and were strong-armed by deputies.  A jury acquitted Al Unser on Dec. 15.

Casey Stoner defeats Rossi in Qatar  Casey Stoner was the worthy victor of today’s Commercialbank Grand Prix Of Qatar, taking his first ever win in the premier class on his race debut for Ducati. The Australian puts himself into the history books as the first ever winner of an 800cc MotoGP race.

Stoner started from second on the grid, but set the tone for the race when he pulled a cheeky maneuver on Valentino Rossi at the end of lap one. A three-rider pack then formed, with Stoner, Rossi and Dani Pedrosa breaking away from the rest of the field.

The difference between the Ducati, Yamaha and Honda bikes was illustrated perfectly during the trio’s duel, as Rossi and Pedrosa either made up ground or overtook Stoner before being caught on the straight courtesy of the Desmosedici GP7’s monstrous power. More ...

Sepang GP ticket giveaway  In an effort to avoid a total embarrassment because of horrible ticket sales, the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) will be giving out 10,000 free tickets to students throughout the country to watch this year's F1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix at the circuit.
Miller slams Champ Car again  In this SPEED TV article Robin Miller paints a very bleak picture for Champ Car.  He came to Champ Car's Spring Training media event and wasn't impressed in the least bit with what he saw.  Unfortunately for Champ Car they let all the good things they did in the off-season be totally overshadowed by the bad news of low car count, blank sidepods and drivers and some teams wondering if they can make it through this transition year.
Both Team Australia cars on form at Laguna Seca  Team Australia has made a positive start to the final pre-season test before the commencement of the 2007 Champ Car World Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California Friday.

Reigning Champ Car Rookie of the Year Will Power impressed with fourth fastest while his Team Australia teammate and 2006 Atlantic Champion Simon Pagenaud was seventh.

The green and gold Aussie Vineyards-backed machines showed strong and consistent pace around the 2.238-mile (3.602km) circuit today, continually working on set-up as the team logged 197 laps totaling 441 miles (709.7km) in vital test time.

Both Power and Pagenaud and the entire Team Australia squad led by Derrick Walker continue to gain knowledge on the new Panoz DP01 Champ Car ahead of the opening round of the 2007 Champ Car World Series on the streets of Las Vegas on April 6-8.

Doornbos coming to grips with Champ Car  Robert Doornbos (pictured right talking to Europe race owner Bart Rietbergen) is clearly getting to grips with Champ Car. On only his third pre-season appearance for Minardi Team USA, the 25-year-old Dutch driver recorded the fifth fastest time during the opening day of Spring Training at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, the final test for Champ Car World Series teams before the start of the 2007 season.

The Indianapolis-based squad was among the first on track, Doornbos and newly appointed test and reserve driver, Zsolt Baumgartner, both keen to familiarize themselves with the demanding 2.238-mile (3.602-km) road course and get under way with the day’s technical program. Under the guidance of the team’s engineering staff, the plan was for Doornbos and Baumgartner to work on continuing development of the Panoz DP01 chassis, focusing specifically on the evaluation of suspension geometry changes, as well as assessment of shock absorber settings and brake pad material.

With track conditions improving steadily during the morning, both drivers set encouraging lap times as the session progressed. Unfortunately, the afternoon was not as kind to Baumgartner, whose car ran off the track at Turn 6 not long after the start of the second session, and made contact with the barriers. The young Hungarian driver was uninjured in the incident, but damage to the chassis was such that it could not be repaired in the time available. Testing continues tomorrow, as teams prepare for the opening race of the new season, in Las Vegas, in just four weeks.

“It’s been a great day. This is an amazing circuit, as we found when we walked around it on Thursday, but to drive on it is absolutely fantastic. We made good progress this morning, and having set a time that put us in P1 for awhile, stopped before the end of the session in order to make further changes to the car. We had a pretty clear idea about set-up from early on, and we’ve been able to improve the car consistently, thanks to the hard work of all the guys. I think we can be pleased with our top-five time today, as it’s an indication we’re becoming competitive. There’s more work to do tomorrow, with some race simulation and heavy-fuel runs, as well as standing start practice at the end of the day, but we’re definitely going in the right direction.”

Zsolt Baumgartner out for weekend  On Friday in his first time ever in a Champ Car former F1 driver Zsolt Baumgartner from Hungary wiped out the only Champ Car the Minardi Team USA had available to it and will have to sit out the rest of the weekend. 

“As you can imagine, I’m a bit upset with myself.  I had been getting on well with the car during the morning, and was enjoying driving it, but then I made a mistake on my first run of the afternoon.  The car understeered at Turn 6, which is a fast corner, I lost the line, got on the dirt, and hit the wall with the left side.  Unfortunately, there is a bit too much damage to allow the team to get the car running again tomorrow, which means I won’t be able to make as much of this opportunity to test a Champ Car as I had hoped.  As for Laguna Seca, I really like it.  It has some fast corners and a good ‘rhythm’ to it, and is the sort of track I find very enjoyable to race on.”

[Editor's Note: In fact most Champ Car teams have little or no spare cars available as they could only afford to buy a minimum number of new cars.  If they arrive in Las Vegas in four weeks and wipe out some cars in practice and qualifying it will result in Champ Car having egg on its face as they will be forced to start with a short field.  If the teams cannot afford to buy backup cars then Champ Car will have to purchase 3 or 4 extra cars and put them in a pool for teams to "rent" or "lease" should a driver destroy their only car available to them.]

tv news
NASCAR Busch ratings plummet on ESPN2  ESPN2 this year picked up all NASCAR Busch Series races, which used to be scattered across various networks. It also added more cameras to give the viewers a better race experience.  In addition it spewed all sorts of NASCAR hype throughout its various outlets in an effort to boost slumping ratings. But, after three races, overall ratings are down 27% from last year as NASCAR's popularity continues to plummet on all fronts. We have a poll running on our Home Page asking you why you think NASCAR's popularity is dropping.  The results so far are interesting, but it appears our readers think NASCAR is failing on many fronts.

Event 2006 ratings 2007 ratings
Daytona 2.7 on TNT 2.0 on ESPN2
Fontana 1.7 on FX 1.7 on ESPN2
Mexico 3.5 on Fox 1.9 on ESPN2 Nielsen Ratings

Things are not going well for the NASCAR Busch Series. A couple of weeks back at California Speedway there were not even enough cars to have a full field for the race. More ...

Tracy smashes Castroneves record  UPDATE #3 It should be pointed out that if Bridgestone had brought their red option tires for this test, as we would see at all race weekends, Champ Car would have already broken Toyota's F1 lap record at Laguna Seca on Day 1. We expect they will break the record on Saturday. Now you know why Champ Car was forced out of Montreal. Bernie Ecclestone and his F1 charade could never have lived up to a $250,000 400 pound heavier Champ Car with no traction control and no super soft F1 tires blowing the doors off his $10 million F1 cars.

Paul Tracy told AutoRacing1.com, "The new car is really fast, much faster than the Lola was, especially in the corners. We would be in the 1m05s range if we had the softer red option tires here."

03/09/07 Paul Tracy lowered the Champ Car record even further with a 1m06.707s to top the first day of Champ Car practice at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.   Sebastien Bourdais was close behind at 1m06.737s and Neel Jani rounded out the top-3 at 1m06.749s.

03/09/07 Sebastien Bourdais has just lowered the record to 1m07.010s and we expect we'll see 1m06s' before long.

03/09/07 Neel Jani in the PKV Red Bull Gulfstream Champ Car smashed the Champ Car lap record at Laguna Seca Friday morning, which was held by Helio Castroneves since 2000 when he was driving a Marlboro Penske Honda. The old record on the 11-turn, 2.238 mile Laguna Seca Raceway was set back when there was still an engine war going on in CART (now Champ Car). Turning a lap of 1m07.152s Jani easily eclipsed the old record of 1m07.772s by Castroneves. With 1.5 days left to run in this test session don't be surprised if one of the Champ Car drivers lowers the record even further. Whether the 400+ pound heavier Champ Car can take back the outright lap record set last August by Ricardo Zonta in the latest Toyota F1 car of 1m06.309s remains to be seen. But clearly at $10M a clip (vs. $250K for a Champ Car) an F1 car is a complete waste of money.
TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday  
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

AMA Superbike Daytona
11:00am-12:30pm (L) SPEED
11:30am-12:00pm ESPN2
1:30pm-2:00pm Check local listings for your time zone ABC
NASCAR Busch Series Las Vegas
2:30pm-6:00pm (L) Incl Preshow Sam's Town 300 ABC
NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice Las Vegas
6:00pm-7:00pm (SDD) SPEED
NASCAR Performance
7:00pm-7:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Tradin' Paint
7:30pm-8:00pm SPEED

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

PKV Racing has good first day at Laguna Seca  PKV Racing had a another strong testing session during today’s first day of Champ Car World Series Spring Training at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.

Driver Neel Jani, in the #21 Red Bull PKV Racing Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone car, concluded the first day third on the speed charts with a fast lap of 66.707 seconds (120.703 mph).  Recently signed second driver Tristan Gommendy, in the #22 PKV Racing Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone entry, was 16th on the practice report with a time of 70.229 seconds (114.722 mph) on the historic 2.38-mile, 11-turn Laguna Seca permanent road course.  A total of 18 Champ Car drivers turned laps during the first day of testing.

In morning practice Jani ran 44 laps, the sixth most and topped the practice report with a time of 67.152 second (119.979 mph).  Gommendy, who was making his debut in a Champ Car, spent much of the first session familiarizing himself with the car and the team, but still managed to log 34 laps with a best time of 70.887 seconds (113.657) placing him 16th on the practice report. More ...

BMW's Theissen 'happy' with Williams recovery  (GMM)  BMW's Mario Theissen says he is "happy" that the Williams team looks likely to bounce back in 2007.

With Theissen in charge, the German manufacturer worked with Williams as a works engine partner between 2000 and 2005, until BMW bought Sauber.

BMW and Grove based Williams' split was also far from amicable, and while BMW-Sauber made strides of progress the team led by Sir Frank Williams endured arguably its most difficult season since inception last year.

BMW motor sport director Theissen said of Williams' winter off-season: "They have looked strong in testing and that makes me happy, because last year for them was a disaster.

"The fact that things go better at Williams can only be good for the whole of formula one," Theissen told sport1.de

Schu wishes Ferrari 'all the best'  (GMM)  A week before the start of the first season without him since 1990, retired multiple world champion Michael Schumacher has wished Ferrari "all the best" for the challenge in '07.

The German, who has been replaced at the Italian squad by Finn Kimi Raikkonen, is quoted as saying: "I have the feeling that we are very well prepared for the first race and that we will perform strongly.

"I can hardly wait for the beginning of the world championship because it looks like being a closely fought and exciting year.

"Now all I can do is cross my fingers and wish Ferrari all the best."

Spyker set for car update in Malaysia  (GMM)  The Dutch team Spyker says it will implement "significant aerodynamic updates" for the Malaysian grand prix after predicting an uncompetitive start to the 2007 season.

"For Australia the goal is to get both cars to the finish and to be as close to the pack in front as possible," said chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne.

"With the new developments, hopefully by Malaysia we'll be racing them."

It also emerged that in 2007 Spyker has retained former owner Midland Group as a sponsor.

Paul Tracy Leads First Day at Laguna  Monterey, California – After completing what Paul Tracy described as the ‘worst test session of his career’ at MSR Houston last month, the veteran Canadian racecar driver found his way back to the top of the speed charts today during the first day of the final preseason open test at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Tracy (#3 Indeck Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone) marked the return of Champ Car to Laguna Seca by setting the fastest time of the day with a lap of 1:06.707 (120.779 mph) on the 2.238 mile road course, only four-hundredths-of-a-second off the Formula One track record (1:06.309).

"It was great, we have not been to Laguna in years and they have done some repaving, so it is a little bit smoother on the tires and a little more consistent,” said Tracy. “Over all I am very happy on how the day went. We had such a bad test in Houston, but we came out here and were flawless today, no mechanical problems and the car ran perfectly, so I am happy for Forsythe Championship Racing." More ...

track news
Mazda Raceway announces Legends of Laguna Seca walk  As part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, track officials today announced the creation of the Legends of Laguna Seca, a walk of fame tribute honoring those who made a significant impact on road racing since the track opened in 1957.

Beginning with the season-opening U.S. Sports Car Invitational May 18-20, each major racing event will feature the induction of an individual who made a considerable contribution to the history of the track.  The inductee will be honored throughout the weekend and participate in race activities.  Following their induction, a tribute will be erected and placed in the Legends of Laguna Seca walk of fame planned for the Corkscrew area.

“Our 50th Anniversary celebration is a great time to remember and honor some of the individuals who made Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca one of the world’s important and historic race circuits,” said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager.  “While many of the Legends of Laguna Seca will be well-known racers, we will also be honoring community leaders who worked tirelessly over the years to promote this facility.” More ...

Standing starts still a work in progress  We doubt that Champ Car will do standing starts for the first three races unless tomorrow's Standing Start practice goes better than it did today at Mazda Raceway.  At the start of practice the majority of drivers were stalling their cars but by the end of the 1-hour standing start practice most had figured it out.  The problem was simple, the drivers who were stalling were running the engine up against the rev limiter for 5 seconds.  What does a rev-limiter do? It cuts power.  What happens when you drop the clutch when the engine has limited power?  Right, it stalls.  By the end of practice the drivers who did not run the engine up to the rev limiter launched successfully time and time again.

We spoke to Cosworth Engineer Ken Deagle who confirmed our observation.  "When the engine is up against the rev limiter the engine is running very rich and slowing cutting power.  With the turbo not wound up the engine has very little torque and the guys were stalling it.  Tonight we are going to get together with our engineers, put our heads together, and see if we can make the system work better."

Unfortunately the new Champ Car still has a mechanical throttle linkage because if it was fly-by-wire (i.e. electronic) Deagle confirmed that it would be much easier for them to develop a more foolproof system.  After tomorrow's standing start practice we will have a better idea whether we will see standing starts in Las Vegas.

Tony Kanaan: In his own words  The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring has attracted the best and brightest in motorsports throughout the years. Next week, former IRL champion Tony Kanaan gets to add his name to the impressive list of drivers who have attempted to tame Sebring. As part of the Andretti Green Racing lineup, Kanaan will try to help teammates Bryan Herta and Dario Franchitti bring the team and Acura an LMP2 class victory - and possibly more - in its American Le Mans Series debut. What are his thoughts and goals? Here are his answers:

On Sebring:
"I've always watched the Sebring race. I've been there many times for testing on the short course. Being able to join all the names, the race itself and the tradition, and adding that to my resume is exciting. I'm still trying to understand what my role is going to be. But I've done a few 12-hour races back home in sports cars and in go-karts. It won't be my first. The whole concept of the race is the same. You have to take care of the equipment and make it to the end.

"The longer course definitely is more exciting. The LMP2 car in Turn 1 is faster than anywhere else on the track in an Indy car. The car is much bigger and it took me a bit to get my measurements down. Turn 17 coming on to the front straight and Turn 1 definitely are my favorites because there is so much speed involved." More ...

NBC Sports brings veterans to opening Champ Car weekends  INDIANAPOLIS – NBC Sports will lead the Champ Car World Series out of the gate in 2007 as the network carries the season-opening Vegas Grand Prix April 8, followed by the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach April 15, and will use a seasoned broadcast team to carry all of the open-wheel action to the fans.

NASCAR on NBC hosts Bill Weber and Wally Dallenbach Jr. will be joined by former Champ Car driver Jon Beekhuis in the play-by-play booth while Marty Snider, Bill Stephens and Cameron Steele will provide timely updates from the pits.

Weber, who started his television career in Indianapolis, has covered a myriad of motorsports in a career that saw him move into the host role for NBC’s NASCAR coverage in 2005. Dallenbach, who is the son of Champ Car great and former Chief Steward Wally Dallenbach, is an accomplished former driver who has won Trans-Am championships, 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring titles, and who competed in Champ Car and NASCAR before heading to the broadcast booth in 2001. Beekhuis also competed in Champ Car as a driver before taking up the microphone 15 years ago. A veteran of Champ Car broadcasts, he served as a pit reporter for the series telecasts last season.

Aussie Vineyards becomes Official Wine of Champ Car  AUSSIE Vineyard’s AU range has been named as the “Official Wine of the Champ Car World Series”.

The announcement was made by Team Australia co-owners Derrick Walker and Craig Gore (pictured standing left with Kevin Kalkhoven) and series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven during Spring Training at Laguna Seca Raceway in California today.

As part of this year’s promotion, a bottle of AU wine will be signed by the winner of each round of the Champ Car World Series and presented in a special 2007 championship case. The bottle will be auctioned for charity at the end of the season.

The winner of each of the 16 rounds of this year’s Champ Car World Series will also be presented with a dozen bottles of their preferred Aussie Vineyards product. More ...

Champ Car ramps up video distribution  MONTEREY, Calif.  – Champ Car, the sanctioning body of the Champ Car World Series, an international open-wheel car racing championship based largely in North America, will team with The NewsMarket (www.thenewsmarket.com), the media’s online source for video, for digital delivery of Champ Car’s video assets to broadcast news and online media outlets worldwide.

"Champ Car is constantly striving to aid the media in its coverage of Champ Car and this partnership with The NewsMarket is a key component of our strategy," said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. "The ability to send the latest in video and audio from Champ Car directly into the newsrooms of the world and provide it on-demand at no charge to the news media will help raise exposure for our drivers, events and commercial partners." More ...

Pay By Touch primary sponsor for Gommendy  Pay By Touch showed up as the primary sponsor on the Tristan Gommendy car Friday at Mazda Raceway and a spokesperson for PKV Racing told AutoRacing1.com that there would be two more sponsors coming aboard soon.
Jani car decked out in new livery  We mistakenly reported yesterday that Gulfstream would be on the Tristan Gommendy PKV Racing car when in fact it showed up today on the Neel Jani car along with Red Bull. We confirmed that Red Bull is the primary sponsor on the car and they chose where they wanted their decals.
track news
LVMS' Neon Garage sells out  LAS VEGAS - America's newest motorsports attraction is a complete sellout. No passes remain for the Neon Garage, the new fan-interactive area located in the center of Las Vegas Motor Speedway's infield. "We knew as soon as we started drawing the plans for the Neon Garage that it would be a hit with race fans," said LVMS general manager Chris Powell. "The overwhelming response from fans to the Neon Garage is a testament to the importance of elevating the entire fan experience at the speedway." The Neon Garage allows race fans the opportunity to view the NASCAR Nextel Cup teams from both ground level and an elevated position as they prepare their cars for practice, qualifying and the race. Continuous Vegas-style entertainment, a sports bar and the Winner's Circle make the Neon Garage the ultimate fan experience in motorsports.  LVMS PR
Powell tries to lure NASCAR banquet to Vegas  UPDATE #3 The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series banquet will return to New York City for the 27th consecutive year in December, NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter confirmed Friday.

01/24/07 NASCAR is considering moving its annual Nextel Cup awards banquet from New York City to Las Vegas and the change could occur as soon as this season, The Charlotte Observer has learned.  Mark Dyer, NASCAR's vice president of licensing, was among NASCAR and Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials who met in December with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority about the possibility, multiple sources said Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, NASCAR's vice president for racing operations, Steve O'Donnell, told NASCAR Scene that the site of this year's awards banquet had not been finalized.  NASCAR officials were not immediately available for further comment.  Asked Tuesday if the awards banquet would be held in Las Vegas this year, Bruton Smith, owner of the Las Vegas track said, "I hope so. That's certainly where it needs to be.
Ethanol driving up corn, chicken and beef prices  WASHINGTON - Strong demand for corn from ethanol plants is driving up the cost of livestock and will raise prices for beef, pork and chicken, the Agriculture Department said Friday.

Meat and poultry production will fall as producers face higher feed costs, the department said in its monthly crop report. Ethanol fuel, which is blended with gasoline, is consuming 20 percent of last year's corn crop and is expected to gobble up more than 25 percent of this year's crop.

The price of corn, the main feed for livestock, has driven the cost of feeding chickens up 40 percent, according to the National Chicken Council. The council says that chicken, the most popular meat with consumers, will soon cost more at the grocery store. The industry worries the competition from ethanol could cause a shortage of corn.

The average price of corn, unchanged from last month, is $3.20 a bushel, up from $2 last year.  More at Yahoo News [The fallacy of Ethanol continues......]

Rossi takes pole in Qatar  
1 Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha Team 1m 55.002s
2 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 55.007s
3 Colin Edwards Fiat Yamaha Team 1m 55.233s
4 Toni Elias Honda Gresini 1m 55.358s
5 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 1m 55.361s
6 John Hopkins Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 55.833s
7 Loris Capirossi Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 55.851s
8 Randy de Puniet Kawasaki Racing Team 1m 55.933s
9 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda Team 1m 56.041s
10 Marco Melandri Honda Gresini 1m 56.222s
11 Shinya Nakano Konica Minolta Honda 1m 56.306s
12 Carlos Checa Honda LCR 1m 56.609s
13 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 56.639s
14 Olivier Jacque Kawasaki Racing Team 1m 56.754s
15 Alex Barros Pramac d’Antin Ducati 1m 56.814s
16 Sylvain Guintoli Tech 3 Yamaha 1m 57.257s
17 Alex Hofmann Pramac d’Antin Ducati 1m 57.274s
18 Kenny Roberts Team Roberts 1m 57.495s
19 Makoto Tamada Tech 3 Yamaha 1m 58.024s
20 J. McWilliams Ilmor GP 1m 59.60
Industry news
Honda sneaks up on Big Three  Honda Motor Co.'s Asimo is no ordinary robot. With its latest upgrade, the 4-foot Asimo, who occasionally greets visitors in English and Japanese at Honda's Tokyo headquarters, can calculate how fast people are walking and keep pace with them.

The same ingenuity and engineering skill that produced Asimo have pushed Honda to the forefront in developing futuristic fuel-cell cars. As volatile gas prices are shifting U.S. consumers' interest to more fuel-efficient models, Honda is the only automaker with a fuel-cell car certified for U.S. retail buyers, and it has leased two hydrogen-powered FCX cars to customers to monitor their performance under real-life conditions.

Detroit's automakers are fixating on Toyota Motor Corp. as their biggest threat, but Honda, Japan's No. 2 carmaker, is also gaining on them. Together, Toyota and Honda account for a fourth of U.S. auto sales, and half the vehicles sold here by foreign automakers. While Honda may not be growing as fast as Toyota, which has 15.4 percent of the market, it has expanded steadily. Over the past 10 years, Honda has increased its U.S. market share 50 percent to 9.1 percent.

Honda's emphasis on technology positions it to become an even stronger rival in the future. "In many areas, we take Honda more seriously than Toyota, especially when it comes to engine technology," said Bob Lutz, vice chairman of General Motors Corp. "Honda doesn't have the scale of Toyota, but they're also on a very fast track." More at Detroit News

Industry News
Toyota-wary GM ups Chevy output abroad  General Motors Corp. is increasing production of Chevrolet cars in markets such as India and Russia as it tries to retain a lead over Toyota Motor Corp., which may pass it as the world's largest automaker this year.  Chevrolet cars based on Korean designs helped the automaker pass 2 million units for the first time in Europe and 1 million in Latin America last year, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told reporters this week in Geneva. Since 2001, Chevy sales have increased 158 percent outside North America, making it one of the fastest-growing brands in the world, he said.

Growth in Russia, India and China is part of GM Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner's plan to focus on boosting sales in 11 emerging-market countries. Since Wagoner took over GM in 2000, GM has risen to first from second in those countries, which also include Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland and Turkey.

"While Chevrolet might not be as recognized globally as Ford or Volkswagen, it is probably the strongest brand in GM's portfolio," said John Casesa, managing partner of Casesa Strategic Advisors LLC. "Right now GM has a first-mover advantage in emerging markets and I'm not so pessimistic that I think it's inevitable that they lose to Toyota." Detroit News

More photos from Thursday  AutoRacing1.com has added more photos by Bob Heathcote and included captions to the photo page we published Thursday from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where the Champ Car teams were gathering and the Atlantic teams were wrapping up their final preseason test.  We will have more photos from Friday's action later today.
Reader Feedback
Order the flowers  UPDATE #3 AutoRacing1.com offers its first reply to these letters in an article by E. Rasmussen Holm now appearing on our Home Page called Champ Car: Now is not the time to order the flowers.  Another response will appear later today.

03/09/07 Another reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, Like many other Champ Car fans I was waiting for the big announcements Kevin K promised for Champ Car......what a disappointment. Where were all the driver signings, fully sponsored cars and Ford's replacement? (Mazda as the official car......King Taco as the official Taco?). Robin Miller, as usual, was 100% correct in his critique of Champ Car and the gross mismanagement of Champ Car by its owners and managers. 2007 was full of promise 8 months ago with the new car replacing the Lola and all those potential "new teams" and IRL refugees that were knocking down Kevin K's door. WHAT HAPPENEND?
Furthermore, PKV's driver announcement is simply shocking given the fact that Mario, Servia, Philippe, Jos V, Junky, Pizzonia, etc... still have no rides. Servia said it best, “It’s all about money,” he said. “Even the guys that have money want money. I have two very good opportunities, but neither is very likely to happen.” All of that coupled with the fact that HUGE gaps exist in the schedule is unprofessional and simply a joke. Do they know that the perception of impending death will devour them in the next couple of days?

Put a fork in Champ Car as they are DONE and my patience as a fan is officially over. Yes the IRL does stupid full throttle oval racing, but if Champ Car goes away, the IRL will grow and continue its morph into a modern day CART. The IRL at least has some sponsors and some marketable drivers. Even GP2 and A1GP have more well known drivers than Champ Car. As much as it hurts me to say it......Champ Car needs to go away and let Tony and the IRL take over because I am sick of watching Montoya, Pruett, Fernandez, Jourdain Jr., and soon to be every other talented race car driver in the world race in the Busch leagues.
It is really sad that as an open wheel fan I can't wait for new announcements from the GP Masters series. At least they have some well known drivers!!!
Please Kevin and Gerry.....if you guys care about open wheel racing at all PULL THE PLUG on Champ Car or merge with the IRL immediately....the fans of open wheel racing have SUFFERED enough. Peter M. Romero, Esq.

03/09/07 Another reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, There has to be some overriding explanation as to why Champ Car owners choose guys like Gommendy over fan favorites, recognizable veterans, and drawing cards like Servia, Philippe, Dominguez, Ranger, Hunter-Reay, etc.... If it's money, then what about your mention that PKV is flush with sponsorship this year? It would do us fans well to read an investigative story about how these decisions are made, if you can get some Robin Miller-like honesty out of the owners. Thanks for your fine coverage. You make the editors of the Champ Car and Champ Car Atlantic websites look like bench warmers. Chris Smith

03/08/07 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I have tried to stay positive but I can't. Champ Car is like a revolving door. How can it build a fan base when the driver turnover is like a revolving door. They have no clue. PKV takes an unknown, Tristan Gommendy over a "KNOWN" like Mario Dominguez or Nelson Philippe, and goes with an unknown. This is brilliant. And now, no Mexicans for Mexico City or Chinese drivers for China. Brilliant moves. And the other announcements at Laguna Thursday were quite underwhelming. Order the flowers and plan the funeral. It's over. Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles, Ca.

Latest F1 News in brief  
Bridgestone confirm 'white tire rule' 
Ex F1 racer to test for Stoddart's team
Ralf hits bird on last test day
Winkelhock to be Spyker 'reserve' in Australia
'I'm a top-three driver' - Ralf S.
BMW don't expect to beat Merc - Theissen
Hill's supercars cop parking fines
Bernie is world's 243rd richest man
Briatore not missing link at Toyota - Ralf
Pacific Coast Motorsports unveils team colors  The Pacific Coast Motorsports team of Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge unveiled the team's two Champ Cars and hosted a first-class media lunch Thursday at Mazda Raceway. Dalziel will drive the team's silver car and Figge the black car. The team's sidepods are blank indicating they have no title sponsor for either car, however, they did say they have met with some success selling individual race sponsorship to companies. Team owner Tyler Tadevic said their goal for their rookie year is to run in the top-10.

Dalziel (L) and Figge (R) take the cover off their new rides

Perera dominates all 4 sessions in Atlantic testing  UPDATE MONTEREY, California – For a driver who had never stepped in an Atlantic car or turned a wheel of competition in America just 48 hours earlier, Franck Perera looked like a seasoned pro during the final pre-season test session for the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

After dominating testing on Wednesday and unofficially shattering the Atlantic track record at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Perera continued to impress Thursday as the Atlantics wrapped up their third and final test session prior to the start of the 2007 season. Testing for Condor Motorsports, Perera staged a day-long fight with series sophomore Raphael Matos of Sierra Sierra Enterprises Thursday. The two talented racers battled for the top time of the test and just when it seemed that Matos was ready to equal the speedy rookie, Perera would set a new mark to reach for.

At the end of the two full days of testing that would see the Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Cooper machines log well over 10,000 miles on the fabled 2.238-mile road course among 26 drivers, Perera once again proved to be the man to beat. The 22-year-old former GP2 racer and Formula One test driver completed a perfect test by leading all four sessions as he wound up with a fast lap of 1:16.067 (105.917 mph). More ...

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